Wednesday 31 August 2011

Man of Steel - new pic hits net

Amazon Black Horse western charts

As always supplied by Black Horse Express:

My current western, The Ballad of Delta Rose (ranked no 2) is available now and both Tarnished Star (ranked no 4)  and Arkansas Smith are still available at all the usual outlets. Alternatively request a Jack Martin western at your local library - the ones the f**cking Tories haven't closed down, of course.

1. The Snake River Bounty by Bill Shields (Hardcover - 28 Feb 2011)
From £8.71

2. The Ballad of Delta Rose by Jack Martin (Hardcover - 29 Jul 2011)
From £9.11

3. The Black Horse Westerns: Collection No. 1 by Abe Dancer, Dean Edwards, Tyler Hatch and Scott Connor (Kindle Edition - 1 Jan 2011)
Buy: £6.86

4. The Tarnished Star by Jack Martin (Hardcover - 30 Jun 2009)
From £4.00

5. Revenge for a Hanging by Richard Smith (Hardcover - 29 Jul 2011)
From £9.11

6. Drive to Redemption by Mike Deane (Hardcover - 31 May 2011)
From £8.71

7. Showdown at Snakebite Creek by Thomas McNulty (Hardcover - 29 Jul 2011)
From £9.12

8. The Shadow of Iron Eyes by Rory Black (Hardcover - 31 Oct 2011)
Buy new: £13.25

9. Scar County Showdown by Elliot Long (Hardcover - 28 Feb 2011)
From £9.07

10. Ace High in Wilderness by Rob Hill (Hardcover - 30 Jun 2011)
From £8.73

Startling new Jack the Ripper evidence my finally solve the case

In  my 2009 novel, A Policeman's Lot I offered a new take on the infamous Jack the Ripper murders - My story cast doubt over the death of the fifth official victim, Mary Kelly and even went so far to suggest that there was no Ripper as such, and that the final victim may have been the key to the atrocities. The book was fiction true enough but I firmly believed the explanation for the killings in the novel and now new evidence has knocked me off my feet - The BBC are reporting that new evidence is rewriting what we know about the JACK THE RIPPER CASE - maybe they've been reading A Policeman's Lot.

The Jack the Ripper murders provoked a nationwide panic whipped up by press sensationalism. Violence, especially violence with a sexual frisson, sold newspapers. But violent crime never figured significantly in the statistics or in the courts. In A Policeman's Lot, I suggested that only four of the killings were done by the same hand and that the final killing enabled the killer to escape because....well, I've already given too much away but read the book

"Fresh material has come to light which may suggest she was not Mary Kelly but someone else," says Marriott. "If that is the case, there is a motive and likely suspects for her murder."DR Xanthe Mallet, University of Dundee

If that is the case it also adds credence to the theory put out there in my novel.

The new evidence will be presented on the BBC's National Treasure's Live which will be broadcast tonight on BBC1 tonight.

A Policeman's Lot by Gary M Dobbs is available in both print and eBook.

Good Reads discussion of a Policeman's Lot
Ebook edition
Print edition

Monday 29 August 2011

Tainted Stats

Weekly Stats Report: 22 Aug - 28 Aug 2011

Unique Visitors4624243934414044114032,938420
First Time Visitors4343953784043753793782,743392
Returning Visitors2829153729322519528

Saturday 27 August 2011

Look out for The Reverend

I’m looking forward to this movie – director Neil Jones tell us – “We open theatrically in the UK on October 14th, our big launch will be at the British Horror Film Festival at the Empire in Leicester Square, I’m really excited for the release date, I really believe The Reverend brings something fresh to the genre and I believe the novel will be released at a similar time. We’re working on a US release date now as soon as we have that I’ll let you know! For tickets for horror festival please visit”

As I say I’m eager to see this one – and not only because Neil’s a good friend and I’m in the movie and get seriously gored up, but also because when I read the script I was bowled over – seriously, you wouldn’t think it was possible for someone to come up with an original slant on the vampire mythos but Neil has done just this, describing the film in an interview HERE as, Death Wish with bites.

The cast here are awesome – not only do we have the great Rutger Hauer but also Bafta winning, Stuart Brennan and a certain Doug (Pinhead) Bradley. Of course the fact that a certain Gary Dobbs otherwise known as Jack Martin and Vincent Stark also appears briefly will cut no ice with you lot, but believe me my involvement with the film was great fun and gruesomely gory.

Neil Jones Interview

(Re) Search my trash is talking to director, Neil Jones and the interview will be of interest because Neil is the man who will direct the movie based on my novel Tarnished Star. The film gets a mention in the interview, with Neil namechecking it amongst his future projects - "As already said I’m not really a horror guy only. My favourite genre is probably the Western, I’m currently working with best selling Western author Jack Martin and we’re adapting his novel The Tarnished Star for the big screen, it’s still early days but keep an eye out for LawMaster (adapted title)."

Check out the interview HERE

Friday 26 August 2011


I like John Locke as a writer - I think his work is unpretentious, pacey and above all bloody good fun, so I was eager to read his, How I sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 months. Would the book enable me to emulate Locke's success? Will it turn anyone who reads it into a bestseller? Not really - no book can do that and the only way to find success is through bloody hard work.

That said this book does give some useful information, especially regarding marketing. Locke's system for using Twitter is very well explained and should prove useful to anyone wanting to build a following via the social network site. Though I thought the advice he gives about blogging is a load of bollocks. The author claims that the way to build and keep a blog audience is to only blog once in a  blue moon and too keep posts short, concise and to the point. I read blogs daily and anything that isn't updated regularly is soon forgotten about.  But as previously mentioned Locke's advice on the use of Twitter is worth the price of this book alone.

The writer comes across as more of a businessman than author, and his books as products rather than artistic works, but this is kind of refreshing. And Locke's certainly sold a lot of books so I would most certainly recommend this title to anyone wanting to market a book. The book doesn't set out to make you a better writer but instead tries to develop your business skills.

The Art of Terror

Click on image to visit the website of artist, Tony Masero:

The Dead Walked October 2011

The ARCHIVE hits another milestone

Today we topped 400,000 views.

Keep Em' Laughing - Splatstick time

What is a goremody? Well certain horror films – Abbot and Costello meet Frankenstein, Evil Dead 2, Scream, Braindead and scores of others use humour as much as gore in their movies – thus they are goremodies, splatstick movies.
But there is some debate with horror fans over the place for comedy in horror. The screenwriter of the Fright Night remake recently listed her favourite horror comedies with Shaun of the Dead taking the top spot and Quentin Tarantino went on record to state that the mixture of humour and horror in John Landis’ American Werewolf in London inspired him to mix genres in his own movies.
Horror fans seem to like a few laughs with their chills, but there are those that insist humour has no place in a true horror movie. That’s what makes the Exorcist such a relentless experience – there is absolutely no light relief in the entire movie. And today the original Evil Dead, the most serious of the franchise,  outsells its sequels year on year and has done for the best part of a decade. So is humour an important part of the genre or does it detract from the effect of the horror?

“I think the really hardcore horror fans only want Evil Dead 1. As I’ve come across more and more horror fans, that seems to be a consensus. They want the horror, the want the unrelenting grueling horror, and they don’t want the filmmaker to tell them when to laugh. If something’s too gruesome, they want to decide to laugh on their own. They don’t need a joke there.” Rob Tabert, producer of the Evil Dead films.

Personally I like my horror films to be peppered with humour – nothing too silly, mind. I mean I’m no fan of out and out horror comedies, but a little black humour often helps. Take the Exorcist for instance – the film, although acknowledged as a classic, is too brutal and uncompromising for my tastes. It’s not something I would choose for repeat viewing. The horror movies I watch more than most are the Universal classics and these films for the most part were strictly serious, with the odd dash of gallows humour. But I do agree that the best horror movies use humour sparingly and are all the more effective for it – take the original Nightmare on Elm Street which does contain some light relief but for the most part is nail-biting tension. None of the sequels or remakes have ever touched upon the brilliance of the first. It’s the same with the Halloween franchise. And many more I could mention – in fact if I tried to list them all, this post would go on and on and on and….

Horror and comedy are certainly linked – this is why the image of a circus clown, the ultimate comedian, can appear terrifying. Stephen King realised this and the creation of Pennywise from IT represents pure distilled terror. Killer Klowns from Outer Space, tough may have diluted this somewhat.
However it remains an interesting question – do horror movies need humour? I suppose it depends on the film and when done well, the humour does not detract from the horror but instead enhances it. Think American Werewolf in London, or From Dusk to Dawn – both movies benefit greatly from the black humour. And then there’s that scene in The Shining (The Kubrick original, of course) in which Mad Jack is busting through the door with an axe, his terrified family cowering on the other side of the door – “Heeerrrreee’s Johhhhnnny!”, he yells manically in what is a terrific scene, made all the more chilling by the manic humour. Then again there are countless horror movies, sequels mostly, where the film’s  been ruined by outright comedy.
You pays your money, you take your choice.

Thursday 25 August 2011

Star Trek to warp back to the small screen - maybe!

David Foster, a writer, producer and head of the production company 1947 Entertainment, has revealed that he’s planning a new series that is designed to take Star Trek back to its “original series roots.” He’s said the new show will take in all the usual Roddenberry trappings – Klingons, Vulcans and Ferengi, for example – but will feature a much younger cast.

Star Trek can be sexy
“The series concept is fully developed, subject to change of course,” Foster told highly rated Star Trek fan site, Trek Web, “with a solid 5-7 year series plan, pilot script and a conceptualized finale that intends to define Star Trek for generations.”
Foster’s series will take place after the Voyager series of a few years back, and won’t conflict with JJ Abrams’ big-screen take on the Star Trek mythos, since it’s set in a different timeline.

Mark Billingham live on Litopia

Litopia is an online radio show that is essential listening for writers everywhere - it's totally interactive via a chat room which is regularly visited by the presenters during the show. Tonight's episode is extra special in that it features crime writer, Mark Billingham as the star guest. Find it HERE

It's always better to listen live and take part via the chat show but each show is also uploaded as a podcast and available via the usual sources.

The Brit Bloggers

I was pleased to see the Tainted Archive listed among the list of Great British Blogs - the list compiled by crime writer, Col Bury is hosted at Ashedit.Col Bury resides HERE

The Tainted Archive (Gary Dobbs)… wide-ranging ‘n’ relevant daily news from a talented writer/actor…

Wednesday 24 August 2011

Stephen King turns left

Stephen King is hoping to "make some people a little bit angry" with a new, left-leaning morning talk show which will offer a counterbalance to the proliferation of conservative American radio hosts.
"We're a little to the left, but we're right," the bestselling horror author said at a rare press conference announcing the new show. To be hosted by Pat LaMarche, a Green party vice-presidential candidate in 2004, and former reporter Don Cookson, The Pulse Morning Show will air on the King-owned radio stations WZON 103.1 FM and 620 AM from 12 September on weekday mornings and online at

John Locke signs with Simon and Schuster

First it was Amanda Hocking and now we hear that author, John Locke has signed with a major publisher -
Simon & Schuster issued a statement on Monday that the indie author has signed with them to publish only the physical copies of his Donovan Creed thrillers (The Love You Crave, Lethal People).

Locke recently made news as an international best seller, joining the likes of James Patterson, in selling one million ebooks world wide. Locke is self-published through this own company, John Locke Books.  With this contract, Locke will continue to indie publish his ebooks, maintaining control of the story, cover, and editing. But Simon & Schuster will have distribution rights for all hard cover and paperback sales.

Lock is certain to recieve criticism from the indie community, just as Amanda Hocking did before him, but the point is that these two authors have built their brand to the point where the are desirable to traditional publishers.

Keep Em' Laughing - Dad's Army

The complete Dad's Army box set.

Well it's very nearly the entire collection - most of the second series are missing from the archives and only three episodes are included here, though the missing episodes do exist as audio and these recordings are included as special features. The show ran from 1968 - 1977, for 9 seasons with 80 episodes including a couple of Christmas specials And excluding the missing episodes I've watched them all since Christmas. It really does stand up as one of the best sit-coms ever made, perhaps the perfect sitcom.

Season 7 is a the only weak season - perhaps because of the death of James Beck (Walker) towards the end of season six. A new character is brought in, the dippy welsh photographer Private Cheeseman. The problem is that the character's lines sound like Walker lines and sometimes the character is just too silly. Even in the slapstick world of Walmington-on-Sea the Taffy stands out like a sore thumb. Interestingly the episode in season six that they were working on when James Beck died, should have been canned as the episode makes no sense. Beck had shot the location footage but not the studio work, which results in him suddenly popping up mid episode when he wasn't seen earlier.

Season eight was a return to form, the Welsh character having vanished, and once again the group dynamic is correct - though James Beck's absence is noticed. Still season eight contains some classic episodes as did the following season, the last, when the actors really were showing their ages. John Le Mesurier especially seems to have aged by season 9. Ironically Godfrey, both the oldest actor and character, doesn't seemed to have aged a day since the first episode.

And speaking of classic episodes - Keep Young and Beautiful always reduces me to tears of laughter. In this episode the older members of the troop use Fraiser's embalming fluid in order to hide their wrinkles. Menace from the Deep is another classic that showcases the Jones character, played wonderfully by Clive Dunn who, despite playing the aged butcher, was actually the third youngest member of the cast. The actor recently celebrated his 90th birthday which means he would have been in his forties when the show started. All in all there are too many classic episodes to bring attention to them all, but with the exception of the one poor season the show never missed.

The show was set during World War II and concentrated on the Home Guard (Originally called the local defence volunteers before the name was changed because the press claimed LDV stood for look, duck and vanish.) and although many real life men who had been members of the home guard initially objected to the show, it went onto become a national institution. The show was responsible for several catchphrases that entered the British lexicon - 'they don't like it up em', 'stupid boy', 'you're entering the realms of fantasy now', or the wonderfull , 'we're doomed.'

Originally intended to be called The Fighting Tigers, Dad’s Army was based partly on co-writer and creator Jimmy Perry’s real-life experiences in the Local Defence Volunteers (later known as the Home Guard). Perry had been 17 years old when he joined the 10th Hertfordshire Battalion and with a mother who did not like him being out at night and fearing he might catch cold, he bore more than a passing resemblance to the character of Frank Pike. An elderly lance corporal in the outfit often referred to fighting under Kitchener against the "Fuzzy Wuzzies" and proved to be a perfect model for Jones.

The success of the show is in the characters and the fact that the viewer loves them all - Mainwaring, always the most pompous, shows his human side in several episodes and comes across as a decent man living in strange times, Sgt Wilson, brilliantly laid back but with hidden depths, Jones, the bloodthirsty veteran with a love of the cold steel, Godfrey so polite that he'd apologise after shooting a Nazi, Walker, the wide boy with a heart of gold, Fraiser the wild eyed undertaker with a penchant for idle gossip and Pike, the stupid boy. All in all its an ensemble made in comedy heaven.

Keep Em' Laughing - Norman Wisdom

 It is for the series of British film comedies  made between 1953 and 1966 that Norman Wisdom is best remembered - so successful were these films that for a period in the Sixties, Wisdom's films made even more money than the James Bond movies. Unlike many British comedians Wisdom's enjoyed massive popularity in many Eastern Bloc countries - in Albania the actor was and remains huge.

Charlie Chaplin called Wisdom his favourite clown.

The character of Norman Pitkin who Wisdom played in most of his better films was the classic everyman character and his small stature and the way he faced off against big business and bureaucracy endeared him to the cinema going public. Wisdom was superb at physical slapstick and these skills were brought to the fore in his movies. Prat-falls abounded with Wisdom being hurled through windows or over walls. His films usually contained a romantic subplot, a lesson Wisdom learned from another British comedy great, George Formby.

The top five Wisdom movies.
Trouble in Store
The Early Bird
The Bulldog Breed
A Stitch in Time
On the Beat

The Wisdom films still hold the abitity to make the viewer scream with laughter - thay may often be silly and derivative of each other, but it doesn't matter. The routines are so well worked out and executed, the character so well observed that it's impossible not to be seduced by the little man in the flat cap.

When I was a kid, Wisdom's films would regularly show up on TV as afternoon matinees - that they were usually shown during school holidays was testament to how the character Wisdom created had crossed generations in his appeal. Now you can't ask for more than that.

Most of Wisdom's better films are available in a great box set collection from ITV Home Entertainment - the box set contains twelve movies and retails at a decent price of £20, even less at online store like Amazon.

Keep Em' Laughing - What about health and safety?

Harold Lloyd's glasses character was the proto-type lovable geek, the boy next door, an everyman with romance in his heart but not too much in his head. Though that's not strictly accurate - the glasses man was far from stupid but he sure enough found himself involved in some dumb situations.

Safety Last is a silent movie that still thrills to this day and it is difficult to think of a big budget modern movie that manages to thrill, scare and delight quite so effectively as Safety Last. The final 20 minutes will literally have the viewer's heart in their mouth as our hero, forced to scale a skyscraper, performs one of the most memorable series of stunts and gags in motion picture history. The climb up the building is pure cinema - with an inventive series of obstacles getting in the way of the intrepid glasses man.

With a climax so intense, so powerful the rest of the film is somewhat overshadowed but there's much to enjoy in the first part of the film where there are many fine quiet moments and scenes of inspired comedy. The problem is that store clerk, Lloyd has told his beloved that he is the managing director of an impressive department store. There are some great visual gag scenes such as Harold using the reflection in a bald man's head to comb his hair and a fair few frantic chases. One of the best is when Harold fearing he will be late for work hijacks a number of vehicles in a frantic dash across town. At one point he even feigns a heart attack to get a ride in an ambulance that is going his way. When he reaches the store he has to sneak in and by disguising himself as a mannequin he manages to get carried in. Though he sneezes and sparks off another hilarious scene as the guy carrying him is terrified out of his mind.

Don't think of this as a silent movie but think of it as pure cinema. It really is sheer brilliance and the current DVD release, the Optimum box set, contains a print of the film which has been remastered to a very high standard - the black and white picture is without blemish and the new musical store is very sympathetic to the images on screen. The romantic ending even managed to get to an old cynic like me.


TRIVIA: Harold Lloyd out-grossed both Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton during the 1920's.

Lloyd actually filmed the daredevil climb first with no clear idea of how they would get to that point. Like Chaplin he was working without a script and hoping inspiration would come. Thankfully it did.

Keep Em' Laughing - Comedy Gold

Charlie Chaplin was a genius - there can be no doubting that. He created the little tramp character and whilst on the surface it may seem nothing more than an oversized pair of trousers, Hitler's facial hair and a funny walk, but there was a certain undefinable magic in the character and movie fans took him so deeply into their hearts, that Chaplin became the most famous movie star in the world, and even today he has hordes of fans - in 1999 the American Film Institute placed him at number 10 in a list of the greatest screen legends of all time - in front of Gary Cooper and just behind Spencer Tracy.

The Little  Tramp debuted during the silent film era in the Keystone comedy Kid Auto Races at Venice (released on 7 February 1914 and embedded below). However, Chaplin had devised the tramp costume for a film produced a few days earlier but released later (9 February 1914), Mabel's Strange Predicament. Mack Sennett had requested that Chaplin "get into a comedy make-up".

"I had no idea what makeup to put on. I did not like my get-up as the press reporter [in Making a Living]. However on the way to the wardrobe I thought I would dress in baggy pants, big shoes, a cane and a derby hat. I wanted everything to be a contradiction: the pants baggy, the coat tight, the hat small and the shoes large. I was undecided whether to look old or young, but remembering Sennett had expected me to be a much older man, I added a small moustache, which I reasoned, would add age without hiding my expression. I had no idea of the character. But the moment I was dressed, the clothes and the makeup made me feel the person he was. I began to know him, and by the time I walked on stage he was fully born."    Charlie Chaplin on the creation of the Little Tramp

There is something special about Chaplin's comedy that still resonates today - in terms of physical comedy he was superb thanks to skills learned in the Music Halls of London where he would often be planted in the audience, as a drunk theatre goer, and proceed to throw himself around, falling over chairs, or from the balcony before taking his place on the stage. Though there was much more than slapstick and Chaplin often used pathos in his comedy and several of his longer works contain social commentary. Politically he leaned to the Left and this was often obvious in his movies, and  his beliefs got him into trouble with the American Government during the McCarthy era.

Although Chaplin had his major successes in the United States and was a resident from 1914 to 1953, he always maintained a neutral nationalistic stance. During the era of McCarthyism, Chaplin was accused of "un-American activities" as a suspected communist and J. Edgar Hoover, who had instructed the FBI to keep extensive secret files on him, tried to end his United States residency. In 1952, Chaplin left the US for what was intended as a brief trip home to the United Kingdom for the London premiere of Limelight. Hoover learned of the trip and negotiated with the Immigration and Naturalization Service to revoke Chaplin's re-entry permit, exiling Chaplin so he could not return.

Me playing at Charlie
"Since the end of the last world war, I have been the object of lies and propaganda by powerful reactionary groups who, by their influence and by the aid of America's yellow press, have created an unhealthy atmosphere in which liberal-minded individuals can be singled out and persecuted. Under these conditions I find it virtually impossible to continue my motion-picture work, and I have therefore given up my residence in the United States." Charlie Chaplin.

It was not until 1972 that Chaplin did return to the US in order to collect an honorary Oscar.

Chaplin died in his sleep in  Switzerland on Christmas Day 1977.


Monday 22 August 2011

Amazon western charts

Charts courtesy of Black Horse Express
1. The Snake River Bounty by Bill Shields (Hardcover - 28 Feb 2011)
From £8.79

2. Kill Or Be Killed by Corba Sunman (Hardcover - 31 Jul 2008)
From £0.01

3. The Tarnished Star by Jack Martin (Hardcover - 30 Jun 2009)
From £4.00

4. The Ballad of Delta Rose by Jack Martin (Hardcover - 29 Jul 2011)
From £10.28

5. The Black Horse Westerns: Collection No. 1 by Abe Dancer, Dean Edwards, Tyler Hatch and Scott Connor (Kindle Edition - 1 Jan 2011)
Buy: £6.86

6. Revenge for a Hanging by Richard Smith (Hardcover - 29 Jul 2011)
From £10.20

7. Drive to Redemption by Mike Deane (Hardcover - 31 May 2011)
From £8.62

8. Showdown at Snakebite Creek by Thomas McNulty (Hardcover - 29 Jul 2011)
From £10.28

9. The Iron Roads by Caleb Rand (Hardcover - 31 May 2007)
From £0.01

10. The Shadow of Iron Eyes by Rory Black (Hardcover - 31 Oct 2011)
Buy new: £13.25

Keep Em' Laughing - Top Five 1970's UK sitcoms and the white dog shit mystery

Back in the 1970's TV was a truly interactive experience - this was during the time when the only thing you plugged into the back of the set was an antenna. That antenna often acted as an interface between viewer and show when the only way to get a picture was for some unfortunate family member to stand in an awkward position while holding the antenna out, thrusting it upwards. One movement of the limbs would cause the picture to fade out, which would result in cushions being hurled at the antenna holder. Other problems were waiting for the set to warm up and having the picture ghost over whenever anyone walked past to make a cup of tea - if you weren't constantly drinking tea during the 70's, you were probably a weirdo with a beard, glasses and far too many polyester suits.

I know why this dissapeared
It was a different world back then - a time of white dog shit on the pavements, three day strikes, platform shoes, flared trousers, Ford Cortina's and cheap toys made in Hong Kong which would frequently choke any child foolish enough to stick their new plastic toy into their mouth. And as Linda Lovelace can testify the 70's was the decade of sticking things in your mouth. And before we go on, I actually know what happened to white dog shit, but that's something for another day.The 1970's were perhaps TV's greatest decade - sets had found their way into  91% of UK homes, colour had been introduced and there was no competition from video recorders, computer games or that new fangled Internet thingie. Consequently any TV show that was a hit would attract viewing figures that are astronomical by modern standards.

The 1970's was a decade of paradoxes - one of the coolest inventions of this decade was the digital watch and yet it was created by a man with a very uncool name - no not Elton John, but Wally Crabtree, - I kid you not!

But I digress, here are my choices for the top five TV sitcoms of the 1970's, and only show that originated in the 1970's are included, thus no Steptoe and Son or Dad's Army which were very popular during the decade.

5 - Citizen Smith - written by the late John Sullivan who would years later perfect the sitcom with Only Fools and Horses, this starred Robert Lindsey who these days is better known for his part in  the inexplicably popular, My Family. Lindsay portrayed the Trotskyite 'Tooting Popular Front' leader Wolfie Smith.

4-Some Mothers Do 'Ave Em - Basically this was vintage Hollywood slapstick reborn as British slapstick, complete with shaky sets. Bumbling Frank Spencer had it all - several catchphrases and a knack for getting involved in outlandish situations.

3- Rising Damp - Leonard Rossiter portrayed the creepy landlord Rigsby in, what must qualify as the best sitcom of the decade that wasn't made by the BBC. Rossiter's portrayal of the odd Rigsby was so real that if often made your skin crawl.

2-Porridge - Ronnie Barker's best character is the working class theif, Fletcher. And the writing from Clement and Le Frenais is sparkling. The sitcom set in the confinements of a prison was essential viewing. And still is with the show racking up healthy DVD sales.

1-Fawlty Towers - What can be said? Two series, twelve episodes and each is absolutely brilliant. It is close to impossible to pick a favourite episode from the dozen made. There are so many iconic moments - don't mention the war, the Siberian Hamster, flogging a mini car, the list goes on and on. It is no hyperbole to state that Fawlty Towers is the absolute apogee of what can be achieved in the situation comedy form.

That's the last you see of that

AND - OK, you win. What happened to white dog shit? The disappearance of white dog doo dah's is down to what dogs eat these days.White dog shit is the calcium left behind as the water evaporates, and the 'organic' components of the crap are consumed  leaving the inorganic stuff behind. But nowadays dogs don't eat as much bone as they used to, including bone meal. Also, tighter regulation on dogs crapping on pavements means that turds don't hang around  in public places, George Michael excluded of course, like they used to, giving them less opportunity to dry out and turn white."

Keep Em' Laughing - Laurel and Hardy

Laurel and Hardy's made 106 films as a double act and out of their entire output it is the work they did for the Hal Roach studios that is their best remembered and most highly regarded. In their crumpled suits, bowler hats they are without a doubt the most recognisable comedy team in the history of screen comedy. They appeal across generations and are still popular today. Their particular blend of slapstick is truly timeless and hilariously funny.

The films they made for Hal Roach are available on DVD, both as separately and as a 21 disc box set. All of the classics are here - Sons of the Desert, Way out West, The Music Box, A Chump at Oxford, Brats to name but a few - most are available on the discs in two versions, one being the original and the other having undergone the colourisation process. The discs also contain a large amount of lesser known silents and shorts.

There is a full list of the entire contents of the DVD series HERE

 "Mr. Hardy told Mr. Laurel to meet him at the Southern Pacific Station Wednesday morning - So Mr. Laurel went to the Santa Fe on Thursday afternoon - "

Stan Laurel was the creative powerhouse behind the successful duo, but to dismiss Ollie as a mere stooge is to do the team a great disservice. Stan may have slaved away pefecting their routines, while Ollie prefered to spend time between takes on the golf course, but when they came together a magic happened and neither of them were as good seperately.


Sunday 21 August 2011

Tainted Stats

Weekly Stats Report: 15 Aug - 21 Aug 2011

Unique Visitors3693674354684244094872,959423
First Time Visitors3423434104514053874612,799400
Returning Visitors2724251719222616023

Keep em' Laughing - Dai Bando

Seems to me that a blog is a place to write about one's passions and the Archive has always been eclectic in the subjects covered and so the coming week will see Comedy being a major theme, as I'm finding myself in the mood to write about the comedy that has touched me over the years.

I've done a bit of stand up comedy myself and until a few years ago I was regularly gigging, but the type of venues I played have been disappearing for some time now and comedy has suffered more than most from the bland march of political correctness - or at least the type of comedy I performed has. I used to perform under the name Dai Bando and my routine was a mixture of gags, many of them blue as well as observationial stuff. The latter I used to love writing and feel that I developed skills that have since served me well as a novelist.

I used to use a lot of material that relied on racial stereotypes, but there was nothing hateful in the routine, instead humour was used to explore race and, I hope, demonstrate that we're all the same beneath the skin. Nothing was intended to hurt and I'm of the opinion that racial jokes are fine as long as it's good natured. British Comedy has a long tradition of humour defined by race as well as gender with the kitchen sink thrown in for good measure. I suppose Dai Bando was a mixture of Bill Hicks, Tony Hancock, Woody Allen and Tommy Trinder.

"There was a Welshman, and Englishman and a Irishman..."

"My mother-in-law's so fat then when you take her knickers down her arse is still in them."

Stand up comedy is a difficult art to learn and often dangerous to perform, as I know only too well. I still remember performing several years ago in Tonypandy. when a heckler didn't like my come backs to his insults - he promptly jumped up on stage and with one well aimed fist, knocked me out cold. To add insult to injury the biggest laugh I got that night was when the bruiser knocked me out - the audience apparently thought it was part of the show and found it the funniest thing ever. Comedians getting their noses broken always goes down well in the Rhondda Valleys.

And so it wasn't too long after that event that Dai Bando left the rat race of live comedy  - my props (an inflatable sheep, a funny hat and a microphone shaped like a penis) were packed away and Dai Bando walked off into the comedy sunset.

Will he ever return?

Well, every now and then I feel an itch that need to be scratched as the urge to take to the stage  makes itself felt. Thus far I've not given into it and Dai Bando remains in retirementnever say never.

Next: Laurel and Hardy

The dead are getting restless

This October The Dead Shall Walk

Soon available for Amazon's Kindle and all other eFormats.
On sale everywhere - October 2011

Archive's Sunday Comics - Testing The Legend (again)

Let's jump into the Archive's time machine and go back to the time they called, The Sixties for this week's comic.

This week's offering comes from another Odhams annual of the 1960s and features Smash! comic's Legend Testers, Rollo Stones and Danny Charters, whom we have featured before at the Archive. It was written by a young Keith Chapman, long before his "Chap O'Keefe" western novel days, pursuing a writing and editing career in London.


He says, "Writing westerns, indeed, any form of historical fiction or story based on accepted myth, was vastly different in the middle years of last century. For me, hunting for good ideas that hadn't already been done to death by other scriptwriters meant trawling through musty tomes. I found the story of Eustace the Monk in a nineteenth century book that had been my grandfather's. Today, anyone can learn far more about Eustace in moments simply by going to Wiki. So I won't bother to haul heavy boxes up two flights of stairs to my office. But I guess it would be fun sometime to look through that old history book. Then I could work out exactly how I developed the facts recorded there into what I hope some will still find an imaginative fantasy yarn...."   

We've also reproduced the front and back covers from the Smash annual for your interest and enjoyment.

Remember double click any image for a larger version. The Archive's previous, Legend Testers strip can be found HERE

Saturday 20 August 2011

Remember the pen is mightier than the sword

Strange Days

A glitch in time is one of the theories surrounding the strange happenings at Monmouthshire’s Skirrid Inn. The building is over 900 years old and was first recorded in 1110. The Inn is still in use with the present day landlord being one  Geoff Fiddler.

The glitch in time theory is that somehow people can see events that happened in the past, as if they are somehow looking through a window in time itself. One other hypothesis is that the fabric of the old building and the land it stands on can somehow absorb and record things that have happened here. If a recording can be put on a CD or Hard Drive then why is it not possible, the theory goes, that nature can do this given the right geological conditions? The ancient Skirrid Mountain Inn lies at the foot of the Skirrid Mountain, just off the main road between Abergavenny and Hereford.. It is reputed to be one of the UK’s most haunted locations. According to historical records, the inn has been providing its patrons with hospitality  since at least 1104 – the era of the Norman conquest – and possibly, even earlier.

Ghosts said to haunt the inn include a local clergyman, Father Henry Vaughn. Fanny Price, who worked at the inn during the 18th century, is said to be very active throughout the Skirrid. It is believed Fanny died of consumption in 1873, aged just 35. She is reportedly most active in Room 3. Other ghostly occurrences include sightings of a spirit dubbed the White Lady, the sound of soldiers in the courtyard, the rustling of an unseen lady’s dress, a powerful scent of perfume.
It is the oldest pub in Wales.
It is believed that the first floor of the inn was once used as a Court of Law and over the period of a great many years, as many as 180 prisoners were adjudged guilty of crimes serious enough to warrant the sentence of death by hanging, a sentence that was carried out at the inn itself, the last case of capital punishment purportedly taking place sometime prior to the death of Oliver Cromwell  (1599–1658).
Owain Glyndŵr is said to have rallied his forces in the cobbled courtyard in the early 15th century before raiding nearby settlements sympathetic to the English king, Henry IV.

Over the years many strange happenings have been reported at the Inn from strange noises to objects moving about for no reason, and sometimes glasses have flown from shelves as though thrown by unseen hands. In fact the current landlord claims that about 15 glasses are broken in this way every week.
There are regular paranormal evenings at the inn and anyone interested in a little ghost hunting can find details HERE

The Hack - all the Writer's News you need

Off the record, on the QT, and very hush-hush, it's the Hack's report.

* The once lucrative UK female short fiction market is in turmoil - according to a report in Writer's Forum eleven magazines have dropped fiction in the last few years, and those that do still buy fiction are now only doing so from established writers. In 2005 virtually all women's magazine on the newsstand carried fiction and also accepted unsolicited fiction, but today that market has shrunk to a third of its size with magazines such as Take a Break, Bella, Woman's Weekly no longer running fiction amongst its articles. Of today's women's magazines only People's Friend, Weekly News, My Weekly, Woman's Weekly, Your, and Take A Break Fiction Fest are using short stories.

* US genre publisher, Library of the Living Dead are looking for original well written werewolf stories for a forthcoming anthology to be edited by Bill Tucker and Mike Michell. Find details HERE

* J K Rowling has parted company with her agent, Christopher Little which cuts him out of the forthcoming Pottermore initiative to sell the Potter books as eBooks.Christopher Little signed up an unknown writer, Joanne Rowling, in 1995, she was newly divorced, living in a one-bedroom Edinburgh flat, and had a six-month-old daughter to take care of. He secured the Harry Potter scribe a six-figure book deal and transformed her into a literary superstar. Both made a fortune. Now their fairytale partnership has come to a crashing conclusion.Mr Little, 69, is considering legal action against Ms Rowling, whose books have sold almost half a billion copies, after it emerged that the author has defected to a new literary agency, The Blair Partnership, set up by Mr Little's former business partner Neil Blair.

* The Duchess of Cornwell has become the patron of Booktrust, which is a charity set up to encourage reading in people of all ages.Booktrust is an independent UK-wide charity dedicated to encouraging people of all ages and cultures to enjoy books. The written word permeates all our activity and helps us to fulfil our vision of inspiring a lifelong love of books for all. 

* Argos which launched its online books store this April are to expand their range to include 5,000 titles.
*Big Issue Magazine has made several of it regional editors homeless by merging all of its editions into a single UK wide magazine edited by Paul McNamee

* The BBC are seeking scripts for dramas and comedies. Find details in their Writer's Room

* A late report added to this post with thanks to Keith Chapman for directing me towards this. Go HERE for an  interview with  comic legend, Pat Mills about his attempts to  revive a girl's comic line.


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