Wednesday, 16 August 2017

The #London Nightly #Photoblog 16:08:17 #AbbeyRoad #CarefulNow

The London Nightly Photoblog August 2017 brings together 31 London signs – street signs, instructions, bylaws, adverts and slogans. Some are official, others not-so-much. Some are intriguing, some ornate, some enigmatic and others are just plain daft. 


Every night throughout August they'll give us one last look at London before bedtime. I hope you enjoy them and we look forward to seeing you on a London Walks tour tomorrow. 



Where else? At the famous Abbey Road crosswalk. It's good advice!








A London Walk costs £10 – £8 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at www.walks.com.



A #Cartoon & #ComicBook Tour Of #London No.16: Fleet Street @DC_Thomson @BeanoComic @PrivateEyeNews

Daily Constitutional Editor Adam writes…

Every year at this busy time I dig into the archives of The Daily Constitutional and repost a few favourites - it allows me to enjoy the school holidays with my daughter and still lead my London Walks tours.

This year I'm reposting my Cartoon & Comic Book Tour of London - a series of posts tracing the inky footsteps left behind in our capital by everyone from William Hogarth to Scooby Doo. It's been one of the most popular series of all on The Daily Constitutional and I'm looking forward to updating it after the holidays with posts on Captain America, the X-Men, George Cruikshank and Mary Darly. In the meantime, here's the story so far…






Panel No.16: Fleet Street


I daren't leave Fleet Street out of my Cartoon and Comic Book Tour of London – even though the national newspaper industry has long since abandoned its spiritual home.

Fleet Street as a metonym, however, is still going strong. And it doesn’t seem to want to go away. Twenty-first century TV and radio presenters still refer to the British press collectively as Fleet Street. To put this in perspective, The Daily Mail, one of the UK’s most popular papers, set up shop in Kensington as long ago as 1988. Yet Fleet Street as a moniker persists.

The nationals may have moved on, but any paper worth its salt still has a cartoonist – even though it was reported in UK Press Gazette (This blog was first posted Feb 2015: Ed.) that The Daily Express was keen to dispense with the services of their political cartoonist, news that broke back in January on the same day as the Charlie Hebdo murders.

The Express once had a phalanx of daily cartoons the envy of Fleet Street. Their strips included Rupert Bear and James Bond, and their political cartoonist was the famous Giles. No English home was complete without a copy of the Giles annual. 



Giles was a Londoner by birth, born Ronald Giles in Islington in 1916. His topical cartoons often featured the family that became his signature, headed by the doughty (and I always thought faintly sinister) Grandma. His collections are still published annually, some 20 years after his death, and can be bought in the bookshop at the Cartoon Museum.

The Daily Express is also the only British paper to publish a cartoon on its front page almost everyday since 1929 in the shape of the Crusader…






The crusader was the brainchild of legendary newspaper baron Lord Beaverbrook. Beaverbrook bought the Express in 1916 back when he was plain old Mr. Max Aitken.

The crusader was the emblem of his campaign for free trade between nations of the empire – an initiative he hoped would benefit his native Canada. In 1951 when Churchill was elected as Prime Minister, he disappointed Beaverbrook with his abandonment of traditional imperial policies. In reaction, The Beaver slapped chains on the Crusader – a gesture that was repeated when Britain was invited to join the Common Market (a forerunner of the European Community).

The Crusader remains the emblem of The Daily Express to this day.


A version of the Crusader, rather more battered and forlorn, represents our great satirical magazine Private Eye





(I blogged about Private Eye earlier in this series, see Panel 3).


It would be inaccurate to say that rumours of Fleet Street's death have been greatly exaggerated – no national newspapers are left here, and Reuters moved away in 2003. And since the journalists left, other despised and unpopular professions have since moved in with the arrival of the bankers and the lawyers. (How's that for an unholy trinity?) But there is one famous name left standing in the once infamous Street of Ink: D.C Thomson.

D.C Thomson is the publisher of the Dundee Courier, the People's Friend story paper and the famous Sunday Post. The titles are built into the fabric of its Fleet Street HQ…





The Sunday Post is published weekly in Dundee and features the legendary cartoon strips The Broons and Oor Wullie, originally drawn by the Lancashire-born artist Dudley D. Watkins – whose work can be seen at the Cartoon Museum in Bloomsbury (see panel 11 in this series).

Oor Wullie is Scotland's answer to Dennis the Menace…




…,while The Broons features a cartoon family that holds as dear a place in the hearts of Scots as Giles's family occupy in the affections of middle England…



(I have a theory about Wullie's hair: given that the creators and writers of The Simpsons plough such a rich furrow of Scottish wit with their Groundskeeper Willie character, even referencing Baron Ross of Marnock, the former Willie Ross MP in one gag – pretty nuanced stuff! – I'm prepared to stick my neck out and claim that Oor Wullie is the inspiration for Bart Simpson…)


Wullie & Bart. Separated at birth?



You can buy Broons & Oor Wullie books and merchandise direct from D.C Thomson here: www.dcthomsonshop.co.uk


The Broons strip was famously parodied as The Broonites written by Fountain & Jamieson for Private Eye magazine, to poke fun at our former Prime Minister Gordon Brown.





The artwork is by the excellent Henry Davies, who works for The Beano and has also drawn for the official Broons! (He shares great cartoon related stuff via his Twitter feed @BeanoArtist and you can buy his originals direct from his website.)



You can subscribe to Private Eye magazine at privateeye.subscribeonline.co.uk


As a child growing up in Scotland it was always a race to get to the copy of The Sunday Post before my father. If my father got there first he would pore over the comics for what seemed like AGES, chuckling away while I stood jealously by.


Oor Wullie and The Broons have appeared in The Sunday Post since 1936 and it is claimed that Watkins, along with David Low, was listed as an enemy of the Third Reich for his satirical portraits of the Nazi leadership – see our earlier post for more on that topic.

Mr. Watkins was also the creator of Desperate Dan for The Dandy (here's Dan on a first class stamp)…




… and worked for the legendary Beano – again, the last man standing of the classic British comics, and a periodical of which I remain an avid reader…






When the D.C Thomson offices closed last year (2014) for a makeover, they chose neither the Sunday Post nor the Evening Telegraph to brighten up their windows, but pages from The Beano…





Here's a map to Fleet Street and D.C Thomson's HQ…



Footnote… I be call by D.C Thomson on my Publish & Be Damned walking tour, which looks at the history of journalism in Fleet Street. I'll often bring my Broons and Oor Wullie annuals along for you to look at at… as long as you promise not to hog them for as long as my dad.



Tomorrow… Gosh! Comics in Soho


A London Walk costs £10 – £8 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at www.walks.com.



Tuesday, 15 August 2017

The #London Nightly #Photoblog 15:08:17 Spiritual Advice

The London Nightly Photoblog August 2017 brings together 31 London signs – street signs, instructions, bylaws, adverts and slogans. Some are official, others not-so-much. Some are intriguing, some ornate, some enigmatic and others are just plain daft. 


Every night throughout August they'll give us one last look at London before bedtime. I hope you enjoy them and we look forward to seeing you on a London Walks tour tomorrow. 










A London Walk costs £10 – £8 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at www.walks.com.



A #Cartoon & #ComicBook Tour Of #London No.15: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Daily Constitutional Editor Adam writes…

Every year at this busy time I dig into the archives of The Daily Constitutional and repost a few favourites - it allows me to enjoy the school holidays with my daughter and still lead my London Walks tours.

This year I'm reposting my Cartoon & Comic Book Tour of London - a series of posts tracing the inky footsteps left behind in our capital by everyone from William Hogarth to Scooby Doo. It's been one of the most popular series of all on The Daily Constitutional and I'm looking forward to updating it after the holidays with posts on Captain America, the X-Men, George Cruikshank and Mary Darly. In the meantime, here's the story so far…






Panel No.15: The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen

The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen (written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Kevin O'Neill) is the comic book I come back to more often than any other.

First and foremost it's an exciting tale, an old school adventure, a rip-roaring yarn. Beneath the Boy's Own exterior, however, lies an intoxicating gallimaufry of conspiracy, literary references, alternate history, old myths re-examined, new myths coined, lovingly observed historical details and a welter of London locations.

It is the fag end of the 19th Century and the Empire is in peril. The new century looms and with it a new world order armed with an alarming array of new fangled machines of evil. Only the most extraordinary characters can save us now…

As a blend of fact and fiction, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen would be fun enough. The added dimension of mingling fictional characters of the past with newly minted creations, however, creates a new level of fascination. The interweaving of adventure story and Alternate History adds further piquancy. Sounds a bit heavy? Never fear. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen never forgets to be a thrilling comic book.

But the great by-product of the book is that it throws us back upon the source material that it references so freely in the narrative. It is so well written and executed that it genuinely feels like a part of the 19th Century canon of adventure stories.

Mina Murray, the wife of Jonathan Harker in Dracula (having reverted to her maiden name) is the driving force of the League. Indeed it is she who is charged with leading that most dramatic of set-pieces, Rounding Up The Team. First she enlists Allan Quatermain (of Rider Haggard's King Soloman's Mines and sequels) a dissipated shadow of his former heroic self. Captain Nemo, Doctor Jekyll (and Mr Hyde, of course) also join in the fun, as does a deliciously sordid Hawley Griffin (AKA The Invisible Man). H.G Wells is a recurring reference, with his War of the Worlds being woven into the narrative near the end of the collected volume one.

Cameos include Mycroft Holmes (the original Sherlock Holmes's Smarter Brother!), as shadowy as Conan Doyle implied him to be in the Sherlock Holmes stories and Auguste Dupin, the legendary French detective of Poe's Murders In The Rue Morge.


Illustrator Kevin O'Neill also joins in the referential fun, my particular favourite page being his introduction to Chinatown



so redolent of a crowded Gustave Dore composition




The tale has spawned a number of sequels, each wilder than the last. It makes me wonder: with each flight of fancy, is writer Alan Moore making sure that Hollywood will stay away from his work by making his tales unfilmable? The writer has a famously spiky relationship with Hollywood's watered-down adaptations of his work. Whatever the reason, it's a wild ride with Moore and O'Neill and later volumes cover 1960s London and right up to the present day, with an ever-increasing Greek Chorus of literary characters crowding in. It's fun to spot them, but if you miss the references (and I'm sure I've missed a ton of 'em) the story can still enthral. Moore is not an easy writer to follow (as I said, it's a wild ride) but he's never elitist and no reader is excluded from the narrative. 


The London location that I'll choose from the book is the League's hideout from early in the series, the British Museum… 




I choose this not only because the collection at the BM features a number of cartoons (including work by George Cruikshank) and that it's also handy for the Cartoon Museum in Little Russell Street, but because I'd rather like to have a secret lair there myself!





Mr Hyde: The unlikely hero




The book's London references are a delight to a London Walks guide and when I make passing reference to them on my London Walks, I can always identify kindred spirits in comic books by the delighted looks on their faces. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and the work of Mr Moore generally, inspires great devotion in his fans. The alternate history material is both provoking and witty – this last best illustrated in the tale of Hyde Park. Did you know how Hyde Park got its name? No? Well read on, gentle reader, read on in Messrs Moore & O'Neill's blockbusting comic. You can buy The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen at Orbital Comics on Great Newport Street.






Tomorrow… Fleet Street, D.C Thomson & The Beano


A London Walk costs £10 – £8 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at www.walks.com.