Comics, Casinos and Cabaret

Greetings readers
I bring news from the disparate worlds of comic books and cabaret. Like a comic strip heroine, I maintain a double identity existence which constantly keeps the modes of self expression lively.
First off, I must share the delights of the Gosh comic shop book signing for three Selfmade Hero books “The Shadow Out of Time” (H.P Lovecraft and Ian Culbard), “Don Quixote” II (Miguel de Cervantes and Rob Davis) and Victor Hugo‘s “The Man Who Laughs“(David Hine and Mark Stafford).
Patti Boulaye
All the authors, bar the deceased ones, were there to sign the books and so also were a number of other eminent names in the field of graphic novels. It was a thoroughly congenial affair… wine flowed, the shop was open with its visual confectionery and healthy queues waited to meet the feted authors.
I had a lovely chat with Ian Culbard and Rob Davis about techniques. I’ve used Rob’s tutorial on digital colouring many times. Ian shared his preference for the manga style of cinematic shots in comic art composition. I also had a lengthy chat about lettering with Faz Choudhury whose comments were very enlightening.
Another new ‘friend in comics’ Jessica Kemp very kindly introduced me to Glyn Dillon whose book “The Nao of Brown” is already a classic in the Graphic Novel canon. It combines incredible solid artistry with a strange, dreamy story that you couldn’t imagine existing in any other way.
Another work which moved me deeply this week is a novel called “Stitches” by David Small.
I went along for my first “Laydeez Do Comics” meeting this month and was lucky enough to hear Mr. Small talk about this wonderful memoir of his, which turns a horrific Dickensian childhood of illness and abuse into a redemptive visual poem. There is a sequence of panels in the book that has no words but just a series of dark, rainy vistas which convey sadness in a way that I’ve never felt before. Utterly heartrending.
The evening also offered a delightfully, dotty and funny stream of consciousness from performance artist turned graphic diarist Bobby Baker. She had this Tommy Cooper air of absurdity that was beguiling… it was hard to believe that she has spent much of her life coping with severe depression. But then so many of the great comedians battle with the ‘black dog‘.
The whole “Laydeez Do Comics” night is a great chance to meet like minded people and it’s the brainchild of Nicola Streeten and Sarah Lightman. I’m looking forward to the next gathering.
And to end my social diary I was invited along to Patti Boulaye‘s cabaret at the newly revitalised London Hippodrome this weekend. The Matcham Room offered a Vegas style glamour to the evening’s entertainment. Miss Boulaye has the perfect cabaret personality… that is to say she offered up songs that were well known but gave them her unique interpretation and she was particularly good at the ‘Grown up’ stuff, as she called them, …songs by rascally ragtimers like Bessie Smith (and what pray is a ‘Two Fisted Man‘??).
All in all a great evening’s entertainment.
I also got to talk to Anthony Andrews who many years ago was a guest at the St James’s Club in Mayfair, where I used to sing with my dad at the piano. I was a young aspiring actress at the time and it absolutely made my night that my idol from ‘Brideshead Revisited‘ complimented my singing and asked me to come and meet the Prince and Princess Michael of Kent. So it was a wonderful cyclical moment to see him again, still looking every inch a matinee idol, and ask him if he would come to my next cabaret show!
My manager Steve Hughes produced Patti’s show and I am very excited that he will be working with me on a special Hollywood style cabaret.

I’m signing off for now but look out too for a new dedicated blog for my graphic novel very soon.

About Jessica

Jessica Martin is a multi-talented performer whose career has taken her from comedy impressionist to musical theatre leading lady and scriptwriter.
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