Bonkers New Books For Autumn
October, the time when all the weird books come out (including mine – more on that tomorrow). Last night the legendary Scala Cinema in King’s Cross rolled back the decades for the launch of my pal Jane Giles’s awesome Scala book, the definitive volume on this epoch-defining club/cinema/crazy space, covering everything from its punk years to its Stanley Kubrick lawsuit…
The book weighs 5.5 kilos and is impossible to read unless you have good upper body strength, but wow, everything’s here, the faces, the films, the music, the fashions, the art and the programming. Having not entered the building since the cinema shut (it’s now a music venue) I was pleased to see that its interior hasn’t changed one iota, although it no longer smells like a Turkish brothel.
The party was attended by almost everyone I ever worked with or befriended there. A rather cruel trick involved showing interviews with many of them onscreen, filmed back in the Scala’s glory days, so the attendees could see how badly they’d aged.
Another mad book, only very slightly smaller and also successfully crowdfunded by fans, is ‘The Power Pack of Ken Reid’. Reid was arguably the most influential British comics artist, by which I mean ‘comics’ as in the British weeklies for kids that were delivered alongside the family newspapers, comics like ‘The Beano’ or ‘Wham!’.
Reid greatest creation, ‘Jonah’, the sailor who sinks every ship he touches, was a sort of spin-off from a radio show called ‘The Navy Lark’, in which an awful lot of ships sank. Sadly, Jonah isn’t represented in either of these volumes (the original strips appeared between 1958 and 1963) presumably because publisher DC Thompson won’t release them. Luckily these two huge volumes from Reid later years still have lots of wonderful, deranged artwork from many other strips, including ‘Queen of the Seas’, a virtual clone of ‘Jonah’. Reid’s drawing of cackling, gibbering lunatics being blown to smithereens are a delight.
I’m now waiting for a long cold winter weekend when I can get stuck into these giants – my one problem is where to store them in the meantime.