Radio On is an independent, music-themed comic strip anthology of short stories. I contributed a story to #1, which came out last year.
Excitingly, #2 is out now, with 6 exclusive stories and a wraparound cover.
My own contribution this time round is ‘Professor Valdemar’s Final Experiment’, a darkly comic tale that wonders what our souls might sound like if they could be turned into music…
Here’s a sneak preview:
Both issue are available to buy here, for a mere pittance, but I also have 3 copies to give away absolutely free. To get hold of one, all you have to do is answer the following questions:
The main character in my story takes his name from another character in a short story by a famous gothic writer. Which writer is it, and what is the story in question?
To answer, find me on Facebook (search Sam Zuppardi Illustrator) and send me a message detailing your answer, along with your postal address. (UK entries only, I’m afraid). The first 3 correct responses will all receive a copy of #2.
Good luck, and happy listening!
Regular readers of this blog may remember my trip to the Museum of Childhood in Edinburgh, and the doll room there. This week’s picture comes from a photo I took there and recently rediscovered. Rapunzel has appeared on this blog before, in a different guise, and I’m always intrigued by the infinite different ways there are of interpreting the same character. I liked these dolls especially for the parallel drawn between Rapunzel and the old witch through the composition – like they were different sides of the same coin. The version of the story I remember from childhood didn’t do this, so this link suggested all kinds of interesting new depths and dynamics to the tale. I also really liked the delicate hands on the dolls, and Rapunzel’s hair – wound round and round her head in tight braids.
‘Radio On’ is a comic anthology of short tales on a musical theme. I’ve drawn a rather dark and sinister tale – ‘My Great Uncle’s Piano’ – for it. You can see the second page below. Click on the image to order a copy of the first issue, which is launching on Kickstarter throughout this month…
I also drew the wicked witch from balletLORENT’s Rapunzel production. She was another mesmerising figure – floating around on roller skates with some really creepy reptilian pets…
Not long ago I saw balletLORENT’s dance production of Rapunzel, written by Carol Ann Duffy, at the Northern Stage in Newcastle. It borrowed from ballet to create something powerful and primal – not so much a story as a series of intense moods, articulated through the movement on stage and the beat of the music. I was particularly taken with their interpretation of Rapunzel herself. Doing away with the familiar, traditional image of long, braided princess-blond hair, their Rapunzel was altogether a more wild, unkempt and feral a creature – as I suppose you might expect of a girl locked up in a tower for years on end. It was refreshing to see the subversion of a classic interpretation that worked to serve the story, rather than just being a case of style over substance. This vision of Rapunzel added something new and unexpected to an old story. I went home inspired and drew a picture.
This is a picture from ‘The Cabbage-Patch Mother,’ another story in the collection ‘There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill her Neighbour’s Baby’ by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya. The sentence conjured up the image so vividly I had to get it down on paper. Because the tales are translated from the Russian I made the matchbox Russian too.
‘The girl’s mother took out a matchbox she kept in her breast pocket, and out of this matchbox she took half of a hollowed bean, and in that cradle, wiping the sleep from her eyes with her tiny little fists, sat a tiny little girl.’
On a whim I picked up a collection of Russian short stories called ‘There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbour’s Baby’ by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya not long ago and was pleasantly and unexpectedly catapulted into a strange and macabre world. One of the nicest things about reading is stumbling on a new writer or a new story that opens new worlds to you – worlds that are at once unfamiliar and yet seem to give voice to things you always felt existed in the background. The stories in this collection are bizarre and surreal, vividly, horrifically nightmarish and dreamlike in equal measure. Gritty realism collides with a gnarly magic and the vague echoes of established fairy tale tropes are given a startling and twisted new slant. It was one of the few times in recent books where I felt on genuinely new terrain – a feeling that was well served by the short story format where the twists and turns within each tale were mirrored by the sudden changes from story to story and there was no time to settle into any kind of complacency over what was to happen next. Post-apocalyptic stories of survival mixed with ghost stories and Gothic parables and featured a host of characters from monks, circus freaks and magical babies to mysterious strangers, stoic mothers and evil wizards. If you like your fairy tales pitch black, creepily unsettling and deeply affecting you could do a lot worse than seek these out.
Below is a picture I did from the story ‘Hygiene,’ one of the stand-out tales of the collection.
“One time the doorbell rang at the apartment of the R. family, and the little girl ran to answer it. A young man stood before her. In the hallway light he appeared to be ill, with extremely delicate, pink, shiny skin. He said he’d come to warn the family of an immediate danger: there was an epidemic in the town, an illness that killed in three days… The girl’s grandparents listened to the man, as did her father and the girl herself. Her mother was in the bath.
‘I survived the disease,’ the young man said simply, and removed his hat to reveal a bald scalp covered with the thinnest layer of pink skin, like the foam atop boiling milk. ‘I survived,’ he went on, ‘and because if this I’m now immune. I’m going door to door to deliver bread and other supplies to people who need them.Do you need anything?'”