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Friday Five: 5 Shakespearean Takes on Cthulhu (or Vice Versa)

Shakespeare vs Cthulhu

Imagine if it had been William Shakespeare, England’s greatest playwright, who had discovered the truth about the Great Old Ones and the cosmic entity we know as Cthulhu, rather than the American horror writer H P Lovecraft. Imagine if Stratford’s favourite son had been the one to learn of the dangers of seeking after forbidden knowledge and of the war waged between the Elder Gods in the Outer Darkness, and had passed on that message, to those with eyes to see it, through his plays and poetry… Welcome to the world of Shakespeare vs Cthulhu!

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Friday Five: 5 Fantastic Flicks at the BFI


One perk of being a Londoner? The BFI Southbank. Anne and I were there recently for an Indiana Jones marathon (all three films!), and I was reminded - for the 857th time - what a wonderful place it is. Pros: an unbelievable selection of movies from the timeless to the trashy. Cons: they don't sell popcorn (heathens!)

Smuggle in some Haribo and check out the website, because there's an amazing line-up for the rest of the summer. A few highlights below.

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Friday Five: 5 Old English Superstitions about May

The Arrival of MissivesApril may be the cruellest month, but May is the one that has traditionally been given a bad press.

Perhaps it suits the English temperament to look around at spring-time - the rebirth and fresh growth of the lush green land, with rough winds shaking the darling buds - and come up with a list of possible unfortunate happenings that might ruin everything. Or perhaps there's good advice lurking somewhere beneath the surface; I leave it you to decide. So here are five superstitions about May, four of which are warnings, and the final one is more in the way of skincare advice:

1. Don't wash blankets.

The belief that you shouldn't wash blankets in May seems to belong to Southern England in particular, and to be fairly new, from the turn of the twentieth century. Why shouldn't you wash blankets? It's all a bit vague really, attracting a range of warnings from the possibility of blanket shrinkage to imminent death. A proverb from the 1920s states:

Wash blankets in May
You'll soon be under clay.

Removing warm layers from the bed before the weather is reliable leads to feeling chilly, which leads to getting a cold, which leads to death. The same thought lies behind the next superstition on the list.

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Friday Five: 5 Silent Comics - World Without Words


Jamie's back!

One of the ways in which comics can be defined is as a combining of words and pictures in order to form a narrative. But what happens when the words are taken away?

The following five comics are all ‘silent’, by which I mean without word balloons, narration or thought bubbles (sound effects are still allowed). Often used in tales where dislocation or surrealism are key elements, wordless comics can also focus on playing on strong emotional reactions as there’s one less thing intellectually separating the reader and the characters. With silent comics, the reader’s involvement becomes deeper and more active, as you have to bring so much more to putting together a story without the guiding hand that words provide.

If you’re looking for a ‘reading’ experience that’s a bit out of the ordinary and will flex parts of your brain you didn’t know you had - here are five examples of amazing silent comics.

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Friday Five: 5 Majorly Helpful Marketing Manuals

How to lie with statistics

Slightly outside our normal remit, but, hey, we encourage people to share the things they're interested in, and I really like this stuff. 

The thing is, 98% of the time, when anyone asks "what should I learn about advertising?", the answer will be "Ogilvy". And - you know what? That's right. I can't even set this up as a controversial "Nogilvy" (see what I did there?) hot take, because the eminently quotable David Ogilvy managed to churn out advice that's, frankly, both practical and timeless. Darnit.

So start there.

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Friday Five: 5 Stories by Jeff Lemire


Jamie's back with more recommendations! 

Canadian writer/artist Jeff Lemire is a comics creator whose work is bound together by a strong thematic consistency. Lemire really proves – as if there was still doubt – that comics are a serious literary medium, but he doesn’t forget the power this medium has to engage with our emotions.

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Friday Five: 5 Wonderful Webcomics Now in Print (And They Say That Print Is Dead!)

Ellerbisms-13Say hi to Jamie, who is leading us through the wicked world of webcomics...

Webcomics, they’re a tricky beast.

The spiritual successors to daily newspaper strips, given the entire scope and resources of the World Wide Web in which to spread their wings. Just keeping up with a tiny fraction of what’s available can amount to a full time job and, for luddites like me, they represent a unique problem: I want to read them, but books are just so darn nice!

Luckily, some very nice people (publishers, mostly) have collected some of top webcomics into print editions. Here are five of my favourites:

Ellerbisms by Marc Ellerby (published by Great Beast) 

Ellerbisms came out in 2012, but the comic itself began way back in 2007 and charts Marc Ellerby’s own life, specifically his relationship with Anna: the girl he never thought he could have, then had and ultimately lost. Autobiography is a common genre for webcomics, the daily, or near-daily, nature of them being a great way to chart day-to-day experience. What sets Ellerbisms apart is the charming honesty of its warts-and-all storytelling. Ellerby himself is not always the hero here, but that doesn’t mean he’s the villain. There are no villains in this story, there’s just life. This honest account is tied together by Ellerby’s disarmingly simplistic artwork: simple lines construct amazingly expressive faces, with quirked eyebrows and slight frowns saying so much more than words could, the art belying the raw emotional punch this comic carries.

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