Strange Animals 19sep2018: Hello from Out of Town

Short one this time, because I’m on vacation, and goddammit I’m going to avoid as much work as I possibly can.

I’m writing this as I sit with a pint of red ale at The Ice Wharf next to Camden Lock, near Regent’s Canal—which is possibly my favourite place in the city. Same as last year, I’m in the UK for the ThoughtBubble convention, which takes place this weekend in Leeds.

As before, I’m not tabling, but I’ll be helping out Ram V. and the rest of the White Noise gang at their clump of tables in the Ask for Mercy Marquee.

I will also be participating in the live Strip Panel Naked panel on Saturday the 22nd at the CarriageWorks Main Theatre from 11:30am-12:20pm, where Greg Rucka, Leslie Hung, Tríona Farrell and I will be chatting about our work with host Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou.

And finally, I’ll be wandering by tables 157-158 where P.M. Buchan and John Pearson will be showcasing and selling limited sneak peeks of their new comic that I lettered for them.

Come say hi.


Last year, when I first visited Regent’s Canal, I ran into a trio of formerly-homeless men who’d bought themselves a houseboat by asking visitors from all over the world to doodle in and sign books that they then peddled on eBay for money. I had a lovely conversation with one of them, who wore a Union Jack top hat, while a second one balanced a football on his nose to the tremendous amusement of a Thai lady.

When I returned today, I looked forward to saying hello to them, but this time it was just the gent in the top hat (still wearing it) who was having a strangely xenophobic conversation with a German man named Ehrlich and his lady friend about how Britain was self-sufficient and “y’know, people forget we used to have an empire.” I decided against renewing our acquaintance.

On the other hand, Regent’s Canal itself remains an utter delight, and my afternoon was improved by far ten minutes later when I helped a pair of giggling mums smuggle their toddlers, a pair of prams, and themselves over a garden fence because “we couldn’t be bothered to walk around”.

An hour or so later, I walked back past the Boat Built with Books, and Ehrlich and his lady were piled into the houseboat, sharing beers with the gent in the top hat and a young South Asian man while bonding over their mental health issues.


This week sees the release of Days of Hate #8 from Image Comics, by Ales Kot, Danijel Žeželj, Jordie Bellaire and Tom Muller, and Bloodborne #5 from Titan Comics, by Ales Kot, Piotr Kowalski and Brad Simpson, both lettered by me.


Hass and I also (finally) managed to get out the new episode of Letters & Lines I promised in the last edition. As usual, you can hear it on all the standard podcast platforms, or directly at this link.

We’ve also been super-efficient and managed to record another episode on productivity (Hass’s topic) and Transcience Vs. Longevity (my topic), which should be out soon.

We’re also hoping to record an episode or two in person when we meet at ThoughtBubble, but knowing us, we’d rather not promise one and overdeliver than assuming we’ll get it done and failing miserably.


One of my favourite serialised comics at the moment is Eleanor Davis’s digital comic Tomorrow. The first chapter was released a few months ago, and I think I reread it about four times the day I bought it. Davis’s assured, distinctive writing along with her sensuous, thoughtful line makes for some amazing cartooning.

The book itself releases in print next year from Drawn & Quarterly, and while digital doesn’t quite have the full flavour of print, it’s a treat getting to read this book so far ahead of publication.

I mention this because Davis released the second chapter this week, and I highly recommend you go purchase both it and the first chapter from her Gumroad page.


From the commonplace book, here’s an entry on beer from an article about “ale wives”:

Most historians agree that beer originated in the Sumerian settlement of Godin Tempe, an outpost on the Silk Road trade route, between 3500-3100 BCE, where it became a staple of daily diets because it contained loads of nutrients from the grains used to brew it. The other thing historians agree on is that the process of brewing in Godin Tempe was initiated and cultivated by women.

Ninkasi was the goddess who gifted women with instructions on beer brewing; in fact, the oldest known writing about beer is The Hymn to Ninkasi (written down around 1800 BCE), which reads half like an ale celebration and half like erotic poetry. Here’s Ninkasi working her ministrations, soaking her malt in the jar, the waves rising and falling and rising and falling. Here’s Ninkasi holding on with both hands to the honey and the sweet wort, the waves rising and falling and rising and falling. Here’s Ninkasi at the climax, pouring the beer out of the vat, the life-giving onrush of Tigris and Euphrates!

Ninkasi was the brewer of beer, but she was also the beer itself. Her spirit and essence infused the beer her priestesses prepared. Her name literally means “the lady who fills the mouth.”

Files under #history and #beer.