Monday, 14 July 2014

RETIRING PERSONALITY


Not really RETIRING, of course – I've never earned enough money to get myself a decent pension! So I'll just have to keep on working till the ink runs dry...

Monday, 7 July 2014

ANY OLD BRIAN?

Back in 1972, my 23-year-old younger self put on a 'One-Man Show'as a fund-raiser for Christ Church, Chislehurst., aided and abetted by my best friend, Ash, and the church organist on the pianoforte...

On the bill were monologues, songs, sketches and skits and featured my then extensive repertoire of vocal impersonations advertised as being subject to change "as the fancy takes me or the voice leaves me"!

The programme had cover-art (I use the word 'art' loosely) featuring some of those whose voices I borrowed. One or two of the caricatures owe something to the work of artists I hugely admired – among them Hirschfeld and Trog – others were (as Bert says in Mary Poppins) "all me own work from me own memory..."

I wonder how many of my subjects you can identify, although you probably have to have been born in Britain and been around in the '60s and '70s to get them all...

Feel free to guess – and I'll reveal the answers later...





Friday, 4 July 2014

STUFF AND NONSENSE

There's another reason for celebrating today – 4 July – apart from its being American Independence Day and that's because 152 years ago an Oxford mathematic don, the Reverend C L Dodgson, took the three daughters of the Dean of Christ Church on a boating trip on the river Isis and wove a story to entertain his young passengers that featured the middle daughter, Alice Liddell, and was eventually written up as Alice's Adventures Underground...


...and was later refined into that classic of nonsense we now know as Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, published in 1865 by Dodgson under the pen-name, Lewis Carroll...

To mark this occasion, it seemed to me that a song might be called for – well, two songs actually – so here's an extract from my second-ever radio programme for the BBC, The Tune's My Own Invention about the music written by various composers down the years as settings for the songs in Wonderland and its sequel, Through the Looking-glass and What Alice Found There...

The programme, first broadcast over thirty-five years ago in 1978, was written with my good friend the late Antony Miall and, between us, we provided all the character voices –– with the exception of Alice who was played by Miss Eva Haddon!

In this sequence Tony, as well playing the piano, speaks, sings and weeps for the doleful Mock Turtle while I growl away as the Gryphon.

Won't you come and join the dance...?


A SIGN OF INDEPENDENCE

HAPPY 4th JULY!


Photo: © Brian Sibley 2004

Monday, 30 June 2014

BOTTLED UP

I've always had a soft spot for the ubiquitous cartoon desert islands that, in my youth, were a staple icon of the cartoonists who drew for such magazines as Punch, Lilliput, Men Only, Weekend, Titbits etc.

As an aspiring cartoonist – some forty-odd years ago – I tried my hand at several jokes featuring desert islands and/or messages in bottles like this one, which combined the two...


Friday, 20 June 2014

SOMETHING ABOUT MARY

She was a woman working the male-dominated world of film animation and what she brought to it was a artistic sensibility that helped shape some of the best-loved Disney animated films of the 1950s and one of Disneyland's most popular and enduring attractions, it's a small world...

Mary Blair (1911-1978) had a talent for graphic art with, as her fellow concept artist, Joe Grant, noted, "almost a calligraphic quality to her line" combined with an eye for shape and form and how they might be expressed in animation and, above all, an astonishing talent for choosing colour palettes that arrest the eye and fire the imagination.

Mary Blair's work is currently being celebrated at the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco in an exhibition entitled Magic, Color, Flair: The World of Mary Blair, a title shared by the accompanying book/catalogue written by Disney authority, John Canemaker. You can read more about Mary Blair, her art, the book and the exhibition on my decidedly disney blog.

Meanwhile, here are few favourite examples of Mary's sensational art * from arguably her three greatest film projects: Cinderella...





 

  ...Alice in Wonderland...




 


...and Peter Pan...







* Not all of the art are featured in this blog post appear in the exhibition or the accompanying book.




Wednesday, 18 June 2014

GOING FULL CYCLE: Caption Competition - THE RESULTS!

Maybe I'm losing my touch for picking quirky photos for my occasional caption competitions, certainly the most recent one garnered only a small number of entries. But, of course, it's quality not quantity that count and there was some smart and witty suggestions to go with this photo...



As David Weeks hadn't entered the competition (he says his entry never reached me!) I invited him to judge the anonymously-considered entries and here are –– THE RESULTS!

RUNNERS UP

Roger O B:


For the Johnson family it was a real needle match.

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Sebastian Hunt:


Seams like a perfectly normal family bike ride.

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Michael Goldberg:


And this is how the Frankenstein monster was created and brought to life.

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Michael Brett:


Standing room only.

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Suzanne:


Little girl: ‘Why am I the only one wearing pink?’



Man at the back: ‘How’s it going’. Man in front: ‘So-so!’



‘Champs Elysees, here we come!’
––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Boll Weavil:


Sometimes, the simplest ideas are the best!



I’m just making an outfit for the premiere of The Illustrated Man. The theme, for some reason, is boxer shorts, just boxer shorts….



‘It’s no good, I still have all this hemming to do. You’ll have to go round Hyde Park corner again.’



‘After 300 yards, complete the cuff buttons then turn left onto the North Circular.’

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

SharonM:



Chap on left thinks, 'another few more dresses made and I'll be down to his weight.'

And so to -- THE WINNERS...


EDITOR'S CHOICE - Special Commendation

Matt Field:
 
'Get off the bike, Carrie, and show your Mum how to do a running stitch.'
 
THIRD PLACE
Boll Weavil:  
‘It’s no good, I still have all this hemming to do. You’ll have to go round Hyde Park corner again.’ 

SECOND PLACE

SharonM:


Chap on left says: 'Fortunately Mum's fads tend to be cyclical!'



FIRST PLACE
Suzanne:

Woman: ‘When you said would I like to come cycling with you and a singer, this wasn't quite what I had in mind!’

Congratulations to the winners, many thanks to all the entrants and to David for his adjudication!


 

Sunday, 15 June 2014

CELEBRATING US...

We've still twelve months to go to our quarter-century and silver celebrations, but today marks twenty-four years since David and I first 'got together'...

Marriage, and even civil partnerships, still being a thing of the future, we count our anniversary from our first proper (and, actually, rather improper) date: dinner at the Savoy Grill and an overnight stay inn the hotel upstairs!

To commemorate our two-dozen years together, here's a 'selfie' of the two of us (taken several years ago, before we knew they were going to be called 'selfies') in one of the exquisite, gilded, mirrored rooms in Teatro La Fenice in our beloved Venice...


I like it (despite the pixilation) because – being quartered – it's a reminder that, like all relationships, we are the sum of our separate parts and identities...

HE & ME: 1990-2014

REMEMBERING DAD...

Father's Day!

It's odd how Father's Day and Mother's Day (even after many years) can be touched with a sense of sadness when it is no longer possible to express love and gratitude to one's parents – except, of course, in memory...

And here's a memory I came across in a bag of old greetings cards I was going through prior to recycling: a home-made Father's Day card which the young Sibley made for his Dad, some time in the early 1960s...



It's disappointing to think just how close I nearly came to rivaling the success of Hallmark Cards...

Happy Father's Day, Dad!

Saturday, 14 June 2014

RADIO ILLUSTRATIONS

First published in 1951, The Illustrated Man was Ray Bradbury's third book and comprised a collection of short stories revealed in the form of the bizarre tattoos with which his body is covered.

This afternoon, as readers of this blog cannot have escaped knowing, BBC Radio 4 will be broadcasting my new audio dramatization of this extraordinary book as an opener for a new series of dystopian dramas under the title, 'Dangerous Visions'

For a 60-minute play, the challenge was not simply which of the stories to dramatise, but also how to tell the book's framing device: a late-evening encounter between the mysterious Illustrated Man and an unnamed youth who is on a hiking trip in the desert...


The choice of stories was partly dictated by the fact that one of the most celebrated – 'The Veldt' – had been dramatised as an award-winning production seven years ago and was, therefore, ruled out of consideration. However, sharp-eared listeners who know the tale of the virtual experience nursery may catch a couple of references to it in today's play.

The stories chosen by my director, Gemma Jenkins, and myself were three other Bradbury "classics": 'Marionettes, Inc.', a tale of android audacity; 'Zero Hour', about a children's game that proves a threat to the human race (and soon to be extrapolated into Stephen Spielberg's new TV series The Whispers – although our take is probably closer to the original!); and 'Kaleidoscope', a space disaster that leads to a meditative reflection on matters of life and death...

To help with the linking narrative – in addition to the interludes featuring the Illustrated Man and the youth in the book – In turned to an earlier, similarly-titled short story which Bradbury  contributed to Esquire magazine in July 1950...


...oh, yes, and I added a little twist of my own to the end of the tale that I hope Uncle Ray would have excused!


Ian Glenn (centre) stars as the eponymous Illustrated man with Jamie Parker as the Youth to whom he tells his history and Elaine Claxton as the Tattoo Witch responsible for his extraordinary illustrated skin...

Here's a taste of things to come...


Featured in the first of those "illustrations", 'Marionettes, Inc.' are...


Stephen Hogan as 'Smith' and Patrick Kennedy as 'Brayling' –––– and 'Brayling 2'!

(By the way, don't you just love the full frontal lobotomies we've all been given by the BBC website?)

The Illustrated Man is directed by the talented Gemma Jenkins, whose father – veteran radio director, Martin Jenkins – directed my first-ever Bradbury-adaptation, 'The Next in Line', twenty-two years ago in 1992!

Broadcast earlier this afternoon on BBC Radio 4, the play can still be heard, on-line, for the next seven days.

A preview by Jane Anderson of Radio Times is, I think, not bad!! But then, I am biased...
In summer 2013 Radio 4 garnered huge audience and critical acclaim for its Dangerous Visions season of dramas. And so back it comes, like a user-friendly android, with more dystopian-themed tales based on the novels of some of the greatest writers of the supernatural and sci-fi genre.

The season opens with a new version of Ray Bradbury’s The Illustrated Man. Anyone who has seen the film version starring Rod Steiger will be delighted to learn that this adaptation by radio stalwart Brian Sibley is so much more faithful to Bradbury’s original.

The atmosphere is as subtly threatening to the listener as it is to the young man invited to look at ghastly predictions of the future tattooed upon a stranger’s body. From the clever use of 1960s US pop tracks to the sinister noises the insides of an android would make if you got too close and personal, the sound effects are superbly unsettling.

Added to this, there are three stories within the main plot-line and the compound effect is as mind-blowing as any of the scientific creations, alien invasions and meteor storms encountered. Literally, out of this world.
'Radio stalwart', eh?!

You can read and hear more about the production, my thoughts on the book and my long friendship with Ray Bradbury, HERE

Order copies of the original book in the UK HERE, and in the USA HERE







Above: A selection of cover art for The Illustrated Man including (bottom) the work of the brilliant fantasy artist, Jim Burns.

Below: A few interesting links...
Phil Nichol's bradburymedia.

The Centre for Ray Bradbury Studies.

The Bradbury Machine by Brian Sibley.

Brian Sibley's radio profile Encountering the Illustrated Man.

Farewell to the Martian Chronicler by Brian Sibley.

A Man Who Won't Forget Ray Bradbury by Neil Gaiman.

Picturing Ray Bradbury by Irene Gallo.
 Photograph: Sophie Bassouls/Sygma/Corbis