LeftLion 56 went to press today with a funky knittingham jumper on the cover to get you in the festive spirit. Which also meant the obligatory tea towel so that readers can get some Notts around their pots. This year it consisted of 12 random things made in Nottingham. Don’t ask me why but Robin Hood was one of them. That’s right. We actually told people from Nottingham that the bow-firing, rich-robbing, tight-wearing forest-dweller is one of our own. I wanted to include the Eiffel Tower and claim it was designed by a brick layer from Clifton but I was over written.
Our literature feature focused on Ross Bradshaw, the Five Leaves Publisher who’s made the brave decision to open up an independent bookshop in the middle of a recession. Given that people can barely afford to put their heating on at the moment, this decision took balls as well as books. This lent itself to a corking pun: Ross on Why? Robin Lewis put together an interview with Ross but I decided to run with a feature using quotes from the interview as it enabled a brief potted history of indie bookshops and why opening up was so important.
WriteLion had a slight revamp. On the poetry page we said goodbye to the black and white illustrations of Rum Lad creator Steve Larder and welcomed in colour illustrations from Ian Carrington. Two of the poetry book reviews came courtesy of Shoestring Press Kinda Keats by Deborah Tyler-Bennett and A Hook in the Milk Shed by Robert Etty. The third was West North East by Matthew Clegg from Longbarrow Press. Across the page Kate Half-Price returned and got stuck into the Booker shortlist. Our four ‘normal’ book reviews were themed around history and included two from Amberley Books about Stilton Cheese and Lowdham, Colin Bacon’s latest novel Spibey and Christy Fearn’s debut novel Framed about the industrial riots of 1811/2.
Six Degrees of Strellyation has now moved to the back page, taking its rightful place next to Notts Trumps. This freed up room for a new feature called Readers’ Wives. I’ve wanted to do this for a few years now but have never got around to it. It’s basically about a woman married to an obsessive reader, so partly autobiographical (except the marriage bit). The artist is Helen Nowell who works with children’s novels and so we’ve had to temper the humour to protect her working reputation. Always a challenge in LeftLion. The first doesn’t have any text so getting the visual directions right was essential. I think she’s done a brilliant job and I’m looking forward to seeing the male kitted out in Gyles Brandreth style jumpers. There could only ever be one fairy on a book lover’s tree and that’s the winner of this year’s Booker. If the cartoon strip is well received then we’ll look at selling the cartoons as cards, calendars etc and splitting the profits 50/50.
Having never written a cartoon strip before it made complete sense that this issue would see me do two. The other is with Rikki Marr and is called AYE UP Duck, a kind of Nottingham version of Andy Capp. Rikki is one of my commissioned artists for Dawn of the Unread and so it’s no coincidence that comics are on my mind at the moment and that such collaborations should form. We used the first one to have a go at Nottinghamshire County Council for dropping their funding to the Playhouse