TIME FOR LIGHTS OUT, Raymond Briggs

Not sure how I ended up on this particular comps list, but, hey, it’s a new Raymond Briggs, I’m not complaining. A trailblazer and a master.

In his customary pose as the grumpiest of grumpy old men, Raymond Briggs contemplates old age and death… and doesn’t like them much. Illustrated with Briggs’s inimitable pencil drawings, Time for Lights Out is a collection of short pieces, some funny, some melancholy, some remembering his wife who died young, others about the joy of grandchildren, of walking the dog… He looks back at his schooldays and his time as an evacuee during the war, and remembers his parents and the house in which he grew up. But most, like this one, are about his home in Sussex:

Looking round this house,
What will they say,
The future ghosts?

It is a beautiful book, and, on first inspection, performatively melancholy but fiercely alive. He’s 85 now, and if this might be his last book, then it is a fine point on which to sign out and leave the room. And if, as one hopes, it’s not? Then, in these October years, we know that he’s still smiling to himself and still stretching. What a joy to be gifted a new Briggs this season.

TIME FOR LIGHTS OUT (UK) (US)

RAIN, Mary & Bryan Talbot

Just arrived – it’s Bryan’s new book!

(As it does with all British comics people of a certain age, it summons memories of bumping into Bryan somewhere and hearing “Have you seen me new book?”)

It looks gorgeous, the wide shape allowing Bryan and Mary to try something akin to the newspaper-strip format. Any new work by the Talbot makes it a good day, out here in my (also rainy) coastal cave. Thanks, both of you.

VIABLE SYSTEM 2, Keith Berry

Classic-style ambient from London composer Keith Berry. Excellent for the sort of work I’m doing today. Sometimes you just want to be inside a space machine touring exoplanetary landscapes and alien factories.

FROZEN PASSAGES, Poemme

I love everything that Poemme has done, and I’m so happy she’s made a winter record. This is going to be on regularly until spring. It’s the sound of snowfall in heaven.

Frozen Passages is an imagined journey into the far north of the continent, through boreal forest, across vast, barren landscape, through the iciest storm, and eventually finding warm refuge as the night brings a welcome calm to the tundra. 

SCARFOLK ANNUAL

Just arrived today, from writer/designer Richard Littler, the latest SCARFOLK emanation.

Scarfolk is a town in North West England that did not progress beyond 1979. Instead, the entire decade of the 1970s loops ad infinitum. Here in Scarfolk, pagan rituals blend seamlessly with science; hauntology is a compulsory subject at school, and everyone must be in bed by 8pm because they are perpetually running a slight fever. 

I have loved the SCARFOLK work forever, and am delighted to now possess an actual Annual (hardcover Annual books in this style were a mainstay Xmas publishing phenomenon back then). This stuff is always funny, bitter, weird and chilling in equal measure, and never less than witty and wonderful.

Order your own: (UK) (US)

A Christmas necessity. Stand around your burning oil can at Yuletide as you roast some rats and read it to each other over the constant wail of sirens in the distance.