Marcus gets into a scrape…

But first…
Dulltown, UK/Europe: Today’s nice fish names are: the eucla cod, the Japanese eel, the neon tetra, the orbicular velvetfish, the hillstream loach, and the pineapplefish. If you were trying to impress someone by slipping one of these fish names into your conversation today, which one would you choose? Me, I’d definitely go for the orbicular velvetfish.

What exactly is it, do you think, that old books smell of?
It’s a very distinctive smell isn’t it? Nothing else smells like an old book. It could be the paper I suppose, but I suspect it might be the glue too – yes, the glue too – I believe old-style glue had fish in it, what part of the fish they used I’m not sure. But enough of this.
Let’s have a good sniff at, and a look at, my scruffy old and defaced junk shop book, the Lion Annual from 1956. A jolly good Christmas present for a young lad back in the Britain in the 1950s; full of stirring adventure stories from around the world and the British Empire, oh, and also from outer space. Here’s a picture of the front and back covers – nice colours and graphics eh?…

Today I think we’ll visit a different Empire – the one that those ancient Romans had – see, that didn’t last long either – I think it’s probably best to not bother having an empire…

This illustration is at the top of page 57.
Well, there’s plenty going on here already; I reckon that muscly lad next to the kicked over barbecue (there go your sausages and burgers all over the floor!) must be the eponymous Marcus – doesn’t he strike an elegant pose dear reader? Almost looks like he’s running, but not really.
I really do like the drawings in this book. Me, I couldn’t do anything as good as this – I’m rotten at figure drawing anyway. It looks to me like the original was done in ‘old school’ pen and Indian ink; loads of fine detail. It was probably done much larger and reduced down to go in the book.
Now, what do you think is going on in this little drama? I can’t be bothered reading the story, but I reckon our Marcus has been having a bit of a playful, and probably good-natured scrap, as young healthy men are supposed to do (me, I always tried to avoid things like that), with the dark-skinned chap, who, having no sandals on his feet, and only a loincloth and no nice shorts like Marcus’s, was presumably a slave (apparently if you had an empire it was alright to have a few slaves to dominate, if that was your thing). The slave, let’s call him Ted, looks like, after being thrown by Marcus, he is frozen in mid air – the illustrator has tried to get Ted moving with some ‘motion lines’, but to no avail, he’s pretty well still stuck there isn’t he?
Now then, who is the portly bald man getting shoved into the water feature? He’s got sandals, and a stylish robe – he must be a posh Roman. I expect after this incident both lads will be in… oh, what’s that phrase? Ah yes, they’ll be in ‘deep shit’, as our cousins over the pond say. Can you guess dear reader, which of our two athletes will come off worse after all this malarkey?…

About Dave Whatt

Grumpy old surrealist artist, musician, postcard maker, bluesman, theatre set designer, and debonair man-about-town. My favourite tools are the plectrum and the pencil...
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