Comics: At this stage in my life, I think I have to resign myself to the fact that I probably won't be discovering any new comics creators in the future, just keeping up with the work of the ones I've known for years. Still, there's always the possibility that those creators will start pairing off in unexpected combinations. Which explains my delight at the existence of How To Talk To Girls At Parties, a comics adaptation of a ten-year-old Neil Gaiman short story. Gaiman, as far as I know, has stood back and let the adapters have free rein of his text: which is a wise move on his part, as those adapters are Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá, the men responsible for Daytripper, the finest graphic novel of the 21st century to date. After seeing their glorious depictions of Brazil in that earlier work, it's a bit of a culture shock to find them drawing 1970s East Croydon - inevitably, that's only the first of numerous culture shocks you'll get in these 64 pages. In a way, the mere presence of Gaiman as author is a spoiler: you know in advance that the sexual panic felt by two teenage boys as they gatecrash the party of their dreams is going to be replaced by something else. But the nature of that something else is revealed to the reader in tantalisingly small increments, and Moon and Bá are totally in control of the tone of the story as it shifts under your feet. Those 64 pages, it turns out, cover a spectacular amount of ground. Would you like to read the first nine of them for free? Here you go. You'll have to find out the rest for yourself, though.
Music: What with one thing and another, it's been three months since I last put together an Audio Lair Spotify playlist for you all. The previous one ended up being a summation of my favourite tunes from the first quarter of the year, which means that this would probably be a good time to play you some of my favourite songs from the second quarter. Have a listen, why don't you?
Telly: A quick follow-up on last month's telly recommendation: I'm delighted to announce that one month after me whining about its unavailability in this country, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend can now be watched on Netflix UK. (I mean, I could quibble about how they have every episode of season 1 apart from the final one, but there are probably ways to get around that.) This month's geoblocked telly recommendation, however, is almost certainly not going to be resolved as easily. To set the scene, let me reveal that The Belated Birthday Girl and I spent a large part of June roaming between the Nordic regions, and you should be reading plenty about that here in the weeks to come. For now, let me focus on a small discovery that we made in Norway: a TV show called FC EM, which appears to be a late-night comic round-up of the daily news from Euro 2016. Obviously, it's all in Norwegian with no English subs, so we were doing our best Monoglot Movie Club to work out what was happening. But some things are universal: and one of them is a recurring segment called Roy Reiser (Roy Travels). It's magnificently brutal: they take all the shots they can find from that day of England manager (at the time) Roy Hodgson looking vacant, cut them together to a jolly comedy tune (best represented by the first few seconds of this unnecessary dance remix), and overdub it with what's obviously a rambly stream-of-consciousness commentary theoretically by Roy himself. Even if you can't understand the words, the intent is bloody hilarious. And there's twenty-odd minutes of it out there in total. And TV 2 are refusing to let anyone outside Norway watch it online, even though I asked them nicely. If anyone can think of a solution to this deadlock that doesn't involve a return flight to Oslo, a computer and a camcorder, I'd love to hear it.
Anyway, this site will be firmly remaining in Europe for at least the next month, as a whole clutch of reports from Scandinavia makes it onto here. Or I'll end up putting off writing them for nearly a year like I sometimes do. Could go either way, really. Place your bets in the comments box below.