human behavior

A comical need to belong

Posted in Sydney by humanb on November 9, 2009

KingsComicsI’m probably what the psychiatrists would call a Cluster A personality type (along its normal spectrum, mind you), a ‘loner’ in common parlance. I don’t join clubs, seek out company, or require a companion to enjoy myself in any circumstance, except eating out.

But lately I’ve found a strange satisfaction in the fact that I’m now a member of a club: that of the comic book reader. I don’t mean Manga or graphic novels, both of which are far too hip for my taste. I don’t do hip.

I mean regular comics that are read by decidedly uncool, socially avoidant men in their 40’s; men who still maintain autistic fantasies of seducing Mary Jane, or of having to hide their superidentity behind a geek’s mask. Of course, while I do love science fiction and superhero mythology, I don’t read these men’s comics.

I’ve only got eyes for Buffy.

I suppose I must begrudgingly admit that the Buffy Season 8 comic is bordering on cool. The show was a cult classic, though it should have been hailed a ‘classic’, period. But Season 8 has been developed in the spirit of the old-fashioned comics, and by an artistic genius no less – one Joss Whedon. And Joss stays true to the genre without ignoring the rules and rhythms of the Buffyverse. So I like to consider myself as having joined the uncool club of comic book geeks; and I take great pleasure in my monthly pilgrimage to Kings Comics on Pitt Street.

On my first trip to the shop I felt like such a poser. I was sure the staff and customers would incinerate me with their eyeballs. I tried to look comfortable in that shop full of superhero figurines, sci-fi movie posters and hardcore devotees. I even pretended to browse the various collections before making my choice. But who was I kidding? Everybody knew why I had come. Everybody knew I was one of those comic book virgins looking for a Buffy fix. So I gave up the pretense and made a bee line to Dark Horse publishing for Issue #1 of Buffy Season 8.

I just picked up Issue #30 today. That makes me a regular patron of a comic book shop. And while my definition of being in the club does not include my befriending any fellow customers, I can proudly say that one staff person there knows me and always greets me with a smile. He’s a shy young thing with a very sweet manner, hair dyed black, and eyes like a Japanese anime character.

Apparently he saw me on Channel 7 News one night at an Obama election party. I think that made me famous somehow. He’s been eager to catch my eye and smile once a month ever since. And I look forward to his smile.

It means I’m in the club.

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DIY Book Display for Kids

Posted in Crafts by humanb on November 20, 2013

booksPerhaps a newborn doesn’t have much use for children’s books. Still, it’s never too early to start building a child’s library and nurturing the habit and pleasure of reading.

With no available space on any of our bookcases, all children’s books will have to live on our bedroom windowsill for the foreseeable future. That means I’ll have the pleasure of designing a set of bookends, if time permits. 🙂

A look at the two oversized children’s books leaning inelegantly against the smaller ones on my window sill, however, made me reconsider how to display the larger books.

I’m a huge fan of displaying children’s books with their covers face forward, rather than their spines, but it only works with large expanses of wall (or tiny collections).


A single lectern, on the other hand, allows the display of a few large picture books in a small space.  Settled on making a lectern, I was determined to make use of any scrap wood or MDF that I already owned. For so small a project as this, I refused to spend any money on materials.

I used the largest piece of scrap plywood I had as a back rest, and cut two smaller pieces to act as a base and easel.


I joined the plywood with PVA wood glue and reinforced it with nails. The entire construction took a matter of minutes, and I couldn’t have been more pleased with the result.

That left the question of how to decorate the thing.

Paint it? A solid colour? Stripes? Too boring.

Cover it? With a paper collage? I liked that idea. But what kind of paper? Newspaper? We don’t buy print newspapers anymore. Comic book images? Not my Buffy. No siree. Nu uh. (And not age-appropriate anyway.) Dictionary pages? Could have worked, but I didn’t have an appropriate dictionary I was prepared to cut up. Pages from a children’s book?


Last year I made my mother-in-law a book cover collage from the duplicate and battered copies of classics in her extensive library.


I knew I was right to keep the books after I’d used the covers. I was bound to find a use for them at some point, and the yellowed, crumbling pages of an old edition of Alice in Wonderland was just what I needed.


I’d initially thought to use the full pages with text and illustrations, but abandoned the idea of using text altogether with so many provocative illustrations at my disposal.  For the edges I cut out chapter titles.


This project was a simple cut and paste job with a layer of Mod Podge brushed over the surface to seal it.


But arranging the images to fit and overlap well was surprisingly time-consuming.


For that reason, I was sorely tempted to just paint the back and the bottom of the lectern… or cover it with felt… or leave it unfinished… or do anything other than cover it with more illustrations.  But I relented and tackled the back and bottom as well.


This enables the lectern to be displayed at any angle, after all.


Of course, the point of this lectern is to display books, not stand alone…


So very little of my collage is actually visible.


But that’s no reason not to make a lectern to be proud of. 😉


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