Chapter 3: The Gotham Fool

Well we got this chapter out by the skin of our teeth and the sleepless nights were worth it. Our theme this time is the Gotham Fool: tales of complete silliness that were passed down through oral culture before making it into a single chap-book called The Merry Tales of the Mad Men of Gotham (1540). What I particularly love about the Gotham Fool folktales is that they demonstrate a cunning way to subvert authority, arguably a trait that Nottingham has in abundance. They also show that locals will do anything to avoid unnecessary work and paying extra taxes. The more things change, the more they stay the same…

To discover exactly how this happens you’ll just have to read the chapter or you can follow our @Gothamfool twitter account where we will be tweeting the stories daily throughout the project. This account is being managed by NTU student Farida Khan.

There’s lots of embedded content in the chapter which gives context to the Gotham stories. One article by Joe Earp of the Nottingham Hidden History Team explores the role of the cuckoo in popular culture and traces its appearance from the Iron Age Celts to the court Jester. The Nottingham Hidden History Team are real local idols of mine so I’m absolutely delighted to be able to give them some space in our project and draw attention to their work.

Our writer for this chapter is Adrian Reynolds who is also the script editor for Dawn of the Unread. Adrian has experienced mental health problems of his own, having been sectioned twice, and so was perfect to address the themes coming out of this chapter. Adrian recently gave a 30 minute talk called ‘Press When Illuminated’ for an event called Pulling Your Cosmic Trigger and when I heard it I was blown away. It is essentially a journey that questions our perceptions of reality, taking in everything from eugenics, Richard Dawkins, Robert Anton Wilson, William Burroughs and naked ballet dancers along the way. Although our comic targets 14+ age groups, the embedded content means we can provide more challenging content for readers who want to go deeper into the text.

The video was produced for us by a local filmmaker called Will Price who will be working with me on helping to digitise the Ray Gosling Archives at NTU. But more of that in another post. Will is currently working on a Fracking documentary about the Danes Hill protesters and is certainly one to watch for the future.

After hearing Adrian’s essay on weird coincidences, sure enough I experienced a weird coincidence of my own when the artist for the chapter, Francis Lowe, sent through a video on the making of the comic. Francis is based in Coventry and so it was the first time I had seen an image of him after doing most of our correspondence via email and phone. Then it clicked. We had stayed up late one night at a New Year’s Eve party of mutual friends, many moons ago, and put the world to rights. Synchronicity? destiny? or a weird coincidence? Who cares, his artwork is beautiful.

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