Clearly familiar with the internet’s love of all things Brian Blessed, London music teacher Matt Parry has taken to Kickstarter in a bid to source funding for his mixed media project for children, Sheherazade. Parry’s aim is to introduce children to classical music through a series of stories told as both audio plays available on CD, scored by a relevant piece of music, and as accompanying graphic novels. (Readers of a certain age who are also progeny of a certain level of aspirational parent might recall the similarly-pitched 90s magazine series The Magical Music Box, whose fortnightly issues contained a radio play on CD or tape that had some thematic or narrative ties to a particular piece of classical music, as well as the complete piece of classical music excerpted in the play and an illustrated print telling of the play in the magazine, alongside some historical context for the music. So yeah, this is like that, to bring to completion an illustrative reference an exceptionally limited number of people will recognise.)
Parry’s initial foray into this form of multimedia children’s storytelling is, as you may have guessed from the title, inspired by Rimsky-Korsakov’s symphonic suite Sheherazade, itself inspired by the collection of South Asian folk tales The Arabian Nights. He’s already independently funded, recorded and released the audio component of the project, enlisting the talents of Rory Bremner and the aforementioned Brian Blessed to star, but having signed with EMI to release the graphic novel component and, potentially, a series of apps, saw that deal fall through upon EMI’s acquisition by Universal Music Group. The Kickstarter, then, is to finally get the graphic novel off the ground and lay the foundations for future instalments, a project which Parry has named The Opus Pocus.
Following initial concept artwork by Jonny Duddle, the finished graphic novel will be illustrated by Faye Simms, whose The Practical Princess Guide was recently published by Templar. Taking as a model the Asterix comics, Parry intends the book to be 42 full colour A4 pages, available both in print and as a PDF. Rewards for investors range from the £5 entry point of an mp3 of Brian Blessed shouting ‘I SHOULD BEAT YOUR PINK BUTTOCKS YOU LYING LITTLE MONKEY’ (seemingly excerpted from my own passion project, Brian Blessed Reads the Collected Works of E.L. James) through to the prize that greets donors of £100 or more: a limited edition of the CD complete with Jonny Duddle’s original artwork, inscribed with a personalised message from Brian Blessed or Rory Bremner, plus the PDF of the novel, an mp3 of the story set to music and a selection of Bremner and Blessed lines from the story presented in isolation from the music, in case you want to set Blessed yelling ‘SAY HAIRY BABOON ONE MORE TIME AND I SHALL HAVE TO GIVE YOU A SPANKING’ as your ringtone for some reason.
He was chief hack and music editor of webzine Brazen from 2006 to 2010, and hosted Left of the Dial on Subcity Radio from 2008 to 2011.
He can be heard semi-regularly on the podcast of Scottish cultural blog Scots Whay Hae ('20th best website in Scotland!' - The List), and in 2011 founded Seen Your Video, a film and music podcast and blog based in Glasgow. He has a Masters degree in Scottish Literature from the University of Glasgow that will never have any practical application. You are on a hiding to nothing if you follow him on Twitter expecting any kind of hot publishing scoop.