Friday, 25 October 2013

Oscar Wilde Explains: His Version of his Arrest at Moncton

On the 12th October 1882, Oscar Wilde arrived in Moncton, New Brunswick, to give the final lecture of his nine-day tour of the Maritimes. It didn't go to plan. There was a confusion between Wilde's agent, W. S. Husted, and representatives of the local Young Men's Christian Association. The men from the YMCA thought they had a solid contract for Wilde to appear at their next meeting, and were incensed to find that he was double-booked with a rival promoter. They had a sheriff sent to Wilde's hotel room, arrest warrant in hand.

Fortunately, it turned out that the sheriff was a sensible chap, who declined to act on the warrant. The matter was turned over to Wilde's promoters, and the lecture went ahead. Afterwards, the YMCA's lawyer demanded $100 for withdrawal of the writ. Wilde refused; $20 was offered; the lawyer refused this, and it looked likely a trial would follow. Wilde's local supporters covered his $35 appearance bond and he was free to leave Moncton.

Within a few days, as the truth emerged and it became clear that Wilde had not signed on the dotted line for the YMCA, the whole matter was dropped. But not before Wilde gave his version of events to a Bostonian journalist. The story was reprinted in the Moncton Daily Transcript on the 18th October 1882.

A lot of the news stories published during Wilde's tour are now freely available on the internet, but the Daily Transcript story isn't one of them. I recently got in touch with the Moncton Public Library and they were kind enough to dig through their microfilms and shoot me over a scan. So here it is (along with a transcription of the article, below).

Moncton Daily Transcript, 18th Oct 1882. Click to enlarge.

Oscar Wilde Explains
His Version of his Arrest at Moncton

Oscar Wilde has arrived in Boston from St John, N. B, and, in an interview Sunday afternoon at the hotel Vendome, he gave an explanation of his recent "arrest" at Moncton, N. B, as stated in Saturday's Herald. He regarded the affair as an ill-advised attempt to extort blackmail on the part of the Young Men's Christian Association of Monton.

"It seems," to us [sic] his own words, "that last week they telegraphed to my agent in Canada to ask whether I could lecture in Moncton for them on Friday night. I replied that I was engaged to deliver my second lecture at St John on Friday, and that Thursday was the only open night I had in the week. At the same time I stated my terms. No reply came for 30 hours, and then another gentleman of that town made application for me to lecture. My agent then telegraphed a second time to the Y M C A to ask them to reply immediately to the previous message. They took no notice of the telegram, and, after 48 hours elapsed, he very properly closed with the gentleman who was not connected with the Christian association.

"These latter people having ascertained that I was engaged by the other party, telegraphed to my agent to say that they would accept the offer, but the agent replied that the date was already fixed for another lecture. At my arrival at Moncton on Thursday last I was visited upon by a representative of the Y M C A and a local attorney, who asked me whether, in consideration of the disappointment to the association, I would not contribute something to the funds. I replied that I did not consider that the association had any right to make such a claim, and that I was not sufficiently interested in it to subscribe to it. On my refusal they proceeded to the under sheriff, and presented him with a writ, which they had obtained that morning, and asked him to serve it on me as I was stepping on the platform to lecture.

"The sheriff, a gentleman of some knowledge of the world, naturally declined to do anything so uncalled for and so impertinent, but called on me at my hotel and explained to me the matter. Two gentlemen of Moncton accompanied him and entered into engagements with the sheriff to prevent my being given any further annoyance. The lecture went off very successfully. After the lecture this local attorney made a definite demand on me for $100, on receipt of which he declared he would withdraw his writ. My agent by my orders, refused to accede to any such gross attempt at extortion, and the matter will proceed to trial before the local judge. Some gentlemen of the town have kindly promised to see to the matter on my behalf.

"I am glad to say that great indignation was expressed at the behavior of the association and, before I left, most of the leading citizens had withdrawn their names as members of it. The whole thing shows the immorality of most moral institutions. Such associations are usually the refuge of the provincial Joseph Surfaces. True, it afforded me an interesting insight into certainly not a very favorable side of Canadian ordinary life, and for experience one would go through a great deal, even a sudden visit from a sheriff."

Discover more about Oscar Wilde's American lecture tour, and my comic about it, at

Saturday, 19 October 2013

A comic script template for Word, with page/panel/balloon numbers that auto-populate and auto-update

Since I started my Oscar Wilde comics project last year, I've been working with the script format used by Jim Zub on Skullkickers (pdf of an example Skullkickers script on the Comic Book Script Archive). But yesterday, Jim tweeted that he'd switched to Fred Van Lente's script format.

I think I might make the switch-over too. Van Lente's format is good and clean, you can fit more information onto a single document page without it getting cluttered, and it even has the thumbs up from letterer extraordinaire Nate Piekos.

Fred Van Lente's excellent comics script format. It looks great, but it could be easier to use.

The only problem is, I've already got my script template set up how I like it with Word's Multilevel Lists function. OK, I've probably lost most of you right there... Why should you care about Multilevel Lists? Because they save you time and they make formatting your script a breeze, that's why! (Don't worry, you won't need to learn how Multilevel Lists work to take advantage of them).

A Multilevel List is a way of automatically numbering sections in a document. A comics script has many numbered pages, panels, and word balloons. Typing numbers is boring, and there’s always a chance you’ll make a mistake. Plus, if you cut a page or a panel and paste it elsewhere in your script, you’ll have to renumber everything manually. Arghhh!

Multilevel Lists solve these problems, because the numbering is automatically generated by Word.

My updated version of Fred Van Lente's script template. See the greyed out Panel Numbers? That's because they belong to the same level of a Multilevel List: a level designed for Panel Numbers. Whenever you start a new panel, select the "Normal" style, and the Panel Number will be populated automatically. No need to manually update numbers for pages, panels, or balloons!

All this to say, I've modified Fred Van Lente's script template to include Multilevel Lists. I've also set the template up so that, whenever you press Enter, the style of the next paragraph is automatically set to what you probably need.

For example, if you've just started a new page, the chances are your next task will be to write a description for your first panel. And once you've written a panel description, you'll probably want to write some dialogue. With this template, those common style changes are automatic, so you'll spend less time manually switching styles and more time writing!


Click here for the TEMPLATE WITH INSTRUCTIONS (.dotx)

Although Fred's template looks great, I prefer it with a few small modifications.
  1. Page numbers in numerals rather than words (I'm writing an OGN, and "PAGE 186" looks neater to me than "ONE-HUNDRED EIGHTY-SIX".
  2. The document page number in the header (Fred says it's easy to get confused between the document page number and the comic page number, which is probably true, but I want to be sure that hard copies of my scripts can be reassembled if they're dropped).
  3. Slightly more spacing between panels. It's only the difference between 6pt and 10pts, but I like a bit of a visual separation.


The templates come as .dotx files -- Word templates -- so you'll want to drop them into your templates folder so that whenever you start a new script you can base it on a template. If, like me, you're on Windows 10, you'll find the folder at C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Templates (it's in the same place on Windows 7 and 8.1).

As you'll see, the template looks exactly the same as Fred's. He's the comic book pro here, not me. If he says this is what a good script should look like, and Jim Zub and Nate Piekos agree, that's fine by me. The only difference is the automatically populating page, panel, and word balloon numbers.

If you have problems with the template, or if you think it's a Jesus miracle, let me know!

UPDATE: The template got the Jim Zub seal of approval, and Fred Van Lente has added it to his download page. If I update the templates at any time, I'll make a note of it here.

NOTE: I am no longer @RobertMarland on Twitter. If you tweet that guy, you won't reach me. I'm at @BaubleRob.

Discover more about Oscar Wilde's American lecture tour, and my comic about it, at

Friday, 11 October 2013

A visit to Tite Street, and Wilde's house(s)

This week I took a trip to London and decided to pay a visit to Tite Street, Chelsea.

Me at Tite Street, Chelsea

It's the site of Oscar Wilde's house. Where he and his wife, Constance Lloyd, made their home. Where Wilde wrote his greatest works. And where his worldly possessions were auctioned off after he was convicted of gross indecency and declared bankrupt. Ouch!

No. 34 Tite Street

Blue plaque at Wilde's house

It was great to be stood outside the house from which Wilde sallied forth and conquered London. But, in truth, I hadn't come to Tite Street to see this house. I'd come to see another, fifty metres down the road. Not No. 34, but No. 44. The bachelor pad Wilde shared with Frank Miles, the artist.

No. 44 Tite Street

No. 44 Tite Street

This is where Wilde lived just before he toured America, and it plays a big part in the first chapter of my comic book script about Wilde's American adventure. This is where he entertained actresses like Lillie Langtry and Helena Modjeska, and even such luminaries as the Prince of Wales. It was where he stopped a pair of police officers at the front door while Frank Miles, suspected of interfering with his young models, scurried to his escape over the roof. It was the base of operations for Wilde's first salvo on London literary society: a self-published book of poetry that was met with mixed reviews.

It was exciting to visit the house where the story I've been writing for the past 18 months begins. You can tell how overjoyed I am from this photo.

Rob at No. 44 Tite Street

Or maybe you can't. What can I say? I was worried the millionnaire owners would open the door and swat me off their step with a broom.

Discover more about Oscar Wilde's American lecture tour, and our comic about it, at