Thursday, 22 May 2008

First Post!

I have no idea why I'm doing this again, aside from the fact that I'm intrigued to see if I can post stuff to this from my iPhone. The last time I attempted to do anything like this was nearly two years ago, and the last time I blogged on anything like a regular basis was 2003. Not a lot's changed since then, to be honest, except that my just born swee'pea is now a fully-fledged five year old girly girl. I'm still a graphic designer, I still support Arsenal, and I still obsess over Apple products.

One thing that has changed is my involvement with comics. I still like comics, I still think that they're an artform, and I still read them (well, stuff by selected cartoonists). What I don't do is aspire to create them professionally or even be peripherally involved in the comics industry anymore. What changed? Well, nothing I can really put my finger on, more a series of events that combined to sort of turn me off the whole idea of having anything more than a passing interest:
  • I co-wrote a couple of books on comics. I'm not linking to them - if you want to know more then just search for my name on Amazon. While I'm proud of them, a few things happened during the writing of the last one that kind of left a bad taste in the mouth. I also treated someone who worked on the second book pretty badly - if you ever read this, Steve, I'm sorry.
  • The reviews of the second book were pretty damn good (except one that appeared in SFX magazine, that while praising the content of the book, took a pretty good swing at the design. Which I also did. And was bloody proud of). Unfortunately this sense of bonhomie from the reviewers did not equate to sales which were, as they say, pisspoor. This was pretty much due to the 'publisher' not giving a flying toss (or any money) about promoting the book. This was made pointedly clear when we did a signing at a comic shop in Brighton. If I signed two books for actual paying customers, I signed a hundred. I must admit that while I didn't really care if the book sold badly or not, I was hoping that it would get me a way into book design. Which it spectacularly did not. I guess the guy from SFX was right after all.
  • We did some panels at UK comics events about the subject matter of the second book, and while these were fun, they weren't exactly well attended. We had more mates in the audience than people who were genuinely interested. Which was nice, but it had the net effect of making it seem like we were talking to ourselves.
  • At these said events, you get to meet people who work in comics, many of whom I'm proud to call my friends. There's a few, though, and they shall remain nameless, who conspire to suck all the fun out of the room the minute they walk into it. They're mean, shallow, brazen backbiters who smile and ask you how you are while they simultaneously search the room for someone more interesting (read: more able to further their career) and stab you in the back. I got sick of these people. Worse still, I think I was turning into one.
  • I came up with a plan to start a UK arm of a collective 'comics experimentation group'. This went so pear-shaped so fast it literally made my head spin, as well as nearly souring a friendship permanently. It was pretty much my own fault that this went so wrong, but it didn't help that it also involved two of the most influential people in the UK and Franco-Belgian comics communities.
  • I came to the crashing realisation that I didn't have the talent or the wherewithall to really make it as a professional cartoonist (or even a decent amateur), and while I have some level of artistic ability, my main attribute was hitching onto other, more talented individuals' coat-tails and hoping they'd take me with them to comics 'glory' (whatever that is). And that's pretty sad.
There were some other things in there, but that's pretty much the meat of it. All of these things lead to my decision to take a step back from comics and become simply an amateur again. I stopped going to comics events, I visit comics shops very rarely and I pretty much have nothing to do with anyone in comics (aside from a select few who I still correspond with via an email list, and see on rare occasions). Now and then I miss it all, I still get the urge to publish again, and I certainly miss my friends who I don't see nearly as often as I'd like, but I don't really want to go back to how it was. Comics were an enormous part of my life for more years than I care to recount, and they always will be a part of me. They just don't own me anymore.

I'll tell you one thing though, I draw more now than I ever did when I was a 'cartoonist'...