Monday, 16 July 2012


(Or perhaps that should be:  COMICS


Some people are sensitive to criticism.  In fact, most of us are
to some degree or other, but there are a few delicate, insecure souls
who are over-sensitive in that department and who often angrily lash
out at even the slightest critique of their abilities - whatever they happen
to be.  Often they console themselves by telling anyone who'll listen that
 if their critics could do better, then they'd be doing it.  That's particu-
larly the case with people in a professional capacity, but their protes-
tations are often without foundation when one considers the
logical implications of such a claim.

For example, I can't cook, but I sure know a good meal when I
taste one.  And you can bet your little booties that I know when I've
been served up slop.  Neither can I sing a note (couldn't carry a tune in a
bucket), but I can tell a good singer when I hear one, as well as being able
to spot a bum note whenever one happens to assail my ears.  I bet it's the
same with you.  Couldn't draw a stick figure if your life depended on it?
I'm willing to wager that, chances are, you're still capable of telling the
difference between a properly rendered figure-drawing and a 'mutant'
monstrosity churned out by some talentless hack.  (Unless
you're a total thicko, that is.)

My point being, of course, that just because you can't do some-
thing yourself doesn't necessarily mean you're incapable of offering
a considered, insightful opinion on the quality or standard of someone
else's work.  (In fact, sometimes it's not being able to do something
that enables you to recognise when someone else can't either.)
I happen to know an extremely talented artist who is easily as
accomplished as some of those working in comics today.  He drew
the MARVELMAN sample pages (lettered by myself) which were
submitted for MARVEL's consideration when they were deliberating
over acquiring the character.  One of the head honchos at the company
told me in a 'phone call that he was well-impressed with the artwork,
and that the pages were "model" comics art.

Guess what though?  The artist concerned doesn't work in the
industry and his name is unknown to the legions of comics fandom.
He happens to suffer from 'dry eyes syndrome' and it's absolute
agony for him to draw for more than brief and infrequent periods at
a time.  He'd probably be incapable of meeting deadlines for comics'
monthly production schedules and would therefore be unable to
make a living in the business of sequential art.

Consider also this.  When I freelanced for IPC MAGAZINES
many years ago (although it seems like only yesterday), there was an
editor of one particular comic who gave quite a lot of lettering work to
his brother.  Nothing to do with nepotism he assured me, his brother just
happened to be available whenever he needed him.  Now, I liked this ed-
itor, but his brother (whom I never met, as far as I can recall) was very
far from being the finest exponent of his craft - which is doubtless why
2000 A.D. never availed themselves of his services.  (If they ever
did, it must've been an emergency.)  Every page he lettered
meant that better letterers didn't.

What does this prove, if anything?  It illustrates that not every-
one who works in a particular field of endeavour is always the best
suited  to do so and may be due to considerations other than natural
ability or talent.  It demonstrates that some people who are far better
qualified can oftimes be denied the breaks because someone less so is
filling the space, or for any number of reasons.  Sometimes those who
work in any given industry do so only because they were in the right
place at the right time, or are simply 'good enough' rather than the
finest craftsmen available.  (Council workmen, anyone?)

And one other, simple, obvious reason sticks out like a sore thumb.
(To me, at least.)  In a rapidly shrinking medium, there is only so much
work to go 'round.  You could be the next JACK KIRBY or LEO BAX-
ENDALE, but it's increasingly difficult to 'get the breaks' when editors
understandably prefer to show 'loyalty' to regular contributors who dis-
play a competent (if uninspired) standard of work and meet deadlines.
Sadly, the chief concern of too many editors is simply to get a comic
out on time, rather than focus on how it can be improved.  (THE
DANDY, anyone?)

A couple of embittered souls (one of whom is positively un-
balanced) have sometimes accused me of being a bully.  (Ironically,
one of them was accused of the same thing on a comics forum for ab-
using his 'status' as a comics contributor to browbeat others [now that
is bullying], as if his opinion was somehow automatically imbued with
greater validity on account of his occupation.)  I'm not in a position to
'bully' anyone, and wouldn't even if I were.  However, I freely admit
that, whenever I read or hear of someone talking absolute b*ll*cks,
I'll weigh in with my two cents worth.  Oh, wait a minute - I'm no
 longer a comics contributor, so therefore my opinions have
no merit.  Aye, that'll be 'shining'.

If you're nursing ambitions to break into comics in a professional
capacity, then keep on plugging away.  Don't be demoralised by a
few smug souls who currently occupy a space which you think would
be better filled by yourself.  It may take time, but if you really are that
good, then there's a chance you might one day make it - if you're
talented enough and if you're determined enough.  ('Though
sometimes it's simply a case of just being lucky enough.)

However, you need to face facts.  There are no guarantees in this
world and the road is littered with the bodies of those who fell by the
wayside or were passed over for others less worthy.  Just because you
didn't achieve your goal (or haven't yet) doesn't necessarily mean (al-
though it's a possibility) that you weren't (or aren't) good enough - it
may merely mean that there are only a limited number of seats at an
ever-shrinking table and that perhaps others got there first.

And don't let the smug, self-satisfied mouthings of
anyone else ever lead you to believe otherwise.


moonmando said...

Phew!! Glad you got that off your chest...
You are of course totally correct in your analysis,having worked with the council for so many years and seeing first hand the many shysters and oppertunists who manage to rise above the real talented souls through either nepotism or Machiavellian design.
I guess that`s life though,unpallatable as it is....hey,ho!

Kid said...

Your tenner's in the post. (Ssshh!)

Mr Straightman said...

I used to work for a children's comic (no names, no packdrill) who regularly hired what I presumed to be a trained chimp with a lazy eye (who'd gladly work for sod all, which suited the publishers just fine) to TRACE OVER my artwork just so they'd only have to pay me for the script, as opposed to the art AND script. If there had been a legitimate beef with the standard of my artwork I could have accepted it, but obviously it must have been okay for dopey b*ll*cks to consider it worth TRACING OVER!
See? It's things like THIS that wind me up about working in comics. That and supposedly unimpeachable professionals who aren't above thieving other people's ideas when it suits them.
And breathe...

Kid said...

I came up with an idea for Oink! when it was in the processed of being developed: Kevin and his Talking Socks. They didn't use it, but months later, Hector Vector and his Talking T-shirt made his debut. Something smells fishy in Denmark.

Mr Straightman said...

If there's ever the equivalent of the Nuremberg Trials for comics, there are going to be a lot of stiffs hanging from the lamp-posts...

Kid said...

You mean someone is going to 'string' them up?

Mr Straightman said...

That sure would be Smart...

Kid said...

Oh, look - I've had a clear-out and jettisoned the rubbish. Some pillocks WILL be annoyed. "Ship Ahoy!"

Anonymous said...

Thats right , delete anything that shows you in a true light. Where's that neds post gone anywat?

Kid said...

Speak about pillocks and one's sure to appear. The fact that you're obviously glued to this page reveals the extent of your obsession with me. This, folks, is a rather sad individual who calls himself the Captain and who deludes himself that he's posting anonymously. His comments are usually filled with hate and bile (to say nothing of foul language) and he's been carrying a grudge against me ever since, in an attempt to be helpful, I pointed out that he'd posted only 24 of the 28 pages in the first issue of The Beano on his blog. I even sent him the missing pages. Since then, he's called me such delightful things as a "sad lonely f*ckwit" and a "self-obsessed turd" - as well as other vitriolic insults. And all for trying to help him. (He disputed my claim about The Beano you see, saying that various 'experts' had confirmed his position. Turned out that him and his 'experts' were wrong.)

I deleted some posts simply because, on reflection, I thought they made for tedious reading, o stormy one - no other reason. For someone to suggest that a brief reference to a strip I did over 25 years ago was evidence of me "carrying a grudge" and to use it as a platform to propagate distortions and wilful misrepresentations of the facts was as absurd as it was boring, so I removed them. I did so with a certain amount of regret, because they confirmed the unreasoning animosity that saddos such as yourself hold towards me. You needn't worry, 'though - they still exist on file for whenever I may require them. I thought I came out looking rather good, considering my witty and apropos responses in the face of some clearly provocative and prejudicial remarks, but it pleases me that certain folk will be frustrated at not being allowed to disseminate their spite on this blog.

Didn't you say it'd be a long time before you posted on here again? A liar as well as a nutter it seems.