Monday, 16 July 2012


(Or perhaps that should be: COMICS DON'T MAKE ME LAUGH...)


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 will listen that, if their critics
could do better, then they'd be doing it. That's particularly the case with
people in a professional capacity, but their protestations are often without
foundation when one considers the logical implications of such a claim.

For example, I can't cook, but I darn well 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 and 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 do it 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 (which I lettered) 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 does not 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
would probably be incapable of meeting the deadlines of 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 editor, but his
brother (whom I never met, as far as I recall) was very far from being the
finest exponent of his craft - which is why 2000 A.D. never availed them-
selves 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 everyone
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 being 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 BAXENDALE, but
it's increasingly difficult to 'get the breaks' when editors understandably
prefer to show 'loyalty' to regular contributors who display 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 unbalanced)
have sometimes accused me of being a bully. (Ironically, one of them
was accused of the same thing on a comics forum for abusing his 'status'
as a comics contributor to browbeat others [now that is bullying], as if his
opinion was somehow automatically imbued with more 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 the comics world 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
(although 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.