I love comics, and everything they stand for. I got beano and buster as a young man, but the world of “adult” comics really passed me by until a few years ago, because I am a proper artist and that kind of thing is ignored at art school, on the fine art courses I’ve encountered anyway. This is a real shame I think, because, as most of you discerning readers out there will know there can be a massive amount of scope for all kinds of emotive devices, which are not at odds with what most fine art tries to do and invariably fails. Maybe I’m getting a bit off the point, but I know the kind of comics I make are well in tune with the point of view expressed in my paintings, but much more direct and blatant, which is probably where the humour lies.
Anyone who has tried to make a comic will know how hard it is, and the more involved and intricate you make it, the more the decisions you have to make multiply themselves. For example, if someone is on the phone, firstly can I draw a phone? Is the phone that I can draw without looking one up the right phone for the décor? If not can I find what that phone looks like, and if not, should I change the décor to match the phone? It’s a fucking phone! It doesn’t make any difference to the story, characters or anything. What does wallpaper look like? Yeah right. Try looking up wallpaper on google images and see how far you get. Christina Aguileira for your desktop, nothing at all drawable, some shitty jpeg that doesn’t show the pattern.
Plus perspective, making the characters look vaguely the same in each frame, lettering, the right balance of light and dark. I’ve not even thought about doing anything in colour, no thanks.
Anyway this was meant to be about how I came across the work of Dan Clowes in Falmouth College’s Art Library, which resonated with me and sparked an interest in what’s known as indie comics. I bought everything by Clowes I could lay my hands on- Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron being my favourite, that shit is fucked up.
From there I got into Chris Ware, whose stunning graphical work and historical detail demonstrates how hard he works to make a comic with every frame. His Acme Novelty Library (I know they’re all called that-the big red one I’m talking about) makes me shake my head with wonder like someone looking at something that they thought couldn’t be done and being proved wrong.
Anyway, I’ve got to make my tea (dinner) now, but I also like Tony Millionaire’s Sock Monkey, Michael Kupperman’s Tales Designed to Thrizzle (I want number 2, anyone got one?), Martin Cendreda’s Dang, Tom Gauld, Robert Crumb, Jeffrey Brown, plus many others.
I’ll probably talk about the small press people that I like later.