Ok now the boring stuff is out of the way we can finally concentrate on for me the meat and bones of being involved in Graflit this year. It was, as I said quite an honour to be asked to contribute to the exhibition and book and it actually allowed me to finish something that had been lurking around for several years.
As an artist, early on in my career I was heavily involved in comics – it was never my main pre-occupation but it provided a strong and steady stream of work from both the UK and USA. This of course was the time of the comic boom where millions of copies were sold, ego’s were rampant and artists and writers alike were treated with reverence and like rock stars. I was making some major inroads and was working for one of the first breakaway groups from Marvel and DC – that was until they were bought back!
It was then that things got a little bit different. I was “pencilled” in to continue some ongoing series with the ultimate progression of doing my own series once i had learnt the ropes and done my dues but with this buyout it wasn’t to be. Although i wasn’t culled in the initial retrenchment phase i was asked if i would “ape” someone else’s style. That’s not so bad you think, except for the fact the artist in question was soooo bad even today he is treated as something of a joke – that’s when I realised business overrode the art.
I’d spent a long time building up my own skills and to draw like someone else although being a paid gig was not something I really wanted to do and I was also given some sound advice by a trusted editor that i might as well shoot myself in the foot and break all my fingers if I did it. Luckily I had an escape as I went to work in the computer games industry and sadly watched as the whole comics scene imploded.
Disillusioned i cast myself adrift from the whole scene.
It wasn’t until many years later that i started to rediscover the joy that these little pieces of paper would bring. I started looking at the small scale press and alternative comics which were spewing out crazy ideas, crazy art and no superheroes. Although Superheroes are deeply ingrained in me they were just at that moment, appalling to me – bad art, bad stories, bad ideas. The alternatives offered so much more.
So where is all of the above drivel leading?
Well about seven years ago an event occurred in my life that was monumental. It was quite literally, life changing for myself and all around me. Hard to explain and difficult to describe I turned to the one thing that I knew could actually express and emote what had happened. It was also done with no pressure, deadline or limit. For once in my life i could literally express what i wanted on a page. I was able to do the art that I had been doing for so long for others just for myself. So that is just one of several reasons that this project is so personal to me. I know there are really badly drawn bits in it (you can check out other examples of work that i have done to see the comparison) but they are also part of the whole project and intentional and genuinely my emotion placed on a page.
Now, finally I have the opportunity to present it to a wider audience and hopefully i can find some closure on the actual subject matter. It has also helped pull me back into the world of comics and my love for them. Maybe I just needed some time away from them to rediscover my love of what they are and can achieve.
If you are interested and want to actually see what i’m on about – go and see the exhibition (full info on the invite) where you will also have access to some other amazing artists and work. If you can’t make it don’t worry, we’ll make a plan.