KID SHIRT

Friday, March 14, 2008

"ACTUNG! ENEMY AIRCRAFT APPROACHING!"

I confess I buy the occasional old Brit comic from junk-shops, like this ish of the Victor, which I picked up in Glastonbury a few months ago.



I like to scan through 'em and check out some of the great English (and Spanish and Italian) artists that used to populate UK comics - stuff that now seems like a life-time ago, almost alien to modern eyes, but there's still some great story-telling lessons to be learned from these guys - jobbing pros who turned out several pages of quality work a week, never missing a deadline, etc - basic stuff like dynamics and pacing and how to clearly tell a thrilling and coherent story in 3 pages. The range of material is also kinda startling too, especially if (unlike me) you never lived thru that era...it makes you realise how tunnel-visioned contemporary comics have become, especially the newstand TV tie-in fodder (plus free gift) crap that festers on the shelves in W H Smiths...basically, you've paying for glossy paper, a free piece of plastic rubbish and computer-colouring, all masquerading under the flimsy veneer of sophistication. Pah!

What really shocked me was that when I got this one home I realised it had been printed in 1987, but it could have come out any time in the preceeding two decades, such was its adherence to the time-worn Brit Boys Adventure Comic Template. It's odd, reading this, how comfortingly familar it is to someone of my generation, but also how alien it seems. There's still a v. heavy bias on WW2 stories - which I find kinda cool - but also great to see that Alf Tupper ("The Tough of the Track") is still on board, who was one of the staples of my childhood in the sixties. Also, Figaro, the Mexican bandit, who I swear was also around in my school-days, tho maybe I imagined it. Still, it's great stuff. Can't imagine anything like this existing any more, apart from Commando, which I still (eek)pick up now and again...

I confess I'm pretty fucking fed up with comics (along with a lot of other things) - in fact, I've pretty much given up on most of the modern ones...nuthin' much floats my boat these days, apart from one or two titles that are slowly accruing in my on-going stash in Paradox on Poole, and even those I don't get too fussed about if I don't get round to picking them up for 6 months (wh/ says a lot in itself)...my last 3 or 4 visits to a comic-shop have been disappointing affairs. I only tend to get interested if they sell Silver or Bronze Age stuff as well...I get more excited finding a tatty copy of Iron Fist from 1973 with a cover by Gil Kane than most of the (let's face it) boring drivel that Marvel or DC put out these days. How is it possible that a company like Marvel consistantly publish so little of any interest or significance?

Still, I've been enjoying some foreign language stuff, particularly Finnish comics like Kuti or Glomp. Up until recently, a lot of my tastes have run to some sort of Expressionistic Neo-Art Brut thing, but lately, even that's started to change too. I've never really dug non-Superhero kitchen-sink comics like Love and Rockets, etc - I've always found them a bit, well, fucking dull, to be honest...I always read comics for escapism; to be amazed, freaked-out, transported...c'mon, motherfuckers, send me...but these...these *relationship* comics (com-roms), well, they're well-drawn, well-written and worthy - it's like buying a Sting album: I mean, why the fuck would you want to do it...never much liked the 8-Ball or Hate type stuff: it's like the comic equivalent of Grunge or something, and that never interested me either (we had Husker Du, so why did we need Nirvana?)...but, hey, I'm old, so comics about copping-off with slightly overweight Hispanic chicks don't...well, actually, maybe I just sold myself on that concept lol.

It's weird tho, but as my interest in reading them has recently nose-dived, I suddenly realised that I'd really like to write comics again...I'm not sure why one should be inversely proportional to the other; it doesn't make sense to me. And I'm certainly not implying that I could do any better than a lot of the mainstream stuff that's out there, but I quite fancy having a try (again)...this is weird to me, to be honest; I can't really rationalise why I'd even want to do this sort of thing again, considering what a thankless, heartbreaking process it usually turns out to be, still....

Anyway, so I'm thinking there must be a wealth of great comic-strip artists out there somewhere, hiding under their rocks, waiting to flex their muscles or collaborate - maybe people with a coll, unconventional approoach or style. If anyone wants to send me some samples of what they've been doing (style irrelevent), then feel free contact me through the blog...if you've got a site with uploaded samples, then so much the better...I'm looking for a certain something, but I don't know what it is til I see it...also, be aware that I tend to work in a different time-frame to most people, so there may be months between me expressing an interest in doing something and then actually doing it. I mean, I still haven't got my record-label up and running, after gawd knows how many months.