Saturday, 2 March 2013

PUTTING THE 'BOOTS' IN...



When I was a mere callow youth of 17 in 1976, I worked in my local BOOTS The CHEMISTS in the warehouse at the back of the shop.  One day, at home, I drew a cartoon strip for my own amusement and, as it was nominally set against the backdrop of my workplace, I took it in to show my boss (SAM GREENHALGH) the next day.  Quite a few others saw it too, of course, and eventually someone suggested I send it in to the BOOTS NEWS in Nottingham.  (Looking at how well the strip matches the page dimensions of said publication, I can't help wondering if that someone was me.  Could be a coincidence though.)

So I did, and imagine my surprise and delight when the editors wrote back, enclosing a £20 cheque and saying they were going to print the strip in the upcoming Christmas issue.  (Could've been £25, I can't quite remember.)  I was overpaid regardless of the exact amount, because the strip had been dashed off and wasn't much more than an extended doodle.  I'd lightly sketched out the basics in pencil, then used a PENTEL ROLLERBALL to quickly draw over the rough outlines, with no attempt to add variety or weight to the inked linework.  In fact, I drew it as fast and with as much indifference as I would've scribbled out a shopping list or a 'post-it' note.

Also, I hadn't really considered the balloon placement and just scribbled them in wherever I thought they'd fit, without the use of guidelines or regard for natural word-splits - resulting in a confusing, eye-straining, totally amateurish attempt at a comic strip.  It hadn't been produced with publication in mind, and it showed! Well, it did to me - the rest of the store thought it was brilliant, which just goes to show you can fool most of the people most of the time.

I suspect one of the reasons it was popular was that, aside from myself, three of the bystanders in the strip were simple but spot-on likenesses of two of the warehouse women and one of the department managers.  (Panels 1 & 9.)  I no longer remember the women's names, but the manager (number 9 contestant) was called Mr. SCOTT, first name JOHN, I think.  Why the awful name GORDIE GOOSE?  Simply because of the alliteration, nothing more.

Not wanting to void any credibility I might have as an artist (cue some smart-aleck to say I have none), I decided to re-letter the strip to an acceptable standard, thicken the border lines, and add a bit of weight in places to the inked outlines to make the figures more discernible.  So I photocopied the printed page and did exactly that - though there are limitations to what one can do with a .3 drawing pen on photocopy paper.  Back in '76, I didn't really have a fixed style of my own, so I just made it up as I went along.  Apart from a little bit of general 'tidying up', the strip you see is essentially just as I drew it all those years ago.  The same, but neater.

What do you mean, it's still crap?  Gimme a break - I was only 17 at the time. (Everyone's a critic.)

******

UPDATE, October 27th, 2013:  And here's a colour version, completed with acrylic inks.

8 comments:

DeadSpiderEye said...

I think it's pretty good, I especially like the first panel, how did the Pental ink hold up over the decades?

Kid said...

Dunno, DSE - they never returned the original. I photocopied it from the actual printed issue. Glad you like it.

Anonymous said...

for 17 its really good. better than some of the comics my young sister buys. you should coulor it in

Kid said...

That's a good idea. In fact, I may even 'colour' it in. (I had been toying with the idea already - honest.) Stay tuned.

DeadSpiderEye said...

How are you going to colour it?

Kid said...

It'll have to be the old acrylic inks, I'm afraid. It's all I've got.

DeadSpiderEye said...

I thought you might do on the computer, you know electronically, Photoshop, Gimp?

Kid said...

Nah, that's all a mystery to me.

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