Monday, 16 July 2012
COMICS? DON'T MAKE ME LAUGH...
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'll 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 sure 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 something yourself doesn't necessarily mean you're incapable of offering a considered, 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 either.)
I happen to know an extremely talented artist who is easily as accomplished as some of those working in comics today. He pencilled and inked (as well as scripted) the MARVELMAN sample pages (impressively lettered by my humble self) 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 doesn't 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'd probably be incapable of meeting deadlines for 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 (though 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 at short notice whenever he needed him. Now, I liked this editor, but his brother (whom I never met, as far as I can recall) was very far from being the finest exponent of his craft - which is doubtless why 2000 A.D. never availed themselves 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 ofttimes 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 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 greater 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 comics 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 (though 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.
Posted by Kid at Monday, July 16, 2012