Posted in comics, Fiction

All About Carl

Eight years ago I made a little comic called All About Carl.

I printed a few copies and sold them in a couple of local comic book shops.  It was one of those things that I really enjoyed putting together.  I genuinely loved spending hours in front of my computer, drawing and working out the panelling for the comic.

Panelling dictates the pace and flow of a comic.  And I love it.  I love the artwork in a comic, but give me great art and great panelling, and I’m sold.

I’m not suggesting that I’m particularly good at it, and I know that my drawing is amateur at best.  The Growing Pains comics are meant to look a bit childish, because they draw on childhood.  All About Carl should be a bit more up-to-scratch.  It might not look like it if you ever read it, but I spent a long time on this little book.  And, in the spirit of picking up some old stuff and presenting it once more, I have dusted off All About Carl and published it as a digital comic on Amazon.

If you would like, you can get it here

It’s a dystopia about a young man who never really understands the world or how to fit in it.  And he is not long for it.  I hope that some sweetness comes across, but mostly this little book is about what might happen to someone who just doesn’t get it.

Looking at things that I made some years ago is both weird and kind of fun.   On the one hand I can see the flaws in it, but on the other it makes me smile to think about the time I spent on little projects like these and how happy they made me.  I don’t do enough of this stuff anymore and I hope my little trips down memory lane might enable me to fix that.  If something makes you happy you need to do it, right?  Time has always been the biggest factor for me.  Just not having enough of it.

I imagine that this is a pretty big issue for a lot of people.  But another part of it is energy.   Emotional energy in particular.

If you’re spending a lot of your energy in a particular area of your life – for example, work.  It becomes increasingly difficult to muster the energy to do something else, like draw a panel in a comic, write a chapter of your book, tinker with a poem…

And yet, not doing these things ends up wearing you down even more.

So, here I am, pretty worn down.  I’m going to try and make some stuff!


Posted in comics

Jeffrey Brown: indie comic making

I recently re-watched a short documentary called ‘Drawing Between the Lines’ by Bruce Parsons.  It’s about Jeffrey Brown – a comic book writer that I have been following for many, many years.

I haven’t watched the documentary for a few years.  I remember buying it in my great, Jeffrey-Brown-furore.  I couldn’t get enough of his work.  And I still think his comic books are wonderful.

I bought Unlikely first.

Image result for unlikely be jeffrey brown

I was about to get a coach to… somewhere… I really can’t remember where.  Anyway, I called into Travelling Man in Leeds and I found Unlikely in the indie section.  I am a fan of indie work.  I bought it and read it on the coach.  Then I read it again.  And again.

It is just… honest.  Honest in the sense of stories.  You know, trying to get to something of the truth of human experience.  That’s a bit different from being completely truthful, which is to recount everything exactly.  Stories are about getting to the heart of truth.  And that’s what Jeffrey Brown manages to do.

I tend to think that with biographical books like his, it’s the vulnerability that really pulls me in.  Structure and well paced work is key – of course it is.  But the heart of it is vulnerability.  And, if we’re honest, it’s really hard to be genuinely vulnerable.  It’s hard to do that with those closest to us.  But if we are vulnerable as artists, I think the reader/viewer/player rewards us by drawing closer to what we have to say.  Vulnerability resonates.  Perhaps because many of us feel quite vulnerable much of the time.  And when you realise that other people feel that way too, you are flooded with relief.  You are not alone.  You don’t have to pretend the way you did at school.  Or the way you feel you have to at work.  You are not alone.

That’s what I really love about independent comics.  They give their creators space to connect more deeply.  Mainstream stuff has lots to offer – no doubt – but, for me, the indie stuff is where it’s at.