Monday 14 March 2011

All In A Weekend's Work

I remember many years ago when I was working with a couple of young writers who were trying to break loose of the traditionally constrictive format of the educational books they were being commissioned to produce. We were having a meeting about a book they wanted to format as a graphic novel and as my next port of call was to be the offices of Sonic the Comic, we were looking at some of the pages I was about to deliver for the next installment of "Streets of Rage".

"That's what we want!", they excitedly exclaimed gesturing in the direction of a page filled with over the top non PC destruction of hoods and urban low-life orchestrated to a script by Mark Millar.

"Hmmmmmm..." I thought, "we'll be lucky if we can get a percentile of this kind of excess past the powers that ordain the destinies of creatives working in educational publishing."

Working in comics for artists, may at times be poorly rewarded in terms of earnings, but in terms of freedom to come up with your own ideas and characterizations in response to the writer's script it is an amazingly indulgent medium.

This has been brought home to me on many occasions, the most recent of which was today when  I had a call from my lovely art editor to bring me the bad news that my interpretation of the brief that I'd been working on over the weekend was deemed by the book's editor a little too cartoony and a little too OTT for the slow reading 16 year olds to which this book was aimed.

"We want the characters much more realistic and can he get rid of the buzz cut effect?"

So 16 pages of roughs need to be reworked and ... sniffle ... these drawings are now redundant and surplus to requirements.

Does anybody commission stuff like this these days???

Wish I knew.


  1. Hmm, I suspect that editor has yet to discover that "much more realistic" in comics can often mean "much less relatable". Not that it's much consolation to you for having to redo a few days' work, Peter :(

  2. That's terrible. I personally love the style, prefer it over the realistic typical superhero stuff, makes it stand out more, makes it more original you know? Anyway, good luck redoing all your hard work sir.

  3. Many thanks for the best wishes and kind thoughts guys. I think that it's sometimes good to share these stories, particularly as many visitors to this blog are also working in the creative professions and there is a definite sense of kinship as we all have to deal with these mini creative setbacks from time to time.

  4. ...I guess Michelangelo must have felt the same way about having to remove that kangaroo from the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel!

  5. Not quite as grim as the way that Leonardo felt when he was painting The Battle of Anghiari in the Hall of 500 opposite the wall which his great rival the aforementioned Michaelangelo was covering with a fresco of equal stature.

    Leonardo's painting was by all accounts and the numerous copies made of it, a truly terrific piece of work ... apart from the fact that the friggin' thing just wouldn't dry. All on account of the new paints that Leonardo had prepared. Even hoisting charcoal braziers up to prevent the paint slowly dripping down the walls didn't help.

    Mind you Michaelangelo's masterpiece in the making never made it to completion either.

    Which must have been of some comfort to Mr Da Vinci.

  6. ...Ouch!

    Sadly, whatever Hippocrates may have said, there are all too many situations where Life is Long and Art is Short.

    From what I remember Leonardo considered his greatest creation to be a giant horse that he spent sixteen years working on, producing a clay statue that was intended to be cast in seventy tons of bronze. Unfortunately the metal that was set aside for this project was eventually used to make cannonballs, and the clay prototype was used as target practice.

    Naturally a rather smug Michelangelo said he'd predicted it'd never get finished. Sometimes it just doesn't pay to be a genius...! :-/

    (Incidentally, did you ever see 'Chiaroscuro', the ten-part Vertigo series about Leonardo? Not a masterpiece to be sure but I thought it was quite an impressive attempt)