Colin's Comment

Friday, July 07, 2006

Hello again.
Well, it’s been a busy week, last Sunday I was at Lucky’s on Main Str. for the launch of the first 3 of 25 Hell Passports being published by Jo Cook, mine being one of them. I was the only one of the three in Vancouver I had the weighty responsibility of representing the project to the public. I haven’t done many public appearances lately, it took me painful years attending many conventions to overcome my natural shyness. It’s a strange thing to be working alone for months on end and then face an indifferent public while trying to sell yourself and your “product’ to them… the atmosphere you create is all important. If you just sit behind a table glowering resentment at the ignorant masses that refuse to recognise your genius, well, nobody gets close to you. Nor can you push people into buying stuff, that’s just annoying and off putting. Violent physical threats, made at the end of a long weary behind a table, don’t work either. I’ve tried. Nobody takes you seriously… the fools. What I try to do is appear distracted enough that people can approach without trepidation, by drawing on backing boards. I draw anything that pops into my head (see above), sometimes I give them away to people who ask for it. Of course, if people are interested I do talk to them, answer any questions politely, warning any parents of snot nosed toddlers who are getting too close to the “material that may cause offence” that my comics aren’t really for children.

I like Lucky’s, they have managed to stay in business while stocking mini-comics, comics and graphic novels of high quality. It just seems that every time I have a show there it’s always THE HOTTEST DAY OF THE YEAR, as in 2004 when I had a show featuring high tea on the afternoon of THE HOTTEST DAY OF THE YEAR which went surprisingly well I thought. This year I found myself sitting, often alone, behind a table in the main room of the store on THE HOTTEST DAY OF THE YEAR while everyone else was in the cooler back room or outside in the shade having a BBQ. Then they took away my fan. People would come by to say “why don’t you come and join us outside?” but I had my duty to do… plus it’s an iron rule at signings that when you leave your table is when people arrive at your table looking like they might buy something. I drank gallons of powdered lemonade, ate BBQ, salads, chips and sat there for 6 hours, selling four books, before I gave up and staggered home in the relative cool of the evening. I wouldn’t have made it that far if it wasn’t for friends willing to brave the heat and hang out with me and I‘d like to thank the various Robin‘s, Rebecca, Laura, Julian, Rob, Owen and those two wandering poets from Calgary and everyone for coming to the launch. SAVE!

Colin the curmugeddon!
It was at Lucky’s I realised I’m becoming a cranky old man. I was talking to a young guy who is another of the artists in the Hell passport project who hadn‘t done his yet. I asked him what his would look like, he said something about drawings of animals in forests. I asked him what I thought was a reasonable question, in essence, what was he trying to say about Hell with his art? This seemed to put him on the defensive, the drawings don’t have to be about something to say something… or something I didn’t quite get. The impression I did get that it’s uncool or rude or unsophisticated to expect that art should be about something. That art is about everything and nothing and it really doesn’t matter what you draw in relation to a topic or theme… well, I don’t get it. I’m a simple guy who likes a story and I’d like people to communicate their thoughts, opinions and ideas with me, assuming they have any. I see so much of this these days, creeping “arty” values in comics, which surprises me when I look around at what’s going on in the culture and the world at the same time I see a whole generation of cartoonists so completely alienated from their culture that they hide themselves in pop culture cuteness, surrealism and infantile nihilism. Cartoonists in the undergrounds of the sixties and the later alternatives where satirists and commentators on the society’s they live in, now I read comics by cartoonists so isolated they have no connection with the world outside of their chat rooms and porn web sites. Is this bad? It’s just the way it is. Amongst these cartoonists there are some of undeniable skill doing good work and in theory I think the more diverse approaches to doing comics the better. But also I fear losing something, a sense that stories, having a point of view, ideas and that having something to say matters! That comics will become as irrelevant to people as modern art is now. Yep, old grandpa Upton needs his nap now…

Oh, before that!

Comics this week!
I bought the new Hate Annual today, always a treat to see new Pete Bagge material (incidentally, we’ll soon be interviewing Peter Bagge on Inkstuds! Whoo-hoo!) even if it‘s mostly stuff that appeared on the web already. Does Bagge use an inker, I think Jim Blanchard inked for him in the past? I can’t find a credit but this stuff looks slicker than “Apocalypse Nerd“, which is a must read!

When I was buying my Hate I was accused of “Living in the 90’s” by a man who’s dress and style comes straight from the seventies and at the time was clutching a superhero comic from the sixties, “when it was good”. I always hated that attitude, “I read that in this cartoonists work in this decade so all the work of that cartoonist will forever be an artefact of that time in my life” bullshit, it’s like an artist should stop creating after the decade closes? Some of underground sixties comics icon Robert Crumbs best work was done, virtually unnoticed, in the eighties. So there!

Now I really need a nap...


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