Strip Show

Published by Milk Shadow Books, 2011. Out Of Print.

When I first started making comics in around 1991, there was no school where one could learn the tricks of the trade - not even illustration, where at least you can learn that now, but not in the late 1980s. There weren't any of those lousy 'How To' guides as far as I knew (I didn't know about the Will Eisner volumes then). So I got out paper and pen, wrote scripts and drew up the pages, ruling out tiers of panels and putting words into speech bubbles, all the while looking at the masters: Crumb, Los Bros Hernandez, Chester Brown, Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons, Pokketz, Neil Gaiman, Dave McKean, Jamie Hewlett, Greg Irons, Robert Williams, Dan Clowes. 

Easy peasy. 

Of course, nothing was so easy. I could write and draw a bit, but I was not very good. In these early years, I mostly did short scatalogical humourous stories of 1-4 pages in length, with occasional ambitious forays to stories 8-16 pages long. I never thought to do much longer, for I did not have the skills to handle a story over such a length. Within a year and a half, I tackled a story that was 30 pages long, then others pushing that length, but it seemed sensible to master the subtle art of storytelling in short bursts rather than tackling the graphic novel. It took me four years before I tackled my first long form story in Love To Know You. Bear in mind also, that the 'graphic novel' was also something of a rarity 25 years ago, where most comics with a spine were 'prestige' comics of 48 pages in length, or trade collections of serialised stories. The age of the graphic novel was still in the future. Had I been surrounded by examples of graphic novels, I might well have aimed high to start with (and no doubt failed).

Speaking to the content, I was a young, nerdy, virginal and frustrated male, with a growing political awareness and sensibility, with a desire to rebel against the 'system' and the 'man'. I spent a bit of time on what was then the unofficial arts support program: the dole. Easily done when still living at home! Now remember, these were the days prior to the internet, so I did not have access to the glut of online strips, porn, social media etc. I made comics, and thank heavens for that, or I might have become one of those horrible cavemen who spend all day looking at flickering images and spitting at them like the trolls they are. 

Strip Show came to being as the offcuts of a once proposed three volume collection of my short comics entitled, Sex, Politics, Religion: Stories To Break Up Families By. That was to have been published by the now defunct Black House Comics. Now that I look back, some of these stories were suited the sex volume at least, but I think as these were cruder than the rest, I wanted to keep the three volume set at least suitable for mature readers, whereas this was adults only. And perhaps some of the very early works included in here had drawings that were also crude in the sense they were not good. As the artist, I reserve the right to judge my own work.   

The cover was not my preferred choice (as are all the covers to my books), but publishers insist on knowing better. Or marketing departments do at any rate. It is actually cropped from the original so I include the preferred choice and the original along with the final so you can compare. This book is almost out of print. I will probably republish under Fabliaux, with my original cover and some new material that fits the tone. But for now, there is some stuff to enjoy here, plus I'll upload some other short stories under that heading on this site. 

Type: Collection