Friday, 28 June 2013

It's A Sparks Show: The Slave To Fashion

I know I said I probably wouldn't draw any more of these Sparks strips (Part 1, Part 2) but after Ayumi's kind comment and Leg-Iron’s encouragement, I found myself drawing two long oblongs on a piece of paper late last night, not knowing what I was going to do with them. I needed very little encouragement to draw Russell Mael in his plus fours. Something about Sparks always brings me back to cheerfulness so I continued late into the night with this strip being the result.

This afternoon I need to just sit here and write some one panel gags. My list of ideas is beginning to look a little short and I need those ideas for the days when my brain isn’t firing but when I want to draw.


  1. It should be (and is) me thanking you. It's always good to know the effort is being rewarded at the other end by people enjoying all the nonsense that I do. I hope to do more in the future. ;)

  2. Before you know it, you'll be selling full-sized comics at Sparks concerts and being beaten up afterwards by Russell himself, while Ron rolls his eyes and says 'tsk'.

    I know what you mean about the dry days of ideas. I haven't written any scary stories in ages. The last idea I had was last Easter, but 'The Hollow Bunnies' remains unfinished. It's the damn day job - if only I won the lottery... I have heard that buying a ticket increases your chances of winning, but not by very much.

    Keep the cartoons flowing!

  3. Hmm... I'm sitting here like the coward I am wondering if I should do another strip. I'd like to keep the readers I've gained from the Sparks thing but I suspect those readers just love Sparks not necessarily what I do. There seems to be next to zero interest from them in my other cartoons or writing.

    As to dry days: I feel for you. In my experience creativity and working days are mutually exclusive. It's why I suffer under this label 'self-employed'. My creativity is very high but my life next to nothing. I live and work like a monk. I can blog, draw and write well (as I hope I'm doing) or I can go turn myself into a nine to five slave, arrive home with money in my pocket but spiritually empty and without the energy/time/inspiration to create a thing. It's a horrible compromise that I can't face making. I'm beginning to think that this is how homeless tramps are made.

    I have a 90,000 word novel sitting here that I intended (and intend) to finish. Another 60,000 word comedy book that's strange, possibly highly libelous, but finished but needs proofing. But I can't find the motivation to hurl myself back into the process of writing begging letters to agents and publishers who don't understand comedy.

    I would do a lottery except it's aimed at the desperate and the poor and lets people like Paul Desmond rake in the money by exploiting the dreams and hopes of the underclass.

    Christ! Listen to me. I really should go and draw something... I've been in this black mood for two days now and it needs shifting.

  4. I was self-employed for seven years, but the final demands drove me back to real work. I wanted a part time job that just earned enough to cover the bills - turned into a short-staffed seven-days-a-week knackering experience. That should improve soon.

    On the plus side, it's the first time I've had a job that I can clock off and that's it - no working at home for free! That is a whole new experience for me.

    I do read all your other cartoons, I used to do a few myself but haven't done any for years. There was one job where I was in demand for all the events posters for the social club, which I did for free because I had free reign (the halloween one had a sheep with two Freddy Kreuger claws) and it was fun.

    Have you thought about (or maybe you did it and I missed it) self-publishing books of cartoons? You can set it all up at no cost, so if none sell it's no big deal. So far I haven't sold a single copy of this one - - but it cost nothing to put it on there. People seem to prefer the horror stories these days. Maybe that's why the Daily Mail is doing so well.

    The problem with cartoons are the damn eBooks. All mine were drawn long before ebook readers so they are the wrong shape for the screen. For an ebook cartoon, you'd have to draw them restricted to the specific frame of the screen, all the same frame size and that's no fun at all. I'll only do them for print, I think.

    I won't buy lottery tickets because the bastards give money to antismoking groups. That's also why I deliberately only earn enough to pay the bills and why I have just had a refund of all of last year's tax because I earned less than the personal allowance. Ha! I have an attic full of junk to go on eBay if times get tight again, there's a Commodore 64 up there and BBC models A, B and Master and many things that strange people collect nowadays. I don't collect, I hoard, that's different. Nothing is on display, it's all piled up and I'm not even sure what's in there.

    I have two novels properly published but the short stories are all self-published. Unless you're already famous, publishers don't want to hear about short story collections. Self-publishing is done to a strict budget of zero, through Smashwords, Lulu, Createspace and Kindle. It costs nothing but time so any income at all is profit. I also put out free ebook shorts and put ads in the back of them for the stuff that pays. It took a long long time to start working but it's improving every quarter.

    If you're in a black mood, draw something dark. You could be the next Chas Addams ;)
    I have a book of his somewhere, with the drawings that spawned the Addams family in it.

    The 'You are here' cartoon was a good start in that direction.

  5. Oh, a BBC Model B! The only computer I could program like an expert. I knew 6502 assembly, every registry poke, the lot!

    As to self publishing. Well, I self-published an ebook called 'Damn United: 101 Reasons Not to Support Manchester United' which contained 101 cartoons. It was my method of making myself cartoon every day when I was moving from Photoshop to dip pen and ink. It sort of worked, even if the quality is variable. The problem was indeed the resolution of ereaders. I tailored it for eink readers because higher resolutions wouldn't work given that it increased the file size considerably and the 'delivery costs' seriously ate into my little profits.

    I also published a book by 'Prince Harry' called 'Field Guide to the Royal Wedding' (I think). Sold a few but not enough to make a difference. Then I self-published a collection of pornographic short stories under the name Felicity Grope. I gave it away on here a few weeks ago. You can still grab it if you want, though I wrote, edited and published the whole thing in a week, just to see if I could. I could but it sold bugger all, though my idea of pornographic short story is probably very different to other people's idea of what porn should be. I wrote my in a deliberately bad style which amused me and probably nobody else...

    Epublishing is a bit of a joke, to be honest. Amazon promote it but because they make a fortune from the long tale model. A million authors selling one copy makes Amazon more money than one writer selling half a million. Like lotteries, they make money by exploiting the dreams of the gullible. There's a great interview on Youtube with Harlon Ellison. You might have seen it. The bit about amateurs is exactly right.

    You're right that publishers want only the known, which is why celebrities sell. I guess you know that horrible feeling when you see a celebrity write something you know you would have written better yet they're earning a fortune. Painful.

    My one properly published book was my book of spoof letters you see to the right. Wasn't in the shops long -- a few months before it disappeared. Never understood why. Oh, I had a novel that was due to be published before that but the bloody publishers went bust and were bought by one of the big publishing houses which immediately cancelled all the books.

    My luck in all these things is next to nil but I continue because what is the choice?

  6. We continue out of sheer bloodymindedness. Because if we can annoy one self-righteous prick, our lives have had meaning.