Friday, 11 December 2015

On Waiting, Tim Kreider & Ralph Steadman

Well, my newest disappeared down the email chute a few minutes ago and I now have the nervous wait for judgement. Normally when I finish an article, I feel little except the excitement of what I'll write next. The article I've just sent away is different. It's something I must have been mulling over writing for a long time. When it emerged, it came out better than I hoped.

I am a lousy judge of my own work. The things I like, usually others ignore. The things I write quickly and very throwaway, usually attract attention. This article might attract attention because it has an edge and is partially a defence, homage, commemoration of Christopher Hitchens who dies almost four years ago, 15th December 2011. It might go unremarked but I'd put it up in the top 5% of things I've ever written. To have it rejected would, I think, make me go 'ouch'.

I also drew a cartoon for it or an illustration, depending on how lofty you view the difference between the two. And the illustration was also one of my better efforts. I've always worked well when I have confidence. When I'm down, I can barely punctuate clearly. The illustration will probably go unused and I'll end up posting it here. I was told this week by a reader over at TW&TW that they find the combination of writing and cartoon too much. Not sure why it should be the case. What difference does it make if a writer is also the illustrator. Perhaps it's just because it's such a rare conjunction. Now I think about it, I can only think of Tolkien (not a great illustrator, in The Hobbit, but always sad to see his line drawings replaces in special editions), Mervyn Peake (whose wonderful illustrations for Gormenghast are as dark and twisted as his prose), and then the brilliant essayist and cartoonist, much under-appreciated and, I guess, little known here in the UK, Tim Kreider.

[Scratches head. Opens browser. Hits links to Amazon. Types in 'Twilight of the Assholes' and clicks purchase.]

How stream of consciousness is this? Anyway, it's going to arrive in three days. I had a £10 voucher from my birthday sitting there for two months and I never had any idea what to buy until that moment I thought about Kreider whose website I used to visit daily. I always intended on buying his book but, as is life, simply forgot. Great cartoonist and fine writer. He did, if I recall correctly, a really close analysis of a Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut, which is worth a read if, like me, your a bit of  Kurbrick obsessive and think people really never understood the brilliance of that film. I remember sitting in our university common room trying to explain my theory about the use of colour whilst people looked at me like I was crazy trying to rationalise a film with so much female nudity. I am, of course, crazy but that's another story...

Where was I? Oh, yes. Kreider and other writer/illustrators.

No doubt there are more but those are the three that immediately spring to mind.

There is a fourth, of course, but to list him would be to cheat a little. Ralph Steadman is a pretty fine writer and it's easy to overlook the wonderful texts that accompany his drawings. My favourite of his books is his Freud and I'd be hard convinced to say that he has ever done anything better. Hmm... Perhaps his Da Vinci book.

Speaking of Steadman, I was in Waterstones in Liverpool the other day and saw his new book 'Nextinction'. I hate to say it but I find it a little bit depressing every time I see one of his pictures of a 'boid'. Not that they aren't wonderful but... Well, I wish he'd do something else. This is now two huge books of boids and, I'll be honest, I couldn't like the first enough to buy it (plus they are both hugely expensive and usually far outside my finances). I know the environment is something we should care about but if only he'd get back to drawing humans in all our ugly glory.

Ah, in the space it's taken me to write this (straight into the browser, unedited as usual), my article has been accepted for publication, possibly this weekend. Hoo-rah! I'll now take a deep breath and start the next, though knowing my chances of writing anything better (in my eyes, at least) is very slim. But we live in hope...

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