Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Glory Days :: The Return of Glory Be!

Fifteen long years ago I self-published my first ever comic book. Released in 1993 as my final major college project, Freaky Fables was to all intents and purposes a two-fingered salute to all the people who had tormented me throughout my teenage years. For I had become the underdog – school had certainly taught me that. I was the geek, the outcast, the good for nothing nerd who finished last at everything. So I set out to write my reply in comic book form – against the will of my lecturers, who insisted that I was wasting my time drawing cartoons when I should be harnessing my artistic skills in other areas – like designing posters for bus shelters. My initial desire to produce a comic book was met with the rolling of eyes and a chorus of deep sighs – but this didn’t perturb me from doing the one thing that I wanted to do.

Of course back then I was a lazy, work shy fop – so sitting around on my backside drawing cartoons for six weeks was a good gig if you could get it.

Despite it being a vastly overpriced photocopied affair, the comic was an instant hit with my fellow students –many of whom saluted me for my audacity at taking cheap shots at some of the lecturers. I also enjoyed being popular for the first time in my life.

Having been spurned from various universities (most likely for having too many drawings of cartoon cats and dogs in my portfolio) I stumbled upon the London Cartoon Centre and decided to apply for a place – despite the fact that I had very little confidence in myself or my work…

I felt somewhat overdressed in my freshly pressed shirt, trousers and shiny shoes, as the chap who interviewed me was a bit of a scruffy punk. But none of this seemed to matter when he uttered the words ‘When can you start?’

Naturally I was overjoyed. I was so overjoyed a bit of wee might have even come out.

In the space of just two years (1993-1995) I churned out seven comics – each one received positive reviews, not only from my mother, but also from a couple of small press comic magazines. It was also being sold in London comic stores like Comic Showcase, and the jewel in the London comic scenes crown – Forbidden Planet.

Naturally by 1995 I had burnt out, with my final comic being… well, a bit rubbish really. The quirky one-off cartoons had become drawn out, convoluted stories with a few jokes to make you smirk on every other page. I’m not quite sure what went wrong, but it was most certainly the shadow of its former self.

But in 1997 I limped back into action, with the aid of the Princes Youth Business Trust (oooh, get me). They threw a wad of cash at me in the misguided belief that I knew what I was doing – but sadly, Freaky Shenanigans (as it was now known) was a dead duck before it even hit the shelves – and the blame can only lie at my own door.

Like an old dog that refuses to die, the comic made another brief appearance in 1999 and finally in 2001, when I frog-marched it into the backyard and shot it in the head.
Despite some glorious moments and a new character called Norton Mouse, the comic was never going to be a success with me at the helm. I was just a twenty-something young buck with no sense of urgency or direction – or sense of any description really.

In 2005 I launched Glory Be! – and unlike my previous comics, Glory Be actually had a semi-professional feel to it… glossy, full-colour pages… if you looked at it from a distance you could have placed it on the selves at WH Smiths… but sadly it was doomed to failure. Extraordinary production costs resulted in a cover price of £4 (for 32 pages) while the sheer number of private in-jokes alienated 90% of my readers and an ill-fitting four-page story with no conclusion didn’t help matters. The comic resurfaced at Christmas 2005 but again suffered from the same production costs and poor distribution, resulting in the return being somewhat short lived.

That was three years ago. Now I’m doing it all again…

Am I crazy or deluded? Possibly both.

But I have over 70 pages of material that I can’t let go to waste. Plus I don’t wish to blow my own horn, but it’s good stuff. In fact if I get mowed down by a bus the day after its release then I’d die happy in the knowledge that the last thing I did was worthwhile. Not only is it my best comic to date, it’s my best piece of work to date – even better than the picture of Spider-Man that I drew when I was four-years-old.

Seriously, I’m stoked with it. And I still have another months work to be cracking on with.

The plan was to release it in November – but that was never gonna happen. This release date was due to the fact that 20 pages were set at Christmas… but it really doesn’t make any odds if it comes out in March or April. Taking into account everything I have learned (or learnt) over the past 15 years, I really don’t need to be launching a new magazine just before Christmas with no time for advertising or even a distributor signed up. I would indeed be shooting myself in the proverbial foot… (again)

My only hurdle is the subject matter. At its heart Glory Be is a Christian comic, but it’s not being advertised as such. It’s a sheep in wolfs clothing really. The central premise is based around the crazy goings on in a charismatic church. Basing a comic around a workplace or school would hold more mass-market appeal, but these churchgoers are human beings doing human things, and to be honest even if you’ve never been to church in your life it still won’t take anything away from the humour, or your understanding of the comic as a whole.

If you would like more information on my new comic – Glory Be! Featuring Norton Mouse , then please visit my website –

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