It was a mixed week last week. It began with those nice Twitter comments shown above from Mark Millar, creator of the hugely successful Kick-Ass and one of the top talents in the comics industry. Cartooning is a fairly lonely and insecure business so it was encouraging to receive comments like that out of the blue. (Although I'm sure I don't deserve the 'heir to Baxendale' tag, very flattering as it is.)
Then, a few days later, I noticed that Gordon Robson (aka 'Kid'), who has often been critical of today's UK children's comics, was having a little pop at me on his blog, mainly because my work isn't the genius level of Leo Baxendale and Ken Reid's. (But then, whose is? Bax and Reid always stood out, even amongst their peers back in the days of Wham! and 1950s Beano.)
Then later, also from Mr.Robson...
Of course he's absolutely entitled to his opinion and if my work doesn't give him a lift, that's fair enough. I've no problem with that. No cartoonist would expect their work to please everyone and I've never considered myself in the same league as Ken Reid and Leo Baxendale who were true giants in their field.
However, in a conversation with someone who defended me anonymously (and no, I don't know who that was) the critic also remarks about me selling off my old artwork.
He said of me that "The artist you mention works for one of the lowest-paying companies in the business and he's so 'wealthy' that he's currently selling some of his old comics and art because apparently work is a bit thin on the ground at the moment". Mr.Robson then goes on to boast that he himself has never had to sell anything from his "vast and varied collections". Here's a screen grab of the bit I'm talking about:
I really shouldn't bother justifying myself. But I want to clarify some things because it's not the first time this guy's brought up the subject of me selling artwork. I appreciate that he's defending himself for the most part in that comment above against the anonymous comments, but as there are some people who frequent both his blog and mine I felt a 'right of reply' was in order on some points where I'm mentioned, just for balance...
1) About me working for "one of the lowest-paying companies": As a freelancer I've worked for numerous companies over the last 30 years. Some pay more than others. Even rates for jobs I've done this week vary considerably. Such has it ever been for every freelancer. I don't turn work down if I can help it.
2) True, this has been a bad year personally and financially. Partly because there aren't so many comics around, and partly because I was grieving over my mum's death. (Still am, but at least I'm in the frame of mind to write/draw funny stuff again now, which I wasn't for over five weeks.) However it's been a bad year for a lot of people but I'm keeping my head above water and I'm not in debt. As I've said before, I don't have any surviving family to inherit my artwork so it makes sense to me to sell off some of the many pages I've drawn over the past 30 years. It reduces clutter for me and as there's an interest in it from collectors who grew up on my work, it pleases the fans as well as myself. I'd be selling those old pages to collectors regardless of whether I'd had a good year or not.
3) Selling old artwork is a legitimate way for artists to boost their income. It's all declared, we pay tax on it, and, yes, it helps in good times and bad. Many comic artists sell their old pages online and at conventions. So much so that eBay even has its own category for original comic art, and conventions have their 'artists alleys'.
4) Regarding me selling a few old comics: I have my particular favourites that I'll never part with, but I also have some that I know I'll never read again. They're just taking up far too much space as far as I'm concerned. And I'm still buying stuff, so I need the space for those new books too! Every few years I'll have a sort out with no regrets, and I'm sure it'll please that blogger (as a fellow animal lover) that a few years ago I gave away hundreds of comics to the RSPCA for them to sell at their charity events.
Anyway, that's how one person's comments can boost you up and another person's comments can bemuse you in the space of a few days. That's life! But overall I think I get off very lightly considering some of the nasty flak that Mark Millar gets from various 'fans' on message boards. It's a funny old business.
(If any of you did want to follow my eBay auctions you'll find them by clicking here.)
And if you want to follow me on Twitter I'm on the link coming up. (Bear in mind I'm not 'Tweeting' every day though so my apologies in advance if I don't reply right away.):
Update: As a consequence of Kid Robson's most recent disproportionate responses, his distortions, his exaggerations, and his attacks on my honesty and integrity there will be no more comments on the matter published on this blog for the time being.
Update Jan 2018: After more nonsense from said critic I have deleted the links to his blog as he mistakenly thought that hits from this blog to his were all from me! Someone really needs to explain to him how stats work!