Don’t Bore Us, Get To The

I tweeted a variation on this the other week, but I’ve become increasingly depressed about the lack of comic outlets outside of comics these days.

The thought initially occurred while reading Alec: How to Be an Artist, which makes a point of showing how important a weekly strip in the music papers was to Eddie Campbell and his peers when trying to get started as creators in the UK in the 1980s. The same thing was true of Campbell’s collaborator-to-be, Alan Moore; without his strip in Sounds, the world would likely have never gotten his work in Warrior, which arguably led to everything he did in his career from the mid 1980s forwards.

Unless I’m entirely misremembering, Rian Hughes had a short stint in one of the music papers in the ’80s, too. Certainly, Peter Milligan and Brendan McCarthy had a weekly strip in a newspaper, as did the Pleece brothers (Warren and Gary, for those who remember the latter). The mere mention of comics in newspapers conjures up thoughts of Will Eisner and The Spirit, 80-odd years ago now when it started, another touchstone in my personal history of comics.

What all of these comics and creators had/have in common is that their work didn’t just reflect or try to fit into an existing idea of success, but instead strove to be both original and, perhaps even more importantly, entertaining to an audience outside of the mainstream. More than any pre-determined notion of craft or formal, practical skills in terms of writing or illustration, I feel that working on a regular basis outside of the comics industry creates an awareness of, and hunger for, what a broad audience is looking for outside of the Direct Market standard, or whatever it being promoted by bookstore buyers that particular season.

It exposed creators to a mass media audience, and asked them to make something that anyone would find enjoyable. In a way, it made comics — the medium, not the business — into pop, which is arguably something that more creators in today’s industry should go through. If only.

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