Thursday 4 November 2010

Autobiographical comics

Press copies of Solipsistic Pop 3 have gone out, the launch party is next week, and my mind has taken a break from Quixote to go through that wonder-what-people-will-think-of-it phase about my contribution to SP3 (just like everyone else no doubt). This is a bit like a flashback to 1989 and the first issue of SLANG. I'm pretty thick-skinned about most of the published work I do, but my SP3 strip is probably my first autobiographical work to hit print since SLANG.

Autobiographical comics are the oxygen of the small press, in many cases they reflect the mundanity of the everyday - the minute details of personal hygiene and tiny fissures in personal relationships. There are of course some wonderful examples of this and some that are eye-curlingly bad. Mine tend to be slightly veiled, 'semi'-autobiographical sort of stories that deal with the more traumatic aspects of my life.

Back in the late 80s my main strip for SLANG dealt with much of the same stuff that you'll find in The Torturer's Garden (that's the SP3 strip). In a way things have come full circle. At the top of this post is a panel from The Torturer's Garden and below is a panel from SLANG No 2.

Damaged youths in bovver boots, and there's that Dennis the Menace jumper. It may not look like most people's idea of an autobiographical comic, but my thoughts about it are the same as anyone who has done this kind of comic are - have I exposed too much of myself? will people be judging me rather than the art? etc etc

You know, the good thing about this anthology is that I'm in such great company, it really does contain some of the most talented and original creators working in UK comics right now. Even if my approach and/or subject matter isn't to people's liking there are so many other approaches to comics on show here that, if you love comics, you will love this book.


thismeanswaugh said...

Hi Rob, loved your strip in SP3. The whole book is just wonderful.

The way I try to measure it is by asking "if this were fiction, would it still be a good read?". In my case, I've always tried to give the reader a laugh on every page. Hopefully the fact that it is autobiographical adds to the experience. In your case, you are telling a story and as long as it is an engaging story (which it certainly is), I think the "true life" angle only enhances it.

Rob Davis said...

Thanks Andy. I agree. I tend to see myself as telling stories whatever I'm doing and I've always seen events in my life as stories. It's like an automatic filter - a story filter rather than the rational filter that some other writers see their lives through.

thismeanswaugh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
thismeanswaugh said...

Yeah, I feel strongly that autobiographical work needs that filter otherwise it becomes the very "what I had for breakfast" cliche that detractors of the genre have been using against us for decades.

Even diary stuff like American Elf or Ellerbisms tells a story when viewed as a whole.

Anyway, I could go on and on, but bottom-line - your strip is ace!

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