It is midsummer, somewhere in the British Midlands and sometime in the mid seventies. It is almost midnight. In a suburban semi-detached house, a teenage girl and her young brother are awaiting the return of their parents. A young man of impressionable age waits with them as they bathe in the eerie light of the cathode ray tube. He is lost in some private reverie, untempted by the delights of Match Of The Day. As the witching hour approaches, his quiet reflection is shattered by the return of the adults, full of booze and Broadway song. Fun and frivolity ensue, for all but the impressionable young man. Events unfolding on the now forgotten television screen catch his eye.
A man, dressed in smart secret agent attire, is racing around the streets of Manhattan, enacting a colourful caper with a cast of exotic foes. He prevails by cunning and courage, eventually securing the microfilm concealed within the girls naval. Better still, every move and gesture is captured on camera by the redoubtable Terry Thomas. Our watching protagonist – we’ll call him Ironscarf to protect the innocent – is held transfixed as the photographs are developed. They serve as reference for our hero, now at his expensive drawing board in his expansive studio, as he transforms the whole episode into a successful comic strip. Bash Brannigan – Secret Agent, syndicated in 463 national newspapers, with 80,000,000 readers!
It gets better. Stanley Ford lives in a beautiful Manhattan townhouse with Terry Thomas to cater for his every need. He spends his days in his exclusive members club, his nights at swinging bachelor parties and his beautiful future wife is about to pop out of a cake. All this and he still somehow finds time to draw those lucrative daily strips. Could life get any better? I was sold. I loved drawing and I loved comic strips. My destiny was now laid out before me in lines and pools of ink. All I had to do was practise and look forward to the day when all of this would be mine. There was a lot of practising too. This thing wasn’t as easy as it looked. There were plots and panels and pacing and countless other details to ponder. It was going to take a while, but it would all be worth it as I sipped my first sophisticated cocktail, prepared by Terry Thomas, in my beautiful Manhattan townhouse.
The film was called How to Murder Your Wife, but Stanley Ford did not actually murder his wife. Perhaps this small deceit should have alerted me to the sad reality. Everything I had seen was an outlandish fantasy - the polar opposite of a comic strip creator’s tragic life. When I discovered the truth it was already too late. I was hopelessly hooked by small drawings in sequence. So what if I didn’t get the Manhattan townhouse? I got a beautiful wife (not from a cake I hasten to add) and I’ve got Terry Thomas right here beside me as you see and two out of three isn’t so bad. So what if I have to shake my own cocktails? The exercise is almost certainly doing me good. I even embarked on a new career to secure my future - Jazz guitar. I guess there’s just no helping some people.
Was there a single moment, or an encounter that set you on the path to panel based perfection? Were there a series of minor events that sealed your eventual fate? What inspired you to throw away your future security in pursuit of those little fragments of time, stitched together, that we call comics?
Thank you so much to Ironscarf for writing this guest post - as always in his wonderful inimitable style! If you feel like you need more Ironscarf in your life (you do) check out his comic Awfully Decent Fellows!
This newspost is the last of three guest posts that I've been putting up while I've been busy writing essays and pulling out my hair. Next week we'll be returning to our regularly scheduled programming with a hopefully less frazzled Hippie Van at the helm.
Have a comic milestone, a community project or some comic-related news that you'd like to see here? Do you have original art for our newspost image database? Send it to me via PQ or at hippievannews(at)gmail.com, or leave a comment below!
For more info on News, please check out this DD Help Site article: https://sites.google.com/site/theduckhelp/getting-started/news-and-getting-your-news-in-it
HippieVan at 12:00AM, April 17, 2015
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