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Guest Post by Ironscarf - How To Scupper Your Life

HippieVan at 12:00AM, April 17, 2015

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), or leave a comment below!
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HippieVan at 3:50PM, April 18, 2015

I love all the Dmitris! I think it would be such a cool topic for a story, and I think I'd be well equipped to handle at least the historical aspect of telling it.

KimLuster at 9:07AM, April 18, 2015

Ooooo I had a couple of Semesters of Russian History in College!! God that is some fascinating history...!! False Dmitri for the win!! (I never sold back my books!)

HippieVan at 7:40PM, April 17, 2015

@tupapayon: Historical comics are my absolute favourite! It's one of my long-term goals to do a (slightly fictionalized) comic about the Time of Troubles in Russia. There'll be lots of research that has to happen first, though.

tupapayon at 7:02PM, April 17, 2015

I have enjoyed comics since my early childhood (which is the same s saying as far as I can remember), but it didn't occur to me that I could make my own comics until high school, when I did a history assignment in the form of a comic...

HippieVan at 11:50AM, April 17, 2015

Spent a while thinking about this today, because I couldn't remember a moment when I started making comics. My dad and his father introduced me to Tintin, Asterix and Lucky Luke really young, and then when I was a preteen I started reading superhero comics. I drew superheroes all the time, but the realization that I could make my own comics came after meeting a local webcomic artist, back when our annual comic convention was held in the basement of a slightly sketchy local hotel. The led me to discover the wonderful world of webcomics, where people of *ahem* varying degrees of talent could post their creations for the world to see! And then eventually to finding DD when I was looking for somewhere to host my first (terrible) webcomic.

VinoMas at 11:43AM, April 17, 2015

Nice work!

KimLuster at 5:26AM, April 17, 2015

*stands and claps* Well done sir!! I'd wanted to attempt a comic for years... I always loved writing stories... and I also loved painting and drawing... Putting the two together seemed a natural progression - so why'd it take so long...? *shrug*

Froggtreecomics at 4:05AM, April 17, 2015

I remember reading and re-reading the parody of Ghostbusters in the Beano (The Jocks and the Geordies) and a perceptible light bulb appearing above my head. I also have memories of feverishly tearing the wrapping off my Topper early one Christmas morning, but we won't go into that in polite company.

Ironscarf at 2:16AM, April 17, 2015

Oy indeed! Thanks dpat57. Ozone', comics got a lot more respectable in the nineties. Back when I was doing my BA in the eighties, you couldn't mention comics unless you were talking about Roy Lichtenstein, or dismissing something as comic like - the ultimate insult. Comics were the lowest form of art and I had to keep my shadowy activities secret to avoid being thrown off the course!

dpat57 at 2:03AM, April 17, 2015

Made me chuckle, well played. Hands up those who didn't need to look up imdb to remember Virna Lisi, oy. I do look forward to those Awfully Decent Fellows updates.

Ozoneocean at 1:14AM, April 17, 2015

In the late '90s I was happy/unhappy doing a BA in fine art, when it was suggested I should try comicing... well that'd been suggested at various times all through the years I studied art but I'd blown it off, thinking comics were a big silly, but in the late '90s I'd been introduced to steadily more and more Heavy Metal comics and the conversion process began, so that I eventually cracked and thought I'd try it for myself.

Ozoneocean at 1:08AM, April 17, 2015

Hahaha! You poor bastard! :D

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