Saturday, November 18, 2023

Not Everything You Do is For An Audience

After my recent post about how I was frustrated at my drawing and wanting to do something but it being a little... how's the best way to put it?... crap, I received a perfect message on Instagram from a good friend pointing me to a wonderful comic strip by @pascalcampionart (seriously, check out the art, it's lovely).

In the strip (I won't post it here as I haven't asked for permission) the frustrated artist says that he has ideas, but doesn't like them. 

The wonderfully drawn cat says that he should just do it, get them on paper - it may inspire something better. The strip closes with the line "Not everything you do is for an audience". And that one kinda hit hard. Maybe that's my problem. Everything I've done except for a couple of rare passion projects (WILD, and Missing) have had an audience in mind. 

And that is what's holding me back. The weekend comes, I have time away from the dayjob, and I want to be creating something, but I think 'what's the point if I don't share it with people?'. Sometimes you just have to get it out of your system, put it on paper, and you'll feel better.

I need to get over myself and just do it. I mean, look at me, I'm displacing by writing a blog post on a blog that barely anyone reads. 

So here I go. Putting the computer away again, and just going to do something for me for a change. 

Sunday, November 5, 2023

Genre Defying (continued) - Moving and Behind Your Touch


A few months ago I posted about a couple of series I'd been watching, mostly South Korean series as I've been having difficulty focusing on things. A lot going on in my head at the moment, so I'm finding it hard to sit in front of a TV series and actually watch it, if you know what I mean, rather than having it on while sitting on my phone doomscrolling. 

I found that watching a series that had subtitles meant that I had to concentrate on the screen, not get distracted by anything, and actually taking in the information. It meant that I had been watching some seriously amazing series that managed to defy genres by squeezing in romance, action, supernatural stuff, superheroic powers, humour, horror, and more, all in one series. My favourites so far have been The Uncanny Counter (series 2 was just as great as the first), Sell Your Haunted House, and The Bad and the Crazy

My head has returned to that state of distraction, and when I wasn't watching The X-Files I was getting easily distracted by the slightest thing, my mind wandering to work worries, that feeling that I'm not accomplishing stuff, or doing what I wanted. So I returned to those South Korean series and discovered some amazing dramas.

First up was Behind Your Touch, which really should have been titled the other way around. The premise is incredibly silly - vet Bong Ye-bun returns to her childhood town to work in her family practice, and is out seeing to a cow at a farm when a meteor flashes and she gains the power to see people's (and animals') memories by touching their butts (as she was touching the cow's behind when the flash occurred).

Her power helps her find out the problems of the town's animals, but when a serial killer strikes, she tries to work out who it is by touching people's butts. Grumpy detective, Moon Jang-yeol, wants to go back to Seoul, and thinks Bong is a pervert, but when he learns of her 'gifts' they team up to track down the killer. 

Yes, it's a silly premise, and leads to a lot of hilarious scenes, but there are some seriously dark moments in there with the serial killer. There's a great helping of romance, some red herrings, a subplot of drug smuggling, action, and good ol' detective work. And, as with so many of these series, the characters and the supporting characters are all interesting with great backgrounds and some brilliant acting. 

Really, really good fun. It's on Netflix at the moment and highly recommended.


We finished that series, after a really tense finale, and switched over to Disney+ (Hulu within the US) to check out Moving, a series that seems to be getting a lot of critical acclaim and is heralded as 'Heroes' (but the first series, when everyone loved it). 

It was not disappointing at all. At least, not so far. I've got two episodes to go to finish it, and I seriously hope there is going to be more. 

Moving starts as a simple tale of a few school kids at Jeongwon High School, mostly focusing on Jang Hui-soo, a new transfer who is great at PE, and Kim Bong-seok, a friendly and cheerful student who carries a lot of bags.

We quickly discover that Hui-soo heals really quickly, and Bong-seok floats off of the ground when he's emotional (hence all of the bags full of weights). They become close friends, and it's freakin' adorable. There are other characters who seem to have superpowers, like the school bus driver, and the class president, but the school seems to be a training/clearing ground for potential new powered kids.

It's brilliantly done, and the introduction of a powered assassin adds tension. Then, after seven or eight episodes, the focus changes completely, looking at the lead kids' parents. 

We discover Hui-soo's father's story, who also heals really fast, and we see Bong-seok's parents, the awesome Kim Doo-sik with his flying ability, and equally awesome Lee Mi-hyun who has extraordinary senses. We get seven full episodes of backstory and flashbacks before returning to the present, and it's flippin' awesome. These characters we thought were pretty cool to begin with are suddenly completely fleshed out with complex histories that intertwine, and their struggle to save their kids is even more urgent. 

The final chapter (so to speak), the last five episodes of the twenty episodes, are brilliantly orchestrated, with some amazing superpowered action that puts some of the Hollywood movies to shame. And it's so tense, as you really feel for the characters. The villains are bad and hateful, and I'm hoping something happens to the school principal ("Mr Sniffy" as we're calling him) as he's just... arg!

Seriously can't recommend it highly enough, and if you don't like reading subtitles I've heard it is being re-released on Disney/Hulu in English Dub due to its popularity. 

Saturday, November 4, 2023

If it wasn't so comic it'd be tragic


The old Missing Comics from 1998-9

Many, many, many years ago, back in the very late 90's, I used to write, illustrate, and publish comics. This was back when Autocratik was "Autocratik for the Masses", a play on the REM album name, 'Automatic for the People'. 

My main comic was called Missing, a planned 90+ issue series about a hotel on the Scottish border, after England had become the 51st US State, and after global warming at raised the water levels to the point where cars needed to be amphibian, and highwaymen used surfboards to attack unsuspecting travellers. There were subplots of psycho boyfriends, the local sheriff department, kidnapping of the President's daughter, and weird metal bands. So much was planned, but alas it only lasted four issues and looking back at it now it's a little 90's and a bit cringey. 

After Missing was cancelled due to losing my distribution, I published one more comic for the legendary artist D'Israeli (Consequences) before pulling the plug on comics. I had ideas for a weird story involving a massive cathedral, motorcycling paladins, and an alien creature being worshipped as a god, but didn't get very far. 

Original sketch for I in the WILD major arcana

Since then, things have been very quiet with my drawing. I gave up completely, only really putting pencil to paper when I was storyboarding the webseries, or doing my initial sketches for the tarot cards for WILD

WILD was always going to be a square book, and I found a company making cool square sketchbooks for artists (so of course, I bought three, one of each size). 

However, I realised my art wasn't up to scratch for WILD, and Stoo and I recruited my old friend Gareth Sleightholme to do the Tarot deck, which came out brilliantly.

I thought about using these sketchbooks to do something different, something autobiographical, but I only really got a handful of pages into it before I gave up again, mostly due to the frustration of what was in my mind not making it onto the page.

During the pandemic I was inspired to do something, to finally get drawing and creating again. And again, my mind went to something autobiographical. Maybe it was the stresses of the pandemic, and the weird paranoia it brought on, but I really just wanted to get things on paper.

I went to the art department of our local department store where they had a great deal on A5 exercise books that had blank, sketchbook quality pages. I bought ten of them, inspired by artists I'd seen on Instagram, and thought this was going to be my next creative pursuit...

But once again, what I saw in my mind just wasn't what came out on the page. Frustrated, I gave up again, and those many sketchbooks seem to taunt me from the shelves next to my seat. 

I keep getting the urge to draw, but I just don't seem to be able to do what I want. Maybe I'm too impatient? I remember when I was working on Missing I used to work on that daily, determined to get it done, but looking at it now I kinda think it was pretty awful. 

Will I ever go back to comics? Will I get over my own self-doubt and hyper-critical self-depreciation? 

Who knows, but for now, I'll remain a lapsed comics artist...