Friday, 16 November 2012

What kept me going in 2012

I blogged last year about some of my favourite artists. This was mostly a list of who has informed my work, helped define me in terms of influence and flat out fearlessness and passion. It's time I did a sequel to that post.

This time, I'm going to give you some insight into who/what has kept me hungry this year for what is essentially a very scary existence, making a living through art.

Jamie Smart

The bloke is a legend in my mind. An inspirational thinker and hard worker who genuinely cares about comics, not just working in comics. (Yes, I'm not really drawing comics anymore, but the Ultra-Bionic Wonder Sheep submission I sent to The Dandy and now The Phoenix is probably due to the enthusiasm Mr Smart radiates. My first exposure to Jamie was when I bought Bear #2 from Forbidden Planet New York in... must have been 2003, I guess. I was squatting at a friend's tiny apartment and remember being in stitches at the humour and dying to delve further into what appeared to be counter-culture comics (as a frame of reference, at this stage I was sketching Daredevil in the vain hope I could get a job at Marvel). That's what I like about Jamie; his work is subversive but somehow entirely charming so you never feel seedy after reading it. Good job too, as he's currently helping to subvert the minds of Britain's youth with his various strips in The Dandy and Bunny vs Monkey in The Phoenix.

Adam Reed

It's no secret that one of my life ambitions is to create an animated sitcom. Adam Reed has created several. Sealab 2021 and Archer being firm favourites. In a world where comedy animation is still generally looking to Mat Groening and Seth McFarlane's properties as the gold standard, Reed's shows come from an entirely different angle. For one thing, they don't use the tired 'suburban dysfunctional families' as their setting. But the humour... god, the humour. Off-kilter, acerbic and snappy. On top of that, Reed employs a variety of art styles (Sealab used old animation from the old show Sealab 2020 and played with it to great effect), all of which have more effect than the ever-so-slightly amended McFarlane work.

Billy Connolly

Huh? Yeah, you might think this has no relevance to a freelance artist, but I'm inspired by Billy Connolly's attitude and his life story. On a personal level, I think he's hilarious and have done since I first saw An Audience with Billy Connolly (which I must watch at least once a year even now) from 1985. When I realised that everything I've seen of his work since then has been made after he turned forty, it gave me a lot of faith in my ability to make it over the age of thirty (I know he had success before that show, but nevertheless). Sometimes, you see your peers outperforming you by a long way and at a stupidly young age and it makes you cry a little bit, but it really doesn't matter. Anyway, watching Connolly's documentaries, I love how much enthusiasm and humour with which he approaches everything. Even if it's just for the cameras, I'd rather see that than the typical moans and complaints that surround us on a daily basis.

There are many others, including my friends and family who have never once said that going freelance was a silly idea or too risky; the artistic community in Manchester which I'm proud to finally feel a part of; the vast majority of my Twitter feed who can be inspirational, hysterically funny, supportive and intelligent all at once; the various creators of the ridiculous amount of entertainment I consume (including, I must admit with a little bit of shame, the people behind How I Met Your Mother and The Big Bang Theory, which are familiar friends after a long day at the monitor/desk)... the list goes on. But the above examples are people who, this year at some point, have made me redouble my efforts and actively turn a corner into a more productive and successful place.

In lieu of a Thanksgiving in this country, this blog post is my tip of the cap to the good things and good people of 2012 (and past years, too).

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