Short 'n Curlies #38 by Si Spurrier

Short 'n Curlies #38 by Si Spurrier

The Keyboard Continues To Be My FuckMonkey:


Convention season, I'm reliably informed, is In Full Swing.  Here then is a ludicrously tangential Brainmake intended to Explain A Few Things about the types of people — specifically Industry Professionals — you might meet at these crawling, swarming, cosplay anthills; and why they're The Way They Are.  It concludes with the single greatest piece of advice I can offer to anyone who's ever harboured the ambition to enter the comics trade as a writer or artist, and is planning to do so through Direct Contact with established professional creators.

The lesson begins in an odd place — bear with me here.  Ready?  Ready? Okay:


Being as I am a wretched, Existentially-Geriatric-despite-my-relative-youth, buttoned-down, überconventional product of the middleaged CosyMake Instinct, one of the highlights of my week is a regular, sit-down-in-an-actual-restaurant Meal with some of my oldest chums.  The old routines — going out 'til 4 every Friday and Saturday night; nightclubs like Bosch-paintings; floors alternately sticky or spiky; bass-amps so loud they're rented-out by day to Exorcists and Rogue States, and the old Roving, Hunt-Chicks-And-Go-Home-With-Them Mandate — those pursuits are consigned to the misogynistic bin of the past (or at least the bin of Wait Until The Longterm Girlfriends Are Overseas For A Day Or Two, hem hem hem).

Instead, nowadays, we gather like vaguely respectable Adult Humans to schnarf mediocre curry, drink imported European lager, and have — whisper it — actual conversations about actual matters of actual importance.

(Also football, cars, knockers, etc etc, but that goes without saying.)

Of course, when I say "my oldest chums," what I mean is: Real People. Who work in offices, with computers and accounts and, and, and secretaries and air conditioning, and soap-dispensers, and meetings, and bosses and pensions and Christmas Parties and mould in the back of the communal refrigerator.  And stuff. People who don't have plastic superhero figures blu-tacked onto their monitors. People who show up to our guzzlefests in suits and ties, with those — y'know — those stupid little leather briefcase/folder/portfolio things which look so fucking camp.  People who are far too polite to comment when I slouch-in with a 47 o'clock shadow, a hoodie (which still has Stains on it from That Day Back In '04 When I Met Chino Moreno — touch me touch me touch me), and the first pair of trousers I've cared to wear in five days.  I am Freelancer, Hear Me Slob.

One of the recurring topics of conversation at these things — pretty naturally, I suppose — is Work Woes.  My pinstriped pals quickly reach a simmering harmonious pitch in the vast Psychic Dump that is Griping About Co-Workers, then take it up a notch into this eerie Rage-Rapture state with talk of That Cunt My Boss, or There's This Right Evil Cow On My Team, or — the kicker — You Won't Believe Who Parked In My Space The Other Day.  Round and round and round, like a release-valve for the frustrated ego, which finally gets to me…

Whereupon I'm forced to reveal that I have spent all week agonising — agonising, I say, to the point of insomnia and turd-production-difficulties — over the many ways in which a fictional military prototype supersoldier could kill a man using only a golf ball, For This Comic I'm Writing.  And then — then, you suit-wearing sods — having arrived at a preferred solution sometime on Thursday, coming up with the appropriate sound effect to describe it.  "You think you're stressed, you fucks!?"

This is why my pals don't ask much about my working week any more.

But it matters, this stuff.  It's like that cliché about "no matter how much you earn, you always live to your means."  Same's true of a pestilent toxic psychic payload which needs venting.  "No matter what you do for a job, you'll get so Wound Up About It that you'll want to set fire to Dew-Eyed Baby Otters simply to get your own back on the world."  FACT.

There are Mailmen out there gathering in bars and restaurants to whinge about papercuts and predatory pooches. There are Sewer Workers clustering together to share mournful cigarettes and bemoan the lack of Man-Eating Albino Alligator Prevention Measures.  And there are hardened eyeball-injecting knuckle-faced hairy-palmed quadruple-Y-chromosomed criminal scallywag scumfucks accumulating in cheap Cafes to Hold One Another and sob about Those Big Bullies The Police.

Just because they're not talking about Million-Pound banking transactions like my office-jockey mates, doesn't make the incandescent Misery-Offload any more important.

(That sound effect, for the record, was PLUTskssht.)

Anyway, for a long time I envied the guys their Shared Experience.  Sure, they all work in different places, in different roles, with different grades of existential hatred for their career-environment. But their annoyances, raunchy anecdotes, hierarchical irritations and Frothing Bubbling Screaming Loathegasms are all of a sufficiently similar breed ("Office Based") that they can bitch, gripe and snarl in shared resonant empathy.

Not so yours truly.  SAD FACE.

But then this week I had occasion to contact a fellow comics-creator for Unremarkable Reasons. This sort of thing goes on all the time: artwork conversations, contract comparisons, story ideas, whatever. This time, for the record, I was trying to set up a hotel room-share for a forthcoming Work Thing — just another little peek for you, there, at the endless glamour of being a broke-ass comics writer — and an artist-chum called me to talk it over.  Quick, simple, efficient, right?  A three-minute conversation, tops.

An hour later — having complained, gossiped, whinged, sneered, cavilled and grumped ourselves to a grotesque plateau of exhausted satisfaction; having traded licentious rumours, cussed-down mutually-loathed self-promoting mongtards and inventively smeared the Good Name of a particular shillbagging dollarstalking mediawhore; having dissected our industry with all the vicious precision of malpracticing morphine-guzzling surgeons — the conversation came to a close with the decision that the Hotel Room had abruptly become a moot point.

Why? Because we'd already achieved the principal goal of the proposed Business Thing in the first place, and therefore no longer needed to attend. We'd Griped Ourselves Raw, accumulated enough Juicy Goss to keep us idly smirking for a month or two, and itched the scratch which forms in the dark penumbra of every freelancer's soul: The Lack Of A Communal Watercooler.

This goes a long way to explain two things:

1) Why we comics creators delightedly become such repugnant, moaning, grouchy arseholes at every available opportunity, and–

2) Why so many wannabe comics creators go home from big conventions in little puddles of salty misery, having been torn a new headhole by unkind portfolio reviewers or pitchees.

You see, these people — these professionals — have travelled from every corner of the globe specifically to vent their festering toxic baggage at one another, and the world they inhabit, in the relatively safe company of other, equally-grouchy pros of their kind.

Which brings me back to the bit of advice I mentioned up-top, remember?  The single most important thing you can bear in mind, if you're seriously contemplating approaching a Pro with your portfolio, or a verbal pitch, or just a sleazy Intro To Me Which May Pay Dividends Later So Here's My Card.  Here it is:

Do Not Expect Nice.

(Piece of advice #2, which goes a long way to mitigate Piece of advice #1, is this:

Always Offer To Buy The Guy A Drink.  He Needs It.)

Find Me @:

Twitter: @SiSpurrier


Send wurdz, thoughts, stories, Hatings, and Icelandic Glass-filled Ash, Apparently, to the Only Checked Occasionally And I Might Not Bother Replying At All Ha Ha Ha email address:

Or the It Might Not Get To Me At All But If It Does I Promise To Recycle It snailmail address:

C/O William Christensen,

Avatar Press
515 N. Century Blvd.
Rantoul, IL 61866

(Disclaimer: Secretly, I'm nice.)

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Rich JohnstonAbout Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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