AND SO it is time to bid farewell to 2010, a year FULL of changes and transformations. The people of Britain chose to end thirteen years of Labour rule, by voting for no-one in particular, resulting in a strange Frankenstein’s monster of political parties leading the country instead. In Doctor Who, we saw The Doctor regenerate from a man looking a lot like David Tennant, to a man looking a lot like an Easter Island statue teaching geography at a public school. Sherlock Holmes found himself transported from the Victorian era to modern-day London where he proved a dab-hand at using mobile phones, while in cinemas across the land, movies decided that being in a mere two-dimensions was no longer enough, and started leaping out of the screen and kicking popcorn in your face.
Elsewhere, The Dandy, Britain’s longest-running comic, underwent its own transformation, changing itself from being half comic, half magazine and all ‘Xtreme’, to going back to doing what it does best – showcasing nothing but excellent COMICS. In doing so, it also transformed me from being a hapless, unemployable wretch, to being a paid cartoonist.
Yes, it was definitely a year of two halves, commencing with me being made redundant from my old job, and left wondering what exactly I do next, misery and despair hanging over me like a particularly noxious guff-cloud. But there was a brighter side to losing my job, and that was that it made me realise I wasn’t really any good at any of my previous jobs, nor did I enjoy them. It was time to focus my energies on something I was vaguely competent at, and which I genuinely, passionately wanted to do – cartooning!
It was when the lovely and legendary Lew Stringer made some very nice comments about my webcomic, The Carrotty Kid, (citing it as being ‘easily on a par with any comic’) that I really got serious about trying to break into the world of strip-cartoonery. If a hugely talented professional like Lew could see merit in my doodles, maybe I COULD get something published?
Shortly thereafter, I was spurned on again by another cartooning great, Jamie Smart, who let me know that The Dandy was looking for new cartoonists and new characters. Not only that, but Jamie seemed genuinely keen to encourage me to go for it, which buoyed my confidence further, and so I did indeed go for it.
Thankfully, the lovely Dandy folk (editor Craig Graham and Michelle O’Donnell) really liked my ‘George vs Dragon‘ idea, and the rest, as they say, is Stuff That Happened In The Past.
Since then, the second half of my year has been immeasurably better than the first, and it has been the happiest and most satisfying experience in all of my working life. I’ve seen my work in print in one of the very comics I grew up reading as a kid, I’ve found myself holding a monster-drawing workshop for children, I’ve been in the local newspaper and I’ve met some more wonderful people along the way. It really has been a fantastic time for me.
So, thank you, 2010, for not being as awful as you first appeared. And thank you, Lew, Jamie, Craig and Michelle for helping to get me here now. And thanks to my lovely family and friends who have supported me, and of course big thanks to YOU, the readers, who have been so quick to take George vs Dragon to your big, collective heart. It all means a very great deal to me.
Here’s hoping 2011 is just as good, if not MORE so. I’ve got some ideas bubbling away, one of which I shall be able to hint about in the new year. Until then, I hope you have yourselves a very, very, VERY Happy New Year, and make 2011 something special!
Twenty Ten was all well and good, but next year it’s going up to ELEVEN.
A VERY Merry Christmas to all of you, and have a Dandy New Year!
See you in 2011!
George vs Dragon © DC Thomson & Co.
AT THE end of last week I finished off the last of the initial run of George vs Dragon for The Dandy. The panel to the left is a sneky, sneaky peek of that final strip…could it REALLY be all over for the hapless dragon? Could it? COULD IT?
Hopefully not, as I LOOOOVE doing the strip, and from the looks of it, it’s gone down well with those very important folk – YOU, the readers!
The fate of the kingdom is in YOUR hands!