Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Self-Portrait 2: Clark Kent is Superman!?!

Glasses are a brilliant disguise. Why do you think Bono wears his all the time? Even when he's indoors? It's so that people won't recognise him. Brilliant disguise. Clark Kent heroically hid in plain-view in front of Lois Lane at the Daily Planet for years with only his bi-focals to protect his identity.

Superman was the first 'superhero' in comics. All your arguments about The Phantom being the first are very interesting, but you're still wrong. "Batman's cooler" I hear you say, "Superman's lame, he's too powerful so he's never at risk, he's a do-gooder, kryptonite sucks, he's boring, Batman's better 'coz he's really dark..."

On and on you go, bemoaning Superman as the lamest thing since sliced lame, all the while forgetting one thing. Clark Kent makes Superman look like the freaking Fonz. Superman could leap tall buildings, stop speeding trains, he even made it cool to wear your underwear over your tights; Clark Kent got out of lifts on the wrong floor and spilled coffee over his mortgage application forms.

Today's self-portrait is me without glasses. I have removed the cunning disguise in order to reveal my heroic true self. Or something. I wore glasses when I was at school because I was having difficulty seeing the very important information about the poetry of Sheamus Heaney (something to do with cats?) written on the board just two meters away.

A visit to an opticians and the subsequent addition of lens to face paid off well and the B/B in GCSE English Language/Literature more than made up for the several years of playground punishment. After I left school I vainly stopped wearing my glasses for a couple of years. Years which I usefully spent falling over, ignoring close friends on the other side of the road and hailing a huge number of buses that weren't going anywhere near my intended destination. This may however be a natural state of being for an eighteen-year old boy.

Now I'm an adult and people aren't allowed to make fun of me anymore (this is definitely a true and real thing that is a law and everything) and I've finally come to terms with wearing glasses again. Now I get lost in Sainsburys on far fewer occasions, I can read the subtitles on Aldmovar films and I'm able to identify acquaintances without being over-reliant on my sense of smell or taste. Anyone dares call me four-eyes, I'll burn them with my FRICKIN' LASER-HEAT-VISION!

Self-Portrait 1: Comic Book Club

This past week, for a select few brave geeks, was the inaugral meeting of 'the comic book club'. Good times were had; comics, fanzines and graphic novels miraculously remained unsoiled by the flowing wine and everyone kept their trousers on. I made my way home at the end of the night clutching David B's 'Babel', Jeff Brown's 'Clumsy' and Julie Doucet's 'My New York Diary' (as well as Scott McCloud's 'Understanding Comics'), my head still turning over a conversation had hours earlier about the distinctions between auto-biography and fiction for comics writer.

Not that the two things are always clearly distinct of course. The pencil on the page begins the fiction.What I'm eventually getting around to is that, with a few exceptions (the late Harvey Pekar springs to mind), autobio writers tend to illustrate their own work (Joe Sacco (Palestine), Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis), the aforementioned Doucet, Brown and B). At some point they have to make a concious decision to sit down and draw themselves. Jeff Brown's graphic representation is little more than a stick figure, B and Satrapi use cartoon and abstraction. Do you make your nose as big as it really is? Or do you make it even bigger to show 'hey, I've got a big nose and I'm fine with that'. Or do you not even draw a nose? Will people even be paying that much attention to the realistic depiction of your nasal cavaties as they read your 'brutally honest account' of that time your parents caught you squeezing the family hamster into a jar of peanut butter?

I've decided to post a quick self-portrait. It's a simplified, rather than cartoonish or exagerated version of me. With a smaller nose. Possibly. I've perhaps made my hair look a little too tidy, or my beard fuller than it is. Somewhere among all that truth is a little lie or two. I'm intending to use the portraits as a way of getting me to put more stuff up on the blog so check soon for the next exciting episode of 'Can he be bothered?'!