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?'!