Welcome back to SBC’s The Panel, a chance for you to put your burning questions – comics-related or otherwise – to a group of comics professionals.

The Panel lives or dies by your contributions; please email them to pane[email protected] and we’ll add them to the list…

This week’s question is a Valentine special and is as follows:-

“What do you love about comics? And what do you hate about comics?”


Baz Renshaw writes:

What I love:
The diversity and potential; the fact you can recreate reality on a page; that it’s a direct medium, from the creator to the reader; that its still a developing medium, not out of adolescence yet; that it has allowed me to meet great people in the creative community I would probably have never met otherwise.

What I hate:
That it’s still so heavily under-invested in the UK, and that its still seen as an art form for children; and that its still not yet paying the bills damn it!

Writer, artist, editor and Liverpudlian Barry Renshaw is behind the ENGINE COMICS line of publications and a founder of the ACCENT UK collective, makers of among other things, REDEYE MAGAZINE, a quarterly for the UK comics scene.


Kev F Sutherland:

I love imagination. Comics are at their best when they do things that have never been done in any other art form, and the movies take a decade to catch up.

I hate repetition. Comics are at their worst when the same old creators are revisiting characters and concepts invented more than half a century ago and readers act reactionary to any changes to their sacred cows.

My least favourite word in comics is Continuity. They’re all ‘imaginary stories’, live with it.

Career hihglights include being writer and artist on The Bash St Kids in The Beano, Tarquin Hoylet He Has To Go To The Toilet in Viz, Star Trek and Dr Strange for Marvel, plus Dr Who, Red Dwarf, Gladiators, Goosebumps and heaps more.


Frazer Irving:

I love comics because of the pictures, and the way they tell a story, sir. I like monsters and there are lots of monsters in comics and they are always drawn a different way so that I don’t get bored. There are some nice stories about happy things and some nasty stories about horrible things and there are some silly stories about people in tights and some good stories about people in tights, but I prefer the monsters.

What I HATE about comics is so difficult to put into words. Are there some elements within the comics framework which I detest exclusively due to their context? Are there facets about the industry which drive me to murderous rages which are not found elsewhere? Is there indeed anything in comics which boils my blood which boils it because it is in comics? Not really no. I don’t really hate anything specific in comics, tho it would be nice to do my own lettering once in a while.

Frazer Irving: Essex boy, artist, philanderer. Did the small press for 5 years, then 2000AD for another five, moved onto the glorious silky pages of DC recently. Not one for pigeonholing, he rejects the penciller-inker-colourist team-up and has merged 3 clones of himself into 1 so that he does all jobs. Possibly known for work on 2000AD‘s Necronauts, Judge Death and The Simping Detective, currently doodling Klarion the Witch-Boy for DC.


James E. Lyle (a.k.a. Doodle):

I love the feeling that I got as a very young child being swept away by the beauty of the art and colours of comics. There’s also a very personal feeling of connection to the story in the comics that I love. I still get a thrill thinking of those moments, reading comics after dark blankets over my head and flashlight in hand. The best comics bring back that kind of excitement.

What do I hate about Comics? Those annoying headaches from breathing in too much carbon dioxide! What was I thinking with those blankets over my head?

James E. Lyle is a cartoonist and illustrator, including co-creating titles Escape to the Stars, T.H.U.N.D.E.R. and DoorMan, plus work on Fright Night, Cynicalman Sells Out, and the accurately-spelt Wiindows. More recently Lyle worked on Turok, the “missing” Paul Gulacy T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, and DRASTIK #1.


Bart Thompson:

Quick answers from me this go round…

I love the art form and how free you are to do what you like. The stories are endless and only restricted to your imagination, not your F/X budget.

I hate that we aren’t accepted by the public as a legitimate form of entertainment along with music, movies, and television- though we’re doing pretty much the same things.

Bart Thompson is the founder of Approbation Comics and creator of Vampires Unlimited, The Metamutoids, ChiSai, and Chaos Campus: Sorority Girls vs. Zombies.


Kwanza Osajyefo:

The thing that I love about comics is the ability to tell any story of any scale and not have to worry about a budget. Some typing, some drawing and you can capture the imagination in ways that text and film never can. It’s the great median and a great medium, and I love it with all my heart.

Unfortunately the list of things I hate about it is much longer, but still can never quench my passion for comics.

I hate watching a good project fail. I hate seeing a crappy project succeed. I hate the insular, incestuous, nepotistic, boys club in the “professional” comic industry. I hate pitching great stories and getting rejected only to see a similar project appear later from the same company.

I hate that artists have to choose projects based on a pay check over one based on heart. I hate that American comics can’t reach the level of acceptance comics have in the rest of the world. I hate that Marvel and DC are part of that problem and really hate that they are part of the solution. I hate that those two monoliths overshadow so much talent and I hate that too many artists want to be or have to be part of that machine.

What I hate though is that with so many alternatives in front of us people keep doing the same old shit over and over and over again barely inching the American medium forward.

Happy Valentine’s Day, abused lovers of comics! Comics really do love you and they only beat you because you make them so crazy, but they really love you. See you next Time!

Kwanza Osajyefo is the founder of Funky Comics, home to Jim’s Ninja and a number of other forthcoming comic book properties.


Stephen Holland:

What I Love About Comics:

The way you can control the passage of time.

The way you can juxtapose images, so that the reader can pass their eyes back and forth and compare, rather than having each image replace the next, as with film.

The immediacy of the image, and the potential subtleties of implication, rather than the thousand-word equivalent.

That the sorry state of affairs which still renders the medium a subculture rather than a form of mass entertainment is mitigated by the consequence that we all share the same level of passion about comics, regardless of one’s particular tastes.

That you don’t need devices like a DVD player and tv screen or deck and speakers to read them.

Which, additionally, means that like books you can enjoy them anywhere.

The sheer variety now available at any decent comic shop.

That at their most basic they are so cheap to make, anyone can say exactly what they want to say, and you get to hear real, individual voices, rather than receive the bland results of, say, a film bleached by Hollywood in order to appeal to the widest demographic.
Their creators being so approachable and free from ego.

Their creators being so proactive about the state of the industry, and helping in as many ways as they can.

The joy their readers greet me with every day.

And the comfortable living those readers have so far generously afforded me.

What I Hate About Comics:

Nothing.

There’s plenty I regret about the current state of the industry, but my hatred is reserved for people like George W. Bush, Margaret Thatcher, Robert Mugabe etc…

Happy Valentines Day.

Stephen Holland runs Page 45 – a comic shop in Nottingham – with Mark Simpson and Tom Rosin. He can also be found, monthly, in Comics International.


Donna Barr:

Everything.

To both questions.

It all depends on the day…

Donna Barr has books and original art at http://www.stinz.com, webcomics at http://www.moderntales.com, http://www.girlamatic.com, and has POD at http://www.booksurge.com. Nothing she won’t try, at least once…including writing a column for SBC at this link!


Lee ?Budgie” Barnett:

Let’s get the ‘hate’ out of the way first, that way we finish with a nice warm feeling.

I hate that like voters who promise that they’d rather have better public services than tax cuts, but vote for a tax cutting candidate, the vast majority of the comics reading public say they support creator rights. But when a creator goes after those rights, the burden of public proof rests with those claiming those rights. The assumption is often that they’re chasing after a good thing, with little consideration for the facts.
Mind you, I also hate the whole attitude of “creators are always in the right, companies are always in the wrong”. The comic book industry has people working for it that care about the industry and those working in it.

I hate personal attacks. I hate it that someone who doesn’t like a creators work think it’s ok to attack or criticise the person who created the work, just as I hate it when someone attacks the work because they don’t like the person who created it.

I hate it when someone criticises creative work without having experienced it. If they don’t like anything they’ve read by a writer or artist, then the odds are, I grant, that they won’t like the new project he’s announced. But that doesn’t lend any weight to trashing it before they’ve read it.

I dislike it intensely when people criticise gossip columns in the comics industry. Gossip exists. It always has, it always will. To criticise, say, Rich Johnston, for reporting that gossip is equivalent to attacking a weatherman because it’s raining … and he told you so.

I hate Inconsistency and unprofessional behaviour. Whether it be an artist that can’t draw a costume the same in two consecutive panels, a writer whose work varies between incredibly good and gut-wrenchingly poor or editorial who can’t make up their mind what type of book they want to put out. I hate it when comic professionals aren’t, well, aren’t professional.

At one comics convention, a pro doing signings took the opportunity to talk out of shop and complain to another pro about a third comics creator… in front of the people getting sketches and signings. I hate that.

Thankfully, what I love about comics outweighs what I hate by some measure. So what do I love?

For a start, I love the medium itself. The synergy of words and pictures never fails to amaze me; it’s put together in a format that you can enjoy whether you’re six or sixty. The use of both forms of communication, art and words, together with the teamwork necessary to bring the creative vision to completion never fails to amaze me.

I love the very concept of comic shops, retail outlets that specialise in comic books. As someone who still remembers buying his comics at the local newsagents, when what was on the shelves was a very small selection, the very concept of a shop that only (or mainly) sold comic books was nothing more than a dream. Hell, it wasn’t even that. It simply didn’t even occur to me. I still recall the first time I came across a comic shop. Purely by accident, it was, and even now I can remember the sheer thrill of discovery.
Just think: not only could you buy the current issues of comics… but back issues as well!

I love going to comics conventions. Somewhere where you can go, and enjoy being in the company of those who also like comic books. I’ve attended almost every comics convention/festival held in the UK since 1989. (Work commitments mean that I never get to Monaive, run by Sue and Alan Grant, something I bitterly regret.) But my love of these events has merely grown every year, to the extent that if I can’t make it, or can only go for a short time instead of the whole thing, I genuinely feel like I’ve missed something special.

Of course, Hypotheticals has, for the past five years, made the British Comics Festival something special in my year, both for the fun of putting on the panel, and because I’ve been fortunate enough to meet so many names in the comics industry that have agreed to be on the panel.

Meeting and chatting with pros in an informal atmosphere is part of what I enjoy about the conventions, and that segues into something else I love about this industry: with astonishingly rare exceptions, it’s been a delight to discover how genuinely nice most pros are. I love how ‘easy’ it is to communicate with your favourite writer or artist in this industry. It’s not that difficult to find an email address for a pro or a message board where he or she hangs out. Whether it’s in person at conventions, or online, I love it that so many comics pros make time for their readers… and say a genuine and heartfelt “thank you” to a compliment about their work.

Self-publishing of comic books is something I both love and admire, but not half as much as I admire the self-publishers themselves. And despite the hardships that accompany such an enterprise, I love it that there are those who’ll put themselves on the line financially just to ensure that their books are in the shops, to be enjoyed by others.

Finally, I love that when I go to buy my weekly comics, I get asked by my nine year old son to buy him a comic book as well. An interest involving creative work that a 40 year old man and his nine year old son can both enjoy?

You’ve got to love that.

Lee ‘Budgie’ Barnett is a writer of comedy and comics, firstly Imperium’s TRAILER PARK OF TERROR, then X-MEN UNLIMITED #4 (Aug 04). Online, he has GOING CHEEP at Pulse, and his novel YOU’LL NEVER BELIEVE A MAN CAN FLY here. Famedin UK Comics for Hypotheticals (devised with and presented by Dave Gibbons, and inspiration for The Panel), he’s been described as being to accountancy what Indiana Jones is to archaeology.


Well that was our valentine special! Hope you enjoyed it and have a special day with that/who/them that you love or even hate!

What do I love about comics? One word, escapism.

What do I hate? Not much to be honest, maybe the lack of respect that the writers and artists get from the “art” world because they work in comics.

What do you love or hate? Let us know!


“The views and opinions expressed on the panel are solely those of the panellist who has written them. They do not reflect the views or opinions of silver bullet comic books or myself. Freedom of speech is great isn’t it – James”


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