Thursday, November 27, 2008
Alright before the comic here for you non-Greeks a bit of contextualization is required.
In Greece, the newspaper medium is in deep crisis. People just don't seem to read papers as much as they used to and regardless of the whys, the way papers have deemed it practical to respond is to bundle with their edition various 'gifts' for the reader, to entice them to buy the thing for the other thing. One can spot the various problems in this practice pretty much instantly (and how they will eventually result to complete disassembly of the newspaper form), but I'm not here to discuss that right now, I'm here to discuss a penis.
When I went to work for this paper where the material of this blog was originally printed in, they were bundling pretty mundane v-cds and dvds of old movies (Godzilla Versus Killer Pollution, yes)or tv-shows (Bonanza... seriously) and indeed, the temperamental success the newspaper had experienced at times was directly relative to the quality of the bundled-in material.
So at some point it seems readership was lower than usual and they decided to put some soft-core porno in with the paper and see how that goes. I guess it went well? I'm not sure, I did not follow the print run numbers. I was beginning to feel a bit uneasy even then for the reasons you'll see in the comic below, but hey, it's just soft-core, it's people pretending to have sex, more hilarious than vulgar. A few months later they started giving hardcore porn with the paper, stuck a "forbidden to minors" sticker in the front of the paper as a point of 'edginess' and then it sorta became a real issue for me. If I were some sort of established entity in the print media where my name would not be associated with the various transgressions of a publisher it would be a non-issue, but this was my first wide public work and a statement seemed required from my point of view. The statement is below:
Now, had this piece seen print, I would have continued to work with this paper - though perhaps things would have gone south sooner rather than later - judging my opinion clearly voiced. However this page didn't see print. They ran something awful by an in-house graphic designer playing comic artist for that day I guess and in the awfulness of that specific page (a pastiche of 'political commentary' ridiculousness, imagine a caricature of a wealthy man with the words 'government' written on his hat pocketing a symbolic bag of money, seriously) I saw exactly how little my work was understood or appreciated and what instead was expected from me. I received no phone call before the page was pulled nor was I immediately let go. I suspect that had I sent a different page next week (with more people with 'government' written on their hats) I'd have gotten paid as usual. However I did not send anything nor did I deem it fit to discuss the issue since they would not discuss it with me and in that way my run with that paper ended.
It seems I was correct to think comics ware unappreciated to begin with at the paper because a week or so after I stopped working there they let go the two other comic artists doing work there for them and I felt sad and responsible, especially for my friend Mike who needed financial stability at the time more than I did. However responsibility lies with the employer who chooses in the end what he wants to run in his paper. If they wanted to pretend to be a classy paper and then bundle porn along with it to desperately try to sell it somehow, then they dug their own grave as far as I'm concerned. The whole premise of ethical responsibility is that you can't have your cake and eat it too. And in any case I'd rather not be done the 'favor' being printed if it is without the understanding and support of my employer.
After I left the paper I didn't feel like making comics for nearly 6 months. Dry spell ended when Vavel festival came about and I did some pieces for them and for our fanzine (Free Your Line) but generally since then my rate of production of pages has drastically slowed. On one part, I am not being paid to make comics anymore and that does have its effect, believe me, especially when you've just grown used to considering yourself a 'professional' and then the rug is pulled under you and you realize that not only you're not considered such by your employer but they don't consider you worth basic human decency.
A big reason I took two years to get this blog together is because I believed the material to be worthless. It's been a slow climb back to being reasonably happy with it and of course it's due to the feedback I've gotten by you, dear readers and humans. Thanks! I am still very adverse to putting myself in a situation where I have to justify why my work is good or what exactly it is that I am doing because of the newspaper experience. Sadly, international readers, this happens more than you'd expect because Greece is a culturally retarded country, where any humanist venture one attempts has to battle against deeply ingrained inertia in the distrustful public. Greece has fallen to a self-fulfilling prophecy: we have been systematically robbed of decency by demagogues and thieves, liars and marketers, in every aspect of our every day lives. Professional domains, personal, political, emotional all jeopardized. The Greek has been degraded and conditioned to accept his degradation as stable truth and 'nobody is better than the worst'. Nothing good can happen here and nothing good we will allow to happen here but we will still complain how nothing vital and positive, happens although we ourselves do not allow for decency and humanity in any aspect of our daily lives. But we mock. We mock everything, we mock the good with the bad and to hell with everything. Our country is our dumpster, our internet is our dumpster, our inside is filled with garbage and nothing. I'm kinda rambling, but this is on my mind a lot lately.
The material you've read so far along with a boatload of comic strips also done for the paper (of varying quality! I'm not much of a strip artist, I find) is slowly being compiled in a print version which I'll shop around to various publishing houses here in Greece. I'm going to see my last page printed at least. I don't look forward to being treated like a visitor from outer space by most publishers I'll meet, but eh, I'll deal.
So, the bigger reason for making this blog has been fulfilled. Now I'll go even deeper back in time and start posting my very first comics made during comics school, where I met the wonderful people with whom I were to start the 'Free Your Line' fanzine. An altogether different part of my life, one which doesn't terminate at 2006 but instead is vital and ongoing to this day. More on this soon. Who knows, perhaps we'll even reach the material I'm doing RIGHT NOW! Such futurism, such promise! We shall raise our dream machines into the sky!
Well, soon. It might be a week or more because I'm still making my new page for the Vavel festival. I'm 35% done, heh. It's taking forever. I think it's good, I can tell because it's one of the few times I'm actually having fun making a comic (it's usually pretty tortuous!).