Ollie & Quentin Book

Ollie & Quentin Book
125 pages in full colour!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Tall Tale Features


OMG! I can't listen to the garbage spilling out of my mouth. Thank goodness for the brilliant Tom Racine and Jonathan Lemon who manage to keep this interview intelligible. I'm sorry to all Tall Tale listeners for what must be a very bizarre hour of your time. I'd like to say it was nerves but in truth I'm always like that. It makes sense in my head but comes out as garbled nonsense. Teresa, my other half, says it's my cartoon brain that sees stuff in a weird way and I think she's right. I always seem to misunderstand what people say.

So, for those of you visiting to try and fathom out what on earth I was talking about here are some answers to the questions I either ignored, accidentally lied about, didn't answer or exaggerated.

I'm doing this from memory as I honestly can't listen to Tom's interview. In cringe order: Did I actually talk about amputees at one point? Oh cr@p! What I meant to say was Quentin's ability to hold anything became more believable for me when I saw what people with prosthetic arms can do. How they are able to operate a hand with movements from their... their... stumps. Oh man, stop digging Piers.

Next, my mind went completely blank when talking about my route to syndication. The guys joked about inserting a long pause with the sound of crickets afterwards. At least that would have been funny. I wasn't funny at all. In short, I spent a long time taking a quarterly comic to a weekly one up to a point where I thought the strip was good enough to show to a syndicate. Probably 10 years! That way I established the characters, got the bad jokes out of the way and had a high quality batch from an archive of 200 comics that I could send off to syndicates. So when King Features said they wanted to see a second batch I was able to supply comics of an equal quality to the first. As a bonus I had about 120 strips that could be used in syndication too.

The point I was making about self syndication and charities is quite a good one. I shared the proceeds of my comic with the Royal National Lifeboat Charity. The comic (called 'Stormy Stan the Lifeboat Man') was lifeboat themed and I targeted newspapers that had a lifeboat station in their circulation area. The newspapers were more than happy to support a worthwhile charity, the charity were delighted with the publicity and extra funds and I was happy to use the commitment to a weekly comic to develop my strip properly. Mercenary, I know, but syndication was my life's dream and I was going to do it properly. I have to say the response to my mailshots was terrific and with very little effort I had my comic in a lot of small regional newspapers. My mailshot was a 4 page color leaflet containing about 18 comics with only a couple of lines of type outlining the charity link.

Like pain, my brain has tried to forget much of what I talked about with Tom but I do remember something about webcomics and the ipad. In truth, I never thought about doing a webcomic. I'm old fashioned I guess, but syndication was my single ultimate aim and I was completely focussed on this. Of course, a webcomic is a great thing and I do believe they could do well on the new ipad which I am very optimistic about. But us syndicated strips can do equally well online especially with the weight and brains of our syndicates behind us. The format of our comics is fine on an ipad, just put 4 or 5 of them on top of each other or split them up into a couple of rows. Even sliding them across works as you then don't sneak a peek at the punchline.

Towards the end of the interview my brain had obviously turned to mush as I was incapable of answering the question about the state of the newspaper industry in the UK. I pathetically said it was the same as the US but I'm not sure it's as bad. Yes, advertisers are more difficult to find but newspapers are still very popular. Any trip on a train will see a majority of people reading a newspaper. Many of the London ones are now free but as popular as ever.

I think I did manage to talk about my 'Cartoonslive' endeavor with some clarity. If you want to know more click here. And here's that jigsaw picture Tom was talking about. My other cartoon illustration work is here.

Then the nonsense really started. Tom asked if I was a fan of Superhero comics as I'd made a couple of references to them in my strip. I said yes but I'm not. I'm not looking forward to the new Iron Man Movie, I haven't given it a second thought! I am more influenced by animation than comics but I wouldn't say I was a big movie goer. I like movies as much as the next person but that's about it. They're often too long, poorly scripted and I hate being so darn uncomfortable in the movie theatre. As for the guy who sits next to me with his smelly Doritos Meal and spends half an hour eating it followed by twenty minutes burping it back up... aaargh! Give me a dvd any day. My favorite animations? Wall.e, Wallace and Gromit's 'The Wrong Trousers', The Incredibles, Ice Age 1, Toy Story, Belleville Rendezvous and Monster's Inc.

We talked about syndicates not doing much to promote the fact that their comics have been nominated for a Reuben award and I was wet in the extreme in my reply. Tom's right. I think Syndicates could make more of the fact. Movie posters proclaim "nominated for an academy award" or "winner of 8 academy awards" so why not do the same for a comic? I think it's really sad that a nomination tends to have no impact on sales. Surely an endorsement like that should.

Poor Nobby, I don't really like drawing him, mainly because he's so big compared to Ollie and Quentin and won't fit in the frame easily. However he is very important as he is our reminder that a seagull and a lugworm are trying to exist in our human world.

So what happened? I say stuff to please people and fill embarrassing pauses regardless of content. This interview does give you a good insight into the person I am but don't listen to the answers as they only leave you with more questions!

I wish I'd included Jonathan Lemon more. I'm a huge fan of his fantastic strip and am the proud owner of an original Rabbits Against Magic artwork. He's obviously a very bright guy and I'm going to make sure I don't waste the opportunity next time. I also have John and Anne Hambrock of The Brilliant Mind of Edison Lee fame to thank for putting a good word in for me with Tom Racine. I don't think my gratitude came across at all. And I wish I'd acknowledged fellow Brits Alex Hallatt and Kieran Meehan just once while we were on air. We talked about them after the microphone was switched off when I suddenly started making sense again.

Did I say 'submerse'? This is a combination of immerse and submerge. What an idiot!

Finally, I can't compliment Tom Racine enough. His introduction bowled me over. He's a talented interviewer but you probably knew that. I love his bowler hat and microphone logo. I also want to thank him for helping me lose my Skype virginity. Talking to my computer was weird, I normally I just swear at it.

4 comments:

Tom Racine said...

Ahh, the Brits and their wonderful way of making themselves seem utterly pathetic when they're actually charming and interesting. :) Piers couldn't have been nicer or more fun to talk to...maybe we'll just have to have him back on the show now that he's got one under his belt! I had a blast, and I hope everyone listening did, too.

Piers Baker said...

Too kind Tom. Now that the pain of my first effort is receding I'd be delighted to talk again one day.

hungrydog said...

Don't worry about it, Piers - you came across fine to me and it was lovely to hear your take on things, even if you didn't have time to provide the long considered answer you wanted to. That's just the nature of the medium.

You didn't slag anyone off and you said nice things about BB and fellow cartoonists, so don't sweat it - I enjoyed listening.

Piers Baker said...

Thanks Alex but I still break out in a sweat when I think about it.