Speed Graphics: Why the combination of Ambition and Birthdays will one day kill me.

Okay, it’s confession time. My recent disappearance from the blogosphere has not been simply down to preparation for the 1912 exhibition. You may have guessed that by the lack of work I’ve been able to produce in connection with it. That was a bit of a (rather lousy) cover up. The real reason I’ve been a bit slow with the updates, is that I was working on a super-secret mission of great importance alongside the whole 1912 thing. Seriously, secret agent for the CIA kind of deal.

Okay no, not really. I have morals.

Alright so, if you’re at all familiar with the Bagley collection of zines and books, you might have noticed that on…well, pretty much all of them there’s a recurring name that keeps popping up in the little dedications. A certain Matthew to be precise whose involvement in both my career and my life has been of the up most importance for the past 3 years now.

Basically, he’s a bit spesh and has recently evolved to his next level. His 25th level to be exact. After years of training, he’s defeated the gym trainer of…quarter…century Town and has….gained more XP…oh bugger the pokemon metaphor. It wasn’t that funny anyway and we all know that Ash would have got a lot further a lot quicker if he’d just gone “actually, screw these creatures. Their best moves are to throw leaves at their opponent and from what I know of basic combat, that’s probably not that effective. I think I’m going to use my initiative, utilise my size advantage and hit this little rat with a big stick.”

But I digress, so Matthew hit the quarter century mark, which I kind of see as a bit of a big deal. I mean that’s like, MID twenties. That’s like…grown up. Your quadranscentennial year on this planet! Your first quarter of a century!

And so I wanted to present him something special on his birthday, something that really meant something to him, both on an emotional level and would, hopefully, be a gift he could really use in some manner in his life. A gift that might inspire him to push forward and ensure he achieves all the wonderful goals and dreams that have, over the years, grown from his incomprehensible passion for learning and people and all the other things he deems so important.

So Comic Book it is then yeah?

And thus I started the planning stages for Matthew’s very own graphic novel. An amalgamation of this own thoughts and dreams, presented in my words and images in a way that would evoke pro-activity from the fires of his own passions that I see in him everyday. An inspiring piece that may help him tick off those frustrating plans that have a habit of falling into the depths of “I wanted to do that, but…”

Oh yeah, I also only had three weeks to go before the big day, and a week of that had to be set aside to getting the artwork to the printer, printing and then returning. Oh and, did I mention I had to move house in amongst all this?

Thus began my SECOND completely-over-ambitious-oh-why-the-balls-have-you-decided-to-do-this-with-so-little-time-left-until-deadline-don’t-you-remember-how-important-sleep-actually-is-project of the past few months.

Pretty much inspired by the first really, and how much I realised I could achieve in just one night. I mean two pages in one night, imaging what  you could do in 2 weeks! Well, turns out, you can write, edit, script, storyboard, draw, redraw, ink (redrawing blind A LOT of the pencil drawings), scan, photoshop and print a 22 page narrative WHILE working on a frustrating screen printing based exhibit for Uni. I mean yeah, you do have to make some compromises with your lifestyle, cut out a few things, you know, like sleep or cooking or socialising or really doing anything that isn’t any of the above, but you can definitely do it.

As it’s quite a personal kind of story, I’ll only put a few examples on here to show you how it went, but I am very pleased to say that he really did appreciate the result.

I feel like he saw the effort I put in and – not to  get soppy, but – the faith in him and love that had been responsible for the growth of it. And also just the sheer amazement at how much had been achieved.

Which was exactly the intention. I wanted him to see what people can do when they really want to, and I hope that that fact, coupled with the realisation that 25 is something of a milestone in a young persons life, is going to push him to make his mark on the world the way he’s always talked about. He has an incredible mind and phenomenal potential that far outweigh a simple graphic novel, but my belief in him is just as strong and I hope, when he reads this, as I know he will, he takes his copy of XXV, either physically or metaphorically and really makes it count.

So one last time, Happy birthday Matt.

And just so you know, I will not be able to beat this one next year, so don’t even ask.