Recently I've become interested in comic industry phonies. By that I mean people who lie about professional credits, pretend artists who rip off people with fake art or by taking money for commissions or other work and then never producing, people who set off Kickstarter disasters and the occasional oddball who gloms onto an actual professional then claims the relationship is more than it is. Stuff like that. Some of these people become Internet infamous with a lot of blog entries and message board discussions to keep you busy for hours plumbing the depths of their strange stories. These things are sickly fascinating, but after immersing myself in a number of them, I end up feeling nervous and paranoid about ending up inside one of these narratives!
This is why I'm always careful to characterize myself as the outsider I am. A fan who likes to do fan art and the occasional semi-scholarly analysis or deep reading of the comics I like. I can bring some of my art school and graphic design knowledge to bear on certain things, but for the record, my comic book industry print career consists of having one fan letter published in a Sgt. Rock comic and another in Comic Book Artist magazine. Like many people obsessed with funny books, I once submitted a story proposal to a publisher and never heard back from them. Rejection by silence. But I still love their comics and will continue buying them. Yeah, and since I have these semi-slick drawing skills, I've even thought about trying to do commissions. I'm worried about taking someone's money with good intentions, then not producing their product. I do not want to risk that. Nor would I enjoy getting into legal trouble with copyright laws. I haven't a clue how those things work.
I will, on occasion, on this very blog, engage in some satirical hoaxing. Or rather, I'd like to!
The other day I came up with a character and got this bright idea to write up a story about a low-rent comic book company from the 1960s and their one flagship title that brought them a brief taste of success but ultimately failed, sinking the company in the process. I had this idea I'd create the writer and artist, a couple of marginal types barely eking out a living providing back-up stories here and there finding themselves ineptly riding a short tide of fame before wiping out. I was going to do a cover or two and some panels from the stories, done in a Jack Kirby-meets-Steve Ditko style, which would have been perfect for what I'd planned. Whenever I try to draw like either of those guys (which is often, because they're great and it's fun!), it invariably comes out like the exact kind of amateurish schlock art appropriate for some crap company where the employees could see what was happening elsewhere but couldn't quite match it despite their best efforts.
What inspired this flight of imagination? Thinking up the name, "Kung Fu Frankenstein." Imagine a 1960s where Marvel's success inspires the worst comic book company in the world to try that as a title, complete with a pseudo-Stan Lee "You, the reader!" type rap. This idea enchanted me for about... oh... an hour before I thought, "Jeez, what are you, some kind of idiot?" I drew a character concept, put it on Deviant Art and my Tumblr blog and slapped whatever passes for sense back into my head.
Where was I?
Oh, yeah. Fakes!
What is the purpose of telling lies about yourself? Some of these con-artists actually go to cons and pretend to be artists. They make a few bucks that way. Others may be mentally ill, and if so, they have my sympathy. Some are just inveterate grifters who go from one scam to another because they've become programmed that way by years of practice or habit or messed-up internal wiring. Shoot, I don't know. But telling tall tales about having worked on some comic book as a ghost or something when you haven't is really a pathetic thing to resort to as a claim to fame.
Anyway, spending too much time in these depths can also be depressing. It's much better to spend your time reading the actual comics.