Following the occasional Studio purges…
I was looking at Walter Simonson’s new Photo Album on his FaceBook page the other day and it got me thinking…
When we moved to the house we live in now, some seventeen, or eighteen years ago, we sold the house within a week of putting it on the market. Some friends of ours had had their house on the market for eighteen months and only just sold it, so we thought it would be a while before we did the same. As a result of these thoughts we had only tentatively started to look in the local papers and at the occasional house as we drove around, with nothing very serious being done yet, as far as choosing an area or anything.
One week to the day from our sign going up and we had three enquiries on the day for viewings that same evening. I rang Margaret at work and told her and we showed the three couples around the house that night. The people who were supposed to be first were running late and were the last of the couples to view the house. All three had said they loved the house and were interested and would be in touch the third couple though said they would be making an offer the next morning. Margaret asked me what I thought after they had gone and I said, I felt they were just being nice about it.
Boy was I wrong our estate agents called the next morning around ten o’clock and the offer had indeed been made. I rang Margaret and told her; she was over the moon. I spoiled that a little I suppose with my next comment to her, telling her that was all well and good, but we had a month to find somewhere and pack and I was in the midst of working on Triffik comic here in the UK hiring six other guys to help with the workload. I was pencilling and inking the books, with the occasional ink assist, whilst my brother Chris did the lettering, with an assist from another letterer occasionally, and two other artists did the colouring and some was produced by me. So to say I was busy was an understatement.
Anyhow to cut a long story short, we found the house we now live in and Margaret packed the entire household, except for the Studio, as that was my job. On the Friday morning of the move I had worked the entire previous night on the next batch of pencils and inks without sleep. I went to pick up the Luton van we were using to make the move with and the loading of the stuff began in earnest. We were lucky in as much as Margaret went to the new house with the kids and some friends, whilst I drove the contents from the old one, with friends at that end helping with the loading of the furniture and stuff.
Now you may be wondering why I chose not to hire a removals firm. Well it was a simple decision to make, really, as back when I was a student in the sixth-form I got a holiday job, along with a couple of my school friends, which only lasted a week, as I quit. In fact we all did as we found Saturday jobs because of the way the removals firm worked. I saw more expensive stuff smashed without so much as a by your leave, that week as to put me off using any removal firm myself, if the need should ever arrive.
Well the move went fine and by ten o’clock that night, the house was completely moved, except for me, or rather my studio. Now I had packed some things, but they were limited to my Conan the Barbarian comic collection – well at these times you need to be selective with you time. Back at the old house I had worked in the attic, which we had had converted into a large studio with a window overlooking the town. With the help of our friends and family not at the house with Margaret I moved the drawing board, plan chests, and other studio furniture and packed my artwork, comics, books, and art materials. There was one large built in, walk-in cupboard, which I told everyone to leave until last however.
It was when everything else had been packed and two loads had gone to the new house and with a bedroom full of my stuff to throw away, that we began to move the stuff from the last cupboard (There’s a great title for a comic or a book, I’ll have to use that one). Well as I sorted through some stuff I alone could sort out, everyone else had the task of putting the kosher stuff in the van and throwing out the stuff, which I was not going to have the room or the inclination to keep. For me this was a kind of exorcism and a much-needed purge from the past was in hand…my first of many.
Well, as you can imagine, no one other than me knew what was okay to keep or to throw out, so eventually, after constantly being asked is this okay, I decided to be ruthless with myself and I told everyone that after a quick pulling out of definite things I would keep, everyone was to just look at the stuff and decide to throw it or keep it. The rule of thumb was damaged stuff definitely had to go, as did photocopies and other such stuff.
The stuff I had removed was the full photocopied archives of my Marvel UK work, so me works in progress, some sketches, some scripts and plots and ideas packs and a few comics pages and paintings, which I definitely wanted to keep.
We got the rest of the stuff to the house, which I was to keep and then I returned with a couple of friends to load the van a final time with the stuff I was throwing out. Needless to say we filled the van completely, which even now I think was amazing and it proves we definitely horde stuff as creative folks, as it can always be useful, trouble is, it seldom is and with the advent of the internet even reference books are not as effective at times as looking on the Net.
I remember making the trip to the waste disposal site, which is no longer there, before taking the van back and returning to the new home and thinking even then should I keep this one and as the collection of stuff got larger, I decided no you have to be ruthless and get rid of the lot, so I did.
So it was that through the night until I eventually sat down in the new house, having taken the removals van back, with a cup of tea and surrounded by boxes of all shapes and sizes that we packed and moved my stuff.
The sad thing was only a few years later when Joanne was doing art at school and later with Simon, who also did art, that the still-life drawings and paintings from school and some of the comics stuff, would have been great to show them, to let them see how things progress. They had only ever see Dad do the stuff on the drawing board and not seen the stuff I had done years before, when I too was at school.
I could also have used the artwork from way back when to show the same things to the students on my Fantasy Art Unlimited course, as a means to do the same.
It would be nice too, to be able to look through the stuff and display them on the Internet, much like Walter is doing at the moment. I still have some stuff I kept, but it has been years since I looked through this archived stuff, and maybe Walter has inspired me to take time out eventually to do just that.
Since that purge I had a second one only than a couple of years, or so, after the move, which would see me get rid of most of the Marvel UK photocopies. This is now a real regret as aside from two pages given to me during my first couple of months from editor-in-chief at the time Ian Rimmer, which are two pages from my first episode of Zoids that I worked on with Kev Hopgood I never received any artwork back from Marvel UK, as I was told it was then not the policy to return artwork. If I had had the photocopies, at least I could have uploaded some of them onto the website for folks to see, but alas they became a casualty of my second purge. It was not until returning to work for Marvel UK a second time in the early nineties under the leadership of Paul Neary that I receive some of the artwork from that period, some of which is on sale here on the Wizards Keep Website.
I have had several purges since, but not with artwork, only out of date paper work. The last really big purge was when the new Studio was set up and that was done over several months, as a gradual process, whilst all the new computer systems and everything were set up. Nowadays the weekly recycling of old paperwork means a much more streamlined look to the way we work here. Wizards Keep is now much better organised and it needs to be with the studio, storehouse and spare office/store each claiming the equal rights to paperwork.
With the advent of Digital art being produced, less and less artwork ever truly leaves our hands, which means there is an automatic archiving system in place nowadays. With delivery being one of three routes; CD/DVD, Direct down the line via Broadband, or FTP sites, so the artwork remains with the artists.
So a lot of the artwork from my past may have gone forever, but the archives still have the majority of the stuff, which I want. After all there is always new artwork replacing the old, in the cycle we create as artists.
Until next time have fun!
August 20th 2009
8 hours ago