Winning is nice. In September I won a voucher for £20 worth of handmade organic ice cream in a raffle during the street party (am waiting for the right occasion before I collect it).
This is a preamble to some philosophising which I would not be doing had I been the winner or the runner-up in a competition which I entered recently. Had I won, all I would be writing today is YES! YES! YES! alongside a photo of myself making that triumphant air-punching gesture that is so popular among footballers and other winning types. Obviously I didn't win since I am philosophising.
Tomorrow in the Observer the winner and the runner-up of this year's graphic story competition (a graphic short story in four pages) will be published. Last night I attended a party in Foyles where the winners and their entries were exhibited and discussed by the judges and previous winners. I liked the winner and the runner-up but not having seen all the other entries, I can't say if they were the best.
In sport it's fairly easy to measure who wins - the fastest runner is the fastest runner. But in the arts it gets a bit murky. Winners and losers are largely decided by the prevailing cultural, commercial, and aesthetic zeitgeist and by those occupying significant positions within it. If you fit inside that zeitgeist you're likely to win; if you don't, you won't.
If that sound like sour grapes, really it's not (snarl) I'm aware that I don't fit into the zeitgeist, whatever it is, and never have fitted it. I'm not an Outsider artist in the accepted sense of that term, but neither am I an insider. I've drawn cartoons but I'm not a comics artist. In general, I never know where *any* of my work fits. I'm glad (sob) I didn't win because it forces me to examine what it is I truly want to achieve creatively and...erm...okay. End of philosophy. Fook the zeitgeist.
My entry to this competition, Hindsight, deliberately side-steps the usual comics format. I wanted to do something more like the recent My Life Unfolds and I recycled some of the stencils I had cut for that concertina book, as you can see, and it's autobiography again. I wanted the technique to be more painterly than comics-influenced so I made collagraph cardboard plates for each page, inked them up intaglio, printed them with my etching press and then hand-coloured them, with lots of texture. The text can be interpreted in any way you wish, there could be more than one meaning.
If you want your own mini-version, I've had some postcards printed as a set of four cards in a cellophane bag. I'll be selling them (along with La Vie en Rosé and some other books) at my stand in the Comiket Festival next Saturday, 10th November, 11 am - 7pm. If you're in London, come and see me there.
You can order the cards from me: £2.50 for the set of 4 cards, plus postage to wherever you are. They are beautifully printed by MOO which I can highly recommend. If you've never used them let me know and I can email you a voucher for 10% off your first order. No, I don't work for them! They give this voucher to all their customers.