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Posted in art school scum,comics,news by Tom on June 15th, 2009

Art School Scum was the first ‘proper’ comic I ever attempted. I’d flirted with comics before of course – drawing them now and again in my sketchbooks but it was an awkward flirtation. Our eyes never met and I’m pretty sure comics was seeing someone else at the time.

Strained metaphors aside, it wasn’t until I was studying animation at art college that I really gave comics a go.

I was feeling a little disillusioned and uninspired by the work of my peers, a little annoyed at various aspects of art college, and frustrated at the length of time it took to produce thirty seconds of animated footage. So one night, I just grabbed a piece of scrappy A4 paper and drew Art School Scum page 1. It was, I admit, a heavily Daniel Clowes/Robert Crumb inspired piece but it felt good to have drawn it. I photocopied it the next day and posted it around college anonymously.

I produced another page every couple of weeks and continued to plaster them around college. I started getting some nice feedback via an email address I set up to maintain a thin veneer of anonymity – – and before long I collected the comics in a book that I published by stealing a photocopying card at college. They sold in the student union bar and a local comic shop.

I’m fairly proud of the work, but it’s hard to look back at it now. I was aesthetically all over the place, trying to find my voice, and appropraiting various comic book styles because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with the medium. AND YET and yet – it gave me the confidence to keep on trying. The encouragement people gave me after reading the comic was fundamental to me feeling like I might be okay at this.

For some people Art School Scum remains their favourite work of mine.

It’s always sold well for me. Even now. Roughly six years on. I estimate I’ve probably sold about 800 copies of the book since I first produced it. But now that the fourth printing is sold out, I’m reluctant to get it printed up again.

However, I want it to be available for people who want to pick I up, so I’m offering up a high quality PDF which you can download and either read on your computer or print out at home (you could make your own book out of it). The resolution is high enough for you to print it at A5 or A4 – possibly even A3.

The PDF is free. However, if you happen to download the comic and enjoy it, I have one favour to ask of you:

If you go to art school, work at/near one, have friends who go to one, or just happen to walk past one… could you print out your favourite page of Art School Scum and stick it to a wall/noticeboard/tutor’s door/studio or in the student union bar…

There’s a little watermark on each page asking people to go to my site to read more, and I think this would be a nice way of introducing people to alternative comics if they haven’t discovered them yet.

Anyway, you’re certainly under no obligation to do this, but if you do – send me a photo of where you’ve put the poster up. I’ll blog some of the more inventive photos at some point (and the best photo shall receive one of my canvas sketches).