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Comic Book Comics Comic on Comics Should Be Good!

Alex Cox has a strip appear in the back of the latest issue of Comic Book Comics.

Here it is!

I remember this story, although I don’t recall WHO the source was, exactly. Wasn’t it somebody at the con who saw it happen? Has Moebius ever spoken about it? Sounds like a good Urban Legend! :)

36 Comments

I read the anecote just a couple of days ago in Duin & Richardson’s Comics Between the Panels, I’m pretty sure.

Which, duh, I now see the strip itself cites.

Well, still, I *did* read a good part of the book just a couple of days ago …

Awesome comic!!!!!!

I reeeeaally enjoy strips like this one ^_^

It’s funny, regardless wether it’s true or false

Oh man..that kid got served.

If it was an older fan, that would be funny. If it was a kid… kind of dick move, IMO.

I’d probably feel honored to be pissed on by Moebius.

If only the kid had said something like, “Yeah — we learned that you really, really need a good inker.”

No, the dick move is asking for more work to be done on a free piece of art, regardless of the age of the fan. If the kid’s parents hadn’t taught him about gift horse’s mouths, then it was totally fair for Moebius to provide the missing lesson.

This is actually the 2nd strip I’ve seen drawn about this same story. The first was an 8-page comic written by Mark Askwith and drawn by R.G. Taylor. It may have been printed elsewhere, but I read it in an anthology called Drawing the Line: A Book of Comics Benefiting Cancer Research (edited by Suley Fattah and Julie Eng). The title is “Moebius: A Sketch”.

In the Askwith and Taylor version, the story is narrated from the first person and begins: “In the mid-80s I was the manager of the Silver Snail comic shop.” I don’t know if this strip is meant to autobiographical–and if so, if it truly happened to Mark Askwith–but the Silver Snail is a real comic shop in Toronto (which parallels but doesn’t quite match up with the mention of a “Canadian Comics Show” in the page posted here). The setting is the Silver Snail in 1987, during a signing visit where Moebius is at the comic shop.

The kid in the Askwith comic is named Matthew. He’s 13 and described “loyal Moebius fan” with “sophisticated taste.” Matthew waits in line and gets Moebius to sign a book. Then he waits in line again and asks Moebius to draw a sketch for him. The manager (Askwith?) tells Matthew that he’s asking for too much since Moebius is just there to sign, but Moebius agrees and draws a beautiful, intricate drawing of a “Starwatcher.”

Matthew takes the sketch, gets back in line, and when he gets to the front again, he asks Moebius to ink the drawing. Moebius says, “I will do this.” He picks up a thick black marker and inks the sketch, turning it into a blotchy black mess.

Moebius says, “I have ruined your drawing.”

Matthew replies, “I have asked for too much.” He hangs his head.

Moebius says, ” We have both learned something.” The end.

I’ve read the story in an article before too, but can’t remember where.

Was it a free sketch, though? Because not many artists do them for free these days…

Still, when paying, you should still take what they’re willing to give.

I’m vaguely reminded of an even older anecdote about Pablo Picasso.

After he had been famous for awhile, and his new paintings went for small fortunes whenever he bothered to sell one, a woman gushed all over him when she met him somewhere, and asked him to do a sketch for her, right then and there.

Picasso grabbed paper and pencil and dashed off a sketch of something or other, very fast. Then he showed it to her and said, “That will be a million dollars.”

She said, “What? But it only took you thirty seconds to do that!”

Picasso said, “No. It took me thirty years to learn to do that.”

[That is not word-for-word, but I think that was the gist of what I once read, somewhere, years ago, about people asking artists for free work at the drop of a hat.]

If the kid was 13, yeah, he definitely should have known better. If he was under 10 or so, I’d say it was just mean on Moebius’s part.

That’s kind of sad. But it gets funnier if you read the Moebius parts outloud in an exaggerated Jacques Cousteau accent.

No, the dick move is asking for more work to be done on a free piece of art, regardless of the age of the fan.

Dude, you are so wrong. It’s obvious that the guy was trying to teach the kid how to be a stereotypical French. I mean, why just say “No” or explain proper etiquette to a minor (on two different occasions), when you can just be a total douche.

Now, if only the kid can grow up to be an adult douche… the Circle of Life will reassert itself, in all its wonderful glory! :D

If it was an older fan, that would be funny. If it was a kid… kind of dick move, IMO.

Actually, that would make it funnier.

But then, I do nosh on the bones of puppies.

Reminds of a similar story about Lewis Trondheim. He was asked o draw a dragon at a con and upon finishing he asked if the dragon should breathe fire. “Sure” said the guy and Trondheim set fire to the sketch. I wasn’t there so I can’t verify it but the story’s been going round for a couple of years now.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

August 1, 2008 at 12:28 am

Dude, you are so wrong. It’s obvious that the guy was trying to teach the kid how to be a stereotypical French.

Well the kid had the unearned sense of entitlement of a stereotypical American…

To Batmite 79:
In French comic books conventions, artists usually (I mean like 99% of them) do free sketches, even american guests, I do have some collection of free sketches I had made for me in Angoulême, which contains some sketches by Jim Lee, Angel Medina, Chris Bacchalo, Kevin O’Neil, Brian Hitch, Gary Frank, Mike Wieringo and others, and I never paid for any one of them.

To Lorendiac:

I heard a story in the same notes about Picasso, but he was at a restaurant, having dinner with friends, when the owner came and asked for a sketch instead of the check. Picasso said he was okay to do a sketch but that he would take the restaurant in payment for it.

To J to the AAP:

I was at the Angoulême Convention in 2005 at the (french publisher) Dargaud booth, waiting in line for a sketch by Sfar when Trondheim took a break from drawing sketches. The fan who was going to be next if Trondheim hadn’t taken a break asked if he could do a last sketch to him before his break. Trondheim took the comic book the fan was holding, drew for like 5 seconds on the white page right after the cover, asked for the fan’s name, didn’t wait for an answer, said “you look like a Gérard to me”, signed the (mediocre) sketch “to Gérard” and gave the book back to the fan.

i heard a similar story about picasso, who, when the check came, found that he did not have enough cash, so, instead, did a little doodle on the bill.

Wait just one little second here…

PEOPLE PAY FOR SKETCHES NOW?!?!?!

What’s the going rate?

Okay, so I haven’t been to a Con for about ten years, but in those days you waited in line, asked for your favourite character by the artist, and chatted (if they were talkative…)
I have a beautiful Death by Bryan Talbot, a Cerebus “Happy Birthday” drawn by Dave Sim and inked by Gerhard, and my personal fave, Axel Pressbutton, drawn by Mike Collins and Inked by Mark Farmer (who loudly refused to ink the celery blood in protest across the room!, causing Adam Hughes to offer me the “Character of my choice” even though he’d sprained his hand!!! Naturally I asked for Power Girl!!)
Not a penny changed hands…

What wuold that have cost me these days, beyond the hours spent queueing??

In the Askwith and Taylor version, the story is narrated from the first person and begins: “In the mid-80s I was the manager of the Silver Snail comic shop.” I don’t know if this strip is meant to autobiographical–and if so, if it truly happened to Mark Askwith–but the Silver Snail is a real comic shop in Toronto (which parallels but doesn’t quite match up with the mention of a “Canadian Comics Show” in the page posted here). The setting is the Silver Snail in 1987, during a signing visit where Moebius is at the comic shop.

Mark Asquith was indeed manager of the Silver Snail in the ’80s (indeed I think he was there right from the very start). If he said it happened at the Snail, then it did.

[...] guest comic strip for Comic Book Comics #2. A cruddy looking scanned copy is already tearing around comix blogworld, so we thought we’d offer you a nice crisp version strait from the source. [...]

Glad everyone liked the strip so much! We’re hoping to get Alex to continue this as a back up feature for the rest of the series.
You can see a nice clean from-the-source version of that strip at the Evil Twin Comics website ( where you can also buy the issue itself ). and some more choice excerpts from the same issue on my personal blog.

“Now, if only the kid can grow up to be an adult douche… the Circle of Life will reassert itself, in all its wonderful glory! ”

He’s already well on the way, or at least the kid character in that strip is (no idea how true this is to the real incident, if at all). What next, he insists that it has to be coloured and framed?
Another way to deal with this might have been for Moebius to call out to the room “Does anyone want this sketch? Does anyone care that it’s not inked? You don’t? Here, have this.” Then tell the kid “that’s what you get with that attitude.” Maybe not a “better” solution, but it’s just as funny (and mean) without having to wreck the sketch.

Well the kid had the unearned sense of entitlement of a stereotypical American…

Well, yeah… but since I’m not in America (North, South or Central), I can only afford to piss off one country at a time. I figured I was okay with France, you know, as long as they don’t send Andre the Giant, or Godzilla, to beat my ass!

Another way to deal with this might have been for Moebius to call out to the room “Does anyone want this sketch?

You know what would’ve been really funny? …if the kid had had Moebius arrested for destroying his property.

You see, I’m not an American Lawyer, but I’m 100% sure that once you give something away… it’s no longer yours to do as you please …or take back …or regift …or simply destroy.

Hell, my case law may be a little bit rusty, but I believe that rule goes all the way back to “Indian Giver v. No Backsies!”

I believe Indian Giver lost that case. :D

I also think that the rule was reinforced in the Robert Downey Jr. case when the Judge issued his opinion entitled: “Dude, I don’t care what you think, that’s no longer your bed! YOU CAN’T SLEEP THERE!”

“You know what would’ve been really funny? …if the kid had had Moebius arrested for destroying his property.”

As funny as when the cops start laughing at him when he shows them the “inked” sketch, and tell him not to waste their time before leaving?

So you really think that the kid’s request was totally reasonable and not obnoxious? You’ve said nothing about that aspect of it at all. There’s pretty much nothing sympathetic about the little turd depicted in the piece.

I am, after all, just enjoying a little bit of schadenfreude at the version of the kid shown in the strip, nothing more. After all, this is a semi-apocryphal anecdote told as a series of drawings and words, not something that happened to my best friend’s little brother that happened in my presence. For all intents and purposes, the kid in the strip is a character, and so is the version of Moebius.

And I’m not American, in America, or an American lawyer either (nor do I think much of your use of that tactic, but whatever) but regardless of the legal aspect, I personally believe that the ethics are a bit different when you’re talking about: a) a piece of art or other creative work, b) which was *gifted* and then *returned for changes* for which c) _no contract exists_ beyond the vaguest of culturally based rules of etiquette which are themselves sufficiently abused by the kids demand as to make the artists reaction fully within bounds.

The moral is: don’t expect decent behavior from the French.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

August 3, 2008 at 5:28 pm

The moral is: don’t expect decent behavior from the French.

Yeah, that’s exactly the moral.
It’s all about stereotyping the French.

Idiot.

You’re perfectly right Sleeper, us French are just a bunch of rude, dirty cheese-eating surrendering monkeys, just as you americans are a bunch of uneducated ignorant self -centered, self-righteous zealots, are you not?

Or maybe we could put stereotypes aside and behave like adults?

FunkyGreenJerusalem

August 4, 2008 at 5:24 pm

Or maybe we could put stereotypes aside and behave like adults?

Actually, when you put both of them together like that… I ‘ve got no problem with either of those stereotypes!

sayang ingles eto sana yung project ko pero hindi naka tagalog

A friend just sent this link to me.

I am the author of ‘Moebius: A Sketch’ which was originally printed in Negative Burn #1, and has just been re-printed in Growing Up With Comics.

The story really did happen, and I am surprised that it seems to have become an Urban Legend. The story has been told to me by complete strangers, in new and strange versions(!), but the core of the story remains.

As with all stories, the orginal version is the most accurate, and makes the most sense, but is often eclipsed by other versions of the story…

Interestingly this story was witnessed by lots of fans, and several people in the comic book field, including Dean Motter and David Scroggy. Both David and I have shared the story with Mike Richardson who included it in his Dark Horse book of comic book stories.

I am not surprised that the roots of this story have been lost, but I am surprised by how persistently the story thrives!

BTW- I have searched for the boy in the story, but I have lost touch with him.

Mark Askwith

Fascinating thread. This urban legend aspect of the story is all new to me. It was a fun piece to illustrate, and spending a lot of time with Moebius during his two visits to Toronto in the eighties was extraordinary.I still don’t know whether he has seen “Moebius, a Sketch.” Anyhow, he is as nice as he is talented. Although I did not witness the incident, I believe Jean ruined Matthew’s drawing to teach, and did so without malice.
For a preview of GROWING UP WITH COMICS, containing Mark’s story, go to the Desperado website, or better yet, buy the book in your local comics shop. The Moebius story is one of fifteen about what it means to love comics.
R.G. Taylor,
http://www.ricktaylorstudio.ca

A funny story not known in France. I don’t agree with red-Ricky. Nothing to do with french sense of humour or french behaviour (I wonder if he only met a real french guy) but more to do with Castaneda or Jodorowski humour. As I’m not good in english I cannot develop that. To understand this behaviour you have to know about what Moebius likes and read and his philosophy of life (very different of a “typical” French behaviour). And as I did not see the drawing after inking, I cannot judge about the artistic quality of the result :-)

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