We all have something we can’t do, that we really, really wish we could. For Rafa Benitez, it’s signing good footballers. For me, it’s learning how to draw.
I got stuck in the stick-man phase when I was young, and have never managed to escape it. There’s a story that my mum delights in telling, about when I was asked to colour in a picture of a lemon in my first year of primary school. Apparently I scribbled absolutely everywhere but inside the lines. The teacher was simply baffled at my ineptness in this area, considering that I could already read well and was good at maths. So why couldn’t I do something that, on paper (on paper! Ha!), should have been far more simple?
Things didn’t get any better for me thereafter. Attempts at painting were mediocre splodgefests (insert lame joke at the expense of modern art here), and anything involving creating models was liable to leave the classroom covered in so much glue that you’d think Shergar blew himself up there rather than getting horse-napped. To this day, ask me to draw a picture of an animal and even a toddler would despair at the result.
And that’s why I write novels and screenplays, I guess. I would absolutely love to be able to do a comic and produce the art as well as the words, but it would be a complete disaster. Even collaborating with a comic artist would be difficult, because I’d have very specific ideas about exactly how I’d like each panel to look and not be able to put them across very well.
So an email from a friend last night, talking about a possible collaboration on a comic project, had me torn. The premise he outlined was very exciting – the style of writing would be right up my street – but I just don’t know whether that particular medium will ever suit me. Predictably, I immediately suggested that the idea would also make a brilliant screenplay or novel. It would, but maybe I’m being too defeatist about the comic idea. Too safe and stuck in my ways. Maybe I could do it, given the right collaborators.
But there’s always the nagging thought that the lemon was trying to tell me something.