Thursday, 24 September 2009

Job satisfaction

I just finished some comic strip pages and experienced a feeling I'd forgotten about, a real tangible sensation of job satisfaction. It's a buzz, a relief, a feeling of accomplishment, that outstrips any other work related feeling I can summon to mind.

I've not been drawing enough comic strip pages, since the Beano started using me less and the comedy took priority in the last year or so, and I'd forgotten how much I've missed it. Today, as the deadline of home-time approached (yes, on days when I'm in the studio rather than out at a school or away at a gig, we keep beautifully regular domestic tea time hours which see me leaving the studio on the dot of 6pm), I had finished and was scanning the last four pages of a privately commissioned comic strip. And as I walked out of the studio with the pages in my laptop ready to email to the client, I felt that uncanny feeling.

Be it endorphines or what (and I would quite like to know the scientific explanation), the feeling of having finished comic strip pages knocks spots off my other work-day climaxes.

Finishing a day of Comic Art Masterclasses comes close, especially when I've raced to produce the copies of the kids comics on the photocopier and I get to hand them the finished item as they leave. Their thanks and obvious pleasure are great. But it's not as good as finishing pages.

Finishing a script probably comes closest, but the edge is taken off that by the knowledge that there's always rewriting to be done, a script rarely being the finished thing, and the fact that I do far too little script writing. Finishing a Socks script rarely gives me that buzz cos I always know I have to get on with the performing of it before I'll know it's right.

The experience that is far and away the most anti-climactic is finishing a solo theatre tour gig. Alan Davies was talking about this very thing on a chat show this week. You do the gig, everyone laughs, then afterwards they all go home and you're left to pack up and clear off. The most depressing can be a really good theatre with great aucoustics. You've never heard anywhere as silent as an empty theatre with good soundproofing, as you're crouched on the empty stage collecting up your props, emerging fifteen minutes later to find the bar has long closed, the punters even longer gone, and you're alone in the middle of a provincial town whose one chip shop just called it a day through lack of interest.

Ironic that the most solitary of my many activities should provide the most satisfying sensation. Perhaps, and this is another top-of-the-head theory, the fact that I'm able to listen to the radio all day contributes to this feeling. When I'm writing I have to work in silence, ditto selling (emailing and phoning to promote my classes and tours), and of course recording. But comic art has, today and yesterday, enabled me to devour hours of radio 4 and iPlayer including 4 whole episodes of Paul McGann's Doctor Who (a couple surprisingly good), Cowards, Miranda Hart, Heresy, a documentary about backing singers, From Our Own Correspondent, Mitchell & Webb, loads of good stuff.

After I've finished this strip, I hope the feeling keeps my momentum going enough to produce a 64 page Socks comic from scratch to publication in time for Christmas. I feel inspired.

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