Two new stories about Michael Jackson. First, coming from my Comic Art Masterclass, which I deliver in schools, libraries etc around the country.
As part of my workshop I do a demonstration on the board going through techniques of comic strip drawing, involving a simple story of someone walking down a street and stepping on a worm. I ask the pupils who this person should be and they shout out suggestions from which we use the most popular. Before July this year the single most popular suggestion was Michael Jackson, with Simon Cowell running him a close second. (Other popular choices are Gordon Brown, Cheryl Cole, David Beckham and Barack Obama, the oddest recently being the group of 11 year olds who suggested Tim Brooke Taylor, because the Goodies was their favourite DVD).
Since July Michael Jackson has, almost inevitably, been the most popular suggestion when we play this game, but a change has come into the process. Because when it comes to me drawing a close up of Michael's face, where previously I would get great mileage from his skeletal look and non existent nose, now they have asked on at least four occasions for him to be drawn with his original black face and afro hair from the 1970s.
Remember these are kids aged between 8 and 15, so few were even born when he had his last significant hit in the UK let alone having experienced his music when it was new. So they choose from all points in Michael's history regardless, and for them it seems his appearance from 1972 to 82 is how they want to remember him. If this trend contnues, all the ills of his later years, from his grotesque appearance to the allegations and scandals that engulfed him, will fade, leaving a shining youth and lots of happy memories. Then maybe we can do the same for Gary Glitter and Jonathan King and Roman... not the same? Fair enough.
The second story concerns me 7 year old neice who has been made terrified of Michael Jackson and zombies in one fell swoop by dint of her well-meaning teacher who, in the wake of Jackson's death, had them all perform and end of term dance version of Thriller. This involved watching the Thriller video. The poor child came home terrified that she was being pursued by the zombie Michael Jackson. When she later woke in the night still scared that Michael Jackson was coming to get her, her mother reassured her that it was okay because he was dead. My neice replied "but that doesn't stop them!"