Beyond Spider-Man : 2010 : Smartt Comics

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I generally manage to avoid mentioning it on Spider-Fan, but I actually have four children floating around the house. Now, I'm not big on the "doting" side of things. From a purely logical point of view I can't see why, due to nothing but a random accident of birth, I should treat my kids any different from anybody else's children.

But there are times where it seems appropriate to make mention of their achievements, and this is one case in point. A few years back, my two eldest girls sat down and each scripted a mini-comic as a birthday present to me.

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[No Spider-Man]
The Fruity Friends: Rocking Your Heart Out!
Jul 2005 : NM ($5.00) : No Spider-Man
Creator:  Toni Smartt
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This one is by my eldest daughter (aged 9 at the time). It's 2" x 3", 16 pages center-stapled. Pencil art, no coloring. It features a series of pictorial vignettes of the "fruity friends" - Mr. Lemon, Mr. Banana, Mr. Apple, Mr. Orange. They eat, play and sleep together, and meet a new friend, Mr. Carrot.

The art work is confident and clear. There's no central narrative, simply a collection of loosely related episodic moments from the fictional existence of this familiar yet novel anthropomorphised collective. The result is a poignant commentary on the role of humanized fruit within a complex modern society.

Spider-Man & The Fly
Jul 2005 : NM ($5.00) : SM Title
Summary: Spider-Man Appears
Creator:  Alex Smartt
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This second work in the pair is by my second eldest daughter (aged 5 at the time). It is in a similar physical format, with the same page count, although the manufacturing process is clearly inferior. The edge cutting scissor-work lacks the crispness and accuracy of the "Fruity Friends", and the other technical aspects are equally disappointing.

The inner story is a text-only work, with handwriting which teeters between the semi-legible and the utterly incomprehensible. Apparently, some "spidrman" [sic] character is beset by a fly or flies. The details are unclear, and the tale rapidly descends into incoherent farce before being abandoned about page 6 or so.

The redeeming feature of this mini-comic is the cover illustration - a brilliantly original interpretation which re-invents and re-invigorates the classic "Spider-Man" graphical paradigm. Here for our intellectual stimulation is Spider-Man Redux. With ground-breaking simplicity, this colorized sketch takes a character we once thought we knew, and challenges all our jaded, preconceived notions. There are those who might ask, "but is it art"? To which I can only reply, "surely art is as art does". This enigmatically counter-intuitive rendition certainly proves that!

But there is a lesson here which transcends the literary and artistic qualities of these individual works. And that lesson is clear: "Anybody who wants to create a comic can create a comic."

So if you are sitting there wondering "how do I break into comics," well the answer is clear and simple. Take your lead from my kids. A pencil, a piece of A4 paper, and a stapler is all that stands between you and your dream.