Have I really been delivering Comic Art Masterclasses in schools for ten years now? It would appear so. I just had a shuffle-round of stuff on the shelves of my office and took the opportunity to lay out the volumes of comics my pupils and I have produced over that time and snap them, as you can see above.
It looked at first glance like I had comics here dating back to 2004, but on closer examination I'd dated that first one, "Whizz-Crash" wrongly. It says May 2004 in the Marvel-style date box in the top left hand corner (from the start I was modelling these photocopy comics on the weekly Marvel reprints I got as a kid), but the clues point to it very clearly coming from a year later. Can you spot the obvious giveaway?*
That error aside, there's a pile here for every year, 2005 to the present (having just filled a volume, I'm onto my second of 2015). For the recent busiest years I've been filling four volumes a year to overflowing, plus stacking away less-impressive comics in plastic bags. Oh the British Library and the museums of Britain will be fighting over this little lot when I'm gone.
The two examples above from 2005 are from schools in Kentisbeare and South Tawton in Devon, both of whom have just had me back. My god, I've been there longer than half the teachers. And the first pupils I taught there are now at University. Reading comics, I can only hope. The other comics are from Dorset (06), Oxford (07), Inverness (08), Chippenham (09), Maidenhead (10), Dublin (11), Newham (12), Worle (13), Morningside (14) and Coventry (the cover of the 2015 volume, is sneakily from December 14).
I'm pleased to see how well I've mastered the skill of producing a half-decent cover design in no time at all. The better covers usually come from morning classes in schools, where I've had 15 minutes of break time to give them a bit more attention. But half of them must come from afternoon sessions, where I have just two hours to do the whole class, including drawing the cover, logo and all from their suggestions, as well as teaching them how to do my job, and drawing a caricature of every one of them. Yes, I even amaze myself sometimes.
Kev F Sutherland, as well as writing Bananaman in The Beano, runs Comic Art Masterclasses in schools, libraries and art centres - email for details, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter. View the new promo video here.
* The obvious clue that "Whizz-Crash" is from 2005? It has Christopher Eccleston as Doctor Who on the front cover, which would have been a marvellous act of clairvoyance 12 months before the show went out. (Even if he was announced that early, and I don't think he was, I doubt I could have convinced a class of schoolkids to put him on the cover of a comic, let alone correctly guess his costume, hairstyle and sonic screwdriver). Oh yes, and I've put the correct date beside my signature in the bottom right hand corner. How I managed to get the date a year out in May is anyone's guess.