All About Me

Posted: Tuesday, April 22, 2003
By: Darren Schroeder

Cover of All About Me

I thought this week I'd have a go at doing what most of the other columnists at SBC seem to do; fill up my column with stuff about myself.

There is only one review this week because I got sidetracked by gardening, committee meetings and getting my only little mini comic copied. I find that standing in the copy centre trying to figure out how the copier works is always a bit of a mission. First you have to let the staff know that you want to use the self service machine. They do their little speech about how the controls work and tell you to feel free to ask if you need any help. Then I push a few buttons and find the original artwork I want to shrink. Even though this can take a while to do it I'd far rather do it myself than try and explain to the staff what I want done. Has anyone ever found a copy store worker who actually knows how to follow instructions? The few times I've tried they seem to have huge problems understanding how a two sided fold up goes together. It's not really that hard, but they react as though I want them to use the copier to make toast. Then when they try and copy it they find that a bit gets chopped off. Sometimes they will go Sorry, current human technology is incapable of copying a page such as this or they just don't care that the tops of several speech balloons have disappeared.

Recently I learned that if a page is more than %50 black it will jam up a photocopier. Something about all that toner getting burnt onto the page makes it slippery or something. Has anyone else ever found this? I'm suspicious that it might just have been that the machine that needed some maintenance, especially as I left it with them to sort out and when I came back to pick it up it was copied fine.

That's why I like to stick with self service (He he, that sounds rude). After a few bits of experimenting I can get the hang of the machine and get it to do what I want. It's at this stage that I usually see all the faults that should have been fixed earlier: spelling mistakes, pencil not rubbed out properly. Then there are the bits I tried to fix with a bit of white out tape which stand out when copied. I hate that.

Any faults with the copiers soon become apparent. Why can't they do nice dark blacks? Are all the copy machines in the world low on toner or does their definition of black and white differ from mine? I try all the various darkness setting, auto and photograph setting but with no useful effect. Digital copiers do a slightly better job of this, but the way they turn artwork in little dots is kind of spooky in a Matrix, computers rule your world sort of way and can look rather naff. I am impressed that more and more copiers seem to be capable of 2-sided copying without any human handling of the paper. It makes self production so much easier. Even so, I'm always a bit suspicious of them so do the copying in batches of 10, just in case the printer dies or jams or does something nasty.

When I had a real job I used do the occasional after work copy run. It was convenient but always a bit nerveracking. What if the boss came in and caught me? Would they understand the logic of the business underwriting my comic creating, or would I end up in jail? If I went to jail, would thay have a good photocopier that I could use? The other contibutors to the anthology I edit never seemed to realise how much it cost me in cash or nerves just to make up the proofs to take their work to the printer. No matter how much I pleaded with them they would always try and draw their comics right up to the margins, which no photocopier made by human hands seems to be able to cope with. Why do artists do that? Is it their way of rebelling against technology? Do they hate machines so much they want to show them up I can draw right up to the edge, you machines can't! na na-na-naaa na na-na. And why do the copier companies make the glass top things sightly bigger than the copy area? Couldn't they at least put a note on the machine: Anything outside this rectangle won't copy, Tough luck buddy!

Once all the copies I wanted were copied I had to go up and pay for it. I think it sucks that double sided copies cost twice the price of a one sided copy. Surely they are overcharging me when I copy on the second side? Didn't I buy the paper with the first copy, give me the second side at a reduced rate!!! I'm always amazed they trust me when they ask how many copies I did. If I was less of a goody-two-shoes I'd have lied. But how can you know how low you can go without making them suspicious? If you've been there half and hour saying Just 10 copies might make them want to count them for themselves. Dropping the figure by 5 or 6 just seems lame, what's the point of that.

The next step is taking them to the local comic shop. It's always exciting handing over the copies to the shop staff. It proves to them that I don't just buy comics, I'm a comic creator! It would help my self image if they'd go Wow or Cool, love your stuff and blow some trumpets and such. Unfortunately they don't do that very much. Most times all I get is a Oh, okay, we'll take a few. Then they drop the pile of comics somewhere behind the counter and they are never seen again. Then the high which I get from making my own comics starts to wear off. I begin to question if I should give up and limit my creative activity to making temporary sculptures with my potato and gravy at dinner time. But then I remember the thrill of seeing the comic shooting out of the copier, the rush of walking out of the copy shop with my own work under my arm, and I realize that I don't care what the comic shops staff say, I'm a comic creator and the world is mine, mine!!!!!

Well, that's what I did today. Was it at all interesting or amusing or even readable? I can't really comment, seeing as any criticism of it is an attack on my very being. What are other people doing? If you've been to a convention or have some work soon to hit the shelves then let us know. You can e-mail me at or post it to the small press message board. Please tell us something, 'cause if I get up to date with my reviews I might decide to write all about myself again.

P.S. I've been keeping an eye out for small press news but nothing much has surfaced this week. I got notification of a webpage for A1 Oregon Publishing Company / Kameelman Comic Books: a few weeks ago, did I pass that on to you all?

If you have a comment or question about Small Press then feel free to contact me