It’s a typical story for many young adults—spend three years at university and leave with a degree that for most isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.
It’s a typical story for many young adults—spend three years at university and leave with a degree that for most isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. You leave £13,000 in debt (I’m talking back in my day before the Lib Dems screwed us over) and wondering, despite the drunken nights, one night stands and the best friends you made, just what you’re going to do with your life.
Many head in the opposite direction of their degree, some go to retail and some just glide along seeing what comes next. Jim Pownall is kind a guy of all three. He studied screenwriting and screen studies (get a real degree, right?) and despite some very good feedback on his work from giants such as the BBC decided that wasn’t the route for him.
So after three years of hard-work turned to making coffees for a living. But not content on meeting the demands of decaf, skinny, one-shot latte drinkers (otherwise known as the devil) Jim has taken the step into the world of comics – not selling them but writing them.
This is his story.
‘It’s not a career,’ admits Jim. ‘I don’t make a living off it despite the hours I put in – I was up from 5am til 1am yesterday.’
Jim is busy preparing his second comic—it’s titled ‘Fingers Crossed’ and is entirely based on his adventures of his own life. ‘A lot of people questioned whether the stories are true – which they are, unfortunately,’ Jim says with raised eyebrows.
The stories are the sort you’d not want your parents knowing, and the sort that only come out into the open after a few pints. Issue one saw Jim, yes he hasn’t even changed the character’s name, breaking into his school with his friend Dale. Inevitably Jim gets caught – and his friend leaves him. You’re intrigued by the first issue and the tale of the break in and wonder just what he’ll get up to next.
‘Strange seeing myself as a cartoon’
But why base the stories on him, potentially embarrassing him to hundreds of people?
‘I think some people are surprised by the subject. When I said I was producing a comic nearly everyone assumed it was going to be about a superhero. Instead I’ve aimed for the complete opposite. Me.’
‘But I wanted to write something that’s believable and that people can relate to: who can relate to a hobbit without a job? It’s a nightmare.’
Having known Jim for a few years, the artwork drawn by Steve Roberts – portrays Jim as close to reality as possible, even down the jumper that he either has an endless supply of or never changes. Jim, like his character, is a down on his look at nearly every chance with work, love or even just cooking the tea.
‘It’s strange seeing myself as a cartoon,’ Jim says. ‘It’s always fun just looking at the drawings but when I start to read each panel I start to get a little itchy. I think it’s because the stories are about revelations I’ve had and the only way to demonstrate these revelations is by showing very humiliating situations I’ve been through. I do like seeing my written work come to life though; especially when the story means a lot to me.’
Happy after Writer’s Block
The process of making a comic isn’t easy and takes about three weeks of very long days to get it completed and Jim’s aware of the commitment.
‘It’s certainly not easy, especially when you’re up for 12 hours and then you’ve an eight our shift in a job which not only I have to keep to pay the bills but also because I live above the shop – sometimes I’m trying not fall asleep in the cappuccinos.’
Jim originally had the aspirations of taking the film industry by storm, or at least the local Waterstones.
‘Initially I wanted to write screenplays and novels,’ Jim says. ‘I only moved onto comics after suffering from some good old fashioned writers block.’
That moment of writers block, the blank page and frustration lead to Fingers Crossed, and Jim admits that he’s happier than ever at the moment.
‘Amazingly I managed to finish the script in one night,’ Jim says. ‘That story became issue one of Fingers Crossed. I don’t dare go back to screenplays because I’m worried I can’t write in that medium. Maybe I can. I don’t know. I have no intention of finding out. I also don’t enjoy many films, so why would I write screenplays?’
But that’s Jim – as the comic will no doubt show in the issues to come – he’s got a long term goal that changes every 18 months but this time he’s determined to stick to his goal.
‘I just want to make people laugh and fingers crossed – see what I did there – I’ll be able to make this a full time job in the future.’
Issue Two of ‘Fingers Crossed’ will be out in June. Have your say on his work in the comments section below.
Image courtesy of the Fingers Crossed web site.