An everyday story of leftwing folk

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

How it all began. Part 1

Without going back into the mists of time, probably the first time I thought about a comic strip poking fun at the politics of the Organisation must’ve been in early 2006. It was one of those doomed initiatives that Internal Comms dream up from time to time. You know the sort of thing. “We need to have a staff newsletter so that people know what’s going on, but it needs to be, like, edgy.”

So they assemble a group of people who have a rep for being … off message, I suppose. But then they lay down so many rules about what you can’t say and do, the whole thing dies at conception.

Anyway. At this one and only meeting I said, “Well, if you can’t say it directly, why not use allegory.” Blank looks all round.

Well, I thought it was a good idea. So I just went away and listened to the Organisation and did some thinking…

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Up Close And Personalised Episode 4

This one was a bit of a struggle, but I like the result in the end. It plays with the personal dynamics of the office, and how some people just don't fit in.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Another triumph for the bureaucratic approach.

Thinking about the news yesterday that the government wants to save money in education by squeezing the cleaning budget while at the same time creating new work for consultants with a financial bent.  It's usually the way.  Departmental bureaucrats can then claim brownie points for any savings and making the world a better place for people like them.

As the kid might say, "Gotta learn how these people operate".

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Kamikaze Girls

Saw this movie on the TV the other night and was really taken with it.  The character Ichigo (Anna Tsuchiya) put me in mind of the Kid.  Slightly androgynous, aggressive, strong sense of right and wrong.  Loved the malapropisms.  Maybe she could play the Kid when all of this is made into a movie.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Up close and personalised. Episode 3

Just for once, it appears here first. Before anybody else sees it.

There's also a wee little one called Going Green in the Short Stories box on the right. That one was a quick response to the news that our bit of The Organisation were the worst offenders as far as paper usage was concerned.  That's both printing paper and the other sort.  Note to self: Use the toilets elsewhere in the building.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Facts? Have a drop more grog, Mr Franklin

Bugman's again.  Been thinking about the way we get swamped with data.  Especially in my line of work.  How everybody is after the "killer fact" that'll prove the case for the project or whatever they're working on.  So everybody wants research, or rather a piece of whatever research is going on.  More and more questions for the poor wretches that are the objects of study.  More and more raw data.  Lyotard was always overoptimistic I thought about the power of the "data banks" to deliver knowledge... what we needed was the imagination to make connections he reckoned.  I probably agree with the latter point, but it's imagination to sift what is a vast sea of incompleteness rather than a world of perfect information.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Up close and personalised. Episode 2

Here's the latest one. Given that I've got a bunch of work with scary deadlines, this is all very skin-of-the-teeth right now. But I'm happy with how its all going. I've managed to get it up on site, so I'll burble about it all at some other time.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Using comics to talk about corruption

One of my colleagues wondered if the Policy Police would face something like the recent news story where construction firms colluded to maintain the high value of their tenders.

This reminded me of the anime "Salaryman Kintraro". In some of the later episodes our hero ends up crossing a cartel that is doing this very kind of thing. So it's already out there in the comic world. I like Kintaro, he shows up my own moral cowardice in the face of the bureaucracy. There's something of him in the Kid. She knows what crooks look like, whereas Faren is far more accepting of this world, it is the "nature" that he finds himself in.

Anyway, this made me think that the state bureaucracy creates the conditions in which this kind of activity can thrive. The state sets out to save money by bureaucratising purchasing and forcing government departments to only buy from approved suppliers in a "framework".

This means that those on the inside are cushioned against competition, and there's plenty of work to be divvied up by those in the "club". So, as long as they can keep prices high, life is very sweet for these guys.

Firms can also be in different frameworks where they can offer different prices. So they try to steer you towards the more expensive one. Same work, same people, different price.

Hmmm. Maybe I'll fit something like this in somewhere.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Up Close And Personalised Episode 1

Looks like my ability to embed has come back. Don't know whether my emails into the darkness worked, or if it just magically fixed itself. But anyway, heres the beginning of the new saga:

Monday, 24 August 2009

Could you? Would you? On a train?

My ongoing investigation into wireless connectivity continues. On my way to an inter-agency meet, so who knows? Looking at the docs for this, I'm struck by a certain anthropomorphism of the "system". A bit like Marx's commodity fetishism. It has a life all of its own, we are looking at the system's performance somehow divorced from the actions of ourselves or our organisations.

It's that bureaucratic diversion of blame again

Friday, 14 August 2009

Short note

I'm in Bugmans Bar at Warhammer World right now (!) but there's something about the wireless here that my regular email just doesn't like. So just because I can, I thought I'd post here.

In between things that look distressingly like work, I'm beginning on the next long story that's going to be called "Up close and Personalised". It's about (among plenty of other things) identity, and knowing who we are. And who other people and systems think we are and how we cope with it. Hence the name. Personalisation is one of those things that businesses and the state use to guess at who we are, or rather model who we are... I'm put in mind of Pygmalion and the Image - the state builds the model, but then does the model come to "life" and become you. Is all that we are merely the sum of our transactions.


Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Cutting a Dash

Cutting a Dash

Anyway one of my colleagues thought this one was "wickedly seditious". I do hope so.

The dashboard is the latest wheeze of technocratic management. An at-a-glance view of the business for managers too busy to ... well ... manage.

The director in this story is a composite of a number of bosses I've experienced/witnessed over the years. I suppose things they had in common included being decent human beings and pretty smart. It's actually quite hard to get to the top if you're a dumb asshole. Anyway, there's a chumminess about senior people that on the one hand flags up "I'm a nice guy", yet at the same time manages to shut down any communication.

It's something to do with speed of delivery (fast) that says "I'm acknowledging your existence, what more do you want?" One of these guys also had a trick with breathing in the middle of sentences, so that he could carry straight through full stops. This made him uninterruptable unless you could unlearn everything you had drummed into you as a kid about being polite.

Anyway. Enjoy.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Developments afoot.

This is just to log where I am at right now with the next story. I've got the scripts for 7 episodes of what is looking like a 10 episode story that I'm aiming to start in early September. So looking good for well into the next year.

Also, because I can't help it, I wrote another script at the weekend for a stand-alone story that is kind of topical for me right now. So, despite promises to the contrary there may well be a "summer special" out in the next couple of weeks if I can manage to get it drawn. Be warned.

A little aside - I'm noticing that various of my little stories that I used to regale people with from time to time are creeping one by one into this comic. It kind of stops me using them - they now become things that happened to Faren and the Kid rather than me. Puts the onus on me to collect or remember more bits of mad dialogue and events I guess, and maybe, just maybe helps prevent me becoming the kind of boring old man who tells the same stories over and over.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Not Protectively Marked

A couple of weeks ago I was asked to present on our new Information Security measures. If you work in the UK public sector, you will no doubt have come across this stuff. Anyway, "make it entertaining," they said.

So with much use of "reusable comic book objects" I did a version of this ... with fewer speech bubbles and a script in the style of Dashiel Hammett.

Monday, 6 July 2009

The last episode of Reaching the LEARNER

This brings to an end my "origins" story. It took me long enough. Its around about 2 years since I wrote it, probably a bit longer (early 2007) since I started scribbling down snippets of dialogue i wanted to use. What really took the time was finding the look.. And finding a look that I could achieve things quickly with.

Once I went "public" with the first episode inside the Organisation, I setup an expectation that episodes would appear roughly monthly. Which they have.

But that also means that I have to write another story to follow on....which is kinda taking shape. I'm taking a break for the summer and returning with a new major story in September (just to give me the opportunity to finish writing the thing).

Though, since I had that plan, another one-episode story has come along. More of which soon.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

What's this all about?

Have you noticed how so much of the public sector has moved from service delivery towards "policy-making" and compliance. "Policy" is definitely the new "Strategy". It's what you say you do to prove you're important. Anything but "Operational".

The comic stories this blog links to are my way of coping with the pain of working in this environment. And amuse my work colleagues.

Sad to say, we're all Policy Police now.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

We're out!

If this all works then all the Policy Police comics now have a home outside The Organisation. There is one more episode (Episode 8) of Reaching the LEARNER. Then I think I'lltake a Summer break and come back in September with a new story.