Monday, 8 August 2011

On Mungo

Mungo - or Shit Shot Mungo, in a preposterously transparent homage to the character on which he was based, Hot Shot Hamish, has been part of my life for over 5 years. He sat in a sketch book waiting to be turned into a comic strip since the summer of 2006, when my spine was in still compromised. Then one day in January 2009, alcohol made us - Ian, the man who created and runs Twohundredpercent and me - resurrect the idea. Mungo is as old, almost, as the Twohundredpercent website itself. However, like his creator, he is also a lot flakier than the rock-solid website he's graced for the past 2½ years.

Thanks must also go to Lewes FC, whose staggeringly inept and boring 1-0 defeat to Mansfield Town in the Conference at The Dripping Pan that day helped keep our focus on inventing stupid names for players and teams. The first Mungo strip - which was shoddily-drawn rubbish - appeared on February 6th 2009. Since then there have been 96 further editions as well as countless (i.e. I can't be bothered to count them) close-season specials. The ones of the second full season - episodes 59-97 - were actually really quite good. The praise, often inordinate amounts of praise, that was heaped on the earlier editions can only be attributed to alcohol intake at least as high as that which eased the strip's birth.

People with functioning eyes will be relieved to hear that, with the exception of the sale of one strip's original artwork, I never made any money from Mungo. Like the rest of the Twohundredpercent site, it's a labour of love rather than a quest for profit. People who think that people write football blogs as a shop window for themselves are idiots. Anyone like that would be weeded out easily - they'd stick out a mile, plus anyone with such a brass neck is likely to be the exact sort of person who lacks the self-awareness to realise that they are dreadful.

Mungo (he was only Shit Shot Mungo for the first 17 editions) is not a labour of love any more. He's just become labour. Unpaid labour, at that. You know how people say, "I'd not do that if you paid me"? Well, I would do Mungo if you paid me. However, that's now the limit of my interest in him. Every week between August and May had become a battle of motivation and my strong completist instincts versus a growing resentment. I'd spend a day (at least) every week doing something for which I received nothing. I knew going in that I'd not get any financial reward. The same can't be said for feedback, however. I have no idea how many people are interested in this post, because I have no idea if anyone liked Mungo. I increasingly felt like my little oddball corner was at odds with, and on the margins of, a site which otherwise created fierce and ongoing debate.

The thing that tipped the balance has been football. Life goes on and changes all the time, but mine is developing faster around me than at any time before. Football's importance to me has diminished when compared to issues of family and of friends. At the start of last season I became aware that the shrieking, mindless, insistent, blanket coverage of the sport and the lives of its asinine stars had begun to grate. By New Year I honestly couldn't have cared less. At the moment, football bores me. Football in theory still interests me. Football in my memory still interests me. But whenever I see football, I'm increasingly conscious that I'd rather be doing anything else.

My plan and my hope is that I will continue to do stuff for Twohundredpercent, but in a libero role - a picture here, an illustration there, maybe a strip or two. Whatever little area of interest in the game I can exploit. But the days of forcing myself to do a weekly strip based on the same thing are gone. It was making me miserable.

Mungo is not dead. It's not time for his helicopter crash yet, he has years of not scoring goals ahead of him. I'm never saying never. I can readily envisage myself getting an itch to get back into drawing Mungo and being full of ideas. However, for the time being I want to step away. I have offered the strip to another artist, who is fantastic, and we may yet even see some Mungo strips this season. Maybe nine months of being a Mungo reader is what I need to recharge my batteries and rekindle my enthusiasm.

1 comment:

Merry Mary said...

Good riddance to bad rubbish!
;)

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