Bent it like Beckham
Last year I wrote a one shot comic called “Fame:Beckham” for Bluewater Productions, a biography of England footballer David Beckham. I haven’t really posted that much about it, especially since “The Interactives” took all my energies but I’ve been thinking about it a lot this weekend. I popped in to see Kristian Barry, the owner of Cardiff Comic Guru yesterday and we got talking about the book and then some of my wife’s family were here for the day and they asked to see a copy. So I re-read it myself and I have to say that I’m still pretty proud of it, I know a lot of people in comics can’t stand the biography books but in my World it will always be an important book.
Football and comics both played a big part in my formative years so 12 year old me would have been doubly impressed by it. I’ve talked a lot in interviews about the impact Marvel UK’s reprints of Secret Wars and G.I. Joe (Action Force in the UK) had on me, but the Football Monthly series from D.C Thomson was just as important. They were the books I was reading when my love of football was strong enough to persuade my parents to enrol me in the the A.F.C Bournemouth Summer Soccer School, where I got to play with and against future England international Jamie Redknapp (clang, extreme name drop alert).
I got offered the book last January after Azim Akberali, my long term collaborator, recommended me. He’d done covers for the publisher previously and painted their Barack Obama book. It went from “would you like to write one of our biography books” to Worldwide media coverage in a matter of days, not quite at Markosia’s Royal Wedding levels but still surreal. In days it was in the New York Times, LA Times, Bangalore Mirror, Times of India, The Daily Star, China Daily to name just a few places. It was on Bleeding Cool, MTV Splashpage and and got some TV coverage along the way too. I did interviews with BBC Radio Gloucestershire (on the same show as Brian Blessed) and Jazma Online, although sadly a proposed chat with Hawksbee & Jacobs on Talksport got cancelled at the last minute.
The only thing I really regret about the whole experience is that I have know idea what people made of it. Publisher Bluewater Productions was getting some bad press right at the time the book was announced, which meant most people wouldn’t review the book. We also didn’t have the book out in time for the World Cup, which although less important once Beckham’s injury was confirmed, still hampered things. I ended up rewriting the story twice, initially it ended with him heading onto the field in the England v USA game. Then it had him missing out and being injured and finally had him injured watching England’s ultimate humiliation at the hands of Germany.
I had fun researching it and writing it, especially the challenge of keeping the visuals interesting and the narrative engaging. I doubt I’ll ever write another biography book, but I got to do a football comic and that still puts a smile on my face.