Free comics since 2023


03-09-23 | Greetings my friends! During a recent city trip I stumbled upon several great comic vendors, the last of which had some old Batman comics from a range I collect. While the shopkeeper was scanning barcodes I noticed Captain Nemo in Western Europe, my first publication as an author, was right there on the counter.

And before I knew it I heard myself utter the words: ‘would you like that signed?’ Immediately the palms of my hands starts sweating. Was that a little too blunt? I possess a healthy self-confidence, but I’m not the type of person that seeks constant affirmation from strangers. So why the sudden arrogance?

What happens next is even more unlike me. I grab hold of the book, flick towards the final page and prove it is really me by pompously pointing at my portrait, which graces the final page of the hardcover comic. What’s gotten in to me? I’ve seen my book in stores before, but never have I felt the need to attract attention to myself in this manner!

Luckily the shopkeeper took it well, and very happily accepted my offer to sign the two copies for prospective customers. Attempting to alleviate the tension, I joked that me signing them will greatly decrease their value. The dear shopkeeper didn’t really pick up on this. Oh well.

Signing one of my own publications is a thrill I never tire of. My inscription … ‘Thank you for everything – Tim Aarts’ … allows the signee to come up with a tall tale of his own. Soon he’ll be telling his friends he kickstarted my career, saved me from a vicious dog or taught me how to properly spell the word aluminium. And he’ll have my handwriting to prove it. A storytellers work is never done. Glancing at my signature the shopkeeper is happy to report that he like my illustrations very much.

Ah! Time to set the record straight once more. I have indeed written Captain Nemo, but the drawings were done by the wonderful Gwendy Delos Santos. ‘But surely you do quite a lot of artwork?’ the shopkeeper asks of me, slightly surprised. I hadn’t heard that one in a while! Allow me to explain by segueing into another anecdote …

I spend half of my time working on comics, while the other half is (currently) devoted to developing characters and merchandising for theme parks. During a meeting with one of our clients, my colleague was sure he heard them mention I was illustrating a comic book for their park. Since I don’t do artwork I was very surprised to hear this. As a comic book writer I’m still virtually unknown, so how on Earth a major brand would get hold of me for this project was a mystery.

After doing some inquiries I discovered there is a talented young artist called Tim Artz, who is involved in quite a few high profile projects. My name being Tim Aarts, it’s easy to see why my colleague understood me to be responsible for the artwork. A harmless misunderstanding which I’ve stumbled upon a few times since, most recently during my encounter in this very comic book store.

I explain to the dear old shopkeeper and he smiles as I pitch to him that books by Aarts & Artz would surely sell like hotcakes. Catchy stuff isn’t it? Aarts & Artz? The two Tims?  T&A plus T&A? The possibilities are endless.

The shopkeeper offers to just give my the Batman comics as a thank you for my grubby little signature, but I insist on paying. As I catch up with my girlfriend she asks me what that was all about? And I have to confess, the encounter – which hardly took up more than a minute – puzzled me rather. Had I ever been so arrogant before? And was I offered free comics as a result? Does arrogance pay off?!

I’d rather not find out. It’s not the type of behaviour that suits me. So in the unlikely event that I offer to sign your comic books, please put me in my place. It really helps me a lot. Thanks.