Both Eddie and I have come a long way since the first issue of The Lengths, and I’m pleased to say that the final issue of The Lengths, including chapters 7 and 8 will be available in October. Pre-ordering options are available now.
The Lengths started out many years ago when I was in the thick of a London scene where sex, drugs and money were passed around far more than I would ever have thought possible. I got caught up in the bizarre, seductive darkness and beauty of it all and found myself finding things that should’t seem normal, normal, like visiting friends in hospital for liver failure or hearing of people dying in clubs or being knifed in drug turf wars. HIV diagnoses became so common as to be something of a joke: “Oh, you’re in the club, now?”
It reached a point where, apart from an incredible core of amazing friends, pretty much everyone I was interacting with was an escort, a dealer, a porn star or an addict. I stopped looking at online porn because it just broke the illusion of it when I kept spotting people I knew or went to the gym with in some fisting sequence or another. I was just amazed and enthralled to be in this strange fairy-tale world of sexual and sensational opportunity.
I felt like a tourist, and like a tourist, I began to document what I saw. I began interviewing escorts and dealers, starting with friends, then moving out to people who’d heard I was doing these interviews and wanted to tell me their stories. The sense of privilege I had at the honesty of the men I spoke to was overwhelming and stopped the first plan I had for the interviews in its tracks. I was writing a play; I had had meetings with the artistic directors of theatres who said it would sell well, but then I felt it was disrespectful to turn such honest narratives into an excuse for punters to eye a bit of cock on stage.
I shied away from doing anything with the texts for several years, during which time I found myself frightened away from the scene I’d loved by watching friends turn into crystal meth addicts, losing their jobs to do escorting and realising I was teetering on the edge of the same.
I just didn’t have the resilience of some of the men I’d met, who were wholly reconciled with what they were doing and had built their lives in such a way that they could not just deal with but wholly enjoy the lives they were leading. They remain some of the nicest, least judgemental and kindest people I’ve ever met.
Years of reinvention later, I found myself at Camberwell Art College doing an MA in Visual Art with a focus on illustration. I’d started the programme to bring my drawing to a point where I could tell the stories I wanted to tell. A nudge from one of the escort friends I’d interviewed got me looking back through the scripts and wondering if I could make it into a comic book story.
During the run of The Lengths, I’ve had relationships fail because of their drug addiction and I’ve lost a very special man to heroin. At his funeral, selfishly, I found myself thinking “I wish I could show him how The Lengths ends.” I’ve left London for the Isle of Wight and I’ve fallen head over heels in love.
Through the comic, I’ve had to face my own demons and my own prejudices and fears around the lifestyle I’d led; to be nearing the point where I close this story gives the sad sense of closing a long chapter of my own life. I’ve also learned so much about storytelling and the process of making comics that I couldn’t have imagined without finishing a 200 page book in a little under two years.
Cliché though it is, I couldn’t have done it without an enormous amount of help and support from friends, comics professionals and the surprising people who the story connected with. Seeing my sad dogs turning up in magazines all over the place has just been incredibly humbling and has left me feeling even more grateful to the people who contributed to the research for the story.
Anyway, I won’t get all choked up about it, just wanted to let you all know that you can pick The Lengths up from my web shop and to say thank you.