So earlier this year, when I was struggling with what I wanted to do with my life artistically, and going through one of those periodic reevaluations when you think awesome things like “why am I bothering?” “am I even any good at this?” “is sitting inside my dark tiny apartment while the most beautiful city in the world hums outside my door, ripe with sunshine and warmth and beautiful flowers, for the purpose of scratching out some vaguely funny shit that somebody might someday read REALLY what I’m supposed to be doing with my life?”, my friend Mari gave me some really good advice. I told her one of my greatest fears was that the only reason I draw cartoons is that it’s what I’ve been doing, and maybe I’d be happier doing something else. Mari looked at me and said “well, you can DO whatever you WANT.” I don’t know if she was trying to blow my mind, but she kind of did. It felt like being handed a key. I did not have to do any of it. Nothing is expected of me. I could pack up my drawing materials, leave the coffee shop, go home and put on a sweatsuit and turn on the tv. There was probably something good on.
Or, more to the point, I could quit trying to do the ambitious (for me) stuff, like, sequence, and composition, and panel arrangement, the stuff I really struggle with. I made a bold proclamation in which I swore off panel borders. And then, maybe like, five minutes later, a new friend came along who taught me exactly why panel borders are important, why composition matters, how much thinking should go into layout. Dontcha just love friends?
I fought it. I was totally ready to scrap that stuff. But at the same time, I could see how right it was, and I wanted it. Those processes that were so hard for me were not the things I should quit doing. Instead, I should study them, and work on them until they make sense and they aren’t so hard and stressful. And anyway, there’s nothing THAT good on tv*.
So apparently what I want to do is be good. Not in a halo-and-ukelele sense. I want to be really GOOD at this. You know. Cartooning? So I’ve been digging in. I haven’t done any new completed comics lately; I’ve been writing, reading, and drawing lots of skeletons and head shapes. Facial expressions. I have fun with this, with drawing, but my frustration with the processes I don’t get speaks to what I want. And working on my skills is like, the art equivalent of eating kale (which I have also been doing a lot lately). It’s good for me. This is going to be good.
And I especially want to be good this year, because…
I’m going to be showing at Comic-Con International! 2010! in San Diego! Artists’ Alley!! How exciting is THAT?! Mark your calendars!! And if you want to go, LISTEN UP: four-day passes are already sold out, and single-day tickets go on sale this TUESDAY, DECEMBER 15. Just wanted to make sure y’all heard that.
I’ll leave you with some photos of yesterday’s work—a character bible in progress.
See ya real soon kids.
*I have Mad Men on DVD, I can watch it whenever I want.