I was somewhat in deep thought the other day and I had stumbled onto a self-aimed question:
Why not painting, or architecture or even straight Sunday-paper cartooning?What was it that holds my fascination? I mean, I've known several people who flirted with the idea of doing their own comics. Some manage to do one and they're content. Then they are off to some other endeavor. Most try it, and realize it's so much more than drawing "pretty pictures" and that there is a heft of un-fun work that you also must do in tandem. That desire quickly fades away.
So I sat there and examined the notion that there is something that tethers my creative and nostalgic being to this medium. Here are my findings:
1. On a surface level, one could probably say "Oh, he just likes Superheroes. He likes drawing scantily clad women and steroid induced men, punching anything from monsters, robots and planets." Sure, maybe the subject matter still fuels my artistic outlet. But over the years of drawing panels, I've come to enjoy drawing the more quiet moments in comics. The simple human interaction between all the "POW" and "KA-BASH!" that happens inevitably.
2. "He's a massive man-child at heart." THIS. I am, at heart, a kid who never let go of the things that we were supposed to let go. But at the same time, I also feel that comics never really let go of those of us who still indulge in them. Think about it: We grew up with the books that society considered fluff, and lacked any scholarly value. On the contrary, I feel that I gained a vocabulary exclusively from reading comics. It only helped me to read other materials with ease and understanding. As I got older, comics became more sophisticated as well. My books went from "Superhero A faces the Space Monster" to "The Dark Knight Returns" and "Watchmen". In shorthand: Comics grew up with me.
3. "You've got nothing else". Somewhat true. If that means I always stayed in a creative profession, then yes, I lack skills outside of that, operating some fancy machines, and customer service. I am technically a Graphic Designer by day, Comic Artist by...whatever time I can mine from my schedule after that. So if you need someone to give you CPR...um...let me call 911...and hang on.
All the above are pretty strong contenders for my reasons of never giving this up. But I think that there is one thing that is perhaps the strongest pull to graphic novels for me:
I love sequential art.
Not as grand as you would think, huh? Kind of anti-climatic? Well, maybe. But there is something to that. When I was a kid, cartoons and movies were a strong form of entertainment (I say that like something has changed since.) and if the resources were available to myself and my brothers, living at the time in Upstate New York, we would be animators. We all tried our hand at making stop-motion films with super 8 cameras. But nothing was as easy as picking up a pencil, creating characters, putting them into your own custom world and dictating their lives. I guess there's a strange "playing God" theme there, but a harmless one, as we're not experimenting on live people. I think it’s an old, but effective form of communication. Cave paintings, and hieroglyphics prove this.The colorful characters, the monsters, the robots, and the border-line pornographic women are just icing to that cake.
I have dabbled in painting. And while I do enjoy it, it’s more a meditative process, and requires patience, workspace and concentration. Plus, you have to wait for it to dry. I am an impatient artist, and this is probably my biggest adversary to improving.
Architecture is the work of geniuses. It involves utilizing both sides of your brain. Both art and math are involved. I HATE math. I want to create a time machine to go back in time to stop the individual who discovers math. But that would require math to do it. Clever, that math. CLEVER. so...
Cartooning, not to be confused with comic book art, can be a one-panel creation. It can also be sequential...like maybe 3 panels. It also requires you to be funny within that confinement. I need plenty of build up before a punch line. Kudos to those who can pull this off! Unless you want to get all "Rex Morgan MD" and try for a serious strip...but then that takes FOREVER to tell a story.
So there it is. I love communicating ideas with images. But I also love the power of this medium, as it not only fueled my creativity, but expanded my vocab, taught me to draw better, and keep myself extremely young at heart.
Until next time,