New York Mining Disaster 1941 – The Bee Gees
I haven’t posted in a while. Those photo comics are fun but they are more work than I thought. I hung it up for a bit in order to focus on writing. Those of you following my Twitter may have picked up that I’ve been spending the past two weeks writing. I’ve been sharpening my craft by focusing on fanfiction–the X-Men, if you must know. It’s some of the best fun I’ve had in a long time. Something about playing with other people’s ideas and creations opens up a door in my head and allows me to truly cut loose. Perhaps it’s due to tapping into something outside of myself–larger than myself–that makes it feel so very exciting.
Why I have trouble making comics:
Comics have to be exciting. Comics cannot be boring. I don’t want to hear that “comics can be any-which-way” stuff. Boring comics get thrown into a large pile of refuse at my house. And I’ve made a LOT OF BORING COMICS in my days. I still do. The panel above? Boring. The rest of the strip that it’s from? BORING. Part of me thinks that I’ve got to get it out of my system. Part of me knows the truth. The truth is I’ve been running in place for years.
I am a trained artist. I taught myself the best that I could as a teenager and when I went to college I majored in illustration. No mistake about it, drawing well takes a great deal of time and is mentally taxing. It’s FUN! But it’s difficult. Through all of this, I have fallen into the mistake that so many of our comicky brethren have: spending so much time on the crafting of the comic that the crafting of the intangibles (story, character, etc) are lost in the shuffle. It’s my instinct: I want to draw a comic, so I sit down and draw one…without having an idea of WHAT to do, so any ole thing will suffice. In that sense, I’m an incomplete cartoonist. I’m unable to reach my potential because I haven’t taken very much time to fully engage the other half of the process. I’ve taken a couple of writing classes, but no deep, intensive personal study.
I know that many other cartoonists suffer the same affliction. The drawing tends to be what we love and so we throw ourselves into producing for the sake of production but don’t really have a full mind behind the work–or a full heart.
There is a traditional aversion to collaboration in the indie/alternative comics world. Cartoonists who draw stories written by other people are derided as “just illustrators.” Meanwhile, fifty-billionteen minicomics come out every convention that center around personal grooming habits, really basic vignettes and other nonscenes and nonsense.
A series of coincidences led me back to reading mainstream comic books on a regular basis. It has been almost a decade. But the difference between the professionalism that I had grown to accept as normal within the indie comics scene and the professionalism that exists in the mainstream is night and day. I don’t just mean DC and Marvel when I say “mainstream,” but I also mean Image, Dark Horse, Oni Press, IDW, Boom, et cetera. There’s something very driven about this work and after a decade of fumbling in the darkness, their clarity of purpose feels like a glass of ice cold water on these New York summer days.
I don’t know, I wish there were more people talking about comics without talking ABOUT COMICS.