Friday, August 27, 2010

Sabbatical, Day Eleven (It's a Zoo Out There!)

After having worked every single day - and not just a few piddling hours here or there, mind you, but full days - since my sabbatical began, including weekends and not counting tons of pre-sabbatical hours spent working on scrolls of artwork and detailed thumbnails, I played hooky today. Kinda, sorta.

I went to the Pittsburgh Zoo. And it was a perfect way to recharge.

Not that I was in danger of actually burning out, at least not yet. But I KNOW that every comic-book artist - every visual artist - has experienced this: you stare at the page you're working on for so long it becomes hard to tell if it's actually good the way you want it to be. The same holds true for a project of any length.

Many times during the course of even the best days I have to stop for a few minutes, do something else, come back to the drawing board and rediscover what I'm working on. That's when the positives and negatives stand out the most. If you've reached a certain level of ability though, I find you look at the page and think, "Oh, that actually looks just fine!"

I'm still wickedly enthused over HERO CORP., to a degree that is sometimes hard to explain. (Although I don't even have to explain, since everyone within earshot hears me prattle on non-stop about this book.) Still, I needed to fill my mind with something completely different in order to come back to the work with extra focus.

This was a good day for it in every respect. I actually did put in several hours on my page this morning and later again this evening, which is a nearly full-page rendering of our fair Pittsburgh. Remember when I mentioned before how I'm not a things artist, I'm a people artist? I wasn't kidding. But I get into drawing whatever it is the story calls for, so switching from drawing an urban cityscape to walking through wildlife was a smart move (thanks Kristin)! The weather was perfect for allowing the mind and body to wander.

(*NOTE: When this book is finally done, and you get your copy - and you ARE going to get a copy, right? -  know that page thirteen has one of my favorite inside-my-head jokes of the entire story. It's something that I've mentioned in passing to several people, and every now and again people get it and start laughing. Like Kris did. She's a smart one, I tell you!)

At one point Kris and I watched a pair of monkeys as one held tightly to the other, sitting at the top of their area and off to the side, aware of people looking but not acknowledging anyone. The male cradled the female's head, gave her a brief kiss then went to find food elsewhere, as she laid down to rest. After eating for a moment, he gathered some food and went back to eat while sitting next to her, watching over his zoo-mate with obvious affection.

It was very sweet as the animals gave us a real lesson in human behavior. I rarely find myself drawing animals, and H.C. isn't likely to feature any soon, but the next time I go to the zoo, I'm taking my sketchbook. Whether you're drawing gorillas, zebras, polar bears or super-heroes, I've found it's almost always a zoo out there.

Take it from someone who went to the San Diego Comic Con and lived to tell the tale.

More to come...!

Today's Music: Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble

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