Saturday, August 28, 2010

Sabbatical, Day Fourteen (It CAN be Done)

I find myself thinking some pretty loopy thoughts at the drawing board, day after day.

As previously mentioned, there are moments when I'll swing from total self-confidence while rendering something to complete and total dissatisfaction with that self-same thing within milliseconds. There's not a lot of warning, although this reaction is more extreme when I'm not as overall happy with a page or panel of art. However, the method used to produce these pages, from inception to pencils, has kept such see-sawing neurosis to a minimum.

Still, I find myself entertaining a series of curious thoughts: Is my work commercial? Does it stack up against other, far more well-known work already out there? Do established talents have this same worry, even after decades-long careers? If so, what are my chances of getting established? Do I have the sensibility/talent of a modern comic-book creator? Is there even such a thing? Does it matter? Do I have the long-term stamina or focus to succeed?

I dunno.

Every now and again I'll read something that allays these fears. In this case, I thumbed through a trade paperback of THE SUPERMAN/MADMAN HULLABALOO last night, and was first taken aback by the fact this book came out well over ten years ago. Then I read one of the introductions, written by artist/writer Jon Bogdanove, formerly one of the creators on the SUPERMAN books.

Bogdanove mentioned how he'd visited his editor who wanted him to write the introduction for the collection, but the artist was completely unfamiliar with the work being collected. Then he went on to describe his work life as being essentially all-consuming save for a "few precious moments" spent with his family. His largest exposure to other comics beyond what he directly worked on was the weekly bundle of books his publisher comped him.

This was all probably a slight exaggeration, but these past two weeks shows me that there was likely a LOT of truth to what he said. It was reassuring to learn that Bogdanove was so blissfully unaware of something that was actually very popular at the time. Bogdanove was one of the main artists on the SUPERMAN property - about as high-profile a gig as a mainstream graphic-prose artist can get - and didn't know about HULLABALOO which also featured Superman until the editor gave him copies...which he ended up loving.

It should be noted that Mike Allred, writer and artist behind the mini-series-cum-trade-paperback, has a very distinct pop-culture infused po-mo style that somehow found its way into the mainstream. His stuff is damn quirky, yet his take on Superman was pitch-perfect, which Bogdanove and I also agreed upon. So this guy essentially was able to make his own personal style accessible to a mainstream audience.

It can be done. Remembering this, I take deeps breaths and make that my mantra long enough to get the pencil moving again.

I finished page fourteen this evening. I'm liking how the characters are starting to overlap from scene to scene. Hopefully it will establish that this is a WORLD of people who all interact. And I also want it to reflect the small-town nature of Pittsburgh. This is a city where you're really only one or two people removed from knowing anyone else. Live here long enough, you'll know someone in every neighborhood. You might even end up living in every neighborhood.

And that's what I want people to pick-up on in HERO CORP.. It's that same kind of cross-pollinated community. It's Pittsburgh.

I saw the funniest 'Burgh themed shirt today. It read: "PITTSBURGH - City of Champions...and the Pirates"

I took a break and went to New Amsterdam tavern with Wayne this afternoon, and participated in the official International Read Comics in Public Day. (I say "official" because I'm hosting one locally next weekend, which got mentioned on the I.R.C.i.P.D. website! More people will be able to attend it that day, because of the Baltimore Comic Con this weekend.) My comic of choice: MACEDONIA, illustrated by local son (and one of my former students), Ed Piskor.

Ed is really talented, in his own quirky, non-mainstream way, and he always has been. It's nice to see he never surrendered his style and perspective and has still been able to make a career in this crazy field. He doesn't draw people in capes and spandex; he draws people, and revels in the fine details of life. Cracks in sidewalks, bricks in buildings, potholders and clouds...Ed pays attention. It makes me at once proud and it inspires me.

Off to bed. Another day of deep breaths and holding the pencil tomorrow.

More to come...!

Yesterday's & Today's Music: Jackie Wilson, James Brown, The Jackson 5, The Forbidden 5, Chuck Berry, Bill Deasy

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