Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sabbatical, Day Seventeen (Stretches of the Imagination)

I'm no speed demon at the drawing board by any stretch of the imagination. I'm very methodical and exacting, at times to a degree that even I find maddening, so my own personal challenge is always to simplify, simplify, simplify! But I don't just sweat the details, I LOVE the details. It's often the details that pull you into worlds that exist only in two dimensions on paper.

So there's my daily schizophrenic battle: to produce artwork that satisfies my own inscrutable desire for simplicity and detail. I finished page fifteen yesterday, but it took longer than I wanted. It typically does.

I'm no speed demon, so on a very real level I identify with artists like Brian Bolland, George Perez, and even Geoff Darrow, who pack every square inch of their pages with detail. But I strive to bring clarity to my work, like the direct clean storytelling of Mike Parobeck, Bruce Timm, and going back farther, Jack "King" Kirby.

However, amongst the groups of artists I just listed, there are worlds of difference in style: Darrow puts so much...stuff in his compositions that it's hard imagining him keeping anything close to a production schedule. There's just layer and layer of minutiae, to the degree of possible mania. Perez works in a more classic bigger-than-life super-hero style, which suits his subjects. But I always think of his advice when drawing shattering glass, to draw "ten times the glass there would be in real life." He's right...but that's how you get carpel tunnel syndrome. (Which I believe he had at one point.)

Then there's Bolland. I mentioned him before, and I do so again because his work is just so damn smart. He's a very British artist in terms of sensibility (and you'd just have to read his narratives to understand what that means), but his instinct for inclusion and discarding visual information on a comic-book page is sublime. If he ever makes a mis-step, I've yet to catch it. His linework and cross hatching is extremely fine, to the point of classical art, and yet precise. Not a single line gets wasted. He has layers in his panels as well, but there are numerous examples of him using negative space to acheive desired effects. The man knows his stuff.

I got off on this tangent because I worry about my production schedule. I'm a little behind where I want to be, but by appearances I'm doing okay. I've been away from my job for just over two weeks and have fifteen pages of issue one, and tons of character sketches to show for it...still. I'm a bit uneasy. Not much. Just a little.

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Last night I went to Dr. Sketchy's Anti-Art Club at the Gypsy Cafe, and did some live drawing. It was good that I went for several reasons, not the least of which is it always forces me to loosen up and draw quickly. Quick one, five and ten minute minute poses leave no time to let the hand rest. Sketchy is at least as much a night out to hang with friends and chill as anything else, but I appreciate the break it gives me from poring over my detailed-yet-simple artwork.

The camaraderie and support is also invaluable. Byron, Scott, Shawn, Dave, Rob, Nick and others were there, and they're all aware I'm off from work and toiling away in the studio. Their enthusiasm for what they've seen was neat, and maybe a tad amusing. Nick in particular seemed impressed with my speed...which is ironic considering how I always wish I could draw faster. How Kirby and his like pounded out what they did back in the day astonishes me. In their shoes, I'd have worked in the industry for, I dunno, an hour or two then gone home to cry.

A page a day. That's the goal. And I haven't even gone into my feelings on mystery and the artist. That will be my next blog topic.

More to come...!

PS: I kinda lied in my last blog...I did work on M.J.'s birthday, drawing character design sheets, taking reference photos (more on that little adventure to come!), and scanning completed artwork. Michael would have appreciated it -- when you love what you do, it's not entirely work.

Monday's Music: Pearl Jam, Phil Collins
Today's Music: ...To Be Determined!

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