Monday, June 26, 2006

FULL 12-INCH VERSION

It's the "Rapper's Delight" of blogging. Going on and onanonanon until the break of dawn.

Movies. Movie soundtracks. Music for the eternally depressed-but-dancing... What els could I possibly have to blog?

Comics. Dman them. I'm actually almost through mine and Marcos' MoCCA hauls. It's strange, because I don't have half the books I should have. My haul was depressingly small, and each book I read reminds me of the twelve books I didn't get. There's good stuff there, even some great stuff, but there was more great stuff than I got. Marcos got some, and we usually don't get the same stuff because we live together — but that's coming to an end and now I have to start doublin up.

I really need to get out to the tables at SPX on Friday. It should be the slow day, and I'll have lots of time.

As for Earth Minds Are Weak, I stopped working on Kaiju Jugoruma when I couldn't stand some of the drawing. Something was just not clicking for me. Started fooling around with a couple of things, but I'm not picking them up until after I set up my new freakin' awesome studio. I was working on the other thing, but my art self-loathing took a hold of my neck and gave me a good shaking.

It seemed I had once again forgotten how to draw.

It actually happens a lot.

It's one of the reasons for the blog. I want to be able to make my thoughts about my art a little more concrete. Have a sort of written account, not of the things I need to remember, of the things I forget all too frequently.

When I started proofreading, I had a little sign up above my desk. It had the differences of "its" and "it's". It's not that I couldn't remember the difference between the two, but its purpose was to remind me that I sometimes forgot to notice if it had been used correctly. And that's a big part of this blog for me.

So, I noticed that I had forgotten how to draw. It's similar to the day I got some fat brushes and realised I had forgotten how to hold a brush. I know how to do it, but my muscle memory had left me. My hand actually HURT the next day. All because my hand had forgotten how to hold a brush and I only just remembered that I needed to stop for a second and remember that I have a tendancy to forget what should be second nature motor functions.

At MoCCA, I forgot how to sign my name. I've been out to dinner and forgotten how to use a fork. I sometimes stand in front of my office building with my house keys trying to remember how to open a door. I ran several races in highschool when I'd think about something other than running for half a second and suddenly my legs would forget how to run. It's amazing I've made it this far.

All of this is the long way around saying that I'd forgotten how to draw. Which I already said. See that, I'd forgotten how to be succinct (oh, I've never been good at that).

So, I'd drawn a bit for this other EMAW project and thought I'd take a stab at pushing it a little further. But what I had wasn't right. It wasn't the worst thing I'd ever drawn, but it wasn't right. It was some perfectly servicable art that communicated the basic information well-enough. But it wasn't right.

It's not a case of not translating the image in my head to the paper accurately. I don't do that. What in my head is impressions, ambigous lines, shapes and colors that suggest an image. It's zoomed in and out and a bit fifth-dimensonal. It's panels and words. Or sounds and voices.

What it is a case of is finding the image. In much the same way that writing can be about finding the words. In fact, the piece I'm working on is all about finding. And loss. When the idea struck me, I had this all-too-clever sort of thing happening where a character mistook everything around him for something else. And I kept trying to force it into this formulist narative that it kept fighting. Every time I forced the main character into a space, he kept trying to get something out. I wasn't letting the character say what he wanted to, because it kept fucking with my plot contrivances. I just wanted to laugh at the character, but he had something a bit sad to tell me. When his voice started getting stronger, I 'heard' his little story and knew I'd found the piece, despite my best efforts.

Well, drawing can sometimes be that way too. I'd thumbnailed the piece out, and the thumbs served their purpose. But when I drew the first panel, everything was wrong. So I redrew it. And everything was okay, but it had no life. The guy on the page wasn't the guy who told me his story.

But I didn't know WHY he wasn't the right guy. All the physical features were there. The proportions were accurate. The set-pieces were all in order. It was a bit stiff, but my drawing had been a bit stiffer lately. I figured I was just going through a phase.

What I needed was a sign above my desk that reads, "REMEMBER, YOU SOMETIMES FORGET HOW TO DRAW." If I had that, I may have skipped a few steps.

I looked at the stiff pencil image and decided to go over it in felt-tip pen. Find the lines I wanted to emphasize. I thought about breaking out the brush and just attacking the image, but then I remembered that my problem with the KJ pages was that the inking was fine but the underdrawing was crap.

Okay. I flare pen out the lines that seem right, but the whole thing looks worse. The lines I worked so hard at putting down on the page so that I could pick out the correct ones all turned out to be wrong. There wasn't a good one in the bunch.

I started getting frustrated and angry. I tried tracing out the image, I tried redrawing it looser. I found, amongst all my 8H and 9H pencils, a 6B pencil.

Good-fucking-Zanzibar. When in doubt, break out the soft lead. I tackled the image like a fat man on cake (if you've never tackled a fat man on cake, then what do you know???). I just broke that fucker down to component parts. Spotting blacks and defining forms.

Then I freehanded the damn thing. I needed to figure out where the image really was. When you hit it with the ruler, you sometimes find the image moves to a different locale. It can shift the composition. Kick the perspective in a different direction. Sometimes it's good, because it can open the space up. If it all looks too tight, hit the parallels with a ruler and you can sometimes find the missing space.

But when it gets too stiff or the shape of the thing gets lost, it might be time to whip out the softness, hold it like a piece of vine charcoal and find the damn thing again.

So I hit the freehand and it started to resemble something I could life with. The composition got tighter. The elements felt lived in. It looked like this was someone who lived somewhere and was saying something and was drawn by someone who wasn't completely incompetent.

Then I hedged my bets and did it up again. There he was. There was the guy what told me the story. There was his face, his hands, his hair. There was the photo on the end table. The food wrapped in foil. The thinning skin on his arms. There it fucking was.

Suddenly, I felt like I remembered how to draw again.

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