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johncomic: (SK BW)
 posting a drawing online and getting Likes from artists who are way better than me
johncomic: (Uncle Old Guy)
receiving good solid advice, which even at my advanced age and development I can still use

johncomic: (roundhead cartoon self-portrait)
Chris Samnee -- one of very few artists keeping the spirit of Alex Toth alive in today's mainstream comics

Chris Samnee
johncomic: (SK BW)
the feeling, while pulling together various sparks from various old sources of inspiration newly revisited, that I am on the verge of a fresh new creative breakthrough

(there might not actually be any such breakthrough, but I still enjoy this feeling of being on the verge!)

johncomic: (Default)
 doing [sufficiently] satisfactory work
johncomic: (SK BW)
"I try to draw so convincingly that the reader won't notice."
-- Hank Ketcham, The Merchant of Dennis

I read this statement in Ketcham's autobiography years ago, and it stuck with me hard ever since. Over time, it shaped the way I view the comics medium and my own work within it.

My paraphrase of how he described the process is this: if something is drawn badly, so that it doesn't look right, it pulls the reader's attention away from the story and interrupts the flow. The story world ceases to be a convincing, immersive experience. However, as I thought about this, I took it further... and came to believe that if things in a comic are drawn too well, they have the same effect. The reader stops to admire the expertise of the rendering, and focuses their attention on the drawing as a drawing. Once again, they are pulled out of the story world at that point.

As I became devoted to the idea of telling the story as the prime goal of a comic, I grew toward the idea of drawing down the middle -- drawing well enough. That became my ideal. And I gained a deeper appreciation for artists who seemed to me to embody that ideal. The ones who draw well but don't overdraw. These are the artists I study today and strive to learn from. (For me, Tonči Zonjić is the prime exponent of this approach still working today -- I admire his work so much.)

Recently, though, I have grown aware of a strange dynamic involved in my studies. I find such comic art difficult to study fruitfully, because: by its very nature, this art is designed to propel you through the story rather than have you stop and pay attention to it -- so, when I try to study the techniques of this art, I keep getting sucked back into the story and re-reading the comic instead! It's really surprising how much intense focus it takes me to resist the lure of the story world! That's exactly the kind of power I want to harness in my own work... but I can see that it is going to be a struggle!

johncomic: (SK BW)
the gradual return of enjoyment in drawing

UK musings

Aug. 3rd, 2017 12:50 pm
johncomic: (SK BW)
here's a bit more about my experience of becoming non-attached from my life back home:

I packed sketchbooks, pencils, etc., for the trip, thinking about the wonderful opportunities for life drawing there would be in England. And of course there were lovely things to see -- and I took photos. But I never drew them.

Part of me was thinking, "Well, I'm with other people, they aren't gonna wanna stop and wait for me to sit and draw this scene" etc. But even when I was out on my own, I still never did it. I simply didn't feel like it.

I didn't miss drawing at all while I was away. At home, I can get kind of antsy if I lie fallow too long, but over there it simply wasn't a part of who I was, somehow. Unexpected.

As it turned out, I ended up drawing on only two occasions during those three weeks. Once was in York -- I don't like those drawings so I won't share them here, but I will talk a bit about them in a later post. The other was later in Greenwich, where almost out of a sense of obligation, I decided to make myself sit and sketch the view out the living room window. [There was an interesting lamp post.] While I was at it, I started wondering if I still remembered how to draw Space Kid after not doing so for this long. So, as you can see, I drew him, too -- and for an off the cuff sketch it's about as good an SK as I ever do. So that was some comfort, that I don't get that rusty that fast...

Still, it was a strange experience for me. For so many decades, my drawing has defined me in my own mind. A cartoonist is what I am. I have felt that since I was a kid. When I was threatened in the 90s with no longer being able to draw, I was at a complete loss. But now... there's this new awareness that my self is not actually the things I do. I exist apart from my drawing, and it is possible for me to have a life without it -- even a satisfying life. A few months ago I would never believe that I could say such a thing.

Even more strangely, after I got home, I still had no desire to get back to drawing. When I was back at the board, it felt more like a chore, and I was drawing out of a sense of obligation and duty [to my deadlines, I suppose]. I'm still coming to terms with this experience of drawing not feeling the same as it did before.

johncomic: (SK BW)
making some progress at getting out of my recent creative slump... it's a hard slog, gotta pat myself on the back when I can

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