Thursday, April 17, 2008

Back to Black (and shades of aqua)

It's been a crazy couple of days - some 22 hour days, staying up till 3, drowning in self-doubt and loathing and ultimately reaching a few breakthroughs. There are times in my artistic life when I plateau - I look at things in a different way, take a few chances, and usually learn to expect more from my art and myself. It doesn't happen too often, it's never easy, but I'm grateful for the experience. But like most times, it's conveniently located on one of the fault-lines in my personal life, as figuring out what the hell I'm doing with my life is suddenly becoming a little more urgent.

The catalyst was R. Kikuo Johnson's Night Fisher, which had returned to me after I had lent it out to a friend. Johson is a master draftsman, has an amazing sense of graphic storytelling, and is so proficient at brush inking that he finishes every element of his comic with a brush - even the lettering (just...think about that for a minute). He's an incredible talent. He's also three years my junior.

This prompted a fine "who the hell am I fooling?" echo in my head the whole time I was inking the first of a sample of three pages. Around 6:30 PM of the second day of inking, twelve hours after I had woke up, I looked at this image of Maya hanging from a ladder:

Maya's arms (and face) appeared to be constructed out of some form of instant croissant mix from Pillsbury. I left the house exhausted, thinking I'd get a beer or three at some shithole in Williamsburg. Walking there, I got some sort of cramp in my left hip, which, when combined with my bum left ankle and shoulder made me feel like my body was breaking apart. Instead I grabbed Night Fisher and opted for my local joint, and over a freshly brewed cup of coffee came up with a plan of attack for the next eight hours.

This isn't Leonardo or anything, but it's a vast improvement:

I nearly have the three pages finished, but still have to work out some of the coloring. I'm concerned I'm using the aqua a little too liberally but it really does make the pages "feel" better. This is the only page I have totally done (and of course, I might revisit pieces later):

I only figured out later that my left side problems are attributable to my drafting table's low angle, and as per Gary Martin's fine book on Comic Book Inking, I set a 60 degree angle and it already feels a lot easier on my back.

(an aside: Wouldn't it be great if art instruction manuals were full of practical advice like this? 90% of what you read goes like: Follow all the exercises in order! Draw everything you see! Don't listen to music while you draw! Be a disciplined hardass (presumably, like the author)!!! You read through like forty of these Spartan-isms to finally get to the part where he tells you to put a napkin under your hand to keep the oil from smudging the paper)

Lots of progress. Who knows? Maybe I can show these pages to someone at ComicCon this weekend.

Everyone who knows her think / pray for my sister today-it's her birthday!

1 comment:

mattmattmatt said...

after reading this post it's clear that i shouldn't send you job listings like that one i just sent (or should I?) --- you won't find this kind of creative maturity in any commercial pursuit :)