A Mouthful of Grateful
If October was the month that did not want to end (and was stressful well beyond its expiration date) then I’m already missing this November and it isn’t even over yet. My life has taken a turn for the wonderful, proof of which being my lack of posting here in lieu of the “wonderful”. And with Thanksgiving only two days away, the fact that life has been coming up nothing but aces has made my list of things to be grateful for swell pretty large.
This week I’m the cover for Chicago’s New City magazine.
Print assignments come up few and far between so any opportunity to see my name in print is exciting. When I was drawing this (and eventually inking and coloring it waaayy past my bedtime) I couldn’t help to think about how, in a strange unexpected way, I’m probably better off that print media is on its last legs. I love illustration and I’ve developed an odd reverence for the days of print media’s gilded past; a time when a T.V. Guide was not only a thing but a thing with a full painted cover illustration that could be found on nearly every coffee table in America. I know illustration is a “job”, the fulfilling of a client’s need for a visual which doesn’t always allow for experimentation or incredibly personal work but if I was getting my start in this ‘biz ten years ago (and not now) I’d probably have a fairly successful illustration career awaiting me and my pencil. But because of our culture’s paradigm shift, I’m having to reevaluate my place in the world of the arts. Comics started out as my surrogate mother, a place holder until illustration jobs magically appeared in my inbox but now I couldn’t imagine my life without seriously drawing funny books. Comics are satisfying in a way illustration isn’t for me anymore. And if the universe had allowed me to just slide on into the world of Saturday Evening Post covers and Op-Ed illustrations, comics would probably never have happened for me in the same way they have for me now. And honestly, does the world need another illustrator to draw multi denominational children for the corners of grade school worksheets or drawings of frustrated cubicle workers and their unresponsive computer monitors or something about tax cuts using a lion tamer or something with DNA strands turning into intertwined snakes next to a picture of Adam and Eve thrown in there for good measure relating it back to genetics or something. Drawing that New City cover is as fun as I’d hoped and getting this opportunity does feel nice but a job is a job, you know?
Next up is the poster for my next Comics class.
Last month, if you recall, I taught my first class on one of my favorite comics Paul Goes Fishing by Michel Rabagliati. And I’m sure you’re wondering why I’m back tracking, teaching from essentially a “How-To” guide after devoting my first class to an actual graphic novel. Sometimes when you assume that your students understand basic comic-ing because they signed up for a class on comic books IN a comic shop allowing you the mental leap that they’ve read comics / know who TinTin is / draw, well, you can sometimes be thrown off by all three of those factors that you took as “givens” as foreign concepts to your students. We’ll see if this month’s lesson is more coherent now that I know what I’m getting myself into. And hopefully this time a drunk man won’t come in off the street and ask us if we’re artists and how he plays guitar and I won’t, in my nervous tie-wearing moment, launch into a small anecdote on how my little brother is a really talented guitarist. I should have kicked him out of my classroom.
OH, and I don’t want to beat up Scott McCloud. Its just I’m a teacher now and we both wear glasses and own cardigans and there isn’t room for the two of us in the world of comics. Nothing personal.
Lastly, comics I’m working on.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been working on a new short story for my upcoming 2011 comic convention circuit (which sounds so much more official then it actually is). Maybe because living in a major city with all of it hustle and bustle has finally started to rub off on me but I feel that my artwork has definitely hit a rococo streak. I joke about it with my roommates, but I feel like the backgrounds in this comic are as if the Emerald City was built out of nothing but Jello molds.