Monday, June 22, 2009


I don't now what it is exactly I'm supposed to go on about today on this blog. I thought about the new entry all yesterday while working on a narrative page. If I had finished the page then this entry would be all about that. Having artwork to share is a no brainer for a blog post. But alas, I am still working on the page, and I can't show any snippet of it yet.

I woke up late for work again this Monday. This is the third Monday in a row I have woken up terribly late for my job. I have also been actively trying to finish comic book pages for the past three weeks. This is not a coincidence. This is the fine line I ride, where the time each night where I stop drawing and go to bed is directly effected by how afraid of losing my job I have made myself by being late late late. The more fearless I am, the more art gets made, the more productive I am with my passions, the more in jeopardy my health insurance gets.

So today I have done the usual - I have listened to a good chunk of my freshly harvested podcasts while I complete small (and I mean SMALL) graphic requests that don't eat up any time at all. I drove to work listening to my usual Adam Carolla podcast, then breezed through my BBC Global News podcasts, then spent a good portion of my time around lunch listening to an exceptionally long Smodcast (Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier's podcast, to those not in the know), recorded for the first time in front of an audience in Brantford, Ontario. Fun stuff.

As I moved on to my new "The Sound of Young America" podcast, I was interested to hear an excerpt of a lecture by the writer Merlin Mann called "Doing Creative Work: With All Due Respect to the Seduction Community."

It really spoke to me immediately because what he mostly addressed was the issue of how difficult it is at times for people to start doing ANYTHING, and how these difficulties make or break one's creative accomplishments.

I'm a bit of a perfectionist. I'm meticulous. I get anxiety when i don't produce, yet sometimes I can become so terrified of sucking that I don't do anything. So this lecture really spoke directly to these hang-ups I constantly am at war with. Interesting stuff.

Here is the gist of Mr. Mann's lecture:

It's hard to start.
What does it take to go from zero to something at some point?
Before you get awesome at something you've got to do something.
You want to make cool stuff but you're terrified at how bad you are at it.
What you need to do is get really ok with the fact that you will suck for a very long time.
Self-assessments are nothing more than mental barriers you set up for yourself to stop you from starting.
Don't worry about it.
Just get really good at starting creative work, knowing you suck and being fine with it, and being fine with seeing people seeing you suck.
First thing- You have to start. Get started on something.
You're not stupid.

Good stuff.


A new snippet of art will be up within the next 48 hours as I finish my new page.


Monday, June 15, 2009

Dry Spells

It's coming up on one year now since a comic book project was (seriously) thrown in my lap, and this past year has been quite a doozy. I've betrayed my goals over and over again; being out of practice and not wanting to draw, then being really slow at producing, then blaming my job for all my problems with organization and time management, etc., when really what I needed to be doing was working around my job and making every spare minute count.

But as I completed each page of art I became happier with what I was doing in general. Each finished page was accompanied by an incredible high which would then slowly level out and then dip down into negative feelings as I held my progress and conduct under extreme scrutiny. Yeah, I liked what I had just drawn, but now I needed to work on another page! And I'm so slow, and oh, the mistakes I've made. I should eat healthier. And how about some exercise? Oh no, I'm in the muck again! I have to start over.

It's been nearly impossible to get my head screwed on right. This behavior pattern has gotten under my skin over and over again. The consequences have been long, unacceptable breaks between pages, and I've teemed to the brim with a LOT of anxiety.

Then, in the middle of this, of all the things that could happen, I got cancer, which was just... weird.

I know it has effected me. Definitely. But to what extent I'm not sure. I feel like me. But I have such a bad memory and can be so short-sighted that I'm not sure I'm behaving the same way. I've gotten angrier. I know that. I lose my shit while driving home from work almost every other day. I've never done that before.

Cancer can be a great excuse. It continues to excuse me from a lot of obligations, whether I want it to or not. If people think you have/had cancer then they won't give you crap about being a few minutes (to an hour) late to work. "Yeah, I'm late to work. I'm fighting cancer." "Oh! I'm terribly sorry. Let me excuse myself in a very awkward, Monty-Python-esque sort of way. Carry on..."

I had intended to use cancer as my motivation to not waste my life and accomplish some goals already! Instead I totally succumbed to its machinations; tired and angry all the time.Countless times I have thanked my lucky stars that I haven't needed any further treatment besides Observation, that the surgery did the trick. The cancer had not spread to my lymph nodes and I only had to lose one testicle. I know how lucky I was. At one point though, before a treatment had been decided, I thought about how a perk of needing chemo would be the way it would waste me away, losing some of my unwanted weight- I could be all bones! Gallows humor. Sure. You prepare yourself for the worst and try to look at it from the bright side. But I also interpreted these thoughts as the perfect example of the pathetic lethargy and utter contempt I had for myself and the hand I had been dealt, folding over and over again when I kept getting pocket Aces.

I am pretty sure that the only good thing that can come out of having cancer is coming to peace with your lot in life, accepting your mortality, and allowing yourself to open your eyes and accept the world as it comes; making changes to your life accordingly. I'm a survivor, and I was extremely lucky. Now can I let myself go kick some ass, please? How many times must I hit bottom? I think Fight Club fucked me up.

As I come out the other side and start regaining some semblance of normality I have realized that I haven't taken advantage of my time. I've been a terrible influence on my own dreams and aspirations. Year one of me "working" in comics is ending. I want something to show for it and I know I haven't accomplished much- at least, nothing tangible. So I can not concern myself with tangibility right now. There is nothing there to touch. As a whole, I will have to settle for a lesson learned.

Starting here and now I will not waste another year, and especially this year. This year is going to be goddamn EPIC. I will hold an inked, colored, lettered, printed comic book BY me, IN my hands by this time next year. Cancer-free, in shape.

The image above is the first panel of Page 17, Issue #1. I look forward to seeing what it means in context to all the other panels before and after it.


P.S. I did quit smoking this year. That's a small triumph.


Monday, June 8, 2009

Patriotic Pastiche

I dare you to try and create an original superhero costume with an American flag theme. It's flippin'-near impossible.

Before I drew this costume, I frustratingly drew over 40 other renditions of an American flag costume. More often than not, my designs would echo a design already put to paper; from Captain America to the Fighting American, from SuperPatriot (pre- and post-disfigurement) to StarGirl, and not to mention all three heroes called 'Patriot' (2 from Marvel, 1 from JMS's 'Rising Stars') - I could not tap into an original idea. I also wanted my design to be subtle and covert, which is ridiculous because American Flag-themed costumes are flamboyant by nature. It's a FLAG!

The process of shifting gears was slow. I had to push through all the crap I didn't want before I could identify what it was I did want. I found myself gravitating towards non-patriotic costume ideas. Then I started researching real-life flag fashions.

For this design, I took my visual cues from Wildstorm's "Midnighter," Tom Grummett's Superboy (circa the Death and Return of Superman), and then I re-appropriated the liner from Bono's Super Bowl XXXVII half-time show jacket.

I chose to use the color scheme of Shepard Fairey's Obama portrait instead of the red, white and blue of the American flag itself simply because they are skewed primary colors, and are fairly muted. Due to the popularity of Mr. Fairey's piece, these colors seem to be more commonly associated with the United States flag palette, which was perfect for what I was going for with my America-themed hero.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with the whole package, but MAN. This design a pain in the ass.