My first artwork of 2017 is this piece inspired by Kelly Bender’s graphic novel SNARL (see my recent post). I’ve been trying to improve my dramatic lighting and use of blacks, so his horror story was nice inspiration.
Modern technology is pretty awesome. The other day I was debating how realistic the completely fake, computer generated character in Star Wars Rogue One was; you know, the one based on the actor who has been dead for years! Crazy stuff. We won’t even need actors in a few years.
Similarly, I’ve been communicating via the internet with a comic creator from a little more than half the world away. Kelly Bender is a Canadian currently living in Singapore, which is 13 hours ahead of my time zone here in the eastern US. He’s a time traveler from the future!
Kelly Bender is not only a cool guy who’s teaching me about The Tragically Hip, but he’s one of the hardest working indie comics writers I’ve met. And he’s poised to break through to the mainstream soon, so everyone needs to jump on his bandwagon 🙂
I just checked out his SNARL graphic novel, and was suitably impressed. A horror/suspense movie boiled down to 40 pages, this is a great example of what original graphic novels should be. Original characters, adult themes and not a superhero in sight: the kind of story that a non comic reader might be able to get into. SNARL features a tight plot, natural dialogue, compelling characters, moody coloring and some nice Eduardo Risso-inspired artwork by artist Nathan Kelly.
Pick SNARL up digitally or in print from Insane Comics at insanecomics.com, and find Kelly and his creative team on the interwebs. They’re doing good work, and could us our support.
Well, it’s right on schedule.
I speak of the inevitable self doubt and second guessing that comes with all my creative endeavors. It’s only a matter of time before I start wondering what I’m doing, why I’m even trying. No one cares about my work; it’s pathetic compared to other creators. Who am I to think I have anything to say that would be worth hearing? These are the questions that always come.
From talking to other creative types I know I’m not alone in this. It seems the creative impulse often comes with a built in feelings of inadequacy. If only there were a way to separate the two. But I have a feeling that it’s an essential ingredient of the artistic temperament.
This is certainly a topic I can write about in depth at some point. But right now I’m going to veg out in front of the TV with my wife and pretend I’m not a loser.
Back to more fun topics next time!
Hey, some art! I figured I would post one of the sketches I’ve done for one of the characters in the story I’m working on. The two main characters are loosely based on my nephews, and this is the older one. Trying a more “animated” design for this story since it is an all ages tale. It’s been fun (and challenging) to work in this style. We’ll see how it goes.
Working this evening on my plot synopsis. The writing was going pretty well, with the words coming fairly easily and the plot moving along concisely. I was pleased to see that I had reached the halfway point of my word count close to what I think is the halfway point of the story. So far, so good.
Or so I thought. I realized shortly thereafter that the second half of my story is much more ambiguous than the first half. While I had been pondering and refining the opening of the story for some time I had left the remainder of the story very undefined. This is usually how I write because if I know every point of the story I get too bored to see it through. And that works fine when I’m creating a story for myself. But the people running this contest kind of want to see a definite plot.
So now I’m doing my least favorite part of writing: staring at the wall while trying to force my brain to make the story appear. Usually this is accompanied by a lot of daydreaming and marinating in my head for some time. And I’m sure it will happen that way this time also, but I’m actually on a deadline here, so I’m trying to speed the process along.
So…I wait. And think.
One of the ways in which I’m trying to put myself out there more in this new year is to enter a couple of comic book creator contests/talent searches. The one I’m currently working on requires me to submit an “artist statement” along with the plot synopsis and sample pages. And it’s turning out to be a lot harder than I thought it would be.
I know what an artist statement is for: introducing yourself, your views on your art, what you hope to convey through your work. And under the guidelines regarding submitting the artist statement it says “Tell us about yourself.” Coming up with things to write in my statement isn’t particularly difficult. What is difficult is sticking to the word limit: maximum of 200 words.
Do you have any idea how short 200 words is? Well let me tell you-it’s ridiculously short. Maybe ¼ of a page. A couple of short paragraphs. 12-15 sentences.
How in the world am I supposed to fit the things I want to say into that space? I can’t add any funny stories, like the time when my mom wrote in to Sesame Street to protest Ozzy Osbourne being a guest (and yes, that is actually related to me wanting to create comics). Or how about the intriguing facts, like that I currently live in a converted barn next to a haunted house? These are the kind of things that can turn a boring statement into a must read. No room, though. Not with that 200 word limit hanging over my head.
So, an exercise in brevity it will be. How concise can I be and tell something remotely worth reading? I guess we’ll find out. Hopefully I can figure it out, especially since I only have 600 words to write the synopsis for the proposed graphic novel! How to convey an interesting story and characters you’ll care about in that small of a space?!?! Good grief.
Anyway, here’s my first draft of my artist statement. I’m sure it will be revised. But it might be a nice intro for those people who have no idea who I am.
Oh, and this piece, pre-artist statement, clocks in at 370 words. Just FYI.
I don’ t remember when or how I started reading comics, but to me the combination of words and pictures always seemed the perfect way of telling stories. I became the proverbial kid who drew in class all the time and made comics for his friends. I knew exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up.
Life can be funny, though. Various factors led to me giving up my artistic dreams in my teens. I spent my twenties in Nashville as an aspiring musician in a heavy metal band, of all things. By my thirties I had a wife and a “real job.”
I had remained a lifelong reader of comics, and on a whim I attended a comic convention nearby. As I wandered the Artist Alley checking out all the local self publishers, I saw my new path. Maybe I wouldn’t be the next hot artist on the X-Men. I could, however, rediscover my younger self and hopefully create something that would bring others the kind of joy that comics have always brought me.
Learning to create comics has been difficult and humbling, but it has also made me feel young again…or younger, at least.
I’m not normally one to make New Year’s resolutions. But after the disappointment that was 2016, I thought I would try something new this year. So I made some goals for the coming year that I hope I can accomplish, the first of which is to be more active in the world (i.e. social media). Being an introvert, this is actually a major step for me. Hence this blog, among other things.
I’ll be posting some of the art I produce this year (another goal) along with whatever rambling thoughts I feel it necessary to subject the world to. Hopefully someone out there will enjoy reading it. If not, I will at least be left with a fun record of my 2017.