So looking back now I can see things foggy. NOT clearly. I did NOT read comics and collect them as a child. Unlike most of my contemporaries. I did buy the Occasional Comic from a Gas Station, or Book Store( when they had them, *Thanks Book Nook of Charleston SC!! for having what a 12 year old needed!) Notably The Pocket sized Paperback of Empire Strikes Back from Marvel ( written by Archie Goodwin, who would almost 15 years later become my Editor on STARMAN for DC Comics) and CONAN from Marvel, Illustrated by the AMAZING John Buscema, and Ernie Chan! But i didn't know ANY of that then. I just thought they were cool. No, Indeed I would not really "Discover" Comics until I was 19 years old, and outta School. but , at least I did. I fell into it after moving to Athens GA, post High School( which is where my then Girlfriend, and High School best friend moved to attend UGA). WOW! I think we veered into a History lesson here. But I think you might understand me better as an Individual, among many, i.e. my contemporaries in the field of Comics, if you know a bit about how I arrived here, in Comics. And as I type these words, I realize it is both unlikely, and meant to be, in equal portions that I would make my Artistic home in this Medium. I think maybe that is the benefit of writing about these things , that it makes you recall things. To remember.
I am gonna back up a tiny bit. I did have a small amount ( and by NO means Insignificant) of post-High-School, Art Education. It came to me, in Macon GA in the form of a Local Portrait Artist, and Teacher , named Houser Smith. Amazing man. I met him through the local Artistic, Social circles and was keen to take his figure drawing classes. Didn't have any cash though. So my friends made the Introductions, I showed him my portfolio, and he made me a proposal. He offered me Figure Drawing Classes, bought and paid for in exchange for weeding his Beloved Rose Garden just outside his Studio window. OH! how Houser LOVED his Roses. I, of course, accepted! Best decision of my Artistic life. The most important piece of advice I carry with me( among a million others) and pass onto others from Houser is this:
" The human Body is the most complicated Machine ever created. If you can master Drawing it, you will draw a better tree, a better car, a better dog, and a more precise world view, through educated eyes." It doesn't get any better, or right, than that. But I digress.
So After discovering Comics, and by proxy, Commercial/Advertising Art, I discovered something else. I guess I became wide awake in a way.
I was aware that ART is everything, and everywhere. Sad part is, most people don't know that, or care. From the design of your bedside Fan, to your car, to the Store Signs you pass as you drive down the road, to Product labels, to Company logos, to Medical Instruments, to Machines that make food safe, to paintings, to sculptures, to Movies, to Poems, to Music, to shoes to Cereal, to the internet, to your web page, to your cell Phone, to your car, to your toothbrush, to your Fine China, to your Television, to your Calculator, to you Toilet Bowl, to your House, to your Suit, to your Dress, to your kids Big-wheel, to your landscaping, to your sexual aids, to the Rug the President walks over as he sits down at his desk in the Oval Office, to your paint, to your paint brushes, to your drafting table, to your dogs haircut, to your haircut, to street signs, to storefronts, to diapers and to Dragon Tattoos. It takes an Artist, a designer, ART to make all those things come to life. A vision, an initial thought translated into pictures so that someone else can build it, paint it, print it, drive it, or fly it.
It's hard being a Comic Book Artist. Harder than you think. Yeh, OK, theres the obvious work load. 22 pages a month if you draw a monthly, and if you are doing a mini-series. The Industry Standard is a page a day of pencils, an Inkers are expected, along with Colorists to work far faster than than. Shit travels downhill and those guys have to take giant bites of wandering shit sandwiches on a daily basis.
You know what else is hard about being a Comic Book Artist? What takes you 15 minutes to read takes me 30 days to create. The Artist ( in a perfect world) has to be able to draw EVERYTHING. Did u catch that? Not just be good at drawing cars, or Zombies, or Dildos, but EVERYTHINGA! All of it. The whole damned, God-Forsaken-existence-on-this-good-green-Earth. Cars, Dildos, Coffee makers, pencils, tacks, pop-tarts, TV's, animals, Balls, China, kids, old people, women, men, tables, chairs, toasters, water, hair, babies, cats, spoons, lamps, carpet, hardwood floors, bricks, cups, chicken( the meat, not the bird), Chickens( the birds), Tigers, Lions, AND Bears. Etc............ So you have to be a Renaissance Man. You gotta do it all. And quite frankly( or Frank Quitely, if that's your thing) if you can, you'll be more successful and get more work. A one stop shop, if you will. I think maybe I am a Masochist, cause I love it all. All of it. As fucked up as it is, comics are me, comics are mine, I know it inside out, I feel like I am a part. I OWN this. Ya know?
Next time maybe I'll talk about all my fuckups over the years. Maybe....
Macon GA, Aug, 2011