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i’m friends with a bunch of different people who draw comics.  some are more serious and accomplished than others, but we all pretty much see eye-to-eye and can rap together while working.  it started with me and ryan alexander-tanner getting together, then with me and seamus heffernan on a different day, but over the years i’ve drawn with a bunch of cool, talented-ass people.  mostly on thursdays.  it started out kinda weird for me when it was a mixed gang.  i’m fiercely competitive and i never used to like it when dudes were clearly more gifted than me at drawing, and there were plenty of those dudes.

i mostly don’t have that anxiety anymore.  most of the people that stuck around our rotating drawing crew (and around our contacts and comics friends) are all still so serious–being in it for the long haul, as i am–that i see them all first as peers and as able critics that i trust to keep me in line.  and since i’ve stayed at the drawing table for many hours every single day for six years and a half years now, my own art has progressed enough that i’m confident in my own work.  i trust myself to get where i’m headed with each page, and i know that even if it hurts like hell along the way, i can bring any given page to a point where it’s doing its job.  and on a good day i can do a lot more.

what’s always amazed me about sharing the drawing table is how different people’s processes are, though.  people tackle storytelling in all kinds of different ways.  i think i’ve found that there are two kinds of artists:  artists who see it first and then draw it–and artists who draw it first and then see it.  i’m with the second crew.  i’ll lay shit down with a crusty, barely-worked-out idea of what’s happening on my pages.  i’ll even start inking totally unresolved passages, whether the story on the page is figured out or not.  for me, this is the only way to feel as if i’m in motion, and i feel totally blocked up mentally unless i am IN THE PROCESS of committing to my drawings with ink.  and only when i’m doing that do unresolved things start to clear up for me.  in other words, i mostly have to make the wrong line, even repeatedly, so that i can see the right one.  i just can’t always see the right line first.  i’ve had a few disasters across the years with this method, but all in all, it’s taught more about how to avert those disasters without giving up–even when awful, awful errors are present.

i remember an old interview i read with evan dorkin where dude said he thought that all comics-makers were either more of an artist than a writer–or more of a writer than an artist.  i think this distinction is at the heart of this divide.  i’m more of a writer, and i think my process reflects a writer’s need to generate the elements with which he’s gonna work and THEN arrange them.

but of the dudes i’ve drawn with, the ones whose drawings have pumped me up most are dudes i’d classify as being in the other camp.  they see things first and then lay them down.  it’s dudes like seamus (  drawing fucking flows from that guy.  it’s beautiful to watch.  it’s the artist’s need to create with his hands the elements arranged in his head.  it’s not like he or others in this camp lay it down perfectly every time as if beamed right from their head.  but on all the parts of a drawing where i’d pause and redraw or fuck it up and redraw–or just flat-out not be able to visualize something–seamus cruises through an easy pencil drawing and is wetting his pen while i’m pulling my hair out.  fuckin’ kills me.  and then when you see what he’s drawn it just looks RIGHT.  some dudes have this.

i’m not saying i’m a lousy artist or that seamus can’t put a story together with the same panache.  what i’m saying is that since comics is the work of both writing and drawing–and since we comics-makers are born to be more artist or more writer–comics will make evident in a comics-maker’s process which camp he belongs to and what it means to his work.  that’s totally fascinating to me.


One Comment

  1. For the record, I’ve always been jealous of alex’s storytelling ability- the way bro composes a page like a master painter and a Cohen brother at the same time. And beyond that, dedication to the cause which has led him four fold beyond what he was as a visual artist even two years ago. I love the props, bro, but YOU ARE THE REAL FUCKING DEAL.

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