Dizzy Atmosphere


by

Saturday, January 1, 2011


Hello and welcome, True Believers, to 2011. For my first post of the new year, I wanted to do something a little more personal, and well, positive. I thought about writing something on the comics I got for Christmas – but the only one I really liked was King City #12. And if I write about the end of that series I’ll just spoil it for those among us who haven’t been able to track down the back issues. Should I list the comics I got for Xmas that I didn’t care for? Nah. I’m gonna try and write only about things I like this year. I’m getting tired of reading “oh I hated it” reviews. So I figure I’ll just do one of my typically rambling posts about the only book I really did enjoy reading over the Xmas break. Please enjoy this riff.

The book is Dizzy Gillespie’s memoir To Be or Not To Bop. I’m a big jazz fan and this book really set the record straight that Dizzy was truly the founder of the modern style in jazz. It’s basically an oral history with lots of interviews with his contemporaries in the 1940s. Time and time again each interview reveals that it was Dizzy who taught the modern style to everyone else. There were plenty of guys playing the modern style – or trying to – but Dizzy would literally show his bandmates and friends how to phrase things on the trumpet, on the piano, on the bass, on the drums. Apparently he could play just about every instrument in the band and birthed this modern style that would eventually become known as bebop.

The thing that really struck me reading the book was the idea of collaboration and of learning from others on the spot. As a visual artist it’s hard not to be jealous of musicians. I wish I could play standards, write original songs, cut a record in a day, go on tour and play in front of an audience. The visual artist’s life is pretty lonely by comparison. Hole up in the studio, shut out the world, create something and maybe have a reception in a gallery or a bookstore.

I’ve been lucky enough to collaborate with some great artists and I feel like those projects have made me a more well rounded artist and a better person. But those projects are generally of the assembly line type and don’t involve the same give and take of a musical setting – of a band. Reading Dizzy’s book I couldn’t help comparing the way he dreamed of putting bands together with my own dreams of collaborating with artists/cartoonists whom I admire. I kept thinking, wow what if I could be in a band like that in order to learn modern cartooning? What if I could be in a “band” with some of my heroes like Ware, Clowes, Panter, Jones, etc? God, I would learn so much so fast. But every time I imagine putting a band or a dream team together – it still feels “off” because the process would be assembly line – not a unified “sound” – not all happening at once.

The closest thing I’ve experienced to having a live band in visual art was probably when Dash Shaw and I were making the demo teaser for his animated movie. He’d draw a storyboard and then I’d paint a background right in front of him and then we’d go back and forth on how it could work best. Then we did a stop motion sequence where I painted waves crashing on the shore “live” – one frame at a time – painting over the same painting some 50 odd times. He was giving direction, working the camera and moving the board I was painting on after every frame so that it would be like a tracking shot. We had one chance really to make it right and we nailed it. But again, most of the process of animation is more like an assembly line. He’d do a storyboard and I’d interpret it and then give it back to him for changes. Rarely was it all happening at once and “live” like music.

Working on Cold Heat with Ben Jones was almost like having a band but despite the back and forth way of composing it was a very assembly line like process. Ben wrote it and then handed it off to me; I drew it and handed it off to Aaron Cometbus for lettering; Jon Vermilyea or Ray Sohn would put all my color layers together on the computer; Tim Hodler would write a fiction piece; Dan Nadel would organize the printing and publicity. It was a group effort and it was awesome. But I would hesitate to call it a band in the way I’m fantasizing about having a band that could make comic books.

Still, I learned a ton from these collaborations. I learned how to read someone else’s “arrangement” and how to “phrase” things differently for that particular “song”. I learned how to play together and how to change my “tone” to match up with what my collaborator was going to do next – which if you think about it is like harmonizing.

It kills me that there are all these guys (and gals) who I’d love to collaborate with – but the nature of comics is so different than music or film or animation. I was trying to think of any comics that are collaborative but less like assembly line kinds of things and more immediate. And the only thing I could come up with are Crumb’s collaborations with with brother and then his later collaborations with his wife, Aline. There they are each drawing their separate parts, separate characters on the same page. But of course those are still traded off and done assembly line.

I know, I know, I’m comparing apples and oranges essentially and it’s just a pointless game trying to come up with a way that I could collaborate more effectively in my chosen medium. But still, it’s a fun game.

Miles Davis was interviewed in Dizzy’s book and he talks about how there are passages in music made by Dizzy and Charlie Parker where he couldn’t tell who was playing which note – “They played the same chords, the same chords. Dizzy and Bird played the same thing. They used to play lines together just like each other. You couldn’t tell the difference.” Again, this made me think of collaborating – especially with Ben on Cold Heat where I was taking his layouts and trying to draw just like him to the point where one couldn’t tell who drew what. Same with the animation project with Dash – I’m trying to draw figures and backgrounds so that it all seems like the same thing – seamless. I dream of collaborating on a comic where there are two pencillers where the reader couldn’t tell who drew what; of having two colorists so one couldn’t tell who colored what – like take all the separate processes and unify them somehow by harmonizing in order to create a fuller “sound”.

I know sometime, somewhere on this blog there is a comments section about collaboration versus “autuerism” or whatever – the idea of the solo artist versus the assembly line team – and that’s not necessarily what I am trying to argue here. I’m saying I want both, I like both but that I wish there was another choice. A third stream.

Alright, I’m outta steam. Happy New Year everybody.

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52 Responses to “Dizzy Atmosphere”
  1. The idea of a comics band reminds me of a panel from one of Eddie Campbell’s ALEC books, showing the studio he was running out of the front room of his house, with his art assistants and his wife. From what I remember, it looked lively and collaborative, and I know that when Campbell was blogging he’d often put up covers or pages that his assistant had done, casually indistinguishable from Campbell’s own work.

    I know that some inkers on early Marvel books used to work together, passing pages back and forth and putting their lines down next to one another’s seamlessly. One of the reasons it’s been so hard to figure out who inked Fantastic Four #1 is that two of the leading candidates shared a studio and often worked on each other’s stuff. You could compare FF #1 to other jobs each of them inked, but there was no way to know which one of them had done what on those other jobs. (Evanier wrote about that issue here – http://www.povonline.com/jackfaq/JackFaq2.htm – but notes that he thinks he has the inker figured as George Klein now. I forget if or where he published his explanation of why he’s sure it’s Klein.)

    Seems like the fine art tradition of having apprentice and assistant artists working on huge projects under the direction of a master would bring you pretty close to the band concept, and comics can and certainly have been made in this way. I’m not sure how closely collaborative the Eisner-Iger studio ever was — from what I know that was more assembly line style, though I’d plead ignorance in a serious discussion of the studio — but I could see a similar setup working well. Unless you got the mix of people just right you’d need one dominant voice in the group (like Dizzy). A head writer, maybe, or a Phil Spector style producer who doesn’t actually touch any of the art but waves a gun around and screams at the artists to motivate them.

    Great fun post, Frank, thanks.

    • I agree with the “fine art tradition of having apprentice and assistant artists working on huge projects under the direction of a master” idea – I was Francesco Clemente’s assistant for 5 years, and while I never actually painted on any of his paintings, I mixed the colors and was included in the process alot by discussing the possibilities as the work developed. That was like being in the control room while the band was recording. A huge learning curve.

  2. Uland says:

    This probably the last thing you’d be into, but I think more off-the-cuff collaborations could be done digitally, where two or more people are swapping or trading files, adding their layers, hiding others, masking certain parts ( this’d be in photoshop), reconfiguring certain areas, etc., etc. . You could end up with tons of different versions from a single starting point. Each participant could get all the files at the end and do their own master edit.
    You’d have to set up some aesthetic or stylistic ground rules going in *, I think, and I’m not sure how it’d get started. Maybe everyone could submit thumbnails based on an agreed upon concept. Participants could rewrite or expand and it could sprawl out.

    * It’d be fun if it was agreed that everyone had to do their best impression of a cartoonist everyone was familiar with and could ape to a reasonable degree.You’d get some interesting failures there, I bet.

  3. Uland says:

    — Just to expand upon the concept a bit, you could involve people who’re really great at lettering; they could send files consisting of dialog (from the thumbnail script, which they could add onto if they wanted to), logos, effects, etc. Each participant could use those file at will.
    Same thing if you knew people who just wanted to color…

  4. patrick ford says:

    Frank, What a great idea; writing about things you like.
    Really what every critic should do more of if not exclusively.
    Even back in the stone-age when I was reading TCJ I always skipped the reviews of the X-Men or “whatever.”
    While I agreed with TCJ’s stance (remember when they had an editorial stance) as far as what they’d like to see; I couldn’t embrace the idea Marvel or DC would, or even should change the type of material they were publishing. I had no interest in it, didn’t need to be convinced it was uninteresting, and had no problem with the people who liked it.
    It’s far more helpful to me to see people write about things they like, than what they don’t like.
    There are critics I suppose who if they dislike something I’d take THAT as a clue I might want to check it out.
    Just think if Dan’s next book “Art in the Toilet” were to feature a selection of stories Dan thought were crap. How interesting would that be?

  5. david says:

    Today’s super hero is the girl or fellow who is passionate about their interests and shares them with others without shame. That is courage and that is helpful to society.

    -Mister Rogers, 1978

    • I went to Mister Rogers’ show as a little kid with my mom. Later as a young adult he came into the store I was working in and asked for change for the parking meter. We chatted for a moment and I gotta say he was one of the warmest people I ever met in my life. Like he had an aura. Pittsburgh!

  6. Uland says:

    Yeah, I guess I see some value in writing about works you don’t like. It shouldn’t just be “this book sucks”, but exploring why and how things suck can help us learn about ourselves, culturally, personally, etc., etc. .
    But unless you’re prepared to do some serious criticism, I’d say writing about stuff you love is a good idea.

  7. patrick ford says:

    Certainly it would be illustrative, and helpful if people wrote mostly about things they like.
    It’s interesting to see what’s in a critics own personal canon. Is it more than a little flag on a stick with the word “BANG!” written on it?

  8. Leigh Walton says:

    Frank, this makes me think mostly of artists sharing studios – the Eisner/Iger shop, the Marvel Bullpen, the Upstart studio, Big Time Attic in Minneapolis, Periscope in Portland, etc. Or even CrossGen. It’s not exactly making music together in the “band” sense, but you are literally looking over each others’ shoulders and often jamming or collaborating — and most importantly just talking. Many cooks working in the same kitchen, whether or not they’re working on the same meal, rub off on each other in important ways. It’s miles away from an assembly line, especially a digital assembly line of collaborators who live scattered across the world. I get jealous just thinking about it.

  9. There are other models of collaboration to look at beyond the hierarchical model of artist-apprentice-workshop or the “production line” of the big corporate studios.

    For example, we can make a jam comic, where different people draw different parts of the image and contribute as equals.

    Another example I like a lot draws from some of the examples of Paolo Freire’s pedagogy and Augusto Boal’s theater. Instead of casting myself as the artist who knows everything and is a master craftsman, and I present a finished product to an audience, we as a group can discuss a story that addresses our needs and desires, we can break it down and figure out what needs to happen in that story, how to put what piece where. I may still be the one person actually doing the drawing, but together we can figure out what and how I should draw, turning my pen and hand into a tool for the whole group to use.

    Since I have had the privilege of going to art school, my hand may indeed have the technical skills, but it doesn’t mean I have to only use it for myself.

    This sort of thing may happen in a classroom, where the students gather around and tell one person what to draw, but it can also be used to create stories in communities of people where they think they don’t have the skills to tell their own story.

  10. david says:

    Awesome post, by the way Frank.

    I have hosted and participated in a few ‘live drawing/painting’ events in the past that really whetted my appetite for this kind of creative arrangement but nothing with the proper parameters to produce a really awesome document.

    I’m totally enjoying dump.fm at the moment, but I think the lessons I’ve learned there would also work great in a live setting involving drawing.

    Hmm, thanks for the thoughts! Happy New Year y’all!

  11. michael L says:

    I loved this post! I am familiar with the jealousy of band collaboration; I often find myself railing at my musician roommate about this very thing.

    @ David: could you expound on the lessons of dump.fm? I think I see what you’re getting at, and I’m intrigued.

    • david says:

      Sure Michael.
      Dump.fm is an image sharing site with a very user-friendly interface that allows for instantaneous real-time image pairing and sharing. Each contributer can throw in totally new images or text (much of which is ‘blingeed’) or recycle material that’s already been used, recently or in the past (the archives exist on users’ pages, there’s no general archive after like 100 posts or so).
      It generally fluctuates between a visual conversation around a few topics or individual posts that have a self-contained more monumental artfulness.
      A lot less juvenile then /b/ but definitely NSFW.

      The fact that it is constantly ongoing and at certain times of the day, the exchanges can be lightning-speed means that it really is like one ongoing organic piece sort of like a Terry Riley or LaMont Young composition.
      So perhaps not exactly like a hard bop jazz combo, but more like “In C” performed by an unfixed number of musicians who come and go as they please.

      I do not think this kind of exchange has to occur online only. I think a few trusting friends could do some great work in a studio using these kind of ideas. Or a few suspicious friends :D

  12. patrick ford says:

    There have been plenty of good collaborative efforts in comics, but very few of they type Frank is talking about.
    As Frank pointed out Crumb has been involved in several with his wife Aline where the artists are interweaving their work, rather than a more typical “collaboration” where you have a writer working with an artist.
    Frank’s talking about a combination throughout, rather than the more typical comix jams of the past where the structure is often passing the baton or call and response.
    Harvey Kurtzman contributed to a Spirit story done in the hand-off style, and all I got oput of it was a dissatisfied felling of, “wouldn’t it be great if Kurtzman had done the whole thing.”
    Putting aside realistic commercial considerations my feelings are the same about the many collaborative efforts Kurtzman was involved with where he wrote, and provided detailed layouts for another artist to finish. No matter how good the result, I’d trade all of them for a few more stories done completely by Kurtzman.
    Anyone recall the Raw Books “chain story” “Narrative Corpse”?
    That’s one of the few books they published I don’t own, because the whole idea left me cold. It does have an amazing line-up of 69 artists spread over 20 pages.

  13. I don’t know, maybe it’s me…

    I really don’t think that the specific kind of collaboration that one does with music can (or should) be done in comics. The artforms function in a completely different way. I mean physically.

    Two musicians can play at the same time, mixing, blending, harmonizing and building on one another’s sounds. It’s physically impossible for two cartoonists to draw on the same part of the same piece of paper at the same time. They could drawn near each other: get a big sheet of paper and work from both ends of the same panel or image. But they can’t simultaneously layer the work in the way that music functions.

    That’s not a failing of the medium or of creativity. That’s just physics.

    So dialing it back a bit, I really do not see what is lacking in comics collaborations such as the Stan-n-Jack Marvel Method or the EC Kurtzman method or the plain old fashion writer-hands-script-to-artist method. God only knows that these methods have yet to be exhausted for the beauty and magic that they can bring into the world. Especially with you left-of-mainstream cartoonists. Buddy up more. Frank’s got the right idea with his awesome Cold Heat work, but I stop short at thinking that there’s an innate limitation of the methodology.

    I strongly believe that overly elbow-rubby comics jams produce weaker work (although they are FUN) than collaborations that allow fuller, more independent contributions from members. Comics are solitary by nature, it requires some elbow room to anchor down and some space to really do the comic magic. Half of the comic magic is inside each given panel, the other half is the space between panels and the interaction of panels. Back and forth jams loose much of the cohesion that regular comics have because the interplay required for comics wizardry is something akin to “carrying a tune.”

    Of course, none of that matters if the intention of a jam comic is the collaboration itself and the resultant product isn’t important. If the important factor is the way it makes the participants feel and not the end product, then jam comics are just fine.

    Yikes. I just conflated Frank’s point with “jam comics.” I must have been spiraling off of something that people said in the comments.

    Long story short: please don’t sell the old fashioned job-based collaborations short. I think that they–along with fine art styled apprenticeship–are the best ways that cartoonists can work together, and teach each other.

    In comics, space=time. That goes for on the page as well as in the studio.

  14. Nate says:

    The Dupuy Berberian collaboration seems close to what Frank is talking about. My understanding is that they don’t jam, but co-compose the story and share art duties. The result is definitely singular (they’ve both produced rather different solo work), and to my eye quite good.

  15. Tom Hart says:

    Collaboration is a virtue and few people have tried it well in comics. Aside from the music analogies, there’s also improv theater (which tends to be comedic) and drama brought out from improvisation, my favorite examples being any movie or play by Mike Leigh. Leigh works with each individual actor to decide on some tendencies of character, and then puts various character/actors together to get things happening. The results are triumphant; I’ve never seen a Mike Leigh movie that was less than riveting.

    I’ve always longed for this type of collaboration in comics. The closest I got was working on Ali’s House with my pal Margo Dabaie. This was a mainstream daily comic and so we had to have lots of ideas. We had tons of folders and idea sheets and we’d swap them and keep them for a few days, adding to the other’s etc. Then we’d get together, throw more ideas around and doodle. I’d tend to script them all afterwards. This is similar I suppose to a good TV show’s writer’s room, etc.

    Improvisation needs rules (Or a key, or a tempo, or a rhythm, etc.) Narrative Corpse was wretched cause it was just a blank character that everyone got to run with for like 4 panels or something, resulting in the discursive chaos typical of most jam comics. The best jams at the very least have “Yes And…” as their guiding principle. Someone invents an idea, however simple. The next artist agrees and builds on it. Joe Matt, Chester Brown and Seth were great at this when Matt was goading the other two on to contribute to his jam sketchbook.

    Matt Madden’s explorations into highly constraint-driven jams are worth looking at. I participated in one recently and it was two hours of drawing joy. That link is here:
    http://mattmadden.blogspot.com/2010/12/tic-tac-toe-jam-new-jam-comic.html

    There’s an example of one of those Matt/Brown/Seth jams here, along with other stuff I wrote about this topic. It’s
    http://hutchowen.blogspot.com/search/label/improvisation

    Frank, your animation with Dash experience sounds great and I can’t wait to see that thing finished. It is being finished right?

  16. oliver east says:

    apologies for mentioning my own work, but I did a book about Germany called Berlin And That. there’s a lot of street art in Germany, grafitti, posters and such, but if i drew it all in my own hand it wouldn’t look like it was done by many different people, no matter how hard i tried.

    so i drew Germany as i normally would and then gave the pages to friends, some artist some not, to do the graffiti for me. with the non artists i tried to get them to do it there and then, with as little guidance from me as possible. i let the proper artists take their pages away as they were for the most part quite precious about it.

    i did this with 53 people (although it says 52 on the cover! my mistake!) and will be about as collabrative as i get i reckon. with the people scared of drawing i’d just ask them to do whatever they’d do if they found themselves on the toilet with a pen.

    it was in small part an over reaction to the solitary nature of creating comics. i enjoyed it immensly.

    again, sorry for crapping on about myself.

  17. Thanks for the comments everybody. I think comics fans and practioners can relate to the frustration of wanting to collaborate in a way that is more fluid. There are lots of ways of creating, sure, and yes, even a studio “bullpen” setting can lubricate creativity – but it’s never going to be a band. And I think that is what I am looking for in my creative life right now. Being a cartoonist is so different than even being a painter. Cartooning is so goddamn lonely that sometimes I just want to die.

    • Nate says:

      Let me preface this by stating that I believe being a cartoonist is lonely work. Far too many folks have said so for me to doubt it. But as a non-cartoonist I’d like to hear more from you cartoonists out there about why it’s so lonely, as compared to something like writing. I mean, while I often hear writers remark on the solitary nature of their vocation, it doesn’t seem to cause the same level of distress it so obviously causes cartoonists. Again, this is a genuine question and not a challenge.

      • Oliver East says:

        Off the top of my head, I know at least a couple of writers who often go away on retreats with other writers to work on separate projects. Work all day then eat and drink and maybe do readings at night. Don’t know about others but at a push I’ll do two pages in a day. Would make for a very short reading.

        Writing’s a ‘bigger’ world with more publishers and agents and such to offer rejection. You don’t have to be making comics long to have a rejection letter from all alt. comics publishers.

        For the record, as an only child, I love the solitary nature of it all.

      • I dunno if I could answer that for you in a satisfactory way. I often think how I can make a painting in five minutes and stare at it for five months. Then I’ll draw a comic for five months and someone will read it in five minutes. That’s depressing to me.

        Josh Cotter wrote a great post about comics and depression.

        • Jesse McManus says:

          isn’t the re-reading of comics kind of underrated in this context? the first time through a book is often the least exciting for me….living with a book and living with a painting are such different experiences, maybe it’s just the smaller physical scale of working that’s getting you down? the man wants broad strokes!

      • August Lipp says:

        In response to “nate” — I would agree that writing and cartooning are equally solitary pursuits. Maybe cartoonists are just a bunch of sissies(I think I am). On the other hand, maybe the difference for a cartoonist is that so much work time is spent on the somewhat mechanical execution of the drawings, which does not necessarily occupy the brain in the same way writing does. There are stages of the cartooning process that require full brain function in the same way writing does, but there’s also endless hours spent alone in a room without the same amount or level of engagement.

        Chris Ware on de topic (from the New York Times Article, “Not Funnies”):
        ”This is just an incredibly inefficient way to tell a story,” he said, and he explained that earlier in the week he had been working on a strip in which he had decided there could be no narration. ”It involved maybe 8 to 10 seconds of actual narrative time,” he said. ”But it took me three days to do it, of 12 hours a day. And I’m thinking any writer would go through this passage in eight minutes of work. And I think: Why am I doing this? Is the payoff to have the illusion of something actually happening before your eyes really worth it? I find it’s a constant struggle and a source of great pain for me, especially the last day when I’m inking the strip. I think, Why, why am I doing this? Whole years go by now that I can barely account for. I’m not even being facetious.”

        Sorry if this is an obnoxious post. I’ve never made one before.

    • patrick ford says:

      So, the tumbleweeds still don’t want to talk comics?

  18. patrick ford says:

    The T.K.Ryan or William S. Hart version?
    Think film storytelling technique has come a long way?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-Sn2ZgfVqM

  19. Ian Harker says:

    Frank have you ever done a Marvel Method comic? It sounds like Cold Heat may have been put together similarly. The first comic I ever self-published was this Kirby-ish silver age thing which ended up being equal parts awesome and suck. Me and my collaborator decided that the only way to hit the right notes was to do Marvel Method so we plotted/thumbnailed out each story together, then I drew it (he wasn’t an artist), then he did the dialog, then I tried to change all his dialog and we would fight for hours about adverbs. It was a blast though and I felt like it really taught me how to make a comic. My point is, it doesn’t have to really end up overly assembly line-ish if you tinker with the format a bit.

    I also did this crazy experiment with the 5th issue of my Doppelganger anthology where I created this draconian assembly line structure of collaboration that actually intended to remove creative freedom from the process. We used to get together and bang these things out in one day while drinking. It was a Golden Age themed book. Basically I had each artist do each of the assembly line jobs (writing, layout, penciling, inking, scripting) to a different story. In the end each one of us had done something to every story but nobody was in control of any of them. We ended up with a few good ones.

    • Have I ever done Marvel method? Whaddaya think? Like I’m new to this comics thing or something? Of course I’ve done Marvel Method. My first comic when I was 15 was done that way with Bill Boichel writing the words. I liked it, yes, but it’s still pretty assembly line in my humble opinion. Some of Cold Heat worked out that way too. It’s a fun, fresh change of pace but also can sound off key a little too often for my tastes.

      The examples you described sound fun, though.

      BUT, I want a comics band, man, not all this back and forth quasi assembly line methodology.

  20. Ian Harker says:

    I need this 15/yo Santoro/Boichel Marvel Method comic! Also, if you form this band let me play triangle or something.

  21. Ian Harker says:

    My comic was called SPELLBINDING SAGAS FROM BEYOND TIME, whuuuuut!?!?! Tom Sciolli probably has one, ha! Someone needs to do a collection of embarrassing first comics. Or maybe we should pass them around a “cover” them for each other. I’m still waiting for this phenomenon of ‘covered” comics to happened, sorta like the covered blog but for the whole comic.

  22. Cool post, Frank.

    The closest I’ve ever come to the feeling I get jamming musically with someone was an art activity I did several times with my students- we’d try to produce a short story with a pre-determined title and theme in a limited amount of time, with everyone collaborating on the story and thumbnail portion, and then essentially working in a modified assembly-line fashion from there. But there would be a lot of back and forth, grabbing pages from each other, arguing about who was up to the task for various drawing tasks. They were certainly a lot of fun to produce, and were miles away from the lonely, repetitive world of the lone comic artist (a world I am avoiding right now by writing this post….) Anyway, there’s some discussion of the process in the comments section of this post- http://www.tcj.com/hoodedutilitarian/2010/08/what-do-i-do-with-those-damn-anime-kids/

  23. sammy says:

    nate,
    here’s the difference: most writers write fiction for maybe 3-4 hours out of 24. the rest of the day they are “working” on stuff-rewriting, editing, researching, whatever. but the act of facing the cold indifferent blank page and generating something out of nothing is usually done for 3-4 hours, at least thats what I gather from interviews from authors I read. any more than that and basically burn out. a cartoonist like ware who doesn’t thumbnail ahead of time, goes through the same process as a prose writer in that they spend a couple hours seriously writing//blocking it down, and the remainder of there day is fine tuning it, tiny detail on top of tiny detail, till it is done. for many cartoonists, that just takes a hell of a long time. even if you have certain systems in place to have the process go quicker-like you do everything within set panel sizes, and keep your “camera” angles at a minimum, etc, it just takes a long time to execute. most cartoonists seem to thumbnail a page or scene or chunk of a strip before hand, and in that case, its a little bit easier because you can approach the board with the hardest stuff figured out already-the first draft. either way, it takes a long time. but I say, so what? the proof is in the pudding. and I also say good! because the longer you sit in that chair working on that page, the more you know those characters, the more you know the world the story takes place in, and the better it probably will be. what I am trying to say is, is that the long term nature of it makes the work better.
    if cartooning is driving a cartoonist crazy, I think the best thing to do is to set deadlines. like, today this page has to be penciled by 5 o’clock, no matter what. you may not end up with a great page, but you need to get it done and you will.

    • brynocki C says:

      Yes please, cartoonists listen to Sammy. Take a long time with your product cause I can’t keep up reading it all, there is too much. And for Ian’s “Universal Universe” hey DaNa maybe it’s time to follow up on that Wally’s Gang idea.

  24. Ian Harker says:

    Another thing I’d love to see, particularly out of the art/genre crowd, is a bunch of artists working in the same “universe” where they have to adapt to what the other artists are doing in their books. OK, basically I just want to see 1992 Image Comics all over again but this time with CF and Brian Chippendale or something… Is it possible for Picturebox to do DEATHMATE 2 or something?

  25. patrick ford says:

    ian: “a bunch of artists working in the same “universe” where they have to adapt to what the other artists are doing in their books. ”

    I’m feeling like Bill Pullman in the very last scene on the Lost Highway.

  26. Alec Trench says:

    First you’ve got to figure out how to “perform” a comic in real-time.
    It doesn’t have to be a full production job, just a cogent, legible rendition.
    Something another artist can *instantly* recognise, appreciate and respond to.
    It might be helpful to have an overwhelmingly familiar plot structure seeding the performance, like the “heads” that jazz players extemporise around. (or the story-outlines of commedia dell’arte all’improviso)
    Substituting chords (dramatic beats?) without negating them… etc.
    Then you wait until 2 other people can also do that.
    Then you get together and jam.

    Of course, there are many differences between ballads and bebop.
    Unfamiliar meanings and methods of transmission/apprehension would be part and parcel of this new, linear approach.
    Not much of the old tradition would be likely to stand, when stripped of the buttresses and foundations that are so painstakingly fitted to all but the most direct of plays.
    Pictoriality would fall early.
    I expect that calligraphic qualities would become what “tone” and “articulation” are for horn-players.

    So, who can busk? Who can vamp?
    Who can use the the time it takes for working-memory to parse sense-input to create immediate comic-art?

    And how long would it take for letterers to start smashing up their equipment just to wrest some attention from the soloists?

  27. david says:

    Most importantly, artists would need to sexualize their tools, like sort of work the watercolor brush as if it’s a sophisticated lady from the jazz age. And someone could invent an absurd physical gesture like Dizzy’s inflatable cheeks to accompany their idiosyncratic style of drawing.

    @alec “perform” is rite

  28. patrick ford says:

    David: “Most importantly, artists would need to sexualize their tools”

    Red Sable Brush kind of says it all.