As I said before, numbers make things important.
I counted this week and I have seven weeks of work to do before I finish drawing chapter Three. I can’t believe it. (alright I can- I’ve been barely sleeping). If I can finish prior to November, which will be a stretch with a vacation weekend in Rhode Island, two weddings in the Midwest to attend, and Packer season about to begin, then I might have enough time to revise the beginning twenty pages and start the fourth chapter process before 2014.
This weekend my wife’s friend from med school is visiting, so hopefully I can disappear for a while and draw like a maniac.
My good friend from art school, Blair, visited NYC this past week. He’s easily one of the most creative people I’ve ever met. Besides the innovative work he did in college, he’s done graphic design/web work for a good size list of companies over the years and he started his own successful retail internet site (Check it out: Pillowmob.com) with a second one on the way.
The last time he was in New York we met at Angel’s Share, a speak-easy south of Union Square hidden in a Japanese restaurant. He showed me his new handshake that involved slapping his hand back and forth between the other person’s legs at about knee level. It was not a crowd-pleaser he informed me. And in practice I have come to the same conclusion.
This time we met up at the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park and we did what New Yorkers typically do in the park, gawk at gypsies, take pictures of models, and jam our pockets full of free samples of cologne. I then got him a bit more drunk than he wanted to be and sent him skipping back to his wife- who probably isn’t too happy with me now.
My doppelgänger recently sent me a copy of his novel through his Kindle account. He’s been writing it in his spare time while teaching in South Korea. He wants me to send him a copy of what I have finished of Sacco. But I’m reluctant to do so. Not because I don’t want his opinion. It’s because the drawings from the first chapter are shit compared to my latest completed pages. Plus I’d like to pretend my storytelling skills have gotten better.
I mentioned this hesitation to him. He said it’s not uncommon- look at the Harry Potter books. J. K. Rowling’s craft in the first book was rougher and more jagged compared to the final installments.
He has a point. If the “ten-thousand-hour rule” is held to be true, then yes, any author should see improvement. Except novels are typed words. Their worth is contingent on if you know the language it’s printed in. A graphic novel’s worth is a bit more transparent.
Below are the first 2 pages I created in January 2009 overlapped by the 2 pages I completed inking this week (P172-173). I haven’t finished adding all the grey tones to the pages from this week. As for the 2009 pages, at that time I had just begun inking with a brush and constructing entire pages with several panels. Prior to this I normally did one-off illustrations with ink pens for freelance assignments. The 2009 pages aren’t in my final draft of Sacco. I’ve already redrawn them.
However I’m not the only illustrator/cartoonist whose style changes as their work progresses. Look at Bryan Lee O’Malley’s work from the first and sixth Scott Pilgrim book (below). There is a vast difference. Tighter lines, better form, more apparent panel edges and all his characters don’t look alike by the end of the story.
It’s been a whirlwind of a two weeks.
My doppelgänger left and I threw up two more pages. Then my wife and I flew back home to see my doppelgänger with the rest of the family. So off the cuff, I decided to delay the inking stage and jump straight to drawing the subsequent two pages as I wouldn’t be able to begin them as expected.
We got back to NYC on Tuesday night and cranked out the inks for one page. But now I need to prepare to draw two more on this Saturday. That would leave me five penciled pages, one inked, and zero scanned. Being an illustrator, graphic novelist, doodler (or what ever you want to call it) doesn’t normally contain this much math. But if I’ve learned anything from my day job, numbers make everything look more important. Luckily the next few weeks aren’t as action-packed so I should be able to get ninety-nine percent of this work done ( and statistics are the lynch pin of sounding serious).
Besides having a double life- I also have a doppelgänger.
He’s actually my twin and he lives in South Korea. No, he’s not evil but he chooses to live very close to it (if you consider North Korea evil, or NoKo as my brother calls it). This week he visited with his wife and daughter, Da Won.
To celebrate, New York City decided to climb to one hundred degrees for four days in a row… and it’s killing me. My Midwest blood wasn’t made to stand this temp. I grew up where winter could start in October, go until April, and most people lost feeling in their ears by the age of ten. I have friends who in January will declare it “T-shirt day” and strictly wear a t-shirt the entire day whether it’s 5 above or 5 below. Superman might gain his power from the burning rays of our sun but his fortress of Solitude is in the arctic. So there’s that.
Anyways my niece, Da Won, couldn’t stand the heat either. The only time she cried was when she was not in the shade. Somehow though I managed to don my tights and get 2 more pages completed while taking them to Staten Island, Korea town, Central Park, and several museums.
It’s a good thing that I draw. At times I feel I have an addictive personality and if drawing didn’t cut it and I moved on to something more hardcore, like heroin, well I would have OD’ed ages ago.
I just went on a four week bender of crapping out pages (8 pages to be specific) and at the end of last week I fell to the ground burnt out with a pencil sticking out of my arm (figuratively, obviously). My attempt to take it easy over the weekend failed. Especially since my manager at my day job started his 2 week vacation this past Monday. Luckily the markets are closed today. But instead of resting here I am in front of the drawing board completing the below page that I started 2 weeks ago. I drew, I inked, I scanned and splashed a little coloring around. Once done I sat back and smiled.
Now on to the next 2 pages….
In the year 2000 I was in my senior year of art school just south of downtown Milwaukee in a place they call the Third Ward. I was a fine-arts drawing major, I listened to Radiohead, and I wanted to create illustrations for magazines such as Rolling Stone once I graduated. I wasn’t breaking any molds here. I was naive like any other twenty-one year old about to step into the real world. But something one of my drawing teachers said stuck with me. He said that certain projects we would attempt in the future would take more than one hour to complete, more than one drawing to solve, and that we might spend a large part of our life attempting to successfully reach this artistic endeavor.
To me this seemed far-fetched. At the time I lived drawing to drawing and day to day. But by 2006 I was growing increasingly bored by making one image after the other that didn’t hold some sort of connecting idea. This was when I began writing Sacco.
The last 7 years this story has been with me and I worry that my memories won’t place Sacco and the journey I’ve taken with it appropriately.
This blog is meant to be a reminder.
Of mistakes along the way.
Of the breakthroughs I might forget.
One of the biggest motivators for me to start this blog is the image below. At the time, my wife and I were living in an apartment building in Chicago with two of our closest friends living right down the hall. They recently got married and were leaving the city in search of jobs in/around Milwaukee. On the day I drew this both of them were not at home (most likely in Milwaukee, since they were in the process of moving) and we had a spare key to their apartment. I sat on one of the stools surrounding the island in their kitchen and worked with one light on in the darkness as the sun came up. This page is the last memory of my friends living in Chicago. A few months later, we were disappeared too- to New York.