Sunday, January 07, 2007

I don't draw like this anymore


This is a drawing I did when I was in college in New York. We were sort of encouraged to draw like this - very fast, very rough. I certainly still like this drawing, although I don't draw like this anymore; I'm not sure I was being 100% honest with myself when I was drawing like this when I was 21 - it was more in the style of my illustration teacher, John Ruggeri.

Part of my discomfort with this style of drawing may have been with John's avid resistance to the idea of comic books as an artistic feild worth pursuing. Since I was a child I was always just a little bit early to the idea that there was real art to be found in comics, real artistic merit, and most people around me thought of comics as trash. I guess that's changed somewhat. Certainly since the Spider-Man movies made a killing, it's raised comic creator's profiles just enough that we can be seen as something more than horridly stunted adults. Why, some of them are even writing everyone's favorite TV shows...

I think I drew like this at the time because I wanted to be accepted, and I drew like this because I was a very quick study. I think I've suffered a little bit from not being able to nail down a style. I guess I reject having a particular lense to interpret the world through, and know that having a particular style can be a terribly limiting crutch. I don't know if it's that conscious, I guess I just don't like to be locked in - I think that's why I liked inking over Stuart immonen - I understood he wanted to push his work in a different direction and I went along gladly - it felt like it was such a release from the commonly accepted way of inking.

Years after I left college, I bumped into John Ruggeri on the street and we got to talking - he had hated comic books when I was in his class, but explained that John Paul Leon had softened him on the idea of real illustrators working in the comic field. I had recognized Ruggeri's style in John Paul's work immediately when he arrived on the scene and understood that John Paul had identified a way to work Ruggeri's style into comic books in a way that I didn't see was possible before. John had constantly tried to steer me away from comic book as a field of endeavor when he was my teacher, and I wondered if his conversion was based on having a student who adopted his style and then used it successfully in comics in a way that John could understand. I don't know - maybe I'm being over simplistic or cranky in some way toward my art school training, but I remember being upset that John had resisted my addiction to the field, but succumbed to the same point of view when it was presented by a very capable, and clearly enthusiastic, accolyte.

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