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September 23rd, 2013

Artwork

From cartoonist Howard Cruse I bought one of the original pages of artwork to his amazing graphic novel Stuck Rubber Baby. It’s page one of the story and I feel kinda privileged to have it. That novel is an amazing, powerful work…if you haven’t read it yet you really should.

Howard posted a note about how the artwork contains a correction patch to resolve how he’d initially drawn the story’s main character, with how he’d drawn him as he continued working on the story. It took him years to finish it, and when he got done he could see there were some changes he needed to make on the pages he’d drawn years before.

That’s normal in artwork that’s meant for publication, and those of us who buy originals of this sort of artwork do (or should) value it for precisely that wonderful insight into the artist’s process you get from seeing how the work was made, corrections and all. And I, just a happy amateur, know how it is to look back on what you did years ago and see everything that’s wrong with it. Look at my early strips of A Coming Out Story and compare them with the most current ones and you can see my drawing technique on the series improving pretty drastically. As they say, practice makes perfect…especially when you have no idea what you’re doing. If I wanted to make those early strips look consistent with the new ones I’d pretty much have to redraw them all from scratch.

My work does not have the polish a formally trained and really good professional can put on it. I am a hunt-and-peck draftsman at best. But grant me this at least: I am doing my best. Sometimes I look back on what I’ve done previously and I cringe. Hell, sometimes I look at what I’ve just done and I cringe. But I keep telling myself that if I give up I will never improve, so I keep doing it.

And…I have the need. If you feel it too then you know what I’m talking about. I couldn’t stop if I wanted to. The drawings, the photography, I get no reward for any of it other than that feeling of fulfillment when it’s finally out of me, and, surprisingly, a very small but devoted readership for A Coming Out Story (some of whom keep nudging me from time to time to keep working on the damn thing). So when I sit down to my drafting table I give it everything I have. But I am no professional artist. I know this. Hopefully the story I’m telling makes up for the skills I lack.

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