Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Hung Up on Tools

Above: "Alien Spy," a piece of Mike Lynch Juvenalia. A splash page for a comic book story of mine when I was a kid. This was when I was heavy into Marvel's Warlock by Jim Starlin.

I get emails. A lot of them are from people who want to cartoon for a living. Some of these people are good cartoonists, some of them are on the way, still learning.

One of the traps is getting hung up on tools. A cartoonist emailed me, saying that now that he had finally saved the money to buy a Wacom tablet & stylus, he could now begin cartooning.

Stan Goldberg, who now draws Archie, points out that all he needs is a piece of paper and a pencil. That's all he needed since he was a kid.

Stan, like me, was of the pre-Wacom generation.

I'm lucky that my Dad was a working graduate student when I was a kid. We had no money for fancy paper or pens, and so I was never into the tools.

Dad would being home some "scratch paper;" leftover mimeos from the classes that my Dad was teaching or, when he got his Ph.D., extra copies of internal memos. This was free drawing paper. I would draw on the back of these. Above: the back of the "Alien Spy" page.

Above: another superhero that I made up when I was a wee tot: Eagle Man. I did a lot of shading and noodling around. Notice me hiding his left hand, and making the other inot a simple fist. I was afraid to draw hands then. This period was heavily influenced by the Bob Kane Batman reprints in BATMAN: FROM THE 30S TO THE 70s hardcover.

... And here is the back of the Eagle Man drawing: a 1972 University Film Association memo from then-secretary Dr. Lynch (who would go on to serve as President).

Of course, like a lot of students, I would not pay attention in class and doodle. But that not paying attention thing leads to some bad grades. (Note the date above, written in the nerdly STAR TREK star date format -- 7612.14 = December 12, 1976.)

Best to wait and draw once I am home. (Do as I say and not as I did.)

Please do not get hung up on fancy tools. Don't let your economic situation slow you down if you want to cartoon. Cartooning can be done for very little money. Like Bob Montana said: It's the think, not the ink. That was today's message -- and the excuse for going through my nostalgia box of drawings.


Gregory Kogan said...

This is a great point and definitely worth emphasizing to beginning cartoonists. A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that if artist X is so damn good, and he uses tool A, then getting tool A will make me as good as artist X.

I still use regular paper and pens.

Trade Loeffler said...

I love the Jim Starlin inspired Alien Spy. That's classic! When I was a kid, I had tons of Captain Marvel drawings I'd done ala Jim Starlin taped up all over my room.

The drawing implements of choice for me was typing paper and felt pens my Mom would nick from the office.

Unknown said...

Awesome point! So many people forget that creativity is about the now, not the what I need (like a million dollars in supplies) in order to create. I get caught in this thinking time to time. It's nice to see the visuals that art can be made on anything and anywhere at anytime! The classic dude on this point is Picasso, right! Anyhow, I totally love all the images and this post rocks!!!

cartoonist said...

The focus on the proper instrument IS overdone. However, nothing could stop my 11-year old self from buying a B-6 and C-5 Speedball pen once I found out that Charles Schulz used them (from the book "Peanuts Jubilee.") Of course, by then I was already drawing on everything in sight with whatever was handy. But it was good to have that early experimentation with using a dip pen and ink, which takes some practice.

Also, I was such a compulsive doodler that I used to turn in homework assignments with cartoons doodled in the margins. I was barely aware I was doing it and was almost surprised when teachers commented on it.

cartoonist said...
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