When I first agreed to do this column, it was on a biweekly basis. I did pretty good for the first couple of months, but soon real life started to creep in on me. Other engagements took priority the least of all not being school. So I have deep respect for any creator that can put out (good) material on a regular basis. It doesn’t seem too difficult at first: just sit down and type something. But there is a lot more to it than that.
How many of you keep a journal? You got your brand spanking new journal, all the pages are blank, just awaiting your inspirational touch to deftly show how you interpret the world and the events of the day. When you start, you probably write once a day in journal, writing down a page if not more on what happened to you that day. But you quickly tire of it, writing in the journal becomes a chore not a hobby. Real life takes over and creeps in.
Like me with my column, unfortautely real life jumped in and gobbled down most of my time. I can understand how some comic creators can get started on the right foot, but end up months behind schedule. So I needed some inspiration, some guidance if you will.
That is why I just had to get James Kochalka’s The Sketchbook Diaries. James decided to get a sketchbook and draw a comic a day. Nothing too grandiose in scheme, a 4 panel (if not less) comic to convey to the reader something that happened in his life on that particular day.
The comic starts out with a couple of cartoons a day, but soon it becomes one a day. It doesn’t seem hard does it? Sit down and draw one small comic a day about something that happens in your life. Like writing in a journal or writing a column, James showed his distaste of the chore of doing a comic a day when towards the end he told his wife Amy that he wanted to quit the comic a day thing.
When he first started, the comic shows his excitement of starting. "Wow. A sketchbook. I wonder what I should draw first?" He says to himself. He eventually got to that moment of being tired of doing a daily comic. But that is the thing, it took him over three quarters of a year to get to that moment. And even then, he kept going. All the comics in the book aren’t great, but they all aren’t junk either. But that is life. Some days nothing happens to you and you are just a bump on a log and other days you seem to be stuck in fast forward in an action movie.
From his cat Spandy throwing up to his trip to Portugal, James gives us a bit of insight into the world of a comic book creator. Most of it as he claims are just "ins and outs and ups and downs and backs and forths of endless repetition." But he’ll show you how to pace a comic, how to work within the confines of a small four panel layout, and that it is possible to keep going and create something a new each day. Like his wife Amy says about his cartoons, "They’re more interesting when they’re real!"
So with this column, I will be moving away from my Cerebus focus and on to things in the comic book medium that really get my panties in a twist. Like why I get my comics though mail order and only have been to a comic book store twice in the past nine months. Or why I only read one Marvel Comic nowadays (for those that are curious, it is Garth Ennis’ Punisher) and its offshoot: how I went to X-titles Anonymous to get off the comics crack that is the X-Men family.
So come back next week when I tell you how I've been mutant free for the past two years and how I almost had a relapse.
From the Cerebus Fangirl Site found on the web at: http://www.cerebusfangirl.com contents maybe printed for later reading if you so desire, just don't copy it and say it's yours though.