I may be letting the side down a bit, here. After the last several years of behaving as a freelance comics artist and illustrator should (which is to say, working pretty much all of the available hours and being rather driven and obsessed) I have come to the conclusion that this may actually not be the right way to go. I am in contact with a lot of artists/creators on social media (and some in person) and it seems like nearly all of them work like (as?) mad things. While I was being a mad thing, this gave me great comfort and a sense of camaraderie, now that I have stepped back a bit, I almost feel as though I should have my membership card revoked.(This is my feeling. Not a response from any other artist) On Twitter, my handle used to be Gothicmangaka. I have changed this for a number of reasons. For the one, I am not published in any Japanese Tankobon. For the second, Mangaka need to produce a chapter a week. Be it five or ten pages.(Or, this is my understanding) Over the last few years, I certainly could have claimed that sort of output, but not at present (or for sustained periods in the future)
I have recently finished the art for a two hundred page graphic novel for an imprint of Penguin-Random House. This required seven day weeks over the span of many months. (and I had been finishing off the third volume of Hopeless, Maine with a similar schedule before that) My response, in the past would have been to make certain that I took advantage of the momentum from this new visibility for the good of my career and made sure the next big project was in place. I’m very consciously *not* doing that very thing. I am breaking from my script here. One of the most important parts of my life is my relationship with my wife and partner in crime, Nimue. (also, one of my greatest sources of pleasure and surprise…) I’ve been missing out on our time together. While we were mostly working on projects (like Hopeless, Maine) where it was collaborative it was a bit different, but the last year, I just did not get enough Nimue time, and, as I said before, one life per customer, as far as I know.
Also, both of us are great fans of the concept, “enough” It’s a nice sustainable sort of concept! At present, (and indeed, for the foreseeable future) we do indeed have enough. Plenty, in fact. I’m not saying we are well off by western economic standards. (technically we are probably in the poverty bracket) We take joy in good company and not so much in stuff (Good books and art being natural exceptions!) We still get a bit giddy about going out and having chips for lunch. (it’s the company! Plus I have spent most of my life in the US, deprived of proper chips, and I have to make up for lost time! The best way to eat chips, is out of paper wrapping, in a gothic cemetery) When we have more of anything than we really need, we move it along to where it can do some good (this includes money. But please don’t send me any emails asking for some!) “Enough” for us, is mostly about having the good things in our lives. (and much of that, like friends, and walks and adventures, does not come with a price tag) So, this is just not compatible with me working all of the available hours. (and, oh joy and rapture) it is not necessary.
Do I still love making art and is much of my mind still processing all of my experiences with a view to how it can be used to create more and better art? A resounding *yes*. I’m just not on the hamster wheel, and not taking a bizarre sort masochistic pleasure in driving myself to the point of exhaustion. (“BAD artist!” a part of my mind still says) So, I have started this year with some experiments, to keep my hand in, and try some things. I have been working in pencil (sometimes pencil and watercolour) for my originals for more than ten years now. I have been looking at some of the amazing ink work online and wondering if I had enough confidence in my drawing now, to come back to ink. I picked up a brush-pen (My studio is a board rested against the commonly used for everything table and I have a bad habit of spilling things. Brush-pens are my new best friend!) As a theme, I have picked “Unpleasant things” and I do an ink sketch most days. Above, you will see selected highlights.
Hoping this finds you well, inspired and thriving.