Sunday, April 1, 2018

Original Art Sundays No. 255: Curt, p. 14

Hey, look! I'm still here! And yes, Virginia, there is still a graphic memoir in the works.
This page took forever and a day. But we got here.
I have been wrestling with this page for two months. Usually I can do a decent page in a day, or a week if the time is tight. But this one gave me no end of trouble. At first it was an emotional challenge. The events portrayed here were not my shining hour, and recounting them remains more difficult than I anticipated. I finally decided that there's no point in sugar coating this stuff, and resolved to just do the page.
I got to work and the page was about 3/4 done.
I hated it.
With a bright purple passion.
Oh, there was nothing really wrong with it. The drawing was adequate at worst, the writing was tight enough, and the layout was serviceable.  But it was so boring! 2 shot, 2 shot, 2 shot, tight on hands, figure seated and cowboy shot framed in doorway. 6 panel grid, 2 x 3. All straight on. It was a dialogue heavy page where nothing was happening visually.
Between drawing a couple operas and sneaking in a few other pieces to keep my hand in, I got a revised version on the board. And got it done in proper time, once begun, thank you very much.
The final version. Possibly.
This iteration still has it issues, and I'll get to those in a moment. As regular readers know, I'm fairly harsh in evaluating my work.
But the page is working in ways the original version wasn't.
It's about the embrace, whereas the previous version put equal emphasis on everything. Giving the page a focal element gives narrative direction and helps the reader understand what's important.
The isolated quiet moment in panel one: very happy with that.
The open panel two: The embrace works, the figures are slightly elongated (as I tend to do), and the dialogue is fairly well placed.
Panel three, the hands parting: Even though I still have issues with them after all these years, I do love drawing hands. To overcome my issues around rendering hands, I did an entire strip using nothing else during the Tranny Towers days.
Not 100% happy with the figure in Panel 4, but the pose and facial expression are just what I was anticipating.
The last panel gets the character (me) out of her bewildered fantasy and reverie and back into the mess she's making for herself. The last panel is also crucial in that I'm not on camera in that one. Again, variety is the watchword.I like the use of the arched background giving the last panel weight. This page remains a bit light, and deliberately sparse on environments/backgrounds. Still have to work on spotting more heavy blacks, though I'm at ease with not always doing so. I do like the claire ligne style a lot!
Just for information and integrity, Sara was not the first trans woman with whom I was intimate after coming out (none before then, if you're keeping track). But she was the second, and the first one who mattered.
I might try a fourth iteration of this page down the line, when I'm reviewing to for publication. But if I'm ever going to reach that point, I have to move forward. Seeking perfection in this kind of work can be another evasion tactic. Move on with the story.
Tools used on this page:
Canson Recycled Bristol Board
The previous version. Nothing wrong with it,
just blah.
Lead holder, #2 and #4 lead, Magic Rub erasers
Staetler Line Markers, .02 and .06
Faber Castell Small Tip brush marker
Dr. Martin's Black Star Walnut Ink
Various crow quills
 #4 Richeson synthetic brush for spotting heavy blacks
FW Acrylic White and Tight Spot brush for corrections
I'm including the flawed second version as a point of reference. The first version was a sketchbook layout, and we will not speak of it again.
This is an adequate page. It's just not very good storytelling.
Last night I attended a presentation by Venus de Mars, a retrospective of her life and creative career, as much as one can summarize such things in less than an hour. We chatted briefly about our scattered old times- knowing her as long as I have, I'm astounded at how little time we've really spent hanging out. There are reasons and reasons for these things, and after a while they don't matter. I suppose that's part and parcel of working in different art forms, though I also respect her drawing and painting.
No, when you've known someone a while, the other stuff fades. You just remember the joys and marvel at the simple fact that we both survived.
This comes to mind as Venus is also working on a memoir.
Maybe it's just time to do them. Being me, of course, I was intimidated by someone whose life and career have had such incredible highs (at least from the outside) working on something similar to what I'm doing. I sat in awe and deep respect for her unflagging commitment to herself, her love and her career, feeling wholly inadequate.
That, my dears, is self-indulgent twaddle.
I was watching a Neil Gaiman interview a while ago. During the Q & A, someone asked him if fantasy writing was going to go out of fashion. His reply, insightful as always, ended with  (paraphrasing) "literary fashions and trends don't matter. Tell your story as best you can, put it out there and let it find its audience."
Thanks, Neil. I needed that. My natural tendency to judge myself and my work against the work and lives of others, and to find myself wanting in some area or other, remains my worst enemy when it comes to creation. What say we take another stab at knocking that off and just get the work done?
I'll write it and draw it. You just relax and read it.
Next: more Sharp Invitations. I am anxious to move on from the Curt story, but that will only happen when it's all told. I anticipate another 5 - 6 pages before we reach that point.
And yes, there is another opera on the horizon. Thais is about 6 weeks away.