Thursday, June 18, 2009

Monkey Versus Robot

It wasn't until I took this photo today that I realized that one of the elements behind the latest OilCan Drive story is the classic battle between monkey and robot. Well, Henry's not really a monkey, more like an ass kicking, bass playing gorilla, but you get the idea.

And, in my story, at least where Henry is concerned, the poor robot just doesn't stand a chance.

This is the first page I've done in a while that just felt right. Up until now, I let a few comments about my work invade my brain. It actually slowly drove me crazy to the point where I was being super critical of every pencil line and brush stroke I put on paper. Art was no longer any fun. It was just something I did to pass the time during the day.

But, today was different. Today two pieces of wisdom came my way and made all things right with the world.

One was from a podcast interview with Brian Stelfreeze. He had two really great pieces of wisdom about art.

One was that the only one who cares if the line is exactly right or if an eye is a touch too far to the left is the artist themselves. No one else cares. As long as the art serves the story than all is well. One of his observations was that, to most people out there in the world,
Rob Liefeld and Adam Hughes look just the same. Now, I don't know about that but I can understand what he is saying.

The second piece of wisdom is that, somehow, what the artist is feeling and what they are trying to convey comes through in their art. An example he used is when he opened up a book of Japanese Manga with an immensely detailed cityscape. His first thought was, "wow, that looks difficult!" and his thought was that somewhere, sometime, the artist who did that piece was probably thinking, "wow! this piece is difficult!" So, his thinking was that if you put your heart into your art and have fun, that will show, even if the technical side of the art might be lacking.

So, that got my mindset back into just having fun. Especially with my own work. There are enough art directors and clients out there who are ready to tell me what is right and wrong with my art. Enough people out there with a million ideas of how to "fix" my work and make it better. So, why should I be one of those people when there are more than enough of them out there ready to do that job for me?

So, step one....have fun again.

The second piece of wisdom came from a six hour long interview I've been reading with Jim Steinman, the man who wrote all the music behind Meatloaf's "Bat out of Hell" albums (which, by the way, take on a whole new meaning when you learn the ideas behind almost all of those songs comes from Steinman's concept of a futuristic, x-rated, Peter Pan).

He was telling tales of his life in the music business and his dealings with Jimmy Iovine (head of Interscope records and the guy who recorded and mixed Springsteen's "Born to Run" album). It seems Jimmy Iovine always had little pearls of wisdom. And this is one of my favorites:

"You know, I always describe it as, and I'm referring to Jim Iovine again, 'cause another thing that always has stayed with me when he was mixing with me one time, every time at the same point in the song he'd get up, he'd suddenly pounce up and he'd go to one of the dials of the console and he'd turn it wildly from left to right.

He did it like eight times in a row. Every time we'd do a mix of the song. I finally said, Jimmy what are you doing? Every time that comes around you go, oh I gotta do that. He'd turn the dial left and right. He goes, oh that, well that's for the kid in Wisconsin. Every record I do I figure you should put in one thing for the kid, the teenager in Wisconsin who's in bed listening on headphones 'cause his parents don't want to hear the music and he's got, he's smoked a little dope and he's got the covers over his head and he's listening in the dark.

I think you gotta have something where it goes fast, left to right. He goes, holy shit, wow. That was the first thing for the kid in Wisconsin. To this day I've metaphorically expanded that to every song, anything for theater or a film or music that I do. I always think of the kid in Wisconsin. There's gotta be something for him and basically I always think the kid in Wisconsin still exists in the widower in Miami, the nurse in Kansas, the 50 year old business woman in Texas.

I just, thus again the teenager who never dies. I think it's the kid in Wisconsin. That's the metaphor for me. With the covers covering his head, the headphones on, escaping in the dark and you want to put the little thing where he travels back and forth, and that came from Jimmy."

So something about idea of having some kid in Wisconsin digging what you're doing resonated with me. Maybe it's the idea of the audience out there who, someday, will really enjoy your work, and doing it for them.

So, from now on I am trying to do my best to have fun with my work and put a little something in their for the kid from Wisconsin.

After that, everything seems easy.

1 comment:

Craig Michael Patrick said...

Love Henry's George Tuska hands - classic. Also, very much like the eyes on the robot - not just in panel 4 but overall good design work on it. In fact, given the opportunity you have in panel 4 with the impact of Henry's blow, you may not have taken it FAR ENOUGH. Great work!