Page 7 line art done. Click to enlarge. More chit-chat below the image.
Aintitcool recently posted a great conversation with Steve Lieber, the artist who drew "Whiteout." He shared a heap of good information about craft and process, but I was especially interested in the description of his emotional travails:
"I was ... less-than-pleasant to my wife at times, because I was just inside the pages and couldn't see past the battle I was fighting with each one. I think I let being concerned about how the book was going to turn out turn me into someone who was less concerned about how everything else in my life was going to turn out ... I was a damned troll under a bridge. [laughs] I was just really unpleasant. I was solving new problems, and rather than feeling satisfied that I was solving new problems, I was getting angry because everything wasn't coming out perfect the first time I put a line down."
I haven't quite gone to Troll Town, but I do see something similar going on with Project Waldo. Too often, my wife will sit through a silent dinner with me, only to discover that my muteness has been attributable to an all-consuming internal struggle over the correct placement of a left arm. When I start working on a page, my tension level gets cranked up to eleven and stays there until the last line is drawn. Partly, this reflects the initial ugliness of the page. I imagine getting hit by a bus while I'm half-way through and everybody at the funeral looking at that last unfinished drawing and shaking their heads, taking back all the nice things they'd said about me. "How could the guy have been any good if he drew the human figure that horribly?" Every page is a huge embarrassment right up to the last moment. That's how I know when I've finished -- I stop being embarrassed.
Of course that's not the only force driving the process. There's also the sense of having left a problem unsolved. The late, great Seth Fisher (a math major) described creation this way:
“Art is really just problem solving in action. You start with a few lines, then you try to balance those lines with other lines compositionally, then you balance that with trying to explain a certain space or emotion... Perspective, composition, timing, and color theory are technical skills. You have a problem, and you have this toolbox full of techniques that you use to paint a totally unique bridge from an assumption to its implications.”
That sounds very familiar. The initial rough sketch frames a challenge -- it says "okay, you've gotta have these masses, in this order, with this sort of movement -- now let's see if you can make recognizable real-world objects conform to this pattern in a natural, free-flowing way." Although I sort of pooh-poohed abstract art in school, I'm starting to get that it's the only kind of art. The only difference here is that I've got to make abstract art out of people and bushes and big lizard creatures.
ANYWAY. I stuck a new little button at left that lets you add your email address to the Project Waldo mailing list (actually, it's a Google Group -- the easiest and cheapest way I could find to compile a mailing list). Please don't be shy -- I'll only use this list to notify you when the first issue is out and where it can be found/ordered. I'm trying to get a sense of how many people might actually buy the comic, and this number will determine how I end up printing and distributing the book.
Based on the current list membership, exactly three people will be buying the first issue, and one of them is me. So please join up. I swear I won't spam you with ads for penis enlargement pills. Unless a male enhancement company would like to sponsor Project Waldo. Wait, what would that say about me? This is a bad idea. But yeah. Call me. Maybe we can work out some sort of trade.
And speaking of printing, does anybody have any thoughts or anecdotes about working with Ka-Blam? A few people have recommended their on-demand printing service, but I'm still open to alternatives. Moritat tells me I'll need a garage with very high rafters to store all that inventory -- a mental image that is both vivid and daunting. I'm still looking forward to the invention of a large-format, full-color, 300 dpi Kindle-type device.
On that day it'll be good-bye print, hello iTunes!