Sunday, October 3, 2010

Bush Pilot Babysitter

Not to dis bush pilots in any way: having many experiences flying around remote Alaska during my intensive trekking years has given me profound respect for the guys that are defacto taxi-drivers of the North. More than anything this panel's a great example of flogging a drawing until it finally gets into a somewhat close approximation of what I originally have in mind.Every once in a while along comes a cartoon that, even with repeated sketching out, just doesn't materialize or mesh with the particular vision in my head. Come to think of it, as an artist, not much in reality ever does, otherwise I wouldn't draw so damn much.

In theory, I can avoid a total crash & burn by attempting a last-ditch digital salvage operation in the final stages, see if the power of the computer can resurrect it. In this case I wound up scanning it in bits even as I kept screwing it up. Keeping the elements simple and few it finally fell into place with some tweaking on the fly. Afterwards it's almost funnier to see the behind-the-scenes process for a dubious end result, but what the hell, long as I had fun along the way while doing it it's worth it. Another side-note in how invaluable it is drafting the services of a bystander to pose for a quick reference sketch: as I was botching the particular pose, an innocent passer-by "volunteered" to pantomime the hand action. At least that part worked.

The subject of Bush pilots always reminds me of the best instance of an "oh shit" experience while en-route to a drop-off point way up in the Gates of the Arctic National Park years ago. There's nothing more rewarding and real than sitting next to a pilot in a two-seat Cessna and hearing him mutter those words. Conversely, it's why I hate flying in those big airplanes: cooped up in the back without firsthand knowledge of just exactly what's going on in the cockpit. There's something reassuring in being able to see what's happening - ignorance is most definitely not bliss while hurtling along thousands of feet up in the air. Or piloting my pickup for that matter.

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