Saturday, March 7, 2015

"Lead Dog"

Every once in a while, especially after a series of presentations to classes about my personal artistic inspirations, I cast a critical eye back over at my own work. At times this is an opportunity to address some dissatisfaction that might be simmering away, maybe start thinking about making some changes. For example: if I really like pen & ink textures in other people's work (Sendak, Gorey, Crumb, to name just a few favorites) then why don't I have more of it in my own?

There's also an objective awareness that maybe I'm beginning to rely too much on the tech, namely Photoshop, and need to "return to my roots" as it were, in other words, back to the basics with simple pen + ink, basic black & white. Though to be sure oftentimes the time spend dallying with other techniques will cycle back and inform the core body of work, affect it somehow - usually for better, sometimes for worse.

Not to belabor the obvious, but I really love cartoons. I mean, everything from the history of cartooning and about the creators themselves, to reading and collecting them and teaching about them. But most of all I love making them: case in point being this panel. It's fairly rare to lean back in the studio chair long after the ink has dried and look at a panel and nod to myself in satisfaction. Specifically, I really suck at cars: they're insanely hard... too complicated and just take too long to draw. One could also argue my animals - dogs in this specific instance - don't look so hot either (humans also don't fare so well). And by that I mean realistic... which is absolutely not the point of  cartoon. So within one single frame, I get to render the interior of a vehicle plus three dogs without actually drawing really much of anything at all. Just a handful of suggestive lines and a bunch of simple shapes that (hopefully) impart to the viewer enough visual cues to successfully interpret the image as being what it stands for. Deconstructing it after the fact is one of the main themes of this blog, but like pretty much with every single new silly picture it's still a surprise to see it spill out from the end of pen right in front of you.

This panel, which ran in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner just last weekend, is one of a growing series done largely on account of not only the annual Yukon Quest, but also a rare restart for the Iditarod moved all the way up to our neck of the woods. So our community has quite literally gone to the dogs!

Also by way of a major teaser, I did this one while in the middle of an artist-in-residency gig (stay 'tooned for upcoming posts about the epic event in its entirety), during the demonstration portion of the day when I'm working in a publicly accessible setting somewhere within the school. Needless to say this one went over well with the kids  - and parents - as it's something a lot of us can probably relate to from our upbringings.

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