When I started out in the visual arts, my passion was for comics. At first I was hooked on comic books. Then I really got hooked on comic strips, enough so that I wanted to be a comic strip artist for a career. I went on to become a strip cartoonist (seriously, thats what they call em!) for my college newspaper for 3 years. Sadly, I’ve never really gotten back in that field since I got into computers and the web.
My favorite comic books were the alternative comic books. I never really liked the basics – Superman, Spiderman, Fantastic 4. I did like Batman, and I did like Daredevil. My absolute favorites were the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (don’t laugh, the first 8 issues were great!). I even had a copy of TMNT #1 which went for about $150 on the 2nd market. I also loved Matt Wagner‘s Grendel. There was something totally unusual but exciting at reading about the anti-hero Grendel. It was the first time in my life where I rooted for the bad guy, if Grendel can be easily classified as a “bad guy”. My all time favorite, though, has to be Dave Sim’s Cerebus.
Cerebus and Dave Sim amazed me. Here was a guy who dedicated his life really to self publishing his creation. Not only self publishing, but he committed to a 300 issue story. The comic book followed the life of this character, Cerebus, on his journeys through life. It started out as a simple adventure comic, initially inspired buy Conan. It traveled throughout the land of Iest, with Dave and Cerebus giving his comments on Politics, Religion, Feminism, Love, and Art, among many others. As silly as it may sounds, Dave Sim created a world that is on parallel with Lord of the Rings. While more timely humor and social commentary was injected into Cerebus, the history, the myth, and the religions he created had just about as much depth.
On average Dave Sim published 10 books a year, meaning that this was easily a 30 year effort. He created the story/characters/setting, he drew the book, inked it (he later joined with an extremely talented inker (Gerhard)), and self published it. Dave just recently finished the 300th issue of Cerebus, and I hope he celebrated in a huge way. What an accomplishment!
One thing I noticed abut all the comic books I loved was that they were all illustrated in Black & White. Even the comic strips I loved were in black and white (makes sense seeing as they were in newspapers daily…) While growing up, Calvin & Hobbes was my addiction. Reading more about Bill Watterson and his creation led me to investigate the comics that inspired him. That led me to a love of Pogo, and Krazy Kat. After seeing those works of art I was stunned. That’s what led me to focus, during my college years, on strip cartooning. Looking back now I see that my attempts were basically poorly done imitations. I wasn’t great, but I wasn’t bad either. One of my strips won a journalism award!
I should have stayed with comics, but I know it would have left me sad. The reason I stopped pursuing comic strips was that I saw the market for comic strips dwindling. Newspapers were shrinking the sizes of their strips, and the strips that the newspapers did carry weren’t generally funny. Most of them were just plays on words. Not much depth. Of course Bloom County gave me a glimmer of hope, and introduced me to political satire, but that wasn’t what I aiming for. So, I put down my sketchpad and got into Visual Communications at an art school. This led me to interactivity and designing websites and other interactive projects, which I totally love. So really, I did find my home with multimedia, and I don’t regret choosing that over comics.
And now, I’m finding a resurgence of comics. Back in the day to make any sort of living off of comic strips, you had to get syndicated. The Syndicates would then sell your strips to newspapers around the country/world. But the Syndicates would only sell your strip if they thought it was marketable. So if the Syndicates didn’t like your work, you basically had little other options. And like every other creative endeavor, the internet has allowed the artist to bypass the middleman and deliver straight to the audience. Web comics have exploded! It’s never been easier to make a strip and self publish. No longer would a Dave Sim goal seem nearly impossible! Viva the ‘net!
And now that comics on the web are so popular, I want to get back into it. I’m in the beginning stages of creating a story specifically for web comicdom. And I’m quite excited. If you haven’t really explored some of the comics that are out there on the net, here is a list of some of my favorites:
Calvin & Hobbes
For Better or For Worse
Player vs. Player
Rose is Rose
And my new fave:
Enjoy ‘em, and if you have some faves, post ‘em here so we can all find and promote some new talent!
Article from dizzyblog.com