Saturday, February 27, 2010


A drawing by Nate Powell, another comic artist I admire whose style is starting to rub off on me. Maybe.

My main problem with drawing is that I lack confidence. I don't draw nearly as much as I should, as I suffer from constant anxiety about whether my work is any good or not, and constantly compare myself to other artists. (I also worry about unintentionally ripping someone off, although that's never really happened) And that's why, when I first saw Nate Powell's graphic novel Swallow Me Whole, I threw up my hands and said "That's it. I quit." I saw no point in creating my own comic about a teenager suffering mental illness if such a breathtaking work as Powell's had already been drawn (and in a fraction of the time that mine is going to take to finish, to boot).


It's fortunate that when I first saw this comic I happened to be at a release party for a Saskatoon comics anthology and I had brought some of my work along to show the editors in the hopes that they would publish me. They were very impressed and the owner of the comic store even gave me a free t-shirt, and told me he wanted to hold an exhibition of my work in the store. This was my reaction:


I went home as confident and energized as anything, anxious to draw my comic after all, realizing that it wasn't about being the first to create a graphic novel about mental illness, but about telling my own story. And adding to those already out there - since, let's face it, Powell's is still one of only three or four. It's still largely unexplored territory.

But I couldn't have come to this realization if it weren't for the kind accolades from the people at that release party.

Now why is that? Why do I need constant validation of my skills? I shouldn't. In fact I've been taught (by snarky internet forums) that it's a BAD thing. That mindless praise is wrong because it doesn't teach you anything. I don't know. I still haven't figured that one out. let's move on. Lately I also find myself inspired by the Flight comics anthologies. They tend to be very heavy on the whimsy, with lots of stories about cute fuzzy little animal-type characters and that probably doesn't appeal to most of you. But never mind, that isn't why I like them. (Okay, MAYBE it is, I am a girl, after all) I like that a lot of them lack dialogue, giving them loads of atmosphere and leaving them open to interpretation. I've incorporated that into my work, first with At The Hundredth Meridian and now with this comic, although I freely admit that I do it partly because I can't write dialogue. I always struggle to find the right words to communicate and I've always been able to say so much more with a drawing. It's tragic, because I want to do both. I want to be a master of pictures AND words. Someday.

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