Archive for May, 2011

A Zelda Story

A couple years ago I had the privilege of drawing a Zelda story, written by Jesse Post, colored by Jason Wojtowicz and featured in LifeMeter. You can read the entire story here. These are some of my sketches as I was figuring out what I wanted the characters to look like …

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About a year ago, I worked on a project for 6 months that involved lots and lots of meetings. I stayed awake in those meetings by drawing tons of little thumbnails of people in the room … (oh and one of them is of a guy as a Muppet)

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I’ve always been kind of obsessed with the idea of doppelgangers. Or, more of the idea that there is another part of my personality (some part that I’m missing) running around out there, free of my body but still walking around wearing an identical one. Weird, right?

A year ago, I wrote an autobio comic about my experience being a teen mall model, and in it I touched on a time when I was 16 and came upon a girl who looked exactly like me in the record store.

Excerpt from When I Was A Mall Model

After that sighting, I was obsessed with the idea of a different version of me out there somewhere, living a much cooler life. When I was 23, I was at the theater with my friends about to see X2. I had another doppelganger sighting, but this time of what I referred to as my “Exact Male Double”. I reasoned that because I had a short bob haircut, him a mod shaggy haircut, we resembled eachother almost exactly, even down to what we were wearing. I tested this theory out on my friend as she walked by –

“Hey, see that guy over there?”

“Oh my god, that’s YOU!!”

I stared at him and he stared back (clearly because he recognized and acknowledged the fact that we were the same person, not that he was weirded out by a girl in the same outfit staring at him). I didn’t dare get any closer to him, because I was convinced we’d cancel eachother out. Or, would that happen only if you encountered the exact opposite of you?

I do believe that there are doppelgangers of everyone running loose in the world, simply because I believe that nature gets tired of coming up with new things all the time, so doubles are bound to happen. It’s the same with personalities — I’ve been introduced to people who I’ve instantly clicked with because I’ve already been good friends with someone of the exact same personality, mannerisms, sense of humor, etc. So I can get past all that initial meeting stuff and become good friends.

I love the idea, though, of being somehow connected to this other version of myself while still knowing absolutely nothing about them. I used to think that whenever I had a really good or bad day for no reason, it was because my doppelganger was up to something in her own world. And I assumed that I affected her somehow in the same way too. You know, whatever, fun to muse about, right?

Then I heard the Am I Carrying My Own Twin podcast (from Stuff Mom Never Told You), and it FREAKED THE SHIT OUT OF ME. Basically, there is a creeeeeepy phenomenon called fetus in fetu, where basically twins in the womb don’t manifest as twins, but rather one absorbs the other one. So one of the twins ends up carrying the other one. Brrrrrrrr. Of course, this is super rare, and it’s not like it ever results in another actual living creature. And there’s been tons of sci-fi and horror books and movies enamored with the idea of the subdued twin coming back to kill its sibling.

Once I got past all the creepy ookiness of it, I did find if fascinating that these womb twin survivors will carry with them throughout their lives this feeling that they are missing their double, their twin. They have a constant longing for someone who is supposed to be identical to them. So whenever I hear about people seeing doppelgangers (or, even weirder, the phenomenon when you hear the sounds of someone returning home from work and moving around – and they don’t actually arrive until hours later) I wonder if we all have this desire to reconnect with our Vanishing Twin in one form or another, even if we were never the product of fetus in fetu (*barf*). Or maybe we’re just all narcissistic jerks and would simply like to see more of ourselves out in the world.

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More Stuart

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Daryl Gnau, Henry Alexander, and me in my tough face.

I don’t know how I convince myself to do these things.

If it isn’t telling myself that yes, at 29, I can learn how to rollerskate, and do it in front of audiences while wearing hotpants and falling down (a LOT), … then it’s me thinking that, yes, I can compete in a crazy live art competition where I have no idea what’s going on.

So this past weekend (after taking some ill advice from fellow comicker and artist Mike Bracco), I signed up for the Super Art Fight Idol competition. Super Art Fight was described to me as “pro wrestling for artists” and involved costumes, frantic drawing, music, and live commentary. Really, that’s all I needed to know. So I dared myself to be stupid and threw my hat in the ring to compete.

Sixteen artists. Fifteen-minute bouts. Five hours. Three judges. Two finalists to go on to compete at Super Art Fight XI. One bored boyfriend (well … bored until he realized the AWESOMENESS that was going on, then he was totally into it).

Each artist starts off with one topic in mind to draw – in my first bout, I chose “velociraptor on a skateboard” and my opponent Ashley Harnden more wisely chose “portal”. This gave her the range to draw all over the canvas and attack my drawings from every area imaginable. I knew, at this moment, that I was screwed. I know the boyfriend plays portal, I know I’ve seen it, but I had no idea what to counter with …. until I remembered I’ve seen Jurassic Park 897 times and OH could I use that. The point of Super Art Fight is to use your theme against your opponent’s and dominate the canvas – populate it with your drawings, take over their drawings, and direct as many witty drawings toward your opponent’s drawings you can … all without making the canvas one huge, stinking mess of scribbles. Oh, and every five minutes they spin a WHEEL OF DEATH and change the topic you’re supposed to draw. Utter and complete madness? Yes.

But ingenious. While I was trying to be witty and drawing little jokes on the canvas, hearing the announcers describe what I’d drawn, and then actually hearing the crowd laugh in response was, needless to say, something artists rarely get to experience themselves. Sure, you’re onstage under terrifying spotlights, but the fact that you can do what you like best – draw – in front of an audience, and get an instant response is pretty incredible. Normally, after hours locked away in a room by yourself, you decide that what you’ve drawn is funny, and no one can argue with you until you post it online. Instant feedback and instant crowd involvement was something I never hoped to experience as an artist.

So it was awesome, and intimidating, and terrifying, and every artist there made nervous. I had no idea what I’d be up against. But somehow I lucked out and won 2 rounds, tied the 3rd, and joined two other canvas champs (Daryl Gnau and Henry Alexander) in a three-way tie! All three of us get to move on to the Super Art Fight XI on August 20th.

And before you ask, no, I don’t even want to think about how I’m going to beat another contestant at the drawing board, let alone two simultaneously … (that’s what she said).

(Pictures courtesy of Peet!)

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When you tell people that you make/create/draw comic books, for the purpose of actually getting people to read them, you’re usually met with one of three reactions:

  1. Disbelief
  2. Admiration
  3. Confusion
One common theme, I’ve noticed, is that people are instantly intrigued. Why would you do such a thing? How do you do such a thing? Or (my favorite, as asked by a technician giving me a facial) – How do you come up with … ideas? The thing that I’ve always enjoyed is that overall I tend to get positive reactions. It’s few and far between that people actually challenge me on whether I can make a living off of it (I can’t – yet), or why to even bother putting stories out into the world. Most people are just impressed that you answered their “What do you do for a living?” question with something remotely interesting.
The sad reality of the matter is that, in fact, it’s a lot of this:
Late night, post-day job, shunning all other activities to lock yourself in a room and draw as much as you can. It is work. There’s no getting around the sheer volume of sweat and sacrifice of vertebrae and hours and hours of time in order to make comics. It is not quick or fleeting. It is balls-to-the-wall, nose-to-the-sharpie work.
But there is one really wonderful thing you can discover when you’ve finally gotten out of rush hour and arrived home and even though the complete Twilight Zone series on DVD is calling your name and people are pinging you to go to Happy Hour and you’re resisting it all to go in that drawing room  – you must really like comics. Every time people grill you about why you’re wasting your time on that hobby, or telling you you’re not a true comics fan because you don’t know X, Y, and superhero Z, you can secretly smile. Because you like comics WAY more than any fanboy or hobbyist or collector does. And you’ve proven to yourself that there is something you love to do.

And hey – another upside – wine!

… Aaand I just found eraser bits stuck to my lipstick.

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