July 21, 2004
Excellent day for scratchboard. I finished seven pieces and I’m in that zone where it really starts to flow. I have been inspired by a story I heard about Mick Jagger. Some writer was vacationing in the Bahamas area and Mick was his neighbor and the writer said every night Mick would sing along loudly to Stones songs (just the instrumental tracks) for two hours! I know, it sounds weird and kind of ego-maniacal, but he allegedly does it to keep his voice in shape, and I thought, Man, that is commitment. I need to do the same thing.
So I got up this morning at five and started doing my rooster strut around the foot of the bed, over to Kathy’s side and really started wailing at the top of my lungs, “I was born, in a cross-fire hurricane. And I howled at the mornin' driving rain. But it’s all right now, in fact, it’s a gas, Jumpin’ Jack Flash it’s a gas, gas, gasssssssss. Hey, alright now! Git up on your feet Cleveland!”
Not really. It was actually "Midnight Rambler," followed by an eighteen minute version of "Honkytonk Women." Sadly, Kathy passed on the encore—"Satisfaction."
Actually, I did seven scratchboards, honking along and it feels so good. I want to do three more tonight so I can get in the groove to do 10 a day, which I think is a realistic number.
Tom Carpenter of Flagstaff sent me an article out of The New York Times on the current “graphic novel” phenom. The article, ("Not Funnies" by Charles McGrath, nytimes.com) which was quite inspiring also, said many cartoonists consider five completed drawings a day’s work. Well, I get no satisfaction (but I try, try, try) with that piddly number. I am a Kingman Kowboy Kartoonist and we draw that many before breakfast.
Highlights, at least for me, in the NYTimes piece: “the fastest-growing section of your local bookstore these days is apt to be the one devoted to comics and so-called graphic novels.” Also, “there is something like a critical mass of artists, young and old, uncovering new possibilities in this once-marginal form.”
When the author mentioned to a friend that he was working on an article about graphic novels, his friend said, hopefully, “You mean porn?” And probably the comment that applies to me the most, “you have to be a bit of a weirdo to want to purse this odd and solitary art form. . .[and] for those who do stick with it, the career of the graphic novelist can be less a choice than a compulsion.”
Or as Dave Barry puts it, “There is a fine line between a hobby and mental illness.” The flash point for me happened at Gaviota’s just outside Bisbee, last April, when my border compadre, Bart Bull and I were having dinner in this fine Mexican food joint and we got to talking about my longtime idea to put out a series of graphic novels. Bart asked me what was stopping me and I said, “Well, I’m running a magazine, writing and illustrating several articles every issue and I’ve got another Classic Gunfights book to produce before Christmas.” Bart calmly said, “What if the graphic novel was entirely in black and white and 32 pages?” Wow! This simple question freed me. And here I am churning out the images, studying the classics (Robert Crumb, Sergio Leone and Diego Valasquez). I have actually scheduled the first graphic novel (I need the deadline pressure) to begin running in the magazine very soon and it will be in black and white and 32 pages. Thankyou Bart Bull.
“Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day; while failure is simply a few errors in judgment, repeated every day. It is the cumulative weight of our disciplines and our judgments that leads us to either fortune or failure.
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