Saturday, August 12, 2006

August 12, 2006
Got some rain overnight. Didn’t hear it, but woke up to muggy air and puddles in the driveway. Went for a bike ride at seven. Air is humid but cool. Encountered four cutting horses with women riders cutting it up in the new horse arena at the end of the road. Two of the women brought their dogs, but fortunately, Peaches and Buddy were distracted by a smashed frog in the roadway and I got them by without incident.

Came back and started the ‘49. Pulled it out onto the Spanish driveway and let it idle for about ten minutes. Looked up at the sky and said, “There. Are you happy now?” My dad gets so bugged when I don’t take care of the family Ford.

My good friend Fred Nolan from Chalfont St. Giles, England sent me a whole packet of big, art posters featuring many of my heroes. Evidently, the huge, lush, foldout extravaganzas were printed and included in a Brit newspaper, The Independent, and Fred saved them and thoughtfully sent me a gaggle of them for my inspiration. Included in the series are Caravaggio (love the David with the Head of Goliath, 1609, which is great reference for my upcoming severed head scenes), Paul Cezanne (Rocks near L'Estaque, 1882, which I will steal from), Titian (who I may put up just because I like to see the word "tit" real big), Eugene Delacroix (great Arab horseback scenes, The Combat of the Giaour an d Hassan, 1826), among others. I have the Rembrandt Va Rijn self portrait (at the age of 63, 1669) up on the wall by The Top Secret Project desk in my studio. As I type this, Rembrandt is looking right at me, and his aged, wise eyes seem to say, "Quit noodling in your damned blog and get to work!"

Speaking of noodling and wasting time, one of my selfish motives for writing this daily blog is to commit to goals and ideas in a semi-public manner, to insure, or at least prod out of my naturally lazy being, some level of commitment. I know from experience that I get more done if I write something down, and it’s more effective if I say it out loud, and by extension it’s helpful to make a vow to a living human being (in 1981, on sabbatical from New Times and finally getting a chance to work on my own projects, I found myself, without structure and a "job" to go to, unable to rise, much less shine. As stupid as this sounds, I couldn't get out of bed! After sleeping through four or five alarms for several days, out of desperation I gave Kathy a twenty dollar bill and said, “If I don’t get up with the alarm, give this money to the Klu Klux Klan.” I got up with the alarm and sent the money to the United Negro College Fund).

So, in that vein, here is my commitment for all to see:

The Triple B Graphic Novel Manifesto
Whereas I believe the vast majority of graphic novels today are nothing more than comic books on better paper, I vow the following:

• I intend to emulate and cannibalize all of the visual arts I can get my hands on. Graphic should mean "graphic," including numerous techniques (scratchboards, gouache, pencil, crayons, et al.). Layout should emulate magazine formats, with cutlines, pull quotes and maps that fill in back story and provide clues about exposition without long, cumbersome word balloons.

• Word balloons are a necessary evil, but should be used rarely, if at all. There has to be a better way to tell a story without ridiculous thought balloons coming out of character’s heads. Narrative and dialogue does not have to be part of the drawings (I often hear the term "movies on paper" but most GNs seem to be "cave drawings on paper").

• Narration and dialogue should be separate, but ideally there should be story information in the visual images that does not appear in the narration. And vice versa. The end result being if you only read the narrative you wouldn’t completely understand the story and the same on the visual side of the fence. Ideally, both should stand alone, but important information should be hidden, or planted in each, so that you have to go back and read and look at the story again to see the secret compartment on the tapadero. It wasn’t described in the text, but it was there for you to see if you looked close enough to the drawings.

• Straight scene for scene storyboarding is dull and passe. Skim action and jump cutting is where it’s going. We have seen tens of thousands of TV shows, movies, documentaries, magazines and books. It is time to blend all of these genres into something that could rightfully be called a “Graphic Novel.”

End of sermon and pompous posturing. Now to get to work. But first I must go to yoga and a speech in Prescott (maybe I should give a twenty to Buddy Boze Hatkiller and say, “If I go to yoga or commit to another speech in Prescott, eat this money.”) Nah. Too effective.

“When nothing is sure, everything is possible.”
—Margaret Drabble

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