What is this year? Daniel Robert Epstein at only 31, Drew Hayes at 37, Tom Artis, Marshall Rogers, Arnold Drake, Bob Oksner, Iwao Takomoto, Johnny Hart, and on and fucking on and on. And Vonnegut, and whoever else you want to add in there; whoever I've forgotten; I'm sorry. Still... Mike Wieringo? What a fucking cruel year.
I liked Wieringo because he could draw, but I liked him more because he could write:
Art monkey; Wrist-for-hire; Have pencil-will travel--- there's a ton of them. But I think these terms stem from the fact that the trend has been for quite a while now that the 'vision' for the comic book is strictly that of the writer, and the art team is simply there to make that vision real on paper. The 'Marvel method' of creating comics has gone the way of the Dodo, really. All scripts done for Marvel are now, like at DC, done in full-script form, so unless the writer is feeling generous enough to bring the penciler in on the initial writing of the story (and there's little or none of that happening), then the penciler is relegated to the status of 'flunky', in my humble opinion. And for someone like me, who spent his childhood writing and drawing his own stories-- and who has been in a very collaborative relationship on a creator-owned project as I was with Todd Dezago on Tellos, it's a bitter pill to swallow to have to return to being relegated to nothing more than (fill in the blank with any of the aforementioned terms).
Set aside the substance of what he's saying in that quote; save it for later -- what a pleasure to have a comic artist write so honestly and cleanly about his work, fears, anxieties, ambitions! Who else did that? Who else ever bothered? I can't begin to imagine what friends and family lost, but for the rest of us, it might be important to note that his fans didn't just lose an artist who could draw a lovely comic, but someone rarer and even more generous than that as well.
I honestly didn’t think that many people would pay attention…. but over the years, that attention has grown and this blog has become important to me in more ways than one. Not only has this little corner of the web become a place for me to share and interact with folks online, but the blog has been– on more than one occasion– cheap therapy/cathartic for me when I’ve been stewing something over in my head. Being able to get thoughts down in type and share them with you folks who provide feedback has been a great thing.
Regular nonsense from me later this week.
But I suppose, in a nutshell, I could say that to succeed in this business—work constantly and always be open to criticism. The only way to improve is to continually work at improving your craft. Nothing will make an artists work grow more than just incessant drawing. I thought I was ready for regular work when I got my first assignment, but I wasn’t. I had no idea how much I still had to learn—and STILL need to learn—when I got started. And the learning process never ends. An artist always has things they can improve on and so the education of art is a life-long process. Stay open to that and everything should be OK.