More response from John on the reappearance of these fifteen-year-old pages from At the End of the World with my Sister. My response to his response was originally going to be in yesterday's comments field, but it got kind of unwieldily for that. After today, we'll move on to subjects other than incomplete B&W comics from the 1990's, but he raises some points I want to discuss, anyhow.
Anyhow, John wrote: "You know, I've probably intimated this before, but I feel at this point I can say it with absolute confidence... your comics work had commercial polish. And mine had none. That might explain why you're at least working in a creative field and I'm shuffling paperwork... I know you have great respect for me as a comic-book artist, but I just don't feel the call of it anymore... it got me through my prolonged adolescence. Cheers to that. And I'm only writing such a personal talkback because apparently no one is reading your blog besides me and your sister."
Yeah, not too many riders on the Subway Rambler. Even still, I promise not to talk about your cross-dressing here.
I don't know if I agree with you on the assessment of our comparative commercial potential, if only because the concept of what's commercial in comics has moved quite a bit in recent years. A graphic novel no longer has to compete with John Byrne's Alpha Flight for shelf space and reader attention, because a whole host of new markets has opened up for readers who would NEVER have considered buying a comic before. Leah is a case in point, because she bought Alison Bechdel's (really, really great) Fun Home - in fact, it was her copy I read (I'm waiting for the trade to buy myself), which I think marks the first time SHE'S lent ME a comic. Now there's a paradigm shift for you.
Your work is not only appealing to me - as I'm one of those weird, rare fans of all kinds of comics (save manga) - but would, I can guarantee, find a very willing market down roads already blazed by the likes of Chris Ware, Dan Clowes, Craig Thompson, Seth, etc.
In fact, the neither fish-nor-fowl quality of my work could be a turn-off to people in both the mainstream and art comics worlds. But there's also a growing market of people who like their sci-fi comics on the artsy side - witness the Flight anthologies, so maybe there's an in for Sister, as well.
I do agree that I aimed for polish, but I find these first few pages of Sister wildly inconsistent. They get better, though, and
The Fox was a major step up from that. Renunciation promises to be better still, and I hope it's good enough to get some real mileage out of. As soon as the current crises of home-wrecking and non-stop work weeks have passed and I have some serious time to dedicate to it, that's the first thing on my plate. If I do return to Sister - and that's still a highly provisional "if" - it won't be until I've gotten a few really successful (from a creative standpoint) shorter works under my belt. I refuse to throw myself into the deep end of the pool right off, this time around.
Now: to other readers, I want to assure you that's John's writing and draftsmanship in comics is without peer, so all that he says can be taken with a large hunk of salt. I only wish he'd self-publish, or find a publisher, or post on the goddamned web his mid-90's graphic novella Scaredy Cat, which, as I noted, could not only easily find a wide audience, but deserves to be seen by one. Anyone out there who is in the slightest bit interested in comics as art - or heck, just plain art - should try to will John into releasing this thing in some format.
If John gives me permission, I'll post some of those pages myself. Although scans from a decade-old Xerox vs. the original art boards won't do it proper justice, so we can only hope he chooses to do some scanning himself.
Hey, John! I bought a 12" x 18" scanner solely for the purpose of scanning comics pages without having to paste the two halves back together in PhotoShop. I put it at your disposal, and ivite you out for beer, BBQ and scanning once the summer gets underway.
Anyone else need anything scanned? Hey, put that away.
Sure, let's scan.
I hope one day soon a get btten by the comics bug again.
It could happen, who knows...
Right now I'm engaged in writing fiction. You know, actual fiction, not me as the main character.
I have another novel on the horizon. That means creatively I'm pretty much booked for the next couple of years. But at least this will be a novel you'll be able to read (and really enjoy, I hope).
I find I do better advancing one project if I have one or two others also lurking around, becuase
- I don't like the feeling of being tied to one piece for an extended period of time without a break (you shouldn't cheat in marriage, but screwing around on your muse seems to work just fine)
- If the sole creative endeavor you're running goes legs up, that can wreak untold emotional havok in your life. That's the real lesson of "Sister." 14 years later and I'm still licking my wounds from that one.
Also, I can play them off each other.
Yeah, my most productiove creative period ever was in 1997. I was unemployed but living with a roommate in Maplewood, NJ. I was tag-teaming between Scaredy Cat and my novel, and in 6 weeks I drew around 10 pages of the comic and wrote almost 100 pages of rough draft on the novel. I still can't believe I did that.
So, I'd think you'd take a lesson from that. Quit your job and go live in Maplewood!
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