Thursday, June 27, 2013


So, one of my favorite webcomics is Questionable Content by Jeph Jacques. I started reading it almost from the beginning and have been able to watch Jeph's art develop as well as just enjoying the young-indie-scene soap opera. Here's one of the main characters, Faye, from her first speaking appearance, from midway through the run, and in her most recent appearance:

Jeph's art in the beginning was - and he'd be the first to say it - crude. The more he worked, however, the better he got. Somewhere a few years ago he hit his stride as a cartoonist and his stuff became so much more visually appealing. Since then, it has been a matter of refinement, and he's so good now that the punchline of a strip can be the raising of an eyebrow, the cocking of a head, or the tightening of a grip. He could illustrate one of the old Jack Benny shows and you wouldn't miss a nuance.

Danielle Corsetto's Girls With Slingshots is another great strip. Danielle's art developed a little differently that Jeph's. Here's the main character, Hazel, again from the first strip, the midpoint, and the most recent strip:

Danielle's early work is not crude, like Jeph's was; in fact, it seems to show more formal art influence: she's drawing instead of cartooning. Somewhere in the middle she learned to simplify and streamline and her work started taking on real life; now she has a distinct and minimalist style that is totally engaging, and she hasn't lost her artist's sense of perspective or anatomy: viz.

Now, here's my work from maybe twenty-five years ago and yesterday:

 As you can see, I have progressed.... well, not at all, really.

The difference is that between #1 and #3 for Jeph and Danielle, each one produced around two or three thousand strips or drawings. Between #1 and #2 for me, not so much.

This gets back to my questions here and here about the incremental nature of development in certain spheres, and my specific concern about art - my art. Jeph and Danielle were and are both young, vigorous, and committed to their work - they were trying to parlay their strips into a living, and both have been successful. I'm old, tired, and without any guarantee of talent - I'm not sure I can bring that fire to this.

On our walk today, the Spectacular Sissy wondered how many things I can take on at once and do well, and whether art is one that will fall by the wayside. That, of course, plants the seed of doubt.

Bu then I remember: someone (not Chesterton) said that the admonition "If it's worth doing, it's worth doing well" is one of the greatest unintentional evils. Because there are some things - such as playing the ukulele, skateboarding, and cartooning, for example - that are worth doing whether or not we ever do them well, worth doing just for the joy of it, worth doing for their own sake.

Yeah, I like that better. Here's to one thousand crappy drawings.

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