Why did I draw? what sin to me unknown
Dipp’d me in ink, my parents’, or my own?
As yet a child, nor yet a fool to fame,
I lisp’d in brushstrokes, for the brushstrokes came.
I left no calling for this idle trade,
No duty broke, no father disobey’d.
The Muse but serv’d to ease some friend, not wife,
To help me through this long disease, my life,
An Epistle to Arbuthnot – by Alexander Pope
Paraphrasing Alexander Pope’s poem, as it resonates through Art Spiegelman’s and W.J.T. Mitchell’s words, in their presentation on COMICS Philosophy & Practice (May 2012, University of Chicago), which you should consider taking 1:16:04 minutes to watch, or listen.
If you don’t care about comics, or telling stories, you probably have something better to do with your 1:16:04, but if you do give a fuck, then you might want to hear about the “comic book that wants a bookmark and needs to be re-read”, as Art Spiegelman lovingly describes the object of the medium.
Shit, I don’t even know why I struggle with it really. Might be more for my love of drawing, but then again, telling a story is the only thing that gives drawing a meaning and a purpose. The birth of drawing is illustrated by the maid of Corinth (cue stolen from Art and W.J.T, of course) who paints the silhouette of the one she loves, or lusts, because he is leaving, and she wants to keep him with her. I can throw a rock and hit someone who thinks I learned how to draw so I can meet beautiful women, and If there is a better reason to do it, I am desperately wanting to hear it, so I won’t go against my friends and ancestors alike.
But Why tell a story in pictures?
Douglas, why can’t you come around, ring number 42 (-12) and tell me “There’s only ever been one good answer to that question “Why?” and perhaps we should have that in the alphabet as well. There’s room for it. “Why?” doesn’t have to be the last word, it isn’t even the last letter. How would it be if the alphabet ended, “V W X Why? Z,” but “V W X Why not? Don’t ask stupid questions” (The Salmon of Doubt – Douglas Adams). I have come to live in London too late, because you are not here anymore. But, nonetheless.
Trying to focus on our story this last week, and sort of succeeding, in focusing at least, but it does make one want to think about what is happening during this conversation between paper, pencil and ink, and why.
When working on a comic book, it’s only by chance that every now and then you’ll get the right drawing on the right piece of paper, and when that happens it is magic; when more often than not it doesn’t, it’s the story you have to keep in mind, and sometimes it’s that damn story that makes everything look perfectly right, but not perfect.
I can tell you it is about understanding the world, and it is a world of understanding, as Milton Glaser describes his experience with drawing and designing. And it is, also, completely true. Trying to tell a story with pictures will get you on steam boats, in penthouses where airplanes crash when you just missed that same flight, on amazon rainforest waterfalls and on deserts, and maybe, even, sitting on a greek island parapet, listening to music through headphones that can cook your brains.
But it will have to get you unto and into other peoples heads. Because you are drawing for them, not for you. And if you think drawing is difficult…
so, since you ‘ve had some 00:03:xx time for my words, here is what I think:
draw asses, tits, dicks
draw shit, sweat, love
draw truth and beauty (but never at the same time)
Next one will be on how.
but with less profanity, and because Michael asked me to write about it.