Sunday, January 22, 2012

Fantasy To Reality

I used to draw a lot more than I do now. Twelve, thirteen, somewhere in there... I had aspirations of becoming a comic book artist. I dutifully carried around an over-sized art pad, and tried copying my favorite heroes into it. Certainly by age fifteen, if not a little sooner, I had realized that I didn't have nearly the talent to draw comics for a living (I had one drawing that was supposed to be the Black Panther, but I screwed up the proportions really badly and I had to change his costume to make him Beast in his original appearance) but I still continued doodling in my notes and homework assignments and such.

One thing I started doing was cartooning myself to provide commentary on homework and tests. Rather than simply write a note in the margins for the teacher, I'd do a cartoon of myself with a speech bubble saying something (hopefully) clever. It wasn't a particularly good likeness, I don't think, and was a bit overly influenced by the likes of Jim Davis and Bill Amend. Over the next few years, I made it a little more representative of me and what I was drawing by seventeen hasn't changed much stylistically through today. (I just pulled out cartoon of myself I did in 1990, and the biggest difference between that and how I draw myself today is my hair.)

I also used my "self-portraits" as a means of expressing what I was thinking about. I'd draw myself in a Buck Rogers style space suit, and imagine exploring other worlds. Or in leather jacket and a fedora, swinging by a bullwhip over a river of crocodiles, on the hunt for lost treasure. Or in a Fantastic Four jumpsuit, flying as backup behind the original team. They were daydreams, mostly, of me being bigger/better/more than who I was.

As I said, I don't draw as much as I used to, but I found myself doodling a week or so ago. It was me, in my usual jeans and a t-shirt, defiantly defending my home from unseen attackers. And I recalled another doodle I had done at the end of 2009: me, in a very tattered version of my usual jeans and t-shirt, bruised and bloodied, looking like I'm about ready to collapse, in front of the broken numbers "2009." They were still not depicting reality, but they were very much less aspirational and very much more metaphoric.

I don't know when I stopped drawing myself as a superhero. The last distinct recollection I have was in college, shortly after I was introduced to Photoshop. (Wherein I promptly inserted myself into a few pages of The Infinity War.) But I'm left to wonder if that's because I stopped looking to comics as engines of wish fulfillment, or did I simply stop looking for those escapist ideas which then led to my not looking for them in comics?

3 comments:

Matt K said...

I'm not sure.

But that "Black Panther, hmmm, make it The Beast" drawing is a choice little anecdote. Heh.

Sean Kleefeld said...

I console myself with two things: 1) I was 12, and 2) I at least recognized that I'd jacked up the proportions that badly before adding a lot detail work on the costume.

Ethan said...

Cool post today =P