Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Ritual

The Internet has made an enormous difference to the way I work. To me, going online is like getting my favourite newspaper every day, but a newspaper that I have edited myself, by putting all my favourite subjects from all the available sources together in one publication - and with no darned Sudoku.

I am not just passively reading either, I am saving entire pages, cutting and pasting articles, gathering current information and information about future events and information about the history of illustration and cartooning. I am studying circulation figures, reader demographics, news and events and information about markets and publishers and agents and freelance opportunities and even gossip. It is a ritual that has proved so rewarding and valuable to me that I have made time for in my working day.

It begins here for me, at my homepage, and just to be sure I am focused, I ask myself 'where do I want to go today?', and every day the answer is the same, with some variations as I am corralled off to links that are flagged up by the sites I regularly visit. I always back-click though, and follow the same path that ends with me checking my email and then heading toward the drawing table. However long my online adventure takes, I simply tack on to my working day.

What I'd like to do it now, while I'm clear in my mind of the role I think the people on my daily list play, is make a list of the sites I visit every morning, here. The reason I want to make this record is that I have begun to realise (yes, I am that slow) that the people responsible for these sites are actually living resources.

This is especially true of those among them who work in cartooning and publishing. If you take, for example, Tom Spurgeon, you have someone who worked on a syndicated comic strip, worked for a leading publisher and produces a blog dedicated to comics and cartooning and illustration. Others on the list have similar credentials and I think when you have someone like, for instance, Fantagraphic's Dirk Deppey, the man behind the Journalista blog, at your disposal, you would be foolish not to take advantage of his knowledge and his efforts and his contacts. The fact that you are online and not at a party or a convention, and not traditionally face-to-face and perhaps even an ocean apart, should not stop you from networking, because that is, after all, what this is. It's fun, but you are also adding to your knowledge the whole time, so its constructive fun.

Cartoonists who also blog, and reveal the processes they use in making their cartoons, and introduce readers to new ideas and the work of old and new cartoonists and just, in general, take the time to enthuse about the job are to be prized, I think. The fact that you can find out, almost daily what popular cartoonist Mike Lynch has on his mind, would have been invaluable to me as a beginning cartoonist and even today I learn all sorts of new tips and tricks from his blog. That syndicated cartoonist Sandra Bell Lundy is willing to share the process of working on her successful strip Between Friends, and to let us know her thoughts and ideas means that we readers, and especially those of us who are thinking we might one day want to try making our own comic strips, now have some access to a world that has often been shrouded in mystery, with,'keep trying' the only advice we were privy to.

Finding a successful author/illustrator online may not be so surprising these days. I mean, publishers now regularly create Internet presences for their authors, with nothing more than signing dates on them and a great deal of puff for products and very little sign of the creator concerned, but successful cartoonist/author/illustrator Brian Fies, the man behind the multi award-winning book Mom's Cancer, has never been that sort of online presence. For years now Brian has supported cartooning on and off the web, and has added his valuable insights to the possible directions that cartooning and graphic novels may take in the years to come. His blog is among the best, and most lively, reads on the web. And a fellow cartoonist/author/illustrator and sometime publisher, Eddie Campbell, the man who illustrated Alan Moore's From Hell and wrote, amongst other titles, The Fate of the Artist, also illuminates and informs with his blog, and some of the artwork he shares is simply stunning.

I categorize The Pulse, Fleen, Same Hat, Comics Should be Good, Drawn, Newsarama, etc, as information givers. These are sites were I go looking for information on what is new and happening and every time I arrive on these sites I think I'll have a quick read and leave and I end up spending hours because there is so much going on. They are valuable resources, but they are just such darned good reads that I sometimes forget myself and When that happens I simply have to shift my day to accommodate my 7 hours of drawing.

The following day, I am eager to find out what is going on. I'll be honest with you, I thought that by now I'd be fed up thinking about cartooning, but the living resources that make-up the comics community on the Internet have given me a new lease of life, So, no piccies today, just a heartfelt thanks to those who take the time and effort to ensure that cartooning remains vibrant and relevant.

Dirk Deppey
Mike Lynch
Tom Spurgeon
Heidi MacDonald
Same Hat
Comic Foundry
Comics Should Be Good
Sandra Bell-Lundy
Brian Fies
Eddie Campbell
John Freeman's Down the Tubes

1 comment:

Mike Lynch said...

Thank you for the kind words. I am happy to be in the company of so many fine people, a couple of whom I consider not only colleagues, but dear pals.