Drawing Yourself

Take a look at this latest Day Camp.

Day Camp, Alex and Michael

So that’s the debut of Alex and myself in the comic. This is something Alex has been personally very excited about since he wrote it about a month ago. I on the other hand was not so excited. There’s a new layer of pressure when you are drawing something that is supposed to represent you or someone in your life, versus a character you’ve made up or people you haven’t seen in years. Of course this isn’t really the first time I’ve been represented in our comics.

Hawaiian Mike

Hawaiian Mike is based on an old nick name and period in my life when I thought Hawaiian clothes were in style. Physically he is supposed to resemble me, but I don’t think any of his personality attempts to mimic my own. This new portrayal in Day Camp is a little closer to the truth, as it captures what I looked and acted like as a young teen. Is it really accurate? I think I got the look pretty true to life, although it is obviously a very stylized cartoonish representation. Will he really act like I did? Maybe a bit, but I doubt it will be that close. For one I’m not the one writing it, so I’m sure he’ll say things in ways that I never would.

When you label something as yourself, like I’ve done here, there is the expectation that it will be a true representation, but it’s not. It’s just a character, like any of the others. When you learn to draw you start with a lot of self portraits. I think that gives you a good insight into how you are able to manipulate the image and provides an instant incentive to strive for quality. I’ve written quite a bit in the past about putting yourself into your art, and really everything you draw is an extension of yourself. I’ve heard it said that the great artist are really frustrated actors, who attempt to ply their acting through the drawing of their characters, and I think that’s true.

Everything you draw is something you are creating. Travis isn’t real. Yes, there is a real Travis, but that’s not who you are seeing when you read the comic. It’s a character I created and continue to create every time I draw him. In essence what you see is how I would play the part of Travis, or any of the characters. This also extends to the writing. What you read is how Alex and sometimes myself think the character of Travis would speak. This is the same whether it’s applied to Serena, Mark, Alex or Michael. Portrayals of characters, yet people expect them to be something more when they are based on real people. Especially when the people are actually involved in the creation of the work.

It’s a very strange thing to see a cartoon character of yourself, and I already do feel something of a connection with it, but not as much as you may have expected. Mostly I think it has made things even more bizarre in what was already a really unusual experiment in nostalgia. We’ll see how it progresses in the future, as only a few more are written at this point. I don’t know where things are headed or how personal it will get, so I suppose that’s where my concern really comes from. I guess we’ll find out together.

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