Why I Draw

Oh, it’s a dirty job but someone’s gotta do it – President Obama

This is a topic I’ve addressed before in various ways, but one that bears repeating, as much for you to understand it as it is for me to remind myself. Why do I come home after a long days work, sometimes after finishing a side job, in an attempt to support my family in these dark times, pay half attention to the shows I watch with my wife and take time away from playing with my son so I can sit down at my computer to draw cartoons? Why have I been doing Black Snow for coming up on 10 years now?

Because I’m an insane selfish masochist? Maybe. Hopefully it’s more than that. To truly understand why we have to travel way back to the days of my youth (I’m 27 by the way). Some of my fondest early childhood memories were reading comic strips with my grandpa. He read them to me before I knew how to read…and well after. We read comics in the paper, which seemed a lot less terrible back then, but maybe it’s because I was easier to please.

But what I really liked was when we read Calvin and Hobbes and The Far Side in compilation books. Those were the kings of the comics. I should mention now that I had been drawing since before I could remember. I drew a lot. Mostly monsters and my toys. Eventually this transfered to drawing Calvin and Hobbes. Then at some point my family got cable! (told you I was old) Instead of PBS and Saturday morning cartoons I now had access to this amazing channel…for kids, Nickelodeon. Yes you spoiled youngsters with your 80 kids channels, I was born into a time when no such thing existed.

Oh, and I loved it. I loved watching reruns of the old cartoons like Looney Tunes and Yogi Bear, but I really enjoyed the so called Nicktoons like Ren and Stimpy, Rocko’s Modern Life and the Rugrats. I also enjoyed others like Count Duckula and some show about Koalas (I think there were two at one point).

To make it short and simple, I LOVED CARTOONS. I decided then that I wanted to be a cartoonist. I would draw all my favorite characters and occasionally come up with my own. One thing I found especially intriguing about cartoons and comic strips was the fact that I loved them, but had really no idea who was really behind them. I liked that you could entertain somewhat anonymously. Despite any perceived bravado or arrogance, I’m actually a very shy person.

So I kept drawing like that until middle school. What happened at my terrible middle school? People made fun of how bad my drawings were and some obviously had more talent than me (or so it seemed at the time). My parents had just gone through a terrible divorce that saw me kicked out of my mom’s house and basically the end of our relationship, so I was quite depressed. Having some jerks say my ninja sucked was quite a blow to my already low self esteem (I drew something similar to a foot soldier from the 80s Ninja Turtle cartoon while everyone else was drawing anime). Anime in the general seemed to be really on the rise then, I didn’t get it. I thought it was crap. So I kind of quit drawing. I’d doodle in my notebook when bored in class, which was fairly often (I was too smart for that school, finishing with a 4.0 and not really trying). One good thing that came out of the school was I took a video class my last semester and found I had a real flair for it, even making a couple animated shorts. So then I decided that was what I wanted to do.

So I went to high school, eventually took some video related classes senior year and loved it. One video I made was about super heroes, which I became interested in. Alex and I had talked a year prior about making a comic book (which he was really into, and I never really spent any time reading). We decided to give it a shot and Black Snow issue one was born. I did also take a couple drawing classes in high school, and it became clear I was one of the best in the class, so I had some confidence that I could do this comic book thing.

I went on to Junior College, took one drawing class and got my general ed done so I could move on to real college and take film. Why did I focus on film instead of drawing? I really loved it and thought I could do well with it. I had already displayed talent for it and loved watching movies. Somehow it seemed like a more practical career choose than drawing. I never said I was a well planned out guy. If I could go back and change my focus to art and drawing would I? Maybe. But I went to film school, continued to draw Black Snow when I had a chance, and graduated. I kept drawing it after, and learned a lot (in school and in practice) about how to make a cool website for it and promote it online.

So, to make a long story longer, I’ve been drawing almost all my life, and it’s always been a passion. I’ve been trying to master comics for almost years now, and I really don’t see myself ever stopping. One part is that it makes me happy to do it. My wife says it’s my therapy. That may be true. I do get to act out emotions through the characters. Probably another big aspect of it is that I learned to really like comic books, so that made me more interested in getting better. Perhaps the largest aspect is that I get to work on it with my best friend. It’s something we’ve gotten to share for nearly a decade. If I was working on it with someone I didn’t know or like, I probably would have quit by now.

But at this point I don’t see myself ever quitting. I want to get better. I want to entertain. I want to draw. It’s a passion, perhaps even an obsession. Maybe someday after I’ve achieved real success with it and feel like I’ve nothing left to do I’ll quit…but honestly, I don’t think anyone really thinks that will ever happen.

Now look how bad the 80’s truly were.

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