Above: Self portrait of comic artist Terry Moore, creator of one of my favorite series, Strangers in Paradise
M and I love comic books. We are avid fans of the genre, and we regularly collect comics and graphic novels. Taking over our main bookcase, actually, but we both love them, seek them out, and buy them when we can. Nothing is better, in my opinion, than curling up with a new comic. I even subscribe to a magazine that focuses on comics and has articles analyzing various aspects of the genre, Comics Foundry.
One of my biggest dreams has been to write and draw my own graphic novel. I've played around with ideas for years now. I started an idea a while back, a sci-fi story called Mobius Loop, that actually had some good concepts, but my art wasn't really up to par. So I stopped it, partly because I got stuck, and partly because I didn't feel like I was good enough.
And another idea I had, about a ditzy, magical professor and her very serious babysitting charge, ended up being a children's book, Juniper Key and the Very Serious Girl, which I'm writing a sequel to now, and thinking about maybe trying to get published. Maybe. I'm shy about it.
After reading inspirational things like Craig Thompson's Blankets (which details his adolescence, his struggle with religion, and his first love), I started thinking about writing from my own life. And I have one particular topic that's been floating through my head for months now: a memoir of going to Japan with my mother, and all the weird experiences we had, coupled with my ongoing obsession with the culture throughout my life. Black and white, heavy ink, and going between cartoony and very detailed art.
But actually sitting down and writing a graphic novel is very, very intimidating, and I find it's hard to work up the courage even to get started. I've made notes, written things here and there, but it's the art that is intimidating me. I'm so rusty, so not where I think I should be, that it's screwing with my head.
Not a lot of people know that in high school, I was heavily into both art and English. Actually, more art than writing back then. And when it came to graduation, and to applying for colleges, I had to make a choice: which one to major in (for some reason, majoring in both wasn't an option - I'm not sure why on reflection). And I chose English, mainly because I got the impression it was easier to make a living out of English than it was art.
So I did English, and I got my Master's, and it worked out well, but there's always a part of me that fiercely wishes I'd majored in art. The idea of spending hours a day on art sounds like heaven to me, hard and certainly challenging, but heavenly.
So when I say I don't feel like I'm at where I should be, that's where it stems from. Funny thing is, it would be easy to boost my skills: just begin somewhere, and practice every day.
Anyways, the whole point of this point (finally) is that I'm seriously considering doing a mini-comic, to maybe distribute and trade at the upcoming Small Press Expo, which is in Maryland this October, and features independant publishers and comics outside of the Big Two (Marvel and DC). And I'm thinking about doing 8 or 12 pages about when I first came to America back in 2000, lived in Quincy, Mass., and generally went a little nuts for a while from the decision. Then photocopy, staple it into a little book, and... see what happens.
And maybe doing something like this will give me the confidence to tackle the Japan memoir. Maybe.