Doot Doot Garden: The Blog of Craig Thompson
Doot Doot Garden: The blog of graphic novelist Craig Thompson
the universal struggle! December 13th, 2007

Jordi, thanks for the reminder of the month-long lapse. I’ve been wrestling to stay on top of things,
and meaning to put something on the blog for a while now. It’s great to know all of you care.
Seems like a good time to open up the forum. Lots of questions and comments to address. And I confess,
I’m terrible at responding to personal mail, though I’m ever grateful for it. So here goes the first ever:

letterscorner01.jpg

Wendelin asks for “some advice or pointers on how to get started in the field of art and cartooning.”

Zacheus (that little orange critter) answers: Draw all the time. Make sure to draw from life — especially human figures, sexy trees, mundane details of chairs and buildings and telephone wires — as much as you draw from imagination. Don’t neglect either. Also read real books without any pictures. My opinion is that a solid education at a state university will probably serve you as well or better than art school. Craig’s a dropout, but he would have definitely benefited from learning a second language and other brain exercises. Like any art, don’t think too much about money. Material possessions are for those on a different path. But keep your defenses up against the exploitative “Man” — every industry is crawling with them. Draw your own mini-comics and put them up on the ol’ internet or print them out on a laser printer or make a friend at kinko’s and trade those suckers and meet other cartoonists – they’re a friendly, humble crowd. Is that enough to get started on?

J.T. asks, “Does it come natural for you to work consistently at drawing and creating stories,
or are there barriers you have had to overcome or are still overcoming?”

It’s like they always say — 90% perspiration. Or as my fine art buddy Dan Attoe says, “Painting is like mowing the lawn.” Slow, tedious work. You feel like a leper – crumbling over your little drawing desk – while life passes you by. But life passes by no matter what, and at the end of a day, or a month, or a year — you have something to show for it. Like the Velvet Underground says, “You’re gonna reap just what you sow.” (Or is that from the Bible?) My main barrier in the past was starvation. Now it’s hand pain and business crap and self doubt and blahblahblah. We’re not alone in the struggle!

Okay. And now since this is supposed to be a visual blog, here’s a sample of the construction of a single HABIBI page.
(recently shown at my Wordstock and PNCA talks)
1) the first draft drawn directly in my sketchbook in ballpoint pen. 2) the messy, re-edited / page breakdown version.
3) the penciled page, and some ornamentation I sampled and digitally arranged. 4) the final inked page.

pageconstruction.jpg

Take care!

21 Responses to “the universal struggle!”

  1. janvier Says:

    welcome back..heh heh.
    >^.^

  2. Alexander Says:

    You inspire me to no end. Thanks for the post, very helpful. And Habibi continues to look great.

  3. Tim Says:

    Thanks for the reminder to keep drawing from life as well as from imagination… sometimes i forget that it’s drawing from life that upgrades my drawing skill…

    And your tools post was very helpful too…
    Any more info on your process would be much appreciated.

    Thanks for returning to the blog!

  4. willymj Says:

    Wow! you keep on raising the bench mark! Big Claps from Wales!

  5. Marianne S Says:

    oh i love Zacheus! he is sassy and sometimes facetious, and the only one who can make something as dreary as holiday diarrhea fun. Always great reading your blogs :D

  6. Jordi Says:

    Thanks for posting so quickly! Feels great to know you also care for your blog! What adress can I use (or email) to send you a letter (or personal email)?
    Cheers from Barcelona!

  7. Kristin Says:

    Wow. It’s always really amazing to see your art, and showing your working process is even better. I like seeing how you choose to blend or omit elements of panels in each successive draft.

  8. Mark Says:

    yeah good job with keeping up:-P

    but the inking is absoltely gorgeously ornate

    but…

    i didn’t know you dropped out?

  9. eli Says:

    Always great to see the progression of a piece, usually I like sketches more than the finished piece, but not on this one, that inking is just phenomenal! Such great detailing on this page, and I love how the word balloons are incorporated into the composition, stunning really.

  10. Adam Gallardo Says:

    Craig, this is so beautiful! And I love seeing the “behind the scenes” stuff. I was just wondering if you could talk a little bit about how you went from a fairly traditional three-panel page in your draft to a panel-less page full of decorations in the final version.

    Thanks.

  11. Rygar! Says:

    This stuff is sweet. I wonder why you haven’t worked on a video for Menomena? It just seemed natural. Although, their video fo Evil Bee is unspeakably sweet. I’ll be buying their album for your art and their music.

    Habibi has some good stuff!

  12. Georgia Says:

    Habibi looks beautiful…can’t wait!
    Mew.

  13. susan Says:

    i am about to be very silly and equally selfish.

    my platonic soul mate, Casey, insisted i read this painfully pale blue book ‘Blankets’; with no elaboration. i trust his judgment more than newton’s- so i come home from work, frozen and exhausted- and i read. under the snobbish impression i’ll have had my proverbial fill in minutes…what a fool i feel like when a ringing phone beckons senses home; and i’m over 200 pages in. i could blame this on many a thing; if nothing more than the fulfillment of experiencing someone else’s annoyance at parents unwillingness to accept, or even recall, that you’re vegetarian. (i havent eaten meat since i was six…)

    i’ve lost my train…perhaps along with my allure…

    in what aught to be conclusive; im not familiar with more works…im not ridden with tattooed likenesses…i’m not even sure what ambition overcame to look this up… but even if the wanderers never meet; oh, the solace of converging paths…
    –no matter how temporary.

    (thank you)

  14. Giuseppe Ferrario Says:

    I love the way you build your page

  15. Leo Says:

    Why craig… I have to thank you so much for sharing. I don´t (to be honest, I can´t… unless you count stick figures as drawings) draw. But I love stories… I love them in images, and I love them in words.

    I am on a crusade to make everyone i love and respect to read ¨Blankets¨… I actually feel it should be required reading for people that, like me, went to film school and want to learn how to tell a story with images. As a matter of fact it should be required reading for everyone that has ever fallen in love (so.. in other words… for everyone).

    Your book is (as far as I am concerned) one of the most important works of American literature that have been made in the last decade. I promise I will not stop until every single one of my friends has a copy (I have personally bought 5 now four for other people… and by the end of it, they are all grateful and i get emails about them running out to buy chunky rice and/or Carnet).

    I know this is long, and maybe unrelated to your posting (which is more directed to people that can express themselves through drawing… unlike myself) but I felt it needed to be said.

  16. Amy Wan Says:

    Hi Craig,

    Your work touches my soul. Your response to an inquiry about developing artistic expression reminded me of what I am currently reading, The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac. That simply means that you are a genius. Your creative expression is so sexy.

    Keep spreading your light.

  17. Amy Wan Says:

    P.S. India is one of my favorite countries…if you wrote a graphic novel about the mystic place, that would be so sweet. If you need a personal guide, I will take you! I am very good at sneaking into the deserted Beatles’ ashram.

  18. Mia Wolff Says:

    Craig–met you some years back at some comic thing (I think Bethesda) I was with Frank MIller and Paul Pope–I remember looking at your sketchbook with them…anyways I really like the work you are doing here
    look forward to the book
    Mia
    http://wolffbrain.blogspot.com

  19. Robert Nelson Says:

    it was really nice to read this… back to the drawing board.

  20. Djou Says:

    Life is so beautiful when you draw it! You wake up sunlight sleeping inside of us (I know, my english is very bad…!).
    Keep being yourself

  21. Viv Says:

    What’s the address to send letters to? I would love so much to write a letter. I remember it being up on the website but I forgot to write it down.

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