Sunday, August 14, 2016

Summer Heat

Summer has pretty much cooked off here in the studio, literally so in the past few days with temperatures with a heat index of 108-112 degrees. It has been so hot I was forced to put in my second air conditioner up stairs to try and make it workable for me. Having my arm stick to the paper and the paper act like a damp cloth is something that makes deadlines even less bearable and inking suck. As a result I have been taking the afternoons off in the peak of the heat and working later in the night when the temps drop. I look forward to the crispness of fall, but honestly dread the idea of winter and snow. I can't see myself living in snow the older I get, and the idea of a sunnier climate appeals to me more and more. Another hottest year on record they say and I can believe it!

Working away and feeling a bit of strain these weeks to be honest I came to realize it has been six years since my last real vacation, and that I won't have one this year--again. I'm certain many cartoonist, or strip cartoonists feel this pain. Trying to build more time into doing the strips is a constant battle. I remember hearing a quote from the late, great Leonard Starr that one day he looked up from his drawing table and 35 years had passed. Well I am close to that very number now myself as a pro cartoonist but almost 40 since I started working in art at 15.

There are days you feel the Burn, the energy is not quick to come and those are the hard days to be sure where its habit and practice that server as much as anything else to get the job done---though I have to say this Phantom story is fun, and a lot of research.

                                                      Two more pages from the DC job

Things will be very different this fall for the first time in 15 years as I will not be teaching any classes. I some ways I will miss it and in someways I will not, it was sometimes a big deadline crunch for me on teaching days, but mainly I am just so busy now with two strips. Things have certainly changed a lot school wise and price wise in that time, some places literally doubling in price, or more. I feel for any kid with a dream, but I am less and less about the colleges and art schools and more about the ateliers these days where you can get the skills without the BS and expense. I just interviewed Jeff Watts about his Watt Atelier near San Diego for the next issue of Draw!

                                            Pencils from an upcoming Judge Parker Sunday

 Jeff has a great school and one I did consider before PAFA, but at the time I didn't want to move and like Nelson Shanks school, Incamminati, didn't offer a degree ( Incamminati does now through a local college)-- at the time I wanted the degree as I was teaching, and something you need to teach on a college level now. But I wonder sometimes how different things could have been if I did go to either of those other places or move to California 10 years ago.

So, I will be putting my energies more into focusing on new projects like getting a collection of Comic Art Bootcamp from Draw! ready to print for 2017 and another book or two including a new version of From Script to Print with Danny Fingeroth, the first version is now out of print and going for over a hundred bucks I have been told. I also will be focusing more on some personal painting or art projects I have been too busy to do. Teaching is just one spinning plate I have to let drop for now.

                                                Another week of the Phantom in progress

I have painted the least this summer and this year of any since I started school and graduated, though I am thinking about painting all of the time and want to get back to it in a big way by next year. My mind has been changing about maybe what I had originally intended to do as a painter and the fact that I am not/and will not be a full time painter and that its a real probability I will never be one.

I would have to sell an awful lot of paintings to equal my commercial income and I don't see that as a current possibility. When I was in school I thought that maybe I'd transition over, but the the financial collapse happened and the debt from school piled up too. But Art is long, so I hope I can paint into  my 70-even 80's if I live that long, and my eyes stay good, so I took that pressure off the table. I will also need to market my art maybe in a different way and the traditional galleries seem to be suffering, at least in Philly. So many things to think over and study while working away on the guy in the purple underwear.


sladepointbiker said...

Mike, your upcoming week of the Phantom looks gorgeous. All the fans I'm in contact with really appreciate your meticulous research and detailed realization of Tony DeP's script. This latest story of Kit Jr is really taking the Phantom comic to new levels of adventure and visual interest. I can't stop myself checking your blog every so often, then enduring the torture of waiting to see the future strips in full color in the newspaper and online.
Two strips is a big workload along with other commissions and I do hope you can figure out a way to pursue your passion for painting as well as squeeze a vacation in somewhere. I'd hate to think that all the pleasure for your readers comes at the expense of no fun for you.
Best regards,
Peter H

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