…Tatsuyuki Tanaka Step-by-Step from Japanese Comickers 2 (2006) - one of my favorite artist’s working process from rough sketch to finished illustration…
“I’m still here: back online after a year without the internet" — in which the author spends the year without the internet thinking it’d cure various problems, only to find "the worst sides of myself began to emerge.”
I did things in my 30s that were ignored by the world, that could have been quickly labeled a failure. Here’s a classic example; in 1974 I did a movie called Phantom of the Paradise. Phantom of the Paradise, which was a huge flop in this country. There were only two cities in the world where it had any real success: Winnipeg, in Canada, and Paris, France. So, okay, let’s write it off as a failure. Maybe you could do that.
But all of the sudden, I’m in Mexico, and a 16-year-old boy comes up to me at a concert with an album - a Phantom of the Paradise soundtrack- and asks me to sign it. I sign it. Evidently I was nice to him and we had a nice little conversation. I don’t remember the moment, I remember signing the album (I don’t know if I think I remember or if I actually remember). But this little 14 or 16, whatever old this guy was… Well I know who the guy is now because I’m writing a musical based on Pan’s Labyrinth; it’s Guillermo del Toro.
The work that I’ve done with Daft Punk it’s totally related to them seeing Phantom of the Paradise 20 times and deciding they’re going to reach out to this 70-year-old songwriter to get involved in an album called Random Access Memories.
So, what is the lesson in that? The lesson for me is being very careful about what you label a failure in your life. Be careful about throwing something in the round file as garbage because you may find that it’s the headwaters of a relationship that you can’t even imagine it’s coming in your future."
Important safety bulletin.
Go to YouTube.
Watch Bob Ross.
Listen to him talk about painting.
Seriously, this guy… this guy is full of advice for a writer who’s having trouble getting started.
He’s not writing, he’s painting, but… okay, like, he can sit there and talk about geology and the diffusion of light and make it clear that he knows what a mountain is and he knows what goes into the interplay of light and perspective, and then you’ll watch him smear some black paint on top of a still wet canvas with a thin metal wedge, and then take a brush and push it downwards so that it mixes with the base in such a way that it ends up lighter at the bottom and eventually just fades into the background.
And then he’ll take some titanium white paint and do the same thing to add snow and light, and you’re thinking… “But… interplay. Geology. Perspective.” and he’s just pushing paint around, talking about figuring out where the north slope lives and how there are no mistakes, just happy little accidents and then he steps back at the end and holy moly, it looks like he painted a mountain.
It doesn’t look like he pushed paint around for ten minutes, it looks like he looked at a real mountain somewhere and copied it.
Is there a real mountain that matches the painting? No. Could he use this method to exactly replicate an actual mountain? No. But he made a mountain that looks real enough, and even if he didn’t have 100% control over the final look of it, he conjured it out of his imagination.
This is the trick that more writers need to learn. It’s possible to create a story or even a whole book through meticulous planning and careful construction, but… most people can’t do that. It’s not that we’re not willing to put in the work, it’s just too easy to get stuck. Too easy to never leave the “Well, I’m still worldbuilding/researching” stage. Too easy to write oneself into a corner or get bogged down in the details.
So this is my advice today for fiction writers:
Learn how to speed paint.
Learn how to work wet on wet.
Learn how to push paint around on the edge of a knife.
Learn how to figure out where things want to live by feel and how to allow for happy little accidents.
There will be places for fine details and intricate sketches. But when you’re staring at a blank canvas and you have no idea where to start… paint the whole thing blue and start scraping up some mountains.
Quick, broad strokes. That’s all it takes to get you started. Quick, broad strokes and a few happy accidents.
Reblogging for myself.
mendelpalace said: You don't have to answer this one public if you don't want, but I wanted to ask... how do you go about writing fiction, whether it be scripting a comic or something else? I know you've had issues getting stuff done, butI feel like I'm so far removed from actually writing fiction that I've forgotten how it works anymore. At best I've had these vague "senses" of a story I want to tell, like a tone or something, but not enough to really make a story and it's driving me crazy.
How it generally works is this:
- I’ll be listening to a song. An image of something will start looping in my head, kind of like a music video. This is the blueprint for almost all of my ideas. Written in the Bones was subconsciously influenced in large part by Laura Knetzger’s beautiful Comics For Dogs series, but the actual idea for it struck when I heard the lyric “January 19th: we buried our son today” in the La Dispute song "I See Everything" and, for whatever reason, I saw a dog mourning his son instead of a person.
- I let the idea percolate for a little bit, since usually once I have an image of something it has my full attention. I find that when I try to write things down without having a solid idea of where I’m going I get frustrated and stop working. I try to let a pretty big picture form before I even write anything down.
- For minicomics like WiTB and Sharkmouth I try to sit down and get the whole script down in one sitting. For longer projects, I outline. For me, personally, characters are the most important thing in a story, so I’ll usually try to do short character sketches before I start a plot. Basic stuff: age, height and weight, etc., can be important, but remember that you’re not writing a baseball card and anything you put down should only be to help you keep the character in mind. Plots I try to keep as general as humanly possible when outlining, since I find that if I put too many specifics in an overview they tend to butt heads and make the whole enterprise less appealing to write. A few paragraphs laying out what happens in a very general sense should be more than sufficient to help you start writing.
- Then there’s the actual writing, which comes to be the bane of every writer’s existence ;-___- I try to keep a groove of writing a little every day, at least a scripted page or two, but here’s the thing: consistency is key even when you’re not writing. If you aren’t writing, make it because that’s a period that you’ve actively chosen not to write in. If you say “I’m not going to write this week,” do it. If you say “I’m going to write at least two pages a day for the next six months,” do it. You’ll probably slip up at least once or twice, but that’s to be expected, and there’s nothing stopping you from doing more the next day if you do miss one.
I hope that helped at all. I’m hardly a Nobel Prize laureate but I’d like to think that these are helpful ways to encourage a little productivity.
whiskyjack said: Sorry to put this on you but I have an honest question about depression an suicide. Isn't it completely possible for it to be a alternative for someone. Can't there be someone out there who genuinely is tired and doesn't want to continue. I know there is beauty and wonderful things in this world. There are things to look forward to. There will be more pain but also more laughter. But what if I'm not interested?
well… well first off, i’d say, seek professional help immediately. because i am wildly unqualified to answer your question with anything but experience. and first off, my experience says, if you are in such a deep and dark place where you say things like this to total strangers on the internet, you need to be in contact with someone that can help you start to heal.
second, i’d say… you’re wrong. i’d say the things any of us don’t know, especially about tomorrow, could blanket every grain of sand on every beach of the world with bullshit. And to simply assume you are done tomorrow because you are done today is a mistake. a factual mistake, an error, a critical miscalculation.
i’d say, read Tad Friend’s piece JUMPERS in which he seeks and finds and talks to people that jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge — and lived. And they all say the same variations this: “I instantly realized that everything in my life that I’d thought was unfixable was totally fixable—except for having just jumped.”
And know that this piece has kept me in my seat on more than a couple dark nights.
And i’d say — i’d say i felt that way before too, and i was wrong.
And then i’d tell you something i don’t even think my wife knows. this happend years before we met — shit, more than a decade — and it’s not the first time i came close to suicide was on a thanksgiving night. i’d eaten well and then as the house shut down i went into the bathroom, drew a bath as hot as i could manage to stand, and climbed into the tub with a razor blade.
As i started to cut, as the corner touched my skin and that jolt of pain fired into my head, i stopped and thought — y’know, last chance. Are you SURE?
And i was tired. I sounded like you, that i knew there’d be ups again and downs but i was just so fucking TIRED i couldn’t stand the thought of having to get there. I felt this… this never-ending crush of days that were grey and tepid but for some reason i was supposed to greet each one with a smile. the constant pressure of having to keep my shit in all the time was just exhausting.
I wondered, then — well, is there anything you’re curious about. Anything you want to see play out. And i thought of a comic i was reading and i’d not figured out the end of the current storyline. And i realized I had curiosity. And that was the hook i’d hang my hat on. that by wanting to see how something played out I wasn’t really ready. That little sprout of a thing poking up through all that black earth kept me around a little longer.
I realized then that it had been so long since i’d laughed. I was numbed out and shut down and just… i missed laughing. maybe if i laughed a little i could get moving again. so i’d wait for my comic to conclude, try to find a few laughs, and then reevaluate.
So I’m in the bathtub and i got this real sharp-ass razor, right? And i look down and there’s all my bits floating in the water like they do and i thought okay, let’s get funny and i got to work.
I shaved off exactly half my pubic hair vertically. The end result was a ‘fro of pubes that looked like a Chia Pet that only half-worked. I started to laugh as I did it. And every time i’d piss, looking down made me laugh.
Because JESUS what a nightmare.
Shortly thereafter I got very heavily into Chuck Jones and Tex Avery. Way less chafing and way more funny.
jesus. i was still in high school at the time. dig if you will a picture of the chubby weirdo that was always giggling at his dick in the bathroom. that was me.
And then I guess I’d tell you about Dave, who did the same thing as me a few years later, only DIDN’T have my hilarious Chia Dick strategy in mind and got the razor in and up. And as he started to bleed out “Brown Eyed Girl” came on the radio and he realized he’d never get to hear that again so, in a bloody comedy of errors — I swear to god this is true — he got out of the tub, tried to get dressed the best he could, went downstairs calling for help only to find his family gone, went out to his car, and drove to doug’s house only to find doug not home and so, then, finally, he blacked out from blood loss sitting there in his car, playing a van morrison CD on repeat, until, by luck, Doug’s mom came home and found him.
Fucking Van Morrison, y’know?
A song, a comic, something dumb, something small. From that seed can come everything else, I swear to god.
I guess last I’d say… I’d say that, look — if you reached out to me for an answer, than I have to reach back out to you and insist you hear it. Because it means, what, you know me? My work? You read my stuff and thought, well, fuck, if anyone would know why I shouldn’t end my life, if anyone alive is QUALIFIED TO SAVE ME it’s the guy that had britney spears punch a bear? okay — okay, then, so as THAT GUY I’m saying: Get help. Now, today, tonight, whenever — get to a phone and find a doctor that can try to help you heal, that can try to recolorize your world again, that can help you start caring again. All you need is that one tiny thing, that speck, that little grain of sand. the World Series, AVENGERS 2, Tina Fey’s new show, the first issue of PRETTY DEADLY, some slice of the world you’ve never seen, some drink you love, who the fuck will love your dog like you do if you’re gone, what if jabrams KILLS it on the new STAR WARS, the hell are you doing for Halloween, you ever feed a dolphin with your bare hand? because i have and I am fucking telling you IT IS A THING TO EXPERIENCE and oh god WHAT FUCKING FONT WILL STARBUCKS USE ON THE CHRISTMAS DRINK SLEEVES THIS YEAR — i don’t care what or how dumb but i promise you somewhere in your life is that one fleck of dust that can help start you on the road back. That’s all it takes. One fucking mote, drifting through your head.
And because you asked me I am answering you because i know, motherfucker, i know, i know, i know the hole you are fucking in because I was there myself and if you look hard you can still see my writing on those walls and if you stare long enough i swear to god it’s pointing to up
I’ve reblogged this before, but it seems awfully relevant to put it out there again.
Hello. sorry to bother you again but I had an art related question. Is it bad trying to teach yourself to draw by copying an artist you really love? I’m not tracing, instead I study how they draw eyes and bodies etc and then try to draw the same thing on paper. So as far as trying to get better, is this a good way to learn or am I doing it wrong?
Anonymous by request (and I wasn’t going to include the user anyway. In your message you wrote about being ashamed about copying, so here’s my thoughts on that:)
MAKING ART IS A GAME! IT’S A SANITY MECHANISM!
A lot of the time I think about drawing/sketching like playing, say, guitar when no one is around to hear it. It’s totally for my own pleasure, from dumb, straight-up playing other people’s riffs, to aping 80’s hair-metal horrible techniques, to making abstract shitty ambient noise. It’s for me and it makes me feel better. Eventually I might get the conceit that someone might like to hear a thing I did — and it’s the same with the drawing.
Copy whoever it is you dig. Copy Liefeld, copy Otomo, copy Kirby, copy Moebius, copy Morris, copy Carl Barks, copy Jim Lee, copy from fashion magazines, copy from outside, copy Caniff, copy from yourself. Copy Copy Copy copy copy — if you say it enough times, it loses meaning. It’s a bullshit sound that doesn’t mean anything.
That’s how copying artists you like works, too — copy everybody, consciously, having fun, in response to things they did, eventually it loses all meaning — you learn from them and distill the things they know into your own. (IT’S A LONG PROCESS)
You might look at the scores of artists copying Kirby (or Mignola or Pope, who in turn took so many cool things from Kirby) and snicker — too bad, they made a drawing and you didn’t. And look at early Mignola — a lot of it sucks. Look at early Otomo, that sucks too, compared to the level they got to later.
You learn by drawing, you draw by copying, you copy by looking. Look at everything , even the stuff you don’t like. Maybe it’s not true, but I like the idea that everybody is working their asses off, even the guys we hate, and they have something in their art that we can absorb and learn from.
Copying an artist is like slowly and methodically decapitating a Highlander dude. It’s a painful, dangerous process where you can potentially come out on the other side triumphant, absorbing their powers. (or you can end up with your head chopped off).
So yes, you’re doing it right. Just copy a lot of different stuff, keep your mind open, screw anybody who’ll shame you.
The manga itself is worth the buy, but Hideaki Anno’s afterward is a great plus.
My wife can’t glamorize herself. She looks at us with a critical eye. This is a good thing, but also a bad thing. If the characters can’t plunge into their self-absorbed world, they can’t be catalysts for the reader’s narcissism.
Never change, Anno. Never change.
I really love what he said about otaku, the industry, and Moyoco.
What’s amazing about my wife’s manga is that she doesn’t create any “out” from reality. Most manga these days are no more than a device to provide readers with a refuge from reality to satisfy them out there. The bigger the fans they are, the more likely they’ll become one with the fantasy and have difficulty accepting anything else.
My wife’s manga leaves a bit of energy to readers as they return to the real world. Instead of making you want to dwell in yourself, her manga makes you want to go outside and do something, it emboldens you. It’s a manga for tackling reality and living among others. My wife lives like that and I think that’s why she can write like that.
Her manga accomplished what I couldn’t do in Eva to the end. It was a big shock to me, really.
I don’t want to spoil (and type) everything, but the rest is really sweet. He talks about how his marriage to Moyoco has impacted his life positively, about accepting himself as an otaku but also coming to love other things, and just generally being a great husband.
It was really empowering and heartwarming to read.
"Frankly, 20 years from now I hope people say it’s the best Western of the 21st century. You know? We’ll see… The real test is not the Friday it opens. The real test is down the line. How is the film thought of 10 years from now? How is it thought of 20 years from now? How is it thought of 50 years from now? How is it thought of after I’m dead?"
—Quentin Tarantino on Django Unchained & filmmaking
I believe that art will yield no more “classics”, there is no more time left in Civilization as we know it to have more Emersons or Kubricks or Picassos, but I think this is still the way to look at it
"Matsumoto: Who do the two of you see as rivals within your own generations?
Shinzou: Tsuchika Nishimura for me.
Asano: [You and Nishimura] seem more like comrades than anything to me. (laugh) Out of Big Comic Spirits artists, I’d say Kengo Hanazawa.
Matsumoto: Seiki Tsuchida was a big one…