Monday, December 4, 2023

No better than a stick

There are these tiny little moments when you're a young kid that are, looking back, extraordinarily profound on a personal level. Moments of absolute clarity and existential truth, hitting you like a metaphysical anvil on the skull.

Like when you really get your head around the concept of death, or that your parents are actual flawed human beings; or that you need to work for the rest of the life just to live.

Or when you realise that as much as you appreciate comic book art and will spend your whole life chasing after it, you're absolutely fucking rubbish at doing it yourself.

It's almost fortunate that I came to this realization early, in my first or second year of schooling. I had been capable of drawing a mean stick figure - and I still rate my stickmen - but bulking that out into a whole second dimension just wasn't right.

I tried so hard, but my figures always bulged in the wrong places, and looked like absolute grotesques. Never mind perspective or anything like that, I couldn't draw a fucking nose.

One of the many great lines in Withnail and I is when Uncle Monty laments that there is nothing as crushing for an actor as knowing you will never play the Dane. Well, I was six years old when I figured out I'd never be able to draw like Brian Bolland or Jim Aparo.

It was a fairly fucking heavy realisation, to have at that age, and I can still remember the exact moment, what classroom I was in when it really hit home. Moments like that do tend to stick in the brain.

I still kept doing art classes until I was 12 or so, and I did keep at it, but the results were uniformly terrible, and I moved on. 

It never put me off following hundreds of different artists - to this day, the main reason I buy a new comic book is the artist, rather than the writer. And I never felt jealous of my friends who could do it, and was always just in awe. I've got friends publishing minicomics that are just amazing, and I absolutely encourage that kind of thing as much as humanly possible, because doing art is good for you.

But don't ask me to try and draw anything anymore. I know my limitations, and have known them for quite some time now.

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