Today I received a nearly unintelligible phone message from some musician in England. Between the thick accent and the bad long-distance connection, I couldn’t make out his name or the e-mail address he spelled out. He seemed to be talking about using some artwork of mine for something, but the details eluded me. I meant to hit the “repeat” button and listen more closely, but I accidentally hit “delete” and erased the whole message. I looked at the answering machine manual but found no way of retrieving deleted messages.
Aside from a few errands (post office, bank), I spent the entire afternoon in my studio. I penciled most of the backgrounds, so I should be able to start inking the whole page tomorrow. Inking is the easiest, most mindless step for me … I don’t have to figure anything out anymore, just make it all look good. I use a Windsor & Newton Series 7 brush (Size 3) to ink the figures, and then various Rapidographs for the backgrounds. It’s hard to find, but Dr. Martin’s TECH ink is the best for my purposes because it dries evenly and doesn’t fade too much when you erase the pencil lines.
As one might infer from reading these “Diary” entries, this job entails a lot of time alone. For the most part, it’s a blessing to not have a boss or co-workers, but occasionally the solitude becomes unnerving. Especially when I’m doing the busywork of inking backgrounds, for example, I have to listen to talk radio, or maybe I’ll turn on the television but angle it so I don’t get hooked into watching. Sometimes I try to get a fellow cartoonist on the phone who’s in a similar stage of work and we’ll have a slightly distracted conversation, punctuated by the occasional work-related expletive.
This evening my girlfriend and I went to the cafe that I used as a setting in my current page. When we sat down, I noticed that I had drawn the outdoor chairs and tables incorrectly. Even though this is something that literally no one will notice, I was disappointed. I couldn’t resist the compulsion to get a pen and paper and sketch the furniture more thoroughly. Now I’ll have to carefully erase what I’ve drawn in the panels and make the small but somehow important corrections.
I’m sure that to many readers of this Diary, the day-to-day life of an “alternative” cartoonist will seem dull, strange, or unappealing. For those who require collaboration and unpredictability and physical activity, this would certainly be the case. But for a very specific personality type, it’s an amazing luxury to be able to make a living this way, and I can’t imagine ever wanting to go back to a “real” job. The long, slow process of writing and drawing a comic is not without its daily rewards, and the desire to create something that may entertain and affect people for years to come is a constant source of motivation.