Adrian Tomine

Yesterday I had a rare “temperamental artist” tantrum in my studio. I had ruled out the panel borders and had completely lettered a new page of my comic when I noticed that the margins on the left and right side of the page looked slightly slanted. I measured them at the top of the page and at the bottom and found a difference of almost an eighth of an inch. I started to panic, thinking that perhaps my drawing board or T-square had somehow distorted. After using a 90-degree triangle to make a few checks, I determined that the ruled lines were fine, but that the paper itself had been improperly cut. Even though this slight imperfection would have little effect on the printed artwork, I tore the page off my drawing board and ripped it up, angry that I’d wasted time figuring this out. I started over on a better sheet of bristol board.

In the afternoon I lettered the page and inked in the dialogue balloons with my new Rapidograph pens. I taped a sheet of Canson Vidalon vellum over the page and began roughly sketching the figures in each panel. I worked until 7 p.m., when I went over to my girlfriend’s apartment to cook dinner and watch a movie.

This morning I met my cartoonist friends Richard Sala and Dan Clowes for a good, greasy breakfast at Ole’s Waffle Shop. Dan is spending most of his time in Los Angeles now, making a movie, so these breakfasts have become less frequent. Fascinating to hear firsthand about the whole Hollywood process.

I received a FedEx package containing copies of a magazine that I recently did some illustration work for. I spend most of my time working on my comic book, but I take on the occasional commercial job to supplement my income. Seeing a printed piece for the first time is always a little nerve-racking, but I was happy to see that the illustrations printed fine.

This afternoon I spent more time than I wanted to repairing some loose tiles in my bathroom. This involved two things I generally dislike: doing something I’ve never done before, and getting dirty. I would’ve hired someone to come and do these repairs, but the idea of having some stranger coming in and out of my apartment all day was even less appealing. I hope I did it right, and that the tiles don’t drop off as soon as I turn on the shower.

I finally got back to work by late afternoon. After finishing the rough pencil drawings of the figures on the vellum, I took the vellum off the drawing board and flipped it around so I could see a reversed image of the drawings. This is similar to the old artist technique of holding a painting up to a mirror: The reversed image allows you to see things like composition and proportion with a fresh eye. As usual, most of the faces I’d drawn looked weirdly asymmetrical, so a few corrections were made. I then taped the vellum (right side up) onto a light table and traced the figures onto the actual page, moving the bristol board occasionally to adjust compositions. I use a very light pencil in this step because these drawings still have to be refined yet again, using a darker lead.

At 7:30 I stopped working to have dinner and do laundry with my girlfriend. The washing machine at the local frat house must’ve broken down tonight because the Laundromat was filled with athletic creeps wearing baseball caps and cargo shorts. Got home at 11:30, leaving me a few more hours to work on my page and write this entry.