Saturday, 22 March 2014

Your Own Biggest Fan

Cerebus #1 Page 2
Originally published December 1977 (left), Recreated 2010 (right)
Art by Dave Sim
(Click image to enlarge)
(from Cerebus TV, Season 3, Episode 20, 2010)
You also have to strike a balance between being the biggest fan of your work and being your severest critic. I remember interviewing Bernie Wrightson back in 1974 and him telling me that he likes to sit and look at his own work when he’s finished a page that he’s especially happy with. Up to that point I was of the severest critic school. I would occasionally do a piece I was happy with but I tended to focus of those things I was dissatisfied with. Being mostly a critic of your own work leads to frustration and a sense of futility. “I can’t draw, so why bother?” It also compels you to redo work that you’ve already finished and as I’ve mentioned previously, there’s really no time for that in the comic book field unless you’re prepared to take a direct hit to your productivity. At that same time I have known many, many cartoonists who’ve had the opposite problem. They were the biggest and most uncritical fans of their own work that you could imagine. Most of these fellows, virtually all of them in fact, were aspiring cartoonists. They achieved a certain level of mediocre proficiency and are, to this day, sitting in their studios waiting for the rest of the world to share their assessment. It’s a real problem. On the one hand being too critical of your work means that you get frustrated and give up, while being too big an admirer of your work limits your ability to improve. At essence this is why too few amateur cartoonists become professional cartoonists, and why most professional cartoonists are of the sky-rocket variety. They appear out of no-where, do a series of jobs that get better and better, reach a peak, flare briefly, and then lapse into an endless regurgitation of a few stylistic tricks that verge on self-parody, or they vanish altogether from the scene into commercial art or animation.


Barry Deutsch said...

Man, I love these redone pages.

Anonymous said...

It makes no sense to go back and redo the early work BUT damn it would be great if you, Dave. I wish I was rich because I would pay you to do such a thing. Loving the redone pages.

Anonymous said...

I fear that a large reason why cartoonists "vanish altogether from the scene into commercial art or animation" is that comics pay peanuts compared to those fields. Once you grow out of the "Oh my god, I'm actually doing comics!" stage of your career, you want to live on something more than peanut-butter sandwiches and tap water.

-- Damian T. Lloyd, nsf

Gabriel McCann said...

How many of the original Cerebus pages has Dave redone altogether? and will they ever be made available as part of the reprinting of the 16 volumes and their Cerebus Downloads versions?