“Today, in our field, there is so much talent and recognition that we are reaching a saturation point. An artist should no longer strive only for breathtaking craftsmanship; he should, instead, try to help us live better, either by dressing the wounds that are constantly being opened by society, or by offering solutions to get us out of the mess we’re in…But it’s going to be difficult and we have a lot of work to do.” - Jean 'Moebius' Giraud

Monday, July 28, 2008

"THE OLDER I GET...." SDCC 08_update

Before I get started - Yes, this is the same image I put up here a while ago that I said I'd never finish because it got way out of hand. Well, I lied and I finished it because a couple of weeks beforehand, Mr. Scott Dunbier asked if there was anything I could contribute for the COMIC BOOK LEGAL DEFENSE FUND's auction at this year's SDCC show. I told him I'd be able to give him something and this image was that something. Anyhoo... one bad turkey and cranberry sandwich later (Friday night SUCKED), I was a day behind in getting this to Scott and it didn't make it on time. I have it here now for your viewing pleasure. I'll do another one for him later on at some other auction event - I promise.

On to what I was saying.

The older I get, the more of these shows I do, the more I realize how much I've missed the point.

"Where's your latest sketchbook?"

That was the typical question I'd get from more people than I can count and my answer would always be the same. "No sketchbook this year, but I do have this new handy-dandy auction book blah, blah, blah..."

Then on the drive home, I asked myself if that's all that show is good for - do I just go there to sell sketchbooks? I obviously perpetuate that concept if that's what people are expecting and I'm sure the hundreds of other people who are doing THE SAME EXACT THING must help with that status quo. And this isn't speaking about anyone in specific, but when the hell did this become a sketchbook show? And when did the mandate come down that these sketchbooks had to have enough production value that would warrant an ACTUAL BOOK (but doesn't do that at all) become the expected product? Have you seen some of these things? Hard cover (a HARD COVER?!? WTF?!?) and full color, 24+ pages.... and for what? For a glimpse of what the artist has in his/her actual sketchbook? His style? His progress and work habits? What is THAT?!? You're getting a "behind-the-scenes" with no actual *SCENE*! It's NOTHING! And for a glimpse of this nothing, you are going to pay $30 some odd?!?

"That's outrageous,"
I thought to myself!

I then realized that most of the outrage, the disgust I was feeling - most of the guilt I was experiencing was all internal. How does that saying go? Point a finger at someone and three fingers back at yourself? The fact of the matter is, *I* make crap sketchbooks. *I* charge that sort of money. *I* help perpetuate this brand promoting the supplemental material for NOTHING. *I* complain that SDCC is less of a comicbook show year after year and yet show up with no comicbook to sell. *I* am the most hypocritical and most guilty. I'm most ashamed, in all honesty, of myself.

Again, I am not speaking ill of anyone in specific that may have had their sketchbooks to sell this year. If that's how they wish to conduct themselves, then certainly, by all means - they are within their right. As I've already said, all the criticism above is actually internal - it's about me feeling like I'm not doing enough with myself and these comicbook shows.

That said - No more sketchbooks from me.

Not to say they were in any high demand or anything, but from this Comic Con to the next one in 2009 I'm going to concentrate on getting actual product on my table instead of just hype. No more fluff. No more bullsh*t, incestuous, self-promotional material. No more, "...yeah, those images are from a project/graphic novel/animated series I'm working on and I'm gonna get to it/finish it some day." Enough of that crap.

From here on down, I'll just do books. Actual finished books and projects. I hope that things will line up correctly and I'll be able to do multiple projects back to back to back and if I am so lucky that I actually do something long term and if those projects happen to be noteworthy enough to actually warrant an actual "Making of... " or a section for supplemental material then that's when you'll see it. Outside of that, I'd like to thank you all for your support and to ask you for more of your patience - projects are forthcoming. "The End League" is one, "[JUMP]" is the other.

What prompted me to jump on this sopadbox and make such a strong (and quitepossibly finaicially suicidal) decision, you ask? It was someone at this past weekend's show asking, "Where's your latest sketchbook?" And it was when I answered, "No sketchbook this year, but I do have this new handy-dandy auction book blah, blah, blah..." And that's really the point of a sketchbook, yeah?

Blah, blah, blah? Well...to me it is, anyway.

Thanks ANDY KUHN for manning your table at the IMAGE COMICS booth and pushing your books (actual comicbooks at a comicbook show - holy mackerel). Thanks BECKY CLOONAN for showing me that hard work and some good ol' fashioned elbow grease pays off in the end (congrats on the hardware, girlie - you and the boys truly deserve it). Thanks JASON PEARSON (and the kind folks over at 12 GAUGE COMICS for taking me in for the weekend - Keven you're a true gentleman) for talking shop with me and reminding me that it's all about storytelling. Thanks MIKE MIGNOLA and DAVE STEWART for giving me the time of day and for setting the bar. And thanks to everyone who talked to me about your books when I walked through small and independent press. It was an honor to spend the weekend with all of you. And best of all, it was a learning experience. And you can never have too many of those, in my opinion.

Oh, and if you wanna see sketches from me, you can still come to this here blog - and I won't even charge you a dime. Thanks for reading.

PS - A big helping of "Thank You" goes out to the people who dropped by the booth this year. I owe you all a bundle and I promise to do better for you really soon.


rico said...

That's a heavy post Eric! I can't hate for someone trying to work their hustle but you make great points. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing actual story work from you rather than pin-ups though, no matter how much I love them, and like you said, I can see that stuff here.

RAWLS said...

Well said my friend. I totally feel where your comin from. You've realized one of the most important factors in this life that most people miss. 'If you want the world to be better, be better yourself'. Cheers to you my friend for all your great work, your wonderful talent and the desire that you openly share with everyone about wanting to do better.

Chrispy said...

First of all glad to hear you had a good time, i have heard the same from numerous people that it was pretty fun.

I actually skipped out of it this year for this same reason yo. Its good to hear some conviction for the same purposes that im pursuing, very motivational.

Wish you luck man, and cant wait to see your newer stuff, PEACE!

Skotti said...

*big hugs* Sorry you're feelin bad about everything. I hope everything works out for you, I'm here if you wanna vent.

andreas said...

i dont know..
there are certain people who´s sketches ALWAYS are more interesting, exiting and GENUINE than their actual work.

maybe because they do other things in them than just fucking heros bashing or maybe because it shows a glimpse of their normal life.

look at process recess from james jean.

putting something like this in my house is worth every damn penny.


andy kuhn said...


thanks for the shout out. it was awesome to see you again. as always i remain a huge fan of your work.
i don't begrudge anyone for making money. truth be told, i am a little jealous of some people who are able to make the money i make in a year selling sketchbooks over SDCC weekend. i do tend to agree for the most part with your thesis.
i'm thinking of doing a sketch book next year that would be mostly or all new comics stories. not sure exactly what it would be, or what it might contain, but that's my thought right now.
that said, i do love seeing peoples process. how different artists work totally fascinates me. however, there are very few sketchbooks that i own (and i have a lot of them) that i wouldn't gladly trade for a new comic story by that same artist.
thanks for your insight, and i'll see you down the road somewhere. stay cool bra'!!!

gcastro3d said...

Hi Eric.

This post has me thinking a bit. I went to comic con as always for the sole purpose of buying artists' sketchbooks. I love that stuff. I never really thought about it the way you describe it here. Not sure what to think. Can't say you've changed my mind about it right now, but you have made me think and i look forward to what you want to bring next time around. I will say that i did buy new finished products this year that i really enjoyed. Could be a sign that i'm moving on to more story driven content. Space Girl and Who is Rocket Johnson to name a few.


mmmmmike said...

Sooo overjoyed to see you writing this. But that more will follow suit.

Pf course you realize that now I'll expect a new 48-pager every con I see you at....;)

Marcelo Braga said...

Hey, man! When are you gonna release a book with all theese amazing blog art? Great Wildcats piece!

abhishek singh said...

one can really sense that how passionate ur from those written words ...ur thinkng art and that's very inspirin ...must say a beautiful write up ..n an amazin peice as usual

Rich said...

Hey Eric,
I agree with most of your sentiment there. I came this year to my first con (all the way from the Virgin Islands no less), and didn't realize where you were until Sunday - I was a little brain-dead. However, short of getting commissions from my favourite artists, as a wannabe artist myself, I find sketchbooks when done well pretty revealing. I had great chats with the couple artists I got books from, and find some inspiration in those chats, commissions, and even the sketchbooks

DAN-VAN-COOL said...

I see your point. I have a few sketch books, but I rarely open any of them. Only on the odd days when im so dry of ideas, I see them as a good to spark some insparation. As far as buying a whole bunch, its just not for me(plus im broke :P). I can draw well enough for myself that if I want a sketch book, Ill draw in one myself. Plus I get practice and ideas put down all at the same time.
Thanks for posting this finished piece, I liked where you were going with it when you first posted...Looks awesome dude.

Take Care & Best of Luck

samacleod said...

What a great drawing! Would love to see you do more of these Wildcats. Awesome.

Craig Zablo said...

I can't wait to see today's piece in your next sketchbook!

Okay. Okay. Sorry, I was just messing.

Loved both the art and thoughtful post!

Donal DeLay said...

Would it be too completely out of the question to ask for a 90-Minute book? I don't know what your sketchbooks at cons look like, but a book of 200-or-so 90-minute sketches I'd consider more of an Art book.

Plus, I want one.

da janx said...

there's a range of opinions here, but the one i completely agree with donal. a 90-Minute book would be awesome. even a Lulu one.

i love the sketchbooks. i love getting a look at the process of an artist's creation. i've always been this way, though, even with fine artists. sketches are the nuts and bolts upon the final works are built. it's also cool to see the thumbnails and roughs of how a piece has changed from concept to final.

your reaction makes sense though. i can see how some of it can be a cop out for actually finishing something. however, some works take a while. i worked on my picture book for almost a decade before it was ready. and then it was and it was published.

for me, Comic Con is always a kick in the pants. i start the gamut frustrated, but in the end walk away inspired and charged up by the people and the work i see there.

andy kuhn said...

earlier comments aside, eric. if you put out a big book of the 90 minute sketches from your blog, i'd buy that in a heartbeat! :)

Reynes said...

Very interesting post and reflexion, even if you're quite hard with yourself.
Can't wait to read new books from you ! (your Iron Man was just amazing)


i'm with andy on that one too eric

one big book every 2 years?

nice to finally meet you

some creators just get to the point and realize that putting out content is the work and everything else is hype

see ya here and there next year

i still dig your more techno lookin stuff, more

Urban Barbarian said...

Well said, well spoken...

I echo your sentiments.

j_ay said...

Nice post.
I have no problems with sketchbooks, but nowadays it seems more of the End Goal than the projects-that-sketches-are-*supposed*-to-lead-up-to.
More and more it seems ‘here’s a sketchbook because I can’t offer you an even-vaguely-monthly comic because I can’t hit a friggin deadline’.

That said, I need an EC 90 minutes sketchbook!