“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

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


EGG - A Collection of Art by Eric Canete   8.5x8.5 inches - Full color pearlescent cover, B&W interior pages on vellum, heavy stock, and yellow canson. 62 pages. $25.00USD + shipping and handling. (Available at HeroesCon and for pre-order.)   
"Hey, man. So Heroes Con in Charlotte is coming up in June and I was wondering if we're putting a new art book together of stuff from you," Jason asks me over a phone call one Monday morning while he was walking his dog.

"Sure. "ELEMENT:SHAPE" was really fun to do. I don't see why we couldn't do another one like it, " I reply.

"Uhm, yeah. About that..."

 I've only known Jason for about a year and half now, but we've become fast friends. And in that time, I've been privy to certain nuances of his conversational style. For instance, there's  always this tone in his voice that he uses every time he's going to be the bearer of bad news. I can almost hear the gears in his head grind against each other as he desperately tries to find the proper combination of words that will be the least offensive to what he believes to be my fragile ego.

"So, remember when we released Element? Well, there were a few... and mind you, there weren't a lot... but there were a few people who looked at the cover and said they didn't understand it," he explains in a nervous staccato.

"Uh-huh. I've heard a few of those concerns too. What'd you hear?"

"Well... I got suggestions from retailers - suggestions to try to help them sell it? Sort of make it like the other books they sell, you know? Like, put your art on the cover? Use something that you're really known for."

 The dryer dings in the laundry room and I get to the business of folding my clothes immediately. There's only a few handful of things that are more annoying to me than wrinkled shirts. Besides, I like that warm, right-out-of-the-dryer feeling. So tilting my head, I pin my cell phone between my shoulder and my ear, and I do my best to match my socks as I continue my conversation.

"What am I really known for, Jay?"
"How 'bout hot chicks! That catches the attention of everyone out at a convention, yeah? And that's a proven tradition. I mean, every convention we go to there's like... what?... a dozen or so guys out there who..."
"I don't really draw hot women," I interrupt him. "And in case you haven't heard, I'm terrible with drawing people and anatomy in general. I can't say that a drawing a hot girl on the cover of my book is really indicative of what I do."

 At this point I can almost hear him deflate on the other end. Because if I had agreed with him and gone ahead with the pin-up idea I knew what he would've asked for: 'Poison Ivy' and 'Harley Quinn'. Jay is nothing if not a consistent whore for those two comic book, bad girl mainstays.

"Ah. Right. Well, dammit it all. Okay. Uh... what about tech-y stuff? Something with robots and like guns and like bullets and shit? You know? Something that has pipes and nodes and cyber parts and bionic boobs?"

"Bionic boobs?"

"You get what I mean! Iron Man, or Cybernary, or robots. That's kinda you, yeah?"

"Is it?" 

 There's a brief pause in our conversation because it's come to our simultaneous attention that I'm not really known for drawing anything in particular. I get quiet because I'm sad at the idea that I haven't done enough with myself to have that niche. Jason gets quiet because I think a pretty girl smiled at him as he walks his dog - a standard poodle called Mousse. Again, god bless Jay's consistency.

"Okay, " I sigh. I'm still reeling for not 'being known' for anything. " So something recognizable on the cover. Got it. Is that it?"

"That's pretty much it. Oh, wait! Another thing: at the very least they asked that you print a title for the book that tells them and their potential customers of what's inside," Jay explains with shortness in his breath. I guess Mousse's morning walk is over. 

"What about the title," I ask?

"I gotta agree with 'em on this one, Eric. The title on Element: Shape was written backwards and shit. If I didn't know what you were going for I wouldn't be able to tell what the hell it says, you know? Why can't it just be a simple... I dunno... 'The Art of Eric Canete' or some shit like that?"

"Okay. I guess so."

 Again, there's a pause. Jason probably thinks it's because he's being too tough on me. In reality it's just because I've realized that I left the clothes in the washer for much too long before putting them in the dryer. They've got this dried-in mildew smell which tells me I'm about to do this whole set of dark clothes all over again. I'm slightly annoyed now and I'm sure that comes across in my next question, albeit completely out of context.

"So what the fuck do you want me to do now," I ask? "Stupid laundry," I think.

"Well, you can do what you want, Ece. You know I'll always have your back. But basically what they're saying is:  Put your art on the cover - something obvious. Or a cover image that EVERYONE can understand - instead of the graphic, abstract thing you used last time. Also maybe put a title on it that tells people what's inside. That's not a lot to ask, no? That's not... I dunno... major. We can accommodate that sort of request, right?"

"I think we can. Let me see what I can do."

 I can hear the tenor on his voice pick up. I believe it's the first time in the tenure of our working relationship that Jason's ever felt the need to play the role of both my manager and my editor, and I'm sure neither are very comfortable hats for him to wear. From my end, I try to make things as easy for him as I can because let's face it; it's going to be on him to sell the product and the least I can do is to give him a product that he can sell.

"Yeah! Sure! Abso-fuckin-luteley," he says with a relieved chuckle.  "Cool, man! Uh, there's a few weeks between now and Heroes Con; do you think you can get it assembled and put together for the printers a week or so before the actual show?"

"Sure, Jay. Whatever makes things easier. Whatever they want."

"Sweet! Thanks, man! Thought you were gonna get pissed!"

"Nah, it's cool, Jay. We've got a market to service, right?"

"Right! And, hey..."


"Girl at the park wearing a sports bra totally smiled at me."

God bless consistency.


mike rice said...

I can totally hear Jay saying all of that. Especially the bionic boobs bit.

Vinh-Luan Luu said...

I just wanted to let you know that i would have LOVED to have gotten one of your Element: Shape art books. I was unemployed at the time sadly. Your work is just about as awesome as it gets. I hope the internet reviews don't tear you down too much. Keep on doing what you're doing, dude.

John 'Roc' Upchurch said...


j_ay said...

Don’t sweat the (supposed) ‘being known’ shit. I’d imagine it gets to be more of a burden than anything else. I can imagine, say, Bill Sienkiewicz sighs a bit when he’s still, some 25 years later, being asked to draw elecktra sketches when he’s done _so_ much more since then…
You, sir, are an Artist.
A top-notch illustrator. Not just a comic book guy.

Ok, I’m off to pre-order me a Chicken Fetus...

jason s said...

What can I say, I like boobs....

Tom said...

Nice, new artbook is a good thing!! Great post, entertaining read, haha.

Fogger said...

You do like boobs.

Lambert said...

those of us who know jay are laughing so fucking hard right now!!! it's like i was there listening in. jay's a great guy, very nice. i would have just said, "cut the artsy bullshit and give me something i can sell and make money for ya!"

FS said...

Haha. I hope in ten years I'm still not "known" for drawing anything in particular. And if I am, I hope it's not babes or robots. Please stay unpredictable.

AlexTuis said...

I think it is not so bad to do not really be known for something especially.

I think you should have a look at your latest sketches since two months, and keep 4 of them and see what is the best between this four drawings...

Maybe you should do a cover with four part and inside, 4 different characters!
;o )

Brian said...

Picturing Jay saying all that while wearing a sweater vest makes it even funnier.

Never change Eric which is to say, stay unpredictable. There are already enough "boobs" on the comic convention circuit.