It’s rather strange. I’ve been using the internet since 1990 and this is my very first blog I’ve created almost 20 years later and quite a few years behind everyone else. I just never saw any need for a personal blog but now that I’ve set up my work-in-progress comics website, I think a blog may be vaguely useful in garnering comments, posting updates and so on.
I had not drawn for about 20 years too, and had not picked up a pen to draw anything until a few months back, when I thought that maybe I’d try my hand at cartooning again. I had prolifically drawn cartoons back in secondary school, a long time ago, to entertain friends and family but that was the extent of it. I was more interested in oil painting but I even stopped doing that in the early 90’s.
But a couple of years ago, a friend got me Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan graphic novel for Christmas. I had heard about it while driving home one evening, on Radio 4, when it had been nominated for a serious literary book prize, and it piqued my interest. I remember reading Jimmy Corrigan on a long plane flight back to see my parents, and suddenly, it dawned on me that one could write a serious novel in this format. I was later to discover artists like Seth and Craig Thompson, and in early 2009, when I found myself with more free time on my hands, I thought I’d try my hand at a cartoon project. I signed up for an Illustrating Comics class at Central St Martins, thinking it would help me hone my doodles into something more professionally acceptable, but that turned out a rather damp squib. Still, I felt more inspired to actually draw and finish a creative project that did not involve programming computers.
So in early June 2009 I abandoned my cartoon project (about a girl who goes back to her hometown done in rough cartoon style), and decided to start on a collection of short stories, each based around a painting that I know and love well. My first choice was Paul Cezanne’s “The Card Players”, since I had a framed print of it hanging in my dining room for many years. I worked on it mostly with the A3 pad on my knees, listening to, alternately, Radio 4, Jenny Queen, Chris Pureka and the Cowboy Junkies. My neck suffered from the strain, so I got an A2 drawing board and switched to working in my dining room. The living room was more comfortable but after one disastrous ink spillage on my sofa, I decided enough was enough. At least in the dining room, there was less scope for such damage. I don’t have much patience with scanning and inserting the text in Photoshop; my Photoshop skills for such things are still embryonic at best, but I’m learning as I go along and it has been fun. Things will need to be tidied up a great deal before it is even presentable as a web comic, but for the time being, here it is – a dump of my scanned A3 pages. I’m up to 6 pages so far, that’s about halfway through!
The Card Players comic
The Card Players - Paul Cezanne