Thursday, February 28, 2013

Back to the Drawing Board

I keep to myself a lot. Despite the appearance of knowing many people and being all up in the party scene, more times than not, I keep to myself.

I probably learned this from my parents. They count their friends on one hand, and houseguests were few and far between. And while I have grown to entertain company more often, it's still a select few, and an even more select few who visit multiple times.

But every once in a while, if someone hangs out long enough, I let them in on a little-known thing about me. I pull out my drawings.

I like to draw. A lot. It's one of my favorite hobbies. And, sadly, it's one that I've woefully neglected.

As they say, life gets in the way. Between working nearly 10 hours a day, an often-busy social life, husbandly duties to keep up with, and a pile of books and movies at my disposal, my drawing time has fallen off considerably.

Out of all those factors, moving in with my then-girlfriend, now my wife, has been among the biggest changes behind my lack of drawing.

For me, drawing never was much of a social hobby.

It begs the focus only solitude could bring. Even during art classes in school, my world shrank to the size of my desk. At home, I spent years and years holed up in my room, laboring at sheets covered in pencils and inks.

The most social I ever got with drawing was the short time in my late teens/early 20s when I would bring a sketchbook to the bar to compile random people for potential background characters.

When the cohabitation phase of my life began a few years ago, my wife took my desk in order to work from home. The throne of my drawing kingdom, gone. And thus my drawing skills have lain in slumber, if not in slow atrophy and decline.

Until a few weeks ago, when I hopped back into the drawing saddle and found myself drawing a half-naked burlesque performer at an art museum. I mistakenly left my pencils in the car, so I had only my pens to speed-sketch and freehand-draw my model, who was reposed in nothing but pasties, panties, stockings and heels, with a fur draped over her.

An artist friend of mine said it was good, so I feel OK about showing it now.

Not too bad, I guess. At the very least, not terrible. Basically, I need to get back. It's been a long while.

The height of my drawing life came when my friend Rob approached me about drawing a comic book he wanted to write based on his life. After years of trying to master Batman's cowl design and trying to figure out how gold-plated breasts worked as clothes on Wonder Woman, I now was drawing the tales of an angry young man in South Jersey.

Rather than the comic book superhero style I spent so much time using, hoping for that blend of George Perez, Brian Bolland, Adam Hughes and Stuart Immonen, instead I went with a more cartoonish look based on how Rob drew himself.

It was a blast drawing Rob and his friends. Goodbye supers, and hello tales of foul-mouthed miscreants, punk rockers, tattoos and crime-fighting district attorneys! I had a pretty hefty phase of drawing Queen once upon a time, and it came in handy when I drew the power-punk band Rob was in for a while.

The more I drew, the better I got. Better backgrounds, more linework, and freakin' T-squares so I drew real straight lines.

We took the book on the road a few times, including the Small Press Expo in Bethesda, Md. I didn't get to sit behind a table, but when I talked to the artists and we traded work, I was in the club. If only for a little bit, I was in the club, and a dream was fulfilled.

That all was about 12 years ago. Rob stopped writing, I stopped drawing the book. But I kept drawing, until a few years ago.

Now it's time to get the dream back. It's time to keep the pencils sharpened and fill those sketchbooks again. My burlesque model, forever lying in repose, is ready for me to continue. Not that I ever was all that good. But I had a lot of fun doing it.

What to draw next? Pin-ups? Portraits? Create my own line of superheroes? Learn to draw every Green Lantern character? Learn the New 52 costumes with all their stupid lines?

Draw cute animals to entertain the wife?

A few years back, I approached Rob about perhaps restarting the old book. He said he was finished.

Maybe it's time I draw some stories of my own.

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