I'm in the middle of a career transition right now. In the past year, I've started playing around with comic strips and decided that I wanted my sketchbook to include them. They're fun, quick to get into/out of, and visually economical: all aspects that I thought would make my sketchbook more likely to be read.
But! I was so PARALYZED. With all sorts of ideas and how I wanted it to be perfect. I had the sketchbook for 7 months or so and started on it *1 day* before it was due.
I took it everywhere—Oregon, my honeymoon in New Zealand and the Cook Islands, back home to the Bahamas—hoping to start. But I never did. Ended up drawing in other sketchbooks, going through even more ideas, but never committing.
I ended up using materials (comic strips, characters, sketches) that I had drawn in the last month doing cartooning and drawing exercises (I highly recommend you read "Syllabus" by Lynda Barry). The Diver was created in a drawing jam I did with my husband and 11-year old niece. She drew a diver in under 1 minute and I took it, inked it and started developing it as a character.
The Slob and The Baby were originally drawn in under 1 minute as well (by me and my husband respectively). The Layabout was originally drawn in 30-seconds by me. They’re not as elaborate as tarot cards, but I wanted strong imagery to start the book. And the diver had turned up in all these comics I previously drew. Not sure when she became a character in the sketchbook, but I liked having something to bind everything together. I also liked the idea of her floating around in my head, all throughout the sketchbook, and into your head.
I care a lot about media literacy. It was important to me to include black people. But I didn’t want to beat people over the head with this.
I've worked hard to ignore that voice in my head that insists my work in this kind of space be perfect. Even so, I almost didn't produce a single page for The Sketchbook Project. I thought often of just letting the due date slip by without sending anything.
I'm glad I didn't. Good advice I got from Sarah Rosenblatt, a comics artist: if you're stuck, collaborate with others. The drawing jams weren't related to this, but I ended up with cool characters that I ended up using here. More Rosenblatt: rather then locking up at the thought of creating something new, respond to something that already exists (like the newspaper content I used).
The Diver rescued me. I hope she comes to you too, bringing lots of inspiration.
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