“Where do you get your ideas?” is a question any motherfucker who’s made anything, has been asked. And you never hear them confess, “Shit, i stole that from somewhere” But when you see trends come and go, styles being bitten and everything looking the same, why don’t we ask “Where did the ideas go?” And they went down the human centipede of people making work based on all the shit they’ve swallowed their whole lives. The entire value system of art is a stock market emperor with no clothes, and no one can admit that the only reason we like anything is because someone told us to.
High art, low art, pulp and indie, all the indications of taste we use to say what is good and what is bad, its just an artificial system. People don’t go out and just enjoy an 80’s action movie on its own merits, they gotta get it repackaged and sold them as Drive or Deathproof. People can’t admit they enjoyed Michael Bay’s Transformers, they gotta get it sold to them as Guillermo Del Toro’s rain-fest Pacific Rim. But it’s bullshit, we determine what has value, not according to our interests, but according to consensus. And when you really wanna admit you like something that has not been agreed on for you beforehand, you gotta call it ‘guilty pleasure’ ‘irony’ and ‘so bad its good’
The taste makers have drank the kool-aid of increasingly anonymous corporate created art, where Banksy is some kind of pioneer, but the dude is a globe trotting british boy just like every other british boy leaving their marks on colonies a century before. When the taggers are still considered savages. And this is where the ideas went, because we’ve lost all critical thinking, lost all sense of scale and awe and wonder. So the only way we know what’s beautiful is by the amount of retweets, reblogs and buzzfeeds its fed.
It’s no way to be an artist. I don’t see any value in art, i see value in hard work. I love the shitty movies, i love Vin Diesel and the Rock, i love seeing cult classics that ended up cult classics by quirks of fate and not by stylistic design. Because when you see a low budget movie, with shitty dialogue and terrible fx, you know it only got to your screen after some hard ass work. You got Super 8 trying to be the next Goonies, forgetting that Goonies felt natural, felt like us, and this movie feels like Haley Joe Osment as A.I wanting to be a real boy. There’s no craft in it, no work, just J.J.Abrams as a creative automaton that puts on the appearance of love so that you’ll love him.
And all that shit i just wrote, was just to get here: Work. There’s three things i hear every time i go home to see my parents. Work hard, move forward, and sacrifice. Discipline, Momentum, and Loss. The Three forward facing walls of the Idea Box. “Where do you get your ideas?” From putting the work in. When you’re working, and you gotta keep moving, you don’t got time to care about other people’s work, other people’s success, other people’s bullshit. You lose something every day. You lose life, you fall out of touch, you lose energy. Death and Taxes, but death is taxes. You try to budget your time, save some for yourself, but when you’re held accountable, death does the math and you always come up short. You can go to comic cons, and see the same motherfuckers selling the same indie comic shit they were selling for years. Oh, this time around it got an ignatz, but what the fuck is a golden brick when you ain’t got gold, just bricks? If every cartoonist out there, did a proper accounting of their work, of their value, 3/4 of the tables at small press fests would be left empty. When you realize you’re hungry cause you’re pressing a stapler instead of a george forman grill, you’ll skip the con and its hundred dollar tables and hotels and gas.
But what is a cartoonist taught of value? You got kramers ergot filled with chicken scratch and half your friends will say “That’s comics too!” You got comics teachers who have spent all their years to become cartoonists and ended up teachers, and teaching someone else how to get to their mid-stage pokemon evolution is the best they’ll do. No one who’s a squirtle, should learn how to become blastoise from a wartortle. The best teachers didn’t fall short and settle for teaching, they aimed high at teaching and became charizards of that shit. For every art comix cartoonist that praises Schulz, Herriman, Herge and McCay, ain’t none of them ever stop their baby doodling to actually accept that there’s value in a beautiful drawing. And i mean beautiful in that straight-up, nice-to-look-at, conventional way. We aren’t taught value, and so we aren’t taught that to make something valuable, it must be rare, and to make something rare, takes time, patience and skill. Takes work.
Our comics heroes went to war, our comics community goes to conventions. When they came back, they made some of the most beautiful enduring works of art in the last century. When we come back, we have a heavy bag of comics, given away for free, the price waived if you’re so kind enough to trade. But who would give away a sandwich when they were hungry? You don’t get to complain about comics being hard, if the only way you can be doing comics is by living on easy street. Life is hard, but its really difficult to believe it when a cartoonist says it, over chilled whiskey in a hotel room on the weekend. I live a life of luxury, of first world convenience, and the only way i honor my parents, is if i have the option of drawing comics for a living, i’m gonna treat it like i’m a god damn farmer. Work the land, reap what i sow, draw blood from a stone.