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I've been feeling somewhat artistically impotent recently. I'm in one of those self-critical moods where I don't feel like I've been able to come up with any original ideas for a comic, and those ideas I have been able to come up with don't sound like very good ones to my ears. I went to the Source last week - the big comics and games store in St. Paul - and spent an hour or two looking over the comics and graphic novels on the racks, but it didn't give me the inspirational rush that it usually does. Instead, I simply got the feeling that everyone is copying each other (and not in the sense of "there's only so many plots in the world") or trying to revive a property from the 80s.

Seriously, all of the cartoons from the 1980s - Thundercats, Ghostbusters, and so on - are being adapted to "serious" comic book series. It makes me wonder if we as a society collectively had an explosion of inspiration in the 80s and have been dealing with writer's block for the past decade and a half. ...Actually, I have to admit that I thought Ghostbusters had promise, but the artist suffers from that affliction where everyone has the same face and only the hair is different. I really hate that. Perhaps unfairly, I didn't get far enough to critique the writing.

Sorry to go off on a tangent. I felt the same intimidation I always do when I look at the more mainstream comics - they look so slick, so vividly computer-colored, with Photoshop and Illustrator visual effects; none of which I know how to do. I'm looking forward to taking my computer classes for this reason, though I won't be taking any this semester. The other part of me - the curmudgeonly, "artsy" side of me - derides it as flash and frippery, distracting the reader from a lack of solid writing and purpose. While this may sometimes be the case, I know that this is also just sour grapes.

I keep coming back to Purpose, though. I look at a lot of these comics and I ask, "What's the point?" Entertainment is, I suppose, a valid enough purpose - and look at the lengths I go to for entertainment - but when it comes to creating something, I keep thinking, "That's not enough. It needs to say something, to mean something, maybe to change a life." Of course, on the other end of that spectrum, I've seen enough work that came across as cheesy, preachy, and downright propagandist to remind me that the story comes first. A good part of me is deathly afraid of creating something that turns out that way (I have nightmares of creating something comparable to "Captain Planet", as reviewed on Jabootu.com). I want to make something that people will enjoy reading, but I also have points I want to make.

Grrr, aarrgh. I'm also concerned about one of the genres I've chosen to work in. I've been reading that a good creator shouldn't pin himself down to one genre - and I agree with that; moreover I have ideas for stories in a number of different genres - but I really want to create historical fiction and historical fantasy. It's not as unique a genre in comics as I think it was when I first decided I wanted to do it, but it's still a genre that I think I would really enjoy writing. As I learned from Ars Magica, history is far more detailed and exotic than any make-believe setting, and there's the added bonus that I can address real-world issues and entities (such as, oh, say, Christianity) without having to go through the hoops of constructing some allegorical equivalent, which so often can be awkward or just plain annoying.

So here I am, with a couple of weeks left in my summer vacation before classes begin - plenty of free time. I want to put together a comic-something, but I don't know what. I've been working on different projects, but I can't seem to focus very well. I don't expect to actually finish anything before classes begin, but I think it would be neat to at least make some little mini-comic that I could copy off, just for fun. Just to have done something; just to have something to show for my months of off-time. Just to create a comic.

Fortunately, I have another meeting with the CCAS guys out here this month. Hopefully that will be good for some inspiration.

This entry was posted on Monday, August 02, 2004 at Monday, August 02, 2004 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

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