Tag Archives: daniel clowes

Do You Sprint, or Do You Marathon?

Wish I knew the artist, but it’s a generic wallpaper.
And the image from this article would be too ironic.

The running metaphor spontaneously appeared in therapy yesterday.

Amongst my many problems — & they are legion — the one that affects me in terms of cartooning & comics creation is a kind of mental fatigue. It comes on quickly, which I then rationalise by claiming boredom. There are two (technically four) results.

  1. When I’ve begun a long project, I lose momentum. In my experience, it has one of two results:
    a) I rush to finish, with the later pages looking uninspired & merely functional, rather than inspired & with the same grace & expertise as the early pages (comics longer than five or so pages);
    b) I abandon the project in favour of something new & exciting, one in which I’ll receive a sense of ‘completion satisfaction.’ For some reason this psychological reward doesn’t come when simply finishing a page while knowing there’s still much more to do.
  2. I avoid longform storytelling, preferring short comics, even though I have scripts for longer works that I believe are worthy of the time & effort.

Writing, it seems, is pure joy. Six years ago (roughly 2006), I was already writing when it occurred to me that I should relearn how to draw. While illustration is exciting early in a project, it somehow becomes laborious. It was in realising that I enjoy poster art that the running metaphor occurred to me.

I’m a sprinter. Literally, I was a decent sprinter in school, but a poor long-distance runner. I live for the moment,  & pacing for future reward is an alien concept. This explains why I spent 20+ years playing music; even recorded music is a time-based artform, & it is entirely about experiencing the moment.

In yesterday’s session, I’d just come from the library. While conversing with my counsellor, a Clowes hardcover looked up at me. His storytelling technique in The Death-Ray, Wilson & others, as well as that of Seth in George Sprott & Chris Ware in Acme Novelty Library, hit me as an inspired technique. Could I make a longform comic as a series of shorts?

There’s an argument for naïveté on my part. So what? It’s not the destination, but the journey, & this is mine. I had to discover it on my own, & only time will tell if it’s at all meaningful.

As a sprinter, could I be a one-person cartoonist relay race?


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