Ok I will say it again in a different way for the idiots who couldn’t understand me the first time.
When you are shooting for immortality, anything less than a stunning achievement is a failure. Creating a powerful work of art is like running and leaping across a chasm. It takes all of your strength and you’ll be dashed on the rocks and fall to your death. Being a craftsman is like sitting in your woodshop all day carefully building a chair and when you are done you sit on it. Are comic’s craft? Well, certainly any cartoonist you are libel to meet will tell you “yes.” And that’s a big problem. Craft is boring. Ever been to a crafts fair. Not unlike a comics convention. Craft sucks.
When a cartoonist sits down to draw, and their goal is to draw well, they are doomed to failure. No matter how much they practice the best they can hope for is to become a polished hack aping their preconceived ideal of “good comics,” to become a mere hollow shell of the cartoonists who came before. For one reason, there is no objective “good” in art. Someone could conceivably think Spawn is well drawn and think Peanuts is poorly drawn (although that sounds insane to me). So if you are trying to draw well what you are shooting for is illusory. There is, objectively, no such thing.
However, if you are burning up inside with the need to express yourself, if there’s something you desperately need to say, when you sit down at the drawing table you think “how am I going to say this? How am I going to express myself so that people will understand?” The art will be slave to the content. Either the artist expresses the meaning, emotion, and power of their vision or they do not. The comic succeeds or fails on these terms. The notion of quality is meaningless.
I’m not exactly sure why I am writing this letter, but I’ve been Reading TCJ #188 for a couple hours now and my mind has just been racing and blood pounding. My Excitement with the power and possibilities of comics mixed the fear of a royally screwed-up marketplace… well lets just say I’ve got a weird shaky adrenaline rush.
I just felt suddenly like I had to write and say craft is the enemy! You could labor your whole life perfecting your “craft,” struggling to draw better, hoping one day to have the skills to produce a truly great comic… If this is how you are thinking you will never produce this great comic, this powerful work of art, that you dream of. There’s nothing wrong in trying to draw well, but that is not of primary importance.
What every creator should do, must do, is use the skills they have right now. A great masterpiece is within reach if only your power is strong enough (just like Green Lantern.) Just look within yourself and say what you have to say.
Cezanne and Jackson Pollock (and many other great painters) were horrible draftsmen! It was only through there sheer power to be great that they were great. The fire they had inside eclipsed their lack of technical skill. Although they started out shaky and even laughable, they went on to create staggering works of art.
This letter is not for the established creators… they’re hopeless. This is for the young bucks and does… let’s kick some fucking ass!
“Are you paying attention, MPAA and RIAA? A controlled release of free material keeps people from resorting to piracy and keeps them in your controlled ecosphere, which can include, yes, ways for fans to give you money. But when you’re a bunch of pricks, people go to The Pirate Bay and think of you as the enemy, and then you don’t get any money. Take notes, you idiots.”—
Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
Every sentence must do one of two things — reveal character or advance the action.
Start as close to the end as possible.
Be a sadist. Now matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them — in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.