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A little history about me...

Journal Entry: Fri May 1, 2009, 12:37 PM
Might be dull, and I'm not sure anyone would care, but...well, you've been warned.

When I was around 8 years old, I got the idea in my head that I wanted to draw a comic strip. I'd been drawing before that, but it was usually just random pictures; I wanted to tell stories. So I made up a character named Coiner Wingfoot and drew a 16-page comic called "The Adventures of Coiner Wingfoot", about a regular guy who played sports and fought a crime lord trying to take over the city, with pencils and crayons. I liked it, and I continued to draw comic strips.

Eventually, I made up a character named Billy Casey (Billy Casey is the character in the yellow frame of NB:W - the lineup by Dualmask ), who was largely the same kind of guy as Coiner Wingfoot, only with a much less silly name and a decent supporting cast (girlfriend, best friend, rival, eventually even kids of his own). Billy was essentially a secret agent who fought crime using martial arts, his knife and his own ridiculous arrogance. Putting Billy in the same universe as Coiner, he turned out to be much more interesting and became my new "main hero".

Eventually I got tired of drawing Billy Casey all the time, and I came up with a Batman-ish vigilante named Infiltrator. (Infiltrator, shown recently Infiltrator Model Sheet by Dualmask ) He was just a regular guy who got fired from his FBI job and decided to become a vigilante. Drew maybe seven different comics starring him.

Infiltrator got boring and I created this super hero named Twist Man. He could coil his body up and use his powers to do things like make drills out of his arms, bounce like a spring or trap villains like a boa constrictor. He had many supporting cast members, including a busty ninja girl imaginatively named Katana, who dressed similarly to Mai Shiranui, but wielded twin katana (hence the name). (A recent, but not good, image of Katana :thumb85851786: )

I started liking Katana so much that she became the main character, with Twist Man as her sidekick/lover. That's when I realized that I preferred female protagonists--Katana was the first. I drew several comics with her--the last comics I would ever "finish" in fact--featuring her fighting bad guys with her swords, high kicks and many, many wardrobe malfunctions.

I'd reached adulthood, and realized that my comics needed decent stories, and Katana was lame in that department. I got tired of her and started developing an elemental super hero team called Dragon Six (six of them, darkness, light, fire, water, earth and wind). Their leader was a black man with wild dredlocks named Shade Sieger, who had the powers of the "Shadow Dragon", giving him dominion over darkness, death and gravity (because for some reason the Final Fantasy series tethered gravity magic with darkness and that series inspired me a lot back in the day). Shade Sieger is the guy in all black hovering on the left hand side in this pic: Infiltrator and other "classics" of mine are also present. He proved to be more interesting than the rest of the cast, and I started drawing him a lot, even transforming him into a super hero simply named "Dark". Maybe if Shade had been a woman, things would have been different...but like all the rest, I eventually got tired of him.

It was around this time that I'd joined DeviantART. I wanted to create a totally different kind of character, something not often seen, so I created a black female protagonist who wielded pistols. Yup, that's when Nia Black came into being. I spent lots of energy developing her story, so much so that she became my finest creation (and probably remains so to this day). As you probably know, I wrote a novel about her, but unlike every character that came before her...oddly I was virtually incapable of drawing decent comics about her. So I continued to develop stories about her, revising the other characters that came before so that everything made sense according to Nia, rather than modifying Nia so she'd fit what I came up with in the past. (Readers of my novel may have recognized the name Billy Casey--he's in her story not as a heroic ally, but as an antagonist. And that crime lord that Billy Casey and Coiner Wingfoot battled back in the day? Yep...that would be Hudson. And in case you're wondering whatever happened to Coiner Wingfoot...he goes by a different name these days: All-Star. But I digress.)

Fast forward about seven years, and I find it more and more difficult to find a reason to draw Nia. Her graphic novel is a dead-on-arrival project; it's just not happening. As great a design as Nia is, she's not as interesting to me as she used to be. Instead, I now prefer to draw this long-haired, scantily-clad, rocket-boots-sporting babe. Sound familiar?

Yep, it seems Nia Black's time is fading away and Jet Dancer is moving into the spotlight.

But I don't want this cycle to repeat itself anymore. I want to be able to stick to something long enough to do something worthwhile with it. Nia's got her novel; everything preceding her doesn't matter. What can I do with Jet Dancer? Can the cycle be broken? Maybe it's just who I am. Maybe I am doomed to lose interest in Jet eventually and try something new. Or maybe all I need is a little mind over matter...

Well, thanks for reading my dull little "History of JP's Art" diatribe.

JP

  • Reading: Comics and Sequential Art - Eisner
  • Playing: Shadow of the Colossus
  • Eating: Fruit salad
  • Drinking: Coffee
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:iconaquillyne:
aquillyne Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2009  Hobbyist Writer
That was really cute, reminds me of the way I grew up, with a history of my own invented characters and stories that I was almost "close" to. And the way that they get incorporated surreptitiously into your later creations, just like with me. I have a tendency to consolidate, that is, bring all prior work together into some kind of "grand" work (which at the moment is a book). To date, I've never finished such a project, but nor have I given up. Sometimes you just need to take a break and come back later. The trick is to realise that Rome wasn't built in a day.
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:iconncweber:
NCWeber Featured By Owner May 4, 2009  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Heh, nice. My stories about the same, but there are infinitely more characters involved. :nod:
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:icondualmask:
Dualmask Featured By Owner May 4, 2009  Professional Digital Artist
To be honest, I only mentioned the major concepts I developed in my childhood here. At one point in my teenage life I had about 1000 characters that I could draw, describe in detail and display in action on command.
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:iconncweber:
NCWeber Featured By Owner May 5, 2009  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Wow. Nice. I don't think I broke the 1,000 mark. I doubt I have more than 200. :)
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:icondualmask:
Dualmask Featured By Owner May 5, 2009  Professional Digital Artist
As nice as a lot of them were, they were mostly filler; I purged most of them for the sake of simplicity. I think I'm down to around 50 now.
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:iconncweber:
NCWeber Featured By Owner May 5, 2009  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Cool. :)
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:iconwbd:
wbd Featured By Owner May 3, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for posting that up- I thought it was a neat read, and it gives me some extra insight into your work. By writing it down, you didn't just give us an interesting piece to read, you also helped put your thoughts into order. I suspect you'll soon have the answer you're looking for, if you keep up with that analysis.

I think the key thing I pulled from this is "enthusiasm"- you have plenty of it for your work. As you said, it's a question of directing it. There's a great quote by Walt Disney about this- I'll add it to my journal in a moment, but I think you've got the core. Enthusiasm is linked with confidence.
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:icondualmask:
Dualmask Featured By Owner May 3, 2009  Professional Digital Artist
Thanks. When I first posted this, I almost regretted it; thinking no one would really care, but I decided to leave it up anyway because it's nice to see it in black and white, as it were. It reminds me of how far I've come as a character designer and artist and it reminds me that walking away from storytelling is something I just can't do.

You're right about enthusiasm, and I liked that quote in your journal. I don't want to overanalyze, but maybe my "getting tired" of my past ideas has something to do with an overall lack of confidence in them; a subconscious belief that it won't be spectacular so it's not worth pursuing any further.

The thing is, unlike in the past, I'm now fully conscious of what's happening. I can see that a transition is happening, so I should be able to take best advantage of what I'm on to now, rather than the usual feeling like it's out of my hands. To put it in plain English, I like to draw Jet, the people like to see Jet so I owe it to myself to try to do something worthwhile with Jet, while I have the chance.
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:iconwbd:
wbd Featured By Owner May 4, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
I think that's key- when a person is truly conscious of something, that's when it can be dealt with. And with that, maybe you'll be able to get around it when it comes to Jet and all the pieces around her. Is there some way you can build up that confidence? Perhaps some outlining (not in your head, on paper) of her story and where it will go? Something more concrete might give you a better sense of what you're doing and the confidence associated with it. I know it helps for me.
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:icondualmask:
Dualmask Featured By Owner May 4, 2009  Professional Digital Artist
I did start thinking in that direction, actually. I wrote some things down in my journal today in regards to making Jet compatible with my existing storylines.

I recalled that I was never short on confidence when I was a kid--only when I started worrying about the actual quality of my work did my confidence begin to waver (which was around the same time I first started attending the Art Institute of Philadelphia). I recalled that when I had an idea, I went with it, and didn't care if anyone told me how silly it was. Of course, some of my ideas were silly, but Jet is not.

I have a plan, and I'm working on it. I want to show off what I've got so far, but the last thing I want to do is drag myself back into the trap of starting things without finishing them or making grandiose plans that are doomed to crumble under their own weight. I have to take it nice and slow, introducing things piece by piece.
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:iconwbd:
wbd Featured By Owner May 5, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm glad to hear that you're thinking about storyline compatibility. I think you've got lots of great ideas, and I believe that with a little effort that they can co-exist in one universe. It worked for Marvel, so why not for you?

As for confidence, that's a tricky one- we always have it shaken when we find out how little we really do know. I guess the secret is to push on anyways, but it's easier said than done.
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:icondualmask:
Dualmask Featured By Owner May 5, 2009  Professional Digital Artist
Maybe it calls for a different mentality. Rather than pushing, or fighting, maybe we need to think it more in terms of pursuing a goal. In that mindset, it's possible to break it down into logical steps and start acting on them one at a time.

For me, I've already made great progress. My character design is solidified and I have her basic premise. I just need to figure out what the next step is. Maybe it's more character designs (I've modified several of my past characters to fit as her supporting cast) or maybe I should dive straight into comics and make things up as I go (in which case I should probably finish that battle comic first). Not quite sure yet.
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:iconbluevengeance:
BlueVengeance Featured By Owner May 1, 2009
You know, I find this paralleling the idea I had when I was a teen. It was a weird sci-fi idea about a select group of children around the world being bred to have superhuman qualities in their teen years. I thought it was a cool idea, though I never shared it with anyone. Of course, the idea is nowhere near as interesting now as it was then for me.

I think it's always a struggle to find characters that are charismatic and fun do draw, and it's even more difficult to do as we develop different thought patterns, sort of "growing out" of certain themes. It's great to hear the evolution of your characters.
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:icondualmask:
Dualmask Featured By Owner May 1, 2009  Professional Digital Artist
I'm sure everyone who comes up with original characters has similar stories. It is interesting how one's creativity changes as they grow. There are some things I've held onto since I was a little kid, but mostly innovation is the driving force. As we mature, so does our work.
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:iconbelafantasy:
belafantasy Featured By Owner May 1, 2009  Professional General Artist
Haha, you know...i was like this too...my first character was a girl called Aurora...
i think cartoon/comic artists are borned with this will! XDD
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:icondualmask:
Dualmask Featured By Owner May 1, 2009  Professional Digital Artist
Yeah, and the more I try to pretend I can walk away from it, the stronger the desire to make comics gets! :o
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:iconmr-marcus-81:
Mr-Marcus-81 Featured By Owner May 1, 2009  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Very interesting...I find the evolution of an artist's characters and development from when they were first created to where they are now very interesting. I enjoy learning about the process of how certain characters have come to be, especially if it's a character that's been around for a while.That's part of the reason why I like to post a bunch of really old, and usually just awfully drawn, pics of my current characters to see the progression that has been made.

For instance with my latest Triple F gal that I did, Tammie [link] has had a DRASTIC change in character design from when she was first created [link] She was dressed in a very provocative manner most times...however, over time I liked her character to that of a "Around the Way" Hip-Hop B-Girl from NYC which is very different from her initial design. She was just there to be cannon fodder for some of the other Triple F gals that I liked the best, yet ended up becoming one of my favorites.

And I think I feel where you're coming from with Nia's ship sailing on. As much as I love her, I would rather remember her when you would draw her with full inspiration. I wouldn't want to force an uninspired pic of her just b/c it's what your watchers want. Even Sir Conan Doyle got tired of Sherlock Holmes and "killed" him off...for a little while at least. Jet's new, she's fresh and interesting...not that Nia isn't, but Jet's character design alone is eye candy. I don't think too many people will be that upset if you choose to do more pics of her, especially if they're like the most recent one of her that you did! :drool:

And as I mentioned previously, I fear the same thing happening with Simone and Angie. They are my most popular characters, and Simone is actually still my personal favorite of all of my gals, but I've been having some very strong feelings about my gals Nicole and Sapphira as of late. But, if nothing else, for some reason I ALWAYS came back for Simone. :shrug:
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:icondualmask:
Dualmask Featured By Owner May 1, 2009  Professional Digital Artist
You're lucky that way, being able to go back to your primary focus no matter what other characters come your way. Most of the time, when one my concepts fades away, it's gone. I didn't even mention the countless concepts I came up with between all the "major" ones up there. I often came with weak side stories that felt like a good idea in the beginning but quickly fizzled. In fact, WCL has the same characteristics as those short-lived ideas...

My worry is that Jet's eventually going to fade out too, and I'm getting too old to be dwelling on what idea I should stick to. I need to focus on one thing and keep it. Maybe Jet is that deal. I hope she is, because something's gotta give.
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