"The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all it's contents."
I close my eyes
Then I don't mind being the way I am
But whenever I try
I know I never can..."
I've always drawn. Ever since I can remember. Dinosaurs and Seasame Street caracters were my favorites as a small child. 'Planet of the Apes', 'Star Trek' and countless 'Star Wars' doodles took the place of my homework through out grade school. Frank Miller's 'Daredevil' and ANYTHING drawn by Walt Simonson were my high school idols.
I bought my first hardbacked sketchbook in 1990. Up until then I'd drawn almost exclusively in wirebound drawing pads, and then mostly for art school assignments. I graduated from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh by the skin of my teeth in spring of 1987 and lived in the city until early '92.
In 1990 I'd been working at Eide's, Pittsburgh's most successful independent record store, for two years. This was in the early days of cds and vinyl records were becoming a rapidly diminishing, highly collectable commodity- oh, we sold comic books, too. Working at Eide's is like being a member of the most exclusive men's club in the city. I can only remember two girls ever working there and then not for more than a handful of months. Goth chicks with pale skin, dark hair, questionable sexual orientation. Why had I never bothered to ask one out? Oh, yeah, I was a comic department geek.
So, one day, my friend Bill Trimmer, who was in charge of book orders for the store, thrust this green, leather-bound, hard-backed monster into my hands. 200 pages of pristine, acid-free paper. I LOVED it.
"You need one of these", he told me. And I did. I poured all the angst of being an art school grad working in a record shop, never having had a girlfriend, and living hand to mouth in Pittsburgh for more years than I care to remember into it.
Then the strangest thing started to happen. My friends always wanted to see it. And borrow it. Pass it around and tell stories about it. My sketchbooks seemed to take on a life of their own. And the more my friends devoured them, the more I fed the pages.
I average a full sketchbook about one every1.8 years. A lot happens in 1.8 years, so in some way I guess it's lucky I've kept these things around.
At some point around the time I was getting to the end of the first book, I had stopped having a normal social life. Well, as normal a social life as comic shop geeks can have, anyway.
Eschewing the past times my room mates and their cronies busied themselves with in their off hours- playing role-playing games, painting lead miniatures, going to midnight showings of Monty Python films and 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show', I had discovered my most enduring passion. Drinking.
Drinking in strip clubs, specifically. Back in the days when "disposable income" meant not paying rent, not having a girlfriend, and eating peanut butter sandwiches and Rice-a-Roni for dinner.
You could go into these places and get to drink and tip nearly naked girls to gyrate in your general vacinity while they pretended they were intensly interested in YOU. You get over a basic fear of talking to strange women when you're staring at a great pair of tits that's asking, "What do you do for a living?" You also get to slip her g-string aside to stuff it full of filthy lucre. I'm getting misty.
So that first sketchbook was filled with all the bad sketches you have to get out. The ones we artists store up until we find out we have something we think of as significant, original, or important to say.
Bernie Wrightson once said to my friend Rick while looking at his sketchbook, "Looks like you've got about a billion bad sketches in ya waitin' ta get out."
You have to get all that stuff out of your system before you find out if you do have something original to explore.
So the first book ended up crammed with super-hero doodles, pulp fiction villans and anti-heroes, along with a cartoony little guy everyone refers to as Duckman.
He's my own take on Jiminy Cricket, and was based, in part, on that duck-like critter in the corners of Patrick Oliphant's editorial cartoons.
The idea was to have a narrator, someone to tell it like it is in the sketchbook- so you know you're not looking at the pictures alone.