Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Woman Always Knows

This is a unique cartoon for me. I’m only posting it for a couple of very specific reasons.

First, I drew this cartoon the week before last. As a new cartoon it makes for an interesting comparison to the old cartoon I’m going to post tomorrow. And, though the cartoon I’m going to post tomorrow was done a couple of years ago, there is an intriguing thematic similarity to this newer cartoon.

It’s odd, but this cartoon has been odd since I first drew it. It wasn’t a cartoon at first, it was just a drawing.

That brings up the second reason I’m posting this.

I don’t like sad. I don’t like pathos.

Just about everything I write or draw is intended to make people grin or smile or nod or catch their breath or basically do anything except say, “Aw, the poor thing . . .”

Tomorrow’s cartoon will make this point visually.

However, today’s cartoon . . .

Today’s cartoon had a life of its own. And I mean that almost literally.

I drew this the week before last. That is, the week before Valentine’s Week. I wasn’t the happiest guy in the world the week before last.

I drew this image, originally, with no intention of turning it into a cartoon. Originally, I was just making a drawing of a woman. And all by themselves things got weird.

So, there I was, drawing a beautiful woman who looked anything but sad and when I finished the drawing, the drawing actually captured a reasonably good likeness of the woman. But the drawing of the woman looked sad.

I was happy with the whole look of the drawing, the kind of Gwen John/Modigliani style of the image. But I kept staring at the sad expression.

I’m betting my face had one of its kind of intense, scrunched-up scowls because in my mind my thinking was all intense and scrunched up, wondering, “What the hell, why did I draw this woman as sad?”

Then my mind all by itself went off on a kind of third person monologue and spoke to me.

I’ve read books about art-as-therapy and some have been interesting but I’ve never taken them very seriously because I think, hell, artists are the most unbalanced people in the world. If art could be therapy then artists wouldn’t be such nuts.

In terms of writing, I’ve had lots of odd experiences where things I’ve written have been wildly illuminating in ways I’d never expected.

But drawing has always been, well, just drawing.

So, anyway, I was standing there wondering why the hell I’d drawn the woman as sad and my mind went off on this kind of third person monologue and addressed me, saying:

“Yes, sure, she is a beautiful woman and you had fun drawing her. But she is not the woman you want to be drawing, is she? Sure, she—the model—doesn’t know you want to be drawing someone else. But she—the drawn image of the model—does know you want to be drawing someone else. She—the drawn image of the model—comes from inside of you where it’s no secret you want to be drawing someone else.”

I stood there ‘listening’ with my mind’s ear to this inner voice and when it was done I thought, “Whoa, where the hell did that come from?”

But, you know—and I knew—it was true. And I kind of thought, “Wow.”

For me, I think drawing always has been such a difficult task—I’ve always approached it in such a workman-like fashion as I described yesterday—that there was never really an option for my “inner self” to speak to me. It’s only since I’ve been working quickly and have achieved at least an adequate kind of fluency with image making that an experience like that was possible.

It was kind of freaky.

And it was only after-the-fact that I decided to turn the drawing into a cartoon with a caption. After the weird experience of drawing it and thinking about it, it seemed only fair to let the drawing speak for itself, too, by letting the caption say what the drawing said.

This is a Goblin Universe cartoon.

But I haven’t changed my mind at all about pathos. I still don’t like it. I still don’t like sadness.

But when a drawing decides to talk to me, I’m going to let it speak its mind.

Besides, tomorrow’s cartoon is an example of the kind of power a cartoonist does hold over a model . . .

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