Warning - contains spoilers for those who have not read episodes from Tähtivaeltaja.
Somewhere around 2012 I began a comic book project, that I wanted to do since 1994. So now I am drawing it, and I'm hoping to finish it by 2015. It's called D'Moleyk - The Mole age. Simple, isn't it ?
If only it could be.
D'Moleyk is a nightmare that keeps on giving. It is a plight that is weighing on every move I make. It has been tormenting me for the last 20 years. It is the best thing (for me) that I have ever done in my life, and the worst.
It began in 1994 from a drawing, as usually. A mole-like creature, and girl with bat-wings. What are they? Intriguing. So I wanted to make story around them. And that's when the problems began.
I wrote a treatment around it called "The last winter". I still have it on floppy disk, somewhere.
So basically, it was about the end of the world. There was this Mole-like humanoid creature, who arrives at a hotel, looking for a job. He gets a job as a cleaner. Later, a father arrives with her daughter. Daughter is found later, murdered. Murderer was apparently her father. Father runs away, or kills himself. The Mole buries the dead girl. Faceless humanoids arrive in the near forest, freezing everyone in sight. Winter gets worse, and power cuts off. Girl is resurrected as some kind of demon-like creature. In the end, everybody freezes. And then there is an epilogue, an afterlife.
It made no god damn sense. So I could not even begin to draw it. There were too many open questions. Who was this mole creature? Is this even happening on earth? Why there is end of the world? Why eternal winter? Why the girl comes back to life? Why the afterlife? What's the point of the whole mess?
I had, and still have, extremely strong sense of self-criticism. I could not possibly draw it, if I had even a slightest doubt about the story. So, naturally, I tried to think my way through the problems.
During 1994-1998, the plot began to go in all kinds of directions. The girl was sent back from hell. Why hell? Did she commit something wrong? Could the characters be better? Is the plot interesting enough? I invented all kinds of stupid things that made it even bigger mess. The hotel was self-transforming battlestation invented by mad scientist. Faceless ones were omnipotent beings, who were "erasing" and then redrawing reality. Girls was killed for vampiric, Elizabeth Bathory-minded witches, whose touch cursed you so that you would go to hell, and then return as some kind of avenger (I had no idea about a comic called 'Spawn' yet.)
But, in the end everything just felt more stupid. I had piled random, cool-sounding ideas on top of other ideas, until in the end I had juxtaposed mess where nothing fit together. I despaired, and decided to abandon the whole thing.
But something about it bothered me too deeply. There was something too touching about the image of the girl and mole sticking together in the snow, trying to avert themselves from freezing to death. I just could not shake it off my head.
Years 2000-2006 passed. I was mostly busy with my game concept (Furry dragons), which then became my 2nd serious comic book attempt (Lopunperä). Still, I was bothered by this single image - girl and mole trying to survive the winter. I realized, that if something like this bothers you, then it MUST have some potential that is worth pursuing.
So, in 2007, I tried to fit my head around the idea again. First thing was to throw everything away that did not work -mercilessly- and stick what felt the most precious about it: The girl and the mole. Winter. Threat of death. End of the world, life possibly, and resurrection.
But why? I had to have some kind of story arc that made sense. Even then, I stressed that I am just not able to ever find time to do it, because I was busy with Lopunperä.
in 2008, I tried another treatment: A biblical apocalypse. God would intend that it's time for humans to go. Mole would be the harbinger of new race. Girl would be a murderer, who would have escaped from hell (as it would be spilling its inhabitants to the living world).
This simpler storyline felt more powerful and functional. But, there were still things that were bothering me. The young girl as murderer was bit unusual. Nothing wrong with that, but to truly understand such unique character, I would have had to explore her history, what would have made her to do it. This would have made another novel inside a novel, it was simply too much. And then there was spawn. And in the end it was that.. hell felt too goofy, too cartoony, and it would have been therefore difficult for me to sell the reader the real feeling I wanted to create, especially if I could not believe in it myself.
But Lopunperä, and game industry comic kept me busy, so it were in the backburner. Eventually, making of Lopunperä ended, and I began to think about this again.
I decided to downplay the religious aspects, and just make the invaders as some otherworldly beings. The girl would still be some kind of half-demon, and her presence a mystery. The mole would wake up below the ground from a capsule, start wandering about, and meet the girl. They would become friends. World would end.
I met Pertti Jarla and told him the concept. I had never told it to anyone before as I was really embarrassed about it. It still just made no sense to me. But he loved it, and said I should definitely make it. But I just could not bring enough time and energy to concentrate on it. As half a joke, I applied for one month art residence in Praque. I wrote wandering, blumbering synopsis of the thing mentioned above "Girl who may or may not be human.. and this creature.. and they are friends.. and it is set in HELSINKI!" for the art council.. and I got it!
Then I began to really compile for notes and crack the story. I decided that the everything would be caused by extraterrestial beings, or spirits. The mole would be just one member of the coming race who would slumber in their capsules under the earth. Girl would be perfectly normal, but she would get possessed by alien spirit, who goes after the escaped mole. This escape of the mole, too soon, the surface, would risk the aliens plan as humans might find the hives, so it would accelerate the intended apocalypse.
I took on me to do lots of research about possible scenarios of alien invasions and end of the world scenarios, only to find out how childish the whole notion was in the first place. First, you can't just "kill off the world" - it's too large and complex system to be killed, second, there is no payoff to just "kill everyone", third; you just CAN'T go and kill all humans, it's impossible! People are like cockroaches; that's why we've survived so long. It would take years, hundreds of years of dedicated hunting to smoke out the last remainders of our race, hiding around the planet. And to nuke planet so thoroughly that even humans couldn't survive would require so much resources that it would be just ultimately not worth effort.
And there were more; the notion of aliens as "invaders" is basically set on our own prenotions as ape-like species competing for limited resources. To even travel from star system to another would require such resources, that the civilization equipped to do so would no longer need anything from us. The whole notion of aliens invading is just a projection of an ape, trying to imagine a threat of something that is completely outside its own framework of experience.
So they would need another motive. I ended up with idea, which I was and still quite happy with. I am not discussing it here - it could be argued similarly as stupid, but at least it would cater for type IV civilization, at least on a context we can understand.
Then the girl itself; she would become powerful only as in order to protect the mole-like creature. But that can't happen by itself, so it would make sense to send off some possessing spirit from the basement to possess the first human that has met the creature - in order the girl, who found her.
So, the basic foundation was done. But the problem was that every solution brings up new questions. The whole story is one massive, audacious lie. It veers so strictly into fantasy territory, that it is very difficult to bring any real gravity into it, as we simply lack the existing context from our own experiences to relate into it, in any way.
That's when I decided to make the events and consequences as realistic as I possibly can. In order to detract the reader's attention away from the massive mumbo-jumbo fantasy scenario that was being fed to him. I researched about the side-effects what happens when society falls apart. I read about what happened during the natural disasters. The starvation in China and North korea. It was grim beyond all belief, a horror story of all horror stories. No invented demon I would have ever conjured from my mind could match the atrocities people have done to each other in real life.
So this is the path I had to take. And story, therefore, took turn to much darker territory that I would ever have been able to imagine myself. I had all the information I needed to build this.
But, some problems still remained. The style? Should it be in color? HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN IN STRAIGHT FACE that "Below Espoo, an ancient hive buries the embryos of hundreds of mole-like creatures, planted there for the day when they take over the world". That alone jumpkicks into so deep into fantasy territory, that no one could take seriously anything that comes after it. How to write dialogue about huge tentacles in the sky? Would the characters discuss how these things can even float in the air, in the first place? How had their formed, how they affect the weather, etc etc..
Again, it just seemed it won't work at all. Then I thought. What if there were no text at all. Let's make it silent. Not explain ANYTHING at all. Let's just make it realistic, but surrealist at the same time. It is like a dream, a nightmare. Nightmare that you believe is real while you are in it, only to realize to your relief that it is not.
So, finally I had something I could work on. But that was only the beginning of real troubles.
I had no notion whatsoever about silent storytelling. When everything is done with images, the traditional rules of sequential storytelling for graphic novels no longer work. Some situations can be explained with simple image, yes; but when you have to describe the consequences of CAUSE and EFFECT, you all suddenly have to use many more images than you would normally need to. For example, where character is going? From where? How does it relate to other events around him/her? Suddenly, planning a layout became a nightmare.
But it progressed, and I got it into Tähtivaeltaja. Nobody understood the intro, of course. How could you explain, without text, following things: "An ancient librarian who has slumbered a millenia is made into flesh, when the maintaining devices for embryos are malfunctioning. He then contacts his superiors, an ethereal beings on another dimension, to discuss the future of the human race."
-See the kind of pit I had dug myself in? But still, I kinda believe that what I got in the end was best wordless description I could do.
But never mind. Let's just presume, that readers are willing to hang there for the first five pages. After all, everybody can understand this: "A girl walks home. She is alerted by rumbling sound. A capsule has emerged from earth. Inside the capsule, a small furry creature wakes up. She takes it home"
So, everything seemed to be fine. But while removing the dialogue removed the main problem - that the story was just too silly - it generated a whole set of new problems. And again, the nagging question:
WHY spend hundreds and hundreds an hours on this? WHAT is the point? Who is even going bothered to read this, when everyone already has, at their disposal, hundreds of hours of quality entertainment? Why this is so important?
What made it more difficult was that I had to draw it, without pay, every weekend. I had decided to make it in A2 "to speed up the process with brush", but just ended up making it more detailed and deliberate. It was cool at the start, but I began to get worn out.
So, why? The story itself lacks about all the traditional storytelling mechanics that are used to keep audience interest up, such as antagonist who creates the conflict (though you can argue that the environment brings the conflict), satisfying resolution (it is grim and depressing as hell), and message (everyone knows that humans are terrible when they start to fight over resources, so I would be simply just repeating the obvious - that no one even wants to hear in the first place).
So what I am left with is this weird, crazy and laborious story with no message or entertainment value. And it took me few dozen pages, and 20 years of silent planning to realize it. So why do it?
I believe, that art does not need to fit into message/entertainment category, it can just simply give you an experience (hopefully). D'Moleyk has nothing to do with plot logic (although it's plot is, at this point, very carefully thought and planned out, at least in the cause/consequence context), and it has everything to do with a feeling. There is, at least for me, something strangely moving about seeing two highly vulnerable characters trekking slowly through living hell (hell which is mostly created by humans -us- competing for resources). So it is bit like The Road. At least the feeling works, for me.
I assume that if you expect yourself to be entertained, or enlightened, you will not get any pleasure out from reading D'Moleyk at all. If you, for some reason, manage to read it to the end, and if I, somehow, manage finishing it, it will leave you puzzled, possibly even depressed, and in worst case, bored (though I hope not).
This project is somehow like a curse to me. I have been trying to analyze it, trying to understand what IT IS that makes it so important to me. I could have had much easier life, had I not started it at all. I might have not have had to resign from my job, and my girlfriend possibly might not have had left me. But this is just second-guessing ultimately.
The final result; from Tähtivaeltaja 4/2014
And even now, after thinking about it for 20 years, I still have NO CLUE why I must do it. What is it in this comic that makes it worth reading or buying, or making? I DON'T KNOW! I have given up trying to figure it out. It might simply be just some self-feeding obsession. I can't even claim that it is just enjoyable to draw it, as it is very laborious, my skills hardly are enough for doing it, and just trying to live in that depressing, semi-"realistic" apocalyptic world is terribly suffocating to me.
I did not even go to the myriad of small problems blighting me with every step of this comic; such as, the logistics of where the character goes and why, original character design vs. stereotypes in storytelling where you don't have much time to explain anything, problems with scale, possible finnish army procedures under emergency which I know nothing about, water points in helsinki downtown, whether the piping under the sidewalk can withstand extreme cold, scale of the tentacles and how far you see them in horizon, and numerous issues which I can't discuss yet because they are about storypoints that are not drawn or published yet.. but those are all just details.
Still, every new page is incredibly satisfying to complete, it is satisfying to see it in print (though I am embarrassed to see my amateurish drawings there), so it certainly does give something for me. Mental or financial ruin, maybe too. But it keeps on giving. And that's all I can really say about it:
D'Moleyk is a nightmare that keeps on giving. Better relish it while I am doing it, as I am sure as hell I'll never do anything quite like this, ever again!
If there is ever a collection of D'Moleyk in single book, it will have a quote from Winston Churchill:
I did recently two art tests; the subjects were "13th century outlaw girl" and "Magical fairytale garden". I havent painted digitally for some time, so it was quite refreshing challenge to do.
"13th century outlaw girl" (test 1)
(click for bigger image)
The instructions said that: "Character must NOT be in static stance, she should be in action, she must be sexy and cute, a pet or assistant is welcome near the character, she should be well integrated into surrounding nature".. Though I was reasonably satisfied with this, I think I could do better work if I started again from scratch.
"Magical fairytale garden" (test 2)
The instructions for this said that: "You need to imagine a meadow or a garden in a fairy tale setting. [..] The scene needs to breathe a lot, lots of free space, lots of room to
Keep all elements simple, do not over-detail – give implicit suggestions
instead of explicit drawings.
Keep everything clean, very readable.
Be mindful of delivering a fairy tale mood, use color contrasts that
emphasize dreams and happiness – blue skies, yellow suns and so on.
Always think of adding some mystery to the image, play with the whole
garden concept and add touches that make one wonder what really happened or
what could happen there."
So I tried to do just that. I hope these tests were succesful, and I'm hoping to make better paintings soon!
Also, I've just quit my work at housemarque. It was 20 years ago exactly, when I started at Terramarque (which later became Housemarque), and while I wasn't with them all those years, it's still an interesting coincidence.
Today is a remarkable day for me for two reasons. First, I am turning 40 today, making me offically an old fart. Second, I have now been doing comics more or less very seriously for a decade now.
Yes, it was in winter 2004 when I first started seriously sketching my first album, Lopunperä 1 (=far end chronicles). I had no idea where I was getting to, and I had completely unrealistic and distorted perspective of my own skills, or should I say lack of them.
Looking at the first album now makes me embarrassed. I want to hang my head with shame thinking that how ignorant and arrogant I was to actually have nerve to offer this to publishers like Asema (and even more embarrassed now when I remember how encouraging and kind Ville Ranta was for me, while I was being an arrogant prick). I remember how I took major offence when I could not get a publisher and the art council of finland would not give me a grant to complete it, but I kinda understand it now. Looking at this album now, it visually looks like an fanboy's attempt to copy and replicate some of the experiences he had from popular culture in his happier days. This is a bit of a shame, since on conceptual level this still have some cool ideas, and the characters and story still do not feel calculated or forced. It still has some real heart, if you are willing to look past the surface.
I worked on this comic for every day after work, every weekend, on full 8 months, while having a stressful day at work making VMK (Virtual Magic Kingdom for disney) at Sulake (with the very same people who later went on to make Clash of clans, by the way). It was not easy. The work burned me out very badly, and it took many, many months before I was able to draw anything at all. During this time, I tried to find a publisher for this, in vain, while starting to work on a small comic that started as a joke when I was having a good time with friends.
So, I did "Muilutus Alpha Centauriin" [sic] which translates as "Snatchers from Alpha Centauri". I did it in order to learn to ink with nib tip (=mangaterä), and it won some kind of prize at the comics competition, while still not being included at the collection album that had all the winners. Dismayed, I printed it quickly and sold it by myself. Print was very small, and it had some bad reviews.
I would kinda like to continue the story, but I have major problems with some of the characters. While this is "fun" in very traditional comic-book sort of way, the characters are also pretty annoying and shallow. However, I have no idea how else I should portray them. Maybe some day I will, though I have no idea if anyone would care at all.
I finally managed to sell Lopunperä to a certain kids magazine, which was my last resort, as I really did not want my comic to be associated with that magazine. I felt that the magazine was shallow, pretentious vehicle that was aimed to brainwash kids into liking mainstream brands and popstars. My fear was that my comic, which I had shed some real blood and tears to make, would be forever associated with the magazine, and would be therefore duly ignored by everyone who hated the magazine. Looking at it now, I think I was right.
Still, I managed to get enough income, 500 euros per page, to enable me to work on it as a fulltime comic book artist. I realized that this may be the only chance I got to make the comic as amazing as I possibly can, so I started to think how should I make this comic as incredible visually, as possible.
At that moment, in 2006, I was already getting tired of computer-generated artwork, and I was hoping to utilize a technique that would make it stand out a little bit more, so I decided to use watercolors.
Ironically though, what I did not take into account was that most of the people were, and still are not, as tired of photoshop-generated graphics as I am, so the reception was not quite as warm as I would have hoped.
Also, the format of the magazine (2 pages month) proved to be a disaster for long story such as this. No one could really follow a slow-paced long story in a pace like this, and the format of the magazine was definitely more suited to comics that offered quick, cheap and easy laughs. Lopunperä was certainly out of place there, for it's readers it was too weird and too incomprehensible. Most of the adults did not want to touch it, as the stigma of "shallow kids drivel" was already attached into it. I continued my work under impression that this would be cancelled very soon.
By the time I had started the third part of the story, the comic had earned so much contempt from the readers and pressure from the editors that I was starting to feel severely anxious and depressed. I was fighting a losing fight, pouring every inch of my energy on a comic that had no chance and that I did not even own (as it was licensed from my employer when it was a video game concept I made).
During these hard times, I needed some kind of outlet to vent my misery before I would truly go insane, and thus "Matkailua Pelialalla" aka the Game industry comic was born.
In this comic, I took everything I loathed about game industry and every bad experience I ever had and made it into a new, fictional story, and let the bastards have it!
When I was making Lopunperä, I took so much time and toil to make something beautiful and nice looking, and I had my ass kicked so hard, that I just did not give a shit any more. I knew I had no way in hell enough time and energy to make this look good, and, frankly, I did not give a shit. I knew the people who made and played games understood and preciated nothing but shallow eye candy, so I made it as quick and ugly as I possibly could as that was all what those assholes deserved. And what do you know, the god damn thing became a cult hit with the very same audience it had contempt for. Talk about absolute irony of life!
While making "Matkailua Pelialalla" at sunday's, I struggled to make Lopunperä 3 at the same time. The old editor was retiring and decided to cut down the amount of pages by half, which seriously hurt the story. If I felt already before that this comic was doomed, now it felt like it was condemned to death.
Not surprisingly, the new editor appeared to me as a cynical career shark and bean counter who was not the kind of person who would give a shit on nurturing an unique, weird and long, expensive children's comic so naturally he replaced it with comics made by readers. Funnily I cannot even feel anger at him, because I felt it was simply something that could not be avoided, a natural and obvious move for a character like him to do so. So I went back to full-time job and finished Lopunperä 3 on a cliffhanger, hoping that some day I would somehow get to finish it.
Dream of being a fulltime comic book artist was over, but hey, I still could sacrifice my weekends and holidays as long as I took special care of not burning out. So, I continued the game industry comic while forming my own publishing house.
The thing you have to understand with modern, big publishing houses in finland (or anywhere) is that while they usually have been around for couple of decades, it is obvious that the people who originally formed them are not running them any more. Those who are left are usually bean counters who'se main job is to maintain their position at any cost. They are sometimes good with office politics, while having as much eye and sense for entertainment and culture as pocket calculator might have, on a very bad day. I have been around in entertainment industry just long enough to know, that even if they (by some mishap) think that you could be of some use to them, they would proceed to do every thing imaginable in order to royally shaft you, and since the market in Finland is so small, it's just not worth the pain.
This granted, there are also lot of fantastic, smaller comic book publishers, like Lempo, Asema, Huuda Huuda, Kreegah Bundolo and Arktinen Banaani, who all put out stuff that varies from interesting to absolutely fantastic, but they either are unable to pay any money, or are publishing stuff that is so different to what I make that there is just simply no point trying to offer them anything. It would be waste of time. I know it and they know it. So, Lehmäoja is born.
I proceeded then to make my first three Lopunperä -albums suitable for publishing. That meant lot of redrawing (for Lopunperä 1) and lot of additional pages that were cut (for Lopunperä 2 and 3). The experience of publishing was very interesting to say the least. The first album sold reasonably well (50% of the print run), as it got quite a few reviews and publicity (some due to fact that it was developed from a videogame concept), but when the 2nd and 3rd album came out, newspapers simply refused to write about it any more. Reason seemed to be that they "dont usually write about sequels", and consequently, the sales for 2nd and 3rd album diminished 50% and then 75%. I found their logic of refusing to write about sequels quite hamfisted. Do you refuse to review Empire strikes back because it is a sequel? Maybe the real reason was that we simply get much more stuff published than there really is room in paper.
Still, though the sales were disappointing, I still got back the money I invested pretty much on every album I had put out. But in the meanwhile I was getting real tired on this whole thing and wanted to do something else.
(I have to say that I don't understand artists who first "develop their style" and then just stick at it for the rest of their lives. Isn't that monotonous and boring? I love to do and try all kinds of different things, and experiment with different styles. Why wouldn't anyone want to do that? But never mind.) Now, I was thinking of resurrecting my old story about a strange mole-looking creature and demonic/undead girl who was it's guardian angel, combined with apocalypse. The problem was, the whole story was so weird that I didn't know how to handle it. But then, colleague of mine, Pertti Jarla, encouraged me to start anyway.
So I tried to do couple of sketches but it did not go anywhere. The problems and expectations felt insurmountable. I was not sure I was able to do it at all, and I was deathly afraid of burning out again.
As a kind of last resort, I sent application for residence in Prague to Art council of finland (who had at that point rejected every single application I had sent in every single year) as a half joke, as I did not expect it to come into anything. They accepted it, out of more than 70 applications.
At Prague, I started working on D'Moleyk, I was on fire again. I had resurrected the thing I always wanted to make but never had confidence to start. And it was shaping to be something more strange and beautiful I could have ever expected. I got 15 pages done, which was pretty good kickstart, and started to think about how to publish it. I was thinking of putting it all online, but I was wondering that how I am going to be able to really kick myself to see this all the way through on the weekends? That would take years and years. I needed something or someone who would kick me to do it, and give me motivation to carry on.
This is where the venerable magazine called Tähtivaeltaja and it's editor Toni Jerrman came to the rescue. I used to be deathly afraid of his critique as a young man, as I remember his scathing reviews in Sarjainfo during 80's, when he used to breath fire over small finnish comic zines. But, he absolutely loved the 15 pages I did and was very willing to take the comic under his wings. So we made a deal that I would redraw the first 5 pages (because I wanted to), and start it during 2013. For this I am very thankful :)
However, now I had another problem in my hands; I had unfinished business. D'moleyk would take all my free time, while Matkailua Pelialalla and Lopunperä 4 sat still unfinished. Lopunperä was a case where there really was no demand for it from anyone, save occasional email once or twice in a year, while I got pretty much hammered with requests asking me to continue the Game industry comic.
By this time I had already accepted that getting any meaningful grant for completing a huge, 240+ graphic novel from finnish art council was as likely as finding a snowball from hell. No offense to anyone, but clearly me and my sensibilities just are not their cup of tea. So I figured another way to do game industry comic: crowdfunding.
While crowdfunding itself is illegal in Finland, thanks to our backwards and retarded legislation, (which would probably rule Wikipedia illegal if they only could find a way to do it,) there was a service called mesenaatti.me that enabled it by setting up a webshop, where you can presell a book
that is in production. If you sell enough copies, production will happen, if not, you refund the money.
The mesenaatti campaign was a success, thanks to all the readers who actually cared about my little comic there. I am forever grateful for the people who contributed to the campaign, for they made me feel that I, for once, have a some kind of value as an artist. It may sound weird, but these days there is so much entertainment and culture available to everybody, that you have to come up with something special (or be really, really, lucky) to make any kind of impact at all.
But, this presented another problem. Now I had to foresee completion of 244-page book, while still making D'Moleyk. I also had a small grant for Lopunperä 4, which was enough for making 2-3 pages, but had no time to do it.
In the end, I managed to put out "Matkailua Pelialalla", and it got good reviews and healthy sales. Mind you that the print run was extremely limited, and price frankly was bit too much, but there was not much I could do about it, if I wanted to ensure that the damn thing would happen.
Lopunperä 4 is still on the air, hopefully I get to do the few pages I got the funding for, and use it to find the publisher.
After skipping one issue of D'Moleyk, I now continue producing pages for Tähtivaeltaja, about 3 pages every month. I absolutely love it. Whenever I make a new page, I feel it could be the best thing I've ever done (while the previous pages I'm not so keen on).
One may think that this decade of struggle would have been awful and traumatizing experience, and you should never attempt to be a comic artist in any case, as you are surely heading for bankruptcy and heartbreak. Well, I tell you something. Absolutely NOT. I LOVE MAKING COMICS. IT IS THE BEST FUCKING THING I HAVE EVER DONE IN MY LIFE!!
You see, I have now been 20 years in game industry. The wage is fine and has enabled me to buy all the nerd loot I always wanted to own, plus I can sometimes run a small publishing house.
But as a tradeoff, the game industry has made me feel utterly worthless and disposable and unwelcome. 80% of the work I have ever done has been trashed. Now imagine how this would have felt, during a 20-year time, had I not started making comics.. I haven't got even an idea if the work I did in the game companies was good or bad, because the reasons were usually something else than quality, such as budget or direction of the project, etc. I have good reason to believe my work was NOT bad, or I would not have a job in the game industry any more, in the first place.
While making comics has been a struggle, no work I have ever put to them has ever been wasted. I have been able to improve and build my skills, something you can't often do in game industry, as game development is usually mindless, numbing exercise with cumbersome technical tools. With comics, I have been able to be actually creative without having to compromise. To put my work out for people to see. To get feedback. To express something. Something like that is an absolute life line for creative person, much better than the living death of working 9 to 5 and then proceed to home to play your video games or watch the soap operas or movies that have been compromised to death while recycling the same old ideas one million times. When creative person has no promise of money, the only important thing becomes is what he has to say. And what you have to say is hundred times more interesting than what any piece of shit commercial entertainment studio can ever come up with, while trying to steal your attention.
So. What I wanted to say was:
Cheers for my decade of struggle, it was awesome, lets do it again!!!!!!
Today I finally did what I should have started years ago; I did live croquis drawings. Idea was that you had 2-5 minutes to draw a live model. First I was in panic mode; trying to desperately capture the figure before she changed position
After a couple of takes I was getting slightly more comfortable
Then, in the end, I was able to catch the anatomy with just few lines as I finally figured out how our model's physique was built.
All in all I was not trying to make impressive images; I was trying to study the anatomy. And when you only have couple of minutes your brain is forced to understand what is really going on in the body, rather than just copying what it thinks it sees. That's why I loved this exercise.