Wednesday, June 3, 2009

More Discussions? Hey. Where'd Everybody GO!?!?

We still need to talk about this issue of expectations and how I think the recent grads have been raised with lower expectations in certain areas and a sense of "entitlement" in other areas. These lower expectations have resulted in more crap movies and TV shows than used to be made. They make slick crap now instead of crappy crap. Take GRIND HOUSE, for instance. It looks bad intentionally, but that style of movie used to be made on the cheap. Now -- we have MICHAEL BAY!!

The king of slick crap.

Well, this is all coming up as part of this "discussion" because of Derek Diaz's comments from two posts back. Here's part of what he said:
I think part of the reception (referring to my concern and amusement over being dated because of background use - Tom) comes from the fact that your team-up with Hanna is a throwback and causes people to think its "dated" simply because they haven't seen your name in so long. Comics are just as nasty as any other media when it comes to moving on. Hardly anything is considered timeless. In one day, out the next. And I think that it doesn't have as much to do with the artwork as when you saw the guy last. Its a topic I've wondered about concerning my own work, wondering if I'll be able to stay "current" and "relevant" throughout my career. I would definitely assert that the guys who stay working as popular conventions evolve, have it much easier, they adapt naturally as time goes by. You're coming back into the game at a time when the focus has shifted from storytelling to "pretty pictures". Which is a bummer. And it leaves people looking at your work through blurred vision. I think there's just a different expectation now, good or bad as it might be.

Yep. If you stay busy, you morph as yo
u go along. I think that I'm mostly concerned with some dated layout stuff that I do. As far as dropping backgrounds ... I don't know. I might try it. I just happen to like detail.

You should all be concerned with staying "relevant" and "current" in any industry, but as Derek points out, comics has a short memory unless you stay active. John Byrne is almost unknown at this point and he was the "KING" of the industry in the late 70's and early 80's.

Come on. Let's hear some more on this kind of stuff.

Why are you recent grads so willing to absorb, accept and even "embrace" crap? There's a lot of bad stuff out there. I know I'm petty, but I'm glad that Miller's SPIRIT movie did poorly. It was someone else, not the Spirit, stuck into his already existing Sin City universe.

SPRING QUARTER is over!! Long live summer. I am teaching this summer.

Good luck to all t
he recent grads of SCAD and anywhere else.



Anonymous said...

I'm not sure why "up and coming" young professionals think that whatever they see in pop culture, television, comics, or movies is something they need to imitate.
What ever happened to 'art imitating life'? It seems like the culture of today wants to escape life, which is a shame. Everyday life has so much to offer, why exaggerate it to the point of being extremely fake?

As far as staying current within comics... my take is a little slanted because I do more illustration work.
The obvious of clothing needs to stay current (you taught us that) and the buildings, etc. Basically, technical aspects of the comic drawing.
Now, when it comes digital technology, I am willing to embrace that. I know there is a big shift into digital comics today.
However, when it comes down to the 'lack of backgrounds' stuff... to me that is just being lazy. It really comes down to the 'art imitating life' point again in the sense that people don't go into buildings with bare walls. If artists today are saying they are willing to slack off on environments, I would ask them if their world is surrounded by blank walls. If they are being smart and say 'yes', there is something wrong with them.

Guthrie said...

This is an interesting topic and one my wife is tired of hearing about I'm sure. Being a little older I feel caught in the middle of things. I began reading comics and being influenced by so many artists that either aren't around any longer or don't get any more work, but I am also surrounded by many talented artists that have never even heard of most of them. I think storytelling is an art like many others that requires a lot of patience, practice, and active participation. Sadly I think a lot of these practices and the skilled craftsmen that specialized in them, are almost entirely overlooked today. I think even the idea of recreation itself has changed. In the past most things required a lot of participation and involvement to be fun. Comics, Radio programs, television, games and paling around with your friends all required some focus and commitment to be fun, and this seems to be like kryptonite to modern audiences. "Sit back and enjoy the scenery, don't worry you wont have to think too much, maybe enjoy a few cheap laughs, some CG effects, the most popular modern actors , just don't expect to care much about whats being said or done for any real length of time." I think storytelling is a fabulous artform with so many interesting things to learn and do, but what happens when there's no real story to tell or maybe worse no one who wants to be involved?

Tom Lyle said...

So, Guthrie, that brings up a quote that I will abuse:
Suppose you draw a story and there's no one to read it? Does it still count as a story? Does anyone give a crap? Apathy rules, man.

You're the topic of my next blog entry. You've made some great points.
Thanks so much for that.

Drew said...

Miller is quite possibly the biggest disappointment to me regarding people from the comic industry. The man definitely had the goods back in the day, but along the way...I don't know. Maybe he started believing too much of his own hype? The man definitely has always had weakpoints - a weird, skewed view of women comes to mind - but he also had some great strong points - the guy knew how to stage action.

I'll admit I'm as guilty as the next person in eagerly seeing some crap, and like everything out there, sometimes the trashy stuff is good, as long as it's balanced out with some nutritious brain food.

This is going to be a weird thought, but I almost want to say that people embrace crap to get away from having to have their "art professional" hat on when they see it. There are times when I'll be extremely judgemental of something, and ask "Why the hell couldn't it have been done better? Why didn't they do A instead of B?" Then there's times when I just want to sit back, turn off the part of my brain that has all those lessons of good storytelling and such, and watch Michael Bay craft a 5 car explosion on a highway.

I think you might be in a position where you hear a lot of us gushing about how we want to see film A or whatever, and it's a terrible film to be sure, but ya gotta think: This is after those kids are burnt out from doing 4 pages in each class(a sad number...especially now when I'm faced with two 22-page issues I need to do for personal projects...couldn't be happier though,) and they don't want to exercise that part of the brain anymore, they just want to have some delicious mental junk food for a bit before they go back to their Will Eisners and their Wally Woods and their Alan Moores.

Drew said...

As for the general populace...this is something I'm really disappointed by. People just don't care about good art anymore, and there are some days I feel like it's fading. Did you know back in the days of the Renaissance everyone who was anyone, politician, scientist, artisan, merchant, etc, carried a sketchbook? Drawing wasn't seen as something you do as a kid then drop it or focus it later, it was considered an integral part of your life, a great way to nurture parts of your brain you normally don't touch in your regular day to day life.

Now? Now you either do it or not, no middle-ground there. It saddens me to see it treated like that, and I think that's partly a reason why people are willing to take lowered standards now - there's no huge populace to nurture and foster it. Enjoying art is considered elitist, unless your name happens to be Kinkade. When did this happen? Why does it have to be that way?

(this post is totally going long and tangential, so bear with me...)

Your remark about staying relevant is interesting...first guy that comes to mind in regards to somebody who had a style that was his but reflected the changing times was Carlos Meglia. He died about a year, maybe two years ago at the unripe age of 50(!!), but the guy drew like a savvy 30 year-old (that IS a compliment.) You look at his stuff, it's still uniquely Meglia, but it has accents and flavors of the influences of those times around him...that man KNEW how to keep himself current without sacrificing himself.

David Mazzuchelli is another great soul who seems to have done this. The guy just put out a book recently called "Asterios Polyp." Looks nothing like Batman Year One or Daredevil: Born Again. Is it mainstream like the other stuff? Of course not. But it's still fantastic, and there's still stuff in the drawings that have a faint allusion to the older Mazzuchelli.

I dunno, Tom...I think I'm burning my brain out obsessing over all this stuff...I'm STILL trying to make some kind of dent in breaking into this industry, and the fact that folks who save time by photo-copying, or tracing, or what-have-you keep a position in the field because their art is "slick crap" is totally disheartening. Won't stop me from trying, but it's definitely a punch in the gut every now and then when I stop and think about it long enough.

Guthrie said...

"that brings up a quote that I will abuse:
Suppose you draw a story and there's no one to read it? Does it still count as a story? "

That's a tuffy I want to say a story is only really viable if you have someone to share it with. But this also makes me a little sad, what about all those untold stories floating around out there in someones head? Its like the last episode of St. Elsewhere (apologies to anyone whose heard this analogy from me before)

P.S. Thank you for posting your layouts, Great stuff I do really like your style and Its good to know there is still layout work to be had out there.

Derik Diaz said...

I've mentioned this before but I feel the need to bring it up again. I know that you're speaking in terms of averages, but as someone who doesn't support crap, I take issue with the blanket assumption. Not all of us are in love with the kind of junk that comes out of the money making machine. I think that while there may be some students who get behind that stuff on the whole I've found that the hardest working and most dedicated group is far from supporting the stuff you've outlined. It might sound silly but I think its important to note that there are a growing number of us who are standing with you on everything you're saying. I think that a change is on the horizon but it will take time to develop. Just remember that, frustrating as it might seem, there are more of us competing against this trend than you might think.

Tom Lyle said...

Thanks. I think my layouts are better than the finished art - with apologies to Scott Hanna. He's great, but something got lost. He and I haven't had time to discuss it yet.

I'm going to try and do some samples of inked work to submit next. You'll be appalled at my inking style that I'll unveil. Actually, you'll all just kill me. I'm going to use Pitt pens and Microns. HAH!!

If there wasn't anyone that I saw who was giving a crap I would probably just be a crabby old fart that never said anything. I'm just pointing out that, on average, the lowest common denominator is way too close to what is expected or done.

Thanks for caring.


Tom Lyle said...

Mr. Sides-
That's some awesome commentary. I've got to read all that again before I go into detail.


Drew said...

Hey Tom, if you're planning to use pitt pens as your brush, you might want to look into Sakura brush pens. They look like fountain pens on the outside, but lo and behold, there's an actual brush in there, with bristles! I think they're nylon bristles or something synthetic like that, but at least it holds a point waaaay better than pitts do, and there's a greater variance in them.

The ink seems like it might be good too, but I haven't had a chance to try it.

I'd also say maybe check out one of Copic's least they're refillable, and I think some people have been ballsy enough to fill them with Higgins or something like that to save money.

Anonymous said...

I would agree with you on the "entitlement" thing. I felt the same way when I graduated, and when the economy collapsed and got laid off I got a dose of reality which has turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to me. A degree in art means NOTHING in the real world. Only the SKILLS mean anything.

Over the past year I have had a trial by fire. I have worked my ass off to build contacts and establish myself, and now the fruits of my labor have been paying off. It has only been through constant work and hardships that I have come out shining on the other side and I am still not there yet. I have done everything from murals, to illustrations, to magazine design, catalog design, business card design, t-shirt illustration, website design, concept art, christmas ornament design, and everything in between. Basically, whatever it takes to make money and get my name out there while working toward an overall goal.

That is something that I think sometimes graduates overlook. You have to pay an ASSLOAD of dues while working toward your ultimate goal because NO BODY wants to hire someone with NO EXPERIENCE so you have to do smaller jobs to work toward the bigger job. A lot of people want to go straight to the top, and in most cases, that's just not reality.

In order to survive in today's art world in today's economy, you HAVE to be multi-talented. Anyone who is a one trick pony, unless they are a GOOD and FAST one trick pony can expect to be unemployed when they graduate. Its harsh, and it sucks to hear, but its the truth.