Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Reality Interferes

Pipe Dreams and All Artwork and Characters copyright 1992, 2007 Stephen T. Scanlon

The Artist At Work

1992 rolled along. It was a good year for the most part. I was in a city I loved. I was working on Pipe Dreams and making good progress. For most of the first half of the year I dated a woman named Donna. It was my longest relationship at that point of my life. I had a small group of friends

I hung out with at a bar called the Old Peculiar in the Ballard section of Seattle.

I had started my third set of Pipe Dreams strips when Donna and I broke up, she had started seeing my friend Jeff and I had a hard time dealing with it.

Jeff ultimately was better at consoling her after the motorcycle death of a friend of theirs. Since it affected both of my relationships, I had left everyone behind and became somewhat of a recluse in the following months. I worked on these strips and made a mistake in subject matter.

I introduced the character of Nick.

No big deal. I clearly based my other characters on specific friends in my life. I left my friend Inkboy out, so I created Nick. I had not gotten to the point of making effective composite characters, however Nick had represented a composite of Inkboy, Pro and Jeff. What do they have in common? Well, I felt they had "stolen" girlfriends (real and imagined) from me. I though it would be cathartic to write and draw about it.

I was wrong. I was a mental mess that late summer. I had slowed down a bit in my drawing Pipe Dreams. I was getting my second set of rejections around the same time. So I was starting to have doubts. I still was getting the generic rejection letters, some of which the only change was the date the letter was sent out.

So, I mixed in some silly gags I have saved up with a character driven storyline that really didn't work out. I had done about 40 strips in the first two collections of Pipe Dreams. This time I only did the minimum required 30.

Not only did I introduce Nick but I introduced Calvin, my "urban" character based on no one I knew in my real life at the time. I need someone outside the circle to represent the real world. Dirk being a bartender was a catalyst to meeting up with people of all kinds of stripes. I made him a veteran. He would appear a few times in future Pipe Dreams, but I have put him aside for the time I would be syndicated.

Still, my artwork was getting better. My characters were consistent looking at this point, and I was starting to get better at dialogue. I was at a loss at what I needed to do to curry favor with the syndicates. I thought that it should be in the newspapers. I thought it would be nice to get some editorial advice. I can't imagine that Pipe Dreams was so bad that any flaws couldn't be worked out. Especially when I see most of the newer comic strips that have been introduce the last 15 years.

There is anger in these strips, without constructive criticism I would continue this trend for a bit longer than I was smart to do. I had yet to be discouraged. I still had only a part time job that paid for my spartan lifestyle. I loved the freedom to continue to work on Pipe Dreams I felt I was getting close...

It's just a matter of time.

No comments: