So as you might have already noticed, I’ve had a particular lack of creative energy and inspiration to work on comics as of late, and a bad case of Writer’s Block to go with it. I think it mostly had to do with school, as I started to notice my creative juices draining back in August. However, it’s been a good two weeks since I switched majors and freed myself from the drudgery of two of my programming courses, so I really began to worry about when my juices would return. But as luck would have it, things have come back together for me recently.
Last week a coworker of mine, Margaret, told me about a book signing appearance of Adrian Tomine (Bay Area Asian-American comic artist extraordinare) at the Booksmith in the Haight. I was very inclined to get to it just as soon as I heard about it, since I managed to miss the time Craig Thompson of Blankets did a book signing there at the Booksmith—another friend of mine, Perla, told me about it but we ended up being late to it… about a year late to be exact. Anyways, Adrian was there to talk about his new book Shortcomings, and I certainly didn’t want to miss out on it.
Wednesday night comes along and I get to the Booksmith with both Perla and my friend Dave. I managed to pick up a copy of Shortcomings but I don’t get to stick around long enough to get Adrian to autograph it. I did however get to listen in to what he had to say during his Q&A session about a myriad of topics, including the comics industry, his Japanese/Asian-ness, and attempts to make films of his work (“so who is Optic Nerve, and what are his powers?”). I liked a lot about what he said. It wasn’t necessarily inspiring to the point where it moved mountains or anything. However, it was inspiring enough to stir up some of my creative juices which has laid dormant for a few months… a feeling akin to when you have water stuck in your ear and then it spontaneously unplugs itself. (Apologies for the unglamorous analogy.)
Yesterday my first spark of re-creativity came to me, and I was able to lay out the foundation for what’s gonna happen for the rest of Chapter 5. That ended up being a big deal because now it’ll be easier to figure out what I need to take care of next, versus before where I had no guiding light and really didn’t care to walk blindly though mist of my writer’s block. Plus it was the first time I’ve ever done that for a whole chapter like that, no complaints there! Now with that out of the way, getting new pages up should be less backbreaking for me, so hopefully this means more a more frequent page addingness.
Shortcomings itself is a fairly good book. I wouldn’t say it’s typical fare, but it is what I’ve come to expect from Adrian Tomine. Shortcomings itself is a little different from the rest of Adrian’s work, as it’s more specifically geared towards Asian-American issues versus his other works where the only Asian-Americans parts of it was just his characters names and looks. He touched upon this during his interview at the Booksmith; he mentioned that he had been accused of trying to hide his Japanese/Asian-ness by not showing his eyes behind his glasses in self-portraits or not having many Asian characters in his works. The one thing that (I believe?) he did mention which gave me a lot of hope for Moose River is that he’s received a lot of praise for his characters in Shortcomings for not being so clean and pure, and instead very morally ambiguous and almost detest-worthy. Now it’s not to say that I try to make my characters flawed for the sole purpose of getting people to like my work. But it does give me a lot of confidence in my writing abilities to see other comic writers succeed following the same path and goals that I have been with my own work.
…As you can tell I have plenty to say about this. … Anyways, that simple hour at the Booksmith was exactly what I needed, and hopefully this spells good times for Moose River in the near future.