It has often been said that comics, as a medium, are lacking in the department of respect. There is no doubt of this truth, but nowhere is it truer than in the realm of “Fine Art”. There is no greater comic hater than a “true” artist. Usually it’s the stuffy ridiculous reason: “because it’s not art. It is simply masquerading as art.” Little do they realize the great effort, pain, and talent it requires to turn a good illustration. One must know their line weights, their composition, and of course their anatomy (or warped anatomy). Such small-minded folk truly require our wisdom.
I thought my art professor was just such a small mind thus I shed some wisdom and went about the task of forcibly educating her. She did not like this at all. My grades in her class have yet to heal. One day I simply asked her to her face what makes comics piss her off so much. She said, “To make a good bit of art you need good line weight, composition, and an understanding of warped anatomy.” “Comics have that!” I said back to her and she quickly asked, “Do they?”
I read my favorite web comics that day with a whole new perspective. She was right. Composition was there, but the other two were not. The art was plenty consistent on my very favorite strips, but that was about it. All this time I was on my own snooty high horse yet now, upon closer inspection, it appears to be a Jackass. I had spent my time validating the medium based on the art of a select few that drew well as opposed to a vast majority who did not.
I myself am guilty of settling for my current capabilities. “Look at your own cartoons” my teacher told me. “I see what you do in class and then I see these. You can do better than this. You ARE better than this. Act like it.”
It appears to me that if we wish our blessed medium to be taken more seriously we must do the same ourselves. Most artists have allowed their work online publish despite checkered mediocrity. Even Scott Kurtz and John Gabriel have admitted that their art is below the level they want. This is counter-productive to our task. We must no longer settle for what it is we are capable of now, but instead look to what it is we COULD be capable of soon. Boning up on skills takes real time and life has a nasty habit of getting in the way, but even so that is not a reasonable excuse for continued mediocrity. Comics are our craft and domain, but unless we make the time for our own development we lose the right to claim such personal ownership.
Artists, take a look at your craft. It’s good, but it could be better.
It should be better.
We ARE better.
Let’s act like it.