About 99% of these drawings were torn up and thrown away. I almost never kept my drawings, even as a child. My parents don't have any of the art I drew as a child, as far as I know. I completed a batch of full-color comics as a teenager, started countless comics, they're all gone. I probably have less than a score of drawings done in my late teens/early 20's. Basically, my stuff was lousy, and I couldn't stand looking at it. I would draw something and be proud of it, or thought it looked okay, then I'd look at it a day or two later, or a week later, or a month, and I'd tear it up. No great loss to humanity, of course, but I do sometimes wish I could see the things I drew as a kid.
I don't know if other folks hold onto their childhood drawings or their fan/early art, I'm sure some do, but at this point in time I don't have more than two dozen things I drew during my first, say, 25 year, if memory serves (it often does not). It's pretty much all been tossed out (a few years ago I recycled all the art I had on hand from some early comics jobs, Phigments #1 and 2, the un-inked/unused New Talent Showcase story I penciled for DC, a batch of stories done for the Bank Street series of SF and Fantasy short story adaptations that were produced by Byron Preiss, etc) or given away (the first Milk and Cheese strip), or sold (I now have nothing left from the first issue of Milk and Cheese, all of the Eternity and most of the SLG Pirate Corp$! pages have been gone for a long time now). In the early 80's I drew a lot of awkward but heartfelt and enthusiastic pin-ups to sell at the local Creation Cons (which I'd sneak into and set up at -- someday I'll write about that, nothing fascinating, but interesting, I think) or at the Fantastic Store (where my bosses, co-owners Jim Hanley and Dave Brucas, allowed me to sell my fan art along with flat, stand-up, color superhero figures I'd make out of bristol board and wooden coffee stirrers -- another nostalgia-lacedpost for another time). I was young, energetic, and only semi-talented. I am, by and large, a late starter, an easily frustrated learner, a fearful person and a harsh critic. SO I threw a lot of my work out, because it was bad, and I knew it, but I didn't know how to make it better.
Anyway, I wasn't expecting to start waxing nostalgic/neurotic about my ambiguous relationship with my artwork, and people tend to think you're full of shit when you're a working professional running your own stuff into the ground. So I'm gonna cut it off here before I find myself getting into murky childhood stuff or who knows where the hell this might end up going. All I was planning on doing was posting some old amateur art of mine. So, onto that.
I found these pages a few weeks ago. I thought I had ripped these up a few years ago, but I always think I tore these up every time they resurface. I don't know why they keep surviving the purges, I think I just wanted to keep something from those days and these do make me feel a bit wistful about a time when I really, really wanted nothing more than to do superhero comics, and I hadn't a clue as to how anything in this business worked, or how I could become a better artist, or whatever. And they make me nostalgic for a time when my hair was blonder, my stomach was leaner, the old Ritz Theater in NYC was around for Cramps and Untouchables shows, and Super Powers figures were still on the racks at K-Mart.
One of the pages is ripped, all of them are amateurish, heavily influenced by Jack Kirby, John Byrne, George Perez and John and Sal Buscema, and almost nothing else, because I was one of those hapless, limited people who learned to draw comics by looking at comics. I penciled these sometime in the early-mid 1980's in an attempt to work up some samples to send in to DC Comics to try and get some work. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. I would do this occasionally, draw up several pages featuring Marvel characters or DC characters I liked, and then tear them up, without having shown them to anyone save friends. I never sent my work in to anyone, I never had a portfolio, I went on ym first interviews because a writer took me with him, I only showed my work to a Marvel editor at a NYC con because Jim Hanley and Jim Higgins all but picked me up and carried me there. My leg shook like a freezing dog taking a leak the entire time the guy spoke to me, it was about as bad as asking a girl out. Worse, I guess, because I didn't get to at least look at a girl rejecting me while my guts turned to molten applesauce. When people ask me how I got into comics it's a long answer, because I got in sideways, in a pretty half-assed manner, as befitting someone who couldn't work up the nerve to show my work to editors.
Anyway, here's the fan art:
So, yeah, these three pages survive my amateur days, which I am obviously thinking pretty hard about this morning. I've torn up the Who's Who try-out pages I worked up and never showed anyone (I remember drawing Hourman, amongst others. Hourman --?), the New Talent gig I mentioned, a bevy of pin-ups and sketches (I never owned a proper sketchbook until I was in my 20's, sad to say, and I've destroyed the few I had back then), my role-playing game drawings (Champions, for those who care), the first take on the Pirate Corp$! characters in a comic (they were the "villains" in an Avengers comic I worked up to send to Marvel, which of course, I didn't do anything with), and I'm likely going to get rid of these now that Sarah has scanned them. You can see I went for mid-carder characters even back then, Mister Miracle and the Metal Men (Hey, the Metal Men!) and some Fourth World creeps. I never worked up samples with Superman or Batman or Spider-Man or Wolverine, I liked the second bananas, the character actors and support players. Always did.
I've certainly seen worse art, and you have, too, but it isn't good. It says more about my liking comics than my being a comics artist, if that makes any sense. It's fan art, and not accomplished fan art -- the fans I saw at shows at the time drew better than me, some of them far, far better. I once had a fellow amateur artist tell me to my face that he was better than me, while I was working my artist table at a Creation show. Right in front of my customers, for holy shit. He plopped his portfolio down on the table and showed off his work. And he was good. He drew real comic book anatomy and it was fluid and powerful and looked good enough to publish. I felt ashamed of my own work, it was a real Charlie Brown moment in my life, I wanted to dry up and blow away. Thing is, I never saw the guy again. But I got into comics. Crazy. I might not be a great artist, but I'm a fairly unique and pretty good not great artist.
Anyway, gotta get back to work, got a job to finish. It's looking pretty good, if I may say so. Even after I blobbed ink on the board three goddamned times now.
Someday I'll figure it all out.