May 26, 2008
Posted by: Mark Siegel
Categories: :01 Stop: Watch

[From the Drawing Board of Warren Pleece]


Reading some of the
reviews for my new books recently, First Second’s very own Life Sucks, with
ultra talented duo, Jessica Abel and Gabe Soria (buy, buy, buy) and Incognegro,
written by the very talented Mat Johnson (DC Vertigo-buy it now, too), I felt a
little put out that I was described as an “old stalwart” and in one case,
“veteran Pleece”. There’s no pleasing some people. Until I realised that maybe
after 20 years making a living, more or less, on the outskirts of the comics
mainstream, that maybe even I had something to add to the mentor-like blog,
plug my new book as a First Second creator and tie it in with the Vampire month
thing all in one shebang.

I can’t offer any
great philosophical exercise here on comics and graphic novels; there’s been a
lot of good stuff already that says it better than I ever could. Also, I don’t
think I can make something as compellingly interesting as my old mate Nick
Abadzis’s sketchbook diaries. What I can offer to young pups and old sea dogs
alike, is a slightly different take on drawing comics from the outside insider.

One of the first
and most important things I figured out quite early on, is not to be afraid to
stretch yourself and your abilities and to make a load of mistakes; I’ve made/am making tons. Still if I hadn’t I wouldn’t and couldn’t improve on what came
before. Horses galloping was always a pain for me, but if you want to be an
artist worth your salt you’re going to have bite the bit, chomp the nosebag, or
something. Being into old films, I’m always thinking of mad and interesting
angles, aerial shots, knee high angles, not for the sake of it, but to add
drama, suspense and interest to the storytelling. Go ahead, draw that
impossible angle. You can do it, or maybe you’ll nail it the second time round.

I’ve always been
very critical of my own stuff and I’m always looking for better ways to do
things, but I reckon that’s healthy. I still cringe over the long chin phase I
had in the mid-90s and as for the sausage fingers phase in the early Velocity
days, well, that’s legendary, but maybe my glory years?

The thing is, if
you spend too long perfecting your craft at the expense of any one seeing what
you do, you’re just going to become one of those artists spending too much of
their time falling in love with their own cross-hatching and missing out on

That was my other
tip: get a life. Drawing comics/graphic novels is great, if you get the chance
and even better if you can make a living from them, but don’t forget to get out
there, see people, have a laugh. Drawing Life Sucks, I became haunted by the
endless rows of cigarette packets I had to draw in the Last Stop convenience
store, yeah, thanks Jess and Gabe. In fact, the self-portrait on the creator’s
page is actually drawn from life and not some spoof, mock vampire tie-in kind
of joke. My skin colour was that pale from lack of sunlight and being chained
to the desk at the bequest of the evil Abel, the blood on the neck from
reckless shaving due to tiredness and the eyes red from those bloody cigarette
packets. Don’t ask about the teeth. If you look closely, you’ll see a longing
in those ruby red eyes. Just like a dog that needs his walkies, all us arty
types need to get out take life in.

I hope from telling
you this, you’ll appreciate even more the vampiric screwball fest that is Life
if you’ve still yet to buy it and the poor state of the artistic animals
that went into it’s creation for your appreciation.

Final tip,
reflecting on Nick Abadzis’s recent blog about always sketching. If you don’t
happen to have a sketchbook at hand and after 13 years of looking after kids,
it hasn’t always been a priority when stepping out the door, though it’s always
a pleasure, just keep on looking. Over the years, I seem to have developed a
photographic memory for life’s background detail that’s much healthier than
traipsing through Google every time you want to draw a telephone pole, an
interesting face and, not forgetting those galloping horses.

One Comment on “ Vampire Creator ”

  • Logo Design | August 29th, 2011 4:31 am

    I thoroughly enjoyed your reflections on the subject of Christianity and Chinese mythology. I, too, grew up with the tales of Monkey God. I love him. I am also a Christian. I think that Monkey God is an archetype that has representation in all culture. All of us have sowed wild oats and are in need of redemption.

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