Blog Post for December 7, 2011: “Can I Be Honest For A Second?”
Those dinosaurs are Corythosauruses! They’re named after me! Or maybe I’m named after them? I was born with a red mohawk.
I don’t want to sway your opinion of this week’s strip, but it’s probably my least favorite one I’ve drawn. And for one reason: that chair and how Harold sits in it.
You can’t imagine the hours I spent trying to perfect the image of Harold—a man in a giant pill-shaped astronaut outfit—sitting perched, legs crossed, in a puffy overstuffed chair. Trying to figure out how his short stocky legs would traverse that seemingly impossible expanse of abdominal spacesuit—oh, it was a nightmare!
And the thing is, I didn’t finally nail it. As far as I’m concerned, this strip goes in the loss column. Because in order to wrestle the image into something halfway decent-looking, I had to surgically remove the lower thigh of whichever leg Harold was at that moment crossing. And that chair still doesn’t look right!
But by bringing this up, I’m trying to make two points:
First, on January 4, 2012, Harold will sit in another chair, and it will look a thousand times better. Whatever purgatory this week’s strip sent me to, I’m a better artist for having been there. It’s an experience and a lesson I hope I remember the next time I have to draw something impossible (like March 7, 2012, for instance—yikes).
And second, sometimes this comic strip won’t be great. Or even good. And that’s (hopefully) okay.
At first I didn’t think it was okay. In the months I spent preparing for this endeavor, this webcomic, I had moments where I felt the weight of perfection heavy on my drawing hand. I would pull out my Peanuts and Calvin & Hobbes collections or my dad’s old Carl Barks comic books and agonize over the comparison between those masters and myself.
And trust me—it was agony.
But then, once I got past that initial, wholly unhelpful urge to compare, I found that, every so often, those masters would throw in a clunker—a strip or story that just didn’t work. That wasn’t funny. That wasn’t great.
And it was okay. More than okay!
Because even when a Peanuts strip or a Calvin & Hobbes strip or a Carl Barks ten-pager misses, you’re still glad you get to spend time in the company of those artists and those characters. Rather than achieving perfection on the page, the strips and stories I admire most achieve perfection in the moment. And I realized—that’s what keeps you coming back to the masters. Not their infallibility but their simple, essential beingness.
So my goal now isn’t to be perfect, to every week create the perfect joke for the perfect comic page. My goal now is to be myself and let Harold and Sally be themselves as completely as I can.
Plus, it’s much more fun that way.