I love my garage.
That might be a surprise to some, considering I am not known for being handy. This morning I changed a light bulb and I feel like Bob freakin’ Villa. I like my garage because of all the stuff I find in it. The other day I found an enormous box of mix tapes I made a long time ago. What on earth am I going to do with them? I found a bunch of photos from the last two decades. Was I ever that thin? Was I ever that young? Yes. I was.
Among the many boxes of unsold Uptown Girl books and Christmas decorations is a lot of artwork. Sketchbooks, mini-comics and pictures. I found an old sketchbook that has a lot of concept drawings for Tommy Chicago, the first comic Brian Bastian and I ever worked on together. It was terrifying to see how lousy I used to draw. I mean, I’m not Bob freakin’ Ross, but I used to be a LOT worse. I guess some Uptown Girl characters were originally meant for Tommy Chicago? Weird. Some day when I start running out of stuff to
complain blog about I’ll post some of that stuff.
I did stumble across a big leather portfolio containing a major project I was working on before Uptown Girl took over my life. Artwork I haven’t seen for close to ten years. Over 15 years ago I decided I want to create picture books for children. So I wrote one called ‘Daisy’s Couch’. The first version was…terrible. But inspired by a lot of European comics, like ‘Tintin’ and ‘Asterix” I decided to redraw the whole thing comic book style. The decision to redraw it in this style came a few months after I started Uptown Girl. The new ‘Daisy’s Couch was bright, vibrant and big. It was so much fun to work on for a few reasons, but one reason is that it was so different than Uptown Girl’s small, black and white world. I loved this time of my life. I had time to put out a monthly comic and work on other projects. True, I had no social life to speak of, but it was creatively fulfilling.
After a year or so of working on both projects, production started on the Uptown Girl movie. Even though it was a small, independent movie, it took up a lot of my time. The movie was in the more than capable hands of Ben Mudek, so that was a relief. But I still went to the casting auditions, and a few of the shoots. Once the movie was made, the promotion began. I did a lot of interviews and it was a very busy and fun part of my life. Between the premier and multiple showings around the Twin Cities and then the DVD release party, I had very little time for anything that wasn’t Uptown Girl related. I took a few months off from the Daisy book.
When it was time to work on it again, my art style had improved quite a bit and it looked the book was made by two different people. Looking at it now, I don’t think the change was as jarring as it seemed at the time, but I didn’t think I could continue with the book with such different art styles. So, I vowed to return to the book and start it again. That vow remains unfilled.
I doubt I will ever redraw this. I have a lot of projects I want to work on in addition to Uptown Girl, and I don’t think I will ever have time to go back to it. It’s too bad, I think there’s some fun stuff here and some funny parts, and of course it’s a lot of fun to work in color but these days being a dad and husband and working a full time job take up a lot of my time and energy. I am lucky I am able to find time to still put out a new Uptown Girl book each year, but I do wish I had time for other things
Finding old artwork can be a lot of fun nostalgia-wise but it can also be humbling. Did I really draw that poorly? Did I really think *that* was a good picture? Looking at artwork that I did last week can also be a difficult experience. I look at my artwork and I wish I could draw better. I look at other cartoonists and I wish I could draw better. I would love to draw like Stan Sakai, Kath Lete, Alex Robinson, James Kochalka, Amanda Conner, Kevin Cannon or Colleen Coover. But I can’t. I can draw like Bob freakin’ Lipski and somehow I have to okay with that.
Anyway, here’s a few poorly taken photographs of the Daisy book. I would have scanned them, but as I said these pages are huge, they’re comic book page size, so that makes them…what? 11 x 17?