I tried my hand at Inktober, but flamed out a few days in. For those not in the know, the gist of Inktober is that you do one ink drawing a day for the month of October. There are specific prompts which you can use, and which I found helpful, since they forced me to think a bit more in terms of composition. But I mainly wanted to do it in order to help get over my reluctance to use the sable brushes I bought. In recent months I had fallen in love with the sort of flowing linework you could get out of brushes and brush pens. They require a very steady hand and an intuitive grasp of how much of the brush is in contact with the paper, so they’re also intimidating to try and get good at. I didn’t give myself much more than a half-hour to do each one, in part because I didn’t want hours of my day to get eaten up, but also because drawing something quickly is a good way to not let your anxieties get the better of you. The above if my favourite of the few drawings I managed.
My comic book project has proceeded along circular lines: twice I’ve reached the point where I was drawing thumbnails of page layouts, only to find myself back at square one. It could be discouraging, but honestly any experience with these things is good for me, since I lack any. There’s something especially freeing for me about drawing thumbnails, since you’re thinking entirely in terms of how you’re telling your story and not at all about the quality of your draftsmanship.
I’ve mostly been reading: I have a post at Beneath the Tangles up on Naoki Urasawa’s thriller manga, Monster, which is amazing so far. But aside from that, it’s been a kind of research for the comic – less in the sense of fact-finding than in just almost getting my tonal bearings. Falconry and birds of prey are important right now, and so I’ve been seeking out reading on that.
In particular, falconry is so interesting that I don’t know why it never struck me as worthy of obsession before now. That it was an important sport for the medievals is always a boon. But there is something uniquely fascinating about training a wild animal to accept you as a hunting partner. There’s a sort of grim austerity to that kind of relationship, I’d imagine. Especially when compared with, say, the sort you would have with a dog.
I’ve also begun learning about Old English; when I read Beowulf about a year or so ago, I realized that I would have to return to it in its original language; I was looking at something that could be very critical, but through a very blurry lens.
This has already been a maddening project, but in a promising way. The sense is similar to what I had during the early stages of my thesis, and the shape of my academic life in general: where I find that I’ve placed myself into some Borges-esque intellectual labyrinth, and that the project is about constructing a map and using it to successfully navigate out.