The musings of a fantasy illustrator. Artwork, art-talk, and randomness.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Rorschach Pt.3: Decisions

In illustration, one is taught repeatedly that when image-making and truth collide--unless you are doing historical illustration or proposing nonsense--image-making wins. What this means is that facts are disposable and should be disposed of to create a better image. As you look around most fantasy art, you can see that this dictum has been broadly embraced. I agree with it in many situations, actually. In investigating the Genovese crime scene, I was struck by the number of sheer differences I was unprepared for. The architecture, the lighting situation, that I could not have Rorschach standing across the street with the building in the more distant background, since there was no street to speak of behind the building--just a few feet of weeds, a fence, and then train tracks. I returned from my trip excited but also with this dilemma: which side of the law written above was I going to come down on?


My unpublished Batman image, adored by dozens!

Consider the purpose: this was to be an uncommissioned, comics-related piece intended to eventually make its way into a portfolio with other images, which at this point only include a Batman from 2 years ago. At this rate, I'll never finish. Until then, I am doing them unpaid, for me. But, I'm also hoping to use them to perhaps eventually get work in the comics industry--not even necessarily with DC, though the first two have been DC characters. In fact, what I know of DC tells me that I actually have very little chance with them at this point in time. So what do I do--do I delve into a much darker and quieter scene than I intended, and remain true to the backstory, even though the only people who will know my intentions are visitors to this blog, those I relate it to in person, and Genovese case buffs? Or do I chuck the truth, create what might be a cooler picture, unconstrained by the facts of the matter, and just focus on the eventual portfolio-goal?

I struggled over it for a long time, but decided that though it might be more noir than comics typically allow, I would stay true to the story, true to the reality I'd discovered, and please myself first. The reasons were twofold: 1.)I may never finish that portfolio, and if I do there's no guarantee it'll get me work anyway--in either case, I'd be personally unhappy with a portrayal that ignored the facts. 2.)That portfolio will need the inevitable action sample--you can't want to do comics without action--but I could pick another character or two that lend themselves more to action scenes. Basically, let Rorschach be who he is--dark, brooding, mysterious. Sure, he's a tough guy, too, but I think the thing that endears him to people is his mind--his diary entries, his worldview, his pessimism. His personal story. Being unpublished, most of the people who will encounter it will probably do so in connection with this blog or my website, or a convention where I show it and can talk about it to interested parties. So, they'll have the opportunity to learn what I was thinking. And, hopefully, I could create an image that would please them even if they didn't.

With that decided, what followed was a garage sale. The borough of Roselle Park, where we were living, was having a neighborhood garage sale. We were nearing our move to NYC and needed all sorts of things anyway, so we spent the day on block after block picking through people's leftovers. Half-way during the day I sorta tuned out and let my wife do the heavy shopping. I randomly poked through cd collections and piles of books. On one rack, a very familiar overcoat was hanging. It was, by all appearances, the exact one Rorschach wore. I had intended on posing in my usual clothes and then making up the costume by referencing the comic. Here I had a key part of the costume in front of me for a steal. I bought it.

What immediately followed was the urge to get the whole kit together. Why not? At the Goodwill Store I found a hat that, while not exact, was definitely close enough. Via eBay, a pair of gloves. It seemed a lot of trouble, but now I own a nice overcoat and gloves. I'll pass on wearing the hat. As for the mask, that would involve some imagination since I don't think that sort of thing exists yet.

So you see why I did that post a couple weeks back before this series; here I was, proposing my own private bit of Cosplay....

 828.333.4733   New York, NY