I toyed with the idea of drawing comics for a very long time. When I was a kid, I shanghaied a couple of my friends into playing a game I called "Stan and Jack," where I was (perhaps tellingly) Stan Lee and the friend was Jack Kirby, and we produced a new issue of Fantastic Four. It was a game in which I had to do all the talking, because my friends were like, "What...it's a funny book, I don't get it." I gave them pretzel rods to use as fake cigars, because I knew that's what Kirby did. He smoked cigars while he drew comics.
At an early age I felt I couldn't draw worth a damn. What I learned as I grew older was while drawing could be learned, a sense of design could not. You can read a lot about design and perhaps glean some kind of set of do's and don'ts, but I firmly believe that you're either born with a sense of design or you're not.
I began drawing late, when I was 14 or 15, after reading an interview with comics artist Al Williamson in a fanzine (Auction Block #2, with a Jim Hanley cover of Captain Marvel, if memory serves me). In it, he stated that he began drawing by copying Alex Raymond drawings from the Flash Gordon Sunday strip, so I started copying Al Williamson drawings from his Flash Gordon comic books. Within a few months or so I noticed that I was able to draw a face on my own. It wasn't a good face, but it was a face nonetheless.
From that I kept going, drawing little one-off comic strips, but keeping the whole drawing thing kind of secret from my high school-age friends. I had, after all, gotten an F in art class from Mrs. Lowe, for failing to complete my "papier mache" (the way the decidely hightone Mrs. Lowe pronounced it) bottle sculpture in 8th grade. I didn't want to blow the street cred that award gave me. But when I graduated high school and all my friends went off to normal college, I took 9 months off (no, I didn't have a baby) and decided I wanted to go to art school.
It took me close to 20 years after that to draw my first serious attempt at a comic book page. This is it:
And once I did that, it sat in a closet for a year or two before I drew another page.
To be continued...