I’ve been off my game. That’s because doing the same thing over and over again does not appeal to me. Which is why I am still trying to figure out what to do with my web comic. And I don’t have it licked yet. That and I don’t want it to be just a web comic. Talk about not knowing how to define a project.

I’ve been working on this thing forever. I’ve put in a lot of time on it, finished a bunch of stuff, but it’s still not what I want it to be. What I want it to be is a total integration of all of my different ways of working. Painting, drawing, print making, and comics. With, maybe, a little photography in there too. You see the tall order I’ve set for myself.

Not all of these mediums translate into a web comic very well. Most web comics are drawings with a little color thrown on. Most web comics are about the punch line and the art is merely functional. That’s because the art is the time consuming part. I have no interest in writing punch lines and how much time does anyone have to consume? So what is mine going to be about?

Most web comics are also about compromise. Usually in the form of sacrificing the quality of the drawing to get the job done. Once again, this is necessary in order to finish a strip. It takes too long to labor over a drawing for a strip. Especially one that is paying you nothing. Or less. My work is about the quality of the drawing so that’s a problem when I go to make a comic. I have trouble making that compromise. I end up getting disinterested and it shows.

Then there is a problem I have with narrative storytelling. I don’t want to do it. I like narrative storytelling. First act, second act, third act, and all. But whenever I set out to do some in a comic I’m completely bored by it. It’s like a straight jacket.

In order to do narrative storytelling well you have to draw exactly what the story calls for. Simple enough and I used to be able to do that but my work has changed a lot since I last made comics. For the last eight years my work has been about finding images from the back of my imagination that are unusual.

I started, years ago, using a surrealist automatic drawing method to see things on a blank piece of paper that were unusual. I drew without having a preconceived notion of what I was going to draw. If the lines on the paper lead me to a chair, a face, a car, or a figure so be it. I try to pull things out of my head that no one has seen before. I’m good at it too.

Unfortunately this is the exact opposite of what it takes to draw a comic. If the narrative says, “A man walks down the street”, you have to draw a man walking down the street. There’s no choice. This is what I can’t do anymore. I’m so used to drawing without a preconceived idea and pulling the unusual out of a piece of paper that I can’t follow a preconceived narrative. Even if it’s me who comes up with the narrative.

So if there is no narrative in a comic what is there? That is the question I’ve been wreslting with for almost a year now. So far there is no easy answer. I’ve walked down paths that all seemed like dead ends and have nothing finished to show for it. That’s the frustrating part.

I’ve finished some paintings and prints during this time but even that’s a little dull for me. I’ve used the unexpected in them to such a degree that I expect it now. I need a new unexpected. Once again you see the crazy tall order I set for myself. I do like a challenge.

Anyway, this week I set off down a new web comic path. If this is the one that will lead to success I don’t know. But at least it’s a path. I’ve been wandering in the wilderness for a lot of this summer. It’s nice to be on a path.