Sunday, June 20, 2010

Late night art post

Here's the latest Page One Hundred Project is "The Dharma Bums" by Jack Kerouac (no link needed). This was my favorite book for years after being introduced to it by my good friend, Murray Lopez (not his real name, long story. He's also the guy who I stole the name 'Arkonbey' from, btw). Sure, it's Kerouac and it rambles and is occasionally incoherent, but mostly it's awesome. I think it is much superior and readable than "On the Road"

The hardest part was what to show and what to leave out; I only had one page to work with. I decided on capturing the feeling Ray Smith had of coming home (read text below). Was I successful?

This was done, as I mentioned earlier, in a pale imitation of the style of Michael Cho. I'm certainly not trying to cop on his style. I just love it so much that I had to see if I could, in a small way, think like him. His way of looking at something and seeing it in terms of black, color and negative space is astounding (also, that man can see. Look at this drawing of a small house in Toronto). I'm thinking of shooting him an email to tell him what I've done. To sort of praise him and apologize if copying him offends him.

I learned a lot doing it and came within a few hundred kilometers of getting it right. I enjoy how some moments (the bus, the fourth panel) work and others I find are lacking. I'd originally meant this to have type, but then (after conferring with Sweet Enemy), I decided that since Jack as so wordy, but created subtle narratives, I'd use no words to convey those narratives. It isn't a cop out (as I'm a terrible letterer), but a real decision.

Things I learned:

-This style really needs more forethought in composition. I drew this first to be inked in a clean-line Herge' sort of style. Certain compositions work better depending on the style.

- I'm not afraid of black as much as I was

- I'm liking my brush pen a bit more. I used a surgical glove when pencilling, gouache-ing and inking to prevent any oils from my hands getting on the page. The ink reacts badly to oils, but when the page is clean it fills in areas like velvet.

- I've got to do more people studies as most of my characters have too much of me in them.

- gouache is hard to work with. If I ever work in a style like this again, I'll just do a two-block lino print of the piece instead.

Here we go. First the art (click to enlarge. It works a bit better larger):

And the text:

"...just for fun, and froze my feet and hands standing in dismal country roads in freezing dusk. One good ride took me to a little town and there I just waited around the tiny telegraph office which served as a station, till my bus arrived. Then it was a crowded bus going slowly over the mountains all night long and in the dawn the laborious climb over the Blue Ridge with beautiful timbered country in the snow, then after a while day of stopping and starting, stopping and starting , down out of the mountains into Mount Airy and finally after ages Raleigh where I transferred to my local bus instructed the driver to let me off at the country road that wound three miles through the piney woods to my mother's house in Big Easonburg Woods which is a country crossroad outside Rocky Mount.

He let me off about eight p.m, and I walked the three miles in silent freezing Carolina road of moon, watching a jet plane overhead, her stream drifting across the face of the moon and bisecting the snow circle. It was beautiful to be back East in the snow at Christmastime, the little lights in occasional farm windows, the quiet woods, the piney barrens so naked and d rear, the railroad track that ran off into the gray blue woods towards my dream.

At nine o'clock I was stomping with full pack across my mother's yard and there she was at the white tiled sink in the kitchen, washing her dishes, with a rueful expression waiting for me (I was late), worried I'd never even make it and probably thinking, "Poor Raymond, why does he always have to hitchhike and worry me to death, why isn't he like other men?" And I thought of Japhy as I stood there in the cold yard looking at her: "Why is he so mad abut white tiled sinks and 'kitchen machinery' he calls it? People have good hearts whether or not the live like Dharma Bums. Compassion is the heart of Buddhism." Behind the house was a great pine forest where I would spend all that winter and spring meditating under the trees finding out by myself the truth of all things. I was very happy. I walked around the house and looked at the Christmas tree in the window. A hundred yards down the road the two country stores made a bright warm scene in the otherwise bleak wooded void. I went to the dog house and found old Bob trembling and"

(transcribing that was a royal pain)

Listening to while posting: Sweet Enemy watching a DVD of "All Creatures Great and Small" (still an awesome show0


ladybug said...

Dharma Bums was the first Kerouac book I read and I agree's much better than On the Road. I stole it from a youth hostel in bad! It was over 20 years ago now so I don't think bringing it back is an option. I like what you've drawn and think it does fit the mood of the passage very well. I didn't like On the Road for another really showed to me that I wouldn't have liked Mr. Kerouac after all (a drunk, flakey, never-to-grow-up misogynistic jerk IMHO). He could be charming I'm sure from time to time.

Don Snabulus said...

I like that mood that the drawing style brings to the illustration. The moon shot is very nice.

I read Ladybug's copy of the book. I never read On the Road, so I can't compare, but I enjoyed reading Dharma Bums. Ah, the days before pervasive surveillance and a cop for every square mile. Some things in technology aren't worth the geekery.

Arjan said...

just plain awesome.
I really like the blue-effect drawing.

Don't you have a scanner at hand? That would've saved you tons of time.

Arkonbey said...

@LB: returning the book would be an awesome reason to return to Ireland! I don't think that JK was an intentional misogynist jerk. I think he was a disaffected product of his times.

@Don: thanks! I like that shot as well. The 'snow circle' was hard to come up with

@Arjan: thanks. I'm not sure what you mean about the scanner. I've got one, that's how it got on the blog ;)

Arjan said...

scanning the page from the book, should save you typing over the whole page.

Arkonbey said...

@arjan: Hmmm. You've got a point. However, I'd have to mash the book down on the scanner to make it readable and I just bought a copy to replace my read-to-pieces one.