Friday, April 28, 2006

Gray Sky Holiday

They say it always rains in England, but that's not true. In all my visits there, always in the off-season, I haven't seen all that much rain. Gray skies, sure, but not all that much rain. I do understand why people may complain, though, since my last trip we awoke each morning to clouds, and mist, and often light sprinkling. You think to yourself, "I'm on vacation, I've got big plans, and it's raining". Fortunately for us, the weather usually cleared up by afternoon, and we actually had some nice weather at times.

When walking the streets of London, a bit of rain can make things a bit gloomy. That same weather at Stonehenge, however, or in the Cotswalds, adds what we writers call atmosphere. Hmm... coincidence that 'weather' creates 'atmosphere'? :0)

Anyways, a Holiday is a Holiday, and it's great to get away from the everyday. Of course, my getaway coincided with the release of my book 3 Knights in India,which was not a good thing in terms of sales. Now that I'm back, I'm anxious to get to work on some new projects, which brings me to today's discussion, and please, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the following.

I was talking to another Creative the other day, and we were discussing newspaper interviews and such and we both suddenly realized something; we like our work. Allow me to clarify: we like Cartooning. Selling the book, Marketing, Publicity, etc. is also work, but we Artists don't have the heads for this stuff. We can do it, but the desire is next to zero.

I spent 3 years on 3 Knights in India, and I thought about the book for every waking hour of those 3 years. Now that it's done, it's like "Time to fly!", and whoosh! Out of the nest it goes, and it had better start flapping!

It sounds cruel, but I have other stuff I want to write and draw. I have more stories in my head than I know what to do with, and a great new comic strip just waiting for me to get to the drawing board, and open that interdimensional portal made of bristol board that will allow those characters to come to life inour world.

Don't get me wrong... I love 3 Knights in India, and I really do want to hear what the critics have to say, and especially my audience, and hopefully new readers. I just don't know how to reach you all. I've been sitting on the Press Release like an old hen sitting on a rock and wondering why it won't hatch. It won't, of course. I've got to do a whole lot more than keep it warm for it to grow, and then I have to find places for it to fly off to, and then set up interviews, and maybe arrange for a book signing or two, but as I said, who has the time?

I've got Cartooning to do, and that really causes some mixed feelings. I mean, books don't sell themselves. I created this book, so I guess I have a responsibility to it, to give it the best chance it has in this world.

Damn. I wish this were easier.

They say fame isn't everything, but I bet Charles Schultz never had to write his own press releases. Heck, I bet he didn't even NEED a press release!

Damn. Damn. Damn.

Pardon my French.

The sun shining on a stone lion in Oxford

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Standing Stones

Hey, it's been awhile. I haven't blogged lately because I've been visiting the UK. I saw a lot of England that I hadn't seen before, got some great Doctor Who books from Forbidden Planet, and visited Stonehenge again. I also got my first peek at Avebury, which thrilled me beyond words!

When you stand on the Salisbury plain, feeling the mist on your face, and watching the weather change from moment to moment, you get an idea of why these stone age people chose this spot to build stonehenge. It's magical. The wind sweeps away all sound, making your time there very personal. The land there hasn't changed in centuries, and you can feel that, even though the hand of man has desecrated this still impressive monument. When you actually see the size of these stones, you cannot help but wonder the who, what, when, where, and especially why of it. What possessed these people to move giant stones across miles of landscape, to cut and polish them, and then stand them up carefully in their well-planned places? We may never know, and that just adds to the wonder of it all.

But what's this got to do with Cartooning, you ask? Well, there's an old saying that says there is no substitute for experience. Add that to the other old saying, write what you know, and it's clear that if you don't get out much, you're not going to have much to write about.

Travel is good for the brain, in any sense. It's good to get other viewpoints, see how others live, what they think of us, and to especially to see things with your own eyes what you may previously have only seen in books, or on TV. Let me say this for the record: books, television, and even the internet are NOT doorways to the world. They are great tools, for sure, but they are no substitute for actually going outside and seeing things. Seeing a photo of Stonehenge, or St. Paul's Cathedral, or the temples of Elephanta island is like reading a recipe; you can guess what the food tastes like, but it won't satisfy your hunger.

As a writer, I find travel very stimulating. I got a great story idea while just preparing for my trip! It was easy then to get the research material I needed, since the story was already forming in my mind. Beyond photos and details, though, are impressions. You know it rains a lot in England, but you really know how that feels when the ice cold drops keep finding their way down the back of your coat no matter what you do, and you realize that the sweater you are wearing just isn't enough to keep out the cold. Feel that rain while standing in a windy field overlooking the ruins of a 600 year old house that has 3 foot thick stone walls, and I dare you not to be inspired!

Trust me... get out there... do something, see something, go places.

It's worth it!

Some of the many stones left standing in Avebury. Don't let the sheep fool you; they are in the foreground, so the stones are larger than they appear. That black spot in the middle is me, for better reference. See detail below.