Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Creative Minds need to Re-create

Once upon a time, a great mouse named Brain explained to his pal Pinky the word 'recreation'. "Re-create", he said. The idea of recreation means how it sounds... you re-create yourself. I don't recall the exact words, but the sentiment is genius.

So, it is often said that boys like their toys. I can't speak for the ladies out there, but yes, us guys like our toys, whether they be the latest tools, the latest electronics, or even 'action figures'. Action figures? C'mon... they're just dolls, right? Maybe... but us real men, or at least us creative types, build model kits!

Again, I'm not trying to deliberately rule out the female of the species in any of this, but as a guy, I've always found model kits to be fascinating. I grew up building Prehistoric Scenes, Planet of the Apes, Starships from Star trek, Star Wars, and Battlestar Galactica, and glow-in-the-dark Classic Monsters, and the coolest of all, The Pirates of the Caribbean collection. (Why don't they remake those? I'd snap them up, and snap them together in no time, if I could.)

Anyways, before you grown-ups go away shaking your heads, I do have a point to make about all this. I choose to be a Cartoonist not for the fame and money, but for the challenge of it. I could do so many things with my life, and most of them would leave me bored stiff. Cartooning is, to me, the most difficult and challenging career out there. Oh, I know... the Great Ones make it look so easy, but you have to be an artist, a writer, and all the things that those two disciplines involve. Cartoonists need to understand science, and psychology, and need to research everything to get their stories and drawings just right.

And after all that hard work, do we just kick back with a beer and let the old brain cells rest? Sure, sometimes... but other times we get the itch to do something just as difficult. Model building, when done right, is a long creative challenge. Not only do you put the model together and make sure all the pieces fit right, but then you have to paint it. Again, you can just paint it, or you can make it look really cool by aging it, weathering it, or adding blaster damage to a spaceship: in other words, have the model tell a story. Take that further, and instead of displaying it on a shelf, or leaving it in the closet, you create a backdrop, a display, that adds to the story. Customizing a model is where the real creativity comes in. Anybody can buy the same model kit that you have, but it's what YOU do with it that makes it stand out.

This is a long drawn out process. You just can't open the box and start gluing pieces together. You have to plan, and think, and design.

My mom threw away most of my models from childhood when I went to school. I should email her their listings on eBay, but I need her to babysit. Needless to say, if my Mother threw something out then, it's worth a fortune today.

Anyway, I got back into modeling recently, because of work, really. I've done a lot of safety cartoons for the shipping industry, so I bought a model ship for reference.( and that's tax deductible, kids!) While shopping, though, I came across Darth Vader's TIE Fighter, and, well, the bug was back.

Two very different models in various stages of progress.

Now, I have finally got the coolest model ever... the Shuttle Tydirium from Return of the Jedi! I've wanted this for awhile now, and I'm so tempted to just dig in and get to work, and if I was twelve, the thing would be put together already, and I'd be cursing myself for all the mistakes I've made.

The most awesome Tydirium Shuttle,
with folding wings and extending landing ramp!

But no, I'm older now, and I know that when the model is done, it's over. It's the journey that is so exciting... the planning, the details, the slow execution. Like a cartoon, really. I love drawing the four panels, sketching in the figures, inking them, and finaly adding the words that make it come alive!

So why does my play time resemble work so much? Why are they two sides of the same coin?

Well, I am re-creating myself :0) Obviously, I'm a builder... a creator. And while Cartooning is my chosen profession, having deadlines, and business hassles kind of takes away from that.

But when I build a model, it's all mine. It's still Cartooning, but I do it for me. The same challenge, thought, and execution, but it's completely mine. I can be a twelve year old, or a four year old whenever I want. No worries... just pure fun :0)

All that remains of my once grand model collection, after the Great Mom Cleaning Frenzies of '78 and '82. The Pirate and Ape model may be beyond my reclamation abilities, but I'm definitely going to refurbish the viper. :0)

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