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Art School Confidential

Art appreciation. I'd appreciate it if you'd put your pants back on. Thanks. 
When I was a wee lad, the genome fairy lighted upon my room and blessed me with athsma. She also blessed me with tonsils the size of golf balls, which flagged down every airborne illness in the county. Henceforth, whenever it snowed, while my siblings built their very own Magic Kingdom out of white powdery joy, I sat on my fat imagination and drew pitch-urs. Usually of Godzilla crushing my siblings or Superman destroying their winter wonderland with his heat vision.

The bad part was that I was deprived of the basic American pastime of having your big brother throw ice-balls at your head. The good part, I became fairly adept at "drawring." That led to, among other things, art scholarships and condescending looks from the hotter members of my high school cheerleading squad.

Fast forward to college and there I am, pencil in hand, drawing some strange naked man my instructor recruited from the local porn theater, for $30 an hour. The one thing I remember about drawing fat naked people isn’t the fat nakedness. It’s the smell. When you’re naked under hot lights, in a room full of strangers, you get nervous, you sweat and…do I really need to continue?

My roommate on the other hairy palm always drew a honey-thighed aerobics instructor that smelled like cinnamon. I never saw her "in person", but let’s just say his sketchbook was worshiped like the Holy Grail on the boys-only 2nd floor of Seattle University’s Xavier Hall. It’s probably still there in a shrine.

Why am I rambling about this? Because it would seem that art has found its place in literature. And that graphic novels have finally arrived as a serious literary art form. I used to think my affinity for them was biased by the nature of my degree. It’s not. It’s because of the incredible storytelling involved.

It’s that storytelling that has Hollywood scrambling to produce the best of the best. In recent years these have included:

        (Time Magazine named Watchmen to their list of 100 greatest novels).

And in case you're wondering, no, I'm not troubled by asthma anymore. And yes, the books are still better than the movies.


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Reader Comments (14)

Wow JF I didn't know you were such a renaissance man! Glad you beat the asthma- seems like I'm starting to develop it in my 30s.

These two are not a part of your super pantheon of graphic novels, but in college I discovered and really enjoyed Dark Knight Returns and that Daredevil one where Kingpin finds out DD's identity and plots to ruin him. Figures that I have pretty adolescent tastes when it comes to entertainment! =)

May 4, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterjackt
Oh, man. There's a pungent moment. That's going to be clattering around in my head all day.
May 4, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterjason evans
Ah, the Dark Knight series. Amazing stuff. Same with Frank Miller's Batman: Year One, which he wrote but didn't draw. A lot of that found its way into Batman Returns. Warner Brothers was able to save the franchise by going back to the original writing.

I loved the Miller Daredevil stuff too. I guess Kevin Smith (Clerks) wrote Daredevil for a while, but I never read any of it.
May 4, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterjamie
Ghost World featuring Thora Birch, thankyouverymuch.
May 4, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJay
And Steve Buscemi.
May 4, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterjamie
I am so not going to get that image of sweating naked people out of my mind. We all know that happens, it's just that usually when we're naked we're otherwise occupied.

I watched Sin City and loved the first story with Mickey Rourke playing Marv. First time in my life I found Rourke sexy.
May 4, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAmra
Jamie, have you read any of Gaiman's Sandman stuff?
May 4, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterBonnie
So when are you gonna post up some of your work from those college days?

As to Sin City - I'm not squeamish, but I think I kinda fell asleep on it.
May 4, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterdana
Amra--I saw Sin City in Walla Walla, Washington on a business trip. The person I was traveling with didn't want to see it so I went to a Monday-night showing, by myself. I was the only person in the theatre. I felt like I was about to get wacked.

Bonnie--I haven't. I've read earlier stuff, like Miracleman, and later 1602 and American Gods. And I heard they're making a film of some kind out of Coraline. The Sandman stuff sure has a cult following––do you like it?

Dana--You mean my sketches of tawny unclothed men? Just send $19.95 and your P.O. Box...
May 4, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterjamie ford
When running into other fine arts alummni (ok, I got out after two years to escape to the graphic design closet—I mean lab) I always have to ask this: did your instructors look down on graphic novels and their stylized drawings as much as mine did?
May 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterC.Rooney
That's funny. When I run into fine arts alumni they're usually saying "ya want fries with that?"

I'm on the commercial side of design. We did draw naked people and paint and all that but my degree is in visual communications, which is a fancy way to just say "design," although my specialty became advertising and art direction.

My instructors were all over the map. My anatomy instructor was like that mean East German woman from the movie Matilda. My advertising prof was short, squat and full of himself. But he taught me a lot. My illustration/design instructors were all bizarre free spirits that probably loved graphic novels more than I did, so I was in good company.
May 5, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterjamie
oh my god!

thanks for the huge laugh!!

i recently developed asthma after getting allergy shots. doc says there's no connection. o-kay.

May 5, 2006 | Unregistered Commenteranne frasier
Jamie some days I'm glad I have allergies.
May 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterLA Burton
Hey Jamie, I have a complimentary photo up on my site...love your analysis of graphic novel market...too bad the most I can draw is a stick figure. One, only.
May 8, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterkathie

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