This was a rticle i wrote for the cartoon allies blog, but they seem to either be too busy to post it so im throwing it our there for yall to read.
The comic book industry is a friendly one, you really have to make an effort to piss somebody off and even then, people are quick to make up, with that said it’s like all other industries it can be VERY Clique-ish. Now I know there are negative connotations that come to mind immediately with that word, but I see it more as a natural reaction equivalent to coming to a new country. You just got to art school and your surrounded by a mildly diverse group of individuals and so you most likely bond with someone similar to you in any way you can find, whether it be major, tastes, or whatever. Now we focus that to a major, same scenario; you now mingle with artist similar to your major and along the way we find our “Aesthetic Cousins” or people whose work resonates with our own and have a empathetic eye for. Now the million dollar question I’m getting to is “what about the people we don’t bond with?”. I speak from personal experience in that I can say I know well enough about a third of my senior class that I can have a meaningful conversation with at the drop of a hat, oh I also forgot to mention SCHEDUALS, which can play a big factor in mingling with others. When we get comfortable in our relationships with other artists we become less inclined and more cautious of meeting new people, almost like there’s some sort of “Comrade Real-Estate” and people we don’t know we tend to be OK with not knowing unless circumstance allows other wise. now meeting at CA is all well and good but what about those who can never make it? Who have insane commutes from NJ and even CT and often are relegated to only befriending and connecting through classes and serendipity?
I say we as cartoonist need to not only connect more beyond “likes and dislikes” and “critiques” but something else that’s been stewing in my mind for the past 2 years(For new readers: I’m the senior class’ rogue/mad/iconoclast/experimental dark-horse under-dog Cartoonist…so this is a common occurrence for me.) we need SPORTS!
I say sports meaning we need a new Ice-Breaker, something to warm our blood and get us to know others we never had the chance to rly get to know before we graduate and my suggestion is Cartooning Battles!!! I will now pause for you to get those Stephen Chow over-the-top physics-breaking comics battling fantasies out of your system……you done now?
The Cartooning Battle is something born out of my love for fighting games where how even when my ass got handed to me, I had a great time(albeit the salty after-taste of defeat) and made great friends along the way through the spirit of competition. Constantly being in a analytical critiquing mentality @ SVA can be boring at times and eventually devolve into group-think, compliment showers, and awkward silence peppered with the occasional cringe. I want a new way to know a person as an artist besides through sketchbooks and homework assignments, I want something more in a aggressive and playful manner. Now you might be thinking that’s what Jam Comics are for, but my retort is they are more akin to the “Hi my name is…and I‘m a…” circle we go through in the first week of class(or not), and is more a preview of a person than a full on expression of their aesthetic personality. In a page were seeing them in their element as opposed to a panel where we get a snippet of them.
In a Cartooning Battle there are three levels of battling, the first is the default “1-Page Battle” where two people draw a SELF-CONTAINED and PENCILED ONE PAGE COMIC in 30 minutes(if you want to play around with the time limit jus don’t go beyond 45min). To up the ante there is the “2 Page Battle” which is where again two people draw a SELF CONTAINED and INK ONLY(using a ball-point/gel pen is lovely in this!) TWO PAGE COMIC in 60 minuets(80min max). The final format is the “Three Page Battle” Where you and your opponent draw a SELF CONTAINED Three page comic ANYTHING GOES(both artists must agree on) in 120 minuets(140min max).
Now when both players are finished or the time limit has expired, a neutral judge(s)(I prefer a random stranger, so ask a security guard @ SVA and give them something fun to read!) then decides on the winner based on these three questions.
-Is the comic legible(is it clear)? Worth 1 point(can choose both comics)
-Is the comic self contained(does it follow the rules set)? Worth 1 point(can choose both comics)
-Which comic is more entertaining or in other words which would you publish first? Worth 1½ points(can only choose one comic)
Now when a winner is decided, the winner rips up the losers comic and then their own. Yes, yes, yes this may seem counter productive to my initial desire for cartoonists to connect more, but there is a lesson in this act. It’s the lesson of detachment, one of a vaguely important lessons I ever learned back in Holyoke Community College. I often sat in on a painting class taught by the head of the art dept. Frank Cressotti who walked around the class with a small can of grey enamel paint and a brush. The moment he spotted a student “getting precious”(putting in details and/or finishing a painting prematurely) with their work he would casually walk over and make modest sized mark on the painting and often walk away saying “it’s not that good of a painting…” or “have fun with that…”. I asked him why he did that and he said “As an artist its not your job to make your “best” work, that’s for everyone else to decide. It’s simply your job to make art and keep making it till you die or get tired of it. We do it for the process, not the finished product.”. With that in mind. the reason why you competed in the first place was to understand one another; to see how the other thought and made art, how they commanded the page, not to see if their “artistic chops” were above or beneath your own. Keeping the pages from your battles imo is akin to like recording every conversation you have. you battle for the experience and connection with another artist not for the page you conceive. Now, if this rule is still not to your liking(guessing most of you) I do have an alternative, you simply swap pages as a sign of friendship. The victor taking the losers comic and vice versa as a means of understanding and a record of communication between two artists in-synch towards saying “This is who I am and I want to know you too”.
Now I hope you all give Cartooning Battles a whirl with somebody you never talked to or had a class with and this creates a friendship in the process, but try it with your friends too! If you have any questions or suggestions to the rules or variations I consciously left out of the essay then please leave a comment below.
So now that you've the read the article I wanted to add that im open to any changes of the rules, cause i feel ssome things can be tweaked. that aside comment away.