Mike: Hmm… I guess it depends on how lenient you want to get with the term “comics creating”. Where’s Scott McCloud when you need him?
The earliest thing I remember drawing myself:
My earliest memory drawing has to be in kindergarten when I was drawing a landscape of some sort on an art easel. The girl sitting beside me looked at my paper and asked “how do you draw a tree so good?” I was slightly shocked that this female was attempting to communicate with me, but I thought I should at least try to answer her question; “well… you just kind of draw a squiggle… like this!” and I gave her a fifteen second art lesson.
My earliest memory drawing a story was in grade 5. In class we created our own small books, bound them ourselves and used wallpaper to wrap the hardback covers. My book was about a dolphin named “Flash” and a shark named “Mark”. It was closer in appearance and structure to a children’s book than it was to a comic. But it was illustrated and it had to have been my first completed story in book form. That’s got to be kicking around somewhere, probably at my parents house in a box in the attic.
In grade 7 for a school project I started working on a sci-fi adventure. It was as a prose story (which I added illustration to because that’s just the kind of guy I am) called “DeathStar Returns”. The second version was done as the first comic I ever remember creating. It was a horrible rip-off of all the toys and pop culture of the time. Star Wars, G.I.Joe, Robotech, MASK and I even had a blatant swipe of Snarf from Thundercats in there. Here is a picture of the prose version:
And here is a picture of that first comic (that I can remember). Never got around to the word bubbles.
I think this was also the year that I was drawing Garfield all of the time, and when I told my mother that I was going to draw Garfield for a living, she said to me “why don’t you make up your own character?” That’s the moment I started trying to plot my own stories, eventually leading me to create Spy Guy a few years later.
The earliest thing I remember my brother drawing:
His previous answer to you on 28 March, 2011 jogged my memory into remembering a bunch of his earlier works that I had forgotten about (like the porcupine). But the big one I remember was Sir Lance. It was only recently that I found out Blair was just copying Spy Guy and turning him into a knight. That gave me a chuckle. No wonder I was fond of the character. I was always curious if he was ever going to do something with Sir Lance. But now he has The Possum!
Where it happened:
It seems like most of those things I remember happened at school for myself. I guess it just goes to show that once you are confined in an enclosed space, and have a project deadline, things seem to get completed. Most of my other work came out as just piles and piles of random ideas, drawings and doodles. Closer to concept art and gag panels than they are to actual comic work. Sir Lance I remember at my parents dinning room table. I’m not sure where Blair would have created the character originally, but I do know we spent a lot of hours at that table drawing. That’s one of those “anchors” that gives me flashbacks whenever we have family get-togethers and dinners.
Since Blair’s running late in Texas, I figure I’ll send you this response of mine on it’s own, and let Blair send his off whenever he’s finished with it. I’m very curious to see what answers he comes up with.
Blair: Mike wouldn’t let me see his response to your question until I finished mine, so I’m going to have to really think here and not just copy his answers. (Being the younger brother there was a lot of that going on while we were growing up). Totally off topic; I remember one time Mike was sick and had to stay home from school and I faked a cough so I could stay home too even though I felt fine (I think I was in kindergarten at this time). I spent the entire day lying down on the couch, bored out of my mind, thinking “what have I gotten myself into?” My only entertainment that day was playing with a stamp set of all of the Marvel superheroes. (That was the first time I ever faked being sick and I never did it again). Mike usually did things first and because I naturally had similar interests, I’d just follow along and do many of the same things he did. I think this trend mostly applies to comics and drawing, but I’m sure Mike will say it happened a lot more than I’ll admit to.
The first picture that I can actually remember drawing was a picture of the Incredible Hulk I did when I was having my interview with my kindergarten teacher before the school year began. (a standard interview they do with all kids, just to make sure my marbles were all there). I would have been 4 years old at the time, because my birthday wasn’t until November and I remember being a little confused that there were no other kids there, because in my child’s mind I didn’t know what an interview was, but I did know that kindergarten was supposed to involve a lot of kids, but it was just my mom, my teacher and me. I think my mother might still have that drawing in a folder somewhere in the closet hallway, but it’s been quite some time since I’ve seen it, although I remember using the green crayon for the Hulk’s body and the purple one for his pants and thinking I was doing a really good job at making him look really strong.
When I was younger most of my drawing wasn’t comics, but rather I’d tell stories through making huge battle scenes on big sheets of paper that my dad would bring home from work. In my memories, we were drawing the pictures on the family room floor, just close to the steps that went down to our basement, but to tell you the truth, I’m not sure if we even had a family room at that time. (before the family room was built, there was a kitchen and a mud room there). Regardless, I remember drawing cars jumping over ramps and shooting other cars while planes would fly overhead shooting dotted line bullets until the page was completely filled with carnage. The first comic strips I drew were copied Garfield strips, until I felt confident enough to make my own characters, and I guess you could say the first original comics (that consisted of more than a one panel gag) was with my sir Lance character that I talked about earlier. We did a lot of drawing at the dining room table in those days and I remember my best friend Jarrett’s mom telling me years later that he would always come home from our house and tell her “All those Kitchen boys like to do is draw!” Although we must have done a lot of other things too, because I always seemed to get in trouble with Jarrett and there’s not much trouble to get into while drawing. (Unless you’re drawing about feminists….. nyuk, nyuk, nyuk).
The first comic book I ever drew (other than my Dave Sim and Gerhard inspired Sir Lance that only made it to page 11 or so) believe it or not was The Possum #1, which I started in 2002 when I was 26 years old and completed in 2006.
A lot of my memories of Mike’s drawings were similar to things that I was drawing. Mike would draw every Autobot on a big sheet of paper and I would attempt to draw every single Decepticon. Mike would make a poster of Heathcliff and I would make a Garfield poster. Mike would make a short character with big feet who was a spy and I would make a short character with big feet who was a knight. It wasn’t until Mike moved out and went to college that my drawing style naturally started to take on it’s own identity. Once Mike moved out of our parents house (and I was only a couple years behind him), we really didn’t draw together any more and I don’t think it was until we started doing comic conventions that I’d actually sit next to him and draw with him again, which has been a lot of fun and has brought back a lot of those childhood feelings.
Mike: And now I’ll ask YOU one:
Some of the best pro-tips I know I’ve learned from you. I got the Hunt 102 and S-172 Bainbridge from reading Cerebus (the parts that would become the Cerebus Guide To Self-Publishing). I got the tracing paper transfer method from reading the Blog And Mail. I got some old school brush techniques (which I’m still itching to use on SPY GUY #3) and some award winning lettering advice from you (that I used to fix up SPY GUY #2) when you came to visit Ultraist Studios.
What are some good pro-tips that you can give us the secrets to? What tricks and techniques could help us take SPY GUY and THE POSSUM to the next level? What is your favourite NEW trick to use on glamourpuss? What is the trick to writing great dialogue? (I’m seeing lots of question marks here… I guess that’s more than one… feel free to pick and chose which ones you feel like answering).
ps. If you’d like, you can try sending the fax directly to me again. Page 3 from this morning came through fine (not sure why the first two didn’t). One thing I noticed is that when Oliver sends them to us, they’re not nearly as clear to read, so sending them direct will make for easier reading when they’re posted on the website.
Pss. I’ve really been enjoying this conversation.