Saturday, February 25, 2012
Spinning a Truer Story.
There are a lot of fun surprises throughout this book. Knowing that, I've tried to be very selective in what I showcase in these updates. Initially, I had no intention of showing any work from the most recent (spider) segment of the story. But there's so much subtext involved here (for me, as an artist), that I think the insight supersedes the need for secrecy on this one. Plus, this panel doesn't give you any spoilers.
This graphic novel has transcended a lot of ground, and it has nothing to do with the artwork. Nothing. It's wandered into subversive, autobiographical territory and has still managed to maintain an independent paradigm from this artist's life. I have no idea if that's a difficult balance to achieve or not, but it's happened organically with Dust Bunny. And that's how I know the story is honest. That's also how I know that it's no longer a story. It's my story.
I'm an arachnophobic. I hate spiders. I know "hate" is a strong word, but I only choose that word because I can't think of a stronger one to fully encompass my disdain for these infinitely intriguing, yet terrifying monsters. So, to allow them to carry the weight of a scene for about 7 pages in the book leaves me at a crossroads of understanding myself. Incidentally, it wasn't until I was nearly finished with this page that I realized this particular panel is a snapshot of a recurring nightmare that I have, at least once a month. The dream is always a little different, but the nightmare always ends with one...then two...then ten...then fifty spiders descending upon me just before I wake up. I don't care what the subconscious reasoning is behind it. But somehow, it managed to regurgitate itself onto my page. I thumbnailed this 9 months ago, and that realization just clicked last night.
This book began as an entertaining, surface 'whodunit'. It still is. But since its inception, it's found a new voice - one I could have never scripted. It's become important to me, not only as an artistic achievement, but as a milestone of my life (in its currency). Dust Bunny's story would have been completely different a year ago, or a year from now. And I can't help but latch on to the idea that this book is being produced at a time when it's meant to be produced. Though I put my best efforts forward in every line that I draw, the artwork has become submissive to the story...maybe even the theme. They work together wonderfully, but since I've discovered the purpose of this story, and why I'm telling it, I've had to work harder at making the visuals acutely convey that purpose. I've been tuning these creative instruments my entire life. But this is the first mouthpiece that's fit. Maybe that's why the song is pleasing. Or maybe that's why it feels like I'm playing for the first time.
Either way, it's important to understand that I'm not an expressionist. And you will not be reading Brett Brooks' life story, vicariously told through the eyes of a rabbit and a dust mite. But my life - my trials - are definitely in there...which leads me to wonder if I'm finally starting to understand what it means to be an artist. Or even more than that, a purist.
Art is not my salvation. But it is a truth I believe in. And if honesty can be found inside a city hidden in a basement...what sort of truths will break the surface above it once the story is finished?