August 29th, 2009

The Zombie

Swamp Thing...and That Other Green Monster

August 28 -  Let's talk a little bit about jealousy, shall we?  The topic has been on my mind for a few days as my own sense of jealousy - which I'd long assumed to be dead (or at least dormant) - has once again reared its ugly head.  When I was a much younger man, I was often overcome with envy, usually after viewing an amazing piece of artwork.  I'm not talking about work produced by an established master.  That would have been like being jealous of the sky for being blue.  No, my greenest envy was reserved for artists whom I knew, or those with whom I believed I "ranked" (and "ranking" was, itself, a version of jealousness, as I imagined where "on a scale of 1 to 100" I compared, in my mind only, with all other artists in my genre).  If any of these artists produced something extraordinarily beyond my expectations of their talents, my guts would grind with jealousy pains.  In those early days, which included my Kubert School experiences, I truly believed that such envy was not only an important component in my artistic development, but a healthy one as well!  I reasoned that it forced me to compete, which, in turn, forced me to improve myself.  I can't completely deny the logic of that, but neither could I ignore the actual, physical illness that I'd feel afterward.  There are those who will espouse envy (a form of greed, really) as a productive motivator.  We comics artists - if I may indulge myself with such an inclusion - are, in theory, competing for essentially the same audiences (and their dwindling dollars).  In competition, there is rivalry, and in rivalry there is often jealousy.  Still, that attitude was putting my intestines into sour knots, so I finally came to the realization that envy was not only unhealthy (clearly), but not the motivator I'd once believed.  When it came right down to it, I was never spurred to greater things upon seeing another's artwork.  I was either too involved in making "excuses" for my suddenly apparent inadequacies, or wallowing in self-loathing.  No, for me, jealousy was an evil habit that I had to kick.  Like many addicts, I couldn't go cold turkey, so I stepped back in manageable increments.  First, I let go of thinking "Anyone could have done that," then expunged "I could have done that," and finally settled on a healthier "I should have done that," which is more of a true motivator.  With that, I learned that I can happily encourage other artists, that I can genuinely enjoy their work, and that I am in competition with no-one but myself.  Or so I believed, and so I acted, until this last couple of weeks.  That's when I was struck by a wave of stanky, old-school, fluorescent-green envy.  It started with finding an absolutely gorgeous image of Swamp Thing on-line.

  Even though it was produced as a three-dimensional computer model by someone named "J. Gary" in 2006, it made me as jealous as a thirteen-year-old watching "grown-ups" drive.  Check out
this cached page explaining the piece's creation (although the version I saw was much more advanced than the one posted there).  OK, OK.  I can handle a little spurt of old style jealousy.  It makes no sense, but, after living without real envy for so long (twenty years or so?), I can be forgiven for a teeny lapse like that.  Then...ugh.  Then O.F.O.WOMP jake Stephens and I had a great little conversation about art and inspiration and such, and I mentioned that I was jealous of where he is, artistically, right now.  It's been a long time since the Big Lightbulb went off for me, so I envied his current "Just Switched On" status.  He's just hit that sweet spot where time, interest, opportunity, talent, life, and desire have converged.  Squarely in the middle of that nexus, jake is worthy of envy.  Again, not that big of a deal...until I saw what came of our conversation; encouragement to create something cool every day for a year.  On his new site, 365 Days of Creation
, jake describes it thusly;

While talking to John (Mundt, esq. - artist extraordinaire) today, we touched on a lot of different ideas, but we kept coming back to creativity and what is inspiring and what makes some artists stand so head and shoulders above the rest.  Sweat equity?  Hand of Dog? Genetics?  Who knows.

Regardless, as we wrapped up, I mentioned that I was going to start this blog, imperfect idea or not (another idea we touched on in the two hours we sat in the coffee shop, landing pads for flies - “look one has a flag!”).  It is based on an endeavor of another artist friend of John’s, Cary Kann, who has, for quite some time, forced himself to sit down and drawn something every day.  After hearing that... I figured it was about time that I had a blog that had a point.

And, true to his word, he has produced some sort of creative artwork every day since then.  Poetry, music, photography, and, mostly, virtual works have been spitting out of him like Africanized bees from a hive. 

(this is just a little sample of the coolness found on jake's blog)

Each day's product is at least interesting, usually amazing, and too-often jealousy inspiring.  Best of all, jake is finally garnering some of the wider recognition and praise that he so richly deserves.  Damn him.  So, here I sit, stewing in envy, trying to figure out why I fell so hard off the no-jealousy wagon.  At least I'm still happy for another artist's successes, but not without a side order of stomach-churning green fries.  As best as I can guess, my jealousy has something to do with the computer as medium.  In regard to the flood of virtual art of the last two decades, I'm positively antediluvian.  I often wonder how my life, and relationship with computers, would differ had I been born just a year or two later.  In 1984, just before I graduated high school, there were four computers in our entire school, and those were used exclusively by advanced Math students for basic programming.  The following year, when I was a Joe Kubert School student, Joe had just acquired the computer set-up that had been used to create the "cyber" elements of the film
Tron, but only third year animation students were allowed to mess with it.  Over the next few years, while such computer access restrictions eased, my sorry financial situation, coupled with my inglorious return to my parents' basement, kept me from being exposed to any of the advancements made in computer generated art until after I had become a curmudgeonly "established" artist (and by "established" I certainly don't mean that I was "recognized" or "employed," just that I'd become ensconced in my own peculiar ways by then).  Had I been a member of, say, The Class of 1986?  Who knows?  So, here I sit, envious and bitter, and apparently none-the-wiser for the journey.  Hmm.  Actually, now that I've talked about it, I feel a little better.  In fact, I feel


Well, now I must be off to my next exciting adventure, but not before asking once again for your suggestions for September's "...Of The Day" theme.  If you've got an itch to see a topic discussed, just let me know before Tuesday, September 1st.  Thanks in advance!  See ya!