So I just heard that Buenaventura Press (publishers of beautiful prints and publications such as Kramers Ergot #7 and Comic Art Magazine) went out of business a few months back, which is upsetting. I guess there’s some sort of legal trouble involved, which I’m not sure is better or worse than plain old financial hardships. If it was just a cash flow problem, I suspect the “comics world” would’ve rallied with a fundraiser or the like. Anyway, it’s hard to imagine that Alvin Buenaventura will be out of the comics world for long, even if his capacity changes.

“But what does this all mean for alternative comiiiics???”

On another note, Eleanor’s and my comics camp wrapped up. It was, once again, a nerve-wracking but fun collision between the somewhat leaky Ship of Eleanor and Drew’s Vague But Idealistic Philosphy of Art Education, and the Rocks of Actual Kid Behavior. Our takeaway this time: Even though this would be putting the cart before the horse for almost all of our students – next time, we should spend more time teaching kids more about anatomy, poses, proportions, shading, inking techniques, etc. Many of the kids have trouble constructing even single images that are decipherable to an outside observer, much less a sequence of them… but to them, exercises in storytelling and clarity are just insanely boring. They want the cool poses right away.

See, Eleanor and I have had this sort of Hippocratic Oath when it comes to comics. Having both gone to SCAD, I know that somewhere along the way, these zealous little grade schoolers who have absolutely no problem sitting down and drawing dozens of pages of comics with no self-consciousness at all, are going to turn into surly young adults who have to be prodded to draw one page, even though they’ve chosen comics as a career path, supposedly. That was our big surprise last year, seeing just how much these kids loved to draw – it wasn’t work for them, it was play. So Eleanor and I (who both struggle and beat our heads and have artists blocks for months on end, just like anyone else) looked at each other and said “What the hell are these kids’ art teachers doing? Who’s sucking the joy for image-making out of these kids?” And so we took this typical lefty stance of simply trying to encourage the kids’ creativity and not telling them any one way was right or wrong.

But that’s exactly what they want! The “right” way to draw hands, faces, poses. And I’ve been coming to this realization that the loss of simple joy and obliviousness is inevitable – because it’s a byproduct of the increased perspective and empathy that are part of becoming a normal adult. Up to a certain point, these kids exist in their own little words, They become aware that others are observing and judging them, and they start to want to fit in and do things correctly and for a lot of kids, it changes their relationship with art. Which is kind of sad, but then again – the flipside to the surly, excuse-filled kids I knew at SCAD (and was, to an extent) were the oddballs who drew countless pages about some sort of private internal world where everybody was a magical sexy animal-person.