Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Positive State Of Mind

So I think I've finally got a handle on my head space. Lesson learned. Period.

Bobby Chiu, a very, very inspirational artist, and universal mentor to every up and coming prostitute in this business once said 'I'd rather dig ditches than have an art job I hate.' and while that nominally made sense to me and I agreed with him, I appreciate it all the more now.

Here is my working theory, being tied up as an artist on Hairspray turned me into a spectator. And while on the one hand it is relieving at any point to be able to answer the question most often asked of anybody 'what's up?' with something as meaty and substantial and artistic as working on a theatrical production, at the same time it's as frustrating as being benched when the game is on the line. And in the art world the game always seems to be on the line. 

But the key thing is, when you don't feel in control of your own output, your own subject matter, your own source material, you turn from participant to spectator. On an emotional level. The less you participate and the more you spectate, the more prone you are to criticise.

Like, would I really care what Christopher Nolan does with the batman franchise if I was bogged down in directing my own adaptation of Daredevil? Hells no to the no no, even though the plum assignment is Batman, I'd channel all that energy into making Daredevil the dark horse that wins the race. You walk instead of talk, know what I'm saying?

And obviously, it is far less likely that I will ever become a blockbuster director than say a self sustained artist. But when I am unable to take my hands and create the art I want to create, I open my mouth and criticise what others are doing. Because it's easy. Because it's fucking easy. And it's a vice. Criticism has it's place, but it's a very small place, over in the corner.

To my credit, the negative state of mind, the impotent critic only really took over at the end of my run on Hairspray, it took a long time to chip away my positive resolve, and unfortunately lingered after the stimulus.

But I feel good now, things are looking up. And so I'm going to just write about positive shit for the next month or so, whenever I can. Because 'how you feel is your fault' as Horstman put down in law, and I want to be at fault for feeling good.

So, I watched John Carpenter's 'Escape from New York' last night, John Carpenter is pretty fucking amazing, and Escape from New York may just be the originator of the whole 'Batman: No Man's Land' easily the best thing DC has ever produced, and immediately after watching escape from new york, I started re-reading DC's Vertigo Imprint's DMZ. I swear the cream of western comics is on the Vertigo imprint, and DMZ may just be one of the best works ever.

Set post 9/11 it depicts Manhattan Island, New York as a 'De Militarized Zone' in an American Civil War. On the Jersey Shore across the Hudson you have the FSA 'the free states of America' and on Long Island you have the USA, the presumably legitimate contender in the conflict. But it really isn't about the war, the series follows Matthew Ross, intern that suddenly becomes the only embedded journalist in Manhatten, and it is just about his life, how he lives, survival.

And it's great. It's fucking great. It moves very freely, compositionally beautiful, characters aren't trying to be anything, other than characters, it has those elements of fantasy, and is above all like most people, bipartisan, unpolitical, the stark reality that most people, under any circumstances, just try to live their lives.

And while adaptations kind of jerk me off, DMZ serves to remind me why I love the medium of comics so much, there is just so much great stuff, and so much potential for great stuff in this medium that they can never adapt them all, there will always be hidden treasure, and to boot, while it would cost these days a budget of $240 million or something to adapt DMZ into a bad movie, it costs the same to make DMZ the comic as it does Batman, Superman, Naruto, One Piece, Persopolis, American Splendour... you name it, the costs are just writer and artists time, some inks, some computers, and then it's all just printing and distribution.

It's an amazing medium. So fucking good. Just so fucking good.

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