Don’t you love how Netflix is becoming a verb? I Netflixed The Devil and Daniel Johnston this weekend. I think I chose it for my list because of the manic depression aspect, but I quickly learned that I can barely be in the same room with this guy’s music. As tempting as it may be to ascribe genius to that which seems complicated and hard to understand, there are instances where crazy is simply crazy. I thought this 2006 quote from the Boston Globe said it best:
Johnston’s career pries open the assumptions and hypocrisies that surround ”outsider art” in this country. His work has a disturbing found-object innocence, yet in his lucid moments he’s as ambitious as any working musician (and when he goes off the rails, his monomania is the dark side of rock-star excess). Johnston is a willing participant in his fame, but how much do his fans respond to the music and how much to his status as a hip train wreck? Where’s the line between exploitation (including self-exploitation) and admiration? If Daniel Johnston weren’t mentally ill, would anyone listen to his songs?
I’m going to have to raise my hand here and say, “Not I.” It’s essentially like listening to Bob Dylan describe a dream, only in your white-haired uncle with Aspergers lispsy voice. But I think you’ll really like his art:
You can draw other people’s characters without permission and sell that in a gallery? Truly, where has this revelation been all my life. Actually I highly recommend this documentary, it’s a head scratcher.
As part of my preparations for the upcoming re-launch, I’m moving this website over to a new server. I installed WordPress on Network Solutions and they are not one of those open, friendly hosting services that gives you access to the database. I have to manually transfer the content into the new admin. Consequently I find myself going back through my blog posts from 2003 onward, getting a sometimes excruciating second look at the last six years. My blog entries from that time and that place no longer have much to do with the person I am today. They may have been part of my foundation, but the person who wrote them is a stranger to me now.
For one thing I spent A LOT of time blogging about the effect of foreign outsourcing on the animation industry. Bad press and impracticality kept foreign outsourcing from completely eliminating American jobs, a lot of people just immigrated here, and the animation industry went to 3D anyway. It was interesting to read the entry announcing the closure of the Disney Florida feature studios again just as the first traditionally animated Disney feature since Home on the Range is about to be released. Like a backyard garden, things wither and things are born again. This window into the past just reinforces for me how I slipped away from animation altogether and found a new love for comics.
In other news, my last trip to my grandparents’ house revealed a lot of letters I didn’t realize we had. My great-grandparents kept a scrapbook while their son was at war and attached every communication they received during those 4 years to its pages. There were also a ton of newspaper articles from the Port Arthur paper, many of them referencing my grandfather and his parents. The contents gave me a lot of additional information, enough to scrap all of my current page numbers and say I will just have to number the script when I’m done with it, I can’t plan for how many additional pages I might insert throughout. Two sets of letters have filled out the brief stay on Angel Island prior to deployment and considering how weak I thought that section was in my original manuscript, obviously I’m reworking it. One thing I noticed: my grandfather outlined his entire Thanksgiving menu. Apparently food was high on his mind even before he was starving in Japan.
I spent some of yesterday getting a new series of strips written. I’m over the 20 mark of approved strip concepts at this point and it’s never been so easy to write. I was on Webcomics.com yesterday and listened to John Cleese at a speaking engagement talking about the process of creativity:
There are some very good points here. The ultimate catch-22 is the concept that people who are hopeless at what they do lack the skills to assess that, so how do you know if you don’t know what you’re doing? The answer is you don’t, you don’t have the ability to tell! So that probably applies to 99.9% of us. The key to success is not letting the high probability that you don’t know what you’re doing stop you from trying.