Here are 20 questions with Blaise Larmee.
Blaise is a cartoonist living in Brooklyn. His first major comic, Architecture #1 is available from Giant Robot. http://secure.giantrobot.com/products.php?code=ARCHITECTURE01
Here is his blog: http://blaiselarmee.blogspot.com/
He is serializing his next comic at the secret acres wesite: http://www.secretacres.com/weeklyghosts1.html
1. can you describe your drawing routine---how often you draw, how many hour per day---how you break up the day with drawing?
Over the summer I was really into making pots and pots of green tea and I'd have a certain part of the room I'd draw in. I could go for long stretches - six hours or more - and go to sleep at dawn. Lately I've fallen back into doing most of my drawing in cafes.
2. how much revision/editing do you do in you work?
I like the idea of "the first take is the only take." I like this idea because the drawings are spontaneous and full of life and I also hate the idea of drawing something twice - which is what most cartoonists do. So now if I want to "white out" something I use an oil-based paintstick, which makes it impossible to go over again with ink. So I really have to question whether I want to revise something.
3. talk about your process---do you write a script or make up the drawing as you go?
I don't plan anything on paper. When I was creating characters I tried to get to know them by talking to them and watching them in my head - which was incredibly difficult, especially as I began adding more characters. It was hard to keep track of them. Lately I think I've been doing them a real disservice, sort of in the way adults do when they patronize kids' imaginary friends. I've forgotten about the "real" characters and sort of let them become actors. Now they are only functional, when really they should be the ends to their means.
4. do you compose the page as a whole or do you focus more on individual panel composition?
The panel ... the page usually works itself out. I used to feel that this wasn't "pure comics," but now I am more comfortable with this approach.
5. what tools do you use (please list all)?
"The usual," plus various things for color.
6. what kind(s) of paper do you use?
7. do you read a lot of comics? are you someone who reads comics and then gets ectied to make more comics---or is your passion for making comics not linked to any particular love for other comics?
I love comics so much I cannot afford to buy them. I am more comfortable now in my role as a creator rather than a consumer, though I still feel bad sometimes for not "supporting the industry." If i owned a Chris Ware book it would be one of my most prized possessions. For me, that makes the case for leaving him at the library.
8. do you make comics for a living? if not, how do you support yourself, and how does this relate to your comics making process?
My savings had given me a year after college to live without working. Looking back, it has been wonderful. I have been shielded from commercial desires to some extent. I stopped doing illustration. My world became an aesthetic world. I also became more simple. I spent a lot of time cooking. I stopped buying books and started hanging out in bookstores. I say all this with longing, as this phase of my life ends in two months.
9. do other artforms often seem more attractive to you?
Yes and no. It frustrates me that comics is so young and it is already nostalgic. Past creators are deified by even the most liberal of creators and critics. The comics canon should be like a young sprout (to borrow a metaphor) but instead it's like a huge tree. As a result creators impose all these restraints upon themselves, in their tools and in their process. The Marvel Method is still used by a majority of alt cartoonists who want nothing to do with Marvel.
10. what artwork (or artists) do you feel kinship with?
Goodnight Moon, The Dead Bird, Austin English, Genevieve Vidal.
11. is a community of artists important or not important to you?
Incredibly. But I am not good at group friendships.
12. what is your parents/family's reaction to your work?
They like the drawings.
13. what is more important to you---style or idea?
Comics is a queer medium, in the way binaries are dealt with. Words or pictures? Style or idea? Homo or hetero?
14. is drawing a pleasure to you or a pain?
I feel very strongly that it should be a pleasure. I am against the cartoonist-as-depressive model that Chris Ware sets up. Comics should not be depressive or repetitive or take forever to do. They shouldn't make you want to kill yourself. Of course, it is not always a pleasure and that is ok too.
15. when you meet someone new, do you talk about being an artist right away? do you identify yourself as an artist or something else?
That word - artist - has a lot of different implications for different people, so it's always safest not to bring it up. If I feel very comfortable with someone I might be comfortable using the word.
16. do you feel at all connected to older comic artists like steve ditko or jack kirby---or does this seem like a foreign world to you?
It's a foreign world worth visiting.
17. do you ever feel the impulse to not draw comics?
It's not so much an impulse ... sometimes it's difficult to see progress.
18. do you draw from life?
Recently, yes. Something amazing about comics is this dynamic between the internal and the external. Lately I've felt like I've slipped into the internal too much, so I'm trying to acknowledge the external again.
19. do you pencil out comics and then ink? or do you sometimes not pencil?
I used to. But the drawings always lose life.
20. what does your drawing space look like?