Click on the photo above visit my Kickstarter Page.
One of the great developments in social media is for artists to be able to directly address their fans. The studios are still doing their normal productions, but companies like Kickstarter allow artists to fun micro runs of books, music and inventions.
My life work is to traipse in the realm of ideas. It’s not that my ideas are amazing as they come out, they’re not. They’re kind of average. But I document thousands of ideas so I can choose from the pool and usually come up with something pretty good.
A lot of folks email me to make a new Earthworm Jim or Neverhood game. They request Catscratch episodes on DVD and don’t understand why I make graphic novels, but can’t make them about characters I’ve already created. Well, I can’t take my own characters and do whatever I want with them if they’re owned by someone else! I’m at the mercy of studios and executives, and that’s not entirely a bad thing. They have their job to do and I have my job.
My job is to make stories, games and whole worlds. That’s my A game. Getting the characters marketed or made into games, comics and movies is secondary. I’m lucky if any of these ideas make it to the public, it’s a convoluted journey from sketchbook to marketplace, which means hundreds of perfectly good creations and ideas will never be seen by anybody, and that breaks my heart. I’m an entertainer, after all, and if nobody is in the forest to hear the tree fall, who really cares if it makes a sound?
The day before I created Earthworm Jim, I created another character and world… probably Planarian-Hamster-bot. It’s not important, but you didn’t get to see it because we didn’t make a game of it. I’m putting together the best artwork from my 42 sketchbooks that should be entertaining to anyone who has loved any of my work to date. The TenNapel Sketchbook Archives will not only document the creation of characters like EWJ, Neverhood and Creature Tech, but I’ll show you some characters that were great in their own right, but didn’t see the light of day because they weren’t housed in a game or graphic novel (not yet, anyways!).
Take a look at the campaign, and please tell your friends about it! I’m not making a killing on this book, it’s for the fans. The more money we raise the better the book is going to be. We’re unlocking better paper stock, cover stock, I’ll be stuffing every corner of the book with content!
It’s easy to be a jaded artist. It’s easy to be a distant artist. I resent the claim that those of us who are not jaded somehow had it easy in becoming not jaded. I find it difficult to show sentiment and vulnerability, especially when today’s open media finds people who love to use vulnerability as an excuse to stomp on others.
My stories are very emotive and they come from a real place. These aren’t situations I’m making up, they reflect real life occurrences that inform my plot and character. There is a safer way to tell stories that guarantee I won’t be hurt by my audience and that would be to act distant and refuse to interact with them, or to only pursue content that everyone will approve of. I hate safe content more than anything, because it’s the ultimate insult to the artist to tow the line of culture instead of reform or inspire it.
I can even come up with a story that looks like I have outrage on a subject but I know it’s the correct subject to show outrage about, so it’s really just another form of safe cliche that bores me.
The artist has to dig deep, shedding culture like a bathrobe before diving into the pool of soaring ideals. These are the dangerous stories. The most terrifying thing one can tell a jaded kid isn’t that life is horrible, but that there is a real, reasonable hope and glory that can be known and embraced. I laugh at the local art shows that depict the usual blood bath of political commentary, porn, shock value and nihilism. Snore. Gee, I didn’t know that life was difficult. Thanks for the enlightenment.
But just because my heart is on display, it doesn’t mean that I leave the gates open wide. There are monsters and bigots that shouldn’t be trusted with your craft. Not everyone’s opinion is informed by wisdom, clarity or even a 4th grade reading level. In my early 20s I read this scripture that changed my art life forever:
Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”
This is where I part ways with the existentialists because they display their heart but leave it unguarded. There are the general rules I’ve established in guarding my heart regarding public vulnerability. The best one is that it’s never better to withdraw just to avoid criticism. Be publicly happy, sentimental, and lavish praise on the good, because haters shouldn’t be given control of anything.
The only criticisms that can really hurt me are true ones. The truth often hurts, and it ought to! In fact, most lies are constructed and entertained to avoid hurting people with the truth. So here’s to sentiment, vulnerability, and soaring jolliness in the face of the critics! Man, I’m ready for a pipe.