Wednesday, June 27, 2012


I'm influenced by comics (pshhh-what?). And I've been making a series of work heavily influenced by that medium, dubbed, You Germs (YG). I see those pieces as individual works. But I'm also hoping to build them into a credible, albeit unconventional, story of sorts. They stand a bit between a typical comic art and traditional painting - a pretty literal expression for where I am with my work at the moment.

But, as of late, I feel like I might be short-changing the project by not getting more practice in with more traditional story-telling in comic form. What's the good of being influenced by comics, graphic novels, and sequential art if you're incapable of stringing together your images into a plausible, compelling, and hopefully interesting story? I say not much good at all. And the YG series, though interesting to me, detailed, and visually pleasing, there isn't enough to "read" for you, with only about 6-8 panels made, at the moment. Sorry. I know. Jesus would do better.

Fortunately (unfortunately), my regular model for the female character in the YG Series (my lovely wife), has been out of the country for the past two weeks (the unfortunate: I miss her terribly - See you Friday, Dear!and I've used her absence as an opportunity to take a break from that and fast track a project that I mentioned at the beginning of May. It's a short story, titled Letters, that I'm turning it into a 26-page comic masterpiece... or so I hope.

Page sketches for Letters.
It's written by a fella called in his native homeland of Peoria, Illinois (and I suppose anywhere else) by the name of Andy Hobin. He's an MFA candidate in creative writing at Virginia Tech (here's something he wrote for The Rumpus) and quite the talent for poignant prose that is simultaneously beautiful and gutting. And Letters is no exception.

Because it's a short story and not a comic script, I've been spending most of my time thumbnail-sketching and working my way through the essentials, cutting it down and working on the pacing. It's been pretty exhilarating not to have to worry so much about content and just focus on performance - a state of mind I take to much more naturally, I believe (fear).

The interesting part coming up quickly, now that I'm finishing the prep sketches for the comic, is deciding the final format and medium of the story. I'm leaning heavily towards doing it in actual ink on bristol board. The "traditional way". The only other two comics I've done (Bloodlines and A Faux's Parachute) were done completely with digital tools - except for some pre-sketching - to help increase speed and editing ability, which I felt I needed at the time... but I'm feeling strong and confident in my inking ability - seeing as it's been my favorite medium for about two years now - and my new found love of the brush are pushing me to do this thing "right".

But it's nerve-racking. It's all too easy to screw up a page that has so many parts - text, panels, figures - all to be coordinated into a cohesive whole. So, I've been practicing with some already sketched out pages that I had done for a comic idea I had two months ago. It's on hold for the moment because I want to get Letters up and running first. But I started a few pages for the project a month ago (called Art in Conversation - hopefully more later) before I decided that it would be best to do it digitally. It's a journalistic-type project with lots of updating, so speed is key, therefore the page sketch I did was just going to sit and collect dust. Might as well use it for practice! That way I'd have no problem screwing up a page I wasn't going to use anyway.

I can't say the page I did was a "winner", but I think it was a good first start. I'm looking forward to giving trying it out on some live pages for Letters!

I did learn one important thing in the process: that the quality of the final page is very dependent upon how good the original sketch you're inking on top of is. The page I was working with was actually quite sloppy, so I'm pretty sure I can make immediate improvement on that note.

The full page I did to practice inking for Letters
But I'm going to be looking at a lot of Craig Thompson to get as much help as I can. The guy is a comic stud; particularly in his economy of mark and composure of his pages as a whole. I've been reading his new book, Habibi, and words can't express how beautiful this guy's stuff is.... it takes a few pictures, too...  hell, just read his book. You'll understand.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


ink, graphite on clayboard
8 x 8 inches
© 2011-12 Darick Ritter

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Overconfident II

Overconfident II
11 x 11 inches
ink on Arches Cold Press 250gsm Paper

The Ends 2

ink on four 4x4" clayboard panels, digital finish  |  © 2012 Darick Ritter

I like this go-around much better than the first.

I have no big commitment, though, to make sure The Ends turn into a larger series of shorts. It's possible this could be the last. I say that because I see them more as an experiment in linear story-telling that I believe I need practice in.

This is something I've never had much experience in, working primarily as a modern (contemporary, abstract, untraditional, etc.) painter. And a painting for me is a physical object to be looked at, confronted. It's all of that de Kooning and Rothko and Pollock that I was obsessed with when I was younger. That kind of art was about what was physically happening on the surface, first... for me. That's why most of my previous work has a relief-like texture, avoiding traditional window-like viewing spaces (Van Eyck, Vermeer, or even artists like Thomas Hart Benton).

Now, I believe I can't get away from familiar, object-oriented picture-making because I see it's separation from abstract work only as an illusion of propaganda from artists of different styles competing with one another. And I couldn't figure out how to put things I was actually thinking about - like science-fiction, fantasy, myth-making, or religio-spiritual experiences - into paintings who's antecedents were "all surface".

Making comix like these helps me short-circuit all of these mental entanglements and makes my contribution to the "story" of my work much simpler and honest, I think.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Overconfident I

"Overconfident I"
11" x 11"
ink on Arches Cold Press 250gsm Paper

Friday, June 8, 2012

MINT Gallery, Atlanta: June 9th, 7-11PM

*poster by Kaspian Shore

detail of "Linearity I"

detail of "Linearity II"

The above are portions of the pieces I will be showing.

The Ends 1

The Ends 1
ink on four 4x4 clayboard panels
© 2012 Darick Ritter

I'm thinking of calling this series "The Ends". I don't know why. Maybe because I made a fat, effin' "end" at the end of it, virtually guaranteeing that I don't try to stretch it out into a long story.
Bang. Comic in a day.
Not that that was my only goal. I also just wanted to use the brush to make sure that things couldn't look pristine. I like the result.


You Germ 02:01  |  ink on clayboard  |  6x6  |  © 2012 Darick Ritter

You Germ 02:02  |  ink on clayboard  |  6x6  |  © 2012 Darick Ritter

You Germ 02:02 (detail)

So, the cool thing, is I finished two new panels. The bad thing is I really don't like my second panel (YG 02:02).

I just overworked it. And secondly, it just doesn't convey its information clearly (I agree with you, M).

I think I'm going to skip it (not scrap it), and just do another one. It's fine though. Failure's healthy, once in a while. Keeps you honest.