I figure there must be some grunts and fouls being called from some of you who are following this blog, and are expecting more Rocketo work. But the truth is that I get my inspiration for the Rocketo books, by reading many different types of books. It is sad to say but few comics actually inspire me these days, in many their artwork is fantastic and the writing is in some top notch, but I think the Superhero genre has hit its wall for me. So in the search for inspiration I look at some of my favorite old comic strips, and read as many books as I can.
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway is one of those classic books that most of us are commanded to read while in school. I had to, and I hated it. At the time, I thought that good writing, was the type that described every single minute detail of what was going on in that scene.
Plus my mind was full of John Carter of Mars, and Doc Savage.
Years later, I read the Old Man and the Sea at the suggestion of an old friend who had pitched Hemingway to me. Not bad, I thought... maybe I will read up more of this Ernest fellow.
Little by little like a boulder rolling toward my skull, Ernest Hemingway would smash me to bits. It hit me. Those short powerful sentences, the action, the truth, caught like a japanese brush master on paper. This was comic book writing at its best.
Recently I was lucky to have a copy of the Old Man and the Sea available to me again, and so without any hesitation I once more met Santiago, and the giant Marlin. The ultimate battle of wills, in the waters off Cuba, man vs. giant Marlin! Its much more than that we all know. Santiago knows his mission in the world, he is old and wise... he knows exactly the type of fish he has caught by just feeling the line ever so softly. He is a master of his craft. May we all be so lucky. Santiago holds on to his Marlin, knowing he will kill it, but never once losing respect for the creature that is pushing him to his physical and mental breaking point.
As artist, we all know what that is like. That search for the truth, holding on to something, fighting with it, bringing it home for others to enjoy.
Santiago's struggle is not about winning or losing, for me its about doing that which you were born to do.
As Santiago the old fisherman talks to himself in that small boat, Ernest writes.." Now is no time to think of baseball, he thought. Now is the time to think of only one thing. That which I was born for."
Zen Master at work. The artist concentrates. The fame is so short, everything ends, but the work, the love of the work is eternal.
When thinking about how I would draw the book, there were so many directions to go it was hard at first. I finally thought I would handle it with as little realism as possible. So that Hemingway's words of truth would be your anchor.
Santiago came in my head like some giant red crab, some old sea creature that had been burnt by the sun. Quickly I did these sketches to try to get that feeling down as quick as I could, to try to feel the heat around his shoulders.
In the meantime I will keep trying, keep sketching Santiago out, whenever I have some free time.
And yes, at some point more Rocketo.
My best to all.