Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Furiously now.

As I write this, the illustration for page 476 has just been posted. But I am almost finished with the illustration for page 493, and I expect to either begin or complete the illustration for page 494 this evening. It seems that the closer I come to finishing this endeavor, the more obsessed I become. It is often all I am able to think about, and these days I spend nearly every spare second I have working on the art. It’s a curious thing, really. Some kind of strange blending of manic joy, desperation, obsession, and rage. These pictures seem to be furiously pouring out of me.

I feel very comfortable in stating that despite the rather drastic acceleration in the pace of these drawings, the art has not suffered in any way. If anything, I think I am making some of the best illustrations yet. There are quite a few that I am extremely excited to post here and share with you all.

Currently, my plan is to continue working unabated until I am done. I will occasionally be posting two pieces per day because I would like the illustration for page 500 to be posted on December 31. The new year will begin with page 501 and will see the final 52 pages of this project some time before early February.

Additionally, I plan to write a few posts that will serve as a sort of history lesson regarding my attempts at art over the years. I have mentioned on multiple occasions that since the early 1990s, I have tried my hand at a number of creative endeavors from photography to drawing to making comics. This Moby-Dick project is by far the most demanding and personally fulfilling creative effort I have ever been involved in, but in many ways it feels like the end of something rather than the beginning.

Kurt Vonnegut, a writer I admire tremendously, wrote these words in the in the preface to his novel Breakfast of Champions...

“I think I am trying to clear my head of all the junk in there – the assholes, the flags, the underpants. Yes – there is a picture in this book of underpants. I’m throwing out characters from my other books, too. I’m not going to put on any more puppet shows.

“I think I am trying to make my head as empty as it was when I was born onto this damaged planet fifty years ago.

“I suspect this is something most white Americans, and nonwhite Americans who imitate white Americans, should do. The things other people have put into my head, at any rate, do not fit together nicely, are often useless and ugly, are out of proportion with one another, are out of proportion with life as it really is outside my head.

“I have no culture, no humane harmony in my brains. I can’t live without a culture anymore.”


Those words resonated deeply with me. I empathize with what I think Vonnegut was feeling. I feel very much the same way. This project was many things for me. One of them was a loving farewell letter to my own artistic past. A life filled with visions and images of comic books, vinyl album covers, paperback sci fi and fantasy books, videogames, action figures, and yes, even pornography and numerous trips to the finest art museums in these United States. It’s all there. And it’s all here, in this blog. When I read Vonnegut’s preface, I felt that his words were a fine summation of what I’ve been trying to do here. Empty my head. Take all of those thoughts and ideas and pictures and images and things, hold them up one more time, look at them closely, say goodbye, and set them down for good. I'm not ashamed of any of it. Of some of it, I'm still quite proud. But it's time. I’m only 41 years old, not 50 like Vonnegut was when he wrote that. But I still feel good. I still feel very very young. I still feel like there is more ahead of me than behind me.

Viewed from that perspective, these upcoming “history lesson” blog posts will serve as a fitting epitaph. A line of connectivity showing the past that bred this present. It’s exciting and a bit melancholy, but it has to be this way.

2 comments:

Patty Purviss said...

I am loving your project. I'm becoming closer to this lonely whale, and I can almost smell seasalt in your images. Perhaps he isn't lonely, tis just what I glean, but no matter. The point: thank you for your brain.

Matt Kish said...

Hello Patty, your words did me a great deal of good. Working on this project and posting it on a blog can feel terrifyingly solitary at times, especially now as the days darken, the ice closes in, and the book nears its bleak and nihilistic climax. If it wasn't for the lifeline of my wife, I think I might be halfway to madness now.

I am looking forward to being finished for so many reasons, but one of the biggest is that right now I just can't see the size of shape of this thing I've made. I'm too close. I'm still inside it. I don't even know what I will think when I finish, but I do know I will have no regrets for having undertaken it, regardless of the cost.

Oh, and your comment about smelling the seasalt in these images? Brilliant, wonderful, and so deeply appreciated. Many many thanks.