Friday, May 8, 2015

O is for Oscar

O is for Oscar, another story I've yet to draw but want to get to eventually.

Oscar is a sheltered Hispanic boy who lives at home with his very protective and close knit family. Since he was small, he's always dreamed of being a fine artist, his favorite field trips were to art museums and he's read every book on fine art in the library. However, his parents don't want him to be an artist, at least not professionally. They would rather he get a normal job and just do art as a hobby. This stifling environment starts to eat away at Oscar, so he signs up for a life drawing class as an act of rebellion. This class will change his life, and also he's never been in the same room with a nude woman before.

While this isn't how my life as an artist started, I know that this is a pretty common story for young artists. The feeling that your family or friends are trying to reality check your dreams is a real one, and I wanted to explore that in cultural sense as well. I hope it'll be a fun book!

Tools: Pentel pocketbrush pen and Copic multiliners
Paper: Stillman and Birn gamma sketchbook.


  1. I never understood why people make such a big deal of working with nudes. why there is so much awkwardness portrayed in stories that circle around this topic? I think it's an exaggerated portrayal which just misinforms readers and grounds the urban legends about "art schools being nest of perversion and profanity".

    is Oscar not mature enough psychically to separate an assignment with his own emotions?

    1. It's an exaggerated portrayal of actual issues though. There is an attitude with very conservative families, especially in the US, that a nude body is something that is out of the ordinary; be it seen as sacred or as naughty and perverse. Oscar is going to come from such a household, where seeing a woman naked should be something reserved for your wedding night and a woman who shows her naked body to others must be perverted, but the whole point of establishing that in the comic is to prove that those ideas are extremely misguided. I'm of the opinion that change peoples minds about the values they hold, you have to show that you see where they are coming from before you begin to challenge them or else they won't be able to see your side of it. This isn't really a comic for art school students because we already know that this is the case, this is for regular people who do think that there is something weird about life drawing classes.

      Oscar himself is a very sheltered teen, the kind who probably hasn't even touched himself for fear of religious retribution. The story hinges less on the fact that there are nudes, but the fact that he holds a lot of family-instilled values that are holding him back from being the person he wants to be, and if he wants to be that person he's going to have to start breaking them. The nudity one is just the most obvious one, so I wanted to get it out of the way as the first thing. It's not even that he can't separate his emotions, it's more that the concept of being in a room with a naked person makes him uncomfortable and that is something he's gonna have to work on. The comic will be about him learning to strike that balance between respect for his family and what they've given him and the pursuit of a dream that means a lot to him personally.

    2. every country have that kind of issues, so it's not like I didn't hear those opinions about models being prostitutes or strippers luring students to participate in massive orgies full of alcohol/drug abuse. I also had a friend in class who drew/sculpted naked people just fine but at the same time she believed that nakedness is something reserved for a wedding night. so I'm all aboard when it comes to breaking stereotypes and mislead ideas.

      I'm just concerned this project might turn out to be counter-productive as a LESSON. why? as far as I know people who read Indie comics are, in most cases, already familiar with the issues you want to comment on while the people who are conservative won't read comics anyway, especially Indie ones (they would read mainstream comics at best).

      I know that all those points I'm making are mere assumptions and they might be totally off as I basically try to evaluate a story based on one picture and two comments, but the art-school theme is just close to me that every time I see such scenario I'm not too optimistic.

      on a side note: I don't know about USofA but in my country it's forbidden by law to let minors(people under age of 18) participate in drawing classes that involve naked models (models have to pose at least in underwear). so despite fact that we have high-schools of fine arts students come to contact with full nakedness only when they decide to pursue art on higher level of education. are laws in your country different? I ask since you described Oscar as 'teen'.

    3. That's interesting, I just assumed it was America since we have such skewed ideas on sex and sensuality. I'll have to do more research because that is fascinating stuff.

      I think the biggest problem with comics, especially the American comics industry, is that they only pander to one demographic and have only BARELY started to market to different groups. Even then, the problem is it's still predominantly one genre, in American comics for sure, and that is superheroes; but it doesn't matter how different your book on superpower humans is, my mom just isn't gonna read that. So how can I get my mom or someone on the street to read a comic? What comics need is a huge jolt in diversity in topics, audience, and just different themes altogether. My aim with my comics lately is to try to hook the people who might be interested in a topic I cover but might not be a comics reader. I'm assuming that if my comic is good and the storytelling and art are there, I won't alienate indie comics readers, but I hope to hook new readers by showing that comics aren't all people in tights or things that are made for kids.

      I'm with you and that generally I don't really like when stories depict art school which is I want to demystify it. I like the idea of telling a story that plays up the irrational assumptions people about art schools and life drawing and the people who go there and in a flash breaking all of those idea by showing that maybe if people went out to try to see something objectively instead of clinging to old values, they might find the world a little more interesting.

      That's pretty much how it is here I think the only nude model classes where underage people are allowed is with a parent there and with a signed form, but I was imagining Oscar as being either 18 or 19 which in my brain I still consider teens. Although, him being 17 and forging a slip to get in to the class could be an interesting plot point.

    4. In my country comics are not really doing good either. Comics enthusiasts are considered outcasts but, on the other hand, they are thrilled to uphold the status quo of martyrs. "normal" people just believe that comics fans are overgrown kids while comics are generally extremely dumb, gruesome and pornographic. But to the advantage comic publishing houses try their best to break the illusion of being "picture books distributors". Publishers try to release comics/graphic novels that are tackling social issues or mature themes. unfortunately book store owners are the "normal" people so the easiest titles to obtain are children comics and mangas (it’s popular and cheaper in comparison to American/European graphic novels) - so we get to square one.

      I actually try to spread the love, but without being too pushy or exclusive. If someone likes fantasy I’ll recommend what I think would be most fitting the person liking, it doesn’t matter whenever it is a (animated) movie, book or comics - it’s the better strategy as people will trust your judgement if you hit the target thus they will be more open minded to other titles. They also have a freedom to choose the medium they prefer – so some people just don’t like certain media and it has to be respected.
      I always try to summarize the story in a way the person will be really intrigued by it, also I'm sure to add that the art direction is integral part of the story so it basically adds another layer of interpretation. I'm also ready for discussion and lack of thereof - even if all I get is a simple commentary whenever they like it or not or just a notice that they did tackled the list that was given to him I'm fine. But I never recommend my own works, unless a person pins me to the wall and demand it with a knife by my throat.

      I’m aware that term ‘teen’ is a long stretch, but I just wanted to make sure.
      But ‘almost legal’ quota is plausible, it also could add themes like a teacher knowing it’s a forged permit, but letting him participate anyway (heck! Everyone knows he is a minor, since he’s so awkward).

      It would work either way.


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