Friday, December 9, 2011

Arche-Lady Primer: effort and quality

When I first began the series, it was intended for my own amusement, and that of my friends (despite how widely I was dispersing or not, at the moment).

But periodically, I would infuse additional effort into the series, whether it was story, art, or both. And other times, I would lapse into a hiatus, producing nothing at all.

When I began scanning the series, I would get excited or wince, depending on what I was looking at. Some of the original material I think is still pretty good (for my skills and abilities at the time) and some of it was just crap.

From time to time, I've read through the series from its start, in minimal doses, with Sven, Piotr, and Matt. But the pace of reading never produced any deeper observations. As I walked down memory lane, scanning page after page in rapid succession, I then reflected on where I was, in location, in spirit, in happiness.

I saw a direct correlation: the happier I was, the more effort I put into the series, and the better it was; the less happy, the worse it was, or I'd lapse into hiatus. Of course, it may also be said that the more effort I put into the series, the happier I was. Likely, it's something of both, as art and life intertwine for me.

It was great for me to see this, and hash over some of the darker and happier moments in my past. Especially because many of the stories were metaphors for my life at the moment. Sometimes subconsciously done, sometimes thinly veiled, sometimes overt. The most interesting, of course, are the metaphors I didn't realize I was making.

Of course, my "artistic sensibility" played a role, as well. I can see that the best stories are ones that ARE the metaphors, and statements on my life, the events of it, and the people in it. The worst stories are the ones when I focused too much on "plot" and trying too hard to be a "real" comic book.

From the start, the series was not meant to be serious. It was light-hearted and campy. Mid-1993, came up with plans for the trajectory of the series, and its grand finale at episode #100, if I ever made it that far. Well, I did, to my own surprise! By the time I was there, I was putting a lot of effort into my comic stories and art, and #100 was to be a swan song. I decided to be very serious, treat each page like a portfolio piece, while spoofing typical 100th issues of comic books in tone, content, etc. I was pretty proud of the result.

When Xavier was visiting me this spring, he read through the series with shocking delight—bith what I liked and what I thought was crap. Until he hit #100, which he said was awful. AWFUL! We discussed and debated, and while he "got" what I was trying to do, he said the complete loss of camp was not in keeping with the rest of the series, and the camp is what made the series enjoyable despite its fluctuating quality.

I get it...and certainly, I was trying to wrap up a complex "plot" which I'd already observed was my weak spot. Oh well. I hope my efforts in the post-series (Arche-Lady SPECIAL # 10, Astro-Boy Quarterly #s 1-4, as well as the new-for-2011 Arche-Lady SPECIAL # 11) repair some of the damage I did with #100.

NOT TOMORROW, BUT SOON: buy Arche-Lady SPECIAL # 11!!!


Xavier Lancel (SCARCE) said...

Eh, 99 out of 100 (well, I can think of another issue I did not like) is not a bad score! :)
I'm gonna receive murders threats now!
I have no doubt the Specials will make disapear my Arche final disapointment.
If it's any consolation, I am often disapointed by endings, and the longer the waiting and building are, the bigger my expectations grow.

I remember my divorce with french-belgium bande dessinée started when, after having waited 4 years for the final installment of a much loved serie ("L'état Morbide "in 3 parts), I would have prefered not to read this last episode at all.

Nothing compared to my disapointment with Arche 100. To apologize to her, I'll make Arche a present next year! :)

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