Characters from Bloom County: I never did a lot of copying of other people’s work, but there are ways in which it can be useful/interesting.
Secretly, I’m really into comics, and always have been. Publicly, you’ll only see me with books of course. I didn’t have a lot of exposure to comics as a kid; there was no one to share them with me. Of course, I was lucky enough to grow up in the time period when Bill Watterson, Gary Larson, and Berke Breathed were writing dailies, and I still own many of their collections, but I never had access to comic books when I was little. I remember owning maybe one issue of Superman that a babysitter gave me.
Detail from Little Nemo by Winsor McKay. My theory is that everybody is influenced by Winsor McKay, whether they know it or not. So much of what we know of fantastic art originated in his pages. This drawing is from the early 90s, when I was in college.
In high school and college I developed an interest in the history of comics: Robert Outcault and the Yellow Kid, the Katzenjammer Kids, Krazy Kat, and all that. I read everything the library had to offer me, and I did end up reading some classic comic books. A volume of the first Wonder Woman comics stands out in my mind.
Another college-era sketch. I had done a stunning poster for a guy I liked: it featured 3 views of Death looking adorable. I put it in a poster tube to keep it safe and my mother threw it in the trash because obviously if I put a poster tube on the mantle it must because I want her to destroy it; it’s not like I was capable of throwing out my own trash, and there certainly wouldn’t be any point in opening it up to see if there was maybe a poster inside it. I never could recreate that work. I gave the guy a less awesome picture of Death I drew, and later we dated for almost a year.
Sandman was probably the first graphic novel I ever read, and of course the storytelling and the artwork are both stunning. After that, I read every graphic novel anyone gave me, a rather eclectic assortment. It wasn’t until grad school that a guy introduced me to Alan Moore. I read The Watchmen first. Talk about amazingly good storytelling! I’ve read a fair amount of his work. My favorite is definitely Promethea, which might not be as objectively good as his other stuff, but which I adore. It’s the catalyst for my Alphabet of Desire.