Digging through some stuff yesterday, I found this vintage piece in an old sketchbook.
I had just returned from my worldwide backpacking adventure and had settled in Chicago. I happened to live near Chris Ware (at that time an obscure cartoonist toiling away for the Chicago alternative weekly New City), and we had a mutual friend in common (Rob Walker, actually), so I met Chris and even hung out with him a little. He showed me his “sketchbooks,” which were actually meticulously drawn studies, ideas for Jimmy Corrigan, humorous one-page narratives, and the like. I was completely intimidated, of course, but one thing that particularly intrigued me about his sketchbook comics was that he did many of them totally impromptu, with no preconceived idea of where the story was going, just ad-libbing one panel after the other. This was very different from how I worked at the time (and certainly not the way Chris did comics for publication), but I was inspired to try it.
Thus, this goofy “intro” to my sketchbook. As simple as it is, it was the first time I tried doing an ad-lib story, and I remember being actually scared as I was doing it. Of course, it was liberating to not have to worry about sharing it with the public — not that I had much a public, having barely been published at that point! Anyway, it was fun, and the piece has a refreshing looseness, but it’s not really my “style.” I returned to my traditional method of writing full scripts for subsequent comics — except for a 24-hour-comic I attempted back in 2002.
I’m afraid this intro is much more interesting than the actual piece, but courtesy of the JoshComix Way Way Back Machine—before A.D., before The Vagabonds, before American Splendor, before Keyhole, even before Keyhole Mini-Comics — here it is: