Sunday Mailbag

November 12th, 2006 | Posted in Mailbag

Q: What is the usual amount of panels that you draw without getting sloppy? And more randomly, What is your favorite movie?

A: A two for one!

I don’t fully understand the first question, but it seems to me you are asking how long I can work before I get tired and the work suffers. The answer is anywhere between 30 seconds and 30 hours. When I am drawing I can get sloppy or lose concentration at any time. That is when I have to get up and go do something else for a little while. Usually I go upstairs and get something to eat/drink and read the paper or a book. Generally I just need to disconnect for a period of time and let the art drive reboot. When I come back to the board I have “fresh eyes” and can see things I did not notice before.

Speaking of not noticing things, I often find I get “too close” to a drawing and become blind to it’s flaws. One thing I have been doing a lot lately is scanning in my pencil drawings and shrinking them down to a smaller size (if necessary). Then I flip them into a backward image, print it and take a good look. That’s a high tech version of the old “mirror” trick. The difference is I can rough in corrections on that print, scan it in, flip it again and resize to the original dimensions. Then I can print it out and use it as a guide to correct the drawing.

None of that has anything to do with being tired. I can do a lousy drawing just as easily if I am wide awake and perky as I can when I am exhausted.

As to your second question… I have no favorite movie. Really. I can think of a bunch of films I can watch and enjoy at almost anytime, but no absolute favorite. I would define a movie as a favorite when you feel it is better than any other movie you have ever seen, you would pick it to watch over any other movie ever made, and you could watch it over and over again and never be sick of it. No movie fits that bill for me. Here is a list of movies that are among my favorites for various reasons:

  • Pulp Fiction
  • Ronin
  • All three Lord of the Rings movies
  • The Silence of the Lambs
  • The Seven Samurai
  • Snatch
  • The Empire Strikes Back
  • From Russia with Love

There are plenty of others. I’m not big on movies that make you have to think too deeply. I read books for that, and they are much better at making you think. I’m also not big on effects-driven films with insultingly thin plots and lots of explosions. There has to be a good and entertaining story, some good dialog and characters I care about. If they have all that AND a lot of explosions… then COOL!


  1. opsman says:

    Thanks for answering my questions, Tom! One of my favorites is Pulp Fiction, too!


New profile pic courtesy of my self-caricature for the Scott Maiko penned article “Gotcha! Mug Shots of Common (but Despicable) Criminals” from MAD 550

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