posted Dec.07.16 at 12:01 am

Panel 3: Whoops, completely tanked Ninjette’s proportions in this shot, including the length of her neck and her head size in relation to the width of her shoulders. Then again, this probably wasn’t a proportional blunder as such on 2006-Era Me’s part, but rather a cartoonishly stylized drawing choice that no longer appeals to my present-day eye. Ehh, this sort of preference change almost inevitably happens to your work over time—or at least, you’d damned well better hope it happens to you, young(er) artists, for otherwise your comics work has almost certainly grown stale, monotonous and repetitive. I admit that this concept is scant comfort when you’re cringing in dismay at the flaws of your older work, but at least being able to perceive those flaws means that you’ve improved as a creator—or changed, anyway, if not necessarily improved.

By the way, you aforementioned young artists may rest assured that some people who currently appreciate your work may not see future changes in your art and storytelling as improvements. The same thing happens with me and artists whose work I normally appreciate—“Oh, damn, she’s doing that weird-ass thing with the noses again! Can’t wait for her to burn out on using that bizarre little visual riff.” But hey, folks, you gotta go where the work takes you. No point in trying to cater to anyone’s fixed and unchanging ideas of what and how you should write and draw, as you’ll only guarantee yourself frustration and stagnation.

For example, I’ve been told by some folks that my work peaked circa the fourth Dirty Pair series, as the perceived detail level of my artwork dropped after Sim Hell due to a comics-field-wide radical shift in reproduction size. (Not hard for one’s pages to look more detailed than they really were when your original artwork was frickin’ gigantic, as those early Dirty Pair pages were.) Gotta admit that I find this viewpoint rather absurd, as it says to me that these readers appreciated the comics I wrote and drew back then as little more than a delivery system for eyestraining background detail. For me, the total, holistic narrative experience of story and art is the point of what I do, and—IMHO, of course!—I am roughly a bajillion times better at the work than I was in the early 90s, even if my backgrounds aren’t as “noodly” as they once were.

But do I protest o’ermuch? Perhaps. (Than again, younger comics artists, I can assure you that you’re not going to appreciate hearing that your work peaked 4 g-d years into your career, either.)

-Adam Warren