Today’s new Dustinland comic is about the term “drop.” As in how any new product or piece of art “drops.” It’s just an annoying term that I hope will be short lived. Maybe one day we’ll look back at it and laugh like we do at ’60s lingo like “groovy” and “far out.”
When this week’s strip ends with a big I DID IT, it’s not just referring to all the comics I made. It means I’ve defeated self-doubt. And that’s something we all deal with, I think. Artists and other creative types especially, but all of us really, especially in this digital world where everyone is on display, and we’re all able to rank and compare ourselves to everyone else at all times.
When you reach some sort of milestone, you can’t help but step back and look at your life and wonder if you’re a success. And that’s the problem — success isn’t a thing that’s clearly defined. I’ve seen some of the most accomplished people I know still be driven by doubt. You even see it with celebrities who’ve succeeded at the highest levels, still trying to prove something to the world, to themselves.
Since there is no end goal to success, what it really comes down to is not what you’ve done, but whether you’ve enjoyed doing it. And after over 20 years and 1,000 comics, I can say with 100% certainty that I’ve enjoyed writing and drawing Dustinland, and I can’t thank you all enough for reading along.
This new Dustinland comic is about NFTs, and the comic itself is an NFT. Sort of. Honestly, this whole thing is so meta, I could write a book on it. But for now I will say that I did try to do this the eco-conscious way, but the currency I wanted to use is apparently not for sale or trade in NY. 49 other states? Fine. NY? Nope. So until things change or I find a better way, this is my limited foray into the bizarre world of digital art. Although I guess you can say I have been creating digital art for decades. Just not selling it. Or have I? For what is it to sell, or to own?
Honesty, we can do this all day.
But yeah, if you want to buy some of my art in NFT form, here it is.
This new Dustinland comic is not so much about my new book (which you can now buy here at Amazon!) but rather inspired by it. It’s about the thought process behind it, and the hopes, fears, dreams, and paranoia brought on from discussing it with people in the real world. So really it’s more about success, as an artist and as a human.
It’s a topic I’ve touched on before and probably will again, but I felt that this 20-year milestone was the right time to dive into it.
Also, I was inspired by my trip last night to the Society of Illustrators for a goodbye party for MAD Magazine, as they are moving from their classic NYC home out to the west coast to join the rest of their DC Comics companions/overlords. As an occasional contributor, it was an honor to be among great like Al Jaffee, Tom Bunk, Hermann Mejia and basically a huge room full of some of the world’s best cartoonists. I’d like to thank all the awesome MAD editors and staffers (especially Jonathan Bresman and Ryan Flanders), who were so kind to me over the years, and who brought me into this amazing family of talented artists and creators. It’s a bummer to see the gang split up and such a NY institution leave town, but hey, the times they are a changin.
Despite the feel of this week’s Dustinland comic, I love the whole adult coloring book thing that’s been super hot the last year or so. It’s like monks making those sand tapestries or whatever they’re called. Very eastern. Mindless meditative art is awesome. Hey, that’s one of the things I love about drawing comics. Yes, the first part of it is anything but mindless. But once it’s written and pencilled, the inking and coloring is relaxing. And mindless doodling, that’s even better. Just getting lost in your art… I love that more people are doing it, even if it’s “just” coloring.
But it is funny to see my wife using coloring books more than my kid.
This week’s comic is not really a comic. Just a drawing. Sunday night I just wasn’t in the mood to espouse about anything, probably because I was hungover after a night out with some dudes (and dads) seeing High On Fire and Pallbearer (metal—lots of metal). But I did feel like drawing. So this is really just an exploration of color and mood. I figured I’d try drawing something intense and coloring it in cool blues, then draw something mellow and color it in firey reds. It’s interesting, if you’re into that sort of thing. It would be fun to really go to town on something like this and make it super detailed but I think my days of super detailed art are behind me at this stage in life. I mean, it’s hard to ever believe I had that kind of time. That would be my advice to young people. If you have a hobby, totally commit. Because you’ll have less and less time over the years to spend on it. Maybe one day when you’re old you can come back to it but that’s different.
I was lazy on Father’s Day and didn’t feel like drawing comics, so I dug out these masterpieces. Honestly, I could spend days going through my old college textbooks. They are so intricate in their doodles and little jokes… I wonder how I was inspired to work so hard at not doing what I was supposed to be doing. Maybe class is just that boring. Maybe that’s how I learn. I was actually a pretty decent student. Not always A but not too far from it. Solid B+ for sure. Sometimes A if I really cared. It was hard to care though. School… you know, it can be interesting with the right teacher/professor, but so often it felt like being forced to sit in a room for no reason. It really could be torturous at times.
I did have some great teachers though. And once I took a course called The History of Sequential Art. AKA comics. A class about comics! Amazing. Believe it or not, the guy teaching the class (grad student) probably taught me more about writing college papers than anyone else. We were all freshman and we gave in our first papers and he handed them all back and said they were too bad to grade, and he spent a whole class explaining what a college paper really should be. Nice guy. I wonder what he’s doing now.
But yeah, anyway, my notes are ridiculous and there are zillions of hidden gems in them — jokes and drawings — so maybe I’ll edit it down and publish some highlights one day. High five.
This week’s Dustinland comic is about nurturing your creativity. That means giving it love and helping it mature and develop. This is not about “making it.” It’s not about success or any of that. It’s about having something you enjoy, a creative form of expression, and figuring out how to give it the time and attention it deserves despite your busy life.
I know as well as most people do, that between work and family, once you have a few free minutes to yourself, it’s hard to use that time to be productive and artistic. Play music? Write? Draw? How about Netflix. But if you care—and a lot of people do—you have to try. That’s why I drew this week’s comic. It’s for all the people out there who have asked me how I do it. Week in, week out. 15 years. I draw comics. Why? I don’t even know anymore. It’s gotten to the point where it’s just part of my life. A part I couldn’t imagine leaving behind. You don’t have to be as devoted as I am, but if you enjoy photography, go take pictures. If you like to sew, go sew. It doesn’t have to be every day. But it has to become a routine. Otherwise all the distractions of modern life will eat away the few minutes of free time you have and one day you’ll wake up and the decades will have gone by and you’ll wonder why you stopped _______.