Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Happy Birthday, David!

One common gripe that is a traditional part of comics is how certain artists/creators seem to perpetually run late. There are any number of reasons offered for why some creative types struggle to make deadlines or to get fresh product out there on the stands for a ravenous audience to appreciate, but after having grown up with an artistic sort - well, let's just say that my perspective sorta changed.

I'm nowhere near as harsh in my own criticism of such artists as I was when I was younger. And artists really are their own harshest critics. I don't doubt that any of them fail to beat themselves up harder over delays than the fans do anyway.

My brother David celebrates his 43rd birthday today. He, like his pal Burt, has labored in the world of advertising for the last couple of decades. In my opinion, he's one hell of an artist. Like many of us who were weaned on comics back in the good old days, David appreciates the humor - both direct and implied - that used to be routinely incorporated into most newsstand fare. I'm not talking about Mad or Cracked, although he was a huge fan of those titles, but simply the inherent tongue-in-cheek quality of fun that alot of us "got" without having it beaten over our heads. At best, comics were simply a fantasy after all!

I do understand that humorous banter and in jokes still prevail in lots of comic books, but the whole gloom and doom and "realism" thing has completely overshadowed what used to be a standard quality of fun - no matter which genre an individual title featured.

True story #1: One of David's icons was the late Will Eisner (creator of the Spirit & originator of the graphic novel). We met Will in the early 1990's in Atlanta, GA. David hadn't wanted to take any art samples to show editors at Dragoncon, but I stubbornly carried along a few pieces of his that I had, hoping to prod him into changing his mind. When I stated my intention to get a critique of the art samples from Mr. Eisner, David wisely decided to "present" his own work. It was a great decision, as the heralded comics master offered a few choice tips, but basically stated that my brother - yes, David Wells - was READY.

Talk about pressure. I'm not sure that David really recovered from hearing that; for at least a few months. Needless to say that he was thrilled with Mr. Eisner's words.

True story #2: A couple of years after that incident, and while Michael Eury (current editor of Back Issue magazine) was working as an editor at DC Comics, I found myself in the same position with David, taking samples (some of the very same pages) to Heroescon in Charlotte, NC. After showing them to Michael, he said to have David contact him and that - he might have some work for him. More pressure, and elation followed.

Time passed. The realities of starting a family and supporting them, took over. Comics dreams took a backseat to life. It's not the first time that has happened to someone, but David still had the creative outlet available to him in the world of advertising and there's the numerous freelance projects that he's done over the years for clients. Book covers, product label designs, a season catalogue for a minor league sports team, etc.

And you never know, one of these days he might just follow through and self-publish any one of the terrific (and funny) ideas that he has formulated over the years. And by the way, the three fabulous illustrations posted above were all quick draw contest winners - spanning three consecutive years - at Heroescon in Charlotte, NC.

So let me close by saying that, I love you David, and Happy birthday!

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