The very talented celebrity Photographer and Fotocomix creator Seth Kushner also writes a great ongoing semi-autobiographical comix series called SCHMUCK, where he gets different artists to illustrate each episode. I was given the opportunity to draw the six page story THE LAP DATE, which was/is brutal and fun and interesting. And by this I mean both the process and the story.
I should add that all these Schmuck stories take place when Seth was a younger, less respectable sort. I’m pretty sure anyway.
So for some deeply-buried-in-my-subconscious reason I get real panic attacks everytime I have to present myself or my work, and presenting The Lap Date was excruciatingly hardcore. I think this was due to the fact that I no longer worked alone in a room. I was, for the first time, part of a studio, so instead of just the one time freak out of having to put stuff out there, the whole ungodly process was witnessed and on constant display for all these veteran cartoonists I have tons of respect for. And I choked. It sucked so bad and I struggled so significantly that at a certain point it was suggested I should just quit, put myself out of my own misery and end one long state of panic.
It probably didn’t help that the subject matter wasn’t easy and that a few cartoonists had already said they couldn’t/wouldn’t draw it. There was one panel where I had to convey a stripper having what appears to be an orgasm. My initial sketch idea was the classic head thrown back, hair flying wildly, eyes closed or glazed over and mouth slightly askew, to let out the scripted sound effect MOOOAAN!!! I really started disliking that depiction and couldn’t bring myself to draw it. I think I was embarrassed and the idea was too uncomfortably stereotypical. I finally realized that from the way the story reads, that moment wasn’t about her but about Seth’s character’s reaction to it.
Because I was running out of time, I ended up cropping and blowing up a shitty, unfinished drawing, making Seth appear very unsightly. So much so that someone who’s opinion matters a great deal, commented that he looks like a burn victim on that page. It was a total failure but for some glorious reason it was pure liberation for me. I just couldn’t do any worse, and because it wasn’t up to me, it was going out there, to that scary place that gives me the shakes and make me hyperventilate and nearly pass out. I had to let Burn Victim Seth go.
It made some of Seth’s friends and my friends laugh and that was good, that was enough.
The text on the panel got edited at the last minute, it originally read “She seemed to climax, which I didn’t appreciate. I wasn’t going to fall for that old stripper ruse of her pretending to have an orgasm…” I really loved that line, he was such a schmuck…