Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Hockey and Comics

For anyone who does not know, I am a hockey fan. Is that a surprise considering that I am a Canadian? Maybe to some. I do know a few people who have never skated, but they are still hockey fans.

Anyway my point is this - the general manager of my favorite hockey team, the Montreal Canadiens stepped down yesterday. Bob Gainey, a man who epitomized hard work and dedication on the ice while he played for the team, winning so many Stanley Cup Championships as a player and the captain of the team has retired. During his six year tenure as the general manager and the brains behind the operation, the Canadiens unfortunately never made it past the second round of the playoffs.

Merely two years ago they finished at the top of the Eastern conference, but only made it to the second round of the playoffs. Last year, they were expected to be brilliant, and faltered. Summer came and with it, what seemed to be a whole new look for the team as they let quite a few of their veteran players go to new teams and signed just about every available free agent under the sun in an effort to give the franchise a new look and a new identity. Over half the season has passed and the Canadiens are proving to be a middle of the road team, with flashes of brilliance. This has not helped Gainey escape criticism in the last months.

The thing is though, that the bulk of his labours have not yet surfaced. Those young talents that he drafted, will they blossom into amazing athletes that will keep the city of Montreal and all of the Canadiens' fans in hushed awe for years to come? I hope that they do. I have not seen my team win a cup since 1993, when they were the last Canadian franchise to win the league championship. Certainly one of the best off season acquisitions that Gainey made was to bring in Youppi - the former mascot of the now defunct Montreal Expos major league baseball franchise. I love Youppi!

So, how will Bob Gainey's tenure as the General Manager for one of the oldest and most successful sporting franchises around be looked at in years to come? The answer is yet to be determined.

Gainey's role of general manager is similar to what I am doing with our entry in Small Press Idol 2010 - "Stargazing."

Allow me to explain.

There will really be no word of verdict about how my artwork on the piece is accepted or not until it is out in public view. Or perhaps on the ice? All the behind the scenes work that goes into the comic can be under appreciated, or not even recognized. It all comes down to hopefully a few minutes of looking at the cover, and then a relatively short period that it takes to read the book itself. If I've done my work well enough as an artist, perhaps there will be a second read through just to appreciate the art itself.

Sure, I have my consultants and advisors whom I get information and can have a good case of back and forth with. My main consultant, assistant coach, media relations and director of scouting (or as I affectionately call her, the writer) will provide me with suggestions for the characters to fill the roles that we need on our team. Well, Tina-Sue is pretty much my only consultant. Now, it's my turn to actually draft those players, or create them so that they fit and act their role. But, I also have to make sure that they work on a whole, we don't want any weak players. Nor do we want someone who is rushed through the minor league system and hasn't put their time in. Luckily I do have my second consultant to help out with things. I'm quite fortunate that she is the "yes" puppy that she is too.

My assistant coach has come up with some plans for me to use, but it is ultimately my decision on how the team comes together and acts. So I am also acting as head coach. I have to make sure that they do their jobs in the book and look the way they are supposed to while doing it. At least their words will be carefully orchestrated. But, if I don't coach them right and they are in a meditative state while they are simultaneously yelling "Chumbawumba" surrounded by a thousand highly sharpened ginsu knives; they are not going to get the points for that game.

And this is kind of the point that we are at in the contest. The pitch and rough cover have been submitted but have yet to make that first stage of judging. Judging - there will always be that, won't there? There may be some questions in my brain, but why allow those to creep in? I know what I did and how I handled it - and I would not change a thing about it. I'm confident in both my artwork and the pitch that Tina-Sue produced. I know I'll have the same feeling when we get through each of the following rounds. Trust in my instincts, and if something nips me somewhere along the line, just ignore it and keep on with the plan. It's similar to what you have to do with a professional sports franchise.

The final product and the ultimate view of the whole project won't be known until long after the majority of my work has been done. I'll make myself happy, but I'll need to keep my spectators entertained as well.

Does this post make any sense?

I'll cut out the sports analogies for a moment here. I don't know the fully fleshed out story of "Stargazing" yet. But I'm already becoming quite fond of my main character and the pitch of the series. Odds are that I will feel the same way about the other characters that I draw. I see this going somewhere far beyond the initial pitch. And I'll have to wait for the judging again.

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