Thoughts on Inktober as it draws to a close


It’s Inktober! What is Inktober you ask? It’s a month long appreciation of the art of drawing in ink and the practitioners that embrace that art. To celebrate I’m posting one ink drawing a day for the entire month. No pencils, no water colors, no photoshop, just the unadulterated black and white beauty of thick black ink on crisp white paper. Drawing with ink means commitment. There’s no hemming and hawing as to which pencil line you’re going to use, no sitting on the fence of values, no pussy footing with color. When you make your mark you better mean it. It’s black and white. True or false. On or off. And that’s what Inktober is all about. (original source) (inktobery rendering)

So even though I am by no means an artist of Inktober-founder Jake Parker's stripe, I do enjoy me a bit of a draw now and then and I thought I would give it a go. I clearly had good intentions or my sole Inktober entry would not have been given a number. But even if I didn't really play, I did watch others play (Brandon Dayton, for instance) and I enjoyed the artist links Jake provided.

One artist Jake references is Bill Watterson:

    I sometimes don’t realize what an impact Bill Watterson’s art has had on me. I used to clip the Sunday strips from the paper and study them (I still have that little stack of strips filed away somewhere). Sometimes I’ll pull out a Calvin and Hobbes book and I’ll be looking at a panel or a character pose and it will hit me: So that’s why I draw eyes like that, or a running pose like this.

I'm currently reading the first volume of The Complete Calvin and Hobbes and I'm amazed every time I crack it how strips I still have memorized after years of neglect can make me lol all over.

But did Watterson affect my drawing style? No question I pored over those lines endlessly, particularly the more contorted faces (But surely you could try harder than this! / Yes, but you face? Doesn't that hurt? / I came from Sears? --- Money! Wealth! Power! I can buy anyone! --- I didn't look these up, but you fans know which faces I'm talking about.), and it's the faces where I can see his influence most of all. When I look at all these drawings I made this month, they are a) mostly faces and b) generally contorted.

But the drawing I do is not based on Watterson's style.

So my subconscious has been considering this problem of who the greatest influence on my drawing style has been. And an answer has been found.

James Thurber.

The Girl and the Wolf by James Thurber

Could anything be more obvious?

I read all his books in high school and I drew hundreds and hundreds of Thurber dogs like these two:

Thurber dogs

No question my drawing style is more influenced by Thurber than anyone else.

Which is kind of hilarious when you realize he thought about as much of his drawings as I do of mine. And he was blind.

Once he was asked to reillustrated Alice in Wonderland but he said the Tenniel illustrations were fine --- let him rewrite the book.

But the most shocking thing occurred to me as I was writing this post. In addition to copying Thurber dogs all over my high school notebooks, I also practiced his signature. Including....this one:

from Thurber Carnival

"My drawings have been described
as pre-intentionalist, meaning
they were finished before the ideas
for them had occurred to me.
I shall not argue the point."

----James Thurber


  1. Now that you point it out, I can totally see the Thurber influence.

  2. .

    [Edit: Corrected a typo in the title and a typestyle error.]

  3. I've always known Thurber was your major influence--how recently did you figure that out?