Your wasted imagination

You can draw anything you can think of, why aren’t you?

I have been in the comic book industry a long time ( too long) and I have seen many upsetting and disappointing trends (too many). There is a recent trend though that is making my stomach turn. It is disgusting me right down to my DNA. It is this-

The vast majority of up and comers, denizens and hopefuls of artist alley, and amateurs striving to be pros posting in deviant art and on social media…doing nothing more than redrawing 50, 60, 70 years old characters owned by someone else. Take the copyright infringement out of it, and listen to me as hard as you can…

IF one day you end up working for the companies that own these characters, you will look back on the days when you had no editor and see all you are doing for the sheer waste of effort and time it is.

YOU currently have no editor, you work for no company with stockholders, have no one breathing down your neck and scrutinizing your work to protect the brand itself. YOU currently can do WHAT EVER YOU WANT. You can draw ANYTHING that the synapses in your brain can fire out. Yet you choose to be the 5 millionth person to draw spider man, or batman, or at best do some mash up of two 70 year old ideas.


What do you think that is going to do for you? IF…even IF somehow your style was so mind blowingly different…that an editor is going to notice yours in a sea of other people’s drawing of Batman? Even with some mind blowing style, how long do you think your illustration of Batman is going to stay in the forefront of anyone’s mind? Two minutes? Three? Before they see another drawing of the same character…then another…then another? IF…even IF it does, best case scenario you get to be the 5000th person to be paid to draw Iron Man or Batman. Do you honestly think you are going to get any meaningful traction drawing a character that has been done to death?

Stop thinking like an insect!

Is that the best you can do? The best you can dream of and hope for?!


Previous generations with such freedoms can up with far better uses for it.

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES. Every heard of them? No editor in their right mind was going to publish this idea. This is the kind of thing that you can only do when you have nothing to lose.


Here’s some more ideas that people with unbridled creative freedom produced.

FLAMING CARROT. A guy with a flaming carrot for a head. Bob Burden conceived of this and did quite well with it. So well in fact that secondary characters in it where made into a movie. MYSTERY MEN.

You see what I am getting at here? YOU currently are using your creative freedom to redraw someone else’s tired old ideas. Imagine now…rows of people in artist alley at a convention, and 99 of them have redrawn a super hero. OR WORSE decided that the 4000 superheroes that are already being published…just haven’t quite hit the nail on the head and have decided to make up their own super hero. Fantastic guy, or the flying vigilante, or some other hackneyed garbage about a guy with super powers and a cape. 99 of you all doing that…and ONE has a book about a guy with a giant flaming carrot for a head. Which person is going to be remembered after the show? The guy who took a risk, the guy who used his own imagination, and made something that was purely his. Something so directly out of his own brain that no one else could possibly have come up with it. Ever hear the phrase ” the truth has a certain ring to it”? So does creativity, so does an idea that is souly the brain child of one unique individual. It has a ring to it , and people respond to that, respect that, and are drawn to that.

You do not currently work for Marvel and DC. Why are you restricting yourself to working as though you are? Previous generations used such freedom to great effect.

Lenore , Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, Reid Flemming the World’s Toughest Milkman, Cry for Dawn, The Goon, the list goes on…and on… of people who used creative freedom to bring something NEW into the world and were praised and rewarded for it.

Voodoo Joe…a witch doctor in living in Chicago with a bunch of Zombie Fetuses at his beck and call and the other bizarre glory that is Arsenic Lullaby…you wanna know how many publishers turned me down? I lost count. I would look them up but most of them are out of business, while I recently had my first cartoon on comedy Central. You see this illustration?(below)

 I did that like 15 years ago, when admittedly I wasn’t half the illustrator I am now or even as good as most of the people around me. Voodoo Joe though, was something no one else had done, or could have come up with. It went from my improperly wired brain, right onto the paper with no filtering…and it launched my career and is still fueling it. And possibly more importantly it put me on the path of using my own ideas to great effect.  And it helped me last long enough to get much better…

Good enough to be able to draw for the larger companies…when I f*cking feel like it.

In the words of Alec Baldwin in Glenn Garry Glenn Ross “Go and do likewise”.

And that doesn’t mean stop being the 4400th person to redraw a super hero and become the 2400 person to start drawing zombies.


“You’re a big fat jerk! Nothing’s wrong with people who are just learning, drawing other people characters!”


When you are first learning and developing is THE WORST TIME TO DRAW OTHER PEOPLES CHARACTERS.  This may be tough to explain…You know what an ink blot test is right?  Well if you get up in the morning and go right in to take that test…you’re going to see all sorts of different things in those inkblots.  If you get up in the morning and watch bugs bunny, then a nature show about bunny rabbits, and then go take the test…you’re going to see a hell of a lot of bunny rabbits in those ink blots.  Your subconscious is very susceptible to outside influences…and if you want to develop your OWN style then you need to look at REAL LIFE and people stuff and draw it NOT  look at other peoples drawings and then draw it.  If you read spider man and draw spider man…and read wolverine and draw wolverine…the odds of you developing your own distinct art style that doesn’t look heavily influenced ( a rip off of) other people’s style…gets pretty f*cking slim.

The 116th guy who drew Spider-man, what is his name? What do you think he is doing right now? What affect has he had on the industry or the world in which he lives? The guy who drew Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles inspired generations of people in three different mediums. Which of those paths are you putting yourself on redrawing Wolverine?

It’s called an imagination…you have one…USE IT.

…Or don’t, doesn’t matter to me, I already have a career.


When he is not complaining, Douglas and his work can be found at

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