B6F: Hatchling Call Pulp

Killoran and I were at the dollar store the other day, looking for a tea-infuser (in Canada, "dollar store" is apparently a pretty loose term as two-thirds of what I saw in there was $1.50, $2, $3, &c.) when I wandered into the office/school supply aisle and started looking over the paper. I spied this little 72-page booklet, saddle-stitched, with unlined pages and it struck my fancy. The paper is really thin and cheap, a sort-of newsprint-bond, but I liked it and said so to Killoran. She asked if I like cheap paper because I grew up poor. She's quite perspicacious, my girl.

To be clear, I didn't grow up in dire poverty or anything. In fact, for a couple years after my parents split-up my mother continued to spend money like she had it, which maintained some kind of illusion of middle-class standing -- but she didn't actually have any money, and eventually she filed for bankruptcy to escape debt collection. From the time I was about 10 to when I left home, the only household income came in the form of child support payments from dad and Supplemental Security Income which my mother collected after bouncing off the rear-end of a car. This is all extraneous information. The long and short of it is that while I always had clothes and food and a heated bedroom and a fairly steady supply of comic books (they were $.75 when I started reading 'em, and by the time I quit were still under $2), more extravagant purchases were sometimes a bit hard to come by. So, when I took-up the drawing habit, I'd just draw on what was around. I had a box of fan-fold paper that my dad had given me with my first printer (an Okidata μ92), and I remember drawing my first two comics on that stuff. When I'd visit my grandma Fern, she always had boxes of Hollerith cards around, and I'd draw on those. I got my first pad of Bristol when I was 17, and I remember never wanting to use it because it was expensive. I still get that way about paper; I'm always reluctant to do a drawing on illustration board when I think I can get away with doing it on bond. Paper's expensive!

As a result, it's kind-of a point of pride for me to be able to make/do things cheaply and with cheap supplies, to get good sound from a cheap guitar, to use old software, to use old/cheap computers, and so-on. One thing I've seen true in art school is that I can turn-in a much more professional-looking piece of work on crappy paper than some of my better-funded classmates can manage on much spendier stuff. Professionalism comes from how you use your materials, not the materials you use. I was quite pleased to have Kurt Hollomon reiterate this sentiment when I took his Word & Image course last spring.

Anyhoo, here's a tree study that graces the second page of my dollar-store exercise book. Less than two cents worth of paper, probably a couple cents worth of graphite from my pencil, and some time -- making something out of nearly nothing, it's like a conjuring trick. Killoran doesn't mince words, she says it's magic. In the absence of modesty I'm inclined to agree.