WHY IS IT SO DIFFICULT ?
by Bretislav KOVARIK / Czech Republic
Sitting above the clean quarter of a paper I still more frequently ask myself the question of whether I had not chosen years ago too difficult path when I wanted to “be like them”.
There were the sixties of the last century and I – teenager in those times – was excited about what was written in the newspapers and magazines in a short period of the Prague Spring, when the communist censorship temporarily hid its claws. The press was full of beautiful and cleverly written texts and for a little while also full of intellectually free people. But not only the texts. Every newspaper boasted even with its “cartoon commentaries” with which a new wave of new authors of cartoons in smart abbreviation commented on what did not fit into the written texts, or to what their authors had not yet dared. I really liked it and I wanted to be also the author of this amazing journalistic genre which makes people laugh, which comments, informs, encourages thinking and even more makes its authors known, if not downright famous.
Well, what a burden have I put on my back! I had no idea how difficult task faces each novice author, especially if he is so sensible to realize that his first published drawing is not a signal of his own perfection. How much thought approaches, how many points of view of the topic, how many art forms, how many styles, how many possible combinations of one with another. The proverbial simile to fisherman on the sea shore with a sieve in his hand, is there absolutely appropriate.
And moreover the danger of “glorification” of his work from neighbours, friends, but even unskilled editors of unskilled media. I consider it the greatest danger – finding that they are already publishing my work and even that they sometimes pay me. What a luck for the author, especially novice when he gets a good lesson from an informed critic still in his early stages when he is trying to cope with this, essentially unmanageable discipline. What a luck for the author if he is able to accept this criticism, not feeling offended and is still able to continue working on himself.
And it’s not over yet. Each of us has of course a bar resting at a different height, and all we wanted to get through it. But how do we know whether this has already happened? Are we still at the limits of its further development, or we devoted to this discipline only a little time and attention? Or is it vice versa that we can see our horizons considerably higher than they actually are? And how to recognize such a thing?
Today’s Internet world, which on the one hand is killing the print media, but on the other hand offers each author a unique chance to look around. Not just around him. Around the cartoonists’ world is possible to travel with a mouse in our hand. And watch and watch. Search models, learn, or succumb depression in what heights are working the authors who really dominate it.
And something for the courageous individuals (or just a non-judicial?) – there’s a huge opportunity to compete with the best authors. Also this possibility is in this Internet era much greater than it was before. This possibility may have either initiating or also destructive influence to the author. Case by case.
Sitting above the clean quarter of a paper occurs to me more and more the question: Why is it so difficult?
Some time ago, one of the beginning authors, who disliked the critical words about his work put me a fundamental question: Who decides if the drawing is good or bad? And who determines the boundary between the two? Good question, isn’t it?
Drawing by Bretislav KOVARIK / Czech Republic
(author of the article is a recognized Czech cartoonist and the President of the Czech Union of Cartoonists)