Wednesday, May 11, 2016


I'd been wanting to draw a fashionable fellow for a while, when I came across this photo, and it was just perfect. I freely admit I don't buy into the concept of male fashion, but I find a handful of people challenge that notion with their sheer style; submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society, I call this sketch, "Agent TJ Bank$$$."

Secret backstory: more than just a snappy dresser, this well-tailored Texan was actually my old classmate at Yale! I used to watch him perform music over the years, and he actually redid one of the classics from that era. But now that I think of it, he was actually one of the very last people I remember interacting with as an undergraduate--my gosh--what, almost six years ago to the day?

We were going for brunch during the senior send-off dealio, where you all regather on campus just before graduation. This was particularly important to me because after the term ended, all the dining halls closed, so the only food they'd give you was at the end of Senior Week (or whatever cute name we had for it)--a sweet, sweet free bagel brunch. I generally hate paying for food, so I was eating just once a day to conserve money during the week (not everyone is rich at Yale, a stereotype I encounter even out here in Japan) because I stayed on campus while mostly everyone else spent the week convivially at Myrtle Beach (or convivially inside hollowed-out buffalo carcasses at Myrtle Beach if you're in Skull and Bones). So what I'm saying is food was scarce on campus and I was looking forward to some sweet, sweet free bagels. Anyway, I'm skulking over to get those sweet, sweet free bagels and someone says something to me about being pumped for the sweet, sweet free bagels. It was TJ! I conjure an agreement and we part ways. The end!

Not a terribly exciting story, I know. But just that small gesture was memorable to me, believe it or not. I'm not exactly talkative in person, so I was kinda expecting to go for the free food(?) and hide out in a corner to wolf it down in silence so I could re-up on more freedom as soon and as often as possible until they ran out. But my great scheme was not to be. Caught in my last few minutes of that hiding-in-public maneuver I spent four years honing. But TJ was always a nice, gregarious dude.

I didn't know him (or anyone for that matter) super-super well, but I later found out he's really quite extraordinary, like something out of fiction. And that's probably the single coolest thing about Yale: just about everybody has some incredible history behind them, meanwhile they're just chomping away at stale baked goods on flimsy paper plates, just like everybody else. And obviously I don't put myself in that same ivy-laden league of extraordinary gentlepeople: I got into Yale just because I got above-perfect grades in high school and was really good at having dark skin. Zing!

Anyway, back to the sketch, as always, I tend to want to keep colors just to the clothes, but since this is a sketchbook, it's supposed to feel reckless and provoke a little distance from your comfort zone, so I decided to continue on and do full color. I wasn't sure if I'd stop here, so I snapped this photo just in case it all went south(er).

And then these were the live-ink lines. I've been doing a lot of digital-only stuff recently, but I love traditional so much, so I thought I'd get back to doing live-inks. But to my chagrin, after marathon days of stylus wrangling, I found pencil-free pen drawing tough, like I'd lost all the momentum I had built up, one of my chief reluctances towards going all-digital. I want to kill it on paper. I love paper. And I don't feel like I've "earned" digital yet, you know. So I did pages of studies to get back into the swing of where I was--the swing space, if you will--and when I saw this photo it felt like a good place to try something less forgiving than pose studies after I felt caught up-ish.

The occasion of this sketch at all is actually because I have a new sketchbook that I wanted to kick off. 7-11 was having another clearance on unsold little pocket notebooks (which conveniently resemble grid-encrusted sketchbooks, which I actually like because they force you to rend the preciousness from drawing), and I had just wrapped my last one, so the stars aligned, and for the first time in my life, I now own a pink "sketchbook," or as we say in Japan,


But the inside cover is jet-black, so it's cool.


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