We all have setbacks. I just had one last week thanks to a minor surgery that kept me from working for five days. Now five days is not much, but in that small space of time I turned down three background acting gigs and two storyboard jobs. We’re talking anywhere from $1200 to $3000. “Ouch, Charlie, that really hurt.” Especially since I don’t know when my next gig is. However all is not lost. Setback is just another word for opportunity and I grabbed it by the balls and read five books. Three art books, a history book and a science/religion book. All fueled my artistic endeavors.

The DC Comics Guide to Creating Comics by Carl Potts and Jim Lee I purchased for one reason only. At the end Carl compares four artist’s take on the same script. A learning experience in itself. Since I am working on a graphic novel the benefits are obvious.

Terry Moore’s How to Draw – Five Lessons for the Serious Comic Artist. Great art, funny and an epiphany or two that I never learned in class or as a professional artist.

Setting the Record Straight – American History in Black and White by David Barton. This short book covers the time after the American Civil War. Since my graphic novel takes place at the same time (and covers the same issues) this was time well spent.

Why the Universe is the Way It Is by Hugh Ross. An astro-physist discusses the science of the stars and why he believes God created it that way. My SyFy/Art book covers much of the same material. Regardless if you agree with his conclusions, the science of it all is a fascinating read.

The Command to Look by William Mortensen and George Dunham. This was the gem of them all. I picked this up and Comic-Con at Bud Plant who personally gave me a brief history lesson about this man and his work in Hollywood during the silent era. In the book Mortensen discusses his theory on what makes an effective photo/picture and how to create them. Not only can this book help elevate my work, part of his theory directly coincides with the story and thesis of my SyFy/Art book. In general, I find art theory books lacking as an effective teaching tool. The idea that good art is subjective is, in my opinion, a fallacy. If “good art” was completely subjective than no one artist would be able to repeat there success over and over again. I could go on and on about that subject but I will just leave it at that and just tell you, go to Bud Plant, buy this book, read it, then think about it’s ideas. If you can come up with something better than please, please publish it and let me know!

Yes I did miss out on making some money but I have yet to cash in all the benefits of reading these books which may last for quite some time. In the end, last week was no setback.