Today’s post is about an artist that has been very inspirational to me- Doug TenNapel. Several years ago I found a book called Creature Tech at the Library. The cover caught my eye and the low risk of the library put it in my basket without a second thought. When I got home and started reading the book it was a quirky tale about science, magic, religion and a man coming to know Christ through a very unorthodox method (space eels, British Ghosts, alien symbiotes…). Before I finished the book I had hopped onto amazon.com and ordered a copy for myself. Since then I’ve added almost all of Doug’s work to my collection and I haven’t regretted it.
I’ve been hugely inspired by Doug because he is able to write exciting stories that share his faith without being manipulative. His characters are complex and his stories are outrageous, but always grounded in truth. He doesn’t beat up non-Christians for disagree, but he also takes a stand. The evidence of his skill is that his work sits on the shelves with all of the other graphic novels out there, and not in the “Christian Literature” section. That’s a lot to do and admire.
This year Doug jumped into a new medium and is publishing an webcomic called Ratfist (check it out at http://ratfist.com/) five days a week. The story is about a superhero named Ricky who wears a rat costume to fight crime with his buddy Milt and is facing a kind of mid-life crisis that gets much worse when he stumbles on a magic rat that merges with him and gives him a tail that shouts out his subconscious thoughts for everyone to hear (imagine your inmost thoughts being inconveniently public). The story is fun and has lots of twists and turns, but the other element that has really moved me is the comments/blog section below the comic.
Doug has used his comic to address issues ranging from medical ethics to video game production and all of it without belittling his audience. He has shown genuine concern for what his fans think and has given them an outlet to share their voice even when he disagrees. He has been an example of how a Christian can engage a post modern world without bullying or backing down.
On a very personal note Doug has inspired me to get this comic go whether I was ready or not (hence the title of this post), and he gave me a forum to show my artwork (check them out at http://ratfist.com/nggallery/page-247/page-2/).
This post is a thanks to Doug and an encouragement to anyone out there that is looking for inspiration or motivation. I’m going to close it with a Doug quote from his comments page.
Don’t let the someday thing kill your work. It’s better to dive in and look stupid, unprepared, and not have the greatest idea than to never end up doing anything. I’m flying by the seat of my pants on Ratfist, didn’t have the character perfectly drawn, much less the supporting characters. In the case of webcomics you aren’t beholden to a publisher. It’s almost always better to make something than not… unless you’re the band RUSH, then it’s better to not make anything at all.