Where They Draw

Blog showcasing the work spaces and tools of artists

Curated by Jordan Shiveley

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J.T. Dockery

When a married homeowner finds himself in dutch with the wife, and agrees to couch-surf to provide that all-hallowed “space” that partners in relationships ask for, it can be a sad thing to be a roving cartoonist, adrift from the studio at home, hoofing it in the cold Lexington, Kentucky winter.  I don’t have any pictures of the original studio in my home, oddly.  But we start with the first actual table, in my now hobo lifestyle, that was, at least, semi-permanent, in which I was apartment and dog sitting for a friend who graciously provided for me a table to use for the two weeks I was there.  I am using my preferred bristol 2 ply plate finish Strathmore 500 series.  Somehow stars and gravity were aligned so that I could balance my trusty Koh-I-Noor .35 rapidograph upright on the surface of the table (not sure I’ve ever managed that before or since).  I’m working on “The Organ-Grinder,” “Wakefulness,” and “Creekwater” here.  That is an Elmer Batters book propped open for photo reference.

Fast forward perhaps a month or two, and the only actual visitor I had in the apartment that housed the previous table, was a woman who was kind enough to allow me to have a table in her space (this may be giving away that things didn’t work out with the aforementioned wife).  The rapidograph and Strathmore bristol make an appearance again, along with my ubiquitous Moleskine sketchbook.  I can see that I am working on an illustration project that was in the end scrapped, a page of “Creekwater,” and I have an issue of “Master of Kung-Fu” of which I was copying the cover.
What was more common than having a set space to use for a few days or for a few weeks was for me to stumble into my local coffee shop and use a table there, before or after or on days off from work (I became a serious regular).  I once cultivated disdain for people drawing in public, like coffee shops, always remarking in my mind, “Why don’t these exhibitionists work in a studio like a real artist?” But like Richard Gere in “An Officer and a Gentleman,” I had no place else to go.  Photographer/artist Louis Bickett caught me in the act.  Chase Martin even filed a report on me from this period:http://www.institute193.org/blog/?p=550
Past the hobo winter, we now arrive at the following summer.  This table was in a camper that I shared for a few weeks with my dear mother, who had a teaching gig at a summer program (the camper was in Berea, KY in close proximity to said gig).  I would use the table in the kitchen of the camper during the day while she was teaching.  We have a reveal of the wite-out I always keep close at hand in addition to my motley crew of nibs that include a Hunt 102, several Gillott, and Tachikawa.  That’s Speedball brand india ink.  One can see here that I’m working on my contributions to Tom Neely’s “Bound & Gagged” anthology (along with a B. Kliban collection I was using for reference for one of my gags), as well as my collaboration with writer, Nick Tosches, “Spud Crazy.”  In the previous three images, I was holding down a job.  By the summer of this photo, I had, on top of everything else, lost my job due to an arthritic condition and had to, for the first time since I was eighteen, live with my parents in rural, eastern Kentucky.  Happy days.
Broken marriage, broken home, and broken nibs, this reporter decided after all the trials and tribulations in his home state to, once securing disabled status, split from the whole program and move to White River Junction, VT.  First permanent place of my own in about two years, reunited with my actual drawing table, which I keep flat instead of at an angle.  Here I am working on “THISEATSITSELF,” a story from the forthcoming, “J.T. Dockery’s Despair, Vol. 1.”
Speaking of, I’m also reunited with some of my oversize and otherwise books.  I like to keep plenty of tomes at hand for reference, such as dictionaries of symbols, and the always useful, for me, “Big Book of Legs.”
From the arrowhead I found when I was a kid in Kentucky dirt to the Oxford edition of the King James Bible my uncle gave me on the flat drawing, to the various things I like to hang on the walls, back to the window, I’m an advocate of keeping the mojo proper around me.  Hanging on the wall: Gary Panter original art, old Strand theatre advertisement for “Nightmare Alley,” advertisement for Mitchum in “Where Danger Lives” from a vintage magazine, 78rpm Vogue picture discs, personally inscribed photo of Wanda Jackson, first edition of the paperback original of Jim Thompson’s “Nothing Man,” and a couple Belgian versions of American film noirs.
Another angle on the drawing table.  That’s an image from an old “Adam” magazine girly calendar behind me.
More mojo:  8 by 10 of Lenny Bruce on the phone, a personal letter from Hasil Adkins, another vintage calendar girl, paperbacks including Paul Webb’s “Mountain Boys,” Cornell Woolrich, Fredric Brown, William Linday Gresham’s biography of Houdini, a sci-fi magazine with a Philip K. Dick story, as well as a Bernie Wrightson “Swamp Thing,” and a Jack Kirby “2001” hanging on the wall, etc.
Here we find the reporter in the present tense, on an extended stay in KY to take care of  some business on the homefront, again with a temporary studio but without woe or despair.  That’s an Isabey Kolinsky brush, size 3, as I’ve been more recently attempting to train myself to ink with a brush, a bottle of Winsor & Newton india ink which I am partial to more than Speedball, and I’m working on pages for Mark Rudolph’s anthology of Mercyful Fate songs turned into comics.  It is not really “Hell,” as I look out the window and see horses beyond my table.
All’s well that ends well, folks.  Currently working from Kentucky, I will return to my drawing table in my apartment in Vermont.  The next step will be to own my home again, sans wife, with built in bookshelves!  Stay tuned to this channel for further developments.


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    They Draw” blog indulges my man...road trip round up…
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