So I’m going to take every Saturday to talk about an artist that I have worked with or am obsessed with. I’ve been very lucky over the years to be involved with so many creative minds through my work with Eye Trauma Comics and Our Fair City.
The most obvious choice to kick this off is Damian Duffy.
I’ve known Damian since 1998 or 1999. Something like that. Our first big collaboration was a comic called Whisp (“The best psycho-junky comic out there!”) which we started in 2000 or 2001. A little vague on the dates, I know. We did Whisp for many years and hit the convention circuits and all that. At the time, I was working at Kinko’s so I was printing our issues at work. We also started experimenting with print-on-demand, which was just starting to become a thing.
But we never gained traction. We were carried by Diamond for the first three issues and hustled a bunch. People did indeed buy the comics (around 200!), but not enough to justify how much effort we put into this thing or to remain in Diamond past 3 issues. Maybe we sucked at marketing (true!) or maybe the story wasn’t as good as we thought (possibly true!) or maybe we just got burnt out (very true!). Sadly, after 3 1/2 issues the story was never finished and it still languishes, haunting and taunting me. Maybe we’ll finish it one day. You can still read Whisp at the Eye Trauma link above.
Working on Whisp was really where I broke my teeth as a comic artist and I owe a lot of that to the Duff. Damian really challenged me to push my abilities further with every page. A good example is the page in Chapter 3 where I had to cram around 40 panel son one page, as seen on the left. That’s right, that’s one page. The crude art in the first issue is painful for me to look at but some of my favorite comic pages to date are from Whisp.
I am sure I’ll be spending some time on this blog talking more about the monster that is Whisp. But I should get back to the purpose here – glorifying Damian Duffy.
Duff and I have collaborated on many projects, comics and otherwise, over the years and he has always been my go to for all things with words. Words are hard and I just make with the pretty pictures. But, he has also been quietly honing his skills as a visual artist and is now quite formidable in that regard too.
He has another frequent collaborator, John Jennings, with whom he has worked on such projects as Kid Code, The Hole: Consumer Culture, Black Comix, and the ground-breaking art show Out of Sequence: Underrepresented Voices in American Comics.
On top of all that, he is also an active comics scholar and curator. He is one of the most intelligent people I know and happens to be a pretty good dad, too. I could go on, but I won’t. I don’t want to blow up his ego too much.
You will learn to love him as I do.