“But doctor! Where did this man’s appendix go?” the breathy nurse inquired. Her scrubs top had a particularly low cut for her to be working in a hospital.
The camera hard cuts to a man with an appealing face. His hair is dark, falling in perfect locks framing the smirk that crosses his lips.
He is wearing a black cape over a white lab coat.
“That, my dear Estelle, is the magic!” he exclaims, with a flourish of his wrist.
The screen fades to back.
“Doctor Magician, M.D. will return after these messages,” the voice on the TV kindly informs me.
I had been sitting on my couch for the last half a day, a blank sketchbook taunting me the entire time. Outside the window, the sun had set, reminding me of all the time I’ve wasted getting nothing done.
Not one idea has come to me. I’ve got nothing. I’m a fraud. I’m a failure. I bet this never happens to real artists.
I did some research after getting home from the comic shop yesterday. The contest involves drawing original characters in dynamic poses. At least five detailed pieces are needed to be entered to the contest, though I imagine they’ll ignore you if you send too many.
Contest officials will narrow it down to 64 artists and put them in a tournament style bracket, with a mix of popular vote and judges determining who wins.
It was a massive event. It was insane. And how the hell did I not know it was happening until now?
I can’t do this. How am I supposed to get to the tournament ahead of thousands who will probably be entering. This was dumb, I shouldn’t even bother.
“You can’t expect me to approve this!”
The hospital administrator was furious, the paper in front of her obviously upsetting.
“You can’t requisition half these things. How are you going to remove a man’s heart with mirrors and swords?”
“A magician never reveals his secret!” the doctor responds.
He throws something from his sleeve at the ground, causing a flash of light to blind the screen. The doctor is gone as the administrator’s and audience’s vision returns.
“Damn you, Doctor Magician!” the administrator screams toward the ceiling.
“Ugh, he’s such a good doctor,” Kara says. I could hear the eyeroll in her voice.
I throw a pillow at her without even looking, my eyes glued to the screen.
“Oh stop it. You like this show too,” I remind her.
She slaps the pillow out of the air without breaking stride, on her way to the kitchen. She had changed out of her work clothes, into some sweats and a tank top. Somehow, even dressed down, she gave off an aura of class.
“But you forget, I can watch it without distracting me from my work.”
I hear her open the fridge for an instant and close it again. Forgot we need to get some more groceries. Instead there’s the clinking of glassware, and the sound of the faucet.
She enters the room again with her water.
“How’s the art project coming along?”
“Just fine, thank you,” I answer, indignant. “Couldn’t be better.”
She take s long sip from her cup, never breaking eye contact with me.
“So you still haven’t started.”
I feel my cheeks go warm, too embarrassed to admit she’s right.
Kara walks over to the couch and sits next to me.
“Do you want help?”
…I didn’t expect that.
“Maybe? What do you care about comics though?” I’m pitiful.
Surprisingly, she doesn’t get snippy with me.
“You’re my friend. You want to do this. Why not let me help?”
She wants to make amends. Stop holding the grudge, Jules.
I turn in my seat, angling to face her.
“Okay, I need some dynamic poses for a character, but I need to make the character first. What do you think would be a good superhero?”
Kara leans back on the couch, eyes wandering up to the ceiling. It’s a minute before she responds.
“Well, lots of superheroes can fly, right? Flying is pretty dynamic. One of your scenes should be her flying.”
“I considered that, but Fantastigirl doesn’t fly. What if they look down on that?”
“Then draw her punching someone?” Kara suggests, taking a sip of her water after.
I had already been through all these ideas in my head. Nothing seemed right. I keep finding things wrong with anything I come up with. Kara means well, but I don’t think this is helping.
I need something bold. Something striking! Something sure to catch people’s eyes…
“Draw her punching someone while she wears skimpy clothing. It’s what literally every other comic does.”
“GENIUS!” I yell.
Kara sighs and buries her face in her hands.
“No. Do not do that. I was joking.” She frees her face and gives me a slightly angry glare. “For the love of- Jules, this isn’t complicated. The poses don’t matter. They want to judge your skill as an artist. You can’t change that overnight so draw anything. Draw what you feel comfortable drawing. Draw what you want to see in a comic.”
“Okay, but what if I don’t know what I want?”
“Then draw what someone like me would read. You may be hopeless, but you know the kinds of things I like, right?”
That’s… not a bad idea. Kara really likes these true crime stories. How would those translate to the comic page?
“Hey Kara, what’s that podcast you’re always listening to?”
She raises her eyebrow.
“Two Girls, a Wine, and a Murder?”
“Yeah…I think I know what I’m going to draw.”
“Great! Just don’t, you know, Jules it up.”
I sit for a minute, thinking about the possibilities. I can draw the killer in dark shadows. The victim’s body contorted. Fights, confrontations. All centered on a fictional detective.
This should work. This will give me a chance to show off, and I can invent a new character. I just-
“Did you just use my name as a verb? Because I don’t like that implication.”