The other day I was asked to write a bio for a comics piece I did that was about to be published and, as is customary, provide an accompanying self portrait. I searched my self portrait files for an appropriate illustration (I rarely provide an actual photograph because comics) and as I've been writing autobio comics for pretty much my entire cartooning life I thought it would be easy to find something that would work. But to my dismay I couldn't find one that really represented how I was currently drawing. Also I'd just gotten a haircut and now sported a wicked fringe. So I quickly drew up a headshot of myself and sent it off.
After searching through those self portrait pictures I felt a burst of nostalgia towards all those styles that I had tried out, embodied for a while and then moved on to the next George Rex look. Like a hermit crab finding the right shell.
So I thought I'd share with you a little timeline of my cartoon selves from yesteryear leading up to just this week.
Let's start with my most recent self-portrait and a general overview of some of my hairstyles (and then jump back to the less great ones of my teen years and move chronologically).
Below is the hair guide I originally drew up for my Oh Brother graphic novel. Even though I only drew it last year I already find the illustration alien and strange compared to how I'm working now. Like reading an old diary entry.
Next up is the earliest self-portrait I could find, from circa 2005 (I would have been 14-y-o). This was taken from the one of the comics I made in high school about the music teachers, in which I would constantly play with reality and breaking the fourth wall. Note: This was the height of my Goon Show and Monty Python fandom.
Below is me from an early 2009 (I would have been 18) comic zine called 'A Week of Perfect Conversations'. It was all about the semi-realistic adventures of me and my friend Kyra (who was travelling around the world on a gap year post high school graduation). This comic was drawn coming out of my Jhonen Vasquez (Squee, Invader Zim) phase and for some reason I picked up this habit of drawing eyes coming off the side of people's heads and drawing thin lines in place of actual backgrounds. Also I apparently couldn't decide between all caps or lower case for my speech bubbles. Note: This 'joke' doesn't make much more sense when you read the rest of the comic.
The self-involved little portrait below is, unfortunately, the most whiny teenager portrait ever. I think it would be from about 2009/2010. I almost didn't include it in this post because it's a pretty embarrassing insight into my brain from when I was 18/19, but I thought it was good example of how I've been using labels and arrows and words as part of my portraits for ages. It also has this almost side note about how worried I was about my jaw reconstruction that brings me straight back to that time after I'd had my jaw partially removed (due to cancer) and before I knew that my jaw was going to grow back after the surgery (like magic). It was a weird time of relief for the most part but with just a hint of uncertainty.
These guys below were drawn about 2011 (I would've been 20). I had been dabbling in watercolours and started reading a broader range of indie comics and art books. Even though I'll never draw like this again I really like these portraits because it's when I started to really love drawing what I was wearing and when I started to buy and wear clothes that were easy to draw. It's about this time that subconsciously I knew that I was an autobio cartoonist (even if I wished I could write like Terry Pratchett).
Say Hello to 2012 (21-y-o) Rex. This was when I'd first started using the name George Rex for my comics and I haven't looked back. Previous comic nom de plumes include: Georgina Chadderton (actual name), Gee-Nah (phonetic version of nickname), and Bent Drummer Comics (foolish teen idea of a great name). This picture and the picture below it are products of my love of Brisbane artist Lauren Carney. I was (still am) infatuated by her work. Note: I still own the dress that I'm wearing in this picture.
This here (also 2012) is from my poster for my final musical recital for Uni. I studied Bachelor of Music Performance (classical percussion was my instrument) and for my final recital I, of course, illustrated my own poster and comics program (containing all the info about the pieces I played) for those who attended the performance. This is a good example of how I used to use my Uni Pin felt tips (the pens I still use). I would draw the lines once, then draw them again slightly apart so there was gap between them and then colour in the gap in between the two lines. I also would not pencil - I would just throw ink straight down on the page, baby! I can't believe the kind of stuff I could just ink straight up. I wish I could capture that again.
2013 brings us the year of the Muppet portraits. I went through a phase of drawing people as Muppets and using really cheap markers. Here's me looking boss with my favourite red jumper and pink & green hair. Note: you may have noticed that I occasionally wear glasses in my self portraits. That's because I need glasses for reading and if I am wearing my specs when I start drawing I generally end up just drawing them on. Sometime I add them to a portrait even if I'm not wearing them because I just like drawing pictures.
Between 2013 and 2014 I started experimenting with lots of things to do with my art, including: using blue pencils before inking, colouring my comics digitally, writing longer & longer form works and trying out one colour instead of realistic colours. I also started working my first full-time office job which was great but even great office jobs can make you sigh a little sometimes.
Later in the 2014 year I decided to start a FB page dedicated to my comics work (so I could stop bothering my pals with it in my normal feed). But I quickly started getting some really lovely feedback that encouraged me to keep working on my work. This is the thank you picture I drew for getting to 200 likes on my comics FB page. Apparently I still hadn't nailed the whole skin colour thing. Note: Plz do not look at the hands.
2015 was a pretty radical year for me and a big turning point re: my comics. These three portraits of me reading were originally drawn for an online and print magazine, Scenstr. Note: I've finally found those nice clean lines that I love so much.
I started dabbling with different pens and coloured pencils. I lasted about a month before I reverted back to my beloved Uni Pins, although I would love to get more practice in coloured pencil techniques. Note: I still regularly wear this outfit.
This is the portrait that I sent in as part of the Comic Art Workshop residency I was lucky enough to be a part of. Here we start seeing the inclusion of banners and objects around the portrait. The workshop was a huge turning point in my comics. The residency helped me to think about how to approach long-form comics and I met heaps of lovely people that I probably would've been too scared to talk to otherwise.
A lot of things change in my various portraits, two of which are my hair and my nose. I'm always dreaming up new hairstyles and cuts and colours that I think would be best for me, which means having to learn to redraw myself every time I get a haircut. My nose is probably the only thing on my face I've never been able to quite capture to my satisfaction. I have inherited my father's long pointy nose (my only consolation is it also belonged to my grandmother) which has been pointed out to me since I was v. young. It has only been in the past couple of years that I've slowly started drawing it more accurately.
2016 - this year - I am now 25 (gah). Something that I have started doing since the Comic Art Workshop is drawing full eyes instead of just dots (see most of my previous pictures from 2013-2015). This was a suggestion that I took to heart and I'm super thankful for it. I can express so much more using these super cheesy round eyes. I can look scared or think about something or roll my eyes so much more effectively.
My face shape is another thing that is constantly changing, some days it's square, some days it's round, some days it looks like a jelly bean.
My body proportions are getting heaps better too. Although who the heck can draw feet? If so - give me all the tips!
One thing that doesn't change in any of these drawings is the polite smattering of freckles that I draw on my cheeks. I've never had heaps of freckles but it's always something I've been proud of so I'll probably always draw myself with freckles.
My body will alway be a-changing. And sometimes I'm okay with that and sometimes I'm not. I find myself constantly looking in mirrors and looking at my body figuring out if I need to be changing how I draw myself or not. I sometimes struggle with my body image, like a lot of humans out there, and constantly drawing myself and associating my personal image with a 'more perfect' cartoon version can sometimes bring me down. But for the most part I love my body because it's a bloody trooper.
I think that's enough for this narcissistic post. Here's a version of me I quite like. It's not really my normal style but I think that's why I like it.
Gina out xx
OH! I didn't even get to talk about my ears! Well, basically, they change all the time too. My current favourite way to draw them is as semi-circles on the side of the head with little crosses in them to indicate the auditory canal.