Black History Month 2011: Carol Burrell

February 22nd, 2011 by | Tags: , ,

Carol Burrell
Selected Works: SPQR Blues (first strip)

I didn’t know about Carol Burrell before Cheryl pointed her out to me a while back. I don’t even remember how far back–a year, two? Regardless, Burrell has been pumping out installments of SPQR Blues since 2005, all on her own. It’s about the citizens of Herculaneum, and is heading directly toward the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. It’s essentially a soap opera or a drama, if those are different things. People live, things happen, and you tune in to check it out.

What made Burrell’s work finally click with me wasn’t SPQR Blues (which is good), but her work ethic. I happened across two strips she drew while checking out her web presence. Read “Not-Drawn-to-Scale Me Explains It All In 25 Panels” and “Closer-to-Scale Me Explains It All In 4 Panels”. To make a short story (seriously, it’s 25 panels and then four panels, go and read the thing) shorter, Burrell had been drawing all her life until a repetitive stress injury screwed up her hand. She ended up needing therapy and not being able to draw. Nothing worked, nothing doing, and then she took some advice that Donna Barr, a cartoonist, gave her: draw 10,000 drawings and then you’ll find drawing a comic easy.

Burrell’s response was a great one. She went from scoffing to being a believer, and that second strip shows that she understood the truth in Barr’s statement. Doing ten thousand drawings (in this case a drawing is defined as a panel) forces you to get over yourself and just do the job. Doing it properly also teaches you your own weaknesses, which results in you getting better.

I can respect that. It takes a lot to be willing to focus on bettering yourself, and to be public about it takes even more. Very cool.

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