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CoverStory.Art is a Showcase for Creators of All Kinds

But just the one - me - to start. Hi. But it's not a showcase of my work, not really, but my own stuff that I create is designed for one thing - to showcase the work of the creators that inspire me, in a practical way. Because I can't afford much in the way of original art, I must create that which I seek to enjoy.

Here's the first one I did. Far from perfect (my worst critic), it did bring me joy and others seemed to like it. Hopefully it kinda shows the idea of what "a" CoverStory.Art piece might be.

"Thor", volume 2 issue #1, July 1998 cover date, (c) Marvel Comics, cover by John Romita Jr.

Framed comic, 11"x13"; CoverStoryArt: Pentel Brush Pen & Ink on paper by Truman Esmond

For comparison's sake, here's what a comic looks like without the "CoverStoryArt" mat design component, in the same floating glass frame:

"Star Wars Special: C-3PO" #1, June 2016, (c)Marvel Comics, cover by Reilly Brown

Still friggin' cool, I wish i had another one of these, but when on a wall of any size, it's just small - and I still have 'em all over my house.

Gallery Covering The Creators and Characters

CoverStory.Art to most, will be seen as a gallery, and as noted, a small one to start. Visitors will hopefully a place to find and get art they'd like in their lives. If they're inclined, perhaps a mechanism for their own expression, and a place to draw inspiration and create art that brings them and their environment pleasure. What's sorta unique at CoverStory.Art is that the art pieces here are "covering" an original work of another creator - not unlike but hopefully way better than my karaoke rendition of "Runnin' Down a Dream" (no i don't think there's video available thankfully), and as accessible as singing in the shower.

Ideally, we can take those 2d artifacts we love and creatively display them, share them, recall the stories and feel the feelings, a way to enjoy them and appreciate them every day. I think would bring the original creator pleasure to know their work is being appreciated. For me, these are those ragged comics, worn-out records or other artifacts with special and personal meaning, that like all art, is uniquely felt by the beholder because of their own experience and perspective.

Our published media - pop culture - I think, is a way to connect us as we all experience those exact same physical things, but feel them individually often in both great alignment and sometimes in stark contrast. Hopefully by helping people to more easily and openly express one's own message using excellent art and a story in which they are invested will help us get a touch of transparency for broader empathy across our individual struggles and dreams.

Ok that's big picture. More on that later.

I have a few more practical goals, and it's always important to start with "Why?" for any effort - I don't generally do stuff without a reason. Lazy is my superpower, which leads to efficiency, though it might look to the outside like procrastination or resistance - i just don't like to waste time working when I could be wasting time on fun things. Like reading comics or fishing.

Why CoverStory.Art?

First, selfishly, I have a truckload of comics that while I enjoy collecting, they do not bring me joy by accumulating boxes of them. I use graphic boxes as much as possible - though less sturdy, some of those are way cool (Ryan Stegman's King In Black, and the Deadpool "Bang!" boxes worthy of note). Still it's a minute slice of the art contained within. I'm still trying to figure who did the DP box while I write this - I know a few who it wasn't... You'll also note the post-its don't enhance the aesthetic, but are necessary.

I enjoy seeing the art and reading comics - a lot. My mom would say "the house could burn down around me" while doing so. While doing pretty much anything else, I like to be surrounded by the art and action and stories that captivate me - though it doesn't allow for much work space sometimes.

The first why is really a practical nature - I want to enjoy my favorite comics, out of the box - and I need to figure out some strategy to remain a competent curator and collector - and not a hoarder.

I'd also like to see if I can support my addiction a bit. As I build inventory I (often) check (using btw - very helpful) and boast of how much our investment is appreciating to my CFO and spouse, Susan. But the response remains "not if you never sell any of 'em". So there. I'm going to sell one. Maybe. And if i do my accounting, maybe I can expense going to 'cons and buying more art (comics). Careful what you ask for.

Me and what I look like on Zoom, in my padded room, surrounded by my toys and treasures.

#2 Reason: Joy. Why else? Feels good.

These mini-masterpieces that portray our beloved characters in pulpy and now glossy relief, cover an industry that struggles, and the creators themselves are the ones that bear the brunt. I've learned some of their trials over the years having worn a variety of similar hats - though never the one I always wanted: "Comic Book Artist". I always wanted to be the portrayer of heroes and idols and the renderer of stories that shape open minds and inspire action, with amazing action flowing from every stroke.

Turns out, I wasn't that good - and I've since learned, it's a demanding life. I suffered no illusions I'd be a natural, much less hope to hold a candle to my idols for a long time. If i wanted to be even competent, it was going to be a lot of work (practice, practice...) for very low odds of success - a big "turn off" for me.

So business/marketing it was, along with graphic design (no minors in fine arts, thank you), while playing with technology on the side. I did finally graduate at a timely point, when my current boss helped bring us the Internet and WWW, and have done "technology" since then. Always creatively, sometimes profitably, occasionally heroically and maybe even transformationally... stay tuned. ;-)

I read stories biographies about Stan Lee, one of my influential and imperfect role models who created the imperfect and inspirational heroes of my childhood. Understanding just some of struggles within the industry, on the business side with the terrible tycoons (many of whom still infect the industry), and those who struggled to maintain the soul of the medium - while still figuring out how to steward the Intellectual Property and pay the bills through tough years.

They are long stories, but ultimately the burden was borne on the creators. Insane schedules, demanding publishers, low margins, poor requirements, no longevity or loyalty was shown to creators. Any rewards to be had went to the companies that owned the characters - and left freelance creators without. It's definitely improving, with more independent titles, residual structures, and certainly a far larger market for the characters as they've carried cinema in recent years, but still the creators get little recognition for the sparks that lit the fires of the characters that shape our world and ideals, that teach us the stories of others. I've learned a ton listening to the creators - many who are far more vocal than in the past as they stretch and learn their value - and have options. Podcasts like Hypothetical Island Podcast with Reilly Brown and George O'Connor and the many great Substack publications are opening up the industry like never before.

Still though, it's often only the result of a public outcry and coordinated commercial shaming effort to get the companies to direct profits to the descendants of those creators. Because the vast bulk of profits are centered on the major brands, and there's obvious inertia to NOT introduce off-brand options. Quick shout out to FRONTIERSMAN by Image Comics which is killing it on the racks - and gives me hope of continued superheroism even once retired full time in the woods. Thanks Patrick Kindlon and Marco Ferrari!

Copyright Image Comics

The Big Picture - Sustainability, Control, Success...

Still, we still seem to be well short of a professional industry today that supports creators when normal stuff happens, like illness, disasters or just bad luck. I don't think artists just because they love what they do, and maybe would do it for free or fun, should be shorted of their worth or have to compromise themselves while others enjoy stability and success. Though understand no business owner will pay more than they have to for a service... so it's unfortunately self-fulfilling and ready for exploitation.

Having been a small business owner, consulting and creating software, I understand the challenges it is being a small business, even more being a one-person show as an individual creator doing project work. You have to do everything, most of which they didn't teach you in whatever you went to school for. Or didn't go to school for. You may be glad to know they didn't teach anything about art in business school either. Doesn't matter if you're sick or your computer breaks or are out of ink. It's one thing when it's just you and you can eat ramen and live on a couch, but it's very different when responsibility and financial commitments for family, offspring, stuff and employees enter the picture.

Shit also does in fact happen. I also work in the insurance business (it's cool, really), and know the challenges facing entrepreneurs and smaller scale enterprises, that insurance products seek to protect around - and that which they very much don't. When you're the last person to get paid in an organization - and things like insurance and saving for the unexpected can be put off until tomorrow with crossed fingers.

I hope CoverStory.Art can help. I hope we can help each other, and enjoy the process, and expand our community. Perhaps not tomorrow, but I have a big vision that I'm happy to share, but it's gonna be more than this one blog post and maybe require a cocktail or edible. I am trying to solve some big problems - like cyber security, misinformation and data privacy for accountable communities so we can have flying cars and solve things like teen suicide and get to the Star Trek future that's actually in reach; almost possible (short of warp technology). This little effort, believe it or not, is a part. At least, it's a proving ground and a way to help inform the recipe and eat my own dog food. Maybe even stand up or knock down some of the right dominoes on the way. So stick with me and please if you are with me, let me know what you think about how we can do this better, together.

CoverStory.Art I hope will provide opportunities for collectors to enjoy their treasures, creators to get started (like me) and for those who are either, opportunities for collaboration, exposure, income and always, enjoyment.

Future features will be added that will be greatly helpful to creators, collectors and appreciators, and will have benefits that go far beyond comics, but it's going to be a far better journey if we can look at great art on the way.


- Truman

(btw, I obviously could use an editor. Just saying.)

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