Tim Lane

is creating a graphic novel

5

patrons

$40

per month

Hi. My name is Tim Lane. I’m a graphic novelist, illustrator, and teacher. Welcome to my Patreon page. 



WARNING: Being a fairly fastidious and obsessive person when it comes to my work, and who tends to write at length (i.e., arguably too much) about the things to which I've given a great deal of thought, sweat, and time, it has been suggested to me that my "style" might not be compatible with the general TL;DR zeitgeist of the times. So, below, I've written an abbreviated explanation of what this Patreon page is intended to help fund, followed by my usual lengthy take on things. So, here goes:

I'm writing a quasi-biographical graphic novel about the actor, Steve McQueen. For a wide variety of reasons, McQueen is the embodiment of many things that are regular themes in both my work and my art. This graphic novel is an exploration of those themes through the life of the "King of Cool," Steve McQueen.

For those of you who are more accepting of long-winded manifestos, here is my more expansive explanation:

You might know me from one of my graphic novels - Abandoned Cars, or The Lonesome Go, all published by the greatest publisher of comics and graphic novels in the worldFantagraphics Books. Or you might know me from my comic book, Happy Hour in America, or some of the comic anthologies to which I’ve contributed stories. If you’re from the St Louis area, you might know me from the graphic feature storiesI’ve written and illustrated for the Riverfront Times, or the weekly strip I used to produce for them, Belligerent Piano.



If you are familiar with any of my work, you might know that I’m interested, thematically, in something I call the Great American Mythological Drama. Although the Great American Mythological Drama is not an easy thing to describe, it essentially involves an idea of America that streams down to us through folklore and legend as much as it does newspapers, books, and historical documents. It has to do with the ideals we hold firm to as ideas that are distinct to American culture and our collective idea of America, in general. It involves pop culture superficially, but also the deeper, more meaningful ideologies that shape us. I believe that pop culture tends to be the superficial result of the deeper ideological ways in which we both perceive and define ourselves. In this way, the two are fundamentally linked.

I’m currently working on an interpretive biographical graphic novel about the actor, Steve McQueen. I say “interpretive,” for many reasons, but mainly because I’m using the life of Steve McQueen as a conduit to construct a picture of American culture that both shaped Steve McQueen, and was partly shaped by his influence. This book is artistically inclined - heavily influenced by works such as Michael Ondaatje’s The Collected Works of Billy the Kid, Coming Through Slaughter, and David Clewell’s Jack Ruby’s America. In other words, it is not a traditional biography. Rather, it is an experiment in what the potentialities are in writing about the life of a real person, and a more subjective consideration of how that person’s influence touched the life of the “biographer."



This graphic novel, whose working title is Just Like Steve McQueen, is as much about the art of writing, drawing, and sequential story-telling as it is about it’s protagonist, Steve McQueen.



Upon first glance, the completed book might look like a sequence of short stories all linked by a chronological exploration of McQueen’s life. My interest in the differences between what is true and factual as opposed to what is myth and rumor will be explored in the style in which I’m making this book. Each chapter in the book will be told from the point of view of a different narrator - for example, one chapter might be written from the point of view of someone who claims to have known McQueen’s father, another from the point of view of a woman who claims to be one of McQueen’s former lovers. Sometimes, the narrator will be me. Sometimes the narrator will be directly linked to McQueen, others only tangentially. Sometimes it will be McQueen himself. Like that. My intention is to also create various chapters using a genre of cartooning that would be applicable to both the mood of the story, as well as the era in which the story takes place.



Steve McQueen died in 1980, when he was 50 years old. Although I was only nine years old, I was born into an America that had already been influenced by Steve McQueen, in the same way that it was an American already influenced by Elvis Presley, Martin Luther King, Jr, Malcolm X, the Kennedy brothers, Bob Dylan, and Chuck Berry. In other words, I was born with these influences, and so many others, already in my DNA. 

Known in his time as the “King of Cool,” McQueen led an extraordinary life. As a boy, he was abandoned by his mother and never knew his father, spent time in street gangs in Indianapolis and LA, and was abused by a step-father during a short-lived reunion with his alcoholic mother. He was a reform school kid. He had joined the merchant marines after lying about his age, wound up working in a Caribbean brothel, hitchhiked and hopped freight trains across America and into Canada, worked for traveling carnivals, and had joined the Marines - all before he was 20 years old. By the time he landed in New York City’s Greenwich Village in the late 1940s and early 50s - and still without any particular direction in life - he already had more physical life experience than some people attain in a lifetime. A lot of travel, adventure, and haplessness - themes you might recognize if you’re familiar with any of my previous work. McQueen’s story, even by the age of 20, doesn’t lack drama or excitement. And the rest of his life, I assure you, is just as interesting.

But, beyond that, it is how much McQueen was a man of his time that interests me, and how the backdrop of his life speaks broadly of that illusive American myth I find so interesting. And how his legacy is still relevant today. Despite having died almost forty years ago, his image is still used to sell watches, sunglasses, leather jackets, cars, and of course, motorcycles. 

An example of this: I recently read an article in Men’s Health about the importance of every man owning a “classic leather jacket,” and McQueen was used as one of the reasons why this was so. How is it possible that a man who’s been dead for nearly forty years still has that kind of impact? What is it about what he represented that still captures our imaginations? 

Another example: Again, after finding a full page advertisement of McQueen for Tag/Heuer watches in a contemporary magazine (I forget which one), I noticed that the ad seemed to assume everybody still knew who Steve McQueen was. It wasn’t a posed shot - it was simply a candid of him strapping on his racing helmet, wherein the watch he’s wearing is clearly visible. I showed this ad to my wife in disbelief, and she just said, “Yeah, but look how cool he looks.”

And, of course, she was right.




But those examples mentioned above, I argue, are only the superficial ice tip of his contemporary cultural relevance. His story is both simultaneously unique and classic.



McQueen’s is a rags to riches story. An outsider story. A story of a person who doggedly fought to remain his own man, without rulers. He descends from the philosophy of rugged individualism. He was anti-intellectual, and relied heavily on his considerable street smarts and instincts. And, among these other things, his is a story of a true American rebel - all themes that fit into the greater idea of the Great American Mythological Drama.



In a very personal way, this book is also a kind tribute to, as well as a criticism of, a type of American masculinity that I rarely see in contemporary culture anymore, but from which I descend. One way to look at it is like this: If you’re like me, you love and respect your father and grandfathers patly because they embody an idea of masculinity from which you are proud to be in some way connected. But, on the other hand, there are many things that they represent, as the result of their masculinity, that you might find embarrassing or inappropriate in contemporary culture. In this book, I intend to explore those themes - like a son who, although critical of the men who raised him, very much loves and venerates, and very often, misses their spirit. It is also a recognition of the fact that they - those fathers and grandfathers - are themselves merely descendants of a complicated history of American masculinity that stems back to the Declaration of Independence.




I’d like to ask for your support with this project. Above all else, I need time to complete this book. It has already taken me three years since I began - the first year was spent entirely in the research phase (although the “research phase” never really ends). In the past, I’ve made my living as a freelance illustrator, but, the trouble is, the more freelance work I take on, the less time I have to work on this book. In a perfect world, I’d like to have the book finished within the next three years. But I need directed, focused time to do this. And, of course, money.

But there’s more to it than that. Writing graphic novels can be a lonely business. I think it would be fun to have a community of people to converse with as this project rolls out. To get feedback - from those of you who are McQueen fans, pop culture fans, comic and graphic novel fans, storytellers and writers, on and on, because I believe this book will appeal to people with wide and varying interests. I look forward to opening up my studio and showing you some of the things that only my poor wife and a few friends know I’m excited about - such as the miniature bust of McQueen I sculpted to shine noir-ish lights on for reference purposes, and the creations of Sam Shepard-inspired original stories I’ve written in which McQueen will star and be “directed” in Robert Mulligan-like style. Diagrams for models of McQueen, like the kind you might have found in Aurora model kits, only the scenes depicted in my model diagrams aren’t from his popular movies, but lesser known movies, or moments in McQueen’s life. The creation of new, original stories that are meant for McQueen to be the protagonist (or possibly antagonist). Various things like that - not all of which might make the cut for the book, but things attempting to relate, both in narrative and visuals, but most importantly, in spirit, the personal connection to McQueen I have, as well as his impact on culture.


 Lastly, I hope to explore what we’re actually talking about when we talk about “cool.” For anyone who has ever been a teenager, you know the importance of the word, but what exactly does it mean? The words of the immortal jazz innovator Louis Armstrong come to mind. When asked what jazz was, Armstrong answered, “If you have to ask, you’ll never know.” Maybe seeking a definition of “cool” is like that. But, at the risk of proving myself to be decidedly uncool, I want to explore that subject a little. After all, what value is there in attempting to make art if the artist isn’t willing to reveal his vulnerabilities, right?



You’ll find various incentives listed on this page that will be offered to you for varying levels of your support. Please consider patronizing my book project. And thanks for taking the time to watch my video and read this statement.
Tiers
Pledge $1 or more per month
My deepest appreciation for supporting my book project.
Pledge $3 or more per month
Access to my studio, via the internet, with weekly updates about the progress of the book, images of the artwork and sketchbook material developed over the course of the week, and discussions about the thought-process behind the week's production.
Pledge $5 or more per month
Everything offered above, as well as a downloadable PDF of the most recent issue of my comic, Happy Hour in America - as long as you remain a current supporter. Happy Hour is a receptacle for all of the comics and stories I'm working on. It tends to be the place where I start fitting the pieces of my books together. It is a 24-page comic, black & white with color covers, and, since the publication of my last book, The Lonesome Go, I'm committed to publishing at least two new issues every year. Since I'm an avid supporter of the lost world and art of the comic book (now called pamphlets, last I checked), Happy Hour in America is an important part of my work - both as a stand-alone completed piece, as well as an integral part of my working process. The last issue published was #6, which featured, among other things, the first completed stories from Just Like Steve McQueen.
Pledge $10 or more per month
Everything listed above, plus a hard copy version of each issue of Happy Hour in America, sent to you by mail. Out of reverence for the great history of the comic book form, the copy you will receive will have a 10 cent price tag listed on it's cover, instead of the usual price. These 10 cent issues will be printed up in limited edition, and only offered to you - as long as you're a current supporter.
Pledge $20 or more per month
All the above-mentioned, plus a downloadable drawing of your choosing (I'll have a variety of drawings from which to choose available to see)that you can have printed out.
Goals
$40 of $1,200 per month
"Brother, can you spare a dime."

My goal is to complete Just Like Steve McQueen within the next two to three years. Right now, I'm trying to finance a new computer because mine, Sherman tank that it is, has lost its treads, working at (at best) 50 percent capacity, and has been long-ago outmoded. Although I spend at least 85 percent of my time either at the drawing board or writing, my computer is an indispensable tool in my work process.
1 of 1

Hi. My name is Tim Lane. I’m a graphic novelist, illustrator, and teacher. Welcome to my Patreon page. 



WARNING: Being a fairly fastidious and obsessive person when it comes to my work, and who tends to write at length (i.e., arguably too much) about the things to which I've given a great deal of thought, sweat, and time, it has been suggested to me that my "style" might not be compatible with the general TL;DR zeitgeist of the times. So, below, I've written an abbreviated explanation of what this Patreon page is intended to help fund, followed by my usual lengthy take on things. So, here goes:

I'm writing a quasi-biographical graphic novel about the actor, Steve McQueen. For a wide variety of reasons, McQueen is the embodiment of many things that are regular themes in both my work and my art. This graphic novel is an exploration of those themes through the life of the "King of Cool," Steve McQueen.

For those of you who are more accepting of long-winded manifestos, here is my more expansive explanation:

You might know me from one of my graphic novels - Abandoned Cars, or The Lonesome Go, all published by the greatest publisher of comics and graphic novels in the worldFantagraphics Books. Or you might know me from my comic book, Happy Hour in America, or some of the comic anthologies to which I’ve contributed stories. If you’re from the St Louis area, you might know me from the graphic feature storiesI’ve written and illustrated for the Riverfront Times, or the weekly strip I used to produce for them, Belligerent Piano.



If you are familiar with any of my work, you might know that I’m interested, thematically, in something I call the Great American Mythological Drama. Although the Great American Mythological Drama is not an easy thing to describe, it essentially involves an idea of America that streams down to us through folklore and legend as much as it does newspapers, books, and historical documents. It has to do with the ideals we hold firm to as ideas that are distinct to American culture and our collective idea of America, in general. It involves pop culture superficially, but also the deeper, more meaningful ideologies that shape us. I believe that pop culture tends to be the superficial result of the deeper ideological ways in which we both perceive and define ourselves. In this way, the two are fundamentally linked.

I’m currently working on an interpretive biographical graphic novel about the actor, Steve McQueen. I say “interpretive,” for many reasons, but mainly because I’m using the life of Steve McQueen as a conduit to construct a picture of American culture that both shaped Steve McQueen, and was partly shaped by his influence. This book is artistically inclined - heavily influenced by works such as Michael Ondaatje’s The Collected Works of Billy the Kid, Coming Through Slaughter, and David Clewell’s Jack Ruby’s America. In other words, it is not a traditional biography. Rather, it is an experiment in what the potentialities are in writing about the life of a real person, and a more subjective consideration of how that person’s influence touched the life of the “biographer."



This graphic novel, whose working title is Just Like Steve McQueen, is as much about the art of writing, drawing, and sequential story-telling as it is about it’s protagonist, Steve McQueen.



Upon first glance, the completed book might look like a sequence of short stories all linked by a chronological exploration of McQueen’s life. My interest in the differences between what is true and factual as opposed to what is myth and rumor will be explored in the style in which I’m making this book. Each chapter in the book will be told from the point of view of a different narrator - for example, one chapter might be written from the point of view of someone who claims to have known McQueen’s father, another from the point of view of a woman who claims to be one of McQueen’s former lovers. Sometimes, the narrator will be me. Sometimes the narrator will be directly linked to McQueen, others only tangentially. Sometimes it will be McQueen himself. Like that. My intention is to also create various chapters using a genre of cartooning that would be applicable to both the mood of the story, as well as the era in which the story takes place.



Steve McQueen died in 1980, when he was 50 years old. Although I was only nine years old, I was born into an America that had already been influenced by Steve McQueen, in the same way that it was an American already influenced by Elvis Presley, Martin Luther King, Jr, Malcolm X, the Kennedy brothers, Bob Dylan, and Chuck Berry. In other words, I was born with these influences, and so many others, already in my DNA. 

Known in his time as the “King of Cool,” McQueen led an extraordinary life. As a boy, he was abandoned by his mother and never knew his father, spent time in street gangs in Indianapolis and LA, and was abused by a step-father during a short-lived reunion with his alcoholic mother. He was a reform school kid. He had joined the merchant marines after lying about his age, wound up working in a Caribbean brothel, hitchhiked and hopped freight trains across America and into Canada, worked for traveling carnivals, and had joined the Marines - all before he was 20 years old. By the time he landed in New York City’s Greenwich Village in the late 1940s and early 50s - and still without any particular direction in life - he already had more physical life experience than some people attain in a lifetime. A lot of travel, adventure, and haplessness - themes you might recognize if you’re familiar with any of my previous work. McQueen’s story, even by the age of 20, doesn’t lack drama or excitement. And the rest of his life, I assure you, is just as interesting.

But, beyond that, it is how much McQueen was a man of his time that interests me, and how the backdrop of his life speaks broadly of that illusive American myth I find so interesting. And how his legacy is still relevant today. Despite having died almost forty years ago, his image is still used to sell watches, sunglasses, leather jackets, cars, and of course, motorcycles. 

An example of this: I recently read an article in Men’s Health about the importance of every man owning a “classic leather jacket,” and McQueen was used as one of the reasons why this was so. How is it possible that a man who’s been dead for nearly forty years still has that kind of impact? What is it about what he represented that still captures our imaginations? 

Another example: Again, after finding a full page advertisement of McQueen for Tag/Heuer watches in a contemporary magazine (I forget which one), I noticed that the ad seemed to assume everybody still knew who Steve McQueen was. It wasn’t a posed shot - it was simply a candid of him strapping on his racing helmet, wherein the watch he’s wearing is clearly visible. I showed this ad to my wife in disbelief, and she just said, “Yeah, but look how cool he looks.”

And, of course, she was right.




But those examples mentioned above, I argue, are only the superficial ice tip of his contemporary cultural relevance. His story is both simultaneously unique and classic.



McQueen’s is a rags to riches story. An outsider story. A story of a person who doggedly fought to remain his own man, without rulers. He descends from the philosophy of rugged individualism. He was anti-intellectual, and relied heavily on his considerable street smarts and instincts. And, among these other things, his is a story of a true American rebel - all themes that fit into the greater idea of the Great American Mythological Drama.



In a very personal way, this book is also a kind tribute to, as well as a criticism of, a type of American masculinity that I rarely see in contemporary culture anymore, but from which I descend. One way to look at it is like this: If you’re like me, you love and respect your father and grandfathers patly because they embody an idea of masculinity from which you are proud to be in some way connected. But, on the other hand, there are many things that they represent, as the result of their masculinity, that you might find embarrassing or inappropriate in contemporary culture. In this book, I intend to explore those themes - like a son who, although critical of the men who raised him, very much loves and venerates, and very often, misses their spirit. It is also a recognition of the fact that they - those fathers and grandfathers - are themselves merely descendants of a complicated history of American masculinity that stems back to the Declaration of Independence.




I’d like to ask for your support with this project. Above all else, I need time to complete this book. It has already taken me three years since I began - the first year was spent entirely in the research phase (although the “research phase” never really ends). In the past, I’ve made my living as a freelance illustrator, but, the trouble is, the more freelance work I take on, the less time I have to work on this book. In a perfect world, I’d like to have the book finished within the next three years. But I need directed, focused time to do this. And, of course, money.

But there’s more to it than that. Writing graphic novels can be a lonely business. I think it would be fun to have a community of people to converse with as this project rolls out. To get feedback - from those of you who are McQueen fans, pop culture fans, comic and graphic novel fans, storytellers and writers, on and on, because I believe this book will appeal to people with wide and varying interests. I look forward to opening up my studio and showing you some of the things that only my poor wife and a few friends know I’m excited about - such as the miniature bust of McQueen I sculpted to shine noir-ish lights on for reference purposes, and the creations of Sam Shepard-inspired original stories I’ve written in which McQueen will star and be “directed” in Robert Mulligan-like style. Diagrams for models of McQueen, like the kind you might have found in Aurora model kits, only the scenes depicted in my model diagrams aren’t from his popular movies, but lesser known movies, or moments in McQueen’s life. The creation of new, original stories that are meant for McQueen to be the protagonist (or possibly antagonist). Various things like that - not all of which might make the cut for the book, but things attempting to relate, both in narrative and visuals, but most importantly, in spirit, the personal connection to McQueen I have, as well as his impact on culture.


 Lastly, I hope to explore what we’re actually talking about when we talk about “cool.” For anyone who has ever been a teenager, you know the importance of the word, but what exactly does it mean? The words of the immortal jazz innovator Louis Armstrong come to mind. When asked what jazz was, Armstrong answered, “If you have to ask, you’ll never know.” Maybe seeking a definition of “cool” is like that. But, at the risk of proving myself to be decidedly uncool, I want to explore that subject a little. After all, what value is there in attempting to make art if the artist isn’t willing to reveal his vulnerabilities, right?



You’ll find various incentives listed on this page that will be offered to you for varying levels of your support. Please consider patronizing my book project. And thanks for taking the time to watch my video and read this statement.

Recent posts by Tim Lane

Tiers
Pledge $1 or more per month
My deepest appreciation for supporting my book project.
Pledge $3 or more per month
Access to my studio, via the internet, with weekly updates about the progress of the book, images of the artwork and sketchbook material developed over the course of the week, and discussions about the thought-process behind the week's production.
Pledge $5 or more per month
Everything offered above, as well as a downloadable PDF of the most recent issue of my comic, Happy Hour in America - as long as you remain a current supporter. Happy Hour is a receptacle for all of the comics and stories I'm working on. It tends to be the place where I start fitting the pieces of my books together. It is a 24-page comic, black & white with color covers, and, since the publication of my last book, The Lonesome Go, I'm committed to publishing at least two new issues every year. Since I'm an avid supporter of the lost world and art of the comic book (now called pamphlets, last I checked), Happy Hour in America is an important part of my work - both as a stand-alone completed piece, as well as an integral part of my working process. The last issue published was #6, which featured, among other things, the first completed stories from Just Like Steve McQueen.
Pledge $10 or more per month
Everything listed above, plus a hard copy version of each issue of Happy Hour in America, sent to you by mail. Out of reverence for the great history of the comic book form, the copy you will receive will have a 10 cent price tag listed on it's cover, instead of the usual price. These 10 cent issues will be printed up in limited edition, and only offered to you - as long as you're a current supporter.
Pledge $20 or more per month
All the above-mentioned, plus a downloadable drawing of your choosing (I'll have a variety of drawings from which to choose available to see)that you can have printed out.