It can take the reader to another world, providing the imagination with the tools to paint a picture of exquisite beauty, nightmarish horror or anything in between.
It's almost magic, really. Within a few pages, a good author can make characters seem like people you've known for ages. In just a few chapters, decades of time can pass and yet you feel as though you've been with them through all of it.
Yes, I just mentioned pages and chapters. I did it because, to me, books are the ultimate "delivery system" for storytelling. Just like smoking is the delivery system for nicotine, books are the delivery system (and a much healthier one, at that) for the high that comes from finishing a satisfying story. It's why the book is always better than the movie.
Like many fans of the arts, be it dancing or singing, sketching or storytelling, sometimes I can be so inspired by what I see as to try my own hand at it. Watching the movie "Strictly Ballroom" inspired me to try ballroom dancing. I've been told that you are always supposed to find a least one positive from any experience you've had. In the case of ballroom dance, I learned that I could save a lot of time and frustration by not doing it.
Same with singing. My daughter has a beautiful voice. I guess it must skip a generation. My positive? Trying to sing with little success made me appreciate my daughter's gift that much more.
It's the same with trying to write The Great American Novel. When I read the works of some of the really great authors of our time I think, "I could never write like that."
But one thing I can do is draw cartoons. I also like to tell jokes, even write my own (with mixed results). And I love to tell stories. Not a novel or even a novella. Just light entertainment that can be enjoyed for what it is.
I decided to challenge myself to put my strengths together and create something. For me, drawing, jokes and storytelling added up to writing a comic. I wanted it to be light and funny, with likeable characters in outrageous circumstances; just like the old Looney Toons characters that inspired me to start drawing when I was a pre-schooler.
Then I set out to draw Fish Tank. It's the story of three aquarium fish (one of which is a super-genius) and their adventures. It taught me that it takes a lot of work to make a story flow. An effortless cartoon, one that tells a story and is funny in all the right places, is actually quite a chore to create. But I love to create them and the results made the work that much more rewarding.
For the first time in my artistic exploits, I finally feel like I've put together something that I can be proud of, something I can share with you.
If you'd like to learn more about Fish Tank, even look over some free samples of the eBooks, you can go to my website at http://fishtankcartoon.wordpress.com. There is even a complete story there that you can read. Give it a try. It's fun!
Maybe it's not a steak, but sometimes a little piece of chocolate can be satisfying, too!