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I imagine I have been working on this book, in one form or another, when I first saw the photograph on the left--2017 or thereabouts.

My grandfather (r) stands beside a billboard advertising Maurice Tillet, the French Angel, as The Wonder Man of Wrestling.

The photo was likely taken in 1940 outside of Hunts Auditorium in Wildwood, NJ.

For a while I have been going back and forth on whether to call it Searching for Tillet...Looking for Maurice...or some combination therein. For a moment, I had it titled The Ugliest Man in the World but really disliked it...although it gets to a bit of the core of Tillet's story--using his disfiguring looks to his advantage in marketing himself as a wrestler.

Many headlines in the '40s used that concept to their advantage--sensationalizing his appearance, to which it seems feel right into the plan to make as much money as possible while his body could endure the physical toll both his affliction, acromegaly, and professional wrestling took on him.

But, this morning, the label on the billboard next to my grandfather jumped out at me: Wonder Man. It evokes the superhero, other worldly element, but it also includes to sense of what I am doing here...looking for him, the real him...not the marketed giant of the wrestling ring.

The person, I am finding, is far more fascinating than the wrestler's persona.

And so the title stands (for now): Wonder Man: an illustrated search for Maurice Tillet.

Been using pencil over ink recently and I like the scratchy effect that is emerging as I render Maurice Tillet. My current stuff takes the "camera" into consideration. I'm playing with angles, framing, lighting... So, I don't know the ratio, but a significant percentage of what I draw, as I create this story, will not make it into the final product.

I am not in any hurry. Not being a hurry makes for better work. It lets me be more confident in my taking risks in the act of drawing.

Above are the three of my most recent favorite results--the drawings I do not feel the impulse to fuss with or fix; drawings I liked from the first strokes. It's weird how you can feel the pencil/ink working "right" sometimes. (Definitely not all the time). But you can tell when the muscles and eyes and mind are in sync.

For the past week, those three elements have been mostly out of sync as I have been trying to draw a few images of Caracas, Venezuela--a significant moment in Tillet's life. But everything I draw ends up too crowded, too junky, for what I am trying to do. The drawings are mountains, city buildings, a church...there is an example below...but to my eye it is totally muddy, too fussy, too much going on so, in essence, there is nothing going on in the image...totally lifeless. blah.

It feels more like a vacation photo than a possible glance in a story.

I will say I'm happy with the motion & lines in the sky, clouds and mountains...and the dark shadows of the clouds rolling over the mountains...if nothing else, doing a sketch like this teaches me what I am trying to do/say and what I am not trying to do/say.

(I left some white space in the image above, on the right, so I could insert a text box if I used the drawing.)

I prefer the kind of framing you see in the three drawings of Tillet above and the one I ending with below--the kind of camera shift and unpredictable point of view I am reaching for in my work:

As I draw this man's story--one in which his appearance is front and center in how he was treated, judged...seen...I am realizing I should try to compose it all so you never take your eyes from him--you are forced to see him.

Today, I was able to draw and ink a page of biographical comic I developed over the summer. It is about wrestler Maurice Tillet who was quite the spectacle and attraction throughout the 1940s. On the outside, he looked like a grotesque monster due to suffering from acromegaly from a young age, but inside he had a beautiful, generous heart and soul.

I developed and sketched most of the story over the summer but hit a wall in September when I was ready to start inking.

Actually, I have not drawn much since September.

My cancer treatment was affecting me mentally: nightmares, mood swings, etc. I'd cry easily. Lose my temper over nothing. I'd forget things. Light bothered my eyes. And I lost the will or energy to draw, to be creative.

Yoga, meditation, therapy helped move me in a better direction, but everything came to head in November. My cancer meds obliterated my pancreas--hospitalizing me for three days. The result, on top of the cancer fight, I am now a Type 1 diabetic.

As a result, my cancer treatment has been halted and I have learned to manage my blood glucose through self-injected insulin. And my headspace has been gradually moving into a healing place. And I started to draw again (recently). Developing a holiday card in early December was a major hurdle for me to overcome mentally--to use drawing to help me continue to heal.

It was as much of an exercise for my hand as my headspace. Two months out of drawing practice--I was relived to see the muscle memory still in place.

I am hoping today signals that my brain is ready for me to return to drawing again every day.

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