Friday, August 12, 2016


-By Greg Ruth

Ethan Hawke in Canyon De Chelly, where we came up with how to plot out the Battle at Skeleton Cave for INDEH
Jon J Muth drawing on the floor at the ASFA Booth this last Comicon
I am an obsessive workaholic. I admit it, it is no secret to anyone that knows me. And as it is the truly dog days of Summer I am risking the dreaded act of showing slides from vacations and trips that weren't yours necessarily. Having just returned from another trip to the southern coast of Maine to stay in our friend's beach house near the Ocean Park sandy shores, a place we have been visiting neigh on 20+ years now. Back when we were almost children ourselves, no returning each time with more and more growing kids until now they fully outnumber us.

Of all the 'coholicisms in our culture it's the one we're supposed to be okay with. We even embrace caffeine to help us achieve maximum workaholic potential. it is the axes that cuts the tree and when un-managed can eat all the rest of your life if you're not careful. In fact the best thing for, at least by my experience is finding time to deny it. Somehow the work wants to be denied when it can be. It can be like a souffle you don't want to ruin by peeking too soon. Letting things bake and settle in the mind can be how you get the breakthrough moments. You can drive the car to where you need to go only by letting go of the steering wheel. And it is within those moments... sitting on a beach, wandering through the woods, driving in a car through the western edges of Apache and Navajo country, flying on a plane to Chicago to do press work... this is when the revolutions seem to come to me. Unhindered, uninvited and always welcome.

Harker's Drop birthplace for THE LOST BOY
Like writer friends of mine who jog, with my sympathies, these serene body-centric moments tend to free the mind to create outside of its previous boundaries or sand traps. Solutions once never found become suddenly available. I cannot tell you how many times a story point or some big moment has come to me on that beach while I was doing nothing to invite it. Major plot points from THE LOST BOY, INDEH, FREAKS OF THE HEARTLAND, and my three new stories in development all seem to birth themselves somewhere along that same stretch of beach. While taking time to cool off relax and enjoy the sand and the icy ocean waters is an essential thing, it is not a common one for me and frankly sometimes the idea of a vacation where I am not in any way thinking about my work is demonstrably impossible. I can waste a day or two but really, the itch comes back pretty quick like the addiction it is. I just can't turn it off and it shows up either with me scribbling away on a note pad, tapping furiously on to my sun-blinded iPad, or simply taking pictures. Lots and lots of pictures. These are some from the last couple years. To me they are like stories I haven't yet told, and some have become stories that I did.

Maine tidal pool which inspired Cochise's stronghold in INDEH.
The place where I came to understand who Col. Bascom was to us and the book for INDEH.
More notions for the rough rocky shores of the Arizona wilderness for INDEH, that was simply a small rocky out cropping outside out cabin near Winter Harbor.

Even trips designed for work have become crucibles of breakthrough moments.  It seems whatever place moving out of your usual physical space is in the mind, is a train station to whole new other cities and undersea landscapes I could have never imagined.

This one here had me working on a new children's book about a giant that has been coming together very quickly these last few weeks. Its a super weird idea and I can't be at all certain anyone would be interested in it, but the idea simply won't leave me alone.

One of many that has inspired an upcoming series of drawings for my ongoing 52 WEEKS PROJECT series.

This was the moment when doing Conan made all the sense in the world to me. Our friend Luke here led to how the scene in the first chapter where Conan scramble up a rock to get a package of food as a challenge was visually created.

The moment when I realized how I was going draw Orson Welles for the 52 WEEKS PROJECT Year 2.

Owing nothing to Ruby's lovely personality, I knew here when I wanted to write a story about a horrible little girl who took over the world for a book I still haven't finished called TERRIBLE TINA DARLING.

Obviously, THE LOST BOY was found here.
The moment two years ago when I got the first idea for the crime story Ethan and I are currently developing. This photo this exact moment. I remember running inside to write it down before I lost it- and I'm glad I did. We're just about to start in on the script.

So simply put, if you like me, feel a bit guilty letting go of the work and taking time off, don't. There's a lot of good to taking time away despite the actual human health aspects. Do it and between you and me, you could end up working by accident. See? All better.


  1. Currently I work a part-time job (which I hate), teach and the rest of the time is spent on painting/drawing....the time, during any given week, isn't enough to do all that I want to do, when it comes to creating work. So I still struggle with the idea of letting go and getting out and away from the need to get something done and if I do get out, I tend to feel guilty that I didn't stay in and work on a project. I completely agree with your thoughts though, also love the monocrome photographs!

  2. I tend to calculate my free time to hours I could have spend drawing. I realised that I became so obsessed over how efficient I am with my time that I am unable to enjoy my free time anymore. This article puts some stuff into perspective for me. I think that art should be about life and life gives you fuel to create. We shouldn't isolate from it completely because our projects become artificial and hmmmm well "lifeless" . Thank you.