By Darryl Ayo
Rise is the baddest MC
My old rhymes, my influence
My favorite rapper is me.”
-Rise, “Wickedest Flow.”
As of today, November 25th, I am 30 years old. When I first heard the above-quoted lyrics 10 years ago, Rise was on stage, entertaining the crowd between sets. It just sounded like absurdist boasting, intended to provoke with its impossibility.
But with the benefit of a little bit of age and a little bit of experience, that passage takes on new and earnest meaning. I *am* influenced by my old comics. And while I would not say that my favorite cartoonist is *me* I do rate myself a bit higher than most other people do. I think I’m pretty danged special, to be honest!
My work is most often driven by my past work and the idea of making more work itself. I *have* become my own influence. And to an extent where my past work leads me to try to expand my archive into variations on theme, even though I’m not literally my own favorite, my older work informs my current work a great deal. And yes I *like my work a lot!*
Right below is the first “real” comic that I ever drew. It was probably back in 2000, definitely over the summer. I had just completed freshman year at Rochester Institute of Technology and had realized that I had better stop dreaming about comics and finally create some. This one features “Sid the Kid” and “Mark the Magician,” two characters I had created in high school in 1998:
I still love this strip.
And here is the first installment of my Little Garden series, when I started it on the morning of December 30th, 2004. It features “Angela,” the dreadlocked, overalls-clad angel:
And then here’s a page that people liked from a comic called “Ghost!” which won me the Ignatz Award for “Promising New Talent” earlier this year:
Thanks for taking this time to reflect with me. I hope that I can continue to find inspiration from without and from within. Here’s to the next year, ten years, twenty years, whatever. And since she’s pretty popular, here’s a page with my character Lizzie to leave on:
I’m on my own jock still
‘Cause if I don’t say I’m the best
Tell me, who the hell will”
-Phife Dawg “Word Play”