SKETCHBOOK QUOTE OF THE MONTH: Neil Gaiman’s compelling and wise advice to artists

THERE IS A POWER, naturally, to the mantra or musical refrain or repeated sequence or whatever-you-want-to-call that device of relooping recognition that bores with force into our brains. Delivered with the right delightful timing, this repetition can stoke the firing synapses like strange and weird and wonderful magic.

And so it was with “Make. Good. Art.”

Mesh that device with well-worded ideas that ring fresh and yet so universally true, and you wonder how they hadn’t occurred to you before — or at least lately. And it sticks.

And so it was with Neil Gaiman’s viral commencement speech a week ago, to the University of the Arts in Philadelphia (which says video of his address has now been viewed more than 200,000 times). As we cited yesterday, the entire talk was inspiring. Yet it was perhaps the brilliant stanzas near the midpoint — as the acclaimed author brewed an alchemy of truth and humor and effective refrain — that will resonate with the clearest powerful precision to many of those artist-graduates, as well as the lifelong artists who’ve watched.

Gaiman spent the speech sharing hard-won life lessons that he wish he’d been told of when he was of college age. And yet all those lessons — including the one ignored — seemed to stream from a single headwater.

“Make. Good. Art.”

Because this part of Gaiman’s speech is especially worth lingering over, Comic Riffs has excerpted his passage about coping with life’s brutal and sometimes comical hardships by heeding one mantra.

“Make. Good. Art.”

Gaiman also spoke of learning these lessons at various phases of his career, so these images likewise depict him at different ages and stages.

So here is our Commencement Speech excerpt, as told through Comic Riffs’ illustrations: The 14 Faces (or So) of Neil Gaiman:

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. (Illustration by MICHAEL CAVNA / 2012 Cavna's Canvas /. )

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. (Illustration by MICHAEL CAVNA / 2012 Cavna's Canvas /.)

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. (Illustration by MICHAEL CAVNA / 2012 Cavna's Canvas /.)

. (Illustration by MICHAEL CAVNA / 2012 Cavna's Canvas /.)

. (Illustration by MICHAEL CAVNA / 2012 Cavna's Canvas /.)

. (Illustration by MICHAEL CAVNA / 2012 Cavna's Canvas /.)

. (Illustration by MICHAEL CAVNA / 2012 Cavna's Canvas /.)

. (Illustration by MICHAEL CAVNA / 2012 Cavna's Canvas /.)

. (Illustration by MICHAEL CAVNA / 2012 Cavna's Canvas /.)

. (Illustration by MICHAEL CAVNA / 2012 Cavna's Canvas /.)

. (Illustration by MICHAEL CAVNA / 2012 Cavna's Canvas /.)

. (Illustration by MICHAEL CAVNA / 2012 Cavna's Canvas /.)

[QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Maurice Sendak leaves us enriched]

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[QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Persepolis’ “ Marjane Satrapi on the profound power of words]

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[QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Politico’s Matt Wuerker, on winning the 2010 cartooning Pulitzer...]

Writer/artist/visual storyteller Michael Cavna is creator of the "Comic Riffs" column and graphic-novel reviewer for The Post's Book World. He relishes sharp-eyed satire in most any form.

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