Tue, Jun. 15th, 2004, 12:35 pm
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Thu, Jun. 3rd, 2004, 08:07 am
Thanks to Papa and his comrades’ and American citizens sacrifices in WWII (a noble and just war from our end). Thanks to those who currently are sacrificing needlessly in the Middle East. It is an honor to share my birthday with those memorialized.
Congratulations to Ben Towle for his first Eisner nomination for “Talent Deserving of Wider Recognition.” You can find his name printed in the latest Comic Journal. Ben is a friend, a fellow SCAD grad, a fellow comics educator, a fellow cartoonist and has a wonderful book (on my last years top ten) “Farwell, Georgia” (Slave Labor Graphics). You can find Ben at benzilla.com and/or trainedchimp.com I have links on this site now.
The Triplets of Bellville: crap cleverly disguised.
I often wonder if my opinions are formed in passion for the form and function over the content. Is there some hidden meaning that I am accidentally supporting do to the crafted container it resides in. When I chose wine it is often the label that entices me… then I usually realize I have no clue what makes good wine (not all people from wine country do) and that I don’t even like red wine. Another issue with regards to most of the opinions in my comics and in this here blog is that if I don’t at least appreciate the perspective sentiment then I have a hard time supporting it. With Bellville I can’t ignore it, but under less enticing circumstances I would have said, “it’s not my bag” and leave it at that. In this case however I love the bag and can’t stand the content.
It is presented in a very fluid nostalgic cartoon style, one that brings its 1920’s French cartoony package to reality. The music and sounds are purposefully obtuse. The animators had no trouble finding and laying down lines (those who have struggled through life drawing understand this endless quest). There are many contemporary Indy and European comics storytelling devices that are reflective of current trend setting. These same devises work well in reviving an authentic vaudevillian cartoon quality to the environment. However, my reaction to animated crass/nostalgic bigoted sex appeal was that this would be far more effective in comic form. It would allow the audience more time to process the shock and appreciate the subtle connections and commentary each image provides. Time to appreciate the intellectual elements as appose to having it become eye candy in motion. This type of poignant visual communication should not be a flash in the pan. It is quick passages that turn it from potential artistic integrity and intellectual communication into crass fluff, a reality of vaudeville, but not the point of its resurrection. In a distantly related point Triplets mastermind, Sylvain Chomet, demonstrates basic classic animators flipping technique that to him distances animation from any connection what so ever with comics and illustration. Do in part to time and movement adding dimensions to the piece (comics use time as one of its most vital elements…but whatever). It was as if he was stepping on comics and illustration in order to sever ties with the lower class art history that all three mediums share. As a cartoonist I felt it was as if he was trying beet down a brother in order to get closer to the mothers (fine art) tit. I absolutely acknowledge this is petty argument, but as his comment was a cleverly disguised jab, my reaction is justified on the same juvenile level… some no doubt will point out as a level disserving of our place on the greater artistic totem pole. A spot we all disserve to be rid of in this new century.
More critically though above the in house bickering and the pretty pictures and crafted sounds in motion my primary critique is based on my American bias. I have always been a big supporter for a cultural change in bigotry based on size. I can’t understand this drive in world culture to elevate one shaped body type over another. One is not better then the other. It has much more to do with ones goals in life then we give credit (This is not an argument that fat people are lazy and they need will power… it is an argument that society has no place in determining thin is better then fat.) If it is an argument about health it still in part comes down to a preference in life style. If someone is not happy with his or her physical form or they would like to change do to “suggestions” by their doctors and they have the means to change, sure go ahead and to what you can to change. We should support their efforts (some may never be able to reach this goal and should not be persecuted for this). I sure as hell keep trying to exercise regularly and eat better, but I also think enjying every day is more important then living a year or two longer… its my fucking choice and its my personal chemistry and my personal compulsions… thanks for the support now fuck off. We all put strains on the communal resources one way or another, so an argument about obesity costing us more is an argument for winners and tight wads. Anyway back to my point. Chomet creates a city based on Paris, Montreal and New York, one that is an over the top reflection of over consumption. Each individual portrayed is as large as can be. It is an attempt to comment and connect fat and consumerism. From the American perspective, given that the film is French and we have our own bias this leads us to believe that it is a direct attack at America. I grew up in Berkeley the place that neo-conservatives sight as being the most anti-American place on American soil. We who live there think of it as the most American, a place that every day struggles to lives up to the constitutions promise and commitment to freedom and equality. These diversifying ideals are what lead us more often then not to sympathies if not agreeing with opinions beyond our borders. In Chomet’s case in this post 911 world I am offended by the bias. Sure as Nostradomis apparently predicted we live in a time were the line separating Osama or Bush becomes more blurred everyday. But why take America to task on over-consumption?…and in such a divisive way. I agree that we Americans consume more “stuff” then any in history, we could absolutely do more to utilize renewable recourses, reduce useless packaging, new energy technologies, intellectualize aesthetically mass culture ect… I also believe we consume more then our fair share and it is a reality of free society that creates this and it is the moral responsibility of this society to attend to the needs while marinating a free market and not distorting or offending others cultural freedoms as best we can. But I don’t appreciate the use of discriminatory imagery to portray Americans as fat consumers. I don’t agree with correlation and I don’t find the consumption in general is something to be bothered about. It is more how our consumption results with regard to waste and marketing’s distortion of diverse clotures. Capitalism is not necessarily evil, nor is communism… its how it is run and the morality of those who run it. No all of America shares this mindless compulsion and a broad generalization on both sides hurts us all. I hope Mr. Chomet does not live up to the bias forming in my mind, because on the surface I enjoy his work, but I can’t just mindlessly support it for that alone.
Finally my relatively short review (with ejections of a tone of non-sequiturs from the bully pulpit) of From the Lower East Side to Hollywood: Jews in American Popular Culture by Paul Buhle:
Paul’s book for me is connecting a lot of things that I have always wondered about in my self: kind of a, “the stars are aligning” feeling. I have been a secular half-Jew all my life. The majority of my gentile friends have no freaking clue on what that is (a staunch defender of retaining knowledge, traditions, culture and community with out the falsehood of god), why its important to me (It is the part of my identity, along with comics) that has throughout history been systematically assaulted by other communities… that includes in my life time to me personally) and how in the hell that works out (It works out great). I do not have a history of cartooning in my family: nothing even close in my Jewish side, I do have a strong art background on my moms (she was working in fabric arts and painting around the same time of the crafts movement…she is now an architect and storytelling is a family art on that side). I have always been interested in the Jewish contribution to comics and to me I can’t help but feel that Paul’s book is bringing in some ways both my Jewish American and American Euro-Mutt sides. I also grew up in Berkeley (as mentioned above) and have a strong liberal background (slightly balanced by life in Savannah and a personal struggle to remain open minded). I even considered myself socialist for a small time (right after trying orthodox Judaism and veaganism). Paul is specifically interested in Secular Jews commitment to radical liberalism and effect on American pop and underground culture. All of these parts play strong roles in the persons accounted in Paul’s book.
Paul’s writing is every bit as complex as the tapestry he is trying to pull together. It is a full experience that requires a thorough attentiveness. Paul’s writing lives up to his enthusiasm and the expectations you would have from a Brown professor. There is a sentiment that Liberal Jews have controlled the media in America until recently with the Limba’s, Fox News’s and Bill O’Rilies sense of fair and balanced. It is hard for someone in my position to acknowledge this, because normally this sense in incorporated into some conspiracy theory that is driven by prejudicial motivation and not praise for the contribution the Jews have made to American culture…this is a very common tight rope that exists for Jews in most countries Jews have communities in through out history (with the notable over swing of the pangolin in Israel today). The dexterity Paul needed was supported by an amazing amount of informed research that for me was fascinating and personal line by line. While stories of American Jewish cartoonist appear through out all areas of American pop and underground culture influenced artistically and economically by Jews is thoroughly sift through and exposed. What is truly great beyond the wealth of anecdotal info are the connections Paul brings to support a variety of theories in play. From time to time you find Paul strains the connections to the limits of plausible relevance. However the connections are so numerous and exist in so many degrees of effect on the broader picture that you tend to forgo the healthy skepticism and dive into the next morsel of fact as it relates to the tapestry unfolding.
Many would see this as a book for film fanatics, comic geeks, underground artist, Jews, liberals and conspiracy theorists. Being of all these things and more, the other interests and elements in my full persona would have to argue that these types of books are what should be introduced more often into the greater discussion on history, art and culture in America and the world. It is this sort of information that is left out of our history in school that is not only engaging, but would help in broadening the experiences and knowledge base of all. This is what Blacks, Jews, Asians, Latinos, Native Americans, Middle Easterners, Africans and European immigrants have been trying to get our educational system and culture as a whole to bring to the consciousness of White Native America. Our contributions and history in America should be explored and acknowledged on a level equal to the White experience. I would also note that the White history is more often skimmed over by most and actual knowledge on this perspective is on a huge nation wide decline, perhaps because of the lack of the type of colorful personas portrayed in Paul’s book. As our nation grows more diverse our students expect the education to reflect that. Their interest in the subject is reliant on honesty in the content and a reality portrayed that reflects directly on their own lives. To achieve this more effort needs to be made to attend to all backgrounds contributions and in turn it will improve relations across the board in cultural, social, religious, ethnic and political divides. But instead we have teachers teach to the test of an inaccurate and increasing irrelevant perspective that most can’t recall ten minutes after the test is over. Oh wait we don’t even fund that initiative and it is the teachers fault for being unable to teach an incomplete vision with dwindling recourses in the face of a growing hostel audience.
What in hell kind of review is this… man. Read the book… Its great!
I’m out’a here.
Well just so you know I have not finished reading the book. It will get done, but in no timely manner. There is far too much going on in my life right now.
A few notes of interest in the mean time:
stillnosound.com’s host, mojotown.com (they bring graphic artists and technicians together to build wonderful sites, like marcyjones.com) has a new site up, cussmugs.com. It is fun in a crass way. If you work in an office and have a bunch of tight wades around you make sure the volume is down when you open this sight. Enjoy.
In anticipation of Spider-Man II coming out (I am so geeked) I have found a nice rumor about Spidy III (source AICN via Comic Book Movies)…
A few opinions first: The Marvel book that turned me into a loyal Marvel reader, for far longer then I should have, was the limited series (I miss limited series) Secret Wars II. In this terribly flawed comic Spider-Man discovers the alien sludge that turns into his way cool black costume. It was way cool until it turned out to be an evil alien black costume and was striped from Spidy by FF’s good ol’ Reed Richards who always has a gadget for every occasion. Then the costume went off and merged with Eddie Brock, a guy who was mad at Peter ‘cause Peter was a better photographer. The costume and Brock merge turning into Venom, one of Marvels lamest villains and inexplicably most popular (did I miss something inherently interesting about this guy). A decade or so before Marvel introduced us to JJJ’s son, John Jameson, a pioneering Astronaut that, according to the record I use to listen too as a kid featuring this story, has a moon rock that melds with his skin turning him into the Man-Wolf… aside from being campy (not usually a bad thing ala Scooby Doo)it was probably the second most unoriginal idea in the marvel universe to the Avenger, Hercules.
Now I did like the evil alien costume it self… and I am willing to admit that the strain the costume put on Mary Jane and Peters relationship was not so great, so it would never work between the costume and Peter. I also really liked the relationship between JJJ and his less then perfect Astronaut son.
You may have seen Spidy II clips that infer that John Jameson marries Mary Jane (an interesting twist). The rumor for III is that while in space John J. encounters the black alien costume and merges turning into Venum. This rids us of the two aspects (Wolf-Man and Eddie) that make Venom and Wolf-Man lame villains and perhaps with out will make one great villain. The other interesting aspect is that I had thought that Harry Osborn (Peter’s best pal and Green Goblins son) would turn into the second Green Goblin or perhaps the Hobgoblin, both redundant villains. It looks like Harry will remain a manipulator of villains (like Doc Oc in Spidy II) working against Spidy and for Peter behind the scenes, not as a villain himself. These rumors also, at least for now, ends rumors that Kraven and the Chameleon are to be villains in Spidy III. To me this is all good news.
A quick endorsment:
I have always wanted to like cartoonist Tony Millionaire. He makes comics about sock monkeys. Chip Kidd designs his comics (If graphic designer Chip Kidd, illustrator Shag and film writer/director Wes Anderson were to make a comic it… I… it… I don’t know what but it sure would be something). His last name is Millionaire. But usually when I pick up his work it just isn’t my thing.
I now have two reasons to like him and I get, Kidd, the Millionaire name and a Monkey even if he is not made of a sock.
When We Were Very Maakies (fantagraphics) is a collection of Tony’s wonderfully crafted, crass, funny, juxtaposing, thoughtful comic strip, Maakies. Kidd is at his best with the packaging too.
Mighty Mite the Ear Might (fantagrpahics) is tiny, short and not so great till the wonderful ending. I am a sucker for pushing the medium forward and there is some creative, design and storytelling in the little book. I would say it smart designs on Kidd’s part too, but not my favorite.
On the Mike Patton front a few albums to check out aside from up coming albums by Peeping Tom, Bjork, Fantomas and Tomahawk.
Eyvind Kang’s “Virginal Co-Ordinates” (Ipecac) is the most peaceful record Mike has ever been involved in. It is world music (such a crappy genre usually) that channels jazz, classical and indy rock into a warm sunny Italian afternoon. I recommend it for gardening.
There are a number of albums on John Zorn’s Tzadik label that Mike has been evolved in over the past years. I have not herd a few of the most resent, but they are all collaborations of geniuses. If you are not familiar with John Zorn he is a Manhattan Jazz Saxophonist/Composer who works with musicians worldwide interested in Jazz, Advent Guard, Indy/Experimental Rock, Metal, Electronica, Japanese music, Punk, Anti-Genre, and Jewish Folk. His biggest influence on music is perhaps that he took over were John Cage (some of you may remember him from studying about the Noise movement, Post-Modernism and the Black Mountain School in NC…connected to Marcel Duchamp) left off and has driven Noise into the 21st century. His collaborations are to numerous to mention here. He is highly regarded in the Advent and Jazz scenes worldwide among those you may have herd of and those you should have. These are the people who are creating music as art, pushing the medium forward; they are contributing artist to the Fantagraphics and Drawn & Quarterly’s of music. His Jewish Jazz ensemble, Masada is one of the best Jazz bands on the planet. Here are a few new projects that have Mike Patton’s name tied to them: John Zorn: Masada Anniversary Edition Vol. 3 – the Unknown Masada, John Zorn: Masada Anniversary Edition Vol. 2 Voices in the Wilderness and John Zorn: IAO.
Well back to cartooning and reading.
Last weekend I was at a lecture on the Hollywood Blacklist by Paul Buhle (Professor @ Brown, Author of books on American Radical Culture and Adaptive Script Writer of Comics). I am reading two of his books now. When I am done I will do a full review of the books and the lecture. So far I recommend From the Lower East Side to Hollywood: Jews in American Popular Culture, but the jury is still out.
The development of the web comic is slowly movin'... I will let you know when to start getting existed or if this is just another idea that leads to the pile of unfinished to be finished when I can afford it projects... i.e. when I get paid to make comics.
Other then that my body hurts from yard work.
I finally recieved my copy of the Vol. 1 "The Complete Peanuts" The Definitive Collection of Charles M. Schulz's Comic Strip Masterpiece 1950-1052, designed by Seth (Drawn and Quarterly), published by fantagraphics. The largest printing project ever undertaken in the history of comics. There are MANY volumes to come. I confess I never liked Peanuts as a kid and when people would accuse me of pursuing a carrier in comic strips I would bristle. I must also admit, people change and through self discovery and discovery of opinions by cartoonists I like or respect, I now love Sparky. I particularly am enjoying this starting at the beginning and seeing how it all unfolds (in nice beautifully crafted volumes). His development is a lesson each panel at a time.
I am a huge fan of siting and reading with a tangible object in you hand... an object with weight. No technology active (perhaps some music). Spring air, country afternoons. I love it. It is for that reason that I have bristled at the online comic movement (not for consideration of quality, content, new tec ease, fear of online finance, pure traditionalism ect...) simply because to me a comic is beset served in a book on a a warm breasy night.
But I am evolving and I am growing accustom to the ideal of change in the medium to serve its future. I do not think this will terminate traditions implementation in the future. However it took some time for me to get here.
Keeping this all in mind I have decided that I will be looking into starting an online comic.
It will not be free. There is this apologetic nature that comes with being a cartoonist. It is something that we must incrementally change (I think this has begun a long time ago by others). A free product is simply to wimpy a step forward. A product supported by advertising dollars is not something I would rule out, but there are aesthetic and credibility concerns when this becomes your primary source. It will not be virtually free. It will not be expensive or over priced either (a subjective opinion to be sure). I have found that cartoonist who do require payment online to view their webcomics have been short changing themselves. I am not sure if it is to support the new form in the face of bias against the online form, or against comics in general. I think that a tangible object should hold more value then a digital file. I also think that a well designed book holds more value then a poorly designed book. A limited print more then a mass print. A original piece of art more then print alone. But I do not believe that 1000 panel comic or a 200 page comic in digital form is worth just $1.50 ($0.0015/panel) when it would go for $15.00 when cheaply printed and $25.00 when it is well designed. I would even say that a webcomic presented on a well designed sight is worth more then one on a poorly designed sight. I do think once you pay for it is should be available to you for personal use (a downloadable form that would prohibit the consumer from printing or digitally copying and distributing it). I am proposing that my webcomic cost a Penny per Panel (on average that would be $1.20 for a 24 page comic or $10.00 for a 200 page comic). I believe this to be an appropriately fair price. It should be affordable and worth its value (as long as I do my job well enough). Plus if enough people become regulars it could actually be profitable enough for me to keep paying an actual percentage of my bills and keep food on the table.
The other thing is that in terms of format I am trying to not limit what that would be to much. I could be similar to strip form or similar long narratives. It may be auto bio or fiction. I do know at this point it will be a panel a' day undertaking that could begin as soon as this summer.
Tue, Apr. 27th, 2004, 03:04 pm
In Other News
A small note: 1.1 Million pro-choice protesters marched on Washington last weekend. Apparently receiving minimal coverage which includes (or excludes) no front page reporting on any paper nation wide and no coverage at all in Washington DC's primary paper the Post. This is surprising not because it is about Abortion rights an issue that has been subject to more change since Roe v Wade (Late term abortion change and double homicide when pregnant women are murdered... I take no position on either at this time), this is surprising, because NO march on Washington has ever actually been a Million people (despite the Million Man March ect...) let alone 1.1 Million. But hay the media is liberally bias... right?
In less important news (but more coverage by yours truly)
Björk's next album will suddenly make a dream I have hoped for since I was roughly 18 come true. Mike Patton (the artist I most admire) has collaborated with my favorite living female voice. This news was first herd from by from cv.org (a great source for all things Patton along with ipecac.com his and Greg Workmen's label). The closest Björk and Patton had gotten to collaborating was a fluke in the seminal point were Patton reached his initial and most far reaching point of fame. I will explain:
One night in my home town of Berkeley, CA a party was held at Billy Gould's house (Founding member/Bassist of Faith No More, Mike Patton's second band). At this party Björk, who had been recording in SF across the bay, brought a fish that had been given to her that very day. For what ever reason Björk left her fish (who she named Linear Soul Child and whom she missed afterwards very much). The fish was then taken to the tapeing of Faith No More's most watched and listened to single Epic (this song for what ever reason made Mike Patton the number one hart throb for 1989). In the video a fish is featured flopping on the ground out side of its cozy water home. This is Linear Soul Child and his performance lead to much controversy in terms of cruelty of animals... but the fish survived the ordeal and Björk has defended the FNM as people who care for animals in the press.
But back to the future release of a legitimate collaboration: Bjorks next album ("The Lake Experience") will be entirely vocal in content. It will feature not only Björk and Mike Patton, but:
Rahzel (who I may have mentioned I saw perform with Mike in Winooski recently),
Dokaka (Japan's Rahzel/Mike Patton... I am just learning of him...F. U. N....FUN check him out at www.dokaka.com ,
Tagaq (Canadian female folk vocalist... toured w/ Bjork before)
Mark Bell (Floridian artist who along with visual does vocal art pieces).
An entire album with this sort of international range, experimentation, ability and composing exsirience should be one of the highlights of all their carriers. The bar is set high in my mind, I hope they deliver.
On to other things...
I just got the latest Comics Journal in the mail and on the cover exclaims the new generation has arived...
Just below Jeffrey Brown (mentioned recently on this here blog) number two was Robyn Chapman. A fellow SCAD alumni/friend who has been mentioned in the journal a few times over that past year. She won the Xeric grant a few years ago and has not looked back. Her work is always improving and is a prime example of gutz and honesty. She and I caught up last SPX (it was actually kind of a SCAD SA reunion). Her work is very refreshing and poignant. I have a link now to her sight un-pop.com.
Now I wasen't on the list and neither was Ben Towle, Ben Phillips, Max Clotfelter, Eliaz McMillan, Z@K, Phillip Craven, Trisha Toms, Renee Alexander, Ray Gotto, Kristin Hogan and a number of other hard working cartoonist from Robyn's generation of the Savannah scene...most not from lack of quality or production or recognition from established insiders, but because there is only so much room on TCJ list or in thier memory (we not being the only scene in town). Also for now Robyn is the cream that is at the top. Our generation has arrived and it is our turn to make good on our promise to ourselves, each other, an audience and comics...produce and produce well.
Good luck all.
If you weren't mentioned in this little blurb... it is not for lack of quality or quntity... it is because this is little blog that no one reads and I have to go back to cartooning. I am sure your name will pop up here in the future.
Also with all this talk of news paper strips not pushing the medium forward I think it would be poor in our judgment to not ecknoledge that some effort is still being made by cartoonist like Aaron McGruder (Boondocks) and there are a few strips that are still being made that have always been good... doonsbary, for better or for worst. McGruder in perticular though is probably the highest profile minority (non jewish (male/female), white (male/female)) in cartooning today. He may not be pushing the medium in illustrative or format, but most of us can't pull off being a politicly/socialy contious BLACK saterist. He is paveing a way that has been done, but not at such a critical time and in such an honest way. He is by vertue of who he is able to bring a perspective to us that most of the rest of us couldn't given who we are. So not all is lost for our the original form of our medium.
“…-there’s always this surface against which one is always bumping. If the cartoonist makes it specific or to realistic, the he or she loses something, some reader trust; one loses some sense of believability and life. It’s an extraordinarily hard balance to strike…” –Ware
In the latest Comic Journal Special Edition the focus is on conversations among Al Hischfeld, Jules Feifer, Art Spieglman and Chris Ware. Four generations of cartoonist. They didn’t all sit around in a circle, but the conversations between two of the four create a tapestry of perspective and experience with regards to comics. I must admit I have not consumed the entire book and there is much more in there like some Jack Davis strips, and article on the Simpsons and comics by people such as my former topics adviser Ted Stern (who’s story reminded me of my friend Tarin’s own struggles in a MFA painting department @ SCAD were Ted happens to teach comics cartooning). I haven’t even gotten through all the discussions between the above-mentioned cartoonists. Mostly because the descusion between Feifer, Ware and Publisher/Moderator Gary Groth was not so unique as it was insightful I had to take brakes for hours to process what had just been said.
I will attempt here to briefly point out some items that came up in their conversation and probably mischaracterize their opinions so please just go read the article your self after reading this. I will also add my two sence.
There was a contention that the real forward moving progress in comics is in the small press market. It is nice to know that a few generations before us there are cartoonist the see progress, it also important to here the encouragement of change from the completive establishment.
Cartoonist in general today can be hurt by desires to pay respect to past work. Whooo Hooo free at last…
Strips have stagnated since Calvin and Hobbes. I think that there are exceptions, but on a hole strips have become less inventive as a segment of our medium. The work of mainstream comics has definitely stagnated in my opinion (with exceptions of course). A focus on film has hindered their company value and this alternate buck threatens Indy comics as well.
The terms Graphic Novel and Sequential Art (no offence to Eisner who remains well respected) have become the African-American “pc” term for comics. Comics are Comics no mater what length and printing process. Cartoonists are Cartoonists no mater what artistic social scale they are climbing.
Comics have two basic communication devices, text and the visual. I grew up admiring very intense and specific illustrative styles, but the less specific the drawing in the panel the more the reader is able to identify with the story and the smother the visual story telling goes. Just as you would not want to many words the same can be said for visual details. You are still “reading” the pictures. This is not to say that it should look like crap. There is a balance between cartooning and drawing. It takes far more skill to lay down one clean line then it does a number of hatches. Plus it can be a lot faster a process and even look better, but that all comes down to aesthetic taste. I have grown to be influenced and grounded by, Ware, Woodring, Shag and Chip Kid, because of this simple truth.
The sympathy (one of the most difficult feats in comics) we have for Charlie Brown could not have been maintained in one continuous long reading…we needed that daily brake. Yeah totally!
The 500-page story works when it is contagious and this is one of the current steps that is pushing us forward. I think format, length, opinion, content, style, ect ect should all be explored and pushed. There is no one road to the future.
The words and the pictures must not be able to survive with out the other in a panel… this is one of the big challenges.
You put your self into the work and you put your influences in too. I have thought that auto-bio work is a crutch that the “Alternative” scene leans on you. In the move Search and Destroy, I am always quoting “Just because it happens to you doesn’t make it interesting.” This may still be true… but we are storytellers as cartoonist. It is our job to turn it into something interesting. Plus that quote was from the villain in the film. All my favorite cartoonist put them selves into their work one way or another as do I.
Jeffrey Brown (Clumsy/Be A Man) is a pioneer. His style and auto bio stories are so raw. They speak the truth. Truth is more important then ever in comics. That is the point behind the simpler drawings.
Let your personal habits reflect in your art… particularly your work ethic. Like you have a choice.
Crap I have done none of this justice and I know there was more… go buy and read it. It may save your carrier.
Also in Hischfeld and Spieglman’s discussion there was talk of Hischfeld experience in his twenties in France hanging out with artist like Picasso, Hemmingway and Gertrude Stine. He says there has not been a community like that since. He is right to a point, but I here stories of SF in the 70’s and Soho in the 80’s. Was Savannah at the turn of the century our France… or is it this damn Internet.
I saw Kill Bill V.2 I liked it to a point and really agree with most accounts that Tarrentino gets more out of his actors then most anyone. I HATE Uma… and she has only been half way decent working with him. David Caridene was down right awesome. Although I agree for the most part with his Superman Analogy… I wish there was another cartoon character that people would bring up. I mean how many billion other comic characters are there…
I have no more energy to express… or even think.
As for current projects I have been finishing up the wedding invites, which I believe Mr. Kid would be proud of.
A website based on my work is up at marcyjones.com... go check it out. She is an awesome architect... and she is my mom.
NPR's Fresh Air did a nice little review of Eagles of Death Metal.
And the slightly nausiating, but a clear alternative to conservative radio is now available on the radio and internet. Try out Air America. It makes you realize that NPR isn't as liberally bias as they are accused of being.
Barry Manolo is exactly what we should be against. Prince is speaking the truth... so listen.
Captains Log Star Date 04152004
Most comic fans, even the high brow ones, have had that experience of going into a comic shop, browsing through a newsstand, wandering a airport book store, funneling through a used book store, support a local book corner, stealing from the local Piggly Wiggly, patron an evil book chain or surfing the internet and finding a cover that entices you enough that you buy that comic. You read it, curse the cover artist and editor for misleading you and swear you will more carefully peruse the book before buying next time… …then of course that doesn’t help either. Hidden in the pages some ware between the panels in the gutter is the hidden part of the story that speaks to you and only you. This is the part that lets you wether the comic is good and no amount of careful perusing will help. Or at least that’s what I tell myself now, as a very experienced comic reader and somewhat experienced cartoonist. I can’t admit that I just wasted another what is it now five bucks (use to be 65 cents… or yeah a dime), because of an impulse buy and a “pretty” picture.
The fallowing were all impulse buys on one level or another… I am so American. Some are really good comics and some represent exactly what is wrong with comics today. The infuriating thing is most of the crap sells better then the good stuff, but you have to brake at least a hundred good eggs to make one descent comic. As one who also creates comics and other art I must protest that making a really good comic may be one of the truly hard things to do in art. Believe it.
Honest Reviews AKA (Hay if I was getting paid for this I would do a better job):
Tell Me Something By Jason (Fantagraphics)
Never cared to pick up any of Jason’s stuff before the cover didn’t entice me. I was checking out fantagraphics website and there was a well designed simple cover with a blurb that said silent comic (both good ingredients to me… around the same time there was a cover of Marvel’s Venom. It just showed his tongue wiggling across the page… very disgusting, sexual and enticing on both counts. Plus the composition was just about perfect, simple. Almost bought that, but then I realized… I HATE VENOM. What a lame villain and character… plus no doubt the inside was ruined whit text and over drawn panels, so I resisted…) Anyway, Tell Me Something uses text a hand full of times, but in separate panels directly ripping off silent movies (a nice, but easy solution). The story is about love. It uses classic cartooning deceit, violence and antics to tell this story. I enjoyed it even when I got a whee bit confused. An experience I personally enjoyed, because I confuse my readers all the time and it was nice to enjoy a story and get confused at the same time by some one else’s work. Particularly when they have the level of success I expect to achieve some day. It was no Frank, but since Jim Woodring has put Frank in retirement, I could see fallowing Jason’s’ anthropomorphist through silent tales of love and woe in the future. If not I will pick up Tell Me Something again, just for the pleasure of reading it.
1602 No. 7 By Gaiman, Kubert and Isanove (Marvel PSR)
Bought it for the cover… wish I hadn’t. To tell you the truth Gamian wrote so much crap on the first page and the drawing was so dumb I stopped reading it a few pages later. Maybe if I had finished it I would have a different feeling. But I had that same feeling a about an Allen Moore Promethea book once (A Comic more often then not that I really enjoy) and it was not worth the struggle of getting through. The premise of 1602 is interesting; it is basically about superheros in the 17th century. I just didn’t feel like wasting my time since the delivery wasn’t enticing.
Be A Man By Jeffrey Brown (Top Shelf)
I got it for free with another purchase. It was better then the book I paid for. Although I am a little confused about its $3.00 cover price. It certainly makes me feel better about the price of my latest book. For Be A Man to work you must read the little intro. It may have helped to read “Clumsy” first, but I didn’t. The book it self is Brown’s reaction to comments on his work in clumsy that basically accused him of being a “pussy.” To fallow are a number of very short comics that depict the evil side of men in relationships. It reveals how Jeffrey apparently really feels, or how he wishes he could behave… your never quite sure. It is very graphic in detail as far as the stories go. The art’s basic rugged amateur style serves as a refreshing vessel for what are essentially truths in sophomoric drag. Brown is the quintessential “Auto Bio Cartoonist Who Can’t Draw so there for in the 21st Century that means they are a Genius.” What I refer to as the “Crutch” of Indy Comics. In Brown’s defense though this book was nicely entertaining although some times he confused me more then I confuse my readers. The primary feeling I had through out was laughter, fallowed by guilt, fallowed by laughter and compulsion to tell everyone what I had experienced, despite the fact that I should be embarrassed that I laughed. Sometimes the other people would laugh, but that then that would make us both embarrassed. We are all so puritan around here...Vermont. (What ever happen to my Berkeley persona?)
Fair Weather By Joe Matt (DQ)
Finally a comic made for the “aged typical American White male comic fan ” (most of us) that is appropriate for us to read. I don’t care for Joe Matt’s self-indulgent adult auto bio comic life. I don’t read it at all; because I am apposed to the life style I think it portrays… perhaps a dark reflection of my repressed self. But “MAN” every heterosexual boy who grew up in America between 1962 and 1995 (perhaps after) and read comics and had friends who read comics should read this. It is a classic story of the time, when girls are on the horizon, adventure is an everyday exploration and you know life is ruff, but your parents seem to think you have no idea. Plus Matt has a way of drawing that brings all that is great about comics out with well-inked lines. Fair Weather is a book for adults who remember and reflect nostalgically on adventures in their own youth. It is a lot more fun then taxes.
Supreme Power No. 7 By Straczynski, Frank and Sibal (Marvel Max)
Bought it for the cover… never should have.
The Amazing Spider-Man No. 500 By Straczynski, Romita Jr., Ramita Sr, Hanna, Campbell, Townsend (Marvel)
A formulaic journey down memory lane with one spidy villain after the next. But it is usually fun to see the Romita boy drawing old web head… plus it is the 500th issue. Wouldn’t expect it to be great issue… these annuals and anniversary double issues never are. The cover is reminiscing of the McFar. days… when he wasn’t so evil.
4 No. 2 By Aguirre-Sacasa, McNiven and Morales (Marvel Knights)
Damn that cover… Foiled again (issue ones cover is even better). Marvel Knights use to be the only good thing about marvel when it first started. They hired its co-owner/editor and penciler Quesada to be the editor in chief of all of Marvel. A potentially swell move, but why did Marvel Knights have to start to produce crap like the bulk of Marvel books had been. “4” is well drawn (The art is real nice in an epic way), but this maybe one of the dumbest concepts and cheesiest telling of a story in Fantastic Fours history. It doesn’t boa well for the movie… or maybe it does, because they are saving the good stuff for the film… yeah screw comics… I am waiting for the movie to come out.
Plastic Man No. 2 By Kyle Baker (DC)
Never liked Kyle Baker’s work before (I know, I know the great Kyle Baker) but he is absolutely the only person to do Plastic-Man since Jack Cole that gets it. His writing (pithy cleverness) and art (zany graphic control) is the perfect combo for the 21st century Plast. Funny, whimsical, fresh, fun, sexy and fucked up. All in a DC superhero book that isn’t a $20 graphic novel. I am thinking of getting a subscription, but I fear that Baker will get stagnate and they will replace him with Eric Larson or some one worse.
Optic Nerve No. 9 By Adrian Tomine (DQ)
I luckily am over my obsessive admiration of Tomine. Although I still find it uncanny that he lives in the hometown I miss the most (Berkeley), draws comic for the publisher I most admire (DQ) and he is to the day one year older then me (May 31st). No. 9 is the beginning of what know doubt has been a challenge… a three-issue story. Tomine has been under pressure to live up to his hype. Hype I would have caved under at our age. This story is typical Tomine, but it drags far less then SOME of his other longer works (a surprising result seeing as its his longest… well we shale see when the next two are done). The story is a relationship story dealing with a cross Asian American romance. It brings up concerns of gender priorities, cultural conflicts between Asian cultures in America, as well as, the inevitable pressures of comparison to Europeans experienced by most women in non-European cultures. So far so good. Tomine has a very stiff pure style that has been a staple for quite some time in his work. I like it, because of the illustratively realistic depictions, clean lines and the reflection it plays on a stereotype of Japanese American cultural expectations. I still get home sick when I read it.
Love and Rockets Vol. 2 No. 9 By Los Hernandez Bro. (Fantagraphics)
Great cover, but I would have bought it anyway… it is the Los Hernandez Bro. I identify with what they care about in comics illustratively and storytelling wise then most cartoonist, particularly in Jamie’s case. The last few issues before were a little better, but in general I am really enjoying Maggie’s current story. There is a new female romance in her life and mysterious heroin in her building. What is happening with Izzy and these freaky dogs? The story is picking up steam. Berto’s primary world is always enticing, as a Californian I really actually get a we bit home sick, because of the Mexican and American cross over, as well as the punk rock undertones of many characters pasts. Berto did some work in one of the resent past issues that was absolutely awesome. He took a character he had done a number of times and put him in a very efficiently paced story that took 50 (?) panel pages, it is a fun and epic wicked tail.
Nancy By Ernie Bushmiller (Owl Books)
I recently made the ultimate 5-Card-Nancy deck for my students. In doing so I read a ton of Bushmiller’s classics. It is a great experience. I didn’t laugh out loud until I ran across a strip were Nancy is reading about how men like women with a good background. Then there is shot of boys passing her as she stands in front of a ice cream shop. (Words don’t give it justice). Every cartoonist should make his or her own deck. Playing with it is an exercise in valued fundamentals with every panel. It took me about a week and a half (with access to a free copy machine) to make a huge deck. You can go to www.scottmccloud.com for the directions on how to properly build your own deck. I recommend getting rid of panels that are too specific (but keep enough so the stories are interesting). I have to say that his work is the most pure cartooning around (a statement made many times before by others). His later stuff is so inspiring; I hope to get to that purity someday with a 21st century edge.
Mabel Normand By Larry Semon and Kim Deitch cover (Fantagraphics)
I am a fan of past work, but some things are reprinted because they are timeless and/or inspire better work in work done today, while some work is reprinted so we don’t forget it ever existed. Mabel Normand in my opinion is the later case. Dietch is all right for some (I prefer Crumb) and Semon is all right for some as well (I prefer most any thing else from 1890-1930).
5 is the perfect Number by Igort (DQ)
Mother Come Home By Thomas Tennant (Absence of Ink)
Xenozoic Tales By Mark Shultz (Kitchen Sink/Dark Horse)
Pistolwhip By Matt Kindt and Jason Hall (Top Shelf)
This weekend Punisher comes out… hmmm I wonder… could it be good. When Punisher was big in 80’s I had friends who would oh and awe over him. I personally liked his design, but didn’t get into his story.
I think I am going to see Kill Bill II. Tarintino actually pushed the line on blood so far that it went from horrific over the edge into hilarious. Plus I like that hole quilting of genre reference and fun stuff into a vibrant film (even if covers up a lame story). It is the Mike Patton approach to film making.
Till Next Time.
I have a cold 'cause I worked myself into the ground over the past few weeks (my vacation/family reunion/business trip ended up feeling like work to my body). The thing that put me over the edge was this awesome teaching experience I had last weekend.
At Burlington College I taught a Storyboarding workshop 20 hours in three days (the weekend when your clock springs forward). I had the largest class I have taught in front of since Savannah. They were as nutty about films as I am about comics, so we all had fun. I may have preached the gospel of comics more then I should have, but they all seemed interested at the time. The hours were intense and some how the mutiny remained minimal. The average student was convinced they couldn't draw, but in the end their boards for the most part worked. It was really an encouraging experience for me. I learned a lot. When I went into teach my Illustration class (in the same room) on Monday I honestly felt I hadn't left the building in four days. I think I left the building...
...oh yeah on Sunday night I saw Hell Boy. Now I am ashamed to admit it, but really my only experience with Hell Boy is the page we colored in Dave Guildersleve's Comics Computer Coloring class at SCAD. I know it is a great comic, because people I admire tell me so. It is just one of those things I haven't gotten to yet, like Loan Wolf and Cub. So this was the first comic film, were I didn't exactly have all the parts of the story memorized to the most minute detail. I new enough to know that there was some connection with mysticism and nazism, but that was about it. As far as any action flick it was very well designed and the design execution was great. The movie was pretty relentless, which didn't allow you to be board with only a few exceptions. The ending was anti climatic and semi surprising in not so great a way (I can't express why). There was a really nice part that could have been fluff in the middle, but instead served an actual purpose. It was a nice brake to reflect on Hell Boys character and relationships, plus add in a lot of cute humor. The villains and monsters were awesome overall, in particular the nazi guy who wares a mask... my 12 year old design instinct resurrected every time I saw him... he was bad ass. Ron Pearlman was perfect as Hell Boy or seemed so (of course what do I know not having read the comic). Best thing he has done since City of Lost Children. He was a good hero type, love sap and was very funny at times. He did some badass things himself. The supporting cast was relatively good as well... no real annoyances in that area.
So go see it if you want to see a good comic book film that is fun. Punisher comes out next... it looks like it could be pretty crappy, but not as bad as the old film (one of the worst thing ever made).
Next time I will review a number of comics I have been reading, as of late.