Sunday, March 27, 2011

Original Art Sundays #85: Placeholder: V for Vicodin

My inking sucks today.
Therefore, although the next page of A Private Myth is bordered, penciled, lettered, and about half inked, I'm going to come back to it and post in a day or two.
The next Surrealist Cowgirls page will still post next Sunday.
To tide over the faithful, here's some Photoshop perversity featuring two of my favorite inspirations: Alan Moore and Gregory House.

I love this piece. I was able to fight my natural tendency to throw too much in, and I think it works.
Join us in a few days for the next page of A Private Myth.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Whose stories are these anyway?

The Lambda Literary Foundation has announced its 2011 award nominees.
There is one graphic novel on the list Jon Macy's Teleny and Camille (which I've not read), and only one comic anthology.
The anthology in question is Justin Hall's Glamazonia, the Uncanny Super Tranny.
Now I like Justin just fine, and do enjoy the strip in a casual way. But the collection is nominated in the category of Transgender Fiction.
Well, yeah, I suppose it is. Technically. But it's not what I first think of when considering this work.
It's about a superheroine drag queen who is gay male identified.
Drag is part of the trans community. Transgender is a blanket term. But it's sort of like your cousins. You enjoy their company, you're glad to see them, but you really don't have that much in common with them.
To further complicate the issue, Justin isn't trans in any sense.
Does that mean his voice on the issue is invalid?
Not necessarily. Just as men can write intelligent, capable women, and white people can write plausible people of other races as characters, so can someone write outside their own sexual experience and identity. But to have that someone nominated for an award as representative of that community is, well, problematic.
See, my problem with Glamazonia is not that it's unfunny or that it doesn't speak to part of the trans community. It is funny, and it does speak to a specific subset of what passes for a trans community.
But it's very gay male identified, and wrapped in a language, philosophy and way of life (I loathe the term lifestyle) that is removed from the experience of a great many trans folk.
It's good work and deserves recognition. I'm not sure if it belongs in this category, though, for the reasons enumerated.
One of the complaints many cisgendered women have about drag is that it feels to them like a form of blackface- a sort of parody of their identities. I see their point. When I read someone else's version of who I am, who we are, who anybody outside their own experience is, it chafes more than a bit. It's kind of like Lenny Bruce said about the cop testifying at Lenny's obscenity trial: someone is doing your act, and you're being judged by their performance.
Now, Justin fully recognizes this issue, and is very responsible in discussing it. This clip from the Queer Press Grant panel at last year's San Diego con is an example of that. Go to about 10:45 in the clip.

So I cannot, and am not of a mind to, really take Justin to task on this issue. he does good work that deserves to be recognized.
But the LLA committee: well....
Why no recognition of graphic narrative as an inherent form? There are categories for fiction, nonfiction, some types of genre fiction, all broken down by sexuality or sexual identity.  It cant' be for lack of good work- why is Rucka's exemplary work on Batwoman (and J H William's engaging follow up) not recognized, or even the Archie issue with new gay character? The latter is not the apex of the form, but is certainly culturally significant.
Have we reached the point at which these narratives are more integrated, and  queer graphic narrative exists in the context of larger works and separate recognition is no longer necessary?
Well, that would be nice, but I don't think we're there yet. Closer than we've ever been, but still no cigar is no cigar, to mix a metaphor.
Lambda has never had an award category for Graphic Narrative, or Graphic Novel, or whatever nomenclature trips your trigger.
They've nominated Stuck Rubber Baby, and Alison Bechdel has won in the past. But given the immeasurable quality of their work, that's almost a no-brainer.
Now, i realize that these folks owe me nothing. If I want to see an award for this work, I can always start one on my own.
But given that these folks are already out there, so to speak, I shouldn't have to.

Original Art Sundays #84: Surrealist Cowgirls, it does this, p. 4

Here we go with the next page of this fun, silly story.
This is as far as I got with this back in 1989, or whatever lost year it was when i did this work. A new page is about half done, and will be ready for posting by the next time it's due in the rotation.
I like the cleanliness and confidence in these pages. In particular, this page advances the story while playing with some fun visual conventions (if the sun needed glasses, they'd be sunglasses, right?).  I also like that Louise (who usually ends up in the sort of Gracie Burns role) has the bright idea here.
The next page... well, I don't want to give it away, but it will be stylistically consistent while a bit more elaborate.
Next week: A Private Myth, page 21!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Original Art Sundays #83: Tranny Towers, p. 14

For your reading pleasure, the next chapter of Tranny Towers. There are 24 chapters in the first of the two main story arcs.
This page gave me fits.
First, I worked it slightly oversize, so I had to scan it in tiers for printing.
It didn't work.
For the life of me, I could NOT get the press tape borders to align in the scans!
Then there was the attempted visual device in the banner. I was trying for an opening wrought iron gate (I'm fascinated by wrought iron), but without extra frame of reference, like laying a roadway under it, it just reads as some pretty scaled text.  The scaling was done by hand using that old tool, the vanishing point, not in Photoshop.
In panel 5, there was a dumb problem to be fixed. I was ready to go to press, when I realized that Sonia's head was going the wrong way in response to the backhanded slap. This realization came a few hours before deadline time. So hurry, redraw the head and mortise it in, and still make the deadline!
That panel could also use more weight in terms of spotted blacks.
Finally, while I like sparse backgrounds, there's a little too much omitted here. The space of their apartment was established in a previous chapter, the one with the Mother, so referring back to it a bit more would have improved continuity.
There are some very nice things about this page. The classic six panel layout is a proven winner for advancing narrative, and identifies more with action stories than its 8-panel counterpart, which is usually associated with comedy and funny animal stories.
It's also action driven. A lot of my work is dialogue driven, and this gave me the chance to stretch out a bit. Like the "hands" page in an earlier chapter, it's a way to make me face a kind of work I've not excelled at in the past.
This was an emotionally wrenching page in other ways. I was less than two years out of an abusive relationship at this point, and this page was part of my facing that. I believed at the time that it was dishonest to have your personal life show up in your art. I now think that it's inevitable. The trick is to have the art come first, and let the personal stuff show up in whatever form it does.
Next week: Surrealist Cowgirls!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Original Art Sundays #82: oddments: Elvis Has Eaten the Building

I'm going to try a fresh rotation.
An oddment (something outside the storylines, a fun piece), followed by
A Tranny Towers page, followed by
A Surrealist Cowgirls page, followed by
A Private Myth page.
This will serve to give me time to do the work. This is especially significant as regards A Private Myth. The emotional aspects of those pages really take their toll, and balancing them with lighter fare will do my head good.
Today's oddment is from Ink Tantrums No. 1, my first self-published comic circa 1994. It's a silly little page. Had the idea, banged it out using some shoddy tools, one of the more fun pages I've ever done.

The Elvis jokes had become the rage again in the early 90s for some reason, and my Gamera fascination played against the HHH Metrodome was- oh, what the hell, I was just being silly.
Great fun to draw this one!
This was after Commercial Art school, but before MCAD.
Next week: Tranny Towers.

Happy Birthday, Will Eisner!

Just a very quick post.
If you don't know who Will Eisner was, you're reading the wrong blog.
Suffice to say that comics would not be what they are today without him.
Instead of going into some long elaborate theoretical diatribe, as is my way, I'll let today's Google search logo do my talking for me!