Sunday, April 27, 2014

Original Art Sundays No. 181: An Oz Sketchbook

TheBack in the saddle again. I picked up a cheap scanner. It will serve.
Today's offering: more sketchbook work. In 1998, I toyed with the idea of an Oz alphabet book for children. I was discouraged from pursuing it by peers who foresaw copyright problems, but did complete a handful of preliminary work.
loose sketch done while watching 1939 film
As a former resident of Judy Garland's home town, Oz has always been near and dear to my heart. My Mother had an old edition (but not a first printing) of Ozma of Oz, and the John Neill illustrations fascinated me. although it has my sister's name in it, the booke ended up in my library- quel suprise!
Somewhere along the way, Mother  also got an older edition of Rinkitink in Oz, which further inspired my young mind and heart. John Neill has remained a primal artistic influence. The grace of his line, couple with the energy of his figures, was quite a shock.
It does need to be said that the 1939 film was my first exposure to Oz on film. As has been documented elsewhere, it is far from faithful to the Baum book in many ways- plot lines dropped out, characters omitted, the silver slippers exchanged for ruby, and so on. Despite this, the film also had a profound effect on me, though I didn't see it in color until I was in college- we only had a black and white TV set!
A more successful sketch
from the same session
I was never a huge fan of Denslow's work on Oz, compared to Neill (and later to Eric Shanower and Skottie Young). I found Denslow's stylization odd and distracting, though it has grown on me, as evidenced by the sketch on the left. I think the Lion's expression works very well here. I also like the "big sleeve" design of the Tin Woodsman.
Really, more a playful take on a rather menacing moment from the film than anything else.
Over the years, I became more invested in Oz lore (not as much as some, but it remains a significant fascination). While my Oz library is incomplete, it does include such curiosities as Roy Krenkel's illustrated version of the first novel, Philip Jose´ Farmer's A Barnstormer In Oz, the Shanower collection of First graphic novels, and the oversize Marvel adaptation of The Land of Oz.
In planning the aforementioned Oz alphabet book, I completed a few roughs. Here they are.
Layout rough, proportions clearly need work!
The most successful pieces in this lot are the Glass Cat pages, one of which appears here. When I dig it up, I'll post the Photoshop and Illustrator created version of the Glass Cat page!
Another layout rough
of a favorite character

A sketchbook piece, more successful than its digital successor!
I love the Glass Cat's attitude! I wrote text to accompany these pages, long gone (aside from the digital version of the Glass Cat page, wherever that is now in my mountain of old work).
I completed a mockup for a pirate alphabet as an alternative to the Oz project. This was also in 1998, five years before the first Pirates of the Caribbean film. There have been quite a few pirate books for children since then. So though the project was ahead of its time, it's now dated. Go figure.
Next: back to the Surrealist Cowgirls!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Original Art Sundays No 180: The Sharp Invitation

Well, technically after midnight, so not really Sunday any more. But I won't complain if you don't.
Worked a 55 hour week this week, so did not make it to the library to scan.
Here's a story I completed a while back to promote a class on Graphic Memoir that I was set to teach. The class was cancelled due to low enrollment, which made me rather sad.  However, even in this very rough stage, I felt like I was on to something. This work was previously published at the Loft Literary Center blog in relation to the proposed class.
I'd like to complete this work (I know, there are so many projects I've already said that about). Part of me considers much of my previous work- Tranny Towers, A Private Myth (not forgotten, only stalled), TranScending, the Squirell, Cat and Car short story- as prelude to this.

This art in this is beyond crude, deliberately. I've been irritated for some time by the praises afforded to "loose" artists like Christopher Iriving and Rich Burlew, creator of Order of the Stick. I now my work has its, ahem, uneven properties, but some artists don't appear to even try and have praise lavished on them. I mean, come on, stick figures are popular? So I thought I'd try to work a little looser, let go of some of the control. This is the result. A bit too far the other way, I think. I suspect my answer lies somewhere in the middle.
As for the story, I plan to execute sporadic short pieces and work towards assembling them. That seems to be my strength anyway, so why not? 
Soon: the long-promised Surrealist Cowgirls short, which has been completed for weeks now.