Monday, October 26, 2009

In a bind with the Aztec

I've been exploring the possibility of having some of my comics hardbound as a step towards honing my collection.
One of the titles I've been looking at is the 1980s Eclipse book Aztec Ace. Good writing, precise and ornate art, and just a smart, fun read.
Here's the Table of Contents I've worked up for the book.

Basically happy with the work. I think the text crowds the logo just a tad, and the logo masking is iffy in a couple places. But as long as it prints clean, we're golden.
And so is Ace!
One of the comic covers is damaged and needs replacing. It will only cost a dollar or so, but I don't have time to run around for it today, so the bind is postponed yet again. Insert growling noise of frustration here!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Original Art Sundays, No. 17: The World in Love, pp. 2-5

More pages from the 24 hour challenge!
It seems to me that the pace of the story would be hurt by slower posting, so I will be be posting multiple pages for the next several weeks. This will also give me incentive to do more work!


Again, no image editing, just the raw files from the scans.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

It's a Ms. Tree to me....

Spent part of the afternoon with my casual buddy Terry Beatty and his son Kirby. I mean really, what else would a comic artist and comic hound name his son but Kirby?
The purose of the visit, aside from interrupting Terry's work drawing the next book in The Road to Perdition series, was to get him to sign my friend James' four (!) bound volumes of The Complete Ms. Tree in four hardbound volumes.
A quick word about binding. people are starting to get into it as a way of archiving collections, and organizing the content to your liking.  You assemble the material in the order you want it bound, send it to a book bindery that specializes in such things (and there are a few), and for a reasonable fee, you get back a book made of your comics. Some just send them in. Others remove ads, reorder stories, take books apart, order custom die stamps for the books' covers, and make dustjackets for them. It's about having books you want to read instead of comics shoved in a box because there's no other practical way to store them.
Well, Terry thought I was just bringing over some old TPBs, and he was blown away.

He was so delighted that he said James almost didn't get them back! As a fellow collector, James would appreciate the sentiment.
I hope.
But that's the thing about Terry. He's one of us.
He invited me to take a quick look at his studio, replete with 50s mini-bar holding his computer, all the cool Harryhausen statues and Big Little Books, all the comics we both love. It's rare these days that I have this kind of in-person time with someone else who really gets comics, especially someone around the same age, so it was too much fun.
And Kirby is a trip! Great little dude!

So much has happened in the past year. I've wondered a bit if my rekindled interest in my comic archive/library/collection/mausoleum was a way to avoid facing some of it. Lord knows this binding thing has eaten some time of late.
Maybe, but I doubt it.
My rekindled passion for comics is awakening other dormant passions and disciplines. I think it's there for me, and not me for it. To me and those like me, comics are akin to Jim Morrison's description of making music, a pure expression of joy.
It's hard for some people to understand how anyone can get that excited about a stack of comic books. I get that.
They're just not one of us.
Party on, Terry and Kirby!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Happy dog time! Picture, picture! Good boy.

Time to shake off the grief of last week's events.
Here's a double header designed to make me smile: (1)the official photos of the First Family have been done (2) by Annie Leibovitz.
This is good for three reasons.
1. It keeps a human face on an administration some are inclined to demonize.
2. It gives the nation a photo of the First Pooch! I'm a cat lover, but, come on, how adorable is this guy?

3. It gives work to Annie Leibovitz. In light of her recent troubles, she could use a break.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Saying goodbye to my Muffin

I usually don't post much really personal writing, but bear with me.
My ex's daughter, Emerald Rose Foss, was killed in a car crash on Friday, October 9. As today is my ex Linda's birthday, it strikes me that it's time to write about this.
Linda was pregnant  twice during our time together, and miscarried both times. We both took it hard, but it seemed to me at the time that she wanted to be a parent more than I did.
We were together for the better part of 7 years. Our parting was complicated, hard and painful, as partings usually are.
Linda and I remained close to varying degrees after we parted, no small feat given the conditions. When she was pregnant again some years later, I was so happy for her (at least when I wasn't preoccupied with my own completely unnecessary melodrama).
I knew Emmy Rose all her life, not as much in the later years as I could have. But early on we were the best of buddies. I started calling her Muffin when she was 3 or 4. She said, "I don't like that." I told her, "well, you can call me Muffin if you want to too." So that's how it was. She was my Muffin and I was hers. I went from changing her diapers to taking baths with her and reading her to sleep.
I got a very small taste of what it was like to be a parent. Not so much that I could say I got it all, but enough to know I might have been good at it, and that it was something that would have made my life fuller.
But misgivings are of no use, except to understand.
Emmy and Linda came to my graduation from MCAD, and I was so glad to have them there.

This is after the ceremony. That's Emmy Rose in front by the center rail (what a smile!), flanked by Kim and Jenny to the left and me to the right (in the blue dress), and Linda right behind me.

Here's Emmy asking me about my work at my Senior show, again after the ceremony. This is in 1999.
It's a shame Emmy's face isn't in this picture, but I hope my smile says it all.
Eventually Linda and Emmy moved to Grand Rapids to be nearer Linda's family. I saw them when I could, but I must confess I missed many opportunities.
I had been up North to see my family for my neice's baby shower a few weeks earlier, and thought about calling on them. But I made the fatal error of thinking, "I'll do it next time."
Two weeks later, the phone call from my sister telling me about Emmy Rose's death.
I wanted to say something profound at the funeral, something deep and worthwhile. What came out was a pile of blubbering and a few kind words for Linda and her family. I don't think anyone minded, but I was embarrassed and frustrated with myself.
I had it all worked out in the car, and none of of it came out. I know, it's not about me, but it mattered to me to say what I had to say, and I blew it.
Here's what I wanted to say.
I'm trying to make sense of this. Of course, it doesn't make any sense. Like the song says, I can't shout about spiritual labels when little ones die and big ones thrive. Why should Emmy Rose suffer?
About 8 years ago, I went to a benefit lecture/ prayer service some Tibetan monks were giving. They were trying to get their brothers and sisters out of Tibet before the Chinese killed them, which sounded like a good idea. During the lecture, one of the monks talked about the elimination of suffering.
There was a Q & A. Trying to come off like a big deal intellectual, I asked the monk if the elimination of suffering was a good idea. Isn't suffering necessary to appreciate joy?
The monk said, "Yeah, maybe. But I still don't like it."
That floored me.
The Book of Job says "man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward." Aside from the poetic imagery, which I really like, that means something more. We are the sparks that fly upward.
We are sparks. We are souls with bodies. We are energy wrapped in stuff.
That's all we are.
Energy cannot be created or destroyed, only moved. So where did the energy go when it stopped running Emmy's body, this body that was 90% smile and 10% fire?
Where does the energy go?
My money's on up there, to rejoin the larger energy we call God.
I will miss Emmy for a long long time, and try to forgive myself for missing as much of her life as I did, while embracing the time we did have together. I know it's going to be hard for Linda for a long time, and I will make more time for her if she'll let me.
So long, Muffin. You did the good work. I'll catch you on the other side.

This is taken from the facebook memorial page for Emerald Rose Foss.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Original Art Sundays, No. 16: The World in Love, p.1

As some of you know, I attended a funeral this week. I will say more about that tomorrow- I have a specific image I want to post in relation to the event, and I need to get at the scanner at work to do so.
Meanwhile, I am tickled to present the first page of this year's 24 hour comic.

This work has been in the back of my head for years, inspired by a dream  I had when I was a child, and shaped by things I picked up along the way.  No conscious plotting during the work, beyond some fly-by-night strategy on pacing. No worrying about what it meant. Just do it!
Process: I just had a loose idea of the story when I sat to work, as will become apparent in later pages.
The art is influenced by a purchase I made that day. Wet Paint had a sale booth at the 24 hour event (but only for the first couple hours). They had these wonderful ink-based grayscale markers. I wanted to see what I could get out of using values for line. Even working in this rushed atmosphere, the work feels very fresh to me. Much of my apprehension and frustration about the work not being perfect has dissipated.
No Photoshop on this one. Unless there are glaring errors to correct, I will present these pages raw.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Original art supplement: Making amends, having a heart

I feel a need to amend yesterday's post with some newer work.
Nothing against the Day for Night dude, modeled on the Mysterious Pete character in Feininger's Kin-der-Kids, but old work is old work.
I finished this piece a couple days ago. One of the local comics stores, The Source, has this playful thing where they give each artist a blank card and ask them to illustrate it. I drew the eight of hearts. Playful idea, simple execution, and it integrates my fascination with good pinup art and my loose, flowing style.
Once I had the concept, the rest was easy.

Next time I'm at The Source, I'll add it to their deck.
I'd hate to think of the guys at The Source playing without a full deck!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Original Art Sundays, No. 15: Day for Night

I had hoped to post the first page of my 24 hour comic from this year today. Well, tomorrow, but I'm posting a few hours before Sunday, as Fallcon is still running tomorrow.
However, a delay in scanning made posting p. 1 of 24 hour book 2009 impossible, at least short term. Problem to be fixed forthwith.
Meanwhile, loath though I am to do so, I am posting an inventory piece, just to maintain my self-imposed schedule.

this was a proposed cover for the Spock's Beard album Day for Night. When I met lead singer Neal Morse about a year after I sent them this, he told me that they liked it but it lost out to another concept on a close vote.
I don't often work in gouache. Perhaps I should. I rather like this! It has a simplistic yet eerie feel about it. The nebula inside the cloak is an obvious collage, but I think it works well.

Friday, October 9, 2009

'oo's the kid then?

the Minneapolis Public Library is hosting a series called Childish Films.
I'm glad they're showing stuff like this, and I know "childish" is not necessary pejorative, though I think "childlike" has a more positive connotation.
My objection is in the October 17 program, titled Toons for Tots. While I think it's great that kids are being exposed to good animation ( four vintage 30s Disneys, no less!), the constant refrain of "kids" and "tots" in relation to cartoons chafes just a bit.  I thought we'd passed the myopic notion that cartoons are inherently kid stuff.
To make my point as to the merits of this work, here's a classic from a few years later.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Memories of a scant few hours ago.

Here's a shot of the lot of us at 24 Hour Comics start time.

For more, go to the Mpls. 24 Hour Blog!

Original Art Sundays, No. 14: a dusty old bar....

I don't publish my photography much. This is partially because the market is saturated with really good photographers. It's also because I'm rarely satisfied with my framing.
But this shot, done on a shoot with a Digital Photography class on Mineeapolis' North Side, came out as I hoped.  There's a mood to the tiredness and dust in good sepiatone that I find quite compelling.
I haven't decided if I'm posting this year's 24 Hour Challenge book here. I completed it, oh, 9 hours ago- got done early, and it only shows on a couple pages! We'll see how it goes once I do my print run for the upcoming anthology/box.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Here come the students! Look busy!

In the interest of furthering my career and recognizing hard work, I have begun another blog. This one is  devoted to my students' work, past and present.
I have quite a bit on file, and will announce the prospect of the work's inclusion in all my classes from here on out. Sort of a digital portfolio of student work.
Off to a slow but ambitious start!

Posting an extra image to whet your appetite, here's a photo by Matt Hensche, class of '08.