Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Original Art Sundays (Wednesday) No. 112: The Canadian Giant

A few days late due to the holidays, but I did have a couple pieces scanned ahead to carry through the down time. Scanner access returns next week, so depending on work schedule, no further problems anticipated.
In 2001, I attended my second GORGG. In preparation for the event, I offered a couple T-Shirt ideas. One was later used for a CD cover, and the other, which I actually preferred, remained lost to posterity.
Until now.

The design is clean and effective, but it may have been too subtle for the crowd. Also, the ear is a bit too small.
I also did a piece inspired by Robert Crumb, which made it to the cover of the Jam CD, the first GORGG jam ever!
The image was distorted slightly for the CD cover, but I like the playfulness of it, and the maple leaf guitar remains a favorite symbol.
As I prepare to teach History of Rock & Roll in a couple weeks, I find music in general and Gentle Giant in particular very much in my thoughts. While it's unlikely I'll be able to attend the 2012 GORGG in Israel, much as I would love to go, the 2013 gathering in Chicago seems feasible.
Next: a surprise.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Original Art Sundays No. 111: Tranny Towers Support materials

You find the strangest things in a move.

As a case in point, these are pages of character notes for my attempt to expand Tranny Towers into a graphic novel. This attempt was still in the funny animal subgenre, which I let slide away when I created a dozen or so pages of the same story under the title TranScending, some of which I've published here in the past.
Many of the notes are simply extensions of the established characters in the then-current strip. Actually, a few of these characters,
Dena, Athena, Trina and Sonia had lives that predated the strip.
Trina and Sonia appeared in my first strip in TransSisters magazine, and Sonia was in a strip in TNT News a bit later, offering editorial commentary on the MN State anti-welfare legislation that included elimination of state-funded surgeries.
Athena was in my strips in GAY Comics issues 18 and 25.
Dena joined her in issue 25, and both appeared in my first self-published comic, Ink Tantrums No. 1. Drop me a line if you'd like a copy. Out of the 250 print run, I still have about 50.
In addition to the aforementioned appearances and truncated attempts at a larger work, I tried a trans related strip with a lighter touch circa 2003. I submitted the following sample strip to Queue Press around 2003.
One issue came out after the strip's rejection, then the paper folded. So it goes.
This has never been in print.

I rather like this one, but nobody else seemed to. I think it could have been a lot of fun, playing with light hearted gags.
One of the reasons I backed away from doing a long-form story about trans issues is that most of them are  the same story. Outing, bashing, suicide attempt and self-acceptance. It's an important story, but I'd like to think we have more than the one. Rachel Pollack's character Kate in her Doom Patrol run (pictured below) is an example of the possibilities of trans narratives, possibilities that are seldom realized. 

Next week: well, it's Christmas next Sunday and I don't know if I'll be around to blog. I might post early (or set up a timed post or some such).
We'll find out when we get there.
In case I don't see you, may your holidays be kind to you.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Original Art Sundays (Tuesday) no. 110: Surrealist Cowgirls, It Does This, p.8

Okay, here we go. The promised and overdue page!
Since it's been a while since I posted the previous page, here's a recap of the story until now.
The Surrealist Cowgirls, Renee Maggie Reet and Louise Bunnywell, are sleeping in on a quiet morning when their tent is pelted with an unseasonable armadillo storm.
The famous witch who comes to the point, Kay Seurat-Seurat, comes running up and tells them she has come down with rheumatism of the spirit. Louise suggests they find a witch doctor. They set off with Kay in a travois pulled by WhaleLiam.
Making camp in a deep valley, they rest. As Kay sleeps, a silent man sneaks up and kisses her cheek. The man's snail looks on, nonplussed.
When Kay awakes, she seems refreshed, but she has a relapse, and her sneeze transforms Louise into a bunny.
Now read on:
I rather like the Groucho glasses on the Sun.
By the time this story is done, I will have enough material to publish a dead tree issue of the Surrealist Cowgirls comic. The 11-page 24-hour story, the 4-page WhaleLiam story, this story, estimated at 18 pages, two pages of paper dolls, and a text page or a bit of fun, making a 36 page book. Just need a cover then! I'm toying with publishing through Kablam, or else doing a Kickstarter.
I hope to get at least one more page of this story done by calendar year end. I'd also like to resume work on A Private Myth, now that I have a hiatus from teaching for 5 or 6 weeks. Balancing those desires with my imminent writing deadlines and the need for a second job to fill in between semesters will be quite a challenge!
Next: some unpublished Tranny Towers background stuff.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Original Art Sundays no. 109: Aargh!

The new page is completed.
However, when I left for work to do my scans, I took everything BUT the new page with me.
What a comedy of errors!
I will scan and post the new page tomorrow. I'm still one or two posts behind on my arbitrary self-imposed schedule anyway.
To make amends, here are a couple paintings, intended for a children's alphabet book on pirates.

These are colored ink and watercolor on Canson Arches paper. I love the deckle edge for this subject matter!
The girls in the lower corner of the first image feel out of place. If I were to redo them, I'd work the girls into the layout differently. Other than that, I'm pretty happy with these.
Re-reading Neil Gaiman's Dangerous Alphabet last week, I was struck by how much fun alphabet books can be. Perhaps I'll try another one if I run out of projects!
Tomorrow: the next page of the Surrealist Cowgirls.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Comic book antiquty No. 3: Bringing Up Father, the Musical

Well, the new page is on the drawing board, and I want to take my time with it. A couple things are giving me grief, and my time is divided between that, finishing the semester, meeting writing deadlines and other mundanities of life.
To tide us over, I am offering another in my infrequent series of Comic Book Antiquities.
This is sheet music dated 1915, MCMXV, for all you Roman Numeral fans out there, from the Bringing Up Father musical. It is from one of the touring company versions of the show.
There are several things worth mentioning here. First, for those unfamiliar with the strip, the plot of Bringing Up Father revolves around Irish immigrants Maggie and Jiggs, who win the Irish Sweepstakes shortly after immigrating to America. Maggie wants to advance into high society. Jiggs does not.
For more on the musical itself, scroll down on Clark Holloway's excellent Bringing Up Father page.
Aside from the class issues raised by the strip, it's noteworthy in a couple other ways. First, it's really funny. Second, it's distinguished by the Art Deco-influenced art of George McManus.
I got this sheet music off the free shelf at MCAD, where I teach, some time ago. I suspect it was left by Terry Beatty, as it appeared around the time of Terry's move.
The music is in tatters. Rather than do any kind of digital restoration, I am presenting the scans "as is". There's a charm and delight to the browned pages, which shed chips as they were handled for scanning.
More comments below the scans. As always, click on the scans for a larger version.

Further notes:
The back cover is missing, which would make the page count 20, not divisible by four, implying an unusual printing process, not done in signatures but in flats.
Some of the songs touch on issues of Irish loyalty and love, a common and necessary theme in early 1900s New York, where the mantra was often "No Irish Need Apply."
The Deco inspired art is present again in the character designs on the masthead.
The ads on the final pages are fascinating in their own right.
There is blatant racism in some of the lyrics printed on other pages, to sell sheet music. This is reinforeced by the "jokes" in the "Heard At the Minstrel Show" text on the inside front cover.
In this context, it's important to remember that sheet music was more than a popular commodity. Radio and films were in their infancy, television did not yet exist. For many families, gathering around the piano to sing was an evening's entertainment, if such was an option. Bear in mind that this also predates child labor laws, so much of the family might have been working 10 to 14 hour days.
Finally, this is far from the only musical based on a comic book or strip. There was a stage musical of Little Nemo in Slumberland, a ballet of Krazy Kat, two musicals based on Li'l Abner, a Broadway musical based on Superman, the current Spider-Man musical, and, of course, Annie!
Mercifully failed attempts include the 70s Captain America musical and the 90s Batman musical. The latter had pretty good songs by Meatloaf partner Jim Steinman.
Next: art. My scanner access will be limited from mid-December to early January, so I hope to get some work done ahead of that time.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Original Art Sundays No. 108: for the Fallen

I missed a few weeks of blogging my art, and am presented with a serendipitous, albeit somber, opportunity to remedy the situation in part.
Tonight is the observance of the Transgender Day of Remembrance. As I am unable to attend, I am posting work on the topic.
This page was created for a late issue of Transsexual News Telegraph (TNT), one of two independently published magazines dedicated to trans life and issues in the 1990s. Editor Gail Sondegaard rejected the page as too somber. Odd, because I tried to balance realism and optimism.
The page would have been published in issue 9, Autumn 2000. Transgender Day of Remembrance was founded in 1998. However, I was unaware of the day until some years later.
I rediscovered the page during my move. The pasteup was falling apart, and there was random discoloring on some of the text panels.
With minimal restoration, I decided to go ahead and post the piece.
The fine print: done on Coquille board in China marker, type set in Copperplate. Original size 11" x 17". Scanned in RGB to preserve the range of grays, despite a tendency of such scans to run to the green part of the light spectrum.
Technically I consider this a comic page, but some would call it illustrated text instead- a fine hair to split in my book.
That Alan Moore quote, from V For Vendetta, remains one of my favorites.
I still think a physical memorial to our fallen is a worthwhile idea. But it would be better if the memorials and tributes were not necessary.
next: a long overdue new page. No, really.

Original Art Sundays No. 107: Whalliam!

I will make a second post later tonight, for reasons I will state at that time.
For right now, here's the promised Surrealist Cowgirls supplemental story.
I did this specifically for the show for my Aldrich Arts comics creation course.
Here's the flier for the course, which used a painting I've posted here years ago.

The whole motivation was to do a simple story that was family friendly.
One of the students spontaneously gave Whalemule a proper name: Whalliam!
Now I'm debating whether it should be spelled with an e: WhaleLiam.
Now, the story.

I like working fast and simple. This story will make a nice addition to the first issue of the Surrealist Cowgirls comic!
Next: something a bit more serious.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Original Art Sundays No. 106: A Night at the MN Opera

While there is a new story that's a half inch from being ready to post, something else came up this week that deserves our attention.
While attending MIX(more about MIX later this week, I hope), I talked to some members of the Black Hat Comics Collective, and joined them in an adventure this past Thursday.
We were invited to attend the dress rehearsal of the new production of the MN Opera Company, Silent Night. Since this is a world premiere, we were among the first to see a public performance. We were also privileged with a light sushi snack and a Q & A with the librettist, Mark Campbell, and the composer, Eric Simonson, beforehand.
Our responsibilities for being granted this honor were simple. We were to sketch the performance and to blog about our experiences.
This work will also be offered to the Minnesota Opera Company for their blog.
The work, based on a true incident from WWI, tells of three troops- one Scots, one German, and one French- who agree to a truce for Christmas eve, and find themselves unable to fight thereafter.
The music and acting were stunning in their beauty. I was moved to quiet tears more than once.
May I add that this was the first opera I've ever attended (besides Gilbert & Sullivan, which, according to my music history professor, doesn't count)?
Go see this! It's one of the most moving Christmas pieces I've ever seen. And even though it's not specifically about the holiday or the faith associated with it, it's one of the most reverent works I've seen as well.
Performances this coming weekend only, but this deserves to become a holiday tradition.

Here are my sketches.The medium is listed below each piece. This is most of my output from the two hour performance. I hope the emotional content and energy compensate for their crudity.
China marker

China marker

China marker of rear projection behind set

China marker, soldier's letter home

fine tip marker- "famous artists make worse soldiers!"

fine tip No. 5 Marker

No. 5 marker- the bagpipes

No. 5 marker- prayer and song

Brush tip marker- the next morning

"maybe it's time to bury all of them...."

Brush tip marker

brush tip marker

brush tip marker

brush tip marker

brush tip marker- "a silly way to die"

I was so honored to do this, and to work with the Black Hat folks, many of whom I know from MCAD (and some of whom I've taught and worked with in other respects). I hope to work more with them, and would love to attend the next operatic event!
Next week: the long promised Whalemule solo story.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Original Art Sundays no. 105: Jackie's Fun

Back in the saddle again! So sorry for the delays, but we're getting there (wherever "there" is).
One of the (few) advantages of moving is sorting through old stuff, rediscovering forgotten or neglected parts of your life, parts shoved aside by circumstance.
When cleaning out an old file, I unearthed this piece from a series of three done as promotional devices for my old pal Darylee's standup comedy career.
These were published at 3" x 5", much too small for the art to really deliver. It's a very fun piece, but the fun gets lost at the reduced size. Please click on the image to view at a larger size!
More soon, including a new solo story of the Whalemule from the Surrealist Cowgirls!