Wednesday, June 29, 2011

One for Jacque Nodell

I regularly and eagerly  read my friend Jaque Nodell's Sequential Crush blog, linked at left. Her knowledge of comics history is often masked by her enthusiasm for her subject!
Yesterday, she posted some of the romance work of her grandfather, the late Mart Nodell, best known as the creator of the original Green Lantern. Her post included this charming photo of Jaque with her grandparents.

As a favor to her, I've taken it on myself to do a quick color correction on the image, give it a little more life.
I'm reasonably pleased with the results, and hope Jacque is too!

There you go, Jacque. Enjoy!
The previously promised post on Oh Goodie! will be up within 24, as they say.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Jeffrey Catherine Jones: a Bode' swipe and the First Work

A backlog of stuff I want to post will come up this week and next.
First on the agenda, here's the Vaughn Bode' piece on Jeffrey Jones' work that I promsied when i was writing on her life just after her passing.

Next, a surprise.
I was going through a stack of Larry Ivie's great Monsters and Heroes magazine from 1967- 69 and found Jeffrey's first published work!
It's from Issue no. 2, dated 1967. 
The notes on the editorial page read as follows: "The first guest creator we thought was intriguing enough to present was Jeff Jones, whose first professional story leads off this issue. We asked him to do a tale we could save fro this, our Official Dragon Issue- and are pleased to learn that, on the basis of it, Jeff has been given similar assignments for other publications, such as Creepy, Eerie, Ace Pocketbooks, and, at last word, an upcoming series of his own in King Comics. We certainly hope that our future guest artists will be as successful, and we will try our utmost to select those whose work might lead to equal possibilities. Adding to the historic significance of Dragon Slayer is the fact that his lovely wife, "Weezie", wrote the script. We hope you enjoy it."
The editorial page also has a small photo of the couple, which I did not scan for this posting. If there's interest, I will.
Now here's the story!
As always, click the images for a larger version.

Next: a more detailed look at Seamus Burke's OH GOODIE! collection.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Original Art Sundays No. 92: oddment: Gnidrolog pastels

Back in the saddle with Original Art Sundays! Starting the rotation afresh rather than entering the quagmire of rescheduling.
My apologies to the faithful.
In raking my studio this week, I found a reproduction of a commission I did in the 1990s. The band Gnidrolog asked me to do a poster for a series of festival appearances they had planned as part of the tour for their comeback album, GNOSIS (scroll down a bit at the link for an album review).
That poster is presented here.

The original, and the poster itself, were 11" x 17", and it sold fairly well. The media  are pastel and Doc Martin's dyes, with a bit of Winsor & Newton colored ink here and there.
What works: the sultry sprite in the tree juggling the band name, the face of the founding member in the tree trunk.
What doesn't work: the placement of the band members! No way a group could march in that tight a formation with any grace, at least not prog-rock musicians in the throes of performance!
Ah well. I was mostly happy, the client was happy, and seeing it again has renewed my interest in pastels.
Next: a Tranny Towers page.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Daddy's Day

More than a bit behind on posting, due to an increased work load of late. My apologies to the faithful! The Comments contest will be extended accordingly.
Today is Father's Day. My half-sister noted on Facebook that she has few photos of our Dad, so I will be scanning the ones I have.
Like many people, my relationship with my Father is complicated. But I was lucky to get to know him. Children of divorce have stuff to work out.
Rather than descend into the maudlin, I'll just post a few things.
First, here's one of my favorite parts of HEAD,  brilliantly staged song by Harry Nillson.

While I'm not a huge fan of post-Gabriel Genesis, I do rather like the first three albums. Here's a Daddy song about a Scots war being lost by a father breaking his word.

To show what fatherhood is at its best, here's John Lennon's classic. Bear in mind that popular opinion is divided on the question of how good a father Lennon really was, because of the years Julian spent wanting to know him better.

And bringing it back to comics, we can bypass the abandonment issues of Superman and Batman and go right to the chase. The relationship of Ted and Jack Knight in Starman is arguably the best father/son relationship in comics, certainly the best in superhero books. It implies the inherited mantle that fathers aspire to in so many cases, and works as a model for the child coming to terms with the parent, each seeing the other for who they truly are.

I haven't forgotten about my self-imposed Original Art obligations! More soon!
Happy Father's Day. May we all get to know one another better..

Friday, June 10, 2011

What is this Kickstarter monster and will it ravage the village?

According to this article, the newest publisher of independent comics is everybody, through a central clearing house for funding.
Kickstarter is a great idea.
I've known a few people who have successfully run one- Greg Ruth, Ursula Murray Husted, Zak Sally, Neil Gaiman (a bit of a conceit on my part- we've met a half dozen times, had a few chats, so I can say I know Neil, but I'm skeptical he'd remember me).
I've been batting the idea around for a while now, trying to decide just what to fund. I think my best bet's a comic book, though there are other possibilities- an illustrated version of my screenplay? A series of handbound books? An "absolute edition" of my Mother's paintings, which I've been collecting in book form for the past 6 years?
Whatever my decision, it will be a response to the phenomenon of crowfunding, or funding by a crowd.
Other venues offer similar: IndieGoGo began as a way to fund music projects, but has branched into other enterprises, including comics. Their business model differs slightly from Kickstarter. They keep 4% (as opposed to KS's 5%), and allow the solicitor to offer premiums or tax writeoffs, which strikes me as a bit dicey.
Then there's Quirky, which is devoted to funding inventions.
The good: more projects are getting out there. You don't need an external publisher or startup funding to print a comic. This is a variation on Scott McCloud's idea of microfunding comics, put forth in his Reinventing Comics.
The downside of the good: we all need editors at times, especially when we're honing our craft AND when we've reached a pinnacle of success. As pointed out in a recent discussion with screenwriter Tom Pope, the risk at the high end is that you start to believe your own PR, and nobody wants to say no to you. So while the self-publishing model is tempting and useful, it should not be the only thing you have going.
More good: the funding is improving. About half a year ago, roughly 40% of Kickstarter projects were fully funded (it's all or nothing funding on these sites, remember). Today the figure is slightly over 50%.
The skeptical response to that good: more small projects are being funded, which means if you have a BIG IDEA, your odds are lower, unless you have a name attached. See the aforementioned Gaiman-related project, an animated feature based on one of his stories.
This begs a larger point. These sites are open to everyone. That's fine, but it chafes me a bit when established creators put their projects on them. Oh, they're entitled, and I know that recognition and some success does not give one carte blanche. But I'd like to see something devoted solely to up-and-coming creators. I don't know what criteria could be used for that, or how that would be vetted, but I could see some utility in having a work totally stand on its own merits. Hm- possibly a crowfunding site that gives funds to projects whose creators are not named?
On the other hand, if this option existed in the 1970s, perhaps Orson Welles would not have to shill in commercials to fund his films.

After all, Jess Franco is using crowfunding to finance his next film.
Another problem in relation to this funding is the mandate for offering premiums at different levels. That can cause as many problems as it solves if the premiums are not up to snuff. Also, the creator is responsible for the creation and strategies of ancillary promotions before the project even begins. 
I hope my skepticism on this process is unfounded. I'd like crowfunding to be a benefit to most. I don't think it's practical that it benefits all. Some projects need to go unfunded- this is also a form of editing, albeit a populist one.
But whatever my project turns out to be, you can bet that it's going to be great and deserving of funding!

Even later: Minnesota Spring Con Part II

Okay, I know I said next day. I've been waiting for some photos to be emailed by friends.
Enough with the waiting. Here's the rest of SpringCon.
Here's Terry Beatty, longtime comics pro, on-and-off MCAD teacher, rockabilly maven, Karaoke Ninja, and generally cool guy.
The book he's holding, Batman and Robin, is a custom bind belonging to my friend James Friel. James sent me a batch for books for signing and sketching, and Terry was glad to accommodate!
We're losing Terry soon. His wife got a great job in Kansas City, MO, so he's off to an even more mid- middle America.
Terry just completed work on the next GN in the Road to Perdition series, written by his old Ms. Tree partner, Max Alan Collins! He's also been doing box cover art for monster model kits, and taking on new commissions. His blog, Scary Terry's World, is linked to your left.

Also on board for this convention: former students from my Comic Book History course, Asby Utting and Andrew Herbst!
Ashby graduated a year or so ago, and Andrew completed his devoirs this January. Andrew gave me a copy of their joint effort, GROTTO, last year, and I enjoyed it immensely. Very professional, energetic work. The "for students" disclaimer does not apply. This work is professional by any standard.You can see it here.
Ashby is planning an on-again, off-again trip to Korea to study manhwa.  He plans to take his toddler son along with him. Now that's bringing a kid up right!

Another former student showing at the Con: Toe Vue!
Toe's paintings are remarkably powerful. I suspect he was a little under-appreciated at this Con, but I was very happy to see him there. The work at his blog, Create Chaos, shows his range and his influences.
I see elements of street art, Paul Pope, Ryan Kelly (well, you can't really talk about Paul Pope without talking about Ryan Kelly, can you?), Boticelli and Jack Kirby in Toe's work. An eclectic mix with a deliberate, singular style that wouldn't work for anyone else, I done't think, but for Toe, it's very effective.
Finances have stopped me from getting his comic GHETTORISTIC, but don't let my problems be yours. Check out the link and spend a fin on a good comic!
Other former MCAD students presenting at this year's con included Evan Palmer, Anna Bongiovanni, Jesse Haller, and Will Schar. Sorry I didn't get photos of you guys, and I hope I didn't leave anyone out!
Very happy to chat briefly with Seamus Burke, whose first collection of Oh Goodie! is now available in Dead Tree, or as we used to call it, TPB format.
Very excited to see this book out, as Yours Truly wrote the Foreword!
Seamus' work has evolved considerably.  He works in the model of Doonesbury, using scathing wit and somewhat static images to advance his narratives. With the evolution of the band in his strip, which updates 5 times a week over at his blog, he's broken out of that pattern.
The band in the strip is called the Filthy F@#$ing Fairies!
I didn't talk to Seamus for very long this time around. Usually I get him to fork over his guitar so I can tear off a number, but not today.
Another personal highlight was getting a wedding invitation from the vibrant and scary talented Ursula Murray Husted and her intended, Bryan Bornmuller.
Ursula and Bryan are in contention with Trina and Steve for the title of Cutest Couple in Comics.
You be the judge.
'oo's cute then?
More book signings:
Jose Luis Garcia Lopez
Len Strazewski, who was moved to tears that someone would bind his work!

Me hanging with Len
Peter Krause, who was so astounded by the SHAZAM! collections that he volunteered to do a sketch, and it was a beauty!
Following the Con, a bunch of us went out for Girls' Comics Dinner at the always enjoyable Jasmine 27. In attendance, Frenchy Lunning, Barb Guttman (who is currently assisting Peter Gross on art for The Unwritten), Barb Schultz, Jesse Haller (who was an honorary girl for the occasion), Rana Rauechle, Trina, Steve Leialoha (can't really have Trina without Steve!), myself, and Roberta Gregory. I haven't mentioned Roberta's presence till now. I still get a little tongue-tied around her after meeting her twice and spending several hours accepting that she's just Regular Folks. Her work set the bar for women's comics for years, and her honesty and craft remain benchmarks. She's currently working full time for the Seattle Opera and Children's Theater, unless memory fails me.
At the end of every con, I think I'll pull together a body of creative work for the next one and get a table.
perhaps, perhaps not.
I like the idea of having a body of work to offer, but I have no problem with being a fan. If that remains what MN Springcon is about for me, I can live with that.