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.