Sunday, July 29, 2012

Original Art Sundays no. 133: Tranny Towers, ch. 35

Two more after this one.

Took the black and white motif of the chapter title and played with a typeface I liked to create the logo for this chapter.
It felt good to draw the building exterior again, not seen on-panel since the first strip. I went back to that strip, and to the Little Nemo page I took the basic design from, to be sure I got it right.
It looks a bit like Ricky standing frame right in Panel 3, but it's not intended to be him. Also, note Concrete being shoved aside by Sonia. He shows up again in the last panel.
Yeah, I screwed up and had Sonia shouting her own name instead of her ex-partner Trina's. I can either rationalize it by saying she was distraught (chalk it up to trauma), or I can fix it later, before going to press with the collection. I might just let it be as it is.
The "heat lines" in panel one frustrated me. I put them in, I took them out. It was printed without them, but I put them back for this presentation. I think I'll leave them in.
I'm quite fond of the broken border in Panel 2.
This whole page is about your life being torn apart by something so large it seems elemental (fire, water, earth, air). And she's been one of the two more together ones of our little funny animal trans cadre, so having it happen to her is much more dramatic/turbulent.
Ironically, as I was driving in to work yesterday, there was an SUV in flames at the intersection of Hennepin & Lake in Uptown Minneapolis. Smoke filled the cab, flames licked at the undercarriage of the once- white body. I was thinking about posting this strip right before I saw it.
Next week: after the fire...

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Original Art Sundays No. 132: Tranny Towers, Ch. 34

And to the wire...
three left after this one.

Pretty simple this time around.
Editorial had told me the strip was probably going to be cancelled, and I was looking at wrapping up the storyline. I was also very careful to match the strip layout to the new horizontal layout they had changed the strip to (without bothering to tell me in advance), and included a semi-bitchy note to the art director asking if they would please inform me in advance of necessary changes and give me a chance to make them myself, thank you very much.
Very simple strip this time out, emphasis on the action. Leiko's bedroom is consistent with the previous strip- since I had so much fun planning the layout of the bedroom, it seemed wrong to use it only the one time!
The revelation that Sonia owns the building was a plot device originally intended for a future story line.
Needless to say, I took the cancellation hard. Still, I felt a bit childish going with this "scorched Earth" plot, and it's a bit of a deus ex Machina, but it's fast and irrevocable. Fire's like that.
I don't remember where I got the visual device of the panels actually burning, but I do know it's not original to this strip. I had big fun lighting small scraps of paper and trying to photograph them for reference before the hot ashes floated away.
The title comes from the Blue Oyster Cult song, which I actually prefer to their big hit Don't Fear the Reaper.
Next: the blacks get heavier as we go to the burning building.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Original Art Sundays No. 131: Tranny Towers, Ch. 33

Only four left after this one! Another page I rather like.

Could have pushed the darks farther in the "open background" panels, 4 5 and 6.
I had more plans for Leiko's sister that were never realized. Think about it. She came out before she was 9, in the late 1960s- gutsy kid! She's been through a thing or two. That doesn't excuse her tactlessness, but it does explain it to some extent.
The chapter title comes from a Peter Gabriel song on the "melt" album.
The cafe' where they're eating, Ruby's, was a fixture for me and Jenny. At Pride this year, I glanced across Loring Park and had a pleasant/sad moment looking at the space, occupied by a totally different business now. Amazon Bookstore, which was next door, has since moved a couple times and finally closed for good earlier this year.
This is another page which was chopped up and printed in irregular tiers without my knowledge.
Prior to doing the following episode, I was informed that the strip would most likely be cancelled. I altered the plot lines of the remaining strips accordingly.
Next: it burns....

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Comic Book Legal Defense Fund: MN Field Report on Free Speech

The spiffy "new: CBLDF logo, a couple years old now!
I've been procrastinating this post for a while, but with San Diego ComicCon right around the corner and the 4th of July fading into the past as I prepare for the second wave of summer classes, I don't want it to be too long overdue. And in light of the CBLDF auction scheduled for that huge event, this seems the ideal time to correct the oversight.
Back in May, I volunteered to run the booth so the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, of which I've been a supporting member for the past decade plus (skipping one year when I was too broke), would have a presence at the MN Comic Book Party, AKA SpringCon.
I'd like to offer a summary of the event.
The first day I was aided by longtime friend and fellow comic book geek Jesse Haller.  Jesse and I have countless discussions on the nature of comics, and endless fun dishing comic book gossip. Jesse was great about creating an effective setup, putting his retail and merchandising experience to work to make the booth shine. He also covered the booth for a couple hours while I had lunch with our mutual friend Frenchy Lunning!
As to the booth itself, it took a while for some of the patrons to figure out what the deal was. But very soon, after the initial burst of people mad to get to the comics (our booth was right by the door!), things settled down and people stopped to talk about the work of CBLDF, and to contribute to the cause.
The degree to which some patrons didn't get it at first was made clear by some folks asking for deals on our books!
Since I wasn't sure of the demographic, I just told the CBLDF people to send stuff they thought apropos. I quickly saw my mistakes. Here's how the event went down:
  • This is a family-friendly Con. The items for kids and the small ticket items sold out. 
  • Lots of folks buy art at this Con! Some of the limited edition prints would have gone over well.
  • Neil Gaiman remains very popular here. The signed 1st printings of The Graveyard Book sold out. IN light of that, if we run the table again, including some of the limited edition prints might be a good idea.
  • While we had ample stories of the big cases that CBLDF has helped with, there are many smaller instances that get overlooked. The owner of B & B Comics in Bemidji told us of the organization's help in quieting a "concerned parent" irate over a Frank Miller poster. I also knew from past conversations that Tyler Page, whose strip Nothing Better is linked to screen left, had assistance from them with a rather odd legal threat he received over the content of his strip.
Camille, Lady Liberty and Diana!
Day Two saw me aided by Manga fan and aspiring veterinarian Camille McAloney. Her enthusiasm and ability to engage people really helped our sales and communication efforts!
Both days were made for me on a personal level by encountering so many old friends, quite unexpectedly, including one of my favorite former students and the gent who first hired me to teach! Seemed like every time I looked up, there was someone else I knew! That was so positive, just what I needed coming off a rough year.
But it wasn't about me, it was about the cause.
We raised right around $600, give or take, at the table. And SpringCon gives a significant portion of its art auction proceeds to CBDLF as well, so the organization made a decent piece of change for The Cause.
CBLDF has been in existence since the Friendly Frank's bust in the early 1980s led to Greg Ketter and Dreamhaven throwing The Irish Wake for the First Amendment, an event which I was privileged to attend. This was a direct precursor to the CBLDF. Among hundreds of subsequent cases, they defended a comic book store owner who was arrested for selling  an adults only comic book to an adult.
The mind boggles.
While the problem has diminished a bit, there remains a huge need to protect the rights of comic book creators, publishers and retailers from people who engage in censorship, which is, in the words of Mark Twain, "telling a man he can't have a steak just because a baby can't chew it."
And just for fun, here's a SpringCon attendee in the role of a Wally Wood EC Comics spaceman!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Original Art Sundays No. 130: Tranny Towers, Ch. 32

Posting a bit after midnight CST, so technically not Sunday any more, if you're counting.
But here we go anyway!
Only five more chapters to go of this run, then it's back to the Surrealist Cowgirls for a bit till that narrative finishes up. I've got  couple pages ahead on that already, and am eager to put that story to bed.
I'm rather pleased with this chapter and hope you are too.

I like the Japonisme elements at play here. I was trying for a sense of being an Asian girl raised in America, conveying aspects of how the cultures integrate.
In the last panel, the word balloons were originally in the opposite order, which killed the joke. I switched the content in Photoshop, but I'm not 100% convinced it's working yet. There's a similar problem in the preceding panel.
I'm both fascinated and repelled by the Japanese internment camps. I thought having a descendant of such racist tragedy be both gay and self-accepting made for a very interesting character. Looking back at the strip, I wish I had done more with her, though she does show up in most of the remaining strips.
When Lavender originally printed this, they butchered it. They changed the orientation from portrait to landscape, chopped the last two tiers apart and staggered them in a really odd way, all without so much as a by-your-leave. I was less than happy and let them know it. Maybe it's just as well I don't have  tearsheet for that mess any more.
Working from a variety of references here. Not sure where I cobbled the masthead from, but that faux Japanese text is fairly common. Running the text both horizontal and vertical also reinforces the cross-cultural aspect of the character. The framing comes from a tiny bamboo picture stand that's currently supporting a photo of my maternal grandparents.
Next week: we meet Leiko's family, sort of.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Original Art No. 129: Tranny Towers, Ch. 31

The penultimate storyline begins.
I like the lighter attitude of this, and Sonia's receptiveness to the new, a trait I sometimes find lacking in myself.

Only minor corrections this time. Reinforced some of the borders and switched the positioning of the word balloons on the second tier for reading clarity. It originally looked like Sonia was answering Leiko before she asked the question.
The environment is a tad shaky but it serves. The vertical masthead is inspired by my fascination with 1940s - 1950s diners and greasy spoons.
A tad more work to do on this one before going to press, but it's pretty much there.
The song used in this chapter doesn't seem to be on YouTube. Another thing to remedy if/when there's time.
I'm catching up on back posts and reviews as I'm on break (but still have my usual massive deadlines- no rest for the wicked, I guess), so there may be a post prior to next week's art. But at the very minimum, Chapter 32 will post next week!

GLBT Pride 2012: Thoughts and a superhero wedding!

So, after several years of missing it, I finally got to PRIDE this year.
It was much more fun than I had last time.
This was a surprise, since many of the people I hoped to run into were nowhere to be found. CLCC (City of Lakes Crossgender Community) didn't appear to even have a booth, much to my dismay.
But I did run into my old friend Debbie Davis, and we had a brief but lovely chat. Pleased to see her doing so well.
As always happens, there was a spate of upcoming events that sounded intriguing. Listened to some truly fun music, but I neglected to get the name of the band, or the stage they were on!
I was surprised at how much the atmosphere had changed. When I first came out, I found the queer communities very divided and almost hostile to one another. Then as I got more involved, that attitude appeared to dissipate.
It came and went in waves. Last time I was at PRIDE, there was so much of it, coupled with rampant corporatism, that I was put off going back for some time.
This year I had the opposite experience.
I don't know if it was the day and time I went, the mood I was in, the people I happened to run into, but this year I experienced none of that. Nothing but universal acceptance and everyone in a good mood!
 I heard some really good music, but I neglected to get the band's name or even the name of the stage so I could look it up later. Ah well, so be it.
I had only planned to stay till about 2 and then meet my summer students for a possible film outing. But then I stopped by the Gaylaxicon booth, and had a number of really pleasant chats. A very pleasant bear asked me if I was interested in stopping back around 3 PM.
"What's happening at 3?"
"We're re-enacting the X-Men gay wedding!"
So what the hey, I thought I'd hang out for it.
Making my way back around to the booth, I discovered that they were handing out copies of the comic to be used as scripts, courtesy of our friends at The Source Comics & Games in St. Paul (thanks, Nick!). These are the fine folks who are so helpful and work so hard on Spring Con and the one day Fall Comic Book Party, and who were so instrumental in the success of the CBLDF booth (more on that later this week).
Anyway, I went to the wedding!
Here's what it looked like in the comics:

And here's what it looked like live.
Some great folks having a great time.
All celebrating three things that mean so much to me: superheroes, comics and love.
The other person shooting video said he'd e-mail me the group photo I was in, and that he'd post it with the video soon, but I've seen none of either.
If I have the money, and am caught up on my personal obligations, I think I'll try to take in Gaylaxicon. It sounds like fun.
The news at the booth was that Guest of Honor Wendy Pini had bowed out for health reasons. However, they were trying to get P. Craig Russell!
Wow. If they get him, I'm definitely finding a way to go.
However belated it may be, I hope you all had a Happy Pride!