Monday, August 27, 2012

Original Art Sundays no. 137: Surrealist Cowgirls, It Does This, p. 10

This is a very screwy series of events leading up to this page. Owing to the hour, I will simply post the page now and amend with the details tomorrow.  Details below the page.
I began this page in July, while working summer teaching sessions. It's been done for a while now, and now it's time to post it.
The layout of the top tier was based on discussions with my former student and summer co-worker Jack Kotz. Originally I had envisioned it as an overhead high shot in 3 point perspective, but it just wasn't working.
The second tier was easy. I love the tender silliness of the bunny hand holding in the first panel of that tier. It's also telling that Louise is the one who's afflicted and she's helping Maggie.
The last tier wasn't working at all. I pictured a triumph panel.
It was working, but I wasn't completely happy with it. I couldn't get a combination of scale and emotional response that I liked.
While I really like the drawing of Louise's mule (who has yet to be named, probably apropos for a shape-shifter) , it takes up too much real estate. No room for the rest of the case, and with two more girls and the whale-mule Whalliam still left to include, I decided it just wasn't working.
So I stopped in mid-panel.
But I was only blocked for a day.
Near the end of the session, I was talking the problem over with co-worker and longtime friend Rana Raeuchle,  who suggested the long shot with scenic in the foreground.
She also showed me a doodling app for my iPhone, which I've found immensely useful in plotting layouts. I do need to get some form of stylus to use with it for detail work- not that I'll be doing anything that detailed with it, but control is our friend.
I had the brainstorm of adding the boot of our mystery man, who's been following the group clandestinely, and his familiar, the giant snail. Some nice foreshadowing there. It should be noted that this last panel was done in ink, a welcome departure. I've fallen into the habit of working with markers, and I found getting back to inks quite fulfilling, and yielding a better result than I anticipated.
the inked replacement panel!

The original Chiss
It was time to name the snail. I puttered in my bookshelf for a bit, and found Chiss in The Patchwork Girl of Oz, one of my favorite Baum volumes. Chiss is a giant porcupine who can throw quills in multiple directions. I liked the way it sounded, and the implied speed in the name worked well with preconceptions of a snail's slowness.
Even though I've been working with the Surrealist Cowgirls since 1994, I'm still learning who they are. I suppose that's what people mean when they say characters become real, but I'm reminded of the words of Jane Yolen: if you think your characters are real, try borrowing ten dollars from one of them.
The following page is now on the board. Now that the Cowgirls are on top of the ziggurat, the story takes an intriguing turn, as the quest to cure Kay Seurat-Seurat continues.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Original Art Sundays no. 136: Surrealist Cowgirls, p.9

Damn near killed myself getting the work together for the MCAD Faculty Art Show, but I made the deadline!
I had just finished working on the last piece when I stood up and stumbled on the leg of my drawing table chair, taking a nasty tumble, scraping and twisting my left leg in the process. That was at 5:30 Friday morning and I'm still a bit sore.
What we endure for Art, eh?
Well, here's the next Cowgirls page. It's been done for more than a month, but I wanted to post the rest of the other story first. I have one more page already completed after this one, plus another almost done and three bonus pieces prepared for the show, so we're good to go for a while.
When we left out intrepid party, Maggie and Louise (who was "bunny-fied" by accident) were escorting Kay Seurat-Seurat to a mysterious black structure, on their journey to try to cure her devastating case of rheumatism of the spirit.
The journey continues...
I need to find a fresh visual pun for landscapes. This is the third time I've used "foothills". I like it, but variety is our friend too.
The spring-fed pool gag would work better if the pockets on the pool table were better defined.
Overall, I think this is a durable, fun page that advances the story.
Next week: the next page! Wow! If I can stay organized during teaching fall semester, I should be able to maintain the pace for quite a while.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Joe Kubert (1926 - 2012):remembering the art

Joe Kubert's career in comics began in 1938.
It ended two days ago.
I always like his Hawkman work, but didn't really appreciate the scope of the man's achievements until I began writing about his life and art.
Nothing I could write would do the man's work justice, so I've prepared a small tribute using some swiped Kubert art.
For those who don't know, Yossel is the title character of a graphic novel by Kubert, detailing the way his life might have gone if his parents hadn't emigrated to America.
Goodbye to a man whose line was simultaneously graceful and nearly savage in its energy.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Original Art Sundays no. 135: Tranny Towers, Final Chapter

When my editor told me the strip had been cancelled (on the deadline, when I came in to submit the next strip), I informed him that I was unsure of the paper's intent and had prepared one more just in case.
They agreed to run it, which was actually rather gracious.
I'm glad. I think it's one of the better strips of the run.

The banner is made from scratch, no overt swipes (at least none I can remember). I took my enthusiasm for pinup art, especially the work of Gil Elvgren, and did some work I think was rather inspired.
The title is an obvious Streisand reference.
Simple layout, a bit more background than in some of the past strips, and a closing "in-joke."
For the last few months of the strip's run, Lavender decided to also run a new strip called "Fabulous Fabio". It was the worst of gay comic strips- bad art, cliches, sloppy lettering and lazy writing. Though it died shortly after this strip, I was quite annoyed at its presence, and wanted to take a little shot at its creator's seeming lack of training and effort. I mean really, not so much that this was running next to my work, but running such a mediocrity near Dykes to Watch Out For or Jennifer Camper's Sub Grrlz? Sad. I was relieved when "Fabulous Fabio" faded into oblivion a few strips later.
I had set this up for one of the next storylines, involving Dan coming to terms with just how deep his drag persona did or didn't go. Trying to leave the door open and all that.
The Dolly Parton reference brings the strip full circle to the original Tranny Towers, a Section 8 building where 6 of the 14 units were occupied by MtF transfolk. Several of my neighbors were huge country fans, and I'd hear drunken singalongs of this song well into the wee hours. Once in a while I joined in. Ah, memories.
I still have a bunch of strips I did as editorial cartoons for TransSisters and TNT News Magazines. I'll run those as a unit after taking a break from this work to get back to the Surrealist Cowgirls. MY work on that for the faculty art show is due on or by Friday, and is about 2/3 done.
For right now, I'm going to do as the song says, and try to look better than a body has a right to.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Original Art Sundays No. 134: Tranny Towers, Ch. 36

The end of the storyline, but one chapter to follow. I"ll explain that next week.

1. The name issue from the previous chapter clearly needs resolution. Before going to Kickstarter (and failing that, self-publishing through Kablam or some other vendor), I'm planning on spending several days cleaning up all these annoying errors and relettering.
2. The Transsexual Menace T-Shirt refers to a group very active in the 90s. The group is extant today, but less active (the last news item on their site is over a year old).
3. The Mary Tyler Moore reference should be obvious, but in case any younger readers have not seen the original, here's the scene from the final episode. Go to 9:03 in for the key scene.

4. I couldn't resist the "bunny ears" in the last panel. It's one of my favorite bratty things to do, and it's a staple in my family!
5. I left the  door open for several new story lines: Sonia's stay at Hazelden, Trina's developing relationship with Leiko, Athena and Dena's California trip, and one involving Dan that I hint at in the one remaining strip- but it was not to be.
Not yet, anyway.
I will do an "aftermath" story to be included in the inevitable collection.
Quite honestly, I'm not sure how much of a market there is for this work. It's very dated, but I think it's still important. And although it's got its share of flaws, there's plenty of worthwhile material in this 74 week run.
More about the demise of the strip next week. I have a couple Surrealist Cowgirls pages, and one SC surprise in the wings, as well as news of the MCAD Faculty Show, which will include the aforementioned SC material.
For right now, posting this has me feeling more than a bit sentimental (me? really?), so I'm going to take a walk on this bright calm August day.
Next: the postscript.