Sunday, December 29, 2013

Original Art Sundays No.172: traditional airbrush: The Addams Family poster

Next Cowgirls page is written and penciled, will get to the inks and the scans directly now that the holidays are over. It's a very fun but very strange page.
Here's a very old piece. Done as a teaser poster for the first Universal Addams Family film, circa 1991 or so, this was pre-Photoshop. The illustration is traditional airbrush, and the text and logo are white stats (for those who remember stat cameras!) dry transferred to a mylar overlay.
I've said it before and I'll say it again. I'm glad I know Photoshop, but I'm just as glad I know something about traditional methods.

Very simple technique: large matte with soft edges, a few lines using a handheld mask a la burn and dodge, and some soft lines for the backlight, then the overlay and a soft gray matte.
Of course, in the film it was Christopher Lloyd, not Jackie Cooper, but I worked with the images I had, pulling a photo from a book on science fiction TV as a reference.
Next week: Surrealist Cowgirls!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Original Art Sundays No. 171: Surrealist Cowgirls Cover

I'm really not trying to stall the end of the story! I'm really not!
But last week, I was thinking about the Cowgirls and the cover for the collection when I happened to open Evergreen's 2000 Edition of Little Nemo. There was an ad from September 2, 1911, promoting the strip moving to Hearst's papers. Regrettably, I did not think to scan the ad for this entry. This delightful little ad had the layout, and more importantly, the spirit of the Cowgirls: exciting, inviting and somewhat silly.
With that in mind, I drew up a quick cover. Then it was off to the scanner and into Photoshop for the coloring. Parts of the drawing, like Maggie's raised hand, were quite off, but I fixed them in Photoshop rather than going back to the drawing board. I'm quite happy with the final product.
I might do this yet again, just to try it as hand coloring.

I'm not 100% happy with the text block, and I still need to add the Ground Zero Press logo.But the colors work, I like the design and, most importantly, the mood.
No matter what else, the Surrealist Cowgirls are about joy.
Production notes: I think I have an end-run around my scanner issues that will not cost me anything (I am so stingy these days!). Also, next week I'll begin my annual review of the year's best comics!
See you then, if not before!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Original Art Sundays No.170: Great Transsexuals no. 1: Jayne County

First, the inevitable scanner update. I have one week left of regular access, then it goes away for several months. I'm exploring options, including going back to Kinko's and paying their ridiculous rates, trying to find funds to purchase a decent scanner, and keeping an eye on freecycle.
Meanwhile, I've scanned a couple months worth of old work, and hope to augment that with some fresh material during this final week. I want to keep posting during this lull.
To that end, here's a VERY old page. This was done for a friend's zine around Pride, and ended up being used in my first self-published book Ink Tantrums that same year. I had great fun with this short series, inspired by Ripley's Believe It or Not.
I later learned that Jayne did NOT have surgery, despite the Rolling Stone article. Still something of a heroine.
The art on this is quite crude. I don't mind that. Though I'd been through commercial art school at that time, I had yet to take any classes in comic book art (aside from my Omaha internship), and had very little equipment with which to work. While I always aspire to professionalism, in this case, given the intended audience and the subject matter, I was fine with it looking rough.
Next, we'll finish up the Surrealist Cowgirls story, and a few surprises coming down the pike!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Original Art Sundays (tuesday) No. 169: Transgender Charles Atlas parody

A bit late again- this scanner access is so frustrating! I thought I had it it solved, but the one I got was incompatible with my system. All the running to "fix" it put me behind schedule again. Grr.
I am preparing a Kickstarter. My original plan was to do Tranny Towers, but I've been persuaded that Surrealist Cowgirls is a better choice. I may have a publisher for TT, but that's a discussion for another day.
So it's back to looking for a good scanner.
As I was planning the former, I thought of finally doing this ad parody that's been in the back of my head for decades. The Charles Atlas ads were EVERYWHERE until the early 1970s, and the company is still around. It struck me as so hyper-masculine that this parody seemed inevitable.
Next: more Surrealist Cowgirls!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Comic Book Cookbooks part 2: Relish and Food Stamped

Some years ago, I posted on the wonders of comic book cookbooks, and comics containing recipes.
With some trepidation, I recently read Lucy Knisley's graphic memoir Relish: My Life in the Kitchen. The hesitation came from a suspicion of classism- a powerful issue in food politics.
In some ways, Kinsley's work is elitist, and in many others, it's not.

While she unapologetically devours foie gras with barely a whisper acknowledging the controversy surrounding it, she also maintains a lifelong love of fast food, much to the chagrin of her caterer mother. Paradoxically, she has a derisive parody of those who demean the lack of nutrition in fast food, portraying them as stereotypically fat and stupid. It's only one panel, but it does harm her credibility as regards sharing the joy of food, ostensibly the purpose of the book.
The book is still a delight to read, and in fairness, she never claimed to be offering a political discourse on food, only her own life with food. But aren't such comparisons inevitable? How can we relate to her life in food if our lives around food do not include catering and high-end cooking, or eating in other nations?
Strangely, at almost exactly the same time I read this book, I saw a documentary titled Food Stamped.

While this also ran the risk of bypassing some of these issues, Food Stamped recognized the various issues around food at different income levels, much more than did the Knisley book (admittedly, the works had very different stated purposes). While I occasionally found myself irritated at some of the more organic-than-thou attitudes of the couple in the film, I did respect that they went to people who have to live on food stamps, and treated their choices with respect. Like Supersize Me, Food Stamped also looks at school nutrition programs, and goes out of its way to make the salient point that diet effects productivity in many ways. The couple even notes changes in their own attitudes and capacities as a result of their restricted food budget, despite a Herculean effort to eat organic food.
Neither work is flawless, and neither is irrevocably flawed. Relish is a delightful, involving book, even if it does gloss over some issues I find vitally important. For the third time, to make the point, that's not Knisley's stated purpose, so it's hard to take her to task, except to recognize the inevitability of the omission.
Relish has one other very strong quality. The recipes are beautiful and easy to follow. Though I checked this out from the library, I may be adding it to my cookbook shelf!