Archive for March, 2009

Things Y’Can’t Just Show Up To

Webcomics Weekend is upon us. I’m not there myself, but I figured I’d add to public service messages out there that registration is full, so don’t just show up at the door and expect to register. 

Ditto for Comic Con hotels and four-day registration, but you probably already knew that.

I’m sure it’s annoying for spontaneous types, but trust me, it’s better than the reverse. I remember when there were a lot more empty patches in comics’ social arenas. I thought for sure that this would be the year that Comic-Con finally slowed down a bit, but maybe I was wrong. As for webcomics, give it a decade or two.

We Were Young and Weird

The Canadian cable show “Prisoners of Gravity” from the late ’80s early ’90s has been showing up on YouTube lately. I’m in the third part of a Jack Kirby segment but you can find a lot of comic artists we all know as a bit worn/grizzled/bloated with age, showing up unnervingly young.

I am Holding This in My Hands Right Now

Larry Marder is collecting his amazing Beanworlds into gorgeous new volumes from Dark Horse. They feel heavy, blocky and wonderful. Soon there will be NEW Beanworlds and all the world will rejoice, but for now add this collection to your must-have list. It even includes my original introduction from almost exactly 20 years ago.

Webcomics = ?

It’s almost funny watching a well-meaning journalist trying to cover all the different kinds of webcomics out there. Not an easy task these days.

And with luck, it will only get harder.

Microsoft, Seadragon and the Infinite Canvas

I first saw Microsoft’s Seadragon and Photosynth projects via Blaise Aguera y Arcas’s stunning demo at TED 2007, and of course, I immediately thought of the implications for my “infinite canvas” ideas. Apparently, I wasn’t alone. Last spring, I got an email from Ian Gilman who worked with the team, to let me know about his efforts to apply some of these ideas to comics and pointing out Seadragon’s baby steps on the Web. Though those efforts are only peripherally related to Seadragon so far, the proximity is interesting.

Art by Paul Sizer from his intro to B.P.M.

Art by Paul Sizer from his intro to B.P.M.

Microsoft’s Infinite Canvas, listed as “a funky side project” from Microsoft’s Live Labs, is still just in Alpha testing. It’s not as smooth as Merlin’s Tarquin Engine by any means, but it does introduce a community element and the instant gratification of being able to hit that “create” button and try it out right away, which could lead in some very interesting directions. I even threw a vintage improv up there to try it out.

The results are scattered, of course, and not every comic uses the same navigational model, but it’s definitely worth looking at and playing with.

Comics as CSS?

While working on layouts for the graphic novel, I’m trying out something a little different. I sketch out individual panels in sequence without any concern for how they’ll fall on the page. Instead, I’m first making sure the pacing and order is right—adding and subtracting moments as necessary—and then seeing how they tumble onto the page and whether adjustments have to be made after the fact.

So, basically I’m working out pacing like it was plain HTML, then the comics page is like a style sheet applied to that content. Comics = CSS!

This makes me happy.

Because I am a big fat dork.

Just Saying…

Just found out that the CBLDF had a Facebook page (yeah, I’m slow), but I noticed that they’d like to get 5,000 members and they’re already at 4,920 as I write this. Seems awfully close to me.

Alison Bechdel is Wicked Smaht

From Mind TV (via Tom), comes this great bit of shop talk from one of America’s most thoughtful cartoonists. Would love to see a central repository of these kinds of videos someday. Cartoonists could learn a lot from each other.

My Favorite Cartoonist

No one has had more influence over my art than my old friend, the legendary Brian Dewan. He’s a songwriter, composer, builder, music historian, and fine artist, but in my world he’s always been, first and foremost, a cartoonist, because he understands better than anybody how ideas and images can be distilled to their essence, a magic trick I’m still trying to learn.

I talk a lot about how Kurt Busiek got me into comics in junior high school, but despite a statistically-improbable cluster of geniuses my age growing up within a block of my house in Lexington, MA (including Brian’s amazing brother Ted whose photo of Brian I stole above), no one did more to unlock the mysteries of art for me than Brian.

One of Brian’s coolest inventions, his funny, touching, brilliant, insane, and unforgettable filmstrips, have been issued as a DVD collection from Bright Red Rocket. I can’t recommend them highly enough. Here’s an audio portrait of the talented Mr. Dewan, courtesy of NPR, which includes the filmstrip Innovations (from which the above screenshots were taken) if you’d like a sample.

Yeah, What’s up with THAT, America?

Lucy + Erika = Awesome. Hey, and there’s still time to order Erika’s new book and reward one of the many printers out there that aren’t prudes.