Archive for November, 2009

Getting in the Spirit

Here’s my kind of Christmas comic, courtesy of the great Matt Feazell.

Also in the spirit of the season, if you’d like to put some comics under the tree this year, Spurge has released his annual guide to comics-related gift shopping.

Two Videos

1. Seth Kushner’s 30 minute Act-I-Vate video courtesy of Newsarama.

2. Moebius drawing on a Cintiq at Angouleme 2009.

I like how the Act-i-Vate Collective has used technology on all fronts to get their message out from the beginning and Kushner’s cool docupromo thingey really kicks it up a notch.

It’s fascinating though, after seeing the barrage of ideas, words, and techniques flying out of NYC in every direction, to watch the aging Moebius silently, confidently, picking up his pen, putting it to the screen, and simply drawing.

(both via today’s Journalista)

Happy Turkey Day

Happy Thanksgiving to all our U.S. readers.

It may be in a purely secular way, but I do feel a continuous sense of gratitude these days—to fate if nothing else. But for those of you who still give thanks to “the man upstairs,” here’s the poem my family always recited before Thanksgiving dinner each year.

I always liked it (though our version had fewer “and”s).

Back of the loaf is the snowy flour;
And back of the flour, the mill;
And back of the mill is the wheat and the shower,
And the sun, and the Father’s will.”

— Maltbie Babcock

Climbing up the Picture Plane

My old pal Larry Marder just sent me images from the upcoming Beanworld Book 3—the first all-new Beanworld stories in fifteen years—and I was struck by how beautiful they were; even moreso than in the original series, which remains one of my favorite comics of all time.

Larry uses spot blacks, bold geometry, rhythm, negative space, repetition, and variation like no other cartoonist I know.

Beanworld accomplishes something very rare. To use my own goofy terminology, Larry manages to use pure cartoony abstraction from the lower right vertex of the big triangle but because of the pure graphic ingenuity on display, his pages are a riot of abstraction reaching up toward the picture plane vertex at the same time.

Look at any given element. Is it a symbol? A picture? A pure shape? It’s everything all at once!

Click on the thumbnails below to get a closer look at 6 out of the 186 pages hitting store shelves in early December. This one’s going to be a classic.

Research Request

Just got this request from a graduate student and figured I’d pass it along:

Dear Mr. McCloud:

My name is Megan Milliken and I am a University of Chicago graduate student conducting research on comic book readership. I’m interested in demographic trends of comic book readers as well as the medium’s effect on readers’ consumption of other cultural goods and participation in civic activities. I’m motivated to do this research first and foremost because I am an avid comic book fan who has derived a great deal of pleasure and inspiration from both the content itself and the community. I’m interested in how comic books have impacted readers and hope to see what it is about a comic book that keeps a reader coming back month after month. That said I have two surveys (the first is for under 18 respondents, and the other is for respondents that are 18 and over) that I have assembled. Would you be interested in posting these surveys to your blog and encouraging readers to participate? It is intended for comic book readers as well as non comic book readers as I would like to compare responses between these two groups. Please let me know if you could do this and if you have questions regarding the study.

Thank you and take care,

Megan Milliken

So feel free to click on the above links, if any of you would like to help Megan with her research.

The Episode with the Dog

Oh my God, the episode with the dog…

Is There Anyone Who Hasn’t Seen This?

Kseniya Simonova’s remarkable sand painting video has been viewed by eight million people, so I’m guessing a lot of you have already seen it, but just in case, here it is one more time.

There’s this weird thing that happens where if enough people recommend a link to me, I figure I don’t need to blog about it, because everyone has already seen it. Still, eight million out of six billion isn’t exactly full saturation.

Some of the recommendations came with an “is this comics?” heading, prompting my usual answer: “I don’t think so, but it’s still cool!”

We’re getting close to the end of a decade and a lot of people have been trying to sum up the experience. Short of putting “B.O.B.” on endless repeat, I think a big part of what’s made this decade interesting can be summed up pretty nicely in the phrase “Ukraine’s Got Talent.”

Notes from Home

Back from Portland where I saw about a dozen cartoonists (comprising about 1% of the Portland cartooning hordes) and had a great time with the bright creative students at Reed College.

Just a couple of links as I settle back into the studio:

Shaenon Garrity offers an incisive review of our recent Zot! B & W omnibus collection.

And, as linked to by dozens of tweets and news stories, Lucy Knisley has an interesting take on a technological generation gap between her and some of her cartooning heroes.

The gap’s been around for years, of course, but Lucy’s thoughts are interesting since she namechecks some of the more open-minded—and in many ways, forward-looking—cartoonists out there, and she clearly feels a kinship with many of them, even as she embraces new tools they’re wary of.

This sort of inter-generational moat-digging has been around since before Will Eisner met Rube Goldberg, but Knisley’s yearning feels different to me from a lot of the fractious father-killing that usually grows out of such gaps. Compare Knisley’s reflections to the recent grudge-matches between web and newspaper cartoonists for example.

You can tell that Knisley wants more of her heroes to join her across the river, but there are plenty of burning bridges downstream. It’ll be interesting to see how many find a way to cross in the long run.

Water Discovered on Earth

Last week London, this week Portland. Two damp and wonderful cities (note Portland’s actual 10-day forecast as of Sunday night at left).

Saw some great old friends in London (while briefly in town for a session with the good folks at Skype) including “The Man at the Crossroads” Paul Gravett, webcomics innovator Daniel Merlin Goodbrey, and my old pal Ted Dewan, and had the privilege of meeting Pat Mills, Sarah McIntyre and Woodrow Phoenix among others. Sarah got a great shot of Paul, Woodrow, and me on her blog.

Woodrow’s 2008 book Rumble Strip made for some intriguing plane reading. It’s all “word specific” (i.e., without pictures, the words would still form a coherent text), and uses only images of inanimate objects to make its points as it mounts an all-out assault on car culture. An unusual and interesting book.

Here in rainy Portland I’ll be doing an in-class workshop at Reed College (not open to the public—sorry!) and will probably see about one in ten of the hundreds of talented cartoonists living in this lovable soggy city, but I’m sure I’ll be back before long.

After these two back-to-back trips, it’s non-stop drawing from here to February as I wrap up layouts on the graphic novel. Always fun to visit two of my favorite cities, but looking forward to getting back to work.

And Speaking of London…

Sadly, I won’t be in town long enough to see much of the ongoing Comica: The London International Comics Festival, but I should note that the London comics scene is really hopping this month and if you’re in the area, be sure to hop over to one of the cool events taking place between November 5-26.