Archive for March, 2010

So Many Toys

Screwed around a bit with Harmony last night after work; a spare but fun online sketching tool that’s part of the ongoing Chrome Experiments series.

Ever since the sublime original KidPix, I’ve liked art tools that ditched the obvious analog metaphors (paintbucket, eyedropper, pencil), but kept the idea of limited control that makes traditional picture-making so unpredictable.

Drawing with tools like “fur” and “ribbon” are like taking a dog for a walk. You may have a route picked out, but there’s going to be a lot of sniffing and straining at the leash.

Check out the other Experiments if you haven’t already. Assuming your browser plays nice with modern javascript toys (a selling point for Chrome of course) there are some real gems in there. I especially like the really simple ones.

Friday Odds and Ends

Okay one more cool music video (via Lori M) playing with one of my favorite topics (as seen in UC chapter 5).

Nawlz returns with “Season 2: Real Werld Information Breakdown.”

Bravest Kid in America. (Imagine going to school the next morning? She did it.)

Also note sidebar: Italy in April, London in May, and South Bend in 12 days. And when not traveling: 11 hours a day, 7 days a week on the book—and loving it.

Back to work!

Art Compressed

As long as I’m linking to music videos this week, here’s another great one (via Jenn Manley Lee) that plunges into art history. Good excuse to link to Jenn’s amazing Dicebox while we’re at it.

I’ve been thinking about art history a lot this year as I tunnel through my art-related graphic novel. As dorky and low-rent as most of the tableaus in the video are, it’s surprising to me how much power several of them have; producing almost a shock of recognition. (This is something Michel Gondry really understands too—that it doesn’t have to be serious or slick to deliver a punch).

I’ve been thinking of cartooning as a kind of visual compression algorithm lately. They travel in such a simple, reduced state, but when unpacked in the mind of the viewer, even a few simple lines can yield a huge set of ideas and emotions.

We’re looking at live action in the case of the video, but I think the effect might be similar.

Where Your Eyes Don’t Go

The esteemed Mr. Manley sends word of a cool game by producer and director Tyler Glaiel and artist Jon Schubbe called Closure.

It’s a spare independent flash game now being developed for other formats which plays with some of the ideas I talk about in Chapter 3 of UC to great effect.

It’s really cool so I decided to link to it—and then realized that I already had an email from Tyler Glaiel telling me about the game over a year ago.


I am so behind on my email.

Anyway, check it out!

Rube Goldberg was a Real Guy!

Ivy and I love both of the new OK Go videos for “This Too Shall Pass” (check out the marching band one also) but I’m especially fond of the Rube Goldberg machine version because I remember making stuff like this as a kid.

It’s been almost a century since the real-life Rube Goldberg started creating his ingenious cartoon machines on America’s funny pages, but his place in pop culture is as secure as ever.

Everybody sends out ripples in life, but some are more pronounced than others. I think most artists (unless they’re Buddhists?) like the idea that their own ripples will travel for a long time, but you can never predict exactly what shape they might take.

Just ask Kevin Bacon.

On the Medicis’ Coffee Table

We watched the Oscars last night, so I finally got to see Tom Gauld’s Diet Coke can animation in action after a flurry of  ”Wait Wait! Go back!” and rewinding.

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, ad agencies have great taste in music and comics sometimes. (I’ve seen two commercials using Amon Tobin, but have yet to hear the guy on commercial radio).

I’ve enjoyed Gauld’s work for a while, since the day Kurt alerted me to Gauld’s sublime Hunter and Painter. Gauld’s The Gigantic Robot is a delightful, if brief, read, and his Noah’s Ark comic was my favorite piece in Kramer’s Ergot #7. Check out his recently launched personal site for more info.

The road from Kramer’s Ergot to multi-million dollar national ad campaigns isn’t usually so straight, but hey, any port in a storm. Every generation has its Medicis and sometimes they take unexpected forms. It’ll be fun to see what kind of future work from Gauld this windfall might help fund.

When Metaphors Touch Down

Long-time friend of the site, Greg Stephens suggested I check out this article by Tokyo-based Craig Mod which offers his take on different contents’ ability (or lack thereof) to migrate easily from device to device.

His whole presentation has an amusing vintage-Tufte meets RC-era me feeling, and some of the reasoning may be a bit fuzzy, but his ideas are fun, provocative, and worth a look—as are the many comments that follow.

Craig’s main point—that there are types of content that can’t be endlessly re-flowed and re-purposed because their formal presentation is integral to the work—is a huge issue for comics and the source of a lot of our growing pains to date.

For years, I’ve watched as we’ve tried out a dozen different metaphors for comics on the Web. Pages versus windows, flipping versus panning, “strip” versus “magazine” versus “book”… all the while assuming that the best metaphor(s) would simply win out in the end on an open network.

What worried me is that sooner or later, one or two of those metaphors were bound to migrate to dedicated reading devices, and when they did, the designers of those devices could simply choose which metaphor suited them and lock them in. For a really long time.

If such devices follow an app store model, such experimentation doesn’t have to stop dead in its tracks. Maybe. But there’s no question that “later” is becoming “sooner” is becoming “now” and if we don’t make some smart decisions during this stage of growth, comics could veer dangerously off course for years.

Look Familiar?

No big news today, so here’s a random slice from a random recent photo I took. Look familiar?

I’d say about 1 in 40 of you should recognize the above image right away. As for the rest, um… I guess I just think it looks cool.

Would you Buy a Theory from this Man?

I get the Graphic NYC treatment!: interviewed by Christopher Irving and photographed by Seth Kushner during my reference-taking mission in January.

Seth and Christopher were great hosts and also shared their impressions of Brooklyn with me. It was a pleasure speaking with and providing a subject for both of these talented thinkers.

One More: Liverpool

Another quick trip. This time to Liverpool for an in-house thingey at SCE. Back in a couple of days.