Archive for June, 2010

Al Williamson, 1931-2010

I was waiting to mention this, because I knew that Tom Spurgeon would have the best write-up on the late master and he does.

Only met the man a few times. We travelled in different circles. But he seemed kind and charming and his talent was self-evident.

Combined with the recent passing of Frazetta, expect the phrase “end of an era” to come up a lot—and not without justification.


In other news, just a quick note for those of you who were intrigued by my write-up of the Legendary Brian Dewan and his filmstrips a while back, to let you know that Brian will be performing at Los Angeles’ equally legendary Museum of Jurassic Technology on June 25 and 26 in their teeny tiny theater.

Tickets on sale here.

I Couldn’t do it, Could You?

For those who didn’t follow the link in Friday’s post, James Sturm has quit the internet for four months and is writing about it at Slate.

It’s not exactly Thoreau territory. He’s still using his phone (now more than ever!) and still part of the electronic landscape in other ways. He’s even talked to ABC about itBut his observations on the process are illuminating and his illustrations for the article are a delight.

James and I have had some vigorous debates about the value of information technology over the years. It’s no secret that I’m pretty happy with the way things are going. But a part of me wouldn’t mind following him for a while.

I’m increasingly aware of my own addictions. After answering as many emails as I can in the morning (never enough!), I’ll sometimes close my laptop and put it away to avoid the temptation of checking for new mails until I get at least a few hours of drawing done on the main machine (yeah, I use a local client for email—not living up to my surname yet). Sooner or later, I may have to start unplugging the modem for part of the day too.

If James inspires you to try something similar, go for it. But you might want to wait until his Slate reports are done, since those are available only on…


Understanding Parties!

Ivy throws me surprise parties once in a while. She’s brilliant at engineering surprises, but it’s almost wasted, because I’m pathetically easy to fool. (Imagine Ricky Jay doing card tricks for a cocker spaniel, seriously.)

Anyway, she pulled off another wonderful party Saturday, two days after my actual birthday, which was all it took to eliminate any suspicions on my part, because, well… see above. I’m dense. We had a fantastic time all the way into the wee hours.

Along with our great local pals, longtime friends Kurt Busiek, Larry Marder, and Barry Deutsch flew/drove/rode in for the occasion, and Larry and local legend Paul Smith even gave me some gorgeous original art! (Check it out!: Paul’s | Larry’s)

And then there was the cake! Yet another piece of great original art; quickly demolished, but no less appreciated.

Friends, Life, Wife: I love you.

Thanks. ^__^

Art and the Marketplace

I read three books on the plane back from London: Jim Woodring’s Weathercraft, Dan Clowes’ Wilson, and James Sturm’s Market Day (thanks to Gosh! and Forbidden Planet for having them in stock).

I strongly recommend the Woodring and Clowes books. Weathercraft is a perfectly-crafted hallucination from a brilliant cartoonist at the top of his game. Wilson, while uneven, has a ton of dark, funny moments, and is far more than the sum of its parts.

But, of the three, Sturm’s Market Day made the strongest impression on me. I talked to James Sturm recently and told him that he went toe-to-toe with Woodring and Clowes and won, but I want to make it official here so he knows (provided someone tells him) that I wasn’t just blowing smoke up his ass. Market Day is the best comic I’ve read all year.

Sturm’s story follows a rug merchant in a distant time and place, but if you make art of any kind and have ever questioned your relevance in a changing world (show of hands?) this book will speak to you. It might not cheer you up, but you’ll know you aren’t alone.

I’d say more, but John Martz seems to have beat me to it, so I’ll just recommend that while all three books are worth reading, if you read just one graphic novel from the year so far, I hope it will be Market Day.

And Now I’m 50

As of a minute ago.

All the World is Sharing

So a few years ago I did an interview which wound up on the Hellboy 3-Disk DVD. The interview was pretty good (although the “examples” they showed had nothing to do with what I was saying).

Anyway, it came out, some people bought it, and from its Amazon ranking, it still sells from time to time.


Like all movies, it wound up on sharing/streaming sites. Now, when I egosurf, I see references to the piece all the time, and I know they’re all bootlegs because they’ve apparently been translated into other languages and then translated back.

Just a few of the names:

A Expeditiously Guide to Thought Comics with Scott McCloud

A Fleet Guide to Concept Comics with Scott McCloud

A Fast Guide to Belief Comics with Scott McCloud

A Hastily Guide to Conception Comics with Scott McCloud

A Lickety-split Guide to Conception Comics with Scott McCloud

A Like A Flash Guide to Notion Comics with Scott McCloud

A Mercurial Guide to Idea Comics with Scott McCloud

A Posthaste Guide to Opinion Comics with Scott McCloud

A Rapidly Guide to Idea Comics with Scott McCloud

A Snappy Guide to Plan Comics with Scott McCloud

A Speedily Guide to Idea Comics with Scott McCloud

A Swiftly Guide to Plan Comics with Scott McCloud

I’ve always held back from vilifying file-sharing like some of my peers who work in the “content” industry. I’m a boy scout myself—nearly all my songs and videos are straight from iTunes or equivalent sources—but I would rather live in a world that allows sharing and tries to build markets from willing sellers and willing buyers, than a world where the Net is so controlled that it can be effectively shut down.

Still, it’s sobering to see the scale of the phenomenon and how rarely these sessions pull up the actual name of the original segment:

A Quick Guide to Understanding Comics with Scott McCloud

“95% True”

Been reading and enjoying two very different autobiographical comics; Tracy White’s memoir GN How I Made It to Eighteen and Lea Hernadez’s Near-Life Experience entries at LJ.

White’s book delivers literally on the title, detailing her recovery from mid-teen traumas, and how treatment helped her to not die before becoming the successful and accomplished adult she is today. And like her webcomics at traced.com, How I Made It to Eighteen is “guaranteed 95% true.” She’s changed names and details, but you know you’re getting the facts that matter.

Hernandez’s NLEx also struggles with those 5% quandries, in her case because she’s not writing about events and friends from decades ago, she’s writing about stuff that happened Tuesday, and about a family that might be in the next room. You can feel the inner struggle as she writes about how much she’s willing to write about her son’s ongoing struggles to fit in to society’s limited expectations of him.

It’s a real open question whether any autobiography can ever be more than 95% true. Mark Twain stipulated that his memoir not be published until 100 years after his death (this year!), presumably so that he could be 100% honest—a full implementation of the Mystery Quote—but from what I’ve heard, the old guy doesn’t come across as particularly objective while ranting about his many late-in-life grudges.

Emotional honesty and factual accuracy aren’t the same thing after all. Twain may have thought he was hitting 100%, but maybe nobody can ever get past 95%. And maybe saying so upfront, as White and Hernandez both do in their own fashion, is the most honest way to start.

Spiegelman was Right! (again)

Running late this morning, so just time for a quick one.

Paul Laroquod points to an interesting Scientific American article about the history, influence, and value of simplified line art and its relatives. Along the way, they point out a correlation between great line artists and lazy eyes.

Art Spiegelman has been saying for years that his own impaired vision in one eye probably influenced his own 2-D world of comics and art, but I doubt he ever expected science to back him up.

Mark Your Calendars — October 2, 2010

Registration is now open to host an event for 24 Hour Comics Day 2010. ComicsPro has general information here and I have more background on the phenomenon here.

Incredibly, this year marks the 20th anniversary of the first 24-hour comic, and the 7th annual 24HCD. I’m old!

Time and Again by Jacques Khouri

Here’s an elegant variation on some spatial ideas that’ll be familiar to regular readers (at least the theory nerds among you).

I liked it a lot. You might too.

Thanks to Rachelle for the pointer.