Archive for August, 2010

On the Road Again…

I’m off to New York again this week for a talk at NYU.

Not open to the public, sorry. Just for freshmen within the Liberal Studies and Global Liberal Studies programs. (Basically, if you can come, you probably already knew about it and have all the details)

But hey, in the meantime, here are two gorgeous music videos with similar vibes: 1 | 2. (via Lori Matsumoto and Mark Siegel).

See you again Sept 6.

Friday Odds and Ends

A couple of new angles on navigation this week. On the Web side, a nicely-rendered side-scroller by Cody Coltharp, and on the mobile side, a tilting viewer by Karrie Fransman & Jonathan Plackett.

[Via comments: The javascript for the side-scroller viewer was written by Jean-Nicolas Jolivet, originally as a panoramic photo viewer.]

From Mexico, a well-told silent comic by Edgar Delgado, using some extended page sizes and storytelling tricks practically designed to make me happy (and maybe you too).

Finally, a moving good bye from Satoshi Kon, a creative giant of Japanese animation whose work I was still in the process of exploring when I heard the news of his death from cancer. I look forward to finishing my journey through his stories. I regret there won’t be any more.

Tokyo Godfathers arrived in the mail yesterday.

I Remember this Comic!

When I was reviewing small press and mini-comics in the late ’80s, I was excited by what I saw as the closest thing (pre-Internet) to absolute freedom in comics.

By going completely outside any traditional markets, and often sold only through the mail and at local cons, these photocopied comics could go in any direction their artists wanted them to, not just what the market would allow.

None of the artists expected to get rich, but we readers knew that whatever showed up in our mailbox was going to be exactly what the artist really wanted to it to be.

Some artists stuck with light gag comics. Some produced one or two minis and vanished. Some went on to mainstream(?) success like Chester Brown. Some like Matt Feazell, John Porcellino, and Steve Willis became mini-comics legends and inspired others to make their own homemade comics.

And then there was Armageddonquest by Ronald Russell Roach.

Warren Ellis said it best:

ARMAGEDDONQUEST squirms and thrashes in a crawlspace it dug out with its bare talons, partway between the early graphic novel and classic “outsider” art. It’s the comics version of the demon-haunted work of the young Daniel Johnston, raw, passionate, demented, electric.

I really enjoyed Ron Roach’s crazy, wonderful comic when it came out, but I never expected to see it again. 900 pages is a massive hurdle for something as idiosyncratic as this. But then along came Kickstarter.

I was delighted to be the first donor. This is a worthwhile project. Please consider joining in the effort.

In Case You Missed it…

this is one of the funniest things I’ve seen in a while.

It was posted over a week ago and I (along with a zillion other people) was passing it around via Twitter last week, but it made me happy enough I just wanted to give it a shout out here too.

If you still haven’t read it. Take a look.

(And yes, I know, I know… Too soon for the Shuttle, but the rest are too good to miss).

Works for Me. Does it Work for You?

Here’s a great short comic about drinking by Montreal-based cartoonist Vincent Giard. Lots of other terrific short subjects can be found in the BD Section of his site.

Giard uses simple animated gifs to get his effects. I sometimes get misquoted as saying that adding animation to comics somehow instantly disqualifies them as comics at all (in fact, I read it as recently as two days ago). Not true.

While I do think that fully-animated monstrosities like the Watchmen Motion Comic stretch the term to the breaking point, I’ve seen examples of looping animation that work going all the way back to some of the earliest Magic Inkwell strips (#23, for example) by Cat Garza.

The best way I’ve come up with to explain it is that looping animation (and sound, for that matter) still communicate a static span of time. If panel 2 clearly comes after panel 1 and before panel 3, it still feels like comics, even if panel 2 is a short loop of some sort.

The point isn’t whether or not we want to give it a particular label or not, but whether a given comic works as storytelling. Does it feel whole? Can we lose ourselves in the reality of the strip? And in this case, I’d say yes.

What do you think?

[via Randy Oest]


Well, in my case, GET, ’cause they already offered us a set, making this a thoroughly tainted recommendation.

But… but… Dude, this looks so cool! So does the app. Very story-machine-ish.

Issue Maps!

Here’s another fun one to throw into the “Is it Comics?” basket: illustrated issue maps like this one.

An easy “no” in cases where it’s just words (like in this classic from Mr. F) but a more interesting question when the pictures do more of the talking.

If you go far enough, would it start to look a little more like this?

[Thanks to Dafna from Carnegie Mellon for reminding me of these crazy, wonderful charts]

I Didn’t Even Know this Guy Existed

Over at Jordan Crane’s What Things Do, they’ve been running a ton of old art by Abner Dean, a mid-20th Century illustrator. (I’m assuming it’s in the public domain or they have permission, it’s clearly not in print anymore).

Pretty crazy stuff, but definitely worth a look—and worth a buy if you can find a used copy of the original.

Here’s the big page. Long load times and probably NSFW, but a real mindbender.

It reminded me of William Steig’s brilliant About People. Also recommended and similarly obscure now, despite its author’s popular kids’ books.

Great imaginations get forgotten far too often.

Anyone know of other largely forgotten artists whose works you loved?

Cartoonists: You Can Do This!

If you can write and draw comics, you can give a great presentation.

Presentation software is incredibly easy to learn. Pick good pictures and some stories to go with them and you’re set. If you’re a little shy, just read one of your comics; maybe one or two panels per slide.

Dave McKean isn’t Steve Jobs or anything in the above video. But compared to 99% of all presenters, he’s mesmerizing. Why? Because his work speaks for itself. And Dave has lots and lots of cool pictures and stories to share.

Pictures blow bulleted lists out of the water, and cartoonist know pictures. Why don’t more of us do this?

Midnight Movies and Meteor Showers…

…lead to very late mornings.

Gotta get to work, but yes we loved it and can’t wait to see it again.

I’m at Microsoft on Monday (I know, not on the schedule; it all came together kind of quickly) so I might not post for a few days, but will try to offer thoughts on the movie next week.

Meanwhile check out this shot of some adorable cosplayers who were at the Regal in Simi Valley last night. Didn’t get names, but if anyone knows these guys, let us know and I’ll be happy to identify them.

UPDATE!: See comments for full cosplayer I.D.s. Thanks for checking in, Everybody. ^^