Monday, October 29, 2007

A Great Pumpkin and A Good Man

Important evening phone calls? Need to get that hip surgery? About to discover time travel? Well, put it off for an bit and watch the documentary on Charles Schulz airing tonight on PBS. This installment of "American Masters" (two words that could apply to almost no one more fully than they do to Schulz) airs at 9 EST. Record it. Take notes. Miss him like we all do, or ought to. Then get back to work on that time travel, with renewed purpose.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Get Thee to a Library

This Thursday, I'll be downtown here in Chicago at the Harold Washington Library (400 S. State St.), as part of the Chicago Book Festival. I'll be doing a couple of slide shows (projecting slides of comics while reading them) from "The Three Paradoxes" and "Let Us Be Perfectly Clear" and talking about writing and creating comics. Who knows how it will turn out? Not me, I'm still putting together the slides.

The event is 6:30 to 7:30 in the 7th floor Chicago Author's Room. You can visit their website or download the pdf of the programming here for more information about the festival's events.

(As an aside: The title for this post, a bastardization of a line from Hamlet ("Get thee to a nunnery..."), was often employed by my American History teacher and great friend, Mr. Harris, whenever one of us, his snot-nosed pupils, did not have the information we ought, but were attempting in our laziness to mine the answer from him. Thanks, Mr. Harris.)

The Almost-Ran

This has ended up being too semi-ridiculous to not share. At ComicCon this summer I was asked to be interviewed by the lovely and congenial Ms. Olive Panter (yes, daughter of one Gary Panter) for that social networking juggernaut in Rupert Murdoch's army, myspace. I was told by Olive and company that the video would be up sometime in August. Sure, why not?

I don't recall how long the interview was, but it was quite pleasant, and all involved were extremely nice. When months had passed and I'd yet to run across any video of ComicCon, I assumed it had been scratched for one reason or another (or no reason, as is so often the case with corporations). But then I happened to see a link, when logging into to the time-wasting site last week, to this video. Here we're treated to a douchebag from My Chemical Romance (sorry, maybe he's a nice guy, but they're horrible (though their album artwork was done by James Jean, who can do no aesthetic wrong but isn't enough to save their horrible music... A further note: this guy's too douchesque to take off his sunglasses while both indoors and talking to someone? Two times the douche!). My interview wasn't in the video, but I noticed a couple of seconds of someone flipping through "The Three Paradoxes," which they'd shot right before or after my interview (I can't recall which). Strange. I'd become an establishing shot. Or atmosphere. Two things I couldn't be less appropriate for when it comes to the circus that is ComicCon.

Still, I noticed there was a Part Two to the video. And though the interview's not there either, there's another second or so of flipping through "Let Us Be Perfectly Clear." This is followed by Rosario Dawson and a guy I hung out with for about fifteen minutes in Farel Dalyrmple's apartment while halfheartedly watching "Mystery Men." So my interview was scratched entirely but my books remained. Maybe there's some analogy or metaphor waiting to be found there for me. I'm not sure. Either way, I loved it. Is somehow all seemed like a perfect document of independent comics' place at ComicCon.

Yet this interview wouldn't die! Days later, I was looking through Fantagraphics' Flickr site and came across this picture, photographic evidence that the interview occurred. Let the record reflect I am looking at what Olive is doing with the microphone and I resent Fantagraphics' (I'm assuming it was Eric Reynolds, the rat bastard) implications to the contrary.

But only God knows what I did under the table to Tim Hensley (one of my favorite artists in Mome). I'm ashamed. Ashamed.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Autumnal Road Arks

This is approaching. Perhaps a little faster than I'd like. But soon Arks will be back out on the highway, throwing equipment onto stages and looking at the backs of people's heads as they freshen up their drinks. What are they drinking? If it ends up on our faces, we'll let you know.

We have discovered through experience what it takes to be a band on tour. Does it take passion? Does it take vim? We're not sure, we were too busy driving like hell to the next show. And so we found this out: it takes a van. Our old van, dubbed "The Shepherd" has gone to greener junk yards (though you can read about its adoption here: "In The Van"). So we've garnered another. And shaped some new songs. Let's hope all the new constructs hold up on the road.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

All Things Anders

Anders Nilsen's blog, "The Monologuist," may still be in its beginning stages, but his entries are already far too interesting to miss. "Subscribe," or "load up," or "digibuckle," or whatever it is people do to blogs to make sure they don't get left behind.

Also Anders-related: he contributed to a Godzilla sketchbook that's worth perusing (I did the inaugural sketch, which pales in comparison to Anders', Kevin Huizenga's, and Ted May's, three of my favorite interpretations).

Last but certainly not least, congratulations to Anders for his win at the Ignatz awards this past weekend. And a tip of the hat to all other winners and nominees as well. I was lucky enough to be one of the judges for this year's competition, and looking through all the eligible books gave me great hope for the future of the medium. The diversity and depth is increasingly awe-inspiring.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Origin of the Species

I forgot to add in the previous post that "The Beast of Both Worlds" owes something to a little friend from Sesame Street (confronting felines and the alphabet above: certainly worthy of his own post).

From the moment I had the idea for the beast, I "knew" the head "needed" to be a red typewriter. I don't think the roots of this "knowledge" sprang to mind as immediately, but while going about coloring the rest of the monster, I realized where that red typewriter was conceived. Thanks to the nut jobs at the Children's Television Workshop for yet another permanently embedded archetype.

There in Monster, If Not in Body

While I won't be able to attend the Small Press Expo (SPX) this year, I was fortunate enough to do the cover for the story (written by my summer convention comrade, Scott Rosenberg) about the festival in the Washington Post Express' "Weekend Pass." You can read the article here, and, of course, if you have the means and time to attend the convention, I can't recommend it enough. There's always some bizarre gem finding its way into your paws.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Ruh Roh, Romics?

I find it somehow appropriate that the first award I've won for comics is not only from a festival I'm not attending and have never heard of, but that sounds as if it were announced by an exasperated Scooby Doo. Yes, "Mother, Come Home" was awarded a Romic.

Beyond that, what can I say? Not much, all the information is in some sort of foreign language. Huh. Apparently there's a whole country speaking this stuff.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Omega The More Known Than Previously

A long time in gestation, the first issue is finally out.

"Omega the Unknown" ( a reprisal of a character first brought to the world by "Howard the Duck" creator Steve Gerber), will be a monthly, ten part series, written by Jonathan Lethem and drawn by Farel Dalrymple, with me providing coloring (some of which is above) and a tiny bit of drawing for a certain part of the story. Another artist will be making an appearance in there is as well (one of the people I would vote most unlikely to be doing a mainstream published comic), but I'm not sure if I'm supposed to mention his name. But if I am, it's Gary Panter.

It's been (and continues to be) an honor to work with Jonathan, Farel, and Gary in producing what I think can easily be appraised as one of the most atypical Marvel comics to come along in a long time. Hopefully we don't all get stoned to death at the next San Diego Comic Con.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Better Living Through German Medicine

Two German imports, courtesy Juliane Graf (for a small sample of her exploits, travails, and photos, read all about our west coast trek in August's posts), that I couldn't resist forwarding. The first (taken mere weeks ago, though the aesthetic looks like it could easily predate the collapse of the Berlin Wall), above, is an erectile dysfunction ad from a Leipzig train station that Juliane translates to ""Erectile dysfunctions? A small step to the doctor, a big step for our love life." The web site? Translation: www.heroes-of-love-com. I find something a bit disturbing about the two pictured krauts being heroes of much anything, least of all the bedroom. But somehow envisioning the woman in erotica store pleather (possibly Viking?) gear and the man wearing buttless lederhosen seems oddly accurate, so, you know, maybe. Maybe.

Our second friend from Deutschland is the doctor with an all-too-flexible elbow in the central German town of Erfurt (where Juliane recently obtained her masters from The University of Erfurt, attended by such slouches as Martin Luther). Strangely enough, this fellow is beckoning (admonishing?) from the window of a mattress shop. Imagining a customer seeing this and thinking, "Why, yes, his arm is spinning spectacularly! I must purchase one of these mattresses!" brings me joy. Thinking of the Viking and lederhosen couple going through that thought process, not only brings me joy, but really needs to happen. Come on, Germany, renew my faith in comedy.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

"Oh Well" Still Rears Its Nihilist/Omniscient Head

The boys of "Oh Well" are still lurking in the apparel section of the internet department store. You can purchase the shirt here for as long as it's around. Go to town, clothes conquistadors.

Monday, October 1, 2007

"Oh Well" (Sort Of) Storms the T-Shirt World

Though I did a small run of this shirt (printed by the always great to work with Black Hole Press here in Chicago), and included it in a wave of merchandise featured in this Sunday Service for the Holy Consumption, I never sold the "Oh Well" shirt online. But now it's up for the public to digitally nab on the t-shirt site woot. Not that Schubert, the philosophical nihilist human, cares, nor does the omniscient Anaximenes, Schubert's cat/dog (note: Schubert doesn't believe in ownership or species) fail to see how it will all turn out.

My favorite comment about the shirt as of this post: "Strange design, makes ya think weird thoughts. I like it in some odd way: I just cant wear this on a shirt."

Oh Well. As my mother would always say to us when we were young: "de gustibus non disputandum." Which I think meant we should do our homework.

How I Lost Forty Pounds

Radiohead's done it again. Or anyway: they're going to. While I respect Radiohead's abilities as musicians and am constantly amazed at their ability to evolve and remain relevant, it's their insistence on ever greater autonomy and artistic freedom that has won me over more than any one song or album could. And since outlasting their contract with their major label, they've resisted any obvious paths and, thus far, are releasing their new album "In Rainbows" solely through their own web site. To do this with their ability to have any label of their choosing frothing at the mouth to put at their work, well, that's impressive (albeit arguably a bit insane and massive an undertaking... but if they can pull it off, well, there's a nicely sized fiscal finger flipped to the record industry). We'll see what happens October 10th.

The "discbox" (below) that they're advertising comes with a mountain of goods that I'm afraid I won't be able to resist. At forty British pounds, I'm sold. I salute their independence with a lighter pocketbook.