Tuesday, December 30, 2008

More Creatures, More Carré

A reciprocal tip of the hat to Mike Baehr at Fantagraphics for posting a link to The Oregonian's "Best of Beasts 2" post, featuring, among others, Lilli Carré's contribution to the book. I've been an unabashed fan of Lilli's work since her days interning for me, but this has got to be one of the best drawings I've seen from her. Ever. Absolutely eye-popping.

And I'd be remiss if I didn't say that I received my copy of Beasts! Book 2 and it's easily as impressive as the first. I understand that can be taken as biased since I contributed, but trust me when I say that designer and editor Jacob Covey has done it again. Another tip of the hat to you, sir.

The Most Dangerous Beard

The ever beardless but nonetheless talented Mr. James Kennedy (author of the aforeposted book The Order of Odd-Fish) has a new story published in the Chicago Reader's Pure Fiction issue, entitled The Most Dangerous Beard in Town, which I had the pleasure of reading some time ago and am glad to see it finally in print. As with anything James writes, I recommend an immediate reading. He's a master juggler of words and motion.

And while you're at the site, be sure to stop by and see Lilli Carré's illustration for Jona Meyer's story, The Strong.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Video Largesse 2008

Merry Christmas.

I thought I'd celebrate the day with the gifts of odd or laughable bits I've come across lately, in no particular order.

I don't know if this first one is real, but frankly I don't see how it can be. This is comedic writing on the level of Monty Python, and I certainly mean that as the highest praise possible.

What else can be said about this? It's Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis.

Zach Galifianakis again with three of my favorite laugh makers presenting: It's the Ass 'n Balls Show.

One of my favorite shows when I was a bored youth was Press Your Luck. My favorite moments of that favorite show? The whammies.

I've been addicted to this duo and their emotionally dead delivery since I saw their rendition of Business Time on Late Night with Conan O'Brien. Now they're back: Flight of the Conchords Season 2 premiere.

I heard a bit from this sketch on Fresh Air and had to seek it out. Learn the secrets of the craft... Acting with James Franco: scene work.

And of course, Christmas wouldn't be complete without the train wreck that is the Star Wars Holiday special.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Chicago! Number One!

In checking what airline delays were like yesterday (when my girlfriend Emily was flying out to Boston), I was pleased to see that Chicago (O'Hare is ORD on the map) has maintained the highest standard possible, solidly trouncing the rest of the country.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Look Back, Plus Hot Dogs

I didn't know this would be available online (and arguably it's not)... but Time Out has posted the cartoon I wrote and drew for their Year in Review section: Local Events with Bearsly Windinski. Sort of. The Powers That Be put it up panel by panel, rather than as the actual pages, and ripped the text out of the panels, putting the words below the art. Which probably raises some great questions and potential discussion about the nature of comics and the juxtaposition of text and picture, but I haven't slept enough recently to get into a dissertation. And in Time Out's defense, there was so much text to begin with, it was more like illustrated prose than comics proper.

Regardless: at least it's free to read this way (a boon in this economic desert). And while you're being cheap, be sure to check out Anders Nilsen's strip for that issue. It has a sort of Where's Waldo? feel to it.

Friday, December 19, 2008


I came across this recently after getting sucked into one of those internet-search-black-holes (where I can't even recall what it was I was looking for in the first place): a 2005 interview with Chris Ware and Charles Burns.

There are those seemingly requisite, banal questions (with an original question thrown in occasionally) posed by the interviewer, but the two authors manage to get into some interesting territory nonetheless.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Real Bearsly?

I just handed over my contribution to Time Out Chicago's Year in Review section (Issue 199, Dec. 18-31), a two-page story featuring Bearsly Windinski, my squat, slightly verbose Chicago everyman. Bearsly's won the lottery, makes films of sanitation workers, and has a time travel helmet. Just like most people in Chicago. Oh, and he likes sausage.

Working with Bearsly was entertaining in its own right enough, but the real excitement came just after I had turned the cartoon in to the art director and was watching a bit of the local coverage of Rod Blagojevich's arrest.

A U.S. Marshal, one Kim R. Widup, appeared on the screen to discuss the case, and my jaw dropped. Bearsly! Not that these two were exactly separated at birth, but when the big budget Bearsly buddy cop movie comes out, Kim's my man (not to mention apparently one hell of an accomplished Marshal).

Make your own judgments. But pick up that issue of Time Out if you're in the Chicago area, because Anders Nilsen has a couple pages in there as well, which I'll be looking forward to reading.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Day in the Life(s)

Speaking of work patterns and daily methods: Boing Boing recently posted a link to a great site compiling various discussions of daily routines of authors, artists and others. There's some insightful bits here that all serve to demystify the world of art and literature production.

An example from an interview with Jonathan Safran Foer:

"I try to write every morning, from about nine until twelve. It’s really rare that I would ever write more than that. I know it’s a good idea to listen to music on the way to writing, but I often just can’t quite get it together, for some reason, to do that. I try not to speak to my extended family before I write, because that just clouds everything up."

Die Drei Paradoxien Cover

Here is the cover for the German edition of The Three Paradoxes, from the initial original art to the final stages before printing (the lettering on the back cover was just to indicate placement and was to be hand-lettered later by the publishing house). The half-toned "Paul" on the right of the front cover was inked on an overlay, and the non-photo blue "Paul" on the left went through an arm adjustment when I realized it could be construed that he was reaching for a paw full of his neighboring Paul's crotch.

The arm revision says something about how I work. Probably it's over-thinking, possibly no one would read that from the image. Who knows. But it's one of the things I do each day: I look at what I'm doing and try to interpret it every way possible, especially from the viewpoint of the uninitiated, anyone unfamiliar with my work (which I assume to be the entire population of the world) or comics in general. I'm constantly inserting symbols that I know no one will find, not even on a second or third reading, and I'm always surprised what I find in the image that is unintentional. I'll often find something disturbing or overly revelatory in an image and just leave it in for someone else to potentially discover. Implanting or accidentally creating those little layers – those mental mine fields – is one of the great joys of drawing, though I often lose sight of it.

So this errant arm was one interpretation I came up with, thought it best to avoid in this case (since that's not at all the nature of the book this image was covering (or is it? Maybe I should have left it in)), and made the revision. I'll leave it for psychologists to dissect what exactly that means: a meta-fictional version of myself gratifying a fictional version of myself.

Hello, therapy.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Elephant and The Bear

Two illustration sets worth perusing by way of Drawn, from Leo Timmers and EH Shepard:

Though I, along with most of the world, am familiar with EH Shepard's Winnie the Pooh art, Leo Timmers (above) was completely new to me. His colors are wonderful, as is his design... And his characters remind me of a sort of three dimensional Richard Scarry.

Bibliodyssey – a blog that's instantly become one of my favorites (for posting these sorts of gems) – has posted some original Winnie the Pooh drawings that exhibit an ease of line that's as humbling as it is gorgeous. I love the Soviet version, but there's just no replacing EH Shepard's simple elegance.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Gum is Not a Food... Yet

To wrap the day's postings up neatly: I started with a mention of Funny or Die and ended with a mention of Steve Buscemi, so here's Steve Buscemi on Funny or Die, in Stavenhagen's Food Pawn Shop.


Space Blog 1.2

As promised, this one has even less to do with outer space, but far more to do with David Bowie.

Jonathan Lethem – along with a bevy of admirable sorts like Patton Oswalt, Bill Plympton, and Steve Buscemi, among others – contributed his top ten picks of the Criterion Collection. I was honored to see that Jonathan's author picture for the Top Ten is from one of my sketchbooks, a drawing I did while listening to him and fellow authors giving a panel discussion at Columbia College here in Chicago last year.

Seeing that drawing surface on the site was pleasantly surprising (Jonathan had asked me to send it a while ago, though I had no idea where or if it would ever show up), but nowhere near as great as noticing Jonathan's number ten pick (and Mike Allred's second pick): The Man Who Fell to Earth, staring David Bowie as a visitor from afar.

About two nights before this Top Ten was posted, I had watched this film. And while I can agree with Jonathan that the first portion of the film – upwards of four fifths – is masterful and entrancing, the last fifth or so spun way out of control, to an extent that seemed unintentional. Not that it loses itself in an uninteresting way altogether, but... well, you'd just have to try it. I'm not sure I'd recommend it on hard drugs. Though if you want a more throughout solid but equally twisted and underrated trip, I'd recommend The Ruling Class, starring Peter O'Toole, also from Criterion. Absolutely nuts, creepy, and one of those films I'm surprised was ever made (and I mean that as the highest of compliments).

Space Blog 1.1

I, along with anyone interested, have been waiting for this a long time, as evidenced by the old trailer advertising the film coming out in 2003: The Flaming Lips' Christmas on Mars. As I've mentioned before, I'm a massive fan of the band and have been since I was about fifteen, so I'm a bit biased about this movie and what it will be like. That said, it looks a least a little awful, but infused with enough unabashed weirdness and enthusiasm that I'll go right ahead and love it anyway.

A more updated – but more spoiling (warning for those that want to go into the film completely untainted) – trailer is below, should you be so daring as to inquire further.

Space Blog 1.0

This is the first of three posts today that will have something to do with outer space, aliens, aliens visiting from outer space, or David Bowie. It's up to you if those last two are redundant.

Starting with the most space-oriented post and moving toward David Bowie: December (or more precisely late November) marked the tenth anniversary of the space station, and cnet.com has posted some great photographs of the station's various stages. I can't even begin to imagine the stress of connecting these sections, or the satisfaction of utilizing the expanded station once those connections were made. It's hard enough to imagine drinking your own urine.

"You Went On A Kinda Weird Ego Tornado"

While grabbing the links for the previous post, I came across The Landlord: Criterion Edition. I'd not seen it before and now I'm torn as to which I like better, this or the original.

Watch it on your lunch break, take a picture of the food you spit on your monitor. Call it modern art.

"Mmmm... Shrimp Cocktail!"

I'm not sure how long I've been looking at videos on Funny or Die, but I've been an avid fan ever since the painfully good sketch The Landlord appeared there some time ago. Well, much like guffaw-worthy pie graphs and Snagglepuss, Funny or Die has weighed in on Proposition 8 with an amazingly packed cast including Jack Black, John C. Reilley, Andy Richter, Neil Patrick Harris, and a ton of others.

The shrimp bit was extra rewarding to see, as this was always my go-to passage from Leviticus whenever I was confronted by the requisite bible-thumping hatemonger on my college campus.

After all, God hates shrimp.