Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Make Mine A Sub-Life

One of my favorite cartoonists below the age of forty is John Pham. Ever since seeing his series Epoxy (which grew exponentially better as it went), I constantly wanted to read more and see what mutation his language would make next. So I've been anxiously anticipating the release of Sub-Life, his new series from Fantagraphics (a preview, xeroxed version of which I was fortunate enough to grab at Secret Headquarters last summer while on book tour). Now the wait is over, Sub-Life is among us. And regular ol' life is better for it.

ByrnEno Again, 30 Years Later

David Byrne and Brian Eno have rejoined forces, some thirty years since the groundbreaking heyday of Talking Heads, to give us Everything That Happens Will Happen Today. Certainly the sounds have changed, but I can't argue with the end result. (Though I can hardly be objective, as I admire and enjoy few artist's output more than Byrne, and have always had a great respect for Eno's intellect and ideas about sound and music's future.)

I'm looking forward to the Deluxe Package, which I have confidence will solidly trounce Radiohead's "Discbox" released in conjunction with their album In Rainbows (the album was solid from start to to finish, but the art and packaging left me scratching my head, seeming a bit phoned in for a band normally so acutely aware of aesthetics and visual art in their albums). Given Byrne's past art books and art works (including his ingenious playing the building), I have faith this won't disappoint.

And speaking of Radiohead, who allowed consumers of their album to initially name their own price, even allowing it to be downloaded for free, Byrne and Eno allow you to listen to the album in its entirety for free (and embed the player as well, see below). You can almost hear big labels streaming urine down their pinstripes.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Muybridge in Portland

If you're in or anywhere near Portland, you've still got a few days left to see the exhibit of Eadweard Muybridge's "Animal Locomotion" showing at Charles A. Hartman Gallery.

Chicago, it turns out, is not anywhere near Portland these days, but I'd love to see these prints up close in personal. Muybridge has saved my brain on more than one occasion when I've been called on to draw a horse or tiger moving around, which lately seems to be bizarrely often (more on that – the tiger at least – later).

Sunday, August 24, 2008

For the Affluent Bibliophile, Confused Enthusiast

It occurred to me that I should make at least some note of the books (that I've been working on, in some portion or another) coming out in the next couple of months, if for no other reason than to abate my constant forgetfulness that these are seeing the light of day (it's an easy enough thing to forget, given the lags and turnaround times in the strange world of publishing).

Two of these books are available now, at least according to what I could find on various web sites. The first is Demons in the Spring, by Joe Meno, a collection of short stories benefiting the 826 writing center here in Chicago. It's a great cause and the book's crammed with Joe's words and amazing illustrations, all far better than mine. The other book in stores now is the twelfth installment of Fantagraphics' Mome anthology. In this issue I contributed what was, for me, a real odd ball: an illustrated short prose story. The story, "The Spoils of The Fair," was originally written for The Dollar Store reading series, and then read at a couple stops on "The Three Paradoxes" book tour last summer. The illustrations are equally abnormal, as they were all done directly in a sketchbook, with a brush pen and colored pencils, a decent departure from my usual painfully sterile techniques. (Thanks to the Fantagraphics folks for the video from which I stole this (below) still.)

Two more books, both scheduled to be out October 8th, are The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2008 (which will house a 32-page full-color excerpt of "The Three Paradoxes"), and the hardcover collection of Omega the Unknown (the dust jacket for which is in a recent post below).

Somewhere in all that mess, the second printing of The Three Paradoxes is making its way out into the world, and though I don't think I've even made an explicit mention of this edition anywhere, the Fantagraphics-published hardbound edition of "Mother, Come Home" is now available for pre-order, due out in February of next year.

I've probably missed something somewhere... I'll remember it at three in the morning, in a cold sweat, then promptly forget it and return to my dream of sentient doorbells and melting game shows.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Inching Closer to Disappearance

I know I wasn't alone – joined, I'm sure, by any number of science, science fiction, or Harry Potter enthusiasts – in being enthralled by the advances announced last week in reversing refraction, bringing us just a bit closer to the realization of some form of "invisibility cloak." Cloak or not, the other applications both currently realizable or potential are staggering. (Some of those applications were discussed on Talk of the Nation's Science Friday (with host Ira Flatow who always sounds to me uncannily like Groucho Marx)) .

As with most scientific achievements, this advance is no revolution, just a step closer, employing wavelengths visible to humans. Previously scientists at Duke University were able to "cloak" an object from (longer wavelength) microwaves. (Duke subsequently published a lighter discussion of those results and their implications on their web site.

Regardless of the lack of complete revolution or fully realized invisibility, nerds everywhere had to be giddy. But careful, don't play an extra game of Dungeons & Dragons to celebrate, John McCain will get pissed.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

"That's My Shed"

Another installment of strange from the wonderfully unplugged mind of David Lynch. Thanks again to Al for being the bearer of oddities.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Art is for the Beavers

As I'm preparing notes and lesson plans for another semester teaching at Columbia here in Chicago, I couldn't resist revisiting two great Onion jabs at the art world: a Beaver's contemplation of his dam and its myriad concepts, and an unbearable aesthete we've all had the honor of suffering in one incarnation or another.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Omega the Collected (and Political?)

Last week, after what's been a several year trek, we sent the hardcover collection of "Omega the Unknown" off to press. I had the opportunity to design the jacket (the book market edition of which is above), case, and text for the book, and I think everything pulled together nicely (assisted in no small part by the tireless efforts of Farel Dalrymple, who I worked to the bone to produce the extra artwork for the final volume (sorry again, Farel)). Jonathan Lethem and Karl Rusnak put together notes for ten pages of bonus material discussing the original series. I scanned the original newsprint issues for those pages. Time will tell if those scans print like poop.

Speaking of Jonathan, this gives me an opportunity to post a video (courtesy Ed Piskor) of Jonathan discussing comics, writing, editing, etc. with Daniel Clowes at MoCCA. They cover a lot of territory, so while the quality might be hit and miss (watch for James Sturm's noggin to come into and out of the frame), there are plenty of interesting moments to make it worth a viewing.

And in a case of pure strangeness, Jonathan recently past along a link to this article on the McCain campaign site. Given the comic book reference (Superman, unless they're invoking a Nietzschean Übermensch) in the penultimate paragraph, it lends credence to the interpretation that this is some sort of play on Omega the Unknown, but... really? Is the Right trying to snag the hardcore 1970s comic nerd vote? In what universe are we living?