Wednesday, December 29, 2010
It's always surprising when I meet someone who's managed to avoid seeing "It's a Wonderful Life," simply because it's so ubiquitous this time of year. And I've never minded that saturation because it's actually an incredibly well made film. And that's thanks in no small part to Jimmy Stewart.
While I didn't see "It's a Wonderful Life" this year, there usually isn't more than a month or two gap between me seeing one Jimmy Stewart film or another. From his work with Hitchcock, to "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" (another Frank Capra great), to "Harvey," his films, his manner, and even the way a suit hangs on him have all been pretty massive influences on me and my work.
So when I was searching online for the audio version of "It's a Wonderful Life" this year (thanks to my wife for alerting me to the broadcast), I was delighted to stumble across the Jimmy Stewart Museum in Indiana, Pennsylvania. I was not delighted to see that the economy has hit the museum just as hard as everywhere else.
Speaking as someone who came from a small town in Ohio obsessed with Ulysses S. Grant (who lived there as a boy), I can attest that small museums and curiosities like this are one of the things that make small towns great. Seeing these dusty displays, thinking of the process the curators went through including this or that knickknack, all of these stories within stories are worth far more than any donation asked at the door.
If you've been as affected by Jimmy Stewart's work as I have, or if you're just a fan of small town museums in general, please donate to the museum. Even $10 can go a long way for a small operation like this.
After all, the old Building & Loan made a comeback with just one Momma dollar and one Poppa dollar.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
When Chicago offers up flesh-stripping winds and sub-decency temperatures, you really need a reason to force yourself out the door. On January 7th, the good people of the Museum of Contemporary Art are endeavoring to do just that, by opening a show of four Chicago cartoonists titled New Chicago Comics.
I'm honored to be included in the show alongside Lilli Carré, Jeffrey Brown, and Anders Nilsen. The show will be up for the remainder of January, but the opening (happening concurrently with the always raucous party environment of First Fridays at the museum) is on the 7th... so strap on your stiletto snow shoes and pleather parkas and come see some bleached walls adorned with mopey doodlings.
Here are all the specifics:
January 8 – 30, 2011
Exhibition preview in conjunction with First Fridays
January 7, 6–10 pm
21 and over only—strictly enforced!
$18 general admission, $13 advance tickets, $10 MCA members
Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
220 E. Chicago Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60611
Monday, December 20, 2010
Being a proud, card carrying member of Jason Polan's esteemed Taco Bell Drawing Club, I was glad to see a recent article on him in an in-flight magazine, and now a video about him courtesy WNYC (home of the always interesting Radiolab (look for a drawing of Radiolab host Jad Abumrad in the video).
(If you're looking for a last minute gift for someone, you can always count on Jason's "The Every Piece of Art in the Museum of Modern Art Book" to elicit a "holy shit" from the recipient. Pick one up and blow a mind today.)
Thursday, December 16, 2010
This week at the Forlorn Funnies Shirt Shop: the last shirt of the year! (I'll be on a shirt-posting hiatus for the next few weeks while I work on a couple deadlines, starting back up the second week of January). Just in time for the holidays (and inspired by the fact that my sisters and I have a tradition of watching a certain science fiction trilogy over said holidays)...celebrate non-existent science fiction fandom with every confused glance you get for Skirmish Nova Theta.
We all know the story: In the year 9000, an evil Galactic Council holds the fate of countless solar systems in its cold grip. One man with a ray gun will stop them and save the 675 trillion creatures at risk... which is startling, given the immensity of the Council’s resources and its usual eye for quality control.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
My sister Mary sent me this instructional video on better travel decorum. My favorite comment on the video: "yeah cat press the shit out of that bell." Thank you, Mary. And thank you, internet.
Incidentally: in one or two clicks from this adorable cat video, you can potentially arrive at something called "Baby Ronald McDonald." DO NOT watch that video if you ever want to stop screaming and bleeding from the eyes.
Friday, December 10, 2010
Speaking of cubism, I contributed this year's cover for Newcity's annual Best of Chicago issue, which shows some animals, specifically a certain animal favored in the Chicago winter, dissecting a public art piece from Mr. Picasso. Further perversions of the great sculpture are used as section heads through the issue, but I'll save those for people brave enough to suffer the arctic temperatures and pick up a copy downtown. To the frozen, the spoils.
(Bonus points for anyone naming either of the paintings I was looking at (blatantly ripping off) when putting this together.)
This week at the Forlorn Funnies Shirt Shop: (a day late for no good reason, but in plenty of time to express your mental state during the holidays, this shirt revisits the non-fixed perspective fellows from the tour poster I drew with my pal Jay Ryan. Tattoo yourself with one of these and save your loved ones the effort of asking "how are you?"
Who doesn't love short notice? Tomorrow night, I'll be at Second City's de Maat Theater for a special, farewell incarnation of The Late Show with hosts Joe Kwaczala and C.J. Toledano. We'll all be pulling out the stops to celebrate C.J.'s move to Los Angeles (where he'll be working an enviable job on Conan O'Brien's new show). I'll be reading a piece thus far entitled "Advice Column Responses to My Inner Monologues at Various Ages." I can only guarantee that this will include footy pajamas, urine, fake urine, lion tamers, ironic t-shirts, horrible first dates, attempted thievery, and batman coloring books. I can promise nothing more.
If you're in the Chicago area and looking for something to do on a Saturday night, stop by. You can buy tickets in advance here.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
This week at the Forlorn Funnies Shirt Shop: how much power can one torso handle? That is the question your chest will ask you brain if you accidentally fall into this, the electric-guitar-note-bending completion of the trilogy begun by Yachts! and carried on by Ascots!
Can you have a trilogy of shirts? Of course you can! Now crush a mammoth tusk with your forehead for asking silly questions.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
On a day meant for giving thanks, I have a lot of people in my life to give thanks for. One of those people, unfortunately no longer with us in person, is Jim Henson. There are few people that have had a greater influence on my art and my life than Mr. Henson did. From his work ethic, to his playful experimentation, to his thorough goodness and kindness, he has always been someone I've looked up to. So I couldn't have been happier to be surprised by someone else I'm thankful for (my wife, Emily), with a belated birthday present trip to the Museum of Science and Industry's exhibit of Jim Henson's work.
If you'll be in Chicago for any reason before January 23rd, you owe yourself a walk through this collection.
I can't really do the exhibit justice, but I can say it was easily one of the greatest displays I've ever seen. If you grew up in my generation, there were any number of puppets, muppets, and drawings that made you smile in recognition. And the small children running around shouting out the characters' names and renewing the joy that Henson brought to the world had me leaving the place feeling a renewed faith in life.
There were a great deal of facts that I hadn't known about Henson, like his start as a cartoonist...
or the fact that he started and ran a poster shop in college. In fact he seems to have gone through the careers of almost all of my friends (cartoonists, filmmakers, poster artists, etc.), all in one lifetime. And he wasn't too shabby at any of them.
One of my favorite bits in the exhibit was a wall where visitors could make their own arrangements of felt shapes, eyes, clothes, and accessories to form their own two-dimensional muppet. This one was left by an unknown author and I felt compelled to preserve it.
This floored me, as it would anyone who grew up with Sesame Street. The original sketch of Bert and Ernie (which you can see again on the desk as Bert is being sculpted).
Above the printers in my studio, I have a picture of the puppeteer who inhabits Big Bird. He's only got on the bottom half of the costume, the citrus orange tree trunk legs, and he's just sort of dancing, hamming it up for the photographer. The photograph is from some issue of the New Yorker, I don't recall the issue or the date.
I don't know why the photograph was taken or have any sort of context for it, but I've held on to it, as it seems a perfect illustration of Henson's world. The old puppeteer is at work, but he is smiling and dancing, before he puts on the rest of his bright, improbable costume to make another generation run around, screaming its collective head off, singing songs taught by weird, furry, loving animals and monsters.
Thanks again, Jim. We love you.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
This show ended on the 20th, but the good people of illust_ratio were kind enough to send along some links to pictures. It looks like it was a great event in a really unique space. It also looks like my Huge Suit strip (examined very seriously by some gentlemen in the above picture) was arranged in an order I can't immediately comprehend, which makes me wish even more that I could have have flown out for the opening. But I'm only on my second date with the TSA and I'm not sure I'm ready for all that heavy petting.
This has already made the rounds here and there, but it's a bizarre/informative/awkward enough interview that I had to post it here as well. I'm assuming all the interviews conducted by this person are this way, but I prefer to think of it as something conceived solely on the grounds of its appropriateness for Burns' work. (The interview is in English, don't let the introduction worry you if you're not Belgian.)
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
This week at the Forlorn Funnies Shirt Shop: last week's inexplicably un-posted shirt (a reprisal of one of the first experiments on the site, now featuring Anaximenes from Oh Well), and posted well in advance of the Thanksgiving bustle, one of my favorites to date... The Commendable Abbotts.
When the Moonstone Spider relic is missing from the library and the rocket boots are still warm, and there's a bit of overturned earth that indicates the cloaked man went this way, and the coded writing on the discarded parchment reads backwards in greek, then it's high time to call on... The Commendable Abbotts!
The dude has a boomerang, what more do you want?
Thursday, November 11, 2010
This Saturday at Second City's de Maat theater, I'll join host C.J. Toledano and other comedians to sit in front of a giant screen and make up some live commentary for YouTube videos suggested by the audience. It'll be Mystery Science Theater meets every drunken house party in the last five years.
You can buy tickets in advance here. I apologize in advance if I make a dick joke about your cousin.
This week at the Forlorn Funnies Shirt Shop: a version of this was posted back in the theoretical stages of the shirt site, so here it is again, in all it's purchasable glory.
Let people know where they stand in the pecking order with one glance at your completely mortal chest. Unless something really horrible happened to you. Then give them something to look at while you're chomping on their neck, eating their brain, or just generally haunting them while they're trying to go about their day.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
If you want a very nicely executed print of my piece (or many of the pieces) from The Exquisite Book, it's available, mounted on bamboo and ready to hang. You can purchase the print here. Enjoy your unraveling, cubist Mickey Mouse Mr. Belvedere on your wall.
Strange Tales Volume II #2 is out and Comics Alliance has some pages (including one from my story) for your online perusing pleasure. I haven't seen a copy yet myself, but there's a great batch of people in it, so pick one up if you have a chance and the spare pocket change.
Last week at the Forlorn Funnies Shirt Shop: okay, the shirt before this was a day early and this past week I posted the shirt but nothing on the blog... I'll get it right eventually.
Regardless: garb yourself in everyone's favorite sitcom architect, Schultz! Shockingly fashionable ... and Surprisingly Schultz! (Weekdays at 7:30 on MDUP)
Friday, November 5, 2010
Besides being behind on posting this week's shirt design (the next two months worth of shirts are finished, I just haven't posted one for this week), I'm behind on posting a reminder that tonight I'll be at Quimby's alongside Jenny Volvovski, Matt Lamothe, Lauren Nassef, Isaac Tobin, Lilli Carre, and Anders Nilsen signing The Exquisite Book, an exquisite corpse from 100 artists. I've yet to see the book, but I'm looking forward to it, and to decorating your copy with all five hundred of the letters that make up my last name. If you're in the Chicago area, stop on by and say something under your breath at us.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
It's no secret that I love Conan O'Brien's brand of brain-damaged oddity. One of the best presents I've ever received was my wife's gift of surprise tickets to see Conan in his home town of Boston. So if you're like me, you're looking forward to his upcoming return to late night.
But let's not forget the accomplishments of his past, especially his most important. His not-so lengthy run on The Tonight Show? His far more lengthy run on Late Night? His contributions to Saturday Night Live or The Simpsons? No, it's clearly the never-went-anywhere work of absolute genius, "Lookwell," co-written with Robert Smigel and starring Adam West as a delusional has-been actor convinced he's a real detective. It's a crime that this and Heat Vision and Jack were never picked up, but most of the people involved in both pilots have done alright for themselves nonetheless.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
This week at the Forlorn Funnies Shirt Shop: a day early? Yes, indeed. In time for your Halloween happenings is a vampire who is just... over it, you know? I mean... really.
Friday, October 22, 2010
Once again, over at the Forlorn Funnies Shirt Shop: Some of the many odd deities (I swear these are all going somewhere) in the Huge Suit universe. A bodiless god of skirmishes, a spirits that occasionally pop the perfect bag of popcorn... A new pantheon for the unambitious.
This week at the Forlorn Funnies Shirt Shop: shirt one of two for this week, prior to next week's announcement of a new project (that I could announce this week, but why spoil the anticipation?). Here we see the typical family portrait. Mom, Dad, awkward hair, floating bean-shaped furry beast , oddly glowing. Ah, memories.
Friday, October 15, 2010
This week at the Forlorn Funnies Shirt Shop: the opposing deity, mythological beast, or short order cook to the dripping and previously-shirted Murp, Prum arrives be-boiled and ready to confuse.
Next week: to make up for lost time... two shirts! Prepare for more weird gods, life's larger questions asked.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
A couple of upcoming group events: the first is "illust_ratio 3" in Rüsselsheim, Germany. Illust_ratio a show of illustrators and cartoonists (among them the late great Heinz Edelmann of "The Yellow Submarine" fame) from the pages of the newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung. I won't be in attendance, but it sounds like a great show if you're in the area and able to make it. The show runs from October 23rd to November 20th. Unless my German is even worse than I think it is (and I think it's really bad), the opening is on October 22nd. Visit their site for more information.
The second event, where I will be signing or whatever we deem acceptable behavior, is at Quimby's in Chicago on November 5th. Julia Rothman, Jenny Volvovski, Matt Lamothe, Lauren Nassef, Isaac Tobin, Lilli Carre, Anders Nilsen and myself will be at that venerable shop to do our scratchings in The Exquisite Book, a collection of 100 artists participating in an exquisite corpse. The book, published by Chronicle, is out now. So pick up a copy and head over to Quimby's on the 5th of November. See you there.
Here I am, making good on the promise of the last post: back to posting I go.
Above is the second installment of The Late Live Show at Second City in Chicago. The audio is a bit dodgy in places, but you can heat me discuss the origins of my comics as a cum-rag, debate the muse of gay mummies, and perform rather poorly in a game of "Win, Lose, or Draw." I take the stage around the twenty minute mark, but roughly half the references I make are about bits from earlier in the show, so I wouldn't recommend skipping it (and I'd recommend watching it mainly because it's twenty minutes of solid comedy from a bunch of talented young comedians).
Thanks to hosts C.J. Toledano and Joe Kwaczala for having me on. A good time was had by all. Or at least by me.
Several weeks without so much as a shirt, a post, or even a postcard. Easily 2.72 of you might be asking, "What happened to that guy?" Alright, 1.6, let's be fair.
But to answer the tens of people asking: I was busy doing something involved in the picture above and subsequently moving our home and my studio out to Evanston, Illinois (one of the most verdant and agreeable places I've called home since moving from Ohio farming country).
Posts, shirts, and more will be on the way shortly. I haven't died (despite some people's views of matrimony) and neither has the blog.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Friday, September 10, 2010
This week at the Forlorn Funnies Shirt Shop: another day late, another archaically dressed celestial entity parading atop a single-button telephone.
That's right, it's everyone's favorite could-be-a-mascot-for-an-old-flour-company-or-a-strange-lilac-perfume: Monsieur in The Moon.
Friday, September 3, 2010
This week at the Forlorn Funnies Shirt Shop: a day late yet again, but just in time for the earliest inkling of autumn, we're presented with that comforting hulk of a poet, Biggeespeare.
Shouldn't his mustache and chin hair be separated? What's with the white gloves? Would there really be a seam like that in his shirt front, given the time period in question? Biggeespeare only replies, in iambic pentameter: MMMRRAAAAAAAAWWRRR!