Thursday, November 25, 2010

Jim Henson's Fantastic World

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

illust_ratio 3 Show

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.

Charles Burns Analyzed

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's (and Last Week's) Shirt (11.23.10)

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

Take That, YouTube!

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's Shirt (11.11.10)

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

The Exquisite Book: Print

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 Two, Two

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's Shirt... Oops... (11.4.10)

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)

Farewell, Alex

Alex Anderson. 1920-2010.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Tonight at Quimby's! Exquisite!

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

Conan: Look Back, Lookwell

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.