I have the honor of playing host and tour guide to my friend Noel Franklin next week. She's a Seattle-based poet, visual artist and memoir/journalist cartoonist. A couple of cool things about Ms. Franklin: She recently won the 4Culture Art Project Grant (a cultural services agency for King County, Washington) in support of creating her first graphic novel, Girl on A Road. Notification of the 4Culture award came on the heels of her series, Gone Girl Comics winning the I Heart Comics Art award at Emerald City Comicon.
I have been invited by the great Laughing Ogre comic shoppe to participate in the CXC Comics Exposition on Saturday, Oct. 2nd. I will be set up at the Ogre table in the Cultural Arts Center (139 W Main St) from 1-5pm. There will be dozens of superb comics creators who will be selling their wares, shaking hands and signing autographs. Best of all... it's FREE!
Don't judge a book by its cover, judge it by the contents of its pages.
Contained within these 20 pages are my response to the stupid, ugly, horrible tragedy which occurred on June 17, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. In this little mini comic, my three characters, Hank, Sam and Blink are watching TV on the couch and discuss society and personal history. There is humor, anger, frustration, sympathy and humanity inside this little comic. It can all be yours for the simple cost of (almost) PAY WHAT YOU WANT.*
*Because I gotta (at this present time) use PayPal as my buying/purchasing method, $0 isn't an option. :( But hey.... $.01 is close enough, right????
So... yesterday I turned 45. (Yippee.)
I celebrated the day by spending ten hours working on a Blink comic page, having a nice nap, then going out to dinner (with me, myself and I) and then going to Jeni's for some ice cream.
I had dinner at Arch City Tavern, which will be appearing in a future Blink comic. I'd never been to Arch City before but have heard good things about it. The restaurant is co-owned by Koli Memushai and Xhevair Brakaj. Brakaj also owns the Red Door Tavern in Grandview Heights, which I love and frequent often (it's located half a block away from my house).
It’s an intriguing combination of casual and fancy schmancy—having a mild “hipster” vibe to it (I consider hipsters to be 21st Century yuppies). But I didn’t let that deter me from appreciating and enjoying all that this place had to offer. The staff was friendly and attentive and the food was good. I had some Bratwurst Corn Dogs with ketchup (a little bit hipster) and French Onion soup (served in a large, carved-out onion... very hipster).
Overall, I had a very nice time. On reflection, I consider the very existence of Arch City Tavern to be a celebration of the wonderfulness that is Columbus. It’s fitting that I’ll be ending the run of my Blink strips here.
Now I’m in the mood for a little history.
Much like Chicago being known as “The Windy City” and Detroit the “Motor City,” in the late 19th and early 20th Century, Columbus was known nationwide as "Arch City." (There was even a song!) The whole thing started in 1888 because there was going to be a very very big party for veterans in Columbus. The city built a bunch of wooden arches downtown to help keep the streets well lit (by gaslight). Over the next 30 years, more arches were built along High Street and Broad Street. Eventually though, the cost of maintaining the arches grew too high and lampposts were being used for keeping the streets lit. By 1914, most of the arches were dismantled. (Only to rise up again like the legendary Phoenix 100 years later.) You can read the detail here and watch this short video (from the Columbus Neighborhoods: The Short North documentary) if you’re jonesing for more info.
I couldn't help but read this assessment of the current state of American film culture by Manohla Dargis and think of the comparisons which have always been made between cinema and comics over the years. And with all the comic book movies that have been (and will continue to be) released, I literally laughed out loud when I read this bit from her article
The critical consensus is that 2013 was a good year for movies, but that’s only true if you ignore a lot of the junky titles, like “Iron Man 3,” that dominate the top of the box office
...as tough as it is to get any movie made, it’s even more difficult to produce and distribute genuinely original, nongeneric, non-groupthink work, which is one reason the big studios are now largely in the recycling business (“Iron Man 3” and the regurgitated like).
After finishing reading (and enjoying) the article, I looked up the NYT movie review of Iron Man 3 and was not at all surprised to see that it was Ms. Dargis who reviewed it. Here's a quote from that review
...originality isn’t the point of a product like “Iron Man 3,” which, despite the needless addition of 3-D and negligible differences in quips, gadgets, villains and the type of stuff blown up, plays out much like the first two movies.
Ms. Dargis goes on to deride the film as well as its cast and crew. In regards to director Shane Black, she states
For his part, Mr. Black made his name scribbling breezy action movies like “Lethal Weapon” and “The Last Boy Scout,” which wed violence to jokes and irony. His only other directing credit is for “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” (the title of a Pauline Kael collection), a cutesy, self-conscious 2005 action flick with Mr. Downey.
(Apparently, Ms. Dargis is not a fan of the James Bond franchise; since "Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" was John Barry & Leslie Bricusse's unused composition for the opening of Thunderball(1965), which predates Pauline Kael's 1968 book. Let me also clarify something before I continue: I am not getting down on Ms. Dargis' POV. I believe she presents very astute and perfectly valid points in her writings. I don't necessarily agree with her assessments/opinions on comic book movies, but I respect them.)
Back to Ms. Dargis' review of Iron Man 3...
She points out how Mr. Black's film makes connections between Tony Stark's PTSD (after dealing with the alien invasion which occurred in The Avengers) and America's collective PTSD as a result of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington DC in 2001 as well as numerous others since, including the Boston Marathon bombing which occurred just weeks before thew film opened. (Heck. The title of her review is “Bang, Boom: Terrorism as a Game” for criminey's sake.)
She quotes a speech made by Steven Soderbergh at the San Francisco International Film Festival
He wondered why a studio would spend so much money to release a big franchise sequel like this: “Is there anyone in the galaxy that doesn’t know ‘Iron Man’ is opening on Friday?” More instructively, he also suggested why studios have become so dependent on big movies, including money, fear, lack of vision and leadership. Studio executives deserve much of the blame for “pushing cinema out of mainstream movies,” as he put it, but “what people go to the movies for” has also changed since Sept. 11.
Mr. Soderbergh said he thought that the country still has post-traumatic stress disorder “and that we haven’t really healed in any sort of complete way and that people are, as a result, looking more toward escapist entertainment.”
She continues to lament the state of the film industry in her review
...it has become difficult for filmmakers to make midlevel studio movies for adults who value thought over action, narrative ambiguity over blunt spectacle. Good big movies are still released and sometimes even produced by the studios. Among the most satisfying films of the past decade are some from “The Dark Knight” and “Harry Potter” franchises, both of which, in their different ways, engage Sept. 11 and the world it made while transporting viewers into fantastical realms. “Iron Man 3,” by contrast, at once invokes Sept. 11 and dodges it, and does so with a wink and a smile.
In Ms. Dargis' review, she concludes that
...movies like “Iron Man 3” don’t have any business taking on tough issues. The point is that if they are to be worthy of the art, worthy of the audience and its time and its money, worthy of the legacy of those Hollywood movies that comforted and cheered Americans through world wars and bleak times, they should take on the toughest issues — not just exploit them.
Phew! That sure is a whole hell of a lot of baggage to unload onto a movie like Iron Man 3.
So... what are my thoughts on this?
It might seem trite, but I'll simply say this: I am of the opinion that Manohla Dargis would be better served by lightening up a little and relaxing. I honestly don't believe that Kevin Feige, Drew Pearce, Shane Black, Robert Downey, Jr. and all the hundreds (thousands?) of people who were involved in bringing Iron Man to the silver screen were thinking "let's make a serious movie for thoughtful adults.” I am of the opinion (I could be wrong, I mean, wtf do I know) that they wanted to celebrate and share with the world the comic book character that Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Don Heck and Jack Kirby brought to life over 50 years ago in the four color pages of Tales of Suspense #39.
That's my 12¢ worth, anyway.
You can now order Blink books and prints directly from me through my Storenvy shop! I just set it up and am pleased with how simple and versitile it is. I've got books and I've got postcards (available for pre-order).
There is a problem. Will you be part of the solution?
Children are being trafficked and raped daily and slavery is one of the darkest stories on our planet. Love146 works toward the abolition of child sex slavery and exploitation through Prevention and Aftercare programs.
Make a donation of any size and get a wallpaper featuring the awkward school photos of your favorite webcomic characters! My personal goal is a mere $100... but the TOTAL GOAL for the fundraising drive is $5,000. Please donate whatever you can to help spread the love!
(For anyone who donates $5 or more on my fundraising page, I'll send a signed BLINK/STAR WARS X-MAS postcard to you in the mail!)
There are only 3 days left!
Please donate here:
I wrapped up work on Chapter 2 weeks ago (you can buy it here or here), and shortly thereafter I got to work on writing Chapter 3. It took me a month to write it… 50 pages of total and complete Blink awesomeness. I started drawing on Thursday and here here are the first four panels (out of 6) from page 1 to give you a taste of the sweetastic-ness that I’m talking about:
BONUS! Here is the mock-up (with inserted photos) which I used as a tracing guide:
I anticipate that I’ll have the inks done by tomorrow (I have a separate project that I need to work on tonight/tomorrow before I can get back to work on page 1). When I do finish the page, I’ll post it here.
This autumn, there will be TWO Major Comics Educational Events happening in Columbus!
MIX will be happening at CCAD on September 27 and 28. MIX is Columbus College of Art & Design’s second annual symposium and exhibition dedicated to the diverse art form of comics. It features panels, roundtables, and workshops with scholars and artists from across the country as well as Columbus' thriving comics scene.
Then, just seven weeks later, The Festival of Cartoon Art & Grand Opening of the NEW Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum is happening on November 14-17 at OSU. There's a two-day academic conference (Thurs and Fri), a two-day "Festival Forum" (Sat & Sun), "An Evening with the Hernandez Brothers" on Saturday night and there will be two new gallery exhibits. Actually, the whole shebang is NEW. The library (in its former location) is closed and they will open at their new digs on September 9, 2013 in their new home in Sullivant Hall, 1813 N. High Street. I'm looking forward to their Grand Opening on Novemeber 15th. :)
There will be many hometown comic creators participating in each event and comic book rock star Jeff Smith will be a featured guest at both. I’ll be one of the panelists at MIX@CCAD and one of the many attendees at FCA@OSU.
After many months of being “almost finished” and “nearly done” and “just about there” it is my pleasure to announce that the final edition of BLINK: So It Goes, Chapter 2 – “…To Go With This Doorknob!” is now ready for purchase!
Here are the options for purchasing the book:
- You can buy it right now at the CreateSpace store. (That’s who prints the books; much like Ka-Blam, but less expensive.)
- It will also be available on Amazon in just a few days (if you like your shipping free).
- If you want to buy it at a comic shop or directly from me you’ll have to wait a few weeks. I’ll need to
There are a few things that make this chapter special: It’s something of a “Blink-solo” story, it features the most “Columbus cameos” I’d ever done (in one single story), it also features the most variety of characters (two of those characters are based on my parents) and it’s got one of the sweetest “best friend” moments I’ve ever created. The entire book is 86 pages—42 pages are story, all the rest is filled with very cool extras!
I’d like to tell you about this piece of art I did that was a part of a much larger work of art.
I drew a picture (I do that a lot). It was a picture of two characters, Jane Eyre and Edward Rochester... perhaps you’ve heard of them? They’re the main protagonists in the classic novel by Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre. I wouldn’t normally draw a picture with characters from a 166 year old novel, but I did. Why? Because my friends at the Available Light Theatre company asked me to. Well, they asked if I’d like to draw one of their posters for their 2012-13 season. Each season, AVLT comes up with a bold and unique visual theme which runs through all the promotional materials for their shows. This time around, they chose a comic book theme (there are a number of comic book lovers in the company). Being as Columbus is “poised to be the next big hub for comic books,” Matt Slaybaugh (AVLT’s Artistic Director and chief comic book lover) asked a number of local artists to create posters based on classic comic book covers.
Art by Jeremy Sorrell
Art by Drew Jones
Art by Michael Neno
Art by Clinto Reno
(I’ll let you figure out what original comic book covers these fine posters emulate.)
The artists created the images and the astoundingly multi-talented Michelle Whited composed all the text in order to thoroughly emulate the original publications.
And so, here I come, bringing up the rear (as it were) with my poster for JANE EYRE: A Memory, A Fever, A Dream. I chose John Byre’s classic X-Men #137 as my source material. It seemed fitting to feature Jane and Edward standing in for Jean and Scott. (If you’re familiar with both books, you’ll “see” the irony (it was purely coincidental) of the Scott/Edward pairing.)
I saw the play on Saturday and was totally blown away by its brilliance. The adaptation by playwright Daniel Elihu Kramer is superb. Acacia Duncan's direction as excellent. The four actors-- Jeff Horst, Elena Perantoni, Michelle G. Schroeder, and Robyn Rae Stype embody their characters as fully as I’ve ever experienced (and each actor plays multiple roles—kinda like Monty Python—so that’s really saying something!)..
So, Jane Eyre: A Memory, A Fever, A Dream is running for the next three weeks, until June 8. I strongly suggest that you set an evening aside between now, reserve your tickets now (they have a limited number of Pay-What-You-Want tickets at the door, but that’s on a first come, first served basis), get yourself to the Riffe Center, Studio One and see this fabulous event.
I'll be at SPACE this weekend, talking up and selling the Rough Cut Edition of BLINK: So It Goes, Chapter 2-- "...To Go With This Doorknob!" It's a 48-page booklet (42 pages of story, and a cover) that I've made especially for this weekend.
I've printed all of 50 copies of this exclusive edition and hope it will sell out at the show. We'll see. No matter what, I'm sure to have a great time at the show.
Three weeks and three comic strips. So far, so good. This one took me all of 11/2 hours to write/draw/scan. I’m also working quite diligently on drawing the 42 pages of Chapter 2 of BLINK: So It Goes. Those pages take quite a bit longer for me to write/draw/scan. If I can stay on course with what I’ve been doing for the past month or so, I think I’ll be able to finish drawing the chapter around Thanksgiving. Then there’s the (long long overdue) Kickstarter rewards/commissions that I need to work into my schedule. I’m sure that I can figure out how to accomplish those things eventually (as well as doing all the usual day-to-day life stuff). Of course, that’s all dependent on my remaining sane.