We're off road and on safari and I'm disappointed by the scenery and lack of wildlife. Who knew safari would be a web-ready-low-res-jpg. Tim Root is at the helm of his beautiful van and very-sludgy-slow-dirge-metal spills from the speakers, punctuated by off-tempo-crunchy-fat-dub-beats. Eric Reynolds is sitting to my left and is giving me shit for not paying attention to Africa (both politically and aesthetically). I'm trying to draw comix despite the bumpy ride and "exotic" locale. Three dimensional shapes made of crosshatching rise from the panels I'm drawing. Sitting across from me is Kim Thompson, chortling. Kim's finding endless laffs and curiosity from my magical crosshatch comix. "Whatcha doing Jason? Haw! That's silly! Har Har! Are you cross-eyed from all that cross-hatching? Heh heh!" With every pot-hole my .001 Rapidograph slips resulting in a loud-sputtering-snort-guffaw from Kim. Rather pissed, I scold Kim, telling him he should expand his view of comix and that what I'm attempting is similar to what Lars Von Trier (one of Kim's favorite filmmakers) has done with Dogme 95 and his film-obstructions experiments. Without warning, Jim Woodring's visage oozes from the van's dome-light and declares "The content and flatulent ass eats horse-meat and white-corn from The Field of Ignorance and Tranquility." Kim overflows with laughter pointing at me and alleging, "I did that!"
Why is Eric kicking out the back window of Tim's van? "We've got company!!" yells Eric.
Eric, Olivier Schrauwen and myself are sitting with our legs dangling from the van's back window as a charging Audi approaches. The Audi is stuffed with spitting camels garbed in saris. The camels are keeping pace with us as they start cocking their Kalashnikov rifles.
Jason: "What the fuck are we going to do!" Eric: "I don't know but I'm not happy about this and I'm not going to stand for it!" Eric tries to stand up. "Fucking camels! I'm not partial to their kind and I'll be damned if this will be the end of me!!"
Sparkly tears are streaming down Olivier's face. His tense cheeks frame the biggest-most-genuine-smile I've ever seen. Cheesy-retro-computer-generated-rotateey-things undulate around Olivier's eyes. He lovingly looks at the aggressive camels and starts barking. At this point I'm uncertain as to whether or not Olivier Schrauwen is Jesus Christ. With each bark the camels disintegrate. Eric sits down. The camels are almost gone.
My crosshatched comic is now a finished book and as I ruefully hand a copy to Kim and point out that he's paid for the printing and distribution. Kim giggles as he flips through my book, "It's good work, Jason. My mother loves it."
"I don't hardly think that a way will come in which they can draw those comic book panels on the monitor screen with a mouse. It may be that they can. It may be that that's the form it will take – just make up these whole comic book pages on the screen and draw in all the things with the mouse. It wouldn't have the spontaneity, the look of reality that you get from drawing these out with the blue pencil... You get a thoroughness in the expression and all which I don't think you could ever get with a mouse and a line on the computer. I remember what Mark Davis, who was one of Disney's 'Nine Old Men," had to say about The Lion King, that they looked liked stuffed lions. Yeah, his opinion of animation done with the mouse was that it never quite came up with a real expression that looked genuine, or an action that looked genuine."
In 1946 Al Capp held the now infamous contest to see who could conjure the true image of the world's ugliest woman, Lena Hyena from Lower Slobbovia. Amongst the 500,000 + submissions was this ghastly beaut by Carl Barks.
The, ahem, judges for this contest were three of the worlds ugliest men: Salvador Dali, Boris Karloff and Frank Sinatra and as you may know, they aptly awarded Basil Wolverton's warped rendering "The Champ."
Here we have Lena by Basil Wolverton as colored by Jim Woodring from Wolvertoons.
I think it's worth noting and more than a coincidence that Carl Barks, Basil Wolverton and Jim Woodring all hail from the great pacific northwest, a region rife with grotesque power drawers, past and present.
Side note: It's rumored that Jack Cole sent in a drawing of the wonderful Lena. What I'd give to see that!
"I hope that the stories you have read in the Duck and Scrooge books have helped to give you a broader understanding of life, as well as entertainment. I always tried to write a story that I wouldn't mind buying myself. In my attempts to make comics worth 10¢ or 12¢ or 15¢ I seem to have produced some passages that were even worth remembering. If more of my readers grow up to sit in the Senate chamber than to sit in the gas chamber, I'll have been richly rewarded for trying to turn out a good product."
"When you look at my stories in the comic books you'll see that I was trying to follow in the format that Gottfredson established, having Mickey and the other guys involved in funny situations at the same time as they were having serious problems. And [then] they solved their problems by funny means."
(Floyd Gottfredson on the left and Carl Barks on the right)
A curated selection of Seattle’s finest contemporary drawing.
Remarkably, artists were selected by the unjaundiced eye and not chosen because of their reputation in either the fine art or cartoon art world, ahem.
Artwork was chosen by proximity, spiritual connection and contribution to the Northwest Tradition as pioneered by the likes of Morris Graves, Mark Toby, Peter Bagge and Jim Woodring.
Remarkably (yes, again), the artwork featured in SKID ROAD TO FLOATING WORLD is a mixed miasma of drone drawing, figure drawing, pattern cartooning, metamorphic automatism, cartography, illustration, totem drawing and good ole rain soaked mysticism.
We will also have advance copies of Jim Woodring’s new graphic novel, CONGRESS OF THE ANIMALS, available for sale.
We will also have advance copies of Jim Woodring’s new graphic novel, CONGRESS OF THE ANIMALS, available for sale.
WHO: Skid Road art collective, artists in attendance TBD
WHAT: Art exhibit & book release for Jim Woodring’s CONGRESS OF THE ANIMALS
As we've been working on M. Tillieux's Murder by High Tide I've become gripped by Tillieux's cartooning, especially his panel composition and pitch-perfect, push-pull blend of "naturalist" and "cartoony" figure work. What follows are a series of panels from Catch as Catch Can (the second story featured in Murder by High Tide) that I've been particularly struck by. Note: these panels, in their finished form, will be colored and lettered.
This panel reminds me of Toth or Xaime, what with how the acting, lighting and composition leads the eye to read Gil Jordan's darkened face and arm as he slowly creeps the door open to… what???
That's Gil Jordan dashing into the shadows as he's hot on the heels of Joe The Syringe. This panel stopped me cold.
I love this panel. I half expect to see my reflection in the rearview mirror. I used to think panels like this didn't work… or that you had to be Xaime to make them work, but time and time again Tilleux subtly or overtly places the reader's sightline in such a way to immerse your eye into Gil Jordan's four color world.
What could've easily been a throwaway panel graciously offers Tillieux's masterful drawing as acting equals cartooning!
Bonus! Six panel action sequence from Catch as Catch Can. (Click to see bigger.)
Tillieux's best work stands tensely between Hergé's ligne claire and Franquin's reverent bounce. It's the hearing-the-ice-crack tension of Tillieux's ink that brings it for me as it flawlessly meets the gestalt of the mystery thriller genre. And if that weren't enough, Tillieux, like American film director Howard Hawks, is a master of characterization and letting the scene play out. As a fan of the comfortable character interaction of Hawks' Rio Bravo and Hatari, I could spend all day hanging out with Gil Jordan and his assistant, Crackerjack!
If you happen to find yourself in Seattle this Saturday December 11th then truly find yourself at the Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery 4th Anniversary Party , to study Justin Green's contribution to the Medieval Thinkers portion of the event. Justin illuminated the piece below especially for the show and having had the opportunity to work with such a titan of ink and ideas is a dream come true for me. If this is your first time encountering Justin's work than I heartily recommend you track down a copy of Binky Brown Meets The Holy Virgin Mary and Sacred & Profane as both truly rank amongst the rare masterpieces of comic art.
"The piece was a convergence of many factors, not the least of which was a dream. It was about a new 'green' industry that used many thicknesses of recycled corrugated cardboard to prop up young saplings prior to laying in a foundation."
JASON T. MILES: Sammy The Mouse is one of the funnest comics I've read.
I think it's hilarious, it makes me laugh out loud and I find myself happier after reading and re-reading each issue to date. How much fun is it for you to make these comics? Is the process as excruciating as you describe in Like A Dog?
ZAK SALLY: Yeah, Sammy is a totally different deal; I really and truly enjoy writing and drawing the thing. I won't say that it's all roses, there's always still the problem solving and running up against your own limitations and inevitable crises of faith, but, you know: that's COMICS! There definitely is a feeling of "holy crap this is great there's nothing I'd rather be doing" more often than not while working on Sammy.
And yeah, in a lot of ways Sammy was a reaction to the whole thing I had going on with comics up until the Like A Dog and Recidivist material; by the time I finished Recidivist #3 I just thought – this is ridiculous. If I can't find some way to get some kind of happiness through this then I ought to just give up, for real. I'm supposed to LOVE comics, not hate them. I wasn't sure it'd work at the time, but it did, somehow.
I think I'd gotten too wrapped up in that "comics are SERIOUS" thing, and forgotten what a great medium comics are for just...telling a story. That writing an entertaining, engaging comic is... as big a deal as some snooty-assed art comic. Like those old issues of Hate ... man, each one came out and it was JAM PACKED-- after reading it you felt like you'd been to the free buffet at the casino but all the food was GOOD: more story than you could handle, at least a couple for-real-laugh-out-loud moments, great characters and art, a LETTERS PAGE... GOD that was a great comic book. Pete Bagge is an AMERICAN TREASURE!!
Sammy is still pretty slow and boring compared to that stuff, but what you wrote there at the top makes me feel really good; I want it to be fun, and funny.
I think it's funny, and it makes ME happy, so...
My only problem is that I can't find more time to work on them, get out at least a couple a year or something.
MILES: As you know, I'm also a big Bagge fan and similar to his work Sammy possesses a real sense of terror and consequence. In Sammy I think the hardest laffs quiver shoulder to shoulder with disaster. Can you speak a little more to how you're making comedy with dread and horror in Sammy? I mean, the skeletal bastard is simply awful! and when Pat the rabbit bartender hammers a nail into Feekes forehead...!!!
SALLY: Actually, I'm not entirely sure I can speak to that. Again, sort of in response to how I used to make comics, I really consciously set out with Sammy to not... over-think too much (as that hadn't got me anywhere all that useful in the past). I mean, yeah-- I've got a tendency to take stuff too seriously in real life, but I don't really walk around all day in a haze of existential dread, you know? I'm a FUNNY GUY, and... I think really hard about the story, and the structure and the mood and all that; I really do sweat the details but when I'm writing and drawing the thing, a lot of it is really, "Does this feel right?" If it does you nail it to the ground and if not you burn it off (note: this is harder than it sounds).
If something makes ME laugh, then... it's right, period. Thinking TOO much about it will kill it dead (I know this from experience).
And, you know: the "terror" of life is so subjective, and so is humor.
some folks will say that ALL humor is based on suffering... but all those people are pretentious, insufferable windbags, and can go get fucked.
With that said, I think when Sammy's all said and done, what it might be "about" is consequence. Maybe. We'll see I guess.
I need to work on being more inscrutable and mysterious: it increases sales.
How am i doing so far?
MILES: I think you're doing good-- wait! Do you mean "how am I doing at being inscrutable and mysterious?" or "how am I doing sales-wise?"
Over the past week I've had the distinct pleasure to proofread the newly edited and exceptionally expanded The Strange Case of Edward Gorey by scribe extrodinare Alexander Theroux . When Gary first told me we would be publishing an expanded 2nd edition I was more than curious not only because I'm a student of Gorey but because I consider Theroux's first edition to be the definite prose representation of Figbash's father, Ogdred Weary. While you wait for the 2nd edition of The Strange Case of Edward Gorey (completely redesigned by Jacob Covey and presented as a hardcover!) I implore you to peruse Chris Seufert's amazing photographs documenting O. Müde's house.
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