There are a dozen things each week that I'm not Flogging due to No Time. I hope to soon do some postings on recent and upcoming books that I've been involved with. Until then, I've made a habit of annually encouraging Flog readers to support artists with their holiday shopping and this year I'm digging into it a little deeper. Some of these notes are aimed at artists who are looking to connect with audiences and some are aimed at audiences looking to support artists.
• Chuck Close as recorded here has some thoughts about Art and its cultural importance. Especially relevant are "Justifying Public Art Expenditures" and "Advice to Artists During a Crisis". (Though, contrary to Close, I think the WPA projects of people like Lester Beall epitomize great art concepts aligning with popular public receptivity, making the 1930s/40s an amazing time for Art to speak to the mainstream. And in that way, we may be in a similar place with this economy. But I digress.)
• Economy tips for artists: Etsy. The only time I've used Etsy was to buy art, starting back when I bought a beautiful and ridiculously-cheap print ("Helpful") from John Hankiewicz on Etsy. And Souther Salazar does it right by offering up doodles and art that he doesn't otherwise have an art show home for. Work sells as quickly as it goes up and I know it means a lot to me to get to buy an affordable, small piece of art from him. I wish established artists would do this more often.
• Turns out Etsy also has a lot of poster artists offering work and Dan Grzeca has found a way to use it for unusual offerings like a tube of misprints for cheap.
• Aspiring cartoonists might be interested in the Kickstarter site and, specifically, Jamie Tanner's model for publishing his next book. By offering special offers to people who preorder the not-yet-made book, he's managing to make it a reality on his own.
• I finally acquiesced to Facebook and, sure enough, within a day I had people I went to high school trying to contact me. Man I hated high school. But I've noticed one thing on Facebook that was interesting: Martin Ontiveros making a request for a ride to the airport, saving himself $30, and offering the ride-giver a small piece of art. That's a great use of Facebook and alternative economy. (Tip to artists: if you use Facebook for getting news out to fans and "the industry," I quickly discovered that I end up hiding anyone who posts more often than a fifteen-year-old girl gone off ritalin.)
• Most of the artists who aren't utterly canonized have some online presence where you can buy original art or at least limited run prints. And a lot of artists like Steven Weissman and Zettwoch/May/Huizenga have affordable commissions available and set up to click-n-buy. Many of the bigger "names" will do commissions but you have to approach them about it... and pay considerably more. (Tony Millionaire told me his commissions start at $1,000 but I happen to know he also wants a radiometer. If you hand-forged him a giant one for his den then, hey, maybe you'd get a break.)
• My biggest holiday tip is obvious: find those links to buying art from your favorite artists and then forward the links to your friends, Santa Claus, and your mom. Especially your mom. (Seriously, I don't know what you get but I got a Tommy Hilfiger coat one year and burlesque-rocket-ship table lamps another and I'm about fed up with surprises.) You'll find tons of original art being sold in one place at the old stand-bys: Comic Art Collective and The Beguiling, among others.
• Lastly, you could just buy some books. Fantagraphics sells those all over this site you're looking at. Artists like their books selling.
• Review: "An abstract comic? What the hell is that? And more importantly, what’s the point of a comic if it doesn’t tell a story? These are the questions a book like Abstract Comics raises right off the bat. Thankfully, it also answers them. The anthology, edited by Andrei Molotiu, covers the time period of 1967-2009 and is in all respects a Serious (capital S) volume. ... Worth a look, for sure, and maybe more." – Molly Young, We Love You So
• Plug: "When it comes to creepy comics, Al Columbia isn't only a member — he's the president. And in Fantagraphics' Zero Zero #4, Columbia produced a short story called 'I Was Killing When Killing Wasn't Cool' that is so startling and nightmarish in its quiet elegance that it'll stick with you forever." – Rickey Purdin, Rowdy Schoolyard
The Conrad Groth sketchbook is a mammoth thing: at least 12" square with thick glossy art stock and maybe a couple hundred pages to be filled. Fantagraphics Founder, Gary Groth, gets the best cartoonists in the world to do sketches for his young son and it is AMAZING. I can't imagine the pressure of sketching in it. There's no B-Team in this thing. And nobody who sees it can stop turning the pages to see what's next.
As Gary is preparing to leave for SPX, he brought in the book, bound for the hands of Gahan Wilson so I took these quick and shoddy iPhone pics of the Kane and Crumb pages, which I particularly like because of the personal relationships Gary had/has with these titans.
• Reviews: "Locas ll collects a huge amount of comics featuring a more mature Maggie, finding and losing romance with people like Ray (one part Chandler victim, another part mod hobo), 'Frogmouth' (painfully sexy but achingly annoying), and reunions with Hopey and others in a strange relational ballet set in SW America. It’s a weird, flat plain of bizarre sex and twisted circumstance that would be the first collection of comics I would recommend for any adult wanting to get a handle on the aesthetics of the art form since it became culturally relevant to do so.... Meanwhile, Fantagraphics has also just put out a new issue of the Comics Journal #299, which has an incredible narrative by lawyer-outsider art-underground advocate Bob Levin... Levin is the writer of several books on the struggle of comics and the counter-culture and transgressive fringes, and because of him #299 of TCJ is THE book about comic art to buy this year.... Mome... is the current multi-artist series that has critics in the comics world and outside of it regularly amped.... The last few issues of Mome have really hit a hot-run of quality, and though some stories are more straightforward and others are expressionistic, all the art is always sweet." - Chris Estey, KEXP
• Review: "Comics journalism is mostly an oxymoron, but The Comics Journal, on the eve of its 300th issue, is a scholarly, intellectual publication.... [F]or intelligent discussion of current and past graphic storytelling and its creators (the current issue features an incredible story of an ahead-of-its-time genre-spanning anthology from the seventies that was never published), this is indeed an oasis of comics journalism." - Richard Pachter, The Miami Herald
• Review: "...[A]wesome to behold.... When life and love, of a sort, finally do reassert themselves at [The Squirrel Machine]'s end, it's horrifying and drawn in a fashion that makes it look less like a natural thing and more like a terrible apparition, or a special effect." - Sean T. Collins
The proceeds will go to Democracy for America Now, a national advocacy group running television ads to push the Public Option in democratic swing districts and offering support to congressional members who take a stand for the policy.
Another great day at the office yesterday as Jim Woodring stopped by to drop off this stack of original pages for his 2010 graphic novel Weathercraft. It's the middle third, plus a little more -- Jim has a little over 20 pages to go. Unanimous reaction among Fanta staff: awed speechlessness.
...when FedEx drops off a big stack of Gilbert Hernandez artwork. Behold, the entirety of his next book, the "Fritz film adaptation" The Troublemakers. Drawn at size. Amazing. Our production maestro Paul Baresh will be scanning this tonight. Probably a late Fall/early Winter release. Cover painting by Rick Altergott.