Cartoonist and comic book publisher Dylan Williams lost his battle with cancer on Saturday. The alternative comix community lost an effective and passionate advocate. Many Fantagraphics staff members feel the painful loss of a close friend. All of us at Fantagraphics offer Dylan's family and many friends our sincere condolences. We encourage you to visit the Sparkplug Comic Books website and order their wonderful comix in tribute.
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.
Paul Buckley is Art Director at Penguin Books, a publisher known for iconic design (and Art Directors), and he recently started a Flickr page featuring a small sampling of his work. Buckley is also the guy who managed to spearhead all those amazing classics-of-literature-covered-by-cartoonists. It may seem obvious-- Chris Ware doing the cover art to Candide, Jason doing Dharma Bums, Charles Burns on The Jungle, and so many more-- but getting all that through the marketing teams and other red tape at an enormous publishing house isn't just brilliant, it's tenacious.
Looks like the hits just keep coming with the biggest no-brainer of all (Tony Millionaire covering Moby Dick) plus Ho Che Anderson, Jeffrey Brown, etc.
Perhaps our next online poll ought to ask for suggestions on future Penguin Classics. My vote: Bil Keane doing Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal."
UPDATE: I have to learn not to make these sloppy blog posts. I've made a lengthy note in the comments on why, as a book designer, I consider this feat noteworthy.
More importantly, Paul Buckley has pointed out that Helen Yentus was his partner on the original round of these covers. One of the great things Yentus pulls off is making novel covers that read as complete images, a perfect hybrid of typography and image. So it makes sense she would be involved here.
Are you familiar with "Stinckers"? Vending machine stickers made by Weissman, Johnny Ryan, Jeff Roysdon, and the man known as Mats!? Check out the website for all the great art and incidentals. I just had to post this new work of Mats!? that he's making with a mouse, no ink. Really smart use of 2 color.
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