Archive | March, 2011

The Abstract

30 Mar
by Kevin Czap

Derik Badman Flying Chief

Keeping it rolling from L’s article yesterday, lets continue our discussion about abstract comics.

A battlefield I’m usually weary of entering is the one that’s fought over “what are comics.” I usually find it more useful to look for similarities of form than to draw demarcations. I’ll hazard dipping my little toe into the fray for a second here, if only to refer to one argument that I’ve encountered more than a few times. That argument is the one about whether or not comics need to tell a story. You might think, what a stupid question, of course they do — comics is a perfect storytelling medium… words and pictures, dude. But let’s think about this a bit.
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Influences and Process – Abstraction

28 Mar
by L. Nichols

I remember the first time I went to a museum and saw abstract art. I was 9 or 10 or 11 (somewhere around there) and we had driven 3 hours from my home town to go to Houston, TX to the museum. I was excited about the Renaissance art and also about the Impressionist art we saw there. They were easily relatable, their representation was obvious. And then I came across the more abstract stuff. I was confused. I didn’t really like them, per se…. but I was drawn to them nonetheless. Looking at them felt like I was fighting myself. I kind of laughed them off and ignored how they made me feel. But as I grew older, I found that I was still drawn to them. I began to understand a bit more about why an artist would choose that path. And I came to both appreciate it and be influenced by it.

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Product Placement

25 Mar
By Darryl Ayo

If you’re anything like me, you decide to throw preconceived notions out the window and read up on some superhero comics. And you probably had to tell yourself “why the hell not” more than a few times as you pushed deeper into the hypernerdy world of “normal comic books.”

Whatever, I’m not gonna jerk you around; in New Avengers # 2, they fight a giant Luke Cage and this is the battle plan:

A cell phone. Good thinking, Mockingbird! This leads to the following action scene where the plan comes to fruition:

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SPACE 2011

23 Mar
by Kevin Czap

a print by Brady Russell

I spoke a bit about scenes and community last week. One of the best opportunities to see the community of any given location in the flesh is at the comics convention. This past weekend, I trucked down to Columbus for the 12th annual Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo (SPACE). I had checked the show out last year, but this year it was the first stop on my big tabling tour. I never end up taking pictures the way I plan to, but that’s probably for the best. Since I’m writing this for the ‘Cube, I think I’ll do more of an overall analysis than gab about all the extracurricular stuff that I did, as usual. Continue reading

Influences and Process – Playtime!

21 Mar
by L. Nichols

One of the things I’ve fought long and hard to keep is a sense of play in my work and in my working process. Growing up, I was often told that I should not pursue art or anything along those lines as a potential job. Something about “once you’re doing it for money you’ll grow to hate it” or “you should keep it for yourself” or some other such saying as that. Again and again. Now, I’m not going to argue that that isn’t the case at least some of the time. It’s not the same as being a kid and drawing horses/dragons/dwarves/elves (… ahem…) for fun, but I’m also not the same as back then either. But I really couldn’t imagine being any other way.

After doing this for the past few years and finally getting to the point where I am actually working for clients and making some money doing this, I can totally understand why my parents would warn me about not doing what you love for a living. The line between work and the rest of your life can become totally erased if you pursue a field such as art. There’s frequently no 9-5 designation of “work” vs “play.” I know this line for me has become incredibly blurry; in some sense, I am what I do. I work weird hours. I work when I feel like it. And, honestly, I work way more than I would in a “real job” (as my parents seem to put it, i.e. “L., when will you get a real job?”). It has taken me years to find some sort of balance in how I feel about my work.

Work. Just saying the word brings up connotations of waking up early, being tired, bringing home the bacon (so to speak). In physics, it is the is the amount of energy transferred by a force acting through a distance. Going up stairs is work. Lifting heavy things is work. In art, people talk about “bodies of work,” their pieces are considered “works.” Work is that responsible thing that grown-ups do, the sign of maturity. Playing and things that seem like play are for the young ‘uns. But playing is where we learn! Playing is important, too! Playing is not just for kids! We should embrace playing as something vital and important to our growth as human beings.

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Too Many Muffins

18 Mar
by Darryl Ayo

Years ago, I worked at a cafe and had a good enough time doing it. At one point, we had two kinds of muffins. We had plain muffins and blueberry muffins. One day, we switched pastry vendors and ended up getting shipments of muffins like you wouldn’t believe. It was a cornucopia of muffins. Every kind of muffin you could imagine. Customers’ faces would light up and they’d ask us what the different kinds of muffins were. And halfway through listing them all, the light would fade from their faces and it was obvious: the person was not going to be buying a muffin.

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16 Mar
by Kevin Czap

Jaime Hernandez, if the scene sucks, you suck

While there are certainly endless avenues to explore just in the vicinity of the craft of comics (and believe me, I could pass the night away just gabbing about them), I think sometimes it helps to step back and get some perspective. A breath of fresh air if you will. It’s important to remember that comics, like any art, is directly tied to the living complex culture that they’re created in. Regular human beings put in the time and effort to make these amazing things that effect us so significantly, and I think it’s useful to think about environments that these folks live in. Continue reading

Implied Complexity – Mike Mignola

14 Mar
by L. Nichols

One of the greatest strengths of cartooning is in the things that aren’t shown.

Scott McCloud talks about simplification of form in Understanding Comics (which if you haven’t read, I highly recommend). A photo of a person can only represent that one person. A smiley face symbol can represent any smiling face. Cartooning navigates this world between representation and symbol.

For me, I think of cartooning as something very much based in design. It is design in a specific usage. Manipulation of the understanding of forms. (Maybe more than just that, but that is a good start ?*). Cartooning can range from the goofier, caricatured styles (Kevin talked a bit about this) to styles that are more based in reality. Regardless of which style moves you, I feel like cartooning in all its forms really speaks to the idea that “perfection is not when there’s nothing left to add, it’s when there’s nothing left to take away.”

Today, I want to talk about the use of cartooning to imply complexity and particularly Mike Mignola.

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Another Day, Another Slay

11 Mar
by Darryl Ayo

I’m not a real cartoonist, I’m an impostor. I have a day job. Nine-to-five with a paycheck that comes like clockwork and health benefits. With the rise of the full-time professional independent cartoonist, I have felt as though my day job makes me less of an “official” cartoonist than some of my peers.

But this, right here, is how I can feel 100% official, even while I’m spending most of my time in the office.

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9 Mar
by Kevin Czap

Joanna Newsom Ys

…we move within his borders
Just asterisms
in the stars’ set
We could stand for a century…
— Joanna Newsom, “Emily”

An asterism is a collection of stars seen in the night sky that appear to form a pattern. The star patterns we see, like the Big Dipper, can be light years apart in reality, but their apparent proximity lets us connect the dots to create a picture in our minds. Our constellations come out of this phenomenon originally, when preceding human cultures were able to form stories from the shapes they perceived in the heavens.
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