Archive by Author

Influences and Process — The Books, Automatism, and the Infinite Everything

19 Dec
by L. Nichols

Disclaimer: I have a cold. I am feeling a little loopy and am only functioning at about 80%. Bear with me as I try to talk about things that even at 100% I am not good at talking about.

Behold the finite set of thirteen convex figures. The irrational sine versus tangent 45. – The Books, Beautiful People

With lyrics like that, I guess it might not be such a surprise that The Books are one of my favorite bands.

The Books are one of the few bands I can get completely lost in listening to. I love to put on my headphones, pick one of their albums and just go for a walk. Or I will put on their music when I am working, particularly when I am painting. For years now, this has been the case. The Books are music I live with when I am alone, when I am with my thoughts and with my work.

Every time I listen to them, I find new things. I find new sounds. I find new thoughts. With their constant presence in my life The Books have shaped my thoughts over the years.

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BCGF 2011

12 Dec
by L. Nichols

There isn’t a show I look forward to more as an attendee than the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Fest (BCGF). I think this is because it’s the show I feel least out of place. Or maybe it’s the show/scene that I feel like my work makes the most sense in context of. Something like that. Something in between those feelings. This year’s show was so full of amazing things that I was completely overwhelmed. It’s amazing to see such a density of things I am excited about in such a small place!

The time I did get a chance to walk around as a break from the nine hour tabling marathon, I only had the time to make it around the top floor. I could’ve spent hours just looking at one section! The density of this show was tremendous, especially with the addition of a second floor. Some part of me wishes the convention was two days just so I could have more time to explore. But there’s also a certain magical quality to the show only being a day. BCGF came together and dispersed in a (somewhat tiring as an exhibitor) blink leaving with new memories and a desire for it to happen again. Maybe two days would be too much of a good thing. As it was, I left completely exhausted and somewhat delirious from that exhaustion, but simultaneously so excited about where things were going that I couldn’t wait to keep working.

I debuted two new comics there. Both of them were somewhat experimental full-color books. Me exploring the area between art books and comics, I guess. I can’t imagine a better show to have debuted these at, and they seemed well received by the people who picked them up.

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Michel Fiffe – Zegas

27 Sep
by L. Nichols

Over the past couple of years, I’ve kept an eye on various Act-i-vate projects out of curiosity. Honestly, I have a really hard time reading anything at-length and in-depth on the internet, so I use sites like Act-i-vate more as a way to gauge if I might be interested in purchasing something if and when it’s published in a paper form.

Of all the work on Act-i-vate, Michel Fiffe’s work has always caught my eye and really intrigued me. I find his style and use of color particularly exciting. So when I saw the first issue of Zegas at Bergen St. Comics (I was super bummed to have missed the release party!), I just had to pick it up.

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MoCCA

11 Apr
by L. Nichols

As many of you reading this blog (or any other indie comics blog) know, this past weekend (April 9-10, 2011) was the MoCCA Art Fest. This year I tabled with Darryl Ayo, Jorge Diaz, and Eric Colossal. (Darryl took all these photos)

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Distractions!

5 Apr

Oh my goodness, guys. I am so excited about MoCCA I can hardly think! I am crazy busy trying to get ready (hence my lacking Monday post). And I will tell you why….

Not one.

Not two.

THREE minis. CRAZY!

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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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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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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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The Magic of Design

7 Mar
by L. Nichols

In English, the word design is both a noun and a verb (which tells one a lot about the nature of the English language). As a noun, it means – among other things – ‘intention’, ‘plan’, ‘intent’, ‘aim’, ‘scheme’, ‘plot’, ‘motif’, ‘basic structure’, all these (and other meanings) being connected with ‘cunning’ and ‘deception’. As a verb (‘to design’), meanings include ‘to concoct something’, ‘to simulate’, ‘to draft’, ‘to sketch’, ‘to fashion’, ‘to have designs on something’. 1

When I first read Flusser’s essay about the nature of the word design (About the Word Design 1), I was simultaneously floored and also a little angry.

A designer is a cunning plotter laying his traps. 1

As someone who studied engineering, as someone who works as a graphic designer, as an artist, I felt attacked , accused of blatant deception. But the more I thought about what he was getting at, the more I realized that there was a definite basis of truth to the claim of designer as a trickster/deceiver. Maybe being a deceiver isn’t such a bad thing.

I always hear comics people talking about design. Page design/layout. Character design. Book design. Website design. Etc. etc. etc. But what does this really mean? If we agree that design is about deception and manipulation, is tricking/being tricked really such a bad thing?

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Between the Sheets – Time manipulation and Sacco

28 Feb
by L. Nichols

Let’s consider time and time manipulation as an important component of what comics are about. Sequentiality alone is a little stuffy for me. Manipulation of the reading/understanding of time may be a little closer to the truth. But again, also maybe not quite hitting the nail on the head either.

I imagine that this is a topic I’ll talk about a bit in the future in various ways and with various examples, but for the time being I thought I would continue from the Sacco + words discussion and start by analyzing a passage from Joe Sacco’s Palestine. (Just as a warning, this is about an interrogation).

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