Friday, October 24, 2008
Well, I've had Assignment 6 done for over a week (which is dealing with the Hierarchical Grid), and this is the first time I've had some spare time to do some scanning with a larger than 8 1/2 by 11" image. The only conceptual point I had to work from was 'Relationships'.
On to "Week Seven": Tools.
Exercise 7.1 is to create a 11x17" grid, each square 1x1" (so 160 squares) and try out dip pens, brush, and technical pen and try different textures, patterns, marks, etc.
Here's ink, some calligraphy brush...
...and ballpoint pen.
The next step was to shrink the work down 65%, 50%, and 35% from its original size and see how your work reproduces.
Assignment 7 and Week Eight: Style next time!
Friday, October 17, 2008
Onward though to "Week Five", The Democratic Grid, which we'll get out of the way all in one go.
Exericse 5.1 is to draw a long series of the same face with varying eyebrows.
Assignment 5 was to construct a one page comic strip about 'childhood' using the democratic grid (that's where all your panels are the exact same size, without any real particular emphasis on any one place). I'm pretty sure anyone who grew up in the age of Nintendo and pre-Internet should be able to relate to this sort of childhood prattle...
And "Week Six", The Hierarchical Grid.
Exercise 6.1 is more of a writing/thought exercise, and actually pretty interesting. Here is pretty well the entirety of Brunetti's description for the exercise....
"Imagine you are walking in the desert. Can you see it in your mind? OK, now, after walking for a while, you come upon a cube. Describe that cube.
How big is it? What is it made of? Is it hollow or solid? Is it on the ground or floating? A part of the desert of detached from it? How do you think it got there?
About half the size of me, but considering how heavy it looks I can lift it to chest level without difficulty. Solidly built, looks carved, polished, maybe machine made. Made of material from the desert itself...compressed sand...brown...but how did it get Here? Maybe dropped by some caravan because the horses couldn't pull it anymore? But it is so light...on the ground. Seems displaced, out of touch.
What is your impression of it? What are your feelings about it, if any? Do you touch it? Can you hold it? Do you? Is it large enough that you can go inside it? Do you? Do you interact with it in some way? Why do you think you react to it as you do? Are you able to discern its history and make-up, and if so, how? Do you care? How do you think most poeple would react to it if they saw it? Can anyone other than you even see it?
Kicking as it doesn't really do anything. Like I said, very solid. It is course to touch too. The desert seems to rotate around it, or is completely indifferent...seems like a complete mystery...think I'm being influenced by Art History To 1500 class, what with all the Paleolithic/Neolothic/Sumerian/Babylonian/Ancient Egyptian material. No marking to reference, and it isn't like I have the means to do any carbon dating or anything...I think if the cube were larger, older, and made of a valuable stone people would care more....noteworthy because it isn't naturally forming, though there's that quantum chance that it is...
Assignment 6 is to do a comic using hierarchical scale (varying panel sizes for emphasis), and construct a one page comic about 'relationships' of a romantic nature. Just needs to be scanned in...and will be made available for your perusal as we hit on "Week Seven" next time.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Exercise 4.1; "Draw a character, built out of simple shapes; circles, triangles, rectangles, minimal features and rudimentary limbs. Do some sketches."
"Then, create a four-panel strip, without words, of your character in any location, performing an action. Now, add two panels to create 'motivation' for the character preceding the four you've just drawn, then add two more panels at the end."
Here we have it, me finding a way to both blatantly lift from Brunetti and Chris Ware.
Exercise 4.2 is to simply compare the results here with last week's assignment.
Assignment 4 is to create a 6-9 panel strip, all panels the same size, in black and white. That'll be for next time...
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Saturday, October 11, 2008
So this strip and yesterday's strip are both obviously a continuation of one another...and both are using collage to an effect that I was pretty leery of at first but actually kind of like how it reproduces here. What I really kind of hate is the decision I made to stick with the static drawing of me, which really seems to kill any sort of energy I was start to feel in the actual drawing. I suppose this all comes down to a valuable learning experience...static, photocopying repetition blows dead bear (which I should have learned from all those Brian Michael Bendis comics).
Well, the biggest influence on these last two pieces is the Art Spiegelman comic strip "A Furshlugginer Genius!"...(excerpt)
... which I first saw in the opening of the COMICS JOURNAL LIBRARY book on Harvey Kurtzman, but just saw yesterday was also reproduced in Ivan Brunetti's AN ANTHOLOGY OF GRAPHIC FICTION, CARTOONS, AND TRUE STORIES Vol. 2. Just got my copy of it yesterday and....yeah, a really fantastic book, and I'm still waiting for Vol. 1 to ship. Wow, colour really makes it sing, doesn't it?
Friday, October 10, 2008
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Man, those sliding/wonky hand drawn panels really stand out once scanned in....
Anyway, after I drawing this I realized I had Daniel Clowes' MAROONED, Jack Chick comics, and the Harvy Kurtzman/Steve Ditko close up on the brain.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Oh, right, the rotting corpse that is corporate superhero mediocrity!
It started with a Tucker/Nina Stone the other day:
Watchmen, Chris Ware, Daniel Clowes, Criminal, Carl Barks, Darwyn Cooke, David B, Lynda Barry, Charles Burns, Krazy Kat—those comics, those creators get real serious writing because they earned it, because they did something that’s worth talking about, that’s worth taking seriously. If you’re not getting really brilliant reviews, really incisive, intelligent response—it’s because you don’t deserve it. It’s because you’re a waste of time to the people who might write those reviews. Not because “it’s comics.” It’s because that thing you did was just middle of the road, and you can’t say anything smart about middle of the road. Because you didn’t earn it, and no sour apples begging will get it for you.
Dick Hyacinth built upon the above here, pissed about the celebration of mediocrity in comics culture. No, it isn't just comics. That's good old fashion American anti-intellectualism. I live in Alberta, Canada, which does a pretty good job of trying to pursue that end goal as well, so I am well aware of the celebration that circles KINGDOM COME and NIGHTWING while I have the works of Charles Burns, Daniel Clowes, and Chris Ware on the shelf discarded because of format and expectation.
Speaking of NIGHTWING, I think what made me compile these fragments all getting at the undercurrent of frustration was Laura Hudson's piece here.
Coming directly off of my weekend at SPX, as well as recently reading a string of excellent, engrossing graphic novels like Skim, Swallow Me Whole, and Alan's War, picking up a comic book like Nightwing #149 feels a lot like shutting my hand in a car door. And I'm thinking -- I'm thinking I should stop doing that.
Yeah, that crashing back to reality is a fucking bummer. This was what I was dancing around and about with discussing BATMAN #680. Like I said there, after reading Woodring's absolutely-holy-shit-this-is-great-comics-why-did-I-take-so-long-to-read-this THE COMPLETE FRANK, and Jason's not-as-holy-shit-good-but-still-pretty-amazing POCKET FULL OF RAIN... going to read the so-called best superhero comics on Wednesday night is such a disappointment. The crap just keeps adding up in long boxes and piles. I'm still reading monthly whatever Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, Garth Ennis, Peter David, and Greg Pak are writing...and that can be a wildly varying experience (see: Fraction IRON FIST, CASANOVA, and PUNISHER WAR JOURNAL). These are the best DC and Marvel have working for them....and it is all just alright. "It's alright for what it sets out to do" is not a great defense.
For the most part, I am kind of just counting down the issues until these writers move onto something I'd find more interesting so I can drop things like UNCANNY X-MEN, NEW AVENGERS, SHE-HULK, INCREDIBLY HERCULES, and GREEN LANTERN CORPS. Oh yeah, I am even worse than people who accept mediocrity: I know it is what it is, but I continue buying. I really do blame that on the fact I work at the comic store and I find it unavoidable to buy this stuff, especially when I want to keep up to date on everything that is coming out beyond just a knowledge of solicitation. Or maybe that's just what I tell myself. "I buy it to see what happens next." Oh God.
Hell, even some of the creator owned stuff isn't all that great. THE BOYS and CRIMINAL? The mediocre of the 'art comics' scene. What else are you suppose to do for the next year waiting for TALES DESIGNED TO THRIZZLE, and LOVE AND ROCKETS, and (soon) another ACME NOVELTY LIBRARY? You've got to fill that peculiar comic collector void somehow...
Monday, October 6, 2008
So, Assignment #2 was to produce three one-panel comics. Brunetti said you need not make with the funny, but I decided that when that gets said it is more to avoid the sad and uncomfortable experience of seeing a whole bunch of really unfunny comics by people who are, tragically, also unfunny. Going against Brunetti's recommendation of following this course in order, I wound up doing these sometime after doing the Week Five exercises...and I think the Brunetti HAW! influence really overwhelms me at the moment. Something about those little rounded headed cuties makes things really fast, easy, fun to draw, and reduce the number of decision you have to make.
#1. I am pretty sure this one sprang to mind while I sipped upon a fast food cup filled with Cherry Coke from the local Red Dog Diner on the bus going to my Thursday night class.
#2. God, should I even admit to thinking up and drawing this? I think this one came to me during that same Thursday night evening class...
#3. I really liked drawing those hoboes the first time, and start thinking about 'dog humour'* things to draw. That building panel inset was just me thinking through clarity/detail, I liked how it looked, so kept it in here.
Well, onto Week Three: Four-Panel Strip.
Exercise 3.1 is a variation on the previous exercise. On index cards, do 12 drawings (as you've seen before, I kind of whip these off, still under the influence of the 5-10 second drawing) of...
A) "The beginning of the world;
-There's me, God, creating my cartoon world...
B) the end of the world;
-...and my cartoon world doing itself in. Little turds.
C) full body self-portrait;
-Yeah, that's me alright.
D) something from lunch-time, or breakfast;
-The morning before I was drawing all this, I went to the grocery store near my house to get some cold medicine and as I was driving out, these two hoodlum corner kids on bikes were riding around pointing cap guns as cars and firing. Pretty awesome, I thought.
E) image from recent dream;
-Up until I was drawing again, I couldn't remember any of my dreams...so a big ol' murky blackness.
F) something from the middle of the world's existence;
-There's the cliche....
G) what happened right after F;
-...aaaand, slightly less cliche? What about all those failed fish-men who didn't cut it?
H) something from early this morning;
-God I was sick when I was drawing these...
I) something that has yet to happen;
-Jarrett Duncan, Jet Pack Bank Robber Of The 21st Century.
J) from anything above, what happened immediately after;
-Really, what would happen...
K) a 'riff' on J;
-I think I was drawing on my memory of Jimmy Corrigan's superhero dad falling to his death...
L) and something completely unrelated to the rest."
-earlier in the day, Shanell had showed me this photograph as I was talking about how much I wanted copies of Daniel Raeburn's THE IMP magazine.
So, after all that...create a 4 panel strip. I think a few days before doing this assignment, I had just been looking at "Reset"...and wound up with the combination of A, F, G, E. What were YOUR combinations?
Exercise 3.2 is a continuation of 2.3, with the ten or a dozen objects we 'brought to class' to discuss...which I decided not to do! I have had my fair share of intro studio classes in the Fine Arts department along these sames lines to do me a lifetime, and appreciate and understand the concept behind it....but yeah, I'm about the comics.
THUS! Assignment 3 was what made me decide to do all this in the first place: six daily strip comics for a week (Brunetti notes the obvious influences of James Kolchalka's AMERICAN ELF daily comic). So starting tomorrow, let's see if I can't keep up with at least scanning in the daily comic weeks finished and ready to go!
* 'Dog humour' is what James Ellroy refers to the crude sense of humour he and a childhood friend shared, which has bled into his writing and writer personality.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
A bit of research reveals that Mike Marts is the editor on this book - and he was also the editor on New X-Men, so presumably gave us Kordey on NXM, too. He also edited Wolverine: Origin, which was, as we are all well aware, shit on toast.
THANKS A FUCKING LOT MIKE MARTS.
I've been pretty luck lately, doing a lot of reading of really great comics (ie. Woodring's FRANK, Jason's POCKET FULL OF RAIN) and....it is kind of embarrassing to get steamed up over corporate comics, which will chug along regardless of what any of us writes or says. I guess my only stake in this is I really enjoy Grant Morrison comics and I hate to see a maybe good one ruined by really sloppy art.
This issue offered a lot of opportunities for me to select some interesting camera angles. I like bird's eye level views, but only when we have a reason to be up top, over the scene. So I got the chance a couple times this issue to show that kind of vantage point, as well as some worm eye views too. Like a panel with Batman jumping down a stairwell. Lots of action, lots of questions answered this issue.
Well, here's a wonderful opportunity to state Ivan Brunetti's "5 C's of Cartooning" from CARTOONING: PRACTICE AND PHILOSOPHY. They are: Calligraphy, Composition, Clarity, Consistency, and Communication. In his review of this issue, Jog hits upon the utter lacking presence of those 5 principles...
But it also seems that Morrison is aiming for a cacophonous sort of action-and-revelation peak with this chapter, and the art team doesn't seem quite there to handle it. Penciller Tony Daniel is prone to some confusing layouts here, including a double-page setup (story pp. 6-7) that guides the eye directly to the right when it's supposed to be moving down, or a Wayne Manor action bit (story pp. 12-13) that introduces a dangerous element (a red telephone), sets up some 'countdown' suspense via word balloons, but then doesn't return to the element as the countdown is foiled, leaving characters to converse while the threat is disposed of off-panel, leading to some awfully odd pacing.
And lord - I read it over and over, and I simply could not tell what even happened to poor Señor Sombrero, until I read that he seemed to get tangled up in a homage to Dario Argento's Suspiria - apparently he crashes through an overhead window into a room the other villains are sitting in, while the Joker is walking in from the next room, although since we haven't seen that next room, nor has an overhead window been set up, nor do we even see that Mr. Brimmed Hat has landed anywhere for another nine or so pages of story, everything seems to be taking place in entirely distinct locations, with no notion of spatial unity present whatsoever.
You know, I thought we were bad off with Andy Kubert too. Now, when you really stop and think about it, the problem really isn't necesarrily all on Grant Morrison having bad luck with art teams (and he really does have bad luck), but maybe Morrison's move towards story and pacing experimentation, which I think have failed to work (compare the clarity, more traditional success of ALL STAR SUPERMAN with Frank Quitely, and the hit-and-miss FINAL CRISIS with JG Jones, and FINAL CRISIS: SUPERMAN BEYOND with Doug Mahkne). Go back and read the first issue of his BATMAN run, and that entire sequence with Batman/Fake Cop Batman/Joker getting shot in the head. It still really makes not a whole lot of sense...
So yeah, at this point this has all been a wildly inconsistent run. I think even JH Williams three issues of the book are really oversold as being better than they are, due to the surrounding circumstances (Kubert, Daniel, that Ra's Al Ghul crossover). I've said before that even a bad Grant Morrison comic is interesting enough....but I don't think I can really stand by that anymore. DC is making it pretty easy too, what with a series of miniseries and fill-ins coming up soon after RIP wraps up. I think that pretty soon I'm going to be coming to the point where I am not buying a Grant Morrison comic being published.
Bring on SEAGUY 2 and WAR COP, I say!
*Who I should remind the audience is the artist and mastermind behind THE TENTH and F5. He also has worked with Alan Moore on SPAWN: BLOODFEUD, which I remember thinking of was the greatest comic book ever when I was 13 (GIANT SNAKE MAN! GREG CAPULLO KNOCK-OFF!)
Friday, October 3, 2008
So, Assignment #1, handed in! So putting this together I was thinking about comic strips (duh), and just throwing stuff going through my head recently. So we've got the EC Comics/MAD layout, a Kurtzman zoom, a three panel cause-and-effect, my "Yellow Guy" we've seen before, some kind of Clowesian male....multi-panel sequence breakdown of KRAZY KAT, and my BRAZIL head.
Exercise 2.1, write out several things on index cards: "something you overheard recently in a public place, something you said to someone earlier that day, a catch phrase or slogan, a question of some kind, and maybe an interjection". So mine are
"All the critics and stuff liked it, but it was horrible!"
"One guy is not too bad...the other...a big ol' Meh."
"I'm lovin' it."
"How do you get that ass to look so good?"
Exercise 2.2, on larger index cards, draw
"the funniest thing you can think of;
the saddest thing in the world;
something boring or mundane;
something you saw earlier today;
something you saw in a dream recently."
The idea then is to play around, matching up those expressions written down previously with the images and seeing what combinations pop up. So yeah, it seems the darker, more horrifying instantly becomes funnier. I have the same morbid humour Brunetti has, so my 'funny' is pretty in line with the sort of thing we've seen in SCHIZO and HAW! Abstract doesn't really go with anything at all though, does it? No subject matter denies a narrative required in comics to work I think, which is why everything worth talking to is figurative...the very nature of this medium.
We'll just skip Exercise 2.3, which involves bringing 12 objects together and linking them via a common element, then a series of eliminations to strengthen those links.
Exercise 2.4 is getting to do some of our first comic stuff: a one panel cartoon. Brunetti runs with doing a panel that encapsulates Salinger's CATCHER IN THE RYE, and takes us step through step with the decisions he makes. I think what kind of bungles this exercise for me is that Catcher was chosen in the first place because there exists no prexisting visual reference (no movie, no comic), but admist the very exercise we see a Brunetti illustration of the steps he took...undoing the process we're suppose to be following along with. If I were teaching someone straight from the book, I would obviously not be showing them this (not until after they had done something), but teaching yourself, it is unavoidable.
For next time: Assignment #2, which is to produce three single panel comics. I actually have these drawn, but I want to put a tad more polish on them. Next time: Four-Panel Strips.