Thursday, November 29, 2007
I first read Prince Valiant when cartoonist Rick Altergott let me borrow a few of his reprint books. He had no sense of irony about it. That Rick, despite his illustrative bent, would be a fan I admit surprised me until I thought about his character Doofus' hairdo. I was also surprised to find that Prince Valiant was intentionally funny at times.
I next borrowed "Hal Foster: Prince of Illustrators, Father of the Adventure Strip" from the library. From what I remember in it, a colleague stated that Foster was "the best drapery artist in the business." I imagined this as a conversation in the drawing room of a social club with leather chairs and brandy snifters. There was also Foster's advice to a struggling anatomy student--draw figures "from the bones out." No problem!
There's an argument as to how necessary or even detrimental a knowledge of drapery would be to drawing, say, King Aroo--more my level of draftsmanship, if not cartooning. I hoped to be just convincing enough to put across the joke. Don't look too closely at the right forearm of the king! In early photos, Tommy Ramone was always wearing half-shirts; to include this bit of caricature in panel three I considered subtle.
(From "Weird Tales of the Ramones.")
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
I am a rank amateur in the field of forensic genealogy, but my guess is that this picture was taken by my father (Well, that I could figure out) in March of 1975 at the World Book Newsstand on Cahuenga Boulevard. To try to guess, I looked up the Marvel Team-Up cover on the web since the two protagonists arguably change from issue to issue; here it is The Son of Satan and The Human Torch, who is contorted in Gil Kane's salute to Bob Fosse. Other clues: the fly-by-night Atlas line, the Mad Death Wish cover, the subhead of Famous Monsters of Filmland #115 mentioning Phantom of the Paradise... But I'm sure forensic genealogists could determine what exact day it was just by the shadows.
(Thanks to Jonathan Bennett for the link.)
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
So one of my favorite books from 2007 is Jeffrey Brown's Incredible Change-Bots published by Top Shelf. If you haven't read it and are curious you can read a preview here. I don't know if it's for everyone but I sure enjoyed it, mostly due to my fixation with the Japanese Tranformers toys and cartoons from when I was a kid. The idea of these inanimate objects ranging from cars, to planes, to guns, and even an audio cassette tape, all having the ability to transform into robots is absurd. And as with all of the toys from my youth they created a series of cartoons or half-hour commercials to sell these toys--a series of TV shows (and even a feature length film starring Orson Wells, the animated movie from the 80's, not the recent live action one, which I know nothing about) with the most ridiculous narratives, but back then it was just about seeing these toys in action. talking, shooting, and Transforming, I was hooked. Jeff's comic effectively captures the ludicrousness of it all by poking fun while having fun, and somehow paying homage to it all. He created his own cast of Change-Bots, some of my favorites including 'Balls' a golf cart, 'Stinky' a garbage truck, and 'Soupy' a microwavable cup of soup, to name a few. To further sink the hook into his reader's nostalgic tendencies Jeff offers a membership to the 'Official Incredible Change-Bots Fan Club" in his book, and of course I signed up.
Not only does the membership include an exclusive mini comic and a membership card, you also get an original drawing of your favorite Change-Bot. Somehow I finagled Jeff into making a custom Change-Bot with the Buenaventura Press logo...
Jeff was also kind enough to include his study sketches for Imprint (click image below to enlarge). I have no idea how familiar Jeff is with printmaking machinery but from a xerox (of a similar diagram to the one I posted in my previous blog entry of a Vandercook Universal 1 press ) he actually made it look feasible that a press could change into a robot. I'll never look at a letterpress the same again.
Posted by Alvin Buenaventura at 6:40 PM
I began reading Cerebus around issue 60, shortly before Gerhard began collaborating with Dave Sim on the comic. I've always found Gerhard's lovingly rendered backgrounds to be one of the more interesting aspects in directing how the narrative comes together. Actually, such a purely factual description as "backgrounds" sells far short his active contribution to the overall feel of the comic. The run of issues up until 100 or so remain burned in my brain as sort of ineffably striking individual comic books--beyond the storyline specifics, they have a quality as total objects that nothing else has...maybe something to do with all that beautiful black newsprint. Anyhow, I'm absolutely enthralled by a project called "The World Without Cerebus," found on this blog devoted primarily to charting the Sim/Gerhard original art market:
Mr. alchemist57 has undertaken to commission from Gerhard a series of 25 or so pivotal scenes from throughout Cerebus' run--as the title states, without the main character (thus, without Sim). Based on the creative dynamics involved in the comic, and scuttlebutt describing the recent partnership break between the two artists, these gorgeous watercolor-and-ink drawings resonate on a number of levels, pulsating with telling detail, metaphor, and subtexts biographical and otherwise. This is the coolest project I've encountered in recent memory. Kudos to alchemist57 for a genius idea, and for figuring out a way to manifest something so rich out of his devotion to a comic. Such single-minded obsessiveness (in this project and the website as a whole) is something I greatly appreciate--and can relate to. Above are the first two completed commissions; see the September 1 post in the site's archive for initial ideas about the project and then follow the progression in subsequent posts. I've bookmarked the page and enjoy checking back for updates. Whether or not you're intimately familiar with the series (I wound up missing a few issues then lost my way and gave up--though I plan a comprehensive reading soon), in concept and execution, these first few drawings are fascinating works of art.
Posted by Todd Hignite at 5:03 PM
Monday, November 26, 2007
So it's been 3 years since we've moved to Oakland and still no LETTERPRESS! Jordan Rae and I are getting antsy and we want to get our hands dirty with some dusty lead and ink. We originally planned on getting a press setup months ago and finally we got our eyes on a beauteous monster of a machine called the Vandercook 25/24. Originally we were looking at a 219 or a Universal 1 but they are so hard to come by and ridiculously expensive when you can find one. Anyway, we've got our fingers crossed that this one will work out--that we can find some way to afford it (10 years ago you couldn't give away one of these presses and now they cost as much as a used car. Damn all of you botiquee, novelty/wedding card mofos.) The 25/24 is an exciting find that neither of us were familiar with, it's got a 25" wide bed! ...and if all goes well we'll just have to worry about finding a place to print at and a way to move it there. If anyone wants to see more Buenaventura Press art prints, artist's books, and other printmaking goodness, go to the website and buy stuff or just send us money.
Below: Vandercook 219 (the machine I worked with for a good 10 years when in San Diego with Brighton Press and the machine that started BP, well not this exact one, but this is one we were looking at originally...)
...and the 24/25! (wish I would've taken a picture, will post when we do.)
Posted by Alvin Buenaventura at 6:31 PM