February 11, 2013
…”Punk is relevant 35 years later because it hasn’t been replaced by a better creative philosophy”
How much is creativity governed by philosophy?
February 7, 2013
“The cicadas throbbed. The trees seemed to move without moving, as if the intense Maryland heat were so powerful as to force them to oscillate, minutely, between parallel dimensions.”
January 24, 2013
Drawing boxers in order to help my Clarissa Shields comic.
January 24, 2013
One day I’ll actually start scanning thingz
January 14, 2013
blue and black
November 30, 2012
November 16, 2012
I’m going to make a comic about this cham. I haven’t worked it all out but I know he has a dead eye. I need a name for him, and yea a story.
He’s on a list of comics I want to make, sadly. I’ve been making a lot of excuses about time lately. Hopefully I’ll snap out of it!
December 22, 2011
Years ago I had a dream about a pattern of holes that were drilled into my skull. In the dream I reached to scratch my head and as my fingers sifted through my hair they slipped into delicately shaped, diamond space. I touched my brain, it was slimy.
This caused me to develop an aversion to organic patterns, especially on macro levels. Not long after I started openly expressing this eccentricity did my good friend Deidre tell me that the patterns I described actually have a name, Fractals. These are patterns that reflect self-similarity, meaning that on the tiniest level, when pieced apart, the object is actually made up of smaller versions of itself. The pattern repeats and it terms of mathematics, it repeats infinitely.
What intrigues me most about this phenomenon is the occurrence in nature. It’s as if perfection can be grown or formed just like any other organic structure. Maybe this is why repetition among inorganic mediums proves powerful. To some I imagine it’s calming and familiar, to others annoying and almost piercing.
One of my favorite fractal examples is the Menger Sponge:
An example of an organic fractal, or an edible fractal is Romanesco Broccoli:
Key to beauty: repetition and patterns.
AMAZING TED talk on fractals: http://www.ted.com/talks/ron_eglash_on_african_fractals.html
December 9, 2011
Sean Jackson of Comics Factory in Pasadena offers some basic but interesting information concerning the modern, small comic book shop. This interview is two years old but I really like what he has to say concerning manga and the various audiences that comics reach.
“At least 70% of all the manga is actually geared towards a female audience” -Sean Jackson
Also, Pete Rock over at Meltdown talking about his comic book history:
November 29, 2011
I was going through an old notebook of mine, I don’t think I had written in it since graduating college, and I came across this list I had written about things I really cared about and wanted to explore more.
Here it is:
Comic book making
Spanish (specifically learning to speak it better)
I found it interesting that I kept any sort of list, but I guess I understand considering my brain is pretty scattered. I hope to write about most of these things on this blog, in some form, and I hope that they’re interesting to more people than me.
November 21, 2011
I made a horrible mistake the other day. I walked into one of my favorite book stores in Los Angeles, ran into one of my favorite comic book freaks (a man named Dan who, if you’ve ever picked up a comic book in the arts annex of Skylight books, you most definitely know) and made a mental list of all the new comics I can’t wait to read/purchase. This is horrible because buying all the new comics in the whole store was guaranteed to sink me into poverty.
By some sort of luck, I managed to only walk out with one..this time around. I mentioned Johnny Ryan to a few staff members and they rebutted with instantaneous groans. Dan reluctantly showed me Prison Pit: Book One, as I nervously tried to defend my love for Johnny Ryan’s fucked up attitude and drawings.
“But it’s so funny!” I squeaked as Dan flipped through Prison Pit.
Ignoring my claims he said,”Oh god I forgot about this part [insert commonly used noise of disgust].”
He handed me the book and walked away. I officially blacklisted myself. Oh well! At least I now own an incredible piece of art that depicts barbed penises and cacti that secrete magical jizz.
Yes that’s jizz. Money well spent.
July 18, 2011
“The world of comics has long been divided between two schools: Fantasy vs. Realism. The superhero is escapist. The DREAM. Clearly a distraction. But the other is its own abstraction – distilling life to its most mundane. Suppressing the dream with CYNICISM.”
-Craig Thompson, author of Blankets. Excerpt taken from the introduction to Daytripper (October, 2010)
And so the second part of this post is intended to reflect those comics that fall into the “Fantasy” spectrum. I suppose the case can be made that Death is a fantasy comic as well, but I prefer to think of that one as more concerned with life and meaningful nonsense like that.
The superhero has long been a representation of purity and simplicity but most of the following works outwardly contest that notion. The brink of insanity, uncontrollable rage spun into revenge, aging heroism and the deepest darkest aspects of reality are common themes in the modern superhero comic. Perhaps that is why this side of comic books has become more accessible to the greater public. There’s more to relate to and more of which to be afraid.
These next ten picks are again the ones that are special to me, and ones I think most people could appreciate. I adore these in particular because they blur the lines between dreaming and thinking, between the invented and the real, and most of all between what we as a society consider to be right and what we consider to be wrong.
10. Preacher (Garth Ennis, Steven Dillon 1995)
First of all, anything drawn by Steven Dillon is at least a good picture show. He’s drawn Hellblazer (another great action series; John Constantine is known to show up in other series as well which is always fun), Nick Fury, Judge Dredd etc etc. Comic books with a lot of action in them can be particularly riveting because here you have this perfectly stuck medium, but with a good artist and writer the pages can fly by and prove incredibly dynamic. This one goes to some sick places of course, as many comics seem to do these days, but not at the expense of interesting relationships. Preacher tells the tale of a possessed preacher from Texas who is in the search of god. Unfortunately for he and his companions this is a task wrought with supernatural obstacles.
- The Killing Joke (Alan Moore, 1988)
The Killing Joke offers the reader a side of the Joker that perhaps has been avoided in most Batman based comics. Here he is a meek man, torn apart by failure and rejection. He seeks the love of his pregnant wife and success in the comedy business. As his career takes a sour turn he finds himself wrapped up in criminal affairs which ultimately lead to his permanent disfigurement. The glory of this particular comic is the the dramatic coloring and the fearlessness behind the writing. Batman and the Joker are connected on a sweeter level here; the author allows the strict exteriors of each character to peel away for just a moment.
8. Fables (Bill Willingham, 2002)
I have to admit that when I first started reading Fables I had some serious doubts about it’s entertainment level. Luckily, the cutesy premise motivates the story lines instead of hindering them. The Fables are just that, characters from those moral ridden tales nearly everyone is exposed. In this long series the Fables are from a different world then ours, one where most of their kind have been enslaved or removed. This war of sorts has lead to the migration of Fables into the real world with Snow White as their faithful leader. Mystery and cleverness ensue with quite the romantic connection between the Big Bad Wolf and Snow White (yes you read that correctly, and no there are no beastiality scenes). The series as a whole is a fun read and I’d recommend it to anyone in search of some good drama.
- Buddha (Osama Tezuka, 1972)
The art in Buddha varies from elegant etching like landscapes to typical Tezuka character drawing. The combination allows for this ancient story (of Siddhartha Guatama of course) to come to life in a comedic and emotive manner. To me, the beauty in this manga comes from Tezuka’s praise of all creatures. He respects every character and gives them great dignity, much like how the Buddha implores his followers in the original tale. This series is truly one of the best ever created and will keep any reader engaged, no matter the age.
- Lone Wolf and Cub (Kazuo Koike, 1970)
I’ve yet to completely finish Lone Wolf and Cub but from what I’ve read I sure as hell intend on doing so. First of all, the compact size of the manga is really awesome. I understand that’s an odd thing to praise but trust me, something like this is meant to be read on the go, through countless travels, on varying paths. Secondly, this piece of manga is especially great for Americans with no real connection to Japanese comics (like myself) because it’s accessible and thought-provoking all at once. Thirdly, it’s about a rogue samurai who’s traveling with a tiny child. Hopefully that’s all the convincing you need: pretty pictures, elaborate storytelling and lots of bloodshed.
- Kingdom Come (Mark Waid, 1996)
I think when a person grows up reading comic books or watching cartoons about superheroes they refuse to imagine what becomes of their heroes later in life. In Kingdom Come the reader must face the older, severely depressed versions of the heroes and heroines they love. The story takes place ten plus years after the original superhero generation and the world is in a state of crisis. Alex Ross’ images evoke a nostalgic realism that adds to the heart-wrenching storyline and the recurrence of some lauded favorites.
- Identity Crisis (Brad Meltzer, 2004)
- The Dark Knight Returns (Frank Miller 1986)
I don’t just love the Dark Knight Returns because Robin is written as a girl, but that sure did seal the deal. This comic is classically drawn (by western standards) and the contrasts are lovely. Batman hasn’t been seen in ten years and Gotham is reacting to cold war era nuclear threats. The Joker and Two-Face appear in this book along with some favorite superheroes, all in response to the re-emergence of an old and weathered Bruce Wayne. Read this one for the perfect storytelling and surprise ending. Read it the way you read your old superhero favorites, or if you’re not an avid reader, read it like it’s an American myth. Frank Miller has a way of encompassing the tragedy and entertainment that so defines superhero lore.
- Watchmen (Alan Moore, 1986-1987)
The cover of Watchmen, to my delight, states “One of Time Magazine’s Best 100 Novels.” Watchmen is most definitely a novel, researched and constructed with the utmost detail. The story line is one my personal favorites (again it touches on the themes of heroes lost) and the supplements which divide each chapter of the novel provide a rich background for these “heroes.” Each panel is calculated and carefully coincides with the beautiful story telling. The superheroes in this book are vigilante crime fighters, but by no means super. In fact they are pretty average people wrought with distress and guilt, paralyzed by their dissatisfaction with life. Of course these outsiders are left with the great responsibility that inevitably comes with putting on the mask. Seeing the flaws of these “heroes,” is the most interesting part of this lauded novel.
1. Sandman (Neil Gaiman 1989-1996)
Trying to sum up the Sandman series is nearing the realm of impossibility. There are ten volumes, none of which remotely resembles another (the artists change with the stories and new adventures pop up in each volume). The bulk of the series concerns the Sandman otherwise known as Dream. He is the one of seven children in the family known as the Endless. Within his family there is Destiny, Death, Destruction, Desire, Despair and Delirium. Dream lives in his own land where the stuff of dreams exist. It is here that he controls that other world we so often visit in sleep. The beginning of the series starts with the captivity of dream and the endless sleep of many people. The series is truly eloquent because of the unending literary references and skillful art. Gaiman is a lyrical writer thus providing a dreamlike read and nightmare-ish scenarios. This series is addictive and long and I loved every minute of it.
If you’re interested in buying these comics, or any for that matter, I want to seriously stress buying LOCAL. Local booksellers have taken a HUGE hit do to the prevalence of e-readers and chain stores like B&N and Borders. Help these independent minded people to keep providing the close-knit book environment that inspires so many writers, artists and readers. You can find a list of local booksellers in the first part of this post, or you can click HERE.
June 15, 2011
Whilst combing the internet for female punk rock enthusiasm I stumbled across an interesting article concerning the disappearance of female punks. The article is two years old and comes from NME’s Freakscene, but it still had some interesting things to say. You can find the full article here, but these are the excerpts I found particularly interesting:
“It was easy to feel pretty invincible in the 1990s. L7were busy throwing tampons at Reading Festival audiences and mooning the entire country on ‘The Word’; PJ Harvey was ‘Mansize’ and, apparently the most un-self-conscious woman alive; Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon was untouchable, teeming with growling derision; Babes In Toyland were shrieking uber-women in babydoll dresses; and, before her husband’s suicide (and plastic surgery) had ravaged her, Courtney Lovewas a bona fide inspiration, outspoken about women’s right to play rock, as well as about her own personal experiences of sexual harassment and assault. The list goes on.
So what the hell happened? We had Brody Dalle of The Distillers for a few years, earlier this decade, but marriage and motherhood seem to have sapped her of rage. The only female currently prominently performing anything even approaching punk is Paramore‘s Hayley Williams. Intelligent? Absolutely. Outspoken? Nope. Controversial? Not unless you count her Christianity.”
I think the saddest part about reading this excerpt is the idea that women in punk rock are possibly non-existent these days. Second to that, the fact that punk rock is defined so narrowly hurts my heart. It may be difficult to find punk rock women in the mainstream, but that is not because they don’t exist. They exist on the periphery. They are subversive and potent. They have voices that sink deeply into the minds of other women, refusing to be dispelled. It’s these women that really have something to say.
And so, inspired by this article and my good friend Joe’s blogpost about grrrls I thought I might include a few tracks by some undeniably punk rock women. Thanks for the holding it down gals.
Vivian Girls: Moped Girls
Wild Flag: Romance (GREAT VIDEO)
Dum Dum Girls: Jail La La
Also not forgotten are the amazing front women that have been making grand appearances for years now. Beth Ditto, Allison Mosshart, Marisa Paternoster, Katy Goodman, Satomi Matsuzaki, Lizzi Bougatsos and Annie Clark. There are great female musicians out there and a lot of them represent the fundamental aspects of punk rock. Some don’t have tattoos and some could give a flying fuck about Doc Marten’s, but all of them are carrying on that little bit of Riot Grrrl.
All I’m sayin’ is, look harder.
So I cannot resist listing a few more punk rock women that are totally taking over right now (at least in my world)
PENS, a great all girl british lo-fi/punk band.
Ali Koehler of Best Coast recommended this rad set of girls (and boy) and I am totally digging it.
Here’s Those Darlins with “Be My Bro”
Also, Erase Errata are a personal favorite:
May 23, 2011
I realize that the death of Poly Styrene of the X-Ray Spex is older news but it is something that has stayed with me and probably will stay with me for a long while. This is a woman that so many girls could relate to and respect. Her influence provided a strength to many alienated and confused girls, myself included, and offered a sense of community to the angry, the sad and the weird. Thank you Poly Styrene, for letting me know that I don’t have to accept things as they are and that I am not alone.
Here is a lovely piece about the death of Poly Styrene written by a lovely feminist: Splatter Zone
Also Kathleen Hanna wrote something about the subject on her blog (which can be found on my blogroll>>>>>)
May 23, 2011
Margarita Armendariz drew this awesome interpretation of a Radioactive Canary. One day, when I’m smarter, I’ll steal it from her and somehow make it this blog’s logo.
You can see more of Margarita’s artwork at her Deviant Art page: http://conartistlove.deviantart.com/
This little troublemaker is a severely talented artist who also has the comic book fever, check it!
May 23, 2011
Elena Castro is a FREAK of nature and a friend of mine. She is a hard hitting, emotional tornado of a drummer and she plays in numerous rockin’ bands straight out of LA.
This is her, Edgar Barrios and Elvis Galvez’ rad grunge band: The Orange Rev
They play all around the city and YOU should go see them. That is, if you like music and having fun.
May 23, 2011
There’s this conversation I’ve had over and over again with various people concerning comic books. Nowadays it seems like the “low art” mediums are becoming increasingly popular and widely respected amongst intellectuals, students, hipsters, culture whores…you know people who like to read things. I started reading comic books when I began college purely out of an interest in superheroes. Basically I watched way too many X-Men cartoons as a kid and I was longing for that unbridled feeling of “playing pretend” that I seemed to be losing in adulthood. After falling in head first I came across more and more comics that held my adult brain’s attention and soon started realizing how fucking cool working with pictures AND words really is. It’s really like putting anything that could possibly come out of your imagination on paper. Some artists/writers take this very seriously and write completely linear, cohesive stories (Daniel Clowes, Alison Bechdel) and some fall completely into expressionism, surrealism and weirdo science fiction (Lynda Barry, Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore). Comic books seem to be one of the most freeing creative outputs and the fact that they’re developing with such versatility is exciting!
I remember starting out with a fatty like Watchmen and then not knowing where to turn next. Superheroes? Alt Comix? Golden Age? Zines? And so I thought I would write a short list for those trying to break into the comic reading world. These are just a couple that I found particularly accessible and enjoyable, some of which lean more into the short fiction realm and others that are through and through a representation of a classic comic book.
These first 10 are alternative comix (I use that term pretty broadly) that I really love and think that most who come across them, can’t help but love as well. Again there are a million more that are just as wonderful, but here are a few that I will never forget. In a second post I’ll put up my favorite superhero/science fiction/manga favorites.
10. American Splendor (Harvey Pekar, Issue #1: 1976, various illustrators)
This serial tells about author Harvey Pekar’s life, and his disappointment with it on the whole. Pekar is a file clerk, record collector and depressive curmudgeon. Not only is American Splendor entertaining and witty, it has a crude sweetness to it. Not to mention a lot of the drawings are done by R.Crumb! The collected series is pretty huge but definitely worth the read. Each page holds a laugh and a truth of sorts.
9. Essex County (Jeff Lemire, Collected issues released in 2009)
Proof that all Canadians really are obsessed with hockey! Also Lemire’s art is some of the most original and poignant I’ve seen in graphic novel illustration. The contrast of black and white is like an additional character in the story. Each third of the collected series is it’s own story and all of them are bittersweet, soft and always echoing some notion of loneliness. The collection as a whole is about a few different Canadians from Essex County, Canada, a place that is reminiscent of mid-western America. The characters have their roots connected but all lead very different lives. One is a professional hockey player, another a young child who has lost a parent, and yet another an older woman with a heart of gold. The variation and underlying connections are seamless.
8. Abandoned Cars (Tim Lane, 2008)
What I love best about Abandoned Cars is that Tim Lane successfully found a way to describe a dated notion of what America was once like and then reveals the atrocities of that notion. Classic cars, dive bars, train hopping–all of those American myths seem so very keen until it becomes apparent that the people living them out are in just as much pain as everyone else. Lane occasional crosses into surreal, dream-like environments and this provides an even more interesting set of short stories.
7. Logicomix (Apostolos Doxiadis, Christos Papadimitriou [authors]; Alecos Papdatos, Anna Di Donna [illustrators] 2008)
I, like most of the people I know and love, have had those moments where all I want is for science to explain EVERYTHING. By it’s nature logic should cure confusion and parse the world into understandable and pure elements…right? Logicomix is a story about math, logic, love and the complex nature of all the shit we’ll never understand. It’s a hopeful tale that explains some complex mathematical problems in terms even I can get.
6. Fun Home (Alison Bechdel, 2005)
I loved and hated reading Fun Home: a Family Tragicomic. Alison Bechdel has a voice that is unique and somewhat sad but she knows just how to tell an interesting tale. The comic really is tragic considering it’s centered around her father’s suicide and hidden homosexuality, yet the literary references and dark humor that supplement the tragedy create an intimate amalgam. The drawings are beautiful (very much like the Dykes to Watch Out For series) and the lack of color highlights the wonderful line work.
5. Death: The High Cost of Living (Neil Gaiman, 1994; Notable artist: Dave Mckean)
I don’t think many people picture Death as an aloof, goth teenager but according to Nail Gaiman’s romantic/vivid/obscure imagination that’s the form SHE takes. The character of Death first showed up in the illustrious Sandman series (see COMIX Part II) but eventually was written into a couple of her own spin off stories. In this story Death has taken on mortality for one year and because of her perspective she reveals the beauty and grace we receive from life. Death helps a young boy re-think his suicide and meanwhile uses her charm to win over just about everyone. Who knew Death was an optimist.
4. Kafka (R.Crumb [wrote and illustrated], David Zane Mairowitz, 2007)
Kafka is creepy in general but pairing him up with the detailed and rigged drawings from R.Crumb makes for one psychologically horrific ordeal. There is no color in this book, but the blood stains and grey streets are completely apparent. Besides the lovely drawings, the way the life of Kafka is told whilst intermingled with his more well known short stories is truly engrossing.
3. Ghost World (Daniel Clowes, 2001)
I imagine Ghost World can come off as pretty strange the first time around. It’s about two friends, recently graduated from high school, who are trying to maintain their “too cool for school,” attitudes while also moving forward in the world. When they find themselves going in different directions there is a breakdown between them, causing each to question the other, and each to question themselves. The most interesting parts of Ghost World are the little touches that Clowes adds. Sometimes those little touches are non-sensical, sometimes they resonate for miles, but they create a complete puzzle that is quite unique.
2. MAUS (Art Spiegelman, 1986)
MAUS is one of those great pieces of work that can never be forgotten. The images and words become permanently imprinted in your brain in the form of a wicked feeling that is constantly created for you in this piece. The art is spectacular, and that, coupled with the wonderfully resonating metaphor (Mice as Jewish people, Cats as Nazis), make for a in-depth personal experience that stems from historical fact. The story is mainly about Art Spiegelman and his relationship with his father. Spiegelman is a Jewish-American living in the modern world and he is constantly faced with his father’s remnants of the holocaust. The horrifying encounters as interpreted through his father’s storytelling are also apparent in the way Spiegelman’s parents live, and how they treat their son. The story ultimately reflects the selfish disappointment all children are forced to happen upon when it comes to their parents. It’s about that terrifying moment when we realize that they(our parents) are as fallible as any other human being and we can understand very little unless we listen to their tales.
1. Love and Rockets (Specifically LOCAS) (Jaime Hernandez, Collection released in 2004)
Why do I love Locas so vehemently? Well because it’s about punx. Specifically two Chicana punx living in a small town full of other punx. Did I mention the queer culture and political undertones of this sucker? Ok, so we all know I love it but I am convinced that everyone who reads these excerpts from Love And Rockets HAS to love it as well. The writing is succinct and paired well with the expertly drawn black and white pictures. Jaime Hernandez manipulates time in such a way that you not only see it pass in the storytelling but it becomes obvious through the characters’ physical changes. This is truly my personal favorite and I swear you’ll laugh and cry and die a little.
Oh, I avoided posting any amazon.com deals and such because I’m hoping that if any of yous want to buy these you’ll but local!
Here are some awesome LA book/comic shops that carry just about all of these:
Skylight Books (Los Feliz)
Meltdown Comics (West Hollywood)
Secret Headquarters (Echo Park)
Golden Apple Comics (Hollywood)
Hi-De-Ho Comics (Santa Monica)
Not to mention the Los Angeles Public Library, they have an insane graphic novel/comix selection.
ALSO: If you’re so inclined, send me recommendations! Or your own list of favorites!
May 3, 2011
Not a lot of folks can combine the eerie vibes emitted by the deserts of southern california, prison art, death, life, love, and narcotraficantes. These guys do all that and more. I caught their opening at the Ace Gallery back in December and it totally knocked me off guard. I’m not always too keen on gallery openings (they can be a bit stuffy) but this one came with tequila, pacifico, DJs spinning old school hip hop and a shanty style room made especially to show this stop motion flick:
(Thanks to Kim Anh Hoang for introducing me to these artists in the first place)