Main

Life & Art Archives

February 13, 2006

As I Was Saying Before We Were Interrupted...

Wait a minute! We can’t have been interrupted! I’ve never done this bloggy thing before, have I?

As a friend recently pointed out, though, the “news section” of my web site (My Doings For Them What's Interested) has been sorta kinda like a blog, in that for some time it’s not only been the most frequently updated part of my site, it’s been practically the only part of my site to ever get updated!

I didn't lose interest in keeping my overall site continually hopping with exciting new features. I've just been partially sidelined by the slack market among today’s crop of hip art directors for my old-fashioned style of goofball cartooning. The fools, the mad, mad fools!

Hustling for a paycheck has had to take priority over having unpaid web fun, in other words. So Howard Cruse: The Web Site as a whole has been fairly quiescent of late. But one thing I have done is use the My Doings page to keep loyal readers of my work aware of what’s going on from month to month in my professional life (and to remind them of the cool merchandise they can purchase at Cruse Goodies, my online mugs & mouse pads shop).

Both of which will now begin happening here at Loose Cruse: The Blog, which aspires have all of the bubbly je ne sais quoi familiar to My Doings visitors—but with the added advantage of greater frequency and an RSS feed, the latter meaning that my adventures will be easier for you to keep up with regularly.

I also hope to salt this blog with postings and pictures that range far afield of the career news around which my My Doings bulletins revolved. You’ll learn what I mean by that over time if you choose to return.

Quick Note: "My Hypnotist," my first new gay comic book story in years, debuts this week at Popimage.com. More on this soon.

February 19, 2006

Talk & Taxes

Shall I talk about Eddie's and my tax preparations? It is what he and I have been working on today. No, maybe not first. First I'll alert you to yet another online interview with me, me, me!

This time the questions are coming from Ed Mathews, who was invited to talk to me while hanging out at Comicon.com's throbbing Pulse news division. (Normally Popimage, where "My Hypnotist" has been unfolding all week, is Ed's turf, but Jennifer Contino offered him some of her Pulse space so he could spead the word about my comic strip to the Pulse constituency. Thanks, Jenn. You're da bomb!

While I'm citing comics journalists who've given me Internet "air time" lately, let me also remind you about Katherine Keller's interview that was posted back in December at Sequential Tart. I don't get this much press attention often, folks (must be that subliminal post-hypnotic suggestion I enbedded in all of my advance plugs for "Hypnotist"), so lap it up while it's available!

Meanwhile, back in the land of the mundane, Eddie and I spent hours this weekend trying to get a head start on tax preparation. We'll be getting professional help this year because of the state we live in (speaking both geographically and matrimonially).

It's like this: Eddie and I have to check the "single" box on our federal forms even as we check the "married" box on our Massachusetts forms. Such is the sad, conflicted state of America's current marriage laws.

Eddie and I had contemplated using TurboTax to do our taxes as I've sometimes done individually in the past. But the software designers at Intuit, TurboTax's parent company, seem not to have figured out that there's a whole set of couples who will never again fit Uncle Sam's template unless times change radically.

The reality is simple: in Massachusetts Eddie and I are neither domestic partners nor civilly united nor the recipient of blessings under some unofficial "ceremony of commitment." We are legally married. Period. We'd be as married as George and Laura Bush if George and the Federal Government (and lovable Laura, for all the help she's offering) weren't quivering in fear behind the built-in bigotry of 1996's so-called Defense of Marriage Act, hoping desperately thatall of the gay marriages will just go away before their precious institution is ruined—but not before they can be exploited to win a few more elections for Republicans.

But that's for them to sort out. Here in Tax Season 2006, Eddie and I find ourselves both legally married and involuntarily unmarried at the same time.

Before spending money on TurboTax I called Intuit's techie-help line to ask whether they've programmed their software to deal with couples like us. Those of you who have used TurboTax know that if the data you enter in your federal form doesn't match the data you enter in your state form, the software will insist on flinging alert messages at you until you agree to pick one version of reality or the other.

When I explained my concern, the phone techie on the other end of the line (who happened to be a lesbian herself) exclaimed. "Yeah, come to think of it, that sucks!" (Or words to that effect; maybe she wasn't quite that blunt while on the job.)

I suggested that she relay word through her supervisor to Intuit's programmers that they should get on the stick about this problem if they don't want TurboTax to keep losing customers year after year. There are a lot of us married gay folks here in Massachusetts, after all, and this problem is going to keep coming up again and again.

March 4, 2006

Art, Flesh & Eros

For those of you wondering how things went at the Gallery 51 opening of the "North Adams Illustrators" show on Thursday, Susan Bush gave us a nice online write-up at iBerkshires.com yesterday.

As inevitably happens when I get interviewed, of course, I threw out at least one undercooked remark that calls for subsequent modification. When Susan asked me how the "North Adams Experience" compares to the "New York Experience," I joked and am correctly quoted as having joked, "The New York experience is one of not getting stuff into a gallery, for one thing!"

Now it's a fact that no gallery in New York ever gave my work the kind of generous wall space I'm enjoying in Gallery 51's current show. But my jest in Susan's interview leaves the impression that I spent 25 years being totally locked out of New York's gallery scene, and that's not a fair statement, since a few of my comic strips were welcomed into occasional group shows of underground, gay, or political comics during those years. For example, I was especially pleased to be a small part of a large exhibit at Soho's Exit Art several years ago.
Lust! Passion! Turgid protrusions! Where's a gay cartoon supposed to go to get its rocks off? (The Leslie-Lohman Gallery, of course!)
But the warmest welcome I received during those years came from the Leslie-Lohman Gallery at 127-B Prince Street, when their curators invited me to fill a large case with my comics and drawings for a group show they mounted back in the spring of 2003. They couldn't have been more gracious and I would be remiss if I didn't publicly thank them for giving me that much attention.
Leslie-Lohman's mission is rather specialized, of course. To quote from the gallery's web site, "The Leslie-Lohman Gay Art Foundation ... was established in 1990 to provide an outlet for art work that is unambiguously gay ... by gay and lesbian artists with an emphasis on subject matter that speaks directly to gay and lesbian sensibilities, including, erotic, political, romantic, and social imagery." The show I was part of zeroed in on the aforementioned erotic category and was called Deliciously Depraved. My drawings ranged from sweet sexplay between Wendel and Ollie to kinky fantasies to sexual politics to gay porn.

It was all work I am proud to have done and proud to share with others because of my core belief that nothing good comes from puritan efforts to separate out the erotic parts of our lives and imaginations from the rest of our human comedy and declare those parts unfit to be portrayed in art. It's also a branch of my work that goes unrepresented in my current show on North Adams's Main Street, there being nothing to suggest that the average citizen of North Adams is of the same mind as me about sexual explicitness in cartoons.

I can identify. I felt the same way before my mind was expanded by underground comic books.

Leslie-Lohman, on the other hand, is not interested in displaying my cartoon depictions of anthropomorphized vegetables or silly comic strips about ghosts or my recent experiments with cartoon surrealism. I'm proud of those drawings, too, but they're not what Leslie-Lohman's gallery exists for.

So I'm still waiting for the social walls to erode that separate my erotic imagination from my non-erotic imagination. That will only happen when America loses its irrational terror of sex — sex as it's experienced by everyday people, straight and gay: funny, clumsy, undignified sex between people grappling awkwardly for honest human contact and sensuality. Not the phony, sleazy, heavy-breathing sideshow-mirror distortions of sex that pass for erotic sophistication in today's mass media.

Someday maybe we'll allow all of human experience to be rolled together into one big ball of good-humored affirmation. Until then, be grateful that galleries like Leslie-Lohman exist to nurture explorations of humanity's forbidden naughty bits. "Depravity" is often in the eye of the beholder.

March 10, 2006

The Case of the Vanishing Hardware

Ah, show business! That incomparable reservoir of surprises! The fickle Lady Thespis seems to have thrown me a curve, ladies and gents!

As you already know if you read my March 7 blog entry, I was just beginning to roll out my mammoth promotional campaign for my illustrated reading of The Swimmer With a Rope In His Teeth, heretofore earmarked for a debut on March 18 at the Topia Arts Center in Adams.

It's not going to happen for a while, however, due to the mysterious disappearance of the cafe's projection equipment, which came to light within the last 24 hours.

Now "heist" may be an overly dramatic term to apply. Caryn and Nana have done a lot of packing and unpacking in the course of relocating from New York setting up and renovating their Park Street performing center in Adams these last two years. If that process was anything like Eddie's and my far less demanding three-block move from Union Street into our present home, I can sympathize with the difficulty of keeping track of everything. In other words, the projector may simply be lurking in an unpacked crate or corner somewhere.

Or it may have been "pinched." I like the frisson of declaring this to be a good, healthy, non-violent heist, whether it really is or not. I'm allowed to relish the film noirishness of the disappearance, it not being my projector that's being a no-show. I don't get to be a part of that many crime dramas and they are all the rage on TV. (I almost picked up the phone to summon Jessica Fletcher, but then I remembered that Angela Lansbury only does murders. The show ain't named Burglary, She Wrote!)

And murder, this isn't. No lives have been lost at the Topia Cafe, only a preliminary timetable for the unveiling of my Swimmer slideshow.

My show will keep. It's been in the works for a while and this was an under-the-radar tryout rather than a Broadway premier. I'll let you know when this project resurfaces.

March 14, 2006

Our Purimspiel!: Broadway-Bound, Perhaps?

Eddie and I cemented our growing reputations as the local drag queens to watch with our performances in the musical Purimspiel! that unfolded last night to the rapt astonishment of attendees at Congregation Beth Israel here in North Adams.
Not a few heads ignited with shock and awe in response to my highly original interpretation of King Ahashverosh's tragically discarded queen Vashti, but it was Eddie's moving portrayal of noble Queen Esther that had audience members wondering Why is this guy building newsletters and web sites at the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition when he could be reducing theatre-lovers to tears on any of a dozen stages in Manhattan?

Shown at left: Yours truly as Vashti (left) and Ed Sedarbaum as Esther (right).

The script for this Purim masterwork was concocted by Rachel Barenblat and Rabbi Jeff Goldwasser. Humor writer Seth Brown contributed to the shows lyrics, thereby enlivening tunes stolen from a number of distinguished sources.

Below left: The full ensemble assembles. Below right: There not being a lot for Vashti to do once she is beheaded, I busied myself by helping with audience cue cards.

April 25, 2006

Ruthie Meets Photo Booth

It's hard to wrap your mind around blogging when there's a Ruthie in the house.
The guy holding her is our longtime friend Rodrick, who was Eddie's campaign manager when he ran for the New York State Senate back in 1998. Rodrick and his partner Adam are among those gay dads you've heard about who are busily undermining the American family. (That's Eddie in the background observing Ruthie's encounter with my iMac.)

April 27, 2006

In Ruthie's Wake

Ruthie's gone now (sigh), but like Cinderella, she forgot her shoes. (They're in the mail to you as I write this, Rodrick & Adam.)

So with life at the Cruse-Sedarbaum household returning to normal now, what's on my plate today?

Well, as is all too typical in the freelancer's life, I've got an overflowing platter at the moment after months of slim pickings.

(1) In an hour or so I'll be on the phone with an editor in my hometown of Birmingham about a one-shot educational comic strip I'll be doing for a public health magazine down there. I'll share details once the project congeals.

(2) Tomorrow afternoon I'll be meeting with marketing folks from a prominent corporation for whom it looks like I'll be doing a series of webcomics showcasing the excellent attributes of the company's products. Strictly commercial, this endeavor, but it could be fun and it should pay better than my usual fare. Once again, it's too early in the process to talk specifics, but my fingers are crossed that this will permit Eddie and me to finally get the crumbling cement steps in front of our house repaired.

(3) Then there's the two-page comic strip I'm working on for the first issue of the North County Perp. It will not be pleasing to George W. Bush (as if he cares what some two-bit fringe cartoonist in the Berkshire hills thinks about his presidency).

And of course, the lawn needs mowing again.

May 1, 2006

Don't Take Offense If I Stare At You Blankly

I will be writing today. Not drawing, writing. It's my least favorite part of being a professional creative type, especially at the beginning of the process when I am first trying to pry words painfully out of my mental void that will meet the expectations of someone who has agreed to pay me money for them.
It's an agonizing dance with my subconscious, which on any given day may or may not choose to be cooperative and give me a break.

The little guy you see above (if you don't see him, read my postscript below), clicking away at his old-fashioned typewriter, represents the life of a professional writer as I once imagined it would unfold. There would be an early period of appreticeship, of course, during which I would learn the "tricks of the trade." This would take some time, but if I applied myself, I thought, I could get a lot of the necessary learning under my belt before graduating from college, so that fairly soon after copping a diploma I would find myself tapping happily away at my Smith Corona keyboard as one idea after another tumbled out of my head onto the paper in front of me, each one an income-generator.

I didn't imagine that a day short of my 62nd birthday I would still find a blank piece of paper (or a blank computer screen) to be such a formidable challenger to my self-confidence. At this point in the process, it's not about tap-tap-tapping on a keyboard. It's about doing the dishes, getting the day's mail, mowing the lawn, and mainly pacing around my house and/or neighborhood — all in a state of such severe distraction that if I found a gold doubloon in my coffee cup I might not realize that it wasn't just another spoonful of Splenda.

Eddie has learned not to try and converse with me when I'm in this state, because even if I look in his eyes and smile and nod I will not be absorbing a single word that he says. I will be somewhere far away inside of my head, trying to coax a muse who has in the course of decades been sometimes a flirt and sometimes a torturer into being merciful today.

P.S. Do you see a drawing at the beginning of this blog post? Is it moving? Or do you just see one of those little icons that mean that some file that's supposed to be present on a web page isn't downloading the way it's supposed to?

These days the majority of computers in the world arrive already equipped with Flash Player, a tool that lets them view animation created with a program called Flash. If yours isn't one of them, you can easily get it as a free download from Macromedia (which now lives at the home of its new corporate owner Adobe).

May 6, 2006

Progress Report

So far, so good on the writing job I mentioned in last Monday's post. After much pacing and scribbling and crossing out what I had just scribbled I succeeded at pinning down a preliminary concept for the AIDS-related comic strip I've been asked to do for UAB Public Health. The magazine's editor seems happy with my proposed approach as conveyed to her in broad outlines over the phone. Next comes a rough sketch of the drawing complete with my first draft of the dialog.

On other fronts: the "commercial" job I alluded to is still too germinal to talk about. My North County Perp two-pager has, unfortunately, been relegated to the back burner for a while, the inevitable fate of non-remunerative endeavors elbowed aside by income-producing projects. (The bills must be paid, y'know.) As you may have noticed, my mid-week blog posts were also a casualty of the week's professional demands. I did, however, get the lawn mowed.

The animated typist I used to decorate Monday's post, meanwhile, led my sharp-eyed pal Bruce Garrett to comment by email: "You did the typewriter's carriage movement backwards deliberately didn't you?"

Gulp.

Incorrect typing
Correct typing (sort of)
"You give me too much credit, Bruce," I was forced to ruefully reply, since in fact the error was totally unintentional. Our exchange brought home to me how very long it's been since I have even laid eyes on a typewriter, much less typed on one. How strange that seems, considering how ever-present those old contraptions were from my childhood onward.

Ther clunky black Underwood that occupied a place of honor in my childhood home in Alabama remains an important memory from those days. Both of my parents were part-time writers, you see, so the clatter of metal keys springing rhythmically into action was soothing background noise to me. It meant that my parents were absobed in the same kinds of happy creative reveries that I had begun to discover. Like the noise of freight trains passing fifty yards outside my bedroom window several times a night, the family Underwood's clatter lost any harshness it might have otherwise have had because of its comforting regularity in my daily life. By the time I was seven I had begun typing out scripts for imaginary radio plays on the same machine I watched mom and dad using.

Of course, if you had looked over my shoulder in those days you might have noticed that my manipulation of the carriage was a little weird, just as my ways of grasping pens and eating utensils have always been. We left-handers constantly devise unconscious work-arounds that allow us to use devices that were created for use by the right-handed majority. Typewritter carriage levers were obviously positioned with the needs of right-handers in mind, as are the shapes of the loops at the ends of most scissor handles. Minor hurdles to utilitarian gracefulness, these are — but we lefties forge onward.

So if the cartoon fellow in my Monday animation moves oddly when viewed from behind, so probably did I before computer keyboards kicked typewriter keyboards overboard. My memories of all that have clearly faded, acclimated as I have become to a world where digital text "wraps" automatically on LCD displays that, unlike typewriter carriages, don't move back and forth in front of you while you compose masterpieces for the ages.

May 21, 2006

Their Quest for Fried Clam Strips

Minneapolis-based podcasters Cayenne Chris Conroy (Teknikal Diffikulties) and Sue Grandys (Uncomfortable Questions) have been roaming the East Coast looking to enjoy things things they find hard to come by in the midwest — like, say, true New York bagels.

Eastern Massachusetts accommodated them by demonstrating how we do torrential rains and dangerous flooding on this end of the continent.

After boating by automobile through Rhode Island, Maine, New Hampshire, and other points northeast, they paddled toward Eddie's and my neck of the mountains.

So, being old friends of mine, they chose the Boston Seafood Restaurant here in North Adams as their source for the fried clam strips their taste buds had been yearning for. (Eddie took the snapshot above, as you may have suspected.)

A good time was had by all. And that's todays news from Lake Northadamsbegone. Now back to the freelance job that's bedeviling my Sunday morning.

June 7, 2006

Art Out The Door

My original artwork for page 129 of Stuck Rubber Baby is on its way to Canada this morning, thanks to a collector in Montreal who has just purchased it through Steve Krupp's Curio Shoppe, Denis Kitchen's online comic art marketplace.

So with the gods of original-art commerce smiling today, maybe it's a good time to mention to longtime Wendel-lovers out there that my cover painting for Wendel On The Rebound, the long-out-of-print collection published back in 1989 by St. Martin's Press, would dearly love to have a nice wall to hang on.

It's on my mind because, unlike most of the original art I sell to collectors, I can send this one out already matted. Y'see, the local framer who prepared my art for the recent exhibition at Gallery 51 got an especially good deal on some matteboard he bought in bulk and passed on his savings to me. (Thanks, Brad. Now put up a web site for Framing by Design and I'll give you a proper link.)

This is a favorite painting of mine and I'll probably frame it for one of my own walls here at home. But since making new money from old art is my main hope for economic survival, I thought I would mention it here before I do.

If you check my web site's Art For Sale page you'll see that the normal price for this piece is $750. But to reward the loyal fans who take time to look in on this blog, I'll lower the price to $700 and throw in the matte for free if you'll step up to the plate before I come to my senses.

First come, first served. Mention this blog entry or I won't know to give you the special deal.

June 21, 2006

What's a Squidoo?

Damned if I know — but I've got one. Or rather, I've got a Squidoo "lens." Yeah, it sounds goofy to me, too, but what do I know? I thought "Google" was a pretty odd name for a search engine the first time I heard of it, and we all know the punchline of that anecdote!

Last October Kevin Newcomb of ClickZ News described Squidoo.com, the brainchild of "author and online marketing guru" Seth Godin, as a cross between "About.com, Wikipedia, blogs and social networks."

Join thousands of people making their own "lenses" on their favorite stuff and ideas, sez the site's home page. It's fast, fun and free. (And you could even get paid).

Well, I'm still waiting for the part where I get paid; I think it has something to do with somebody's expected advertising revenue but I'll leave the marketing fun to Guru Scott. It's not all about money, though. Squidoo's ambitions are loftier than that: we Squidoo lensmasters are invited to donate part or all of our earnings to our favorite charities with management's assistance. Me, I think I'll wait until the bucks start rolling in before launching my philanthropy career, but that hasn't stopped me from making my presence felt in Squidoo Country.

And I seem to be doing pretty well so far: I see that four people have already accessed my lens and they've collectively given it a five-star rating. That's one-and-a-quarter stars per person! I feel positively jet-propelled!

Actually, the stated purpose of Squidoo is to foster knowledge by allowing participants to share whatever they know about the assorted topics that engage their intellects or push their fannish buttons. That's the Wikipedia part.

But I've got this blog to wax wise in, so I've devoted my own Squidoo space to sheer mercantilism. Go there for one-stop shopping at the Howard Cruse store, folks: I've listed every branch of my life that's potentially income-producing along with links to the three branches of my main site and a couple of interviews with me that are still lingering online.

I first learned about Squidoo because I maintain Cruse Goodies, a CafePress online shop from which I peddle cool merchandise decorated with my cool cartoon drawings. CafePress seems to have formed a marketing alliance with Godin's brainchild and is encouraging us shopkeepers to use Squidoo to promote our wares.

Now, I often ask myself why I bother giving a damn whether anybody buys my print-on-demand mugs, mousepads, clocks or t-shirts. There's probably no other branch of my professional life where I make less profit when somebody coughs up bucks for my art.

I can't defend my shopkeeping inpulses rationally. I just enjoy the thought of people contemplating my drawings while sipping java in the morning or while feeding baby food to a beloved drooling tot who's wearing a Howard Cruse bib. Eddie's sister has a clock on her wall in Florida that sports my "Manic Howie" drawing on its face. Seeing that silly clock brightened my day while we were visiting Eddie's folks last weekend.

It's fun to spread my pictures around. That's what it boils down to. And if I make an occasional penny in the process, it's frosting on the cake.

June 22, 2006

The Face That Munched a Thousand Milkbones

What's
not to
love about
a dog this soulful?

Eddie Sedarbaum gets credit for the portraiture at right, folks

Since our Sony digital camera went belly-up a few months ago, the only way that Eddie or I could get fresh snapshots of Lulu was to wrestle the squirming 67-pound dalmation into position in front of my iMac's built-in Photo Booth camera (see the above left example of such exhausting dogplay in action)

Engineered as it is to accommodate consensual iChat conversers and occasional curious infants, Photo Booth cannot cope well with a recalcitrant canine who has no intention of relaxing for a portrait session while being hauled into view against her will.

But as of this week Eddie and I have at last secured an appropriate replacement camera (a Canon PowerShot A540, for the buffs among you) with which to document Lulu's soulfulness at will.

Whew.

July 5, 2006

Important Rule Of Thumb

An important rule of thumb when mowing grass while five dogs are in the yard:
If it has four legs and a tail
and isn't green, don't mow it!

This blog has suffered a dry spell due to my unusually unrelenting work load the last couple of weeks There has been no corresponding dry spell outdoors, however.

Which means that our ever-lusher grass cover has shown me no mercy, no matter how convincingly I have tried to explain my need to juggle pressing deadlines indoors instead of spending time guiding a machine across uneven terrain while revealing to random onlookers how far I have fallen since the days many decades ago when I was a moderately trim young hottie on the make in gay bars.

Anyway, I hope to resume posting updates here with more regularity soon. In the meantime, meet our tenant Elizabeth (above, seen not mowing) who with her husband Jake has generously contributed four dogs to our backyard canine collection. Pearl is the white beauty beside Elizabeth in the snapshot. The smaller, blacker dog at center stage is Dukie, followed by Harpua and our own semi-dalmatian Lulu. And I can't swear to it, but I believe that's fifth dog Leroy's tail peeking out from behind my work gloves.

There are also two cats in Elizabeth and Jake's apartment upstairs (Fee and Harry), but they remain discretely indoors out of deference to Lulu's hunting heritage, which is expressed in the form of horrifying fates visited upon the possums and woodchucks who have unwisely ventured into her backyard territory.

(Incidentally, if you look beyond the green wire fencing in the background you will see what our yard would look like if left unmowed for, say, three weeks during the Massachusetts rainy season.)

August 10, 2006

Picturing Myself

I spent a little time at the MCLA campus earlier this week, taking a look at the classroom where I'll be teaching my cartooning course beginning September 6.

It's always useful to me, when I take on a teaching gig, to scope out in advance the environment where I'll be doing the teaching. It mades the coming challenge feel more real if I can picture myself in the actual space, standing before imagined versions of the students who will soon be occupying the room's chairs, expecting me to impart something reasonably interesting that they can wrap their inquiring minds around.

As you can see from the snapshot above, I'm pretty darned good at imagining myself when I set my mind to it. In fact, I can sometimes lose track of which is the me who is doing the imagining and which is the one being imagined.

One of us came home afterwards and resumed everyday life, but I'm not 100% sure that it was the right one.

August 18, 2006

Up From The Fog (If Only Briefly)

Yes, faithful readers I'm in another of those periods when my mind is consumed by the challenge of coaxing words from the ether that will eventually tumble effortlessly from the mouth of Mark the Art Guy.
This process is inevitably characterized by a foggy state of mind that saturates my working day, causing me to stare glassy-eyed and uncomprehending at Eddie when he is trying to tell me something that he really needs me to know.

Eddie is used to dealing with me when I'm in this state. Indeed, he had to deal with it for five uninterrupted months back in 1991 when I was obsessed with wrestling a working draft of Stuck Rubber Baby to the mat so I could begin to draw the damned thing. By now my hubby knows that resistance is futile and so deals with my mental absences philosophically. I salute his forebearance. It has made our marriage possible.

Frustratingly, the state of mind I've described doesn't lend itself to communicating entertainingly with my blog readers — particularly when other tasks insist on piling into the mix. Last night, for example, I was suddenly asked to email print-quality versions of thirty images from my web site to Spain, where my web feature "The Long and Winding Stuck Rubber Road" is being translated for a comics magazine as promotion for the newly-published Spanish translation of SRB. I was happy to comply, since helping to promote my books is a necessary part of my job description, but it didn't help me make progress on the two book-cover drawings I'm supposed to turn in to Beacon Press soon. At night I'm too tired to write, so making progress on those assignments was how I was originally intending to spend yesterday evening. Then Spain called.

And this was the week when I could no longer postpone composing an official syllabus for my MCLA cartooning class, whose first edition will convene only two-and-a-half weeks from now. Think it's easy to compose syllabi for college courses? Try it sometime.

Conveniently, I've been summoned for jury duty the week my class debuts. Will I be able to make it from the Pittsfield courthouse to the MCLA campus in time to greet my new students at 5 PM? What would life be without a little suspense occasionally?

Meanwhile, I've gotta nail down a script for a new Mark episode. (No, the series isn't online yet; I'll let you know when that happens.) Writing the script should be a simple matter because I already know exactly what's going to happen in the comic strip. Yet I've learned from experience that I will nevertheless have to spend valuable time patiently massaging my brain while pacing about the house in a fog in order to bring my character's exact words into focus.

Later, when my focus shifts from writing to drawing, I'll become more human and blog-enabled again.

At least I usually do.

September 14, 2006

Comics in Scary Times

Above: Panels from a 1987 Wendel episode

If you were drawing comic strips about everyday gay life during the 1980s, you could only sidestep the subject of AIDS for so long. Whether you were HIV-positive or HIV-negative, it was just too unavoidably, cruelly in the middle of your consciousness.

Epidemics that are busily killing your readers and your readers' friends by the thousands do not make comfortable subjects for cartoonists — but there the epidemic was, tyrannizing our lives and demanding the best of us while we feared (and often experienced) the worst.

That period of my career, during which my personal demographic — gay males — unwillingly occupied central spots in both the disease's bullseye and the religious right's crosshairs, not to mention the general public's checklist of people who should not be allowed within breathing room of their offspring, is being summoned back to mind by my inclusion in an upcoming panel at MoCCA (the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art) that will be assembled in New York City as part of a multi-faceted fundraising effort by GMHC (Gay Men's Health Crisis).

The panel is tentatively called Out of the Pages: A Look Back at 25 Years of HIV/AIDS in Comics and will blast off at 6:30 PM on October 23. That's over a month from now, but if you're going to be in or near the Big Apple that evening and think you might want to come, GMHC suggests that you call 212-367-1176 soon to make a reservation. Seating space at MoCCA, apparently, will be limited.

Not surprisingly (given how tight a community us LGBT cartoonists can be), the panel is shaping up to be a reunion of old friends. Other cartoonists currently scheduled to participate are Allan Neuwirth (Chelsea Boys); Abby Denson (Tough Love); and Chris Companik (HIV + Me). Ken Gale, on whose WBAI longrunning radio show 'Nuff Said I've spouted off in years past, will moderate the panel.

I hope some of you readers of this blog will be able to be there. And if you live too far from Gotham to come, please mention what's brewing to your NYC-area friends.

October 2, 2006

Fuchsia Redux

For some reason the ink drawing of a belligerent paint tube that I showed you three blog entries ago took hold of me and wouldn't let go until I added color and turned it into a t-shirt design for my CafePress "Cruse Goodies" shop.
CafePress has been on my mind since I decided to include a generous sampling of my mugs, mosepads, and coasters along with the original artwork displayed on my table at the North Adams Autumn Art Festival last Saturday (see my spread of items below). I thought that wearing an anthropomorphic tube of petulant oil paint on my chest as I sat on Main Street pedding my wares would set a perfect tone for the occasion.

That idea didn't fly because it came to me too late in the game and there wasn't time enough for CafePress to process my order. But that's OK; my "That's Right, Fuchsia!" t-shirt should arrive at my door today or tomorrow and will be fresh and crisp for its debut at the Open Studios event coming up two weekends from now.

These gala art festivals come atcha thick and fast when Autumn hits the Berkshires.

October 11, 2006

While We Were Away...

...the Berkshire mountain leaves began to turn.
Eddie and I have been visiting Eddie's parents in Florida.

Which gives me a slightly more interesting excuse than usual for having let my blog lie quiet for so long. But bunches of things have been happening, and I'll try and fill you in on them soon.

Like f'rinstance...

Mark the Art Guy will be launched any day now on the Adobe Systems website.

I'll be spending all day Saturday at 107 Main Street in North Adams, sitting next to my art and my merchandise as a participant in this weekend's Open Studios event.

That "That's Right, Fuchsia!" t-shirt I told you about arrived from CafePress and will be adorning my luscious bod as I shmooze and hawk my wares. Yay!

Details on each of these will follow quickly in this blog when I catch my breath from traveling.

Below: Us and our Florida kin at a West Palm Beach eatery as photographed by a helpful waitress. Seated are honored parents Harold and Evelyn Sedarbaum. Behind them: Eddie, me, Eddie's Aunt Sony and his sister Susan.

October 16, 2006

Up To Our Ears In Art

As anticipated in my last blog post, North Adams was awash in artists this weekend — and I was right there in the thick of it.
The city's first Open Studios marathon turned out to be a lot of fun for me and seemingly for others, too. I bonded with a bunch of fellow artists that I had never met before as we hung our stuff and then settled in to chat with the waves of folks who hopped off the trolley the city was providing for the occasion. The talent coming at me from all directions at 107 Main Street was invigorating. And from what I hear, much fun was had at all the other venues where artists were similarly displaying their wares and meeting their publics.

The cartoon originals on the wall behind me enjoyed a gratifying amount of scrutiny on both Saturday and Sunday, and I even sold a few small items. I also met some aspiring high-school cartoonists who thought my cartooning course might be a good reason for them to make MCLA their choice of colleges next year. That felt good.

Last night we began "striking the set," to use theatre terminology, after which I set about reintegrating myself into my normal activities: writing "Mark the Art Guy" episodes and gearing up for this Wednesday's edition of my weekly exercise in collegiate professoriality.

I have one more hectic weekend to look forward to: Eddie and I will be heading down to Manhattan for the "Out Of The Pages" AIDS-and-comics panel at MoCCA I'm set to be part of next Monday. After that I should be able to at last retrieve the smoother rhythm of work I'm most comfortable with.

Not that visiting Eddie's folks in Florida, being part of Open Studios, and seeing old friends in New York aren't all breaks in the routine with much to offer respectively. But having them clustered together three weekends in a row reminds me that letting one's routine go for a reasonable stretch without getting broken has more than a little appeal for a homebody like me.

November 2, 2006

Ooo! We Were Scary, Boys & Girls!

Above: See me in all my cadavrous monstrosity being brought involuntarily back to life by mad scientist Ed Sedarbaum as onlookers quake in horror.

What do North Adamsers do for ghoulish entertainment on the Saturday night before Halloween?

What Eddie and I did was travel to Sheep Hill in Williamstown, where we transformed ourselves, in the company of a raft of similarly demented townsfolk, into horrific beings designed to strike fear into the hearts of the innocents of all ages who showed up for the annual "Haunted Sheep Hill" Halloween festivities.

Yes, there were screams of terror, and many a heart was clutched in fright. And that's as it should be, right? What's the point of having thirty-one days in October if you don't make the most of the month's creepy denoument?

Were these children too young to witness evil unleashed?

Photos ©2006 by Arthur Evans. All rights reserved.

November 18, 2006

Coming Up For Air

Some of you may suspect that I've lost interest in maintaining this blog, considering that two full weeks of silence have passed since my last post.

Some of you may even feel that diminished interest in bloggery would be a welcome sign of sanity retrieved.

The reality is that I have been forced to make uneasy peace — kicking and screaming in protest every step of the way — with a sad fact of the blogging life, namely: the more my life fills up with anecdotes that are interesting enough to compose blog entries about, the less spare time I have to actually write about them.

Things will calm down eventually and I'll begin catching you up on the various things, big and small, that have turned my life into a perpetually harried race during the last couple of months. For now, though, I'll grab a few moments of this brisk Saturday morning to share snapshots taken of me and my fellow panelists at that October 23rd AIDS & Comics panel in New York City that I wrote about four blog entries ago.

Serving as the panel's moderator was New York radio's favorite interviewer of comics creators, Ken ('Nuff Said!) Gale (on the far left in the photo above). To Ken's left in the photo above are Ivan Velez Jr. (Tales of the Closet); Chris Companik (HIV+Me); Jennifer Camper (Rude Girls and Dangerous Women); Robert Walker (Delete); me, Allan Neuwirth (Chelsea Boys, with co-creator Glen Hanson); and Abby Denson (Tough Love).
At left is a better view of the DVD Ken is clutching in the uppermost snapshot. It's a brief but entertaining time capsule preserving conversations between Ken and an assortment of comics professionals during a recent comics convention. For those of you non-comics-freaks who have heard about these mass exercises in excess but never set foot in one, this DVD will provide a taste of the overall ambience so you can decide whether to seek out such events in the future or flee at the very mention of one.
Many of my longtime New York friends were in the MoCCA panel's audience that night, but, typically for me, I lacked the presence of mind to click snapshots of them before they vanished into the night. Fortunately, Jen Camper sent me the shot at right of me and my cartoonist/animator pal Nina Paley, about whom I've written before in this blog and of whose skills I will forever live in awe.

November 22, 2006

The Lady from Paradise Island

I don't get that many chances to draw iconic mainstream comic book characters without having to worry that some humorless industry lawyer may be lurking nearby looking to make a pinch for copyright infringement.
So when author and comics writer Andy Mangels asked me to contribute a drawing of durable superheroine Wonder Woman to the October charity auction Andy was then organizing in Portland (two local shelters for battered women and children — Raphael House of Portland and Bradley-Angle House — were the beneficiaries), I could hardly pass up the opportunity.

The event was a big success (like, $15,405.33 got raised!!) and lotsa artists drew Wonder Woman in lotsa different ways. I myself drew inspiration for my drawing from the Charles Moulton version of the character who zipped about in glass airplanes during my childhood. I'm out of touch, I confess, with more recent incarnations. Indeed, I jumped off the Wonder Woman train way back in the late-'60s, when someone at DC Comics decided to dress the crimefighter from Paradise Island in a power pantsuit. I never looked back.

Not that there's anything wrong with being butch in a pantsuit. But that wasn't the Wonder Woman with whom I bonded at a formative age. I wasn't ready to go along with any slick fashion upgrades just because some editor at DC Comics had grown weary with pre-feminist retro. By that point I was preoccupied with underground comix anyway. Superheroics were no longer on my radar.

I was moved just now to check Wonder Woman's present-day web site, by the way. (The comic; not the tv show.) I see that the pantsuit look is long gone and that WW's patriotic stars and spangles have been restored. A positive nod to tradition, for sure, although the busty babe now carrying the banner, although stunningly drawn, doesn't quite capture the old ambience for me. The Wonder Woman I grew up with would never have bothered to maximize her cleavage while striking fear in the hearts of evildoers.

Maybe if I hadn't been a gay kid the presence or absence of cleavage would have carried more weight for me. But my head was in a different place. It was Batman who strummed my strings. Ah, to live the life Robin led and reside in a stately manor with a rich, buff, and handsome mentor like Bruce Wayne! Ah, to wear a yellow cape and textured green panties on the streets of Gotham City and not be embarrassed!

Still, Wonder Woman enjoyed a real if muted place in my gayboy heart. She wasn't a scarily alluring sexpot who made me feel inadequate like the girls then reaching puberty among my junior high classmates. And I appreciated the slight stiffness of the ink lines with which her comics were drawn in those early days. They reminded me of the inelegant but earnest strokes I had begun learning to render with the Rapidograph technical pen my father purchased for me once he saw that I was getting serious about my cartooning.

I can't claim that the rendition of Wonder Woman I contributed to Andy's auction is free of sexpot iconography, of course. That's my parodist side being compulsively impudent. But satire wasn't on my mind when I read Wonder Woman comics in my youth. I was a willing receptacle for their fantasy; it was as simple and as indelible as that.

Postcript: I was happy to learn this week that the high bidder for my Wonder Woman drawing in the Portland fundraiser was my cartooning colleague David Kelly. David, besides being a great cartoonist and a friend of mine, is the longtime co-editor with Robert Kirby of the Boy Trouble comics 'zine series. (Selections from that series have recently been collected in book form by Green Candy Press, I should mention in passing.)

David emailed me himself to tell me he had bought my drawing (as well as a second WW as imagined by Paige Braddock of Jane's World fame) and to show me the photo he took of himself holding his two purchases.
I was momentarily disoriented when I looked closely. Why is Wonder Woman holding her rope in a different hand in David's snapshot than in my artwork? Then it occurred to me that when you take a picture of yourself in a mirror, you tend to get a mirror-image. Duh.

December 18, 2006

Learning and Teaching

For once I had the presence of mind to come away from one of my forays into academia with an informal class shapshot. Seen above from left to right: there's Toby; Aaron; Kim; Amber; Zac (standing behind Amber); Tabatha; Alyssa (standing behind Tabatha); me; the two Joshes (one seated, the other standing next to me); Justin; and Andy.

Last Wednesday I bade a holiday farewell to the creative MCLA students who have gamely endured my cartooning tutelage for the last three months. They've been a good-humored, hard-working bunch and I will miss their weekly company.

Time will tell whether they'll look back on my Art 207 class as having been a worthwhile expenditure of their tuition money. I hope so. The fact that MCLA's Fine and Performing Arts Department invited me to teach the course at all is in stark contrast to the situation I confronted when I began my college years.

By now I've gotten used to the enlightened attitudes about cartooning fostered by specialized schools like Vermont's Center for Cartoon Studies, not to mention the School of Visual Arts in New York where I first taught at the college level, or the Ringling School of Art and Design in Florida, where I spent several days as a guest artist a couple of years ago. If dedicated art schools aren't hip to changing times, who will be? But a cartooning course at a small state college in rural Massachusetts? It's downright refreshing!

And to be fair, in all likelihood the art department of today's Birmingham-Southern College, my own alma mater, has moved beyond rigidity by now. But the suspicion with which cartooning as an academic discipline was viewed back in 1962 was daunting. In fact, a claim that cartooning could be viewed as any kind of "discipline" at all would only draw hoots of derision.

I felt the sting of this prejudice myself while briefly an art major at Birmingham-Southern in the 1960s. A couple of my art teachers were open-minded about my enthusiasm of drawing funny pictures that talked in word balloons, but my relationship with the Art Department Chair was a tense one. The guy was a true believer in the supremacy of abstract expressionism. He had little use for young artists like me who turned to the funny pages for creative inspiration.

Representationalism was dead, he preached. Paint should be seen as mere paint, not a means for communicating pictures. True art was about shapes. Areas of color. Flat patterns. Textures. Cartoons were trivial decorations best suited for disposable cocktail napkins.

I became a Drama/Speech Major.

Fortunately, any desire BSC's head art honcho may have had to show me the error of my ways was a lost cause from the word go. He arrived in my own universe far too late, since I had become irretrievably infected by the cartooning bug long before entering college.

For the most part during my childhood I was forced to learn by trial and error, on my own. I pored over the newspaper comics pages and copied what I saw. I read comic books constantly and absorbed their lessons about story structure intuitively. Actual instruction by an expert was nowhere available.

True, I found helpful advice of a very basic kind in the few Walter T. Foster booklets that addressed the topic of cartooning, but the scope of these amateur-oriented manuals left me hungry for insights with a more professional perspective. My dad had spilled the beans about drawing pictures being a way that some grown-ups earned their livings. Seized instantly by a determination to join their ranks, I was a very impatient little nine-year-old!

Then, by accident, I learned of the existence of the Famous Artists Cartoon Course.

I recounted the circumstances surrounding that discovery in the inaugural installment of a column I wrote regularly for Comics Scene magazine a quarter-century ago. What follow is a portion of that column that describes how the FA Course found its way first into my consciousness and then into my life. (If you'd like to read the entire column — including its description of my visit to Milton Caniff's studio when I was 16 — you can find it elsewhere on this web site.)

...One summer afternoon during those Springville days, Dad said on impulse, "Let's visit Tom Sims!"

Sims was writer of some of the post-Segar Popeye strips. He lived in Ohatchee, another small Alabama town from which he produced a homespun syndicated column called Ohatchee U.SA. He was the closest thing to a comic strip pro within driving distance.

So we drove to Ohatchee. My older brother wasn't along; it was just Dad and me. Just us two cartoonists. We didn't telephone first; we asked directions from the local townsfolk and pulled into Sims' driveway unannounced.

Sims was generous with his time and with compliments for my drawing samples. But something lay on the worktable of his assistant that I remember more vividly than the day's conversation. It was the set of textbooks for the Famous Artists Cartooning Course.

This course was prepared with the assistance of a stellar array of cartoonists from the fifties, most of whom are still active and remain stars today. Milton Caniff, Rube Goldberg, AI Capp, Willard Mullin and Virgil Partch were among the luminaries.

The three large volumes comprising the 24 lessons were wondrous treasuries of instruction and lore. I lusted after them instantly.

Dad saw that I would not be satisfied until I had taken the course myself. But the price was out of his reach.

Time passed. At 13 I began to move out of Springville' s orbit. By virtue of a scholarship, I was able to enroll at a private high school near Birmingham named Indian Springs.

At Indian Springs, great emphasis was placed on the development of a student's individual potentials. Note was taken of my cartooning bent, and soon I was decorating the pages of the school newspaper, designing posters for everybody-and-his-rival in the campus political campaigns, and rendering comic strips in French for my French class bulletin board.

One day Dr. Armstrong, the school's director, asked me what I would most wish for, given access to a magic genie or some such agent.

"I'd like to take the Famous Artists Cartooning Course,” I replied.

Nothing more was said then, but a few months later he called me to his office to tell me that a friend of the school, under guarantee of anonymity, had chosen to donate the money for me to take the course.

I still don't know the identity of my benefactor.

[NOTE: That is to say: I didn’t when I wrote these words back in 1981. I know more now. The giver was Dr. Armstrong himself.]

Many superficial aspects of the FA course are dated by today's standards, but the basics were solidly there. During the three years that I spent working through the course's 24 lessons, I had to root out lazy habits accumulated from years of copying the surfaces of other artists' drawings. I didn't complete the course a polished cartoonist, but the groundwork for a more professional approach and self-teaching techniques had been provided.

* * *

I still have my dog-eared copies of the three Famous Artists Course textbooks. I turned back to them for inspiration as I embarked on my recent teaching adventure at MCLA.

I can only hope that what I have offered in the classroom these last three months was a tenth as valuable to at least a few of my students as that correspondence course was to me 45 years ago.

After tackling its 24 lessons on top of my regular studies throughout my sophomore, junior, and senior years of high school, I was more than prepared to brush aside any snobbish challenges to my art form's validity by the time I entered college in 1962.

I still had plenty to learn about cartooning, but I knew without question that the cartoons I was making were art.

December 26, 2006

Toland Goes To College

From time to time I receive email from college teachers who are using my graphic novel Stuck Rubber Baby as a classroom text. Sometimes their students write me, too.

This sort of attention is hugely gratifying, naturally, as it would be for any author who hasn't become jaded by levels of acclaim that for sure have yet to flow my way. I was once even asked to interact live with a roomful of students in Iowa by way of a group Internet linkup, which was great fun. And periodically some school or other will pay for me to travel to their campus so I can chat with their students face-to-face about my work. I get a kick out of such jaunts and my bank account is always pleased to be plied with campus speaking fees.

Mostly, though, I don't get to tag along when my graphic novel travels to college campuses and my secret desire to listen in on classroom discussions go unfulfilled. So the detailed online account of how SRB fared recently in an academic setting that was pointed out to me last month by the pedagogical perpetrator himself (that would be Stephen Frug, a graduate student at Cornell University who writes science fiction in his down time) was fascinating to read. It's not quite like being a fly on the wall, but it beats being on the wrong side of window glass wishing fruitlessly that you could hear what's happening inside.

If you've read Stuck Rubber Baby or think you might do so sometime, you may enjoy experiencing Stephen's individual take on the novel and his account of how his students reacted to it.

Stephen's heads-up about his blog entry arrived in my inbox a month ago and I immediately asked if I might invite readers of my own blog (that would be you) to look in on it as well. Stephen said yes, for which I thank him.

It's taken me four weeks to follow through because my mid-December crush of deadlines temporarily knocked my blogging habit out of the saddle and into the ditch by the horse trail. But as you may have noticed, with Christmas merriment now completed and holiday relief from my college teaching underway, I've begun climbing back from my blogside paralysis and, in the course of remounting this tortured equine metaphor that I find myself tentatively astride (at least until I'm finished with this ill-advised-but-too-weird-a-train-wreck-to-delete paragraph), I have begun catching up on old business.

Which includes pointing you toward Stephen's very interesting essay.

When you're a comic book creator who is lost over a span of years in the solitary processes of crosshatching, refining dialogue, and fretting about narrative transitions and character nuances, there is always the fantasy that at some vague point in the future someone will be moved to give your brainchild an attentive enough reading to discern and (hopefully) admire the thousands of tiny artistic decisions you are making in isolation along the way.

In your heart you know, of course, that not every reaction will be flattering. You can't even count on thumbs-up from an impressive minority. As frustrated artist Headrack observes resignedly in an old Barefootz comic strip, "A cult following is better than no following at all!"

I mean, you've gotta at least aim for your own cult!

Sure, some readers will invariably look askance at the flaws you never manage to eradicate. Heedless of your noble intentions, they will snicker impertinently at the instances where your skills are inadequate for the challenge you've set yourself. They will ridicule you in conversation with their friends. You may even end up being pummeled publicly by sarcastic reviewers. That's never fun, but the prospect of such town-square floggings rarely outweigh the hope that your work will inspire close readings by a few perceptive strangers. If you're going to soldier through the bouts of uncertainty that benight marathon projects, it pays to stay in denial about the possibility of hostile reactions once you're finished. Otherwise you'll be paralyzed.

In your heart, you have to believe that readers exist out there who will get what you're trying to do, who will find it rewarding to hover over your work's tiniest details and applaud your minute decisions for their intelligence, if not always for their success.

Thank god for academia, collective mother ship for all the world's obsessives. There the impulse to consider things in detail is rewarded rather than viewed as a sign that psychotherapy is urgently indicated.

January 8, 2007

Two Portraits

Once in a blue moon an opportunity arises for me to do a portrait. (I mean, one that other people besides Eddie see.) A couple of those blue-moon occasions have arisen since we relocated to New England.
The subject of the drawing above (shown next to the snapshot it's based on) is my longtime friend Nicky Heron. It's included in a group exhibit called "Here's Looking At You" that features portraits of Berkshire personalities by Berkshire artists and is currently on display at Gallery 51 in North Adams. I call the drawing "Nicky In The Kitchen."

Nicky and I first crossed paths as fellow participants (albeit from slightly different collegiate generations) in the Birmingham-Southern College Theatre. After years thereafter spent geographically separated and only barely in touch, we've recently found ourselves neighbors again here in the Berkshires. She and her husband Jason Brown are both blessed with too many talents to enumerate, but prominent among their present family enterprises is BMA Studios, under whose auspices audio books like their most recent offering, Henry James's The Aspern Papers, are lovingly produced out of their impressive basement sound studio in Monterey.

When I first met Nicky she was playing a winsome prostitute named Karen in a one-act play called "The Old Man Dies" that I had written while still an undergraduate. Brief aside: My most influential mentor, BSC's one-time Drama Department chairman Arnold Powell, once remarked in response to a couple of my scripts that student playwrights who have never come close to knowing an actual flesh-and-blood prostitute seem irresistibly driven to populate their plays with them. Point taken.

Anyway, my college days were behind me when Cheryl Thacker (another longtime friend from college, Cheryl has since distinguished herself as a professional lighting designer) chose to direct "The Old Man Dies" as her Director's Lab student project. Naturally, I returned from New York to see it the result.

My eyes mist up when I recall what a cluster of old friends joined forces to mount that little workshop production in 1969. Of course, since they were my friends and not yours, I won't demand that your eyes get similarly misty. But take my word for it, if you had known this crowd you'd be misting up right along with me.

Drawing Nicky's portrait was a perfect way to celebrate her re-emergence as part of my present life. And there's been an interesting sidebar to our catch-up conversations: I had somehow missed learning previously that Nicky's grandfather, the formidably named Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson, was a founder of DC Comics, under whose Paradox Press imprint my graphic novel Stuck Rubber Baby was published. The family lore about Nicky's granddad reveals a larger-than-life historical personage whose exploits ranged well beyond the comics realm. A fascinating biography of this guy is obviously waiting to be written.

*****

I started this blog entry by referencing two portraits I've done lately, so I'll quickly share the second one with you before I go (see below). Its subject, Will Eisner, will be familiar to any of you who have arrived at this blog because of an interest in comics. Much written about and widely admired, Eisner was a giant of the sequential art medium who was still producing new and exciting works when death finally wrestled him away from his drawing board at the age of 87.

Will was a professional colleague with whom I chatted, talked shop, and occasionally argued (always amicably) at the comics cons and conferences where our paths crossed. When he passed away last year, I contributed the drawing below to an issue of Comic Book Artist magazine that was devoted to Eisner tributes.

January 10, 2007

Party Time in Birmingham

It's always fun to put together self-promotional montages like the one above, in which assorted characters from odd corners of my professional life come creeping out of the woodwork to party.

In times past a lot of rubber cement and X-Acto knifeplay would have been required to create a graphic like this one, and even so the slightly frayed edges of the hand-trimmed images would remain apparent to anyone chosing to peer closely at the finished assemblage. But everything has been made easier and cleaner with the advent of magic software like Photoshop.

(And I would say that even if Adobe Systems, the makers of Photoshop, hadn't been dominant among my freelance clients for the last half-year.)

If all goes well and enough page space is available, this graphic will accompany an interview with me that's set to run in an upcoming issue of Birmingham Weekly, for whom I did that weird Santa Claus cover art I told you about a few blog entries ago.

What occasions that print interview (as well as a radio interview that will be taped on January 18 on WBMG's arts program Tapestry) is the trip to Birmingham I'll be making next week. By virtue of having drawn cover art this fall for UAB Public Health magazine, I'm being given the royal treatment at a reception being thrown by the University of Alabama School of Public Health on the 18th.

UAB has even made posters out of my cover art. Signed copies of these will be available for sale at the reception to raise money for the Bill and Judy Bridgers Scholarship Fund.

About Life & Art

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Loose Cruse: The Weblog in the Life & Art category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Imponderables Pondered is the previous category.

Me, Me, Me! is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Powered by
Movable Type 3.33