Friday, July 30, 2004

No report yet. 

Not from us, at least, but Paul Guinan has some great photos on his site.

Here's something cool Matthew Clark and Drew Johnson will be exhibiting their original art at Portland's Pause Gallery. Their show is called "Creamy Cheesecake." I'm not sure what that indicates, but I've got a few suspicions. The opening reception will be part of First Thursday, August 5th, from 6:00-9:30 pm. Pause Gallery is at 625 NW Everett.

And now, comics fans, LET'S GET READY TO RUMMMMBLE! It's time for Portland's finest artists to pull on their tights and have themselves a COMIC BATTLE! Who will fight?

T E A M A L T E R N A T I V E :
Bwana Spoons (Pencil Fight)
Nathan Beaty (Brainfag)
Nicole Georges (Invincible Summer)
and Ezra Claytan Daniels (The Changers)

T E A M M A I N S T R E A M :
David Hahn (Bite Club)
Drew Johnson (Wonder Woman)
Steve Lieber (On the Road To Perdition)

The event will take place on Saturday, August 14th, from 3-6pm at Nocturnal (in the old Future Dreams spot on 18th & E. Burnside.)

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Pedantic? Me? 

There's a discussion going on over at the Bendis Board about draftsmanship. taking a break from the Con Report, I added my two cents. I thought people here might like to read what I had to say.
This isn't really a discussion you can have until you lay down some definitions. Good draftsmanship is all about the ability to communicate the maximum amount of useful information through minimal means. A good draftsman is able to tell you everything you need to know about a subject, (something that may or may not include his or her opinions about the subject,) and do so in a way that satisfies one's taste for both tension and harmony.

Let's say it's a drawing of a person. A drawing can convey information about the person's height, weight, build, age, health, how the person is standing or moving, what sort of clothing the person is wearing: how appropriate is it for them, how worn or well-cared for the fabric is, what the person is feeling at that moment, what is the person trying to communicate to others, what the atmospheric conditions are, what sort of surface is the person standing on and on and on. The draftsman may want to provoke a certain reaction: He thought this was funny, you might, too. He saw a person suffering and wants you to feel what he felt.

As for the means, a draftsman has a few tools to work with. Lines are the primary tool in comics. Curved, straight, bold, tentative, changing in weight, rigid and precise - lines can vary tremendously. There are also shapes, and flat and graded tones, and patterns, and textures. These can be used to define three-dimensional form or just for their own beauty or impact. There's some disagreement over whether color can be an aspect of draftsmanship.

So a drawing can tell you quite a lot, and by a variety of techniques. It's the job of a draftsman to whittle down the content and the means to what is worth knowing. Impact in drawing can be sort of like telling a joke. If you start off with "two guys go into a ballpark," you aren't going to make the joke any funnier by going through the lineup, naming every player's batting average. Likewise a drawing of an impatient kid waiting for his mom won't be any sharper if it also draws attention the fine textural differences between the fabric of his cotton jeans and his polyester jacket. Or it can be like acting, knowing when to underplay a moment and when to shout at the top of your lungs.

The pictures and the pages also need to be designed well. Design is enormously subjective, and hard to talk about without waving your arms like a mime. It's about how you arrange your marks on the paper and where you place the forms they represent.

Once you've evaluated all of this, you need to look at what is most important in comics: storytelling. A comics page doesn't just exhist for it's own beauty. It's there to communicate a story, and that means eliminating excess information and arranging what's left so it's clear and interesting. The reader may only look at your panel for a second or two before moving on, and it's your job to make sure that he gets what he needs in those two seconds.

So in deciding who are the best draftsmen in comics, you have to look at what they needed to communicate in their stories and how simply and effectively they did it. Charles Schulz never needed to show human musculature at work, but he found a great set of tools to explore the internal worlds of nervousness and fantasy and sel-doubt we all live in, and he was able to make it funny, too. Joe Kubert's stuff is rarely funny, but he isn't trying to make you laugh. His job is to take readers to a world where weather-beaten heroes engage in brutal physical struggle against tough opposition. Jaime Hernandez's stories tend to eye traditional heroism warily. In his world, powerful guys who look for conflict are people to avoid, and storybook heroism is viewed with ironic detachment. He's far more interested in close observation of his characters behavior and how they react to the changing circumstances of their lives, His draftmanship has to be judged on how well and how appealingly it evokes that world and how believable its characters and settings are to us as readers.

There's a start. When you talk about someone's draftsmanship in comics, make sure to talk about their goals as a storyteller first. Sorry for going on so long.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Before San Diego 

Pete and Rebecca Woods have gone live with Velvet Tikki. It's the sort of website that sets the pulse to racing. Your eyes narrow, ready for anything. Little beads of sweat gather on your upper lip. You click, and things are never, ever the same.

I'm going to be in San Diego, as will every single other Mercury member except for Drew Johnson, who claims he has to be "best man" at his brother's "wedding." Sure, Drew. Sure.

I'll be sharing table space with Parker in the Mercury section of artists alley: EE03 or thereabouts, towards the left, three-quarters of a mile northeast of the entrance, in an unfinished part of the convention center without plumbing, electricity or reliable flooring. If you see coyotes, keep going. You're almost there. Look for something like this:

That's me, reaping the bounty of one great career choice after another.

Finally, thanks to Leland Purvis and his shaolin copier wisdom, I will have some copies of Family Reunion with me. The critical response, I'm glad to say, has been favorable: Steven Grant | Laura Gjovaag | Sean Collins | Marc Lombardi | Mike Sterling | Steve Pheley | Bill Sherman | Dedpool | Mediasharx | Comics Waiting Room.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Links a-plenty 

Looks like the reviews for Ottaviani and Purvis' Suspended in Language are starting to trickle in. Here's the first.

Another first review: Steven Grant gives a thumbs up to Family Reunion. And Millarworld is liking it, too. If you want a copy, visit my table at a con or paypal me a dollar. Or for two dollars, you can get Family Reunion and Me and Edith Head.

I hadn't seen this before:the transcript of a talk between Ira Glass and Chris Ware. It's in .pdf format.

Paul Guinan has created a wild photo montage/mixed media painting of Tom Strong villainesses Ingrid Weiss and the Swastika Girls. That's Mercury's own Rebecca Woods portraying Ingrid.

Weird: The IMDB message board for the Whiteout movie. It's horribly tempting to go and post a link to a download or afree preview of the entire first issue, but I'd feel like a dork. And no, I don't have any news about the movie.

The Complete Idiot's Guide seems to have made a nice debut at Amazon, hovering around 5,000 in ranking. Unfortunately, there's no way on earth to tell how many copies that actually is.

Jeff Parker's The Interman is offered again in the current Previews. Jeff has news of a great give away for retailers up at his blog. Encourage your retailer to take advantage of it.

Finally, everyone is encouraged to click to see Mercury eat and Karl Kesel cook.

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Thursday, July 01, 2004

"...he never rested in his self-appointed task of making the world a better, safer, and more understandable place" 

I missed this, too. Looks like I need to get out less often. Anyhow, here's Jim Ottaviani at The Pulse talking about Suspended in Language, which just arrived in stores.

I still have some free copies of Family Reunion for the bloggy people. Just write and tell me where to mail them.

Bad comic book covers. 

Get 'em Here.
Via Jesse Walker.

Get yours. 

Since the give-aways on Comicon and Millarworld, a lot of people have been asking about getting a copy of Family Reunion. Those of you who blog about the comics should email me at slieber234(at)yahoo(dot)com. Don't be shy.

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