Wednesday, March 15, 2006

All Hail CCS!

Yesterday's session at CCS was one of those flying leaps a teacher sometimes takes -- and it worked out fine. It was, in fact, pretty fucking cool and great fun.

A planned and eagerly-awaited guest speaker had to cancel due to an unfortunate injury to his back -- so I dumped the planned day's events and immediately constructed a "Plan B" that involved the use of a live model (we've been drawing for 90 minutes to two hours from a live model for about five weeks now as a core part of the current phase of drawing studies) in a unique way.

Fortunately, James Sturm -- our beloved Grand Omnipotent CCS Stomper & Lord of All That Flings Ink -- also called in the AM to alert me to the likely arrival of none other than Brian Walker this week, asking if I'd like to have Brian come by during class. Brian is a vet comic strip cartoonist/writer, currently best-known for his ongoing tenure on Hi & Lois, and celebrated by this particular cartoonist/instructor for his extraordinary two-volume The Comics: Before 1945/After 1945. He was utterly candid, relaxed, and comfortable with the class, answering questions posed by James and I before fielding the student's questions, packing 45 minutes with as much deceptively casual insight, information and "insider" scuttlebutt as any speaker we've enjoyed thus far (and we've had some great ones, with more to come!). Thanks, Brian!

We were joined for the first half hour by a friend's teenage son, Jamie, who was interested in scoping out the CCS and audit a bit of the class. I am always open to this, and Jamie got the ten-cent tour of the CCS facility, met most of the students, and CCS Anchor & Cartoonist Extraordinaire Robyn Chapman took the time amid a busy day to chat with Jamie and provide him with some of the school's info and literature. Here's hoping we see Jamie again -- perhaps, down the road, as a student.

Before Brian arrived, I outlined the plan for the day's sweatshop session: circulating copies of this week's World Weekly News, two volumes of the Best of the Sun (the infamous UK tabloid), and two histories of the most lurid US tabloids, we were going to recreate the sort of 'brainstorming' sessions Silver Age DC (then National Periodical) editors used to depend upon for their covers (the fertile soil from which the famed best-selling 'gorilla' covers emerged).

Breaking the class into four groups, each group was responsible for cooking up the most outrageous proposed headlines they could come up with in short order. They then had to choose their 'top' lead, the intent being to crack up the rest of their classmates (thus, a "best seller"); once our adventurous model Penelope arrived, they were then given timed sessions to pose the model as needed for their cover layout art. As each group completed their model session, they were then free to move to another part of the CCS facility and pull together their cover layouts -- all I was asking for were tight thumbnails/roughs from each group, clear enough to share with the class by the class's final half-hour. I also timed this so every group could, if they wished, have one followup modeling session with Penny to either recompose or tighten up their final roughs -- only one of the four groups needed to work with the model a second time.

For one of the covers, James Sturm joined Penny in a needed pose (in which Penny was a beaming mother, proud of her adult offspring); the cover concept hinged completely on whether or not James could or would pose, so I broke the ice and dared to ask our CCS honcho the unaskable -- and he gamefully stood tall and very, very still for a full ten minutes. Whew!

Thus, by 4:25 PM, we had four never-before-seen or imagined tabloid covers or cover leads with the needed image. They were corkers, one and all... and no, sorry, I'll leave it to the CCS students to post their respective cover copy here as comments, if they so choose. It's their property, not mine, to share!

We managed all this -- plus the scheduled student presentation (one of the requirements of my class is that every student do a ten-minute illustrated class presentation on an artist, cartoonist, or art movement) and three one-on-one student/teacher assessments (this was our first session, being at last at mid-term) -- and all on my birthday.

As I prepared to head home, I called my wife Marj and we arranged to meet at one of my fave restaurants in Brattleboro, the Thai Garden. We met right on time, shared a marvelous meal topped by a gratis dessert and round of sung "Happy Birthday" from the restaurant staff, and then headed home.

All in all, a fine day.

51 is sweet.


Anonymous Perry said...

Happy belated. 51 ... can you believe it. I should'a recalled it's march. I'll send you a box of oranges or something.

Blogger SRBissette said...

No oranges! Please! Send trashy Florida movies! Nobody makes bad movies the way they did in Florida! That legacy must continue in the digital era.

I mean -- ZAAT is glorious, the world's only catfish-man epic. BLOOD FEAST. 2000 MANIACS. STING OF DEATH. SATAN'S CHILDREN. Jeb Bush.

I am in awe each and every day.

What a state.

Anonymous Colleen said...

"Ghost Pirates Live In My Gas Tank!"

Blogger Chuck Forsman said...

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