Friday, April 14, 2006

Friday Morning Dustups and Dustdowns

I'll be tearing back into the Existo/V for Vendetta multi-part essay next week; this week has been far, far too busy for me to see it through as I'd like. In fact, I've got a ton of catching up to do here:

* The Marvelman/Miracleman controversy is getting a fresh volley of talk over at Al Nickerson's newly launched Creator's Bill of Rights-spawned site and discussion boards. Lots of great reading there, but the MM thread awaits you at
  • What is 'The Truth' about MM?
  • While you're there, poke around a bit and post, if you're so disposed. Al has set up a unique venue here, and if we all snooze, we lose.

    * The Center for Cartoon Studies guest lineup this week was amazing, and I'm told the students are "giddy" with all that's gone down. I was only able to savor my usual Tuesday at CCS, but seeing the rapport between Chris Ware, Seth and Ivan Brunetti was a revelation, and the exchanges with the students (and a number of guests, including cartoonist extraordinaire Alison Bechdel, joining the students, directors and staff to hear Ivan's talk) evidenced an acceptional commitment, mutual respect, and high regard from the 'Holy Trinity' to this group of young artists. This was intoxicating in and of itself, and characteristic of what I've seen first-hand thus far at the CCS: the commitment to the students and their chosen path that comes from the veteran cartoonists and various professionals from a variety of fields who've come to speak and work with the students has been exceptional.

    Tuesday afternoon, Seth (the best-dressed cartoonist in North America) gave an intimate watercolor demonstration, coloring a finished illustration he'd already prepped and stapled down to his board and chatting up the process and many other aspects of cartooning, illustration and art as he did so. It was an amazing session, followed immediately by Ivan Brunetti's illustrated talk on cartooning, opening with images from the recent Chicago exhibition Ivan curated and easing into an excellent analysis of comics-like art, single-panel comics (Thurber, Addams, etc.), and wrapping up with a brief overview of narrative works by Seth, Chris and Ivan. This was a followup to presentations and talks Chris, Seth and Ivan had already given on Monday, leaving more than just myself aching for a way to time-travel back to Monday and get our own asses into the room.

    After Ivan's chat, fearless CCS founder and maestro James Sturm hosted a conversational panel with Ivan, Seth and Chris, which led to a lively Q&A with the audience. Again, the already-established rapport with the students was wonderful -- and that, I'm told, spilled over into the wee hours of the evening, as the students and the trio of guests extended their conversations over pizza, drinks and good company at a nearby hospitable location.

    A couple of things I can't resist noting: Seth opened his watercolor demonstrating by noting an artist should "dress for work," donning a worn but still snappy smock over his suit-and-tie. As an old denim-and-flannel man myself, I thought, "hey, I reckon I do dress for work" -- but not the way Seth does!

    Later, as Ivan gave his talk in the main CCS classroom in the venerable Colodny Building, a White River Junction landmark that was long a department store, Seth sat overlooking the scene up in a sort of balcony-like elevated area, which I've been told is where the Colodny proprietors sat when the store was an open business. From their lofty perch, the Colodny family kept a hawklike eye on customers and employees alike, and this still marks the space in a rather uncanny manner, as if the ghosts of proprietors past still watch us all below. Seth, dressed in his distinctive suit and hat, sat up in that area, and I couldn't help but savor the spectacle: Seth embodying the Colodnys of yore, and possibly wearing the same sort of suit ol' man Colodny once wore.

    Kudos to Chris, Ivan and Seth for giving so much to the CCS and the students. It was an amazing week, and my already very high regard for all three cartoonists is now stratospheric -- a great, great week for everyone at CCS, and a life-enhancing couple of days for the students. I still think back to Will Eisner's visit to the Kubert School during my freshman year there, and can't help but consider this past week's gracious visitors and giving attention an equivalent 'blessing' on this group of students.

    More later today...


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