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...
    More Friday updates:

    * I'm offering a drawing workshop for Marlboro students on May 20th as a fundraiser for the Marlboro Elementary School 7th and 8th grade class trip fund. For this first time out, we're offering the workshop to local students only, but if all goes well, we'll be doing more public workshops that will be wide open for those who wish to pay and participate. More info as this develops!

    * In the meantime, the Center for Cartoon Studies summer workshops are on the calender, and those are wide open for any and all who care to participate, however close or far you may live. If you're up for a pilgrimage to White River Junction, VT this summer, here's the current schedule:

    Create Comics Workshop (ages 16 and over)
    June 26-June 30
    Tuition: $695

    Last summer's students created three self-published comics in a week under the guidance of four professional cartoonists! This summer will be even better! Faculty: Steve Bissette, Robyn Chapman, James Kochalka, and James Sturm.

    History of Comics Intensive (ages 16 and over)
    July 17-19 (Monday-Wednesday)
    Tuition: $540

    In three breathtaking days you'll cover the history of comics as taught by cartoonist and historian Steve Bissette. Faculty: Steve Bissette, James Sturm

    Educators Workshop
    July 20-22 (Thursday-Saturday)
    Tuition: $540

    Whether you teach science or art, learn to incorporate cartooning in your classroom. This workshop is co-sponsored by The National Association of Comics Arts Educators (NACAE). Faculty: Steve Bissette, James Sturm

    Gag Cartooning (ages 18 and over)
    August 3-5 (Thursday-Saturday)
    Tuition: $540

    You'll laugh! You'll cry! You'll learn a lot from Harry Bliss and other New Yorker cartoonists! Faculty: Harry Bliss

    For more info and registration, click over to
  • CCS Summer Workshops
  • See some of you there, I hope!

    More to come --
    "Put the Mask on NOW!," What's the Real Scoop, Scooter? And So On...

    More odds and ends to catch up after a couple of days away:

    * One of the iconic movies of my youth was the oddball Canadian gem The Mask, which I shared with my kids via the Rhino Video vhs release. We savored it's 3D sequences and put on our stereoscopic glasses at every prompting: whenever the Aztec-mask possessed protagonist enters the semi-Lovecraftian realm that pushes him further and further into homicidal madness, an omniscient third-person narrator ominously exclaims, "Put the Mask on now!" Thanks to mine paleo amigo Micheal Ryan, here's a new link to a commemorative writeup on this gem, which proposes The Mask (aka Eyes of Hell) earn a brick in an
  • Alternative Canadian Walk of Fame
  • Writer Katrina Onstad nominates The Mask for being her "nation’s first-ever 3-D homegrown horror movie; for introducing plastic glasses, rubber snakes and secret psychedelics to Canadian cinema," all of which is true enough. Along with William Castle's amazing The Tingler (1959), The Mask also counts as being (as Onstad succinctly puts it) "about that moment when society moved from a 1950s fear of drug use to a 1960s celebration of the unleashed unconscious. No, seriously! It is!" It was arguably the first Canadian feature to enjoy distribution from a major studio (Warner Bros. released it back in '62-'63) -- though I'm hankering to check on that assertion -- and Onstad adds, "Plus, it was banned in Finland, and if that’s not cool enough to get you a star on the Alternative Canadian Walk of Fame, then what is?"


    Updates on the I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby situation:

    As my amigo Mark Martin wrote to me, "I can't keep up with this guy... Make up your mind already!!!" I reckon ol' Scooter's under considerable pressure this week, ya think?

    Check it out: Here's two of the many reports, each from the far sides of the spectrum (in the interest of 'balanced' venues for y'all) --
  • update on Scooter's Testimony

  •'s update on the same
  • There's tons more online about this ongoing story -- keep an eye out!
    More Stuff and Updates:

    * I wrote a passionate ode to Basil Gogos and the new Vanguard Press book dedicated to Gogos's remarkable body of work. Well, the various editions are all available from the good folks at PaneltoPanel, and here's the links for those of you eager to place your orders. I've no idea whether these will be shipping first or second editions -- if that's crucial to you, use the direct link to the publisher provided in the full Gogos post -- but recommend PaneltoPanel's service otherwise:
  • Softcover Famous Monster Art/Basil Gogos book order via PaneltoPanel
  • While you're there, explore the rest of the site!

    * BTW, since I'm going to be referring heavily to V for Vendetta the graphic novel in the coming week, if you haven't already got a copy on your shelves, here's the best way to snag a copy for yourself ASAP:
  • Softcover edition V for Vendetta

  • Hardcover edition V for Vendetta
  • Recommended!

    * Cartoonist Dirk in Tokyo, Japan emailed me this link to "this sketchy interactive comic blog" he's been uploading from Tokyo since the beginning of 2006. Dirk extends the following invitation: "...readers from all over the world are invited to submit assignments (meet a local dj, ride a rooftop rollercoaster, talk about gender in japan) and can read a comic about my efforts the following week." Check it out at
  • Interactive Tokyo Comics Blog,
  • and tell Dirk I sent ya!

    * Comics creators, historians, scholars, fans & horror comics lovers take note: The complete, unexpurgated text of the historic 1954 US Senate Interim Report on Comic Books is online! This historic document is must-read material for anyone curious about what went down in '54 that led to the formation of the Comics Code Authority, the demise of horror and crime comics, the irrevocable changes in EC Publications' lineup, and much, much more. This compelling record is just a click away at
  • The 1954 Senate Interim Report.

  • ___

    More to follow...