Monday, May 14, 2007

Top o' the World to You...

Monday Musings

There's a little more on the Ascutney climb to share with you all this morning, largely thanks to the arrival of photos from the trip itself and scans (compliments of CCS no-longer-just-a-freshmen Bryan Stone) of the two pages I drew between 3:30 and 5 AM the morning after. A little explanation is in order, though, before you get a peek at those two pages.

Here's Bryan's photo of the whole CCS hiking party last Wednesday atop the fire tower on Mount Ascutney -- from left to right, Chuck Forsman, Ross Wood Studlar, Dane Martin, Alex Kim, Sean Morgan, Peter Money and yours truly -- since he snapped the photo, Bryan is absent from this shot.

However, I know Peter and Sean took some photos up there, too, so hopefully we'll have a complimentary shot featuring Bryan up on the blog before the week is out.

As you can see from these two photos, it was a grand and glorious day weather-wise. Bryan posted his pix online, and
  • you can see them all here, followed by more photos from the CCS Montreal trip (including more Drawn & Quarterly office shots).

  • Now, like I said, a little explanation is in order this morning.

    You see, the following two pages of Bissette comics art are the concluding two pages of an epic battle James Sturm orchestrated and conducted in his CCS cartooning class two or so weeks ago. I only know it as Fight Comics -- no direct correlation to the Fight Comics of the Golden Age, that I know of -- and it looked to me (correct me if I'm wrong, CCSers) like every member of the freshmen class created a character for the brawl, and via some arcane democratic or tyrannical system I'm not privy to, an order was voted upon, raffled, designated or divined for each artist and their respective character to have a one-to-two page face-off, with the winner of each match then going on to the next match, until by process of creative collaborative elimination only two characters were left.

    In the end, James asked me if I'd draw the concluding page(s) -- in essence, end the battle, conclude the climax, decide the winner and hence get James off the hook if anyone was unhappy with the resolution (note: "It's Bissette's fault!" has now entered a new era of relevance and validity for a whole new generation). It was also, of course, an honor, but also a duty. A duty to CCS, and to James, and to all who ply the inky trade. My Captain called, and I must answer. My Commander-in-Chief beckoned, and I obeyed. The orders were given, the sails were set, the die was cast, the shit hit the fan.

    I was handed a stack of odd-sized photocopies, and instructed to resolve the seemingly unresolvable, pitching a character named "Bryan Stone" -- shown in the character design sheet lifting his glasses and blasting deadly light rays from his eyes, like Cyclops in the X-Men -- against a character both adorable and ungainly, the 'Baby With Adult Legs.' The kid sure is cute, but man, those hairy adult male legs just put you right off your Maypo, bunky.

    [Photo: The real Bryan Stone and Joe Lambert; photo by Becca Lambert.]

  • Now, Bryan Stone, as you may have determined this late in this morning's post, is a real guy.
  • He's an adorable guy, in fact, just as sweet-natured, benevolent, kind, attentive and mild-mannered as any person I've ever met (and a heckuva cartoonist, too). Bryan Stone was created by -- well, his parents. The real Bryan Stone, that is.

    However, the deadly-eye-ray-blasting Bryan Stone was created by
  • JP Coovert,
  • also one hell of a cartoonist and a fellow no-longer-just-a-freshman at the Center for Cartoon Studies. Baby With Adult Legs was created by
  • Joe Lambert,
  • another motherfucker of a cartoonist and no-longer-just-a-freshman CCSer.

    [Photo: The real JP Coovert, photo by Joe Lambert.]

    So, this is what James handed to me. The fate of two comics characters just out of the incubator, barely in the world more than a week but already battle-tested and toughened by ink-and-paper warfare -- babes in the woods, yes (literally, in the case of Baby With Adult Legs), but already trench-war-hardened vets.

    But it was not just their fate I held in my hands, but that of their creators -- cuddly Joe Lambert and huggable JP Coovert -- and, damn it, that of the real, flesh-and-blood Bryan Stone! A man's man, cruelly thrust (by JP) into a world of panels, pages, pus, puke and panic!

    How would I resolve this conundrum without inflicting undue (due is OK) agony on any one, maybe two of these virginal young cartoonists, aching to pop their inky cherries against the calloused rubber condom wall of the real world?

    How would I end this senseless violence, this epochal combat, without letting down one or more of these budding geniuses, who are so eager to spew their creative juices into the collective womb of our open, festering brainpans?

    How could I condone the sadistic, no doubt visually glorious murder of either Bryan Stone, death-ray-eye-conduit though he be, or Baby With Adult Legs, the toddler on ten pins, the Titan Tyke, the spittle-flecked sprinter?


    Now, there's one other player in this drama -- he-who-must-never-be-forgotten by we who ply the inky trade here at the Center for Cartoon Studies, and most of all not to be overlooked by we who teach the inky trade at CCS.

    And that, my friends, is Inky Solomon.

  • What can I possibly say about CCS's spiritual leader, the legendary cartoonist and teacher Inky Solomon, that has not been said before (and better) by others?
  • Though the pen-and-ink Inky has been delineated (and co-created, in his way) by James Sturm and Seth, legendary cartoonists in their own right, Inky Solomon has nestled into the souls of all who dwell at CCS.

    He has swept away the pine needles and softened the stone floors of our hearts, carefully prepared the kindling we all harbor and built a warming little fire in our bellies, fueling the comics jones we share until it erupts into raging bonfires of creative life! Inky is our Dolemite, making of us all Human Tornadoes; he is our beatific Buddha, our jazzy Jesus, our infinite Inky!

    So, troubled though I was by the task placed within my hands, stern though the Sturm mission was now yolking my sturdy shoulders, fragile be the lives laid in my sweaty palms, frightful the soul-crushing potential of any misstep I might take, I turned to our own CCSolomon, Inky -- the Inky within.

    I consulted my inner Inky, the calm core of peace and tranquility that a half-century of life cartooning has coalesced, and determined the following:

    1. I would not 'decide' anything. Life would decide.

    2. If Joe Lambert showed up Wednesday morning for the Mount Ascutney hike, Baby With Adult Legs would win.

    3. If either JP (creator of Bryan Stone, comics character) or Bryan Stone (comics character incarnate) showed up Wednesday morning for the hike, Bryan Stone would win.

    4. If either Joe and JP, or Joe and Bryan, showed up, the battle would win (in typical comicbook fashion) in a draw -- a draw, with neither winning nor losing, but both ending up in a happy, wonderful, heavenly place, except there would be no My Little Ponies there (surely, a circle of hell is inhabited by those little bastards).

    5. If none of the trio showed up, both characters would die horrible, agonizing, extremely graphic and terribly grueling deaths.

    Thus it was decided; thus Wednesday morning came and went, and thus this was the fateful conclusion I wrote, drew and lettered Thursday morning, as the sun rose and the new day began:

    Note: Joe Lambert and James Sturm are already working on scanning the complete Fight Comic and posting it in some form online soon. I'll keep you posted (pun intended), and I'm as eager as any of you to see/read it all!

    PS: This is the final week of the Spring semester here at the Center for Cartoon Studies -- a fateful week for us all. Graduation is this coming Saturday, our first graduation ever. We've already had some heartbreak, some tears and fond farewells as some of our number move on into their summers or into their lives, away from CCS and White River Junction and this growing creative community; we're already into the momentous evaluation of the senior final thesis projects, with two full days ahead of 9 AM to 5 PM one-on-one assessments. It's a heady week here -- send your best to the CCS students, those with us, those departed; those moving into their new lives in the real world, those moving into their second year; those coming new to the fold and experience this coming fall.

    We're at a crossroads and the shifting of a new axis as definitive, new and unexplored as that we encountered at the very beginning of the school's existence in September of 2005.

    Wish us all luck, please.

    Here's to CCS, one and all!

    May Inky be with you all -- have a great Monday!

    PPS: My old friend Neil Gaiman has posted some lovely photos and a few comments about this past weekend's historic wedding of Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie
  • here, so enjoy.
  • Nice to know they're wed at last, and much love to both, where ever they are.

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