Friday, July 13, 2007

World War Awesome is Here!

Yesterday was the penultimate day of The Center for Cartoon Studies first July 2007 workshop -- and it was a beehive of comics creativity, as we all cranked ourselves up and over the work needed to complete our collaborative 48+ page comic, World War Awesome!

Yep, that's the title the group voted onto the cover masthead of our massive collaborative comic scrimmage between the group's menagerie of characters.

I drew the final confrontation (three pages) between the last survivors, Spork and Wolor Burtle. I also re-introduced a character from the first round, due to a narrative loophole the storytellers of that particular page left dangling (and didn't notice until I pointed it out yesterday morning, much to their consternation). I also drew the cover, inked the back cover and Robyn Chapman's beguiling four-panel "L'il Sally meets Surly Snail" (originally intended to be an inking demo piece, nothing more -- hope it made the final editorial cut, but I won't know until I see the book myself), and typed up the credits page. Just doing my part, with Robyn jumping in and helming the afternoon session of intensive production which spilled well into the evening -- and will spill into this morning! Robyn Chapman and James Sturm are handling this morning's session, which will wind up this amazing whirlwind week of creativity, drawing and publishing in style.

It's been a lot of work and a lot of fun. It's been a pleasure to get to know and work with all the Create Comics 1 students -- Matthew Loiosa, John Woods, Liberty Roach, Rebecca Miller, Lee Williams, Dominick Cariddi, Ellen Langtree, Daniel Matthews, Michel Valdes, Nick Langley, Emily Kelly, Brendan Cornwell, Kyle Warren, Jonathan Gorga, Joseph Worthen, Tom Laurent, Dave Remillard and Cory Daniels (ages 16 through various stages of adulthood, including three teachers/professors). Kudos, one and all, and happy trails -- it would be my pleasure to see you and draw with you again.

We couldn't have done it without our stellar summer interns, Jon Chadurjian, Simon Reinhardt and Ellie Manny, who juggled many tasks all week and still contributed characters to World War Awesome! Simon played a critical role, coordinating the final cartography of clashes to ensure we arrived at the correct final face-offs in World War Awesome (and in a timely manner), a tall order given the plethora of characters and tag-team nature of the enterprise -- thanks, Simon, for keeping it all in order! I can't wait to hold a copy of World War Awesome in my hot little hands -- what a zine, what an accomplishment for this group!

  • In every corner of New England this week, comics are being created. I know CCS graduates Colleen Frakes and Adam Staffaroni are working in various comics camps -- Colleen is somewhere in New Hampshire this week, filling in for N.E.'s busiest cartoonist Marek Bennett, who (click here) is busy with another comics camp in Keene, NH!

  • The buzz is in the air, the ink's on the fingers, and the images and word balloons are spilling off the pages.

    If you've the inclination and energy, join the beehive -- and if not this summer, next summer. We've already had four returnees (Dan, Liberty, Tom and Simon were part of prior CCS summer workshops, happily back for more), and I've no idea who or what next week will bring.

    Looking forward to the people, the energy and the comics next week...

    It has arrived!

    Dr. Ulrich Merkl's massive, marvelous Dream of the Rarebit Fiend has arrived -- and what an incredible book it is.

    This hefty, lavishly-produced and bound book boasts 464 glorious pages and over 1000 illustrations, with the first 135+ pages alone dedicated to a rigorous overview of McCay's life, work and career; the precursors to, and imitators of, McCay's pioneering Dream strip; the influences of Dream on the pop culture (with many delicious frame blow-ups from the films and animated cartoons placed side-by-side with the relevant McCay panels), from Salvador Dali and Luis Bunuel's L'Age D'Or to Walt Disney's Dumbo and beyond -- and then, the strips themselves! Over 300 pages of the Dream of the Rarebit Fiend strips, beautifully restored and reproduced, showcased in their original chronological order, footnoted and indexed for handy cross-referencing (based on associative content, imagery, etc.).

    Do you have a shelf big enough for this book? Trust me, you do!

    Simply put, this is the comics archival book of the year, an essential text for all comics fans, creators, historians and archivists; for all Winsor McCay fans; for all libraries; for -- well, for you. Yes, it's pricey ($114 plus shipping, from NJ), but it's worth every penny of its price, and a bargain at that. It's also an absolutely essential companion to Peter Maresca's Little Nemo in Slumberland: So Many Glorious Sundays! in every way.

  • I first wrote about Dr. Merkl's book this Monday (click here to revisit that post),
  • and am conducting an email interview with Dr. Merkl (as I did with Peter Maresca about his 2005 masterwork Winsor McCay's Little Nemo in Slumberland: So Many Splendid Sundays!) to post next week, with more info on the man, the dream, the dreams and the tome.

  • But I urge you all not to wait for that post to get excited. This is a simply stunning book -- and there's only one place to order your copy -- now! -- and that's here, at Dr. Merkl's website. Note he is generously offering discounts for bulk purchases (two or more), so find someone to order with you. Whatever you do this month, set aside the $114 (plus shipping) needed for this book, and get your copy now!

  • FYI, this is not an ad -- I get nothing from this, and bought my own copy, mind you. This is an enthusiastic recommendation from a fellow reader of the book, and devoted McCay and comics scholar.

    The entire deck enclosure is now framed, the roof going on -- good progress from our contractors in just two days. But we'll miss today's efforts -- we're off this morning to pick up our incoming guest from Denmark; he's flying into Burlington at some point today (alas, his arrival is already delayed due to a canceled flight from Copenhagen, but he'll still be here before midnight!), and we'll be there to pick him up.

    I don't know what the rest of Friday the 13th has in store for us here, but I hope it's nothing but roses for all of you --

    Have a Great Friday, and a fantastic mid-summer weekend!

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