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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Gerard Whyman, Oddly, not, Distracted, at all.

I'm putting the finishing touches to a post that I'm hoping Forbidden Planet International will run, it is about getting your cartoons, illustrations and books out there on new media. I mean, I don't know if you've noticed but newspapers are closing left right and centre, and some big titles have limited cash, and rely on firms that are going bust to fund their print editions through advertising. Many of these titles, some through choice and some through necessity, with publications like the Christian Science Monitor lighting the way, are going to appear only online. They can, of course appear on other media, and it might be a good idea if you know how to deliver your work on the same devices.



A Ger Whyman cartoon, from Oddly Distracted, on the iPhone


A Ger Whyman cartoon, from Oddly Distracted, being formatted for the PSP.

At the same time I'll be looking at Gerard Whyman's excellent book of cartoons, Oddly Distracted, so I'll be trying to illustrate why the Whyman way, is the best way to go, in the current economic climate, as it were, and we'll be looking at the best way to get Whyman's cartoons out to the modern reader..



Meanwhile, I'd recommend a good hard-copy of the book (click here to go to LULU) because it has nearly 200 cartoons and it represents excellent value for laughs delivered - click here to see a chart I made of the laughs per page ratio - kidding; but go buy it.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Skimming, the Surface.


My attention has been drawn to this thanks to Fantagraphics Dirk Deppey being ever vigilant and Drawn and Quarterley's Peggy Burns helping to spread the word. This is hopefully going to be just an oversight - I'm sure.

The odd thing is, this ties in with a piece I'm sending to Joe at Forbidden Planet about the importance of "some" illustrators, later tonight.

Okay, listen up, especially you, my Canuck chums, although every illustrator out there should be interested. This is very important because although it might be a simple oversight, a mistake, and I might have to eat my words, it could be, although I'm sure it is not, the written word-worshipping literati of Canada flexing their muscles and trying to regain primacy in the face of the increasing popularity of graphic novels (we are stuck with the term so suck it up). In what could be be, as I have just said, simply an oversight, Skim, the tale of Kimberly Keiko Cameron, a goth girl in an all-girls school in Toronto, is up for, at least the writer, Mariko Tamaki, is up for Canada's very prestigious Governor General’s Literary Awards. The thing is, and once again I'm sure it is simply a horrible oversight, the illustrator of the book, Mariko's cousin Jillian Tamaki, has not been included in the nomination.



Ridiculous, I know, fortunately two of Canada's most high profile illustrators, Chester Brown and Seth, have been moved to write a strongly worded letter to the awards committee asking them to reconsider for the following very, very, important reasons:



We're guessing that the jury who read SKIM saw it as an illustrated novel. It's not; it's a graphic novel. In illustrated novels, the words carry the burden of telling the story, and the illustrations serve as a form of visual reinforcement. But in graphic novels, the words and pictures BOTH tell the story, and there are often sequences (sometimes whole graphic novels) where the images alone convey the narrative. The text of a graphic novel cannot be separated from its illustrations because the words and the pictures together ARE the text. Try to imagine evaluating SKIM if you couldn't see the drawings. Jillian's contribution to the book goes beyond mere illustration: she was as responsible for telling the story as Mariko was.

Chester Brown (Author of Louis Riel)


Seth (Author of It's a Good Life, If You Don't Weaken)



Just to quickly illustrate this point, I've snaffled the following page from Dirk Deppey:



It's clear from this drawing that the words "Dear Diary...it's snowing." and the drawing above are working in consort to convey a mood and a meaning that is beyond what is written on the page. This is not a tacked-on drawing illustrating redundantly illustrating the obvious, in a way that one would find opposite a page of text in a picture book. The description of the scene is non-existent because that information is conveyed in the drawing, along with the hallow triumph of creating the pointless message in the lonely landscape. It is, at once, a beautiful, and sad, moment.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Blogging through a Codeine-inspired Mist-like Filter

I'm delusional. I have a really horrible flu and I'm stuffed to the gills with soluble painkillers. Oh, oh, did I imagine this? No way, I mean how would I know about Fake That?

Fake That, the Take That tribute band, were in trouble in Spain, where they were performing, after fake Robbie Williams ran across the room and started fighting with fake Gary Barlow. If it's true, there is no no need for cartoons.

Anyway, I think I made a post on the brilliant Manga Blog because there is a competition going on - or I may have imagined I did. If I didn't imagine the whole thing, you have the opportunity to win some Black Jack manga - go for it, or not, depending on whether or not it's all in my head.


It's a great prize and I realise that if lots of you do enter the competition it reduces my chances of winning, but honestly, it's such a great prize I can't keep it to myself.

The manga I mentioned on my post on the site is the manga that inspired the anime below, Soul Eater. It looks like a new sort of manga to me, one that appeals to a broad church. It's full of marvelous images.








Now here a thing; the last time I had flu this bad I was much younger, a teenager, and I was in bed, watching TV and I saw a TV show that nobody else I have ever met, ever saw. For years and years I searched for proof that the show wasn't the product of my fevered imagination; but I found no proof that the very surreal "live-action" Babar I remembered existed - until recently that is. So here it is, live-action Babar; I want you to imagine how weird it was looking at this spectacle through the misty, drugged up haze of a fluey-funk.


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Death Returns from Holiday

A tip I got years ago, and which I stick rigidly to, is when you are working on a number of things, all at different times, lock them away from view until their turn comes around again. Then when you take the thing out to work on it again, if it still excites you and still looks like a good, workable, idea, it's a potential winner - you'll be surprised how many "live projects" look absolutely ghastly when they come back out into the cold light of day. On the plus side, you can really recommit to the work that still looks like a good idea.



I'm really pleased that Johnny Morte passed my self-editing test, because it's a bit of a favourite and it has to be a favourite of mine because at the moment all the changes I'm making are being done with the mouse; until my new graphics tablet arrives. It's challenging, especially when it comes to making curves, although that's easy to do with something large like the skull in "Morte" which I made with the Vector tool you have to be really creative to make little things like finger tips.




I was in two minds, but I've decided to go forward with a flat cartoony look because I enjoy comics that look like comics so that makes the redrawing much faster.

I'm also putting a colour version together, and again I'm going super-flat. Once again this is a reaction to the dreadful over colouring you see today in so many comics.


I've reworked a couple of pages already and with luck, when the pen comes, things will speed up and it'll be finished before the year is out.

Go Obama!