Thursday, July 29, 2010

Werewolf Cubs, Peeping Toms and the Little People

I liked being a Wolf Cub. When I was just a Cub, I longed to be a Wolf Cub, and when I was a Cub Scout, I felt the wolf part was missing. The move up to Scout was short-lived because I was about to turn into a real monster; a teenager, and I was no longer interested in becoming a Sixer. I never gave the religious aspect of the movements I joined, the Cubs, Scouts, Boys Brigade, and Scripture Union, a moment's thought - not even when being a member of Sunday School was mandatory. I did understand the guilt though, for instance, when Akela came round and said "clean white handkerchief", and you tricked her by showing her the white lining of your pocket, you would apologise to God, in your mind, just in case he really was all-seeing. As for Wrighty's older sister, everyone tried to spy on her through the frosted glass of the bathroom window. She told us when to be there, and it was always disappointing, depending on how strong your imagination was. Often a large group turned up, and we played five-a-side football instead of straining to figure out what exactly we were looking at.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot

John Callahan is dead, he died on July 24, 2010, aged 59. I'd like to say just that John Callahan was a brilliant cartoonist and that he died too soon; without mentioning his disability, but that disability helped make him even more remarkable to a big whiney hypochondriac like me. He was, quite simply, one of the bravest, most daring, funniest, cartoonists ever to wheelie around planet Earth. If you didn't know his work before now, look it up.


Nice little Dutch TV documentary on Callahan

Monday, July 26, 2010

Photoshop Woes

You may remember I cut back on the blogging when I was ill. Actually I cut back on everything, except blankly staring and drooling; did a lot of that. As a matter of fact I was very zombie-like; total slackjaw. Anyway, I've been very slow to get back to work and in theory that would be okay; if the people who are supposed to honour their contracts did so - BASTARDS! But that's not really the way of the world so I'm having to do stuff again aren't I?

Anyway, I eventually migrated everything to the laptop, including 2 Photoshops (one is old but has all my filters), a Paintshop Pro, Manga Studio Ex, etc, etc...then that blew up, or at least the bios went nutzoid (technically speaking), so I loaded some stuff onto an older laptop whilst waiting for the new one to arrive, but now the new one has arrived and I'm not at all sure we get along. It's all that java-ed-up new Windows and I can't be bothered loading it up with everything all over again and hunting for the passwords to 100 filters, so I'm still on the older model - slumming it with Photoshop CS2. Aaannnddd, whatever my settings were on CS3 on the other laptop, I sure as shit don't remember them now, because I just can't get a good reduction with this thing.

I'm drawing a few things but here's a panel from the Wolf Cubs page and you'll see what I mean about the crappy reduction. This was scanned it at about 300 dpi, then drawn with a Wacom tablet and then reduced to 100dpi to put here and the quality of the reduction isn't impressing me at all. Any and all ideas about what my settings should be "nearest neighbor" "bicubic" etc, will be most welcome:

That's actually better than I've been getting. Hmmmmm. What is going on?

Friday, July 23, 2010


I'm writing a post that requires research, that's why it's taking a while. Not that I don't thouroughly research everything, you understand, it's just that, well, it's complicated. You'll see what I mean when I post the piece. It's on some of the work of illustrator Charles Front.

The late, great, Harvey Pekar

As you are aware Harvey Pekar died. I did a blog-post on Harvey and his work with Ed Piskor, (click here to read it) and Ed kept Harvey up-to-date with matters of the interweb, so I like to think he was aware that people like me, over here in boring old mainstream comicsville UK, did appreciate him. I'm sad he has gone. Harvey Pekar was a one-off. Harvey used his own income as a filing clerk to pay artists, including his friend Robert Crumb, to draw his autobiographical stories, which he then had printed, and then distributed himself. He had a unique vision and he kept right on producing work in a medium he felt was far greater than most people could imagine. Harvey believed that every ordinary guy, like him, was a superhero and that comics could be profound. When he was asked why his stories focused on ordinary subjects like driving downtown to buy a bagel he would reply "ordinary life is pretty complicated stuff".

I didn't actually discover Harvey Pekar through his comics. Oh, I was aware of them, and even had one or two in my collection, but I only really learned properly about his work by watching a film called Comic Book Confidential, a fantastic documentary featuring the work of Charles Burns, Harvey and Crumb, and Lynda Barry, and others. The comics featured just blew me away; I had never seen anything like them. The show featured Harvey's story about being addicted to blues and stealing sides (records) from a radio station. The drawings from the comic, by Crumb, were inter-cut with Harvey reading the story in his famous raspy-voice. I'm not exaggerating when I say it changed all my ideas about what comics could be. It's on iTunes, here.

When I did finally get my hands on a bunch of Harvey's work, including American Splendor, the scales fell from my eyes; I knew, absolutely knew, that the impression the Comic Book Confidential documentary had made on me was not fleeting, I wanted to create work like this, and what's more, I knew my attempt to do so would fall short, and I knew that falling short of this measure was okay, because this was something special. There are a lot of salutes to Harvey on the web this month, and they are all heartfelt; he meant a lot to everyone involved in cartooning. The comic book world now has an enormous Harvey Pekar-sized hole in it; that hole will never be filled.