08/15/2017

Aaron Cockle here today with Maqsood-I-Kainaat; Tom of Finland; Wolk on Borges; FRAME Festival Open Call; Fake Photos!

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Maqsood-I-Kainaat, by Shreyas R Krishnan

Maqsood-I-Kainaat, by Shreyas R Krishnan
The 12th issue of the Ley Lines series is coming soon!

Ley Lines is a quarterly publication dedicated to exploring the intersection of comics and the various fields of art & culture that inspire us. Co-published by Grindstone Comics and Czap Books.

From Maqsood-I-Kainaat, by Shreyas R Krishnan

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Tom of Finland, the Movie
Touko Laaksonen gets the biopic treatment, and a fancy review at the Guardian.

 

Considering the film’s subject matter, it actually contains very little sex – the main bedroom scene cuts from a kiss to the morning after. “The core fans were always saying: ‘I’ve seen the drawings, those are my sex, now I want to see the story of the man I idolise,’” says [director Dome] Karukoski. “So the amount of gay sex will come very much from the dramatic need. Where is the line where it becomes provocation? [When] it overrides the emotional balance of the story.”

Instead, much of the film focuses on the struggles Laaksonen endured as a gay man in conservative Finland, from facing jail as a young man after a pick-up went awry, to facing constant pressure from his younger sister never to express his true identity, since she believed it would bring shame on the family. “Even when I told her about him being accepted into the permanent collection at MoMA, her response was: ‘Well, what were they thinking?’” says Dehner, still hurt by the memory. The film, he says, is “touching – how terrible society has been to us and how conditional the love is from family members”.

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Webmaster Borges
This is from way back in 1999, and probably the first piece I read by Douglas Wolk. Jorge Luis Borges and the Internet:

Canny Borges never names the Web, of course: As “The Garden of Forking Paths” points out, in a riddle whose answer is chess, the only word that cannot be used is “chess.” But the meaning of his parables is specific and undeniable. The Aleph in the fiction of the same title, the portal through which one can see every point in the universe, is Netscape Navigator in all but name. The Zahir, an object that changes its form over time but monopolizes its owner’s attention forever, is none other than Microsoft Internet Explorer, as anyone who’s tried to unstick it from a computer’s operating system only to click fatally on an innocuous icon will tell you. (Consider, in fact, the alphabetical remove of Borges’ names for the browsers, his subtle jest on the Alpha and Omega of his new world.)

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Prague Comic Arts Festival Open Call

Sign up for the FRAME festival and become a part of an emerging festival, full of comics, zines and illustrations! We welcome all small publishers, authors and illustrators. OPEN CALL is until 31.8. 2017. Each exhibitor can choose from two options for his presentation – a small table 110 x 55 cm or a large table 220 x 55 cm. The jury of Centrala and No Ordinary Heroes will then select approximately 50 exhibitors who will be contacted with detailed information on arrival and installation no later than September 10, 2017.

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‘Research suggests that regardless of what you might think about your own abilities to spot a hoax, most of us are pretty bad at it.’
The BBC has a handy guide to spotting fake photos:

Another giveaway is the colour of people’s ears. “If the Sun is behind me, my ears will look red from the front because you’ll see the blood,” he says. “If the light is coming from the front, you won’t see the red in the ear.”

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A Cosmic Journey – 8-15-2017 – by Cameron Arthur

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Suzy and Cecil – 8-15-2017 – by Sally Ingraham

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Joanie and Jordie – 8-15-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio

08/08/2017

Aaron Cockle here today with Flipism in the USA; New York Comics & Picture-story Symposium Fall 2017 Schedule; The Black Hood; Whit Taylor/Miranda Harmon; Workers of the World, Conform!; Book-making in the USA

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Carl Barks, from Flip Decision

‘At every crossroad of life, let Flipism chart your course!’
On an episode of the new season of the streaming Netflix series House of Cards, a political crisis in the United States may have to be decided by a coin flip (as determined by that country’s originating document of fundamental principals and established precedents), and the President in this alternate history extols the benefits of Flipism, a philosophy created by Carl Barks for a story in a Donald Duck comic in 1952. To date, Flipism remains as valid as any other belief system currently in practice.

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New York Comics & Picture-Story Symposium Fall 2017 Schedule
Lectures of specific interest to readers of this newsblog include:

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Mike Taylor & Tara Booth

‘A number of the cartoonists focus in on the grey, hazy feeling of depression.’
Rob Clough reviews the excellent anthology The Black Hood: An Anthology of Depression and Anxiety, edited by Josh Bayer and Mike Freiheit.

With regard to trying to find a way out, Lizz Hickey’s “My Lamictal Side-Effect Diary” is another great fit for this book. There are many cartoonists here who do weird and unnerving autobio as well as bizarre fiction, so it makes sense not only to include them, but that they’d be willing to talk about it in such a blunt manner. Hickey goes week by week and talks about the doses of medication she’s taking and the effects, which range from nervous to sleepy, to normal, to frustrated. The final week seems promising at the highest dose, until she becomes manic, teary, and tired once again–and that’s the end of the strip. No further conclusions are offered.

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In other Rob Clough News…
At his review blog, High-Low, Clough has started a new series, High-Low Intersection,

an occasional (and hopefully soon to be regular) feature that will highlight reviews, essays and interviews by other writers about comics, specifically for this site. They will be posted on High-Low’s regular blank day (Friday) when they appear. There are so many excellent writers about comics and too few of them have a regular outlet for their work.

In this first edition, Whit Taylor interviews Miranda Harmon:

[TAYLOR] What advice would you give to fans of your work who are looking to make their own comics?

[HARMON] People should come before work if you can help it. When you’re making friends, find your peers instead of chasing down your heroes. Keep reminding everyone that you exist by making comics and showing up. It can feel lonely at first but in my experience people respond to sincerity and kindness. Really listen and get to know people and draw from your own experiences when you make comics.

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Collage by Nader Vossoughian, with illustrations created from images taken from Ernst Neufert, Bauentwurfslehre (1936) and Bauordnungslehre (1943); K. W. Bührer and Adolf Saager, Die Organisierung der geistigen Arbeit durch “Die Brücke” (1911); Walter Porstmann, DIN Buch 1: Normformate* (1930); Werner Gräff, ed. Staatliche Bauhochschule Weimar (1929); and the work of students in Neufert’s Schnellentwerfen course.

But, Ostwald complained, in the realms of science and geistige Arbeit—which roughly translates as intellectual work—there had been “virtually no level of organization.”

At Triple Canopy, Nader Vossoughian about the history of information standards, standardization of information, and what it all means for someone reading this on a computer screen (or printed out on regular paper, I guess):

The imposition of uniformity that was achieved before and after WWII by the German state and party organizations is now more likely to be undertaken by software companies, industrial consortiums, and groups such as the ISO and ASTM International. They claim only to ease the circulation of information and goods, but in fact they make highly political decisions about, for instance, the flow of data in packets through broadband cables. As Andrew Russell asserts in Open Standards and the Digital Age: History, Ideology, and Networks (2014), the rhetoric of openness that characterizes the Internet belies the role of sophisticated (and nearly invisible) forms of hierarchical control. Russell scrutinizes the “system builders” who create the infrastructure on which we rely, and who are “always engaged in ideological and discursive work, not merely technical work.”

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Never Comes Tomorrow – Frank made a graphic novel about his parents and he needs help making handbound copies for each of them.
Frank Santoro, our illustrious founder/editor-in-chief, is raising some money for a book-making project, and is offering a good deal of historical comics documents in support of this. Please consider helping out.

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And remember:

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A Cosmic Journey – 8-8-2017 – by Cameron Arthur

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Suzy and Cecil – 8-8-2017 – by Gabriella Tito

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Joanie and Jordie – 8-8-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio

08/01/2017

Aaron Cockle here today with Jackie Kirby; Printed Matter; Romance Comics; What the World Wants (And How to Pay For It)

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Jackie Kirby, from ‘Meter, Geometry and Comic Form’

Meter, Geometry and Comic Form
Featured on CW this week is Jackie Kirby’s work looking at verse and the grid:

In an initial attempt at translating verse form to comic form let us equate syllables with panels, and spreads with lines. Each row of panels will represent a metrical foot. Stress is produced relationally, and in comics one can use size, color, density, and a myriad of other visual techniques to “stress” a panel. The actual size of each panel per “foot” or row is up to your own discretion but I prefer to use a more qualitative than quantitative approach to my “comics scansion.”

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Something Unusual is Happening Was Happening
The experimental comics exhibit at Printed Matter recently ended. The show was co-curated by Leslie Lasiter and Cory Siegler.

Maren Karlson

Lale Westvind

Edie Fake

Lala Albert

Char Esme

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‘Almost always there were tears—buckets and buckets of beautifully rendered tears.’
Kelly Faircloth at Jezebel on The Tear-Stained, Forgotten World of Comic Books for Teenage Girls.

Today, the genre is probably most familiar through the work of famed pop artist Roy Lichtenstein. (Though one artist who drew them, Everett Raymond Kinstler, was dismissive to [David] Hadju: “No comics publisher would have hired Lichtenstein—he wasn’t good enough. Romance comics dealt with a range of emotions, some of them quite subtle and sophisticated, and they called for real storytelling ability.”) When they’re remembered outside of the world of dedicated comics fandom, it’s largely as a curious, campy footnote to the story of the caped crusaders who are such a prominent feature of our blockbuster summers and Decembers.

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What the World Wants
This infographic has been kicking around since at least the late 1990’s, but it looks like it’s been updated. Via Buckminster Fuller‘s World Game Institute and the Global Energy Network Institute.

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A Cosmic Journey – 8-1-2017 – by Cameron Arthur

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Suzy and Cecil – 8-1-2017 – Sally Ingraham

07/25/2017

Aaron Cockle today with Liana Finck; Warren Craghead; Glynnis Fawkes; The New York Review of Comic Books, and the Comics Workbook Composition Competition 2017.

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Sara Berman’s Closet
Liana Finck has a piece at The New York Review of Books blog about an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and her personal relationship to it.

Liana Finck, from The Artist’s Closet

Finck also has an exhibition currently at Equity Gallery in NYC through August 5:

Finck presents 80 drawings from a series of work posted on Instagram over the last year. The complexities of life are distilled into seemingly simple ink cartoons. With precision, honesty and biting wit, she explores the highs and lows of living in New York City and how relationships — and we ourselves — evolve. Her work has been described as “gently savage,” “bleakly hilarious” and “transportative” and Finck’s smart authentic voice reminds us of the beauty of experiencing the broad range of emotions that make us human.

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Warren Craghead, “When I left Conference Room for short meetings with Japan and other countries, I asked Ivanka to hold seat. Very standard. Angela M agrees!” “If Chelsea Clinton were asked to hold the seat for her mother, as her mother gave our country away, the Fake News would say CHELSEA FOR PRES!”

Warren Craghead, Political Cartoonist
Warren Craghead recently posted about the one-year anniversary of his TRUMPTRUMP comics. Congrats, Warren!

I started this TRUMPTRUMP project a year ago, on the night Trump accepted the Republican nomination for president. Every day since then I have drawn and shared a grotesque portrait of him and his minions, trying to document who he is and what he is doing to us. Here’s the first post. Here’s a bird’s-eye view of the drawings.

This project started like my other drawing projects LADYH8RS and USAH8RS: I drew quick portraits of Trump paired with the seemingly inexhaustible supply of horrible quotes form him. I thought I’d be done on November 8, but when he won I vowed to keep drawing until, as I wrote when starting this project, “—this nightmare ends.”

The drawings have turned more detailed and angry and full. At times I can’t keep up! I’ve drawn from and stolen from Goya, Picasso, Steinberg, Grosz, Kollwitz and, most of all, Philip Guston and his 1970s drawings of the Nixon Administration.

In a few weeks Retrofit Comics/Big Planet Comics will be publishing a collection of the first six months of the drawings, from the nomination until the inauguration. I’m so grateful to them and to everyone who has seen and encouraged this stupid endeavor.

I’m still drawing, every EVERY day, and posting them. People have ask me if I’m ok, if this is taking a toll and I always answer No. I love it – I get to DO something about all this insanity.

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An In-Depth Analysis by Glynnis Fawkes
Fawkes on mother/daughter relationships, at the New Yorker.

Glynnis Fawkes, from My Body and My Daughter

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‘But since he acts in all purity, without any guile, society is prompt to reject him through its representative, Lucy, treacherous, self-confident, an entrepreneur with assured profits, ready to peddle a security that is completely bogus but of unquestioned effect.’ – Umberto Eco on Peanuts
In a recent e-newsletter, The New York Review of Books recently included a bunch of links to reviews of different comics works it’s done over the years, including:

Garrett Price, from White Boy, November 12, 1933

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Here it is, thee Comics Workbook Composition Competition 2017 – 6-panel grid, traditional North American comic book proportions – but with a twist! Deadline Sept. 5th 2017. FULL DETAILS HERE.

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A Cosmic Journey – 7-25-2017 – by Cameron Arthur

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Suzy and Cecil – 7-25-2017 – by Gabriella Tito

07/18/2017

Aaron Cockle here today with Helen Jo; Safari Festival Reminder; Chitra Ganesh; Helen Frankenthaler

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‘Without a car, commuting into the city via public transit becomes a nightmare.’
Alex Wong talks with Helen Jo about Jo’s translation of Yeon-sik Hong’s Uncomfortably Happily:

[ALEX WONG] Do you think, compared to other books, there was less of a risk of the original material being lost in translation in Uncomfortably Happily? Because of all the universal themes that are covered in the book?

[HELEN JO] I think that something may always be lost in translation. Translating from one language to the next is not mathematics. Even if you strip away all of the cultural context and stick to the academic bare bones of a language itself, you can’t fit a Korean peg into an English hole. Each language is a system of words, connotations, innuendo, context, unspoken intentions, and none of it is exactly equal to its foreign counterparts.

I think a good translation is mindful of that fact, and tries to re-interpret the intent behind the words for the new audience. I may not have been able to provide an exact translation, because an exact translation cannot truly exist, but I did my best to bring the intention and meaning and context of each and every page to the English reader.

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Safari Festival 2017

Poster by Anya Davidson

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Tales of Amnesia
This is just a link to an image search for Chitra Ganesh’s Tales of Amnesia comics.

Chitra Ganesh, from Tales of Amnesia

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As in Nature: Helen Frankenthaler Paintings / No Rules: Helen Frankenthaler Woodcuts 
Helen Frankenthaler has two exhibitions currently at the Clark Institute in Williamstown, MA, USA.

Helen Frankenthaler, “Off White Square” (1973), acrylic on canvas, 79 3/4 x 255 1/2 inches, from the Louis-Dreyfus Family Collection, courtesy of the William Louis-Dreyfus Foundation Inc. (© 2017 Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York)

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A Cosmic Journey – 7-18-2017 – by Cameron Arthur

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Suzy and Cecil – 7-18-2017 – by Sally Ingraham

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Joanie and Jordie – 7-18-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio

07/11/2017

Aaron Cockle today with Leslie Stein; Joan Cornellà; Exploratory Works; Jason Lutes; TSA Book Update; Guy Delisle

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Leslie Stein

‘Death, depression, alcohol abuse, god, and suicide, as well as tales of exes, a trip to a barbershop quartet convention, a job as a telemarketer, and childhood holidays’
Ken Parille with ‘A Brief Appreciation’ of Leslie Stein:

Stein also takes a minimalist approach to backgrounds, perhaps as a way to reinforce the subjective, personal focus of the memories she recounts. Some artists concentrate too much on figures and foreground, making environments seem less important and weakening the story dynamic of character-place interaction. But it’s always clear where her characters are — bedroom, streets, bar, satanic ritual, etc. And though “Holy Jolly Sabbath”’s minimalism contributes to its sense of openness, its layout also gestures to the “grid conventions” of symmetry, balance, and order. Page one starts with an upper-left corner image bleed and ends with a lower-right corner bleed. Page two uses a familiar arrangement in which the page’s final “row” is anchored by one large panel that sits beneath several smaller-sized panels (which again, in Stein, are not really panels)

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Joan Cornellà

Joan Cornellà: A New York Solo Exhibition
co-hosted by Factotum Productions & Huli Erizo
July 14 – July 30, 2017
11am – 7pm
Josée Bienvenu Gallery, 2nd floor
529 W 20th Street (between 10th & 11th Ave), NYC

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Closing this Sunday at The Drawing Center: Exploratory Works: Drawings from the Department of Tropical Research Field Expeditions

This exhibition brings to light for the first time an archive of images that illustrate the formation of our modern definition of nature. William Beebe (1877–1962) was one of America’s greatest popularizers of ecological thinking and biological science. Beebe literally took the lab into the jungle, rather than the jungle to the lab. The Department of Tropical Research was pioneering in that, under Beebe’s direction, women were hired as lead scientists and field artists. Artist Isabel Cooper, joining in 1919, publicly relished her opportunity to travel through the jungles of Guyana juggling a “vivid serpent or tapestried lizard in one hand, and the best grade of Japanese paintbrush in the other.” The structure of The Drawing Center’s exhibition mirrors the two salient stages of the Department of Tropical Research’s investigations: jungle field station work and floating laboratories for marine biology —revealing that artists and scientists worked closely and productively in the near past and that scientists once understood art as a valuable tool for promoting ecological thinking to a broad public. For the exhibition at The Drawing Center, Mark Dion constructed two installations which take as their inspiration images of the interiors of the DTR field stations. While one of the installations will develop the space of the jungle laboratories, the other will look to the oceanographic workshops. Numerous images in the WCS archive depict the work situations and interior conditions in both the tropical forest field stations and the floating labs of the research vessels. Curated by Mark Dion, Katherine McLeod, and Madeleine Thompson.

Chiasmodon niger Stomach Contents, Else Bostelmann Bermuda 1931. Watercolor on paper, 11 x 14 inches (27.9 x 35.6 cm). Else Bostelmann © Wildlife Conservation Society.

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Jason Lutes, from Berlin

“I had never imagined that the city that I’d studied for so long would actually strike me as beautiful.”
Daniel A. Gross spoke with Jason Lutes about Lutes’s long book, Berlin, and the contemporary and historical context it now/still holds:

At the same time, Lutes felt that after spending 23 years on the project, he couldn’t give in to the temptation to turn his comic into an allegory for the Trump era. “I still plan to stay true to the characters and their context, without letting current events color things in any overt way,” he says of the final chapters. For all the similarities between Berlin and the United States today, the present can seem in some ways unprecedented. “We’re in a place where reality feels like speculative fiction, which makes historical fiction like my book seem quaint.”

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UPDATE: TSA Ends Test of Separate Scanning for Books
I had posted about this last week, Maren Williams at the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund discussing the Transportation Security Administration’s enhanced screening of books at some airports in the U.S.:

In a press statement, the TSA said that it “understands privacy concerns and only inspects items to clear them of dangerous/prohibited items.” Separately in a public-facing blog post, the agency said that pilot tests had been conducted and subsequently ended at only two airports. It then made some curious attempts at humor in dismissing privacy concerns:

[O]ur adversaries seem to know every trick in the book when it comes to concealing dangerous items, and books have been used in the past to conceal prohibited items. We weren’t judging your books by their covers, just making sure nothing dangerous was inside.

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Guy Delisle, from Hostage

‘I want the reader to have the physical sensation of time passing. That’s why the book is four hundred pages.’
Simon Ostrovsky talks with Guy Delisle in support of Delisle’s new book, Hostage:

I wouldn’t put fiction in—that would compromise the rest of the book. It’s all taken from my notes, which I still have, and I go through them to find things that are funny, strange, weird. A comic book is a mix of drawing and text, and it’s very powerful, it’s a concentrate. It’s like you have five seconds for one page, and you can switch from drawing to text, text to drawing, and you can find a solution where you can make it come together. I like that, because I’m always afraid of boring people.

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A Cosmic Journey – 7-11-2017 – by Cameron Arthur

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Suzy and Cecil – 7-11-2017 – by Gabriella Tito

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Joanie and Jordie – 7-11-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio

07/04/2017

Aaron Cockle here today with Jackie Kirby at the Rowhouse Residency; Leonara Carrington; Babel Unbound; some dispatches from the CBLDF; Florine Stettheimer; William Blake

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Memetics 0/1, Jackie Kirby 2017

Jackie Kirby writes about their Comics Workbook Rowhouse Residency this past June here on the site.

A poet and a comics maker, they really dug deep into their practice while they were here and had a lot to share and teach Frank and Sally and the Pittsburgh comics community in their turn.

My conversations with Frank were thoughtful, engaging, and exciting. Among the most interesting aspects of our discussions was comparing analogies of music and poetry to comics. I know very little when it comes to music. Half-kidding – it’s one of the few popular art forms I’m not a snob about, and I’ve tried to keep it like that. Frank, on the other hand, is a total music nerd. I came into his house for espresso one afternoon and he presented me with a piece of scrap paper on which he had written “2/3 ¾ rectangle riff seen from a poet’s pov in relation to ‘meter’ / and relation to ‘the Breath’ or Dylan’s ‘long line of spit.’ ” 

Frank and I chatted for hours regarding this. He would riff for fifteen minutes or so about music and I would respond with a riff on poetics. Forty five minutes could go by without comics being explicitly mentioned once, but the composition and formal techniques of comics practice underlined every moment. When I brought this up, Frank brushed it off, saying “Of course we could talk about how Robert Crumb is this or that but we both know that.” What’s interesting is what we can learn from each other.

Read more of Jackie’s thoughts HERE.

You can read more Rowhouse Residency Reports HERE – and learn more about the Residency program HERE or email santoroschoolATgmail for more info.

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‘Even though you won’t believe me / my story is beautiful’
At Hyperallergic, looks at some books by Leonara Carrington:

In her memoir and fiction — and, in retrospect, her visual art as well — Carrington strives to understand people’s “systems;” to peer into them and visualize all their beautiful or ugly selves, often through animal incarnations, as in fables. Evil characters have hair “like black vipers” or “a little bird’s laugh,” and good ones have skin that glints like stars. In Pamela Robertson-Pearce’s 2000 film about women Surrealist artists, Gifted BeautyCarrington advises, “We have to listen to the soul … and to know when it’s a soul. … Each soul has a daemon.” It seems to me that both her writing and visual art takes up this very exercise — a kind of study of the human soul.

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Babel Unbound
Closing July 8 at the CIT Wandesford Quay Gallery in Cork, Ireland, Babel Unbound, by Leslie Mutchler and Jason Urban.

Referencing a series of historical works intertwined with the function and performance of the library, such as Aby Warburg’s Atlas Mnemosyne, Borges’ The Library of Babel, and Walter Benjamin’s Unpacking my Library, the artists contemplate the library of today- one filtered through reproducibility, access to information and an ever-evolving understanding of curation, aesthetics and the archive. The library is a fertile place for exploration, a place that most often prioritizes use over display whereas the gallery is a site that prioritizes display over functionality. Babel Unbound attempts to do both; and while doing so slowly becomes aware of itself, as illegible, complicated, incomplete…

From Babel Unbound installation, by Leslie Mutchler & Jason Urban

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At the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund
A couple of recent posts of note from Maren Williams at the CBLDF:

  • Cartoonists Under Threat Worldwide
    Two years after the attack on Charlie Hebdo staff, the world’s free expression focus has largely shifted away from cartoonists. That certainly does not mean the danger has disappeared, however, as a recent 30-page report from the French nonprofit Cartooning for Peace/Dessins Pour la Paix shows. The report brings together profiles of cartoonists under threat and background information on the free speech situation in the countries where they work — or from which they’ve been forced to flee.
  • New TSA Rules May Require Books to be Scanned Separately
    Air travel in the U.S. may be about to get a bit worse for the literate, as the Transportation Security Administration is reportedly testing a new requirement for passengers to remove books and other paper items from their carry-on luggage during security screening. While the TSA says the proposed new policy arises only from scanning machines’ limitations in discerning explosives from other contents of packed bags, there is no doubt that privacy concerns can and will arise.Testing of the new procedures quietly began last month at a handful of small airports including Colorado Springs, Boise, and Lubbock. Since that time, according to the Wall Street Journal, passengers at larger airports have also encountered new rules on paper goods but those rules may “change line by line, airport by airport.”

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Florine Stettheimer, New York/Liberty

‘You might say she took the red, yellow and blue that Mondrian was just discovering and added purple, orange, pink and black.’
Roberta Smith at the New York Times reviews the Florine Stettheimer: Painting Poetry show:

The first Stettheimer cult was the one she painted. After a disappointing — and premature — solo show at Knoedler in 1916, she exhibited most frequently at her private salons. The women in her scenes were almost always her mother and sisters. The men were for the most part movers and shakers of the small New York art world, dandies, if not gay, who frequented the salon and admired Stettheimer.

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William Blake and the Age of Aquarius

September 23, 2017 – March 11, 2018
Block Museum of Art
Northwestern University

William Blake and the Age of Aquarius will consider parallels between Blake’s time and mid-twentieth-century America, touching on such issues as political repression, social transformation, and struggles for civil rights. Blake’s protests against the conventions of his day were inspirational for many young Americans disillusioned by perceived cultural tendencies of social uniformity, materialism and consumerism, racial and gender discrimination, and environmental degradation. This generation sought in Blake a model of independence, imagination, and resistance to authority. The exhibition will feature American artists for whom Blake was an important inspiration and will include more than 130 paintings, prints, drawings, photographs, films, and posters, as well as original Blake prints and illuminated books from collections throughout the United States.

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A Cosmic Journey – 7-4-2017 – by Cameron Arthur

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Suzy and Cecil – 7-4-2017 – by Sally Ingraham

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Joanie and Jordie – 7-4-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio

06/27/2017

Aaron Cockle here today with New Chinese Comics; Zadie Smith on Lynette Yiadom-Boakye; Clowes @ Cracked; Philip Guston; Something Unusual is Happening at Printed Matter; Matthew Thurber’s Cartoonist Run-down

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If you can’t make it but would still like to buy a book, they will be available at Desert Island after the 29th and through our website: paradise-systems.com

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Under-Song For A Cipher
Zadie Smith looks at the Lynette Yiadom-Boakye exhibition currently on view at the New Museum.

In many of Yiadom-Boakye’s interviews, she is asked about the source of her images, and she tends to answer as a novelist would, citing a potent mix of found images, memory, sheer imagination, and spontaneous painterly improvisation (most of her canvases are, famously, completed in a single day). From a novelist’s point of view, both the speed and the clarity are humbling. Subtleties of human personality it might take thousands of words to establish are here articulated by way of a few confident brushstrokes. But the deeper beguilement is how she manages to create the effect of wholly realized figures while simultaneously confounding so many of our assumptions about the figurative. The type of questions prompted by, say, Holbein (What kind of a man was Sir Thomas More?) or Gainsborough (What was the social status of Mr. and Mrs. Andrews?), or when considering a Lucian Freud (What is the relation between painter and model?), are all short-circuited here, replaced by an existential query not much heard in contemporary art: Who is this? The answer is both literal and liberating: No one. Nor will the titles of these paintings identify them.

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Ever The Women Watchful, 2017

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‘MAD Magazine in the 80’s seemed staid and a former ghost of itself, but Cracked seemed exciting and filled with new blood (and old) that spoke to my budding anarchic mind.’
At the Last of the Spinner Rack Junkies blog, Isaac Chance has uploaded a bunch of comics Daniel Clowes did at Cracked Magazine in the 1980’s.

Clowes would produce work for Cracked from 1985 through 1989. During this period he was also writing and drawing his own comic book Lloyd Llewellyn for Fantagraphics. After six issues, Llewellyn ended with a Special in 1988 and Clowes began Eightball in 1989.

Text: Peter Bagge; Art: Daniel Clowes

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Philip Guston, “Awakened by a Mosquito” (circa 1972–75), ink on paper (photo by Genevieve Hanson)

Philip Guston and the Poets
At Hyperallergic, Cara Ober looks at Guston’s work and the role that poetry played in its making, on exhibit at the Gallerie dell’Accademia (Campo della Carita, 1050, Venice) through September 3.

The exhibit is loosely curated around the five poets who are said to have had the most significant impact on his work — Wallace Stevens, Eugenio Montale, T.S. Eliot, W.B. Yeats, and D.H. Lawrence — and this structure provides unusual opportunities for thematic, rather than historical or formal, groupings. But at the core of the exhibit is an idea that’s both cohesive and revolutionary. The show argues that Guston’s staying power — grounded in fresh oddness, compelling authenticity, and dodgy compositions — was a direct consequence of his relationship with poetic language and form, as well as the ideas of the poets who wrote them. Rather than a romantic inevitability, Poets offers a pragmatic and collaborative handle to Guston’s career as a prolific artist and maker; it attests to the power of verbal and metaphorical language in nourishing his visual oeuvre. The exhibit also argues that silence is necessary for a visual artist’s development; it suggests that Guston’s leaving New York, the epicenter of the art world, was not only helpful, but essential to his work.

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Keren Katz, The Unfathomable Height of the Soap Dispenser, published by Humdrum comics.

‘Why were there no comics in the Whitney Biennial, again?’
Matthew Thurber discusses work by 10 Cartoonists Every Art Lover Needs to Know

Including Austin English:.

Comics-as-poetry is an established thing: See the work of Juliacks, Sarah Ferrick, and publishers like Sonatina and 2dcloud. English’s work was influential on this branch of comics-making. Unlike commercial comics—which traditionally convey emotion with simplified facial expression—the muddy, creased faces of English’s characters are opaque. I see a lot of George Grosz, Francis Bacon, and Willem de Kooning when I look at his drawings, which tend to be small and heavily worked with watercolor and colored pencil.

Lale Westvind:

The cartoonist’s background in traditional oil painting, video art, and animation led to her creating self-published comics at a heroic pace. In HAX, Amazonian warriors battle airplanes under Lichtensteinian Ben-Day dot skies. Her early animation Organism Test (2009) is a key to later work. Thousands of hand-drawn frames depict blob-creatures writhing in the desert, while hybrid motorcycle creatures race towards each other to collide at incredible speed: a copulatory act that generates new life. If Jack Kirby adapted J.G. Ballard’s Crash into a Captain Pronin cartoon, it might begin to resemble Westvind’s filmic oeuvre. Recent animations for the band Lightning Bolt and Morpha! Utila!, for the online TV channel Super Deluxe, are psychedelic masterpieces.

And Keren Katz:

Katz’s work, like that of Matthew Barney or Mika Rottenberg, has its own logic. Her storytelling voice seems to link the divine nonsense of authors like Daniel Pinkwater, William Steig, or Edward Gorey with surrealist writers like Leonora Carrington. Her comics are Truly Weird, the highest compliment I can give. With drawings executed in confident colored pencil, her figures stretch, bend, and topple in a manner reminiscent of contemporary choreography. (Indeed, Katz studied dance and has mentioned Pina Bausch as an influence.)

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The publications included in Something Unusual is Happening share a common interest in non-conventional storytelling, with each artist crafting a distinctive form of visual language that departs from the familiar narratives and formats of traditional comic art. The works explore a range of interests and fixations; allegories of personal transformation and enlightenment, cautionary tales of advanced technology, voyeurism and computer surveillance, as well as meditations on the act of comic-drawing itself.

At Printed Matter, June 30-July 31, 2017.

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A Cosmic Journey – 6-27-2017 – by Cameron Arthur

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Suzy and Cecil – 6-27-2017 – by Gabriella Tito

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Joanie and Jordie – 6-27-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio

06/20/2017

Aaron Cockle here today with Lauren Weinstein; Jillian Tamaki; Ad Reinhardt; Georgia O’Keeffe; Kriota Willberg; Snail Farm & Friends Book Fair

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Lauren Weinstein, from Normel Person

Normel Person
Lauren Weinstein continues her strong run of weekly strips at the Village Voice. 

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‘Each story shifts emotional and visual register.’
Jillian Tamaki’s new book, Boundless, receives another solid review, this time over at The Atlantic:

An ambitious and eclectic set of tales, it focuses on the interior lives of unexpected subjects: the writer of a pornographic sitcom, a shrinking woman, a plant-nursery employee with an internet doppelganger, even a fly. Boundless uses a constantly varying visual treatment that keeps readers on their toes and mixes and matches artistic styles with a proliferating set of genres, from speculative fiction to domestic drama to magical realism. If a reader comes to Boundless with assumptions about visual storytelling, Tamaki will confound them.

Jillian Tamaki, From Boundless

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5. No design. “Design is everywhere.”
Via ARTNEWS, Ad Reinhardt’s 12 Rules for a New Academy:

Much of today’s discussion of contemporary abstraction is centered on “Zombie Formalism”—Walter Robinson’s coinage for new work that revisits (or apes, one might say) historical forms of abstraction for purely stylistic reasons. Given the intensity of that debate, we thought it would be interesting, for this week’s Retrospective column, to jump back almost 60 years, to 1957, when Ad Reinhardt took up the subject of contemporary abstraction in ARTnews. Reinhardt, who had written for the magazine previously, said that the article—titled “Twelve Rules for a New Academy”—”constitute[d] his last words on art in terms of words.” He sharply criticized his formalist contemporaries, offering instead twelve ways to achieve purity in art. There would be no forms, no texture, no color, nothing—just pure blackness, as in Reinhardt’s most famous paintings. Reproduced in full below is Reinhardt’s article, which takes subtle swipes at Marcel Duchamp, Piet Mondrian, the Abstract Expressionists, and more. —Alex Greenberger

The Six General Canons or the Six Noes to be memorized are: (1) No Realism or Existentialism. “When the vulgar and commonplace dominate, the spirit subsides.” (2) No Impressionism. “The artist should once and forever emancipate himself from the bondage of appearance.” “The eye is a menace to clear sight.” (3) No Expressionism or Surrealism. “The laying bare of oneself,” autobiographically or socially, “is obscene.” (4) No Fauvism, primitivism or brute art. “Art begins with the getting-rid of nature.” (5) No Constructivism, sculpture, plasticism, or graphic arts. No collage, paste, paper, sand or string. (6) No “trompe-l’oeil,” interior decoration or architecture. The ordinary qualities and common sensitivities of these activities lie outside free and intellectual art.

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Georgia O’Keeffe, Patio with Cloud, 1956

Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern
At the Brooklyn Museum through July 23, 2017:

The exhibition is organized in sections that run from her early years, when O’Keeffe crafted a signature style of dress that dispensed with ornamentation; to her years in New York, in the 1920s and 1930s, when a black-and-white palette dominated much of her art and dress; and to her later years in New Mexico, where her art and clothing changed in response to the surrounding colors of the Southwestern landscape. The final section explores the enormous role photography played in the artist’s reinvention of herself in the Southwest, when a younger generation of photographers visited her, solidifying her status as a pioneer of modernism and as a contemporary style icon.

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‘The Internal Body Interacting with the External World’
New York Academy of Medicine’s Artist-in-Residence, Kriota Willberg, recently concluded a 4-week workshop, Visualizing and Drawing Anatomy, and has a brief recap about it. And in a post from 2016, Willberg looks at some historical anatomical drawings:

The images of Jacopo Berengario da Carpi’s Anatomia Carpi Isagoge breves, perlucide ac uberime, in anatomiam humani corporis… (1535) powerfully emphasize the fiber direction of the muscles of the waist. This picture in particular radiates the significance of our “core muscles.” Here, the external oblique muscles have been peeled away to show the lines of the internal obliques running from low lateral to high medial attachments. The continuance of this line is indicated in the central area of the abdomen. It perfectly illustrates the muscle’s direction of pull on its flattened tendon inserting at the midline of the trunk.

Figure in Berengario, Anatomia Carpi Isagoge breves, 1535

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A Cosmic Journey – 6-20-2017 – by Cameron Arthur

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Suzy and Cecil – 6-20-2017 – by Sally Ingraham

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Joanie and Jordie – 6-20-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio

06/13/2017

Aaron Cockle here today with The ClairFree System; Pope Hats; Blind Spot and Black Paper; The Republic of Samsung; Printer Steganography

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Jillian Tamaki, from Boundless

‘Here, she explains the inspiration behind her images and what she hopes readers to take from her work.’
Sally linked to this piece this past Friday, Claire Landsbaum asked Jillian Tamaki to dissect some of the panels from her story ‘The ClairFree System’, which is included in Tamaki’s new book, Boundless. Tamaki talks about incorporating found objects into the art-making process:

This is another sculpture from the Art Gallery of Ontario, but the original artwork was just the child — I created the rest. A lot of this story is about reframing context: taking a classical sculpture or a photograph, which is a specific instant in time, and stripping it of its information to make it universal, which is what I did here. The image itself is about someone’s hopes and dreams for their child — about everyone’s idea of a great parent, which is that they can give their kid everything they want. I’ve heard people say that a new child is a pure, unsullied human being who hasn’t ever made a bad decision — that they’re without sin. I find that extremely hopeful. I don’t have children, but I would imagine the desire to prolong that state is an emotion every parent feels.

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‘I keep returning to this notion: that the best feeling in the world is working really hard at creating something with no guarantee of a positive outcome.’
Ethan Rilly talks about his process for making Pope Hats #5, over at the AdHouse Books blog:

Enough people have asked me whether I’m a lawyer that it might be useful to answer here: No, and I never was. Never stepped foot in a law firm. This story might be autobiographical in all the regular faintly embarrassing ways but the lawyer stuff is a good distance outside of me. I did research and interviews.

Ethan Rilly, from Pope Hats #5

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Teju Cole, detail from Black Paper

‘I pray to Tarkovsky, Marker, and Hitchcock.’
Teju Cole will be exhibiting work June 15-August 11 at Stephen Kasher Gallery in NYC, photos and text from his new book, Blind Spot, as well as an installation piece, Black Paper.

The exhibition features over 30 color photographs from the series Blind Spot, each accompanied by Cole’s lyrical and evocative prose. Viewed together, these works form a multimedia diary of years of near-constant travel. In these photographs, we see what Cole has seen, from a park in Berlin to a mountain range in Switzerland, a church exterior in Lagos to a parking lot in Brooklyn; and we are drawn into the texts—which function as voiceovers—with which Cole complicates his already enigmatic images. At stake here is the question of vision, an exploration Cole began following a temporary spell of blindness in 2011, and which he presents here in a photographic sequence of novelistic intensity.

The exhibition also presents Black Paper, a visceral photographic response to Cole’s experiences following the election of November 2016. This continuously evolving, large-scale work explores buried feelings, haunted space, and all that can be seen through darkness.

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Young-hae Chang Heavy Industries, from Samsung

“ABOUT MY WORK AND MYSELF AND ALL THE REST I USED TO SAY:/,” “I HAVE NOTHING TO SAY AND I’M SAYING IT:.”
As a continuation of its online Net Art Anthology exhibition, Rhizome features and discusses Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries’s piece, Samsung.

The piece Samsung addresses the complex nature of the corporation—its existence not only as an economic entity but also as an emotional phantom, reaching its incorporeal fingers into relationships, daydreams, and fantasies. The text of Samsung, demonstrating many of the formal qualities of poetry, is interspersed with conversational breaks that establish intimacy with the viewer. The tone becomes conspiratorial as the narrator asks, “CAN/I CONFIDE/IN YOU?” There is no option to decline. The viewer is rendered complicit in the narrator’s confession of their adoration of Samsung.

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‘The printouts contained invisible dot patterns added by the printer to identify the worker who sent the print job’
I posted about Video Steganography, the imbedding of hidden information within electronic files, a few weeks back. Recently, the Boingboing blog posted a piece about one of the ways the National Security Agency was able to determine the source of leaked information about potential hacking involving the Russians in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, by examining the hidden dot patterns that are used with color printers.

There’s been much speculation on exactly how NSA leaker Reality Winner was exposed after giving The Intercept documents that showed the extent to which the security agency suspects Russian meddling (previously) in last year’s general election. On one hand, the filing against her talks of the “creases” seen in the scans The Intercept posted, tipping them off to it being a workplace printout from an insider–an insinuation of casual sloppiness on the reporters’ part. On the other hand, it seemed clear Winner did everything at a work computer anyway and was surely doomed once the story came out and internal investigations began.

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A Cosmic Journey – 6-13-2017 – by Cameron Arthur

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Suzy and Cecil – 6-13-2017 – by Gabriella Tito

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Joanie and Jordie – 6-13-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio