Sam Ombiri is here today with thoughts on influences and his recent adventures in comics post-production – plus all the Comics Workbook Daily Strips!


Sam Ombiri – 3-2-2017

Sam Ombiri here – David O’Reilly said something like “it’s real cool for people to hide their influences and to not admit them“, and that “people who refrain from admitting their influences tend to have the most obvious ones“. I think he’s saying that it’s not so important how well one can hide their influence or not be obvious – it’s just a reflection of a certain attitude prominent in certain people. There is something to be said to not wanting to list influences. I recall both Claire Denis and Stefan Burnett saying “listing them seems boring/contrived” after mentioning 2 or 3 things when asked something akin to what other work has shaped their work?

I remember reading about the guy who created Mr. Robot – he was listing all his influences in this way that kind of drove me nuts for some reason. He said something like “Taxi Driver for the narration, Breaking Bad for it’s character arc, Blade Runner for its introspection” and such and such. It makes me understand why Matthew Thurber said All of these shows make me want to vomit in the face of the indoctrinated fool who invariably speaks of them in rapturous tones. I’d rather spend my time cleaning out a ten-year-old Rapidograph, or picking a scab!” (Maybe I don’t understand why but for a moment I can share his sentiment!)

Sammy Harkham was saying something akin to “An influence is a thing that if a solution to a problem wasn’t found, it would be a longer winding road in order to find it.” The problem being, trying to figure out how to execute something that’s not entirely clear. It sounded like a really optimistic thing – that art is made with what is already in someone, and is not exactly dependent on what art a person encounters. It seemed a bit of a mystical idea. Sort of “the man at the end of the search” type of deal.

It reminded me of the time in The Dance of Reality where Jodorowsky says “Everything you are is already inside you.” Something like that. I remember it more from the trailer than the movie. I don’t remember the movie too well as I haven’t seen it in a couple years, or at least it feels that way. I remember Jodorowsky’s Dad fighting a bunch of Nazis – and this one anarchist not wanting to live in world where dogs wore clothes. I remember other things.

I must disagree with what Nicolas Winding Refn said about Jodorowsky’s movies being about what we don’t see. (What Refn actually said was that Jodorowsky’s movies remind him that all movies aren’t about what you see but what you don’t see. Trailers are to a huge extent how he executes this idea, I think. The movies our minds see when we see his trailers and the movies that we see on screen, and all the ideas floating around in the movie that aren’t fully uttered… I think Sammy Harkham said something like “Plot is like a coat room for one to hang ideas in.

I think really often Sammy’s ideas of cartooning are almost similar to Robert Bresson. Not that his work is like Bresson’s, or completely like Bresson’s – they at times share similar traits. Or at least traits in what Bresson says. I think what Sammy was saying was about what fascinates him in horror films, which sounded very much like stuff that Bresson would talk about. Or this whole thing he says of demilitarized drama, and everything having the same weight, similar to how in Brian Chippendale’s Ninja things aren’t brought so much attention to.

How Sammy was talking about cartooning was similar to how Bresson was talking about a virtuoso playing music and how their faces and composure are completely controlled. Or how Sammy was saying he’d rather people’s sadness not be on display for everyone to see – it echoes how Bresson said, “The sadness on people’s faces when you pass them on the street isn’t readily apparent.” They also share similarly mysterious triumphs strictly in themselves. That’s not to say that their work is, I don’t know, too too similar. Maybe Sammy is hiding Bresson’s influence to be cool, ha ha. I know that’s not the case.

I think in a way that’s why I link Michael Haneke with Sammy a lot. I’m very certain Bresson had a ton of influence on Haneke. I always in my mind link Harkham with Haneke, for what are highly shallow reasons – not thinking that there are major connections, but a certain extremely specific similarity I see. – Sam Ombiri


Sam Ombiri learning how to layout and print his comic – Haunted VHS

The Comics Workbook Rowhouse Residency is a space where cartoonists from out of town can come for a week or more of comics-making intensive – but it is also a space for Pittsburgh’s local cartoonists to “spar” and train.

Sam Ombiri stopped by recently for an afternoon tutorial on final production – layout and printing. Over cups of tea and The Lounge Lizards spinning on the record player, he completed his comic Haunted VHS – debuting at the Pittsburgh Indy Comix Expo this April 9th!

There’s always something interesting happening around the Rowhouse – comics to read and make and share. Learn more about the Residency program HERE or email santoroschool@gmail.com.


The Spring Semester of the Santoro Correspondence Course for Comic Book Makers is about to start!

Although we have a rolling start date this semester, the course will officially kick off on March 7th. We will continue taking applications past that date – Frank is always willing to make it work for your schedule. Just apply!

The course is 8 weeks long – 500 bux – payment plans are available.

Check out the comic Connor Willumsen made when he took the course – Calgary: Death Milks a Cow!

More details can be found HERE or email santoroschool@gmail.com to apply.


Blinkers – 3-2-2017 – by Jack Brougham


Suzy and Cecil – 3-2-2017 – by Sally Ingraham


Joanie and Jordie – 3-2-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio


Cozytown – 3-2-2017 – by Juan Fernandez

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