Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Weirdos of Note

Finally, it can be told! The Book of Weirdo is here, celebrating the legacy of R. Crumb's legendary anthology comic and all the great talents involved. Author Jon Cooke asked me to produce portraits of the three editors of Weirdo and its publisher, and here they are: Crumb himself, Peter Bagge, Aline Kominsky-Crumb, and Last Gasp publisher Ron Turner. This gig was great fun and a huge honor to be included between the covers in this honorary gang-bang of Weirdos.
Here's the cover of the book, drawn by the great Drew Friedman. Order this must-have artifact from Last Gasp here.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

The Architect of Hogwarts

J.K. Rowling, author of Harry Potter and the Mother Lode of Book Sales. Part of my infinite series, The Gods of Geek Mythology.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

The Lord of the Lord of the Rings

J.R.R. Tolkien. Another entry in my never-ending series, The Gods of Geek Mythology.

I've been informed that March 25th is Tolkien Reading Day, which I assume is a day for everyone to watch Hobbit movies.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

D.O.A. Again

Sifting through some old portraits I was horrified to discover that my earlier attempt at Edmund O'Brien came out looking like Kevin McCarthy. So I tried a little re-do, as you see here. Maybe I'll take another crack at it every four or five years until I get it right.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Advice for Artists

1.       Decide right now if you are going to be an artist or a fan, a producer or a consumer. If you choose creativity, don’t waste time and energy on fandom.

2.       Accept now that your parents, in this life or the next, will never understand what you’re doing. They will always be more concerned with the cleanliness of your laundry than your life’s ambitions.

3.       You will never “make it.” Any momentary success will put you right back at square one the next day, where you will begin promoting and begging all over again. Artists rarely know what comes next or if any opportunties will appear again at all. Embrace this uncertainty.

4.       Accept that artistry is a lifestyle choice and not a dependable career and plan accordingly.

5.       Find a day job that doesn’t make you nuts and doesn’t sap your creative energy. Do not try to juggle a commercial art 9-to-5 with personal work. Find a job unrelated to art where you can interact with real people. Do not become an art instructor. Trust me on this.

6.       Treat your work with respect. Present your work as if it is among the most refined and sophisticated around. Don’t make ratty “punk” zines on goldenrod copy paper. Make promotional materials simple and professional. If you don’t show respect to your work no one else will.

7.       Figure out your own head and make art which reflects your weird preoccupations. Never create artwork based on assumptions of commercial appeal.

8.       Move forward as if your intention is to remain obscure yet confidently productive forever. Hack gigs for Disney money won’t do a thing to promote the art you really care about.

9.       Develop trust in the mistakes, inescapable quirks, and bad habits you can’t outgrow. These are the basis for your “style.” Trust your style to carry you through. In many respects, style IS substance.

10.   You don’t always need complex ideas, just truthful ones.

11.   Ignore the pressure to appear “well-rounded.” Embrace your most individual obsessions and dismiss everything else.

12.   Assuming that you need expensive, specialized equipment to make art is just an excuse not to make art. But if you acquire such equipment, take note if you find yourself more interested in the tools than in the work. This interest is trying to tell you something.

13.   Work as fast or as slow as you require. Create hundreds of works a year or only one. Art is not an Olympic sport.

14.   Desiring art whch matches the couch is a perfectly valid mode of art appreciation.

15.   Don’t fill sketchbooks simply to impress others with your dedication and productivity. Sketch to solve problems.

16.   Develop a process which allows opportunities to correct mistakes and/or capitalize on happy accidents. The production of art is a process of fixing mistakes.

17.   As my old life drawing instructor Mr. Song used to say, “Don’t be afraid to make an ugly art!”

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Does Whatever a Stanley Can

Stan Lee. Part of my infinite series, The Gods of Geek Mythology.

I found myself saddened by the death of Stan Lee, but not for the usual reasons. It's sad that we've lost yet another connection to the golden and silver age of comics, an era now so ancient as to be completely foreign to modern sensibilities. But what saddens me most is that Lee lived too long and burned too many bridges for his legacy as comicdom's wacky uncle to remain intact. His longevity left a huge gap between the last creation he might take some credit for and today, with many decades in-between of empty self-promotion and lackluster attempts to attach his name brand to a few media projects.

Worst of all, when given the opportunity to right wrongs in favor of his fellow creators, in the press or, especially, in court, Stan remained the company boy he had always been. Had Lee died 20 years earlier, comics fans would have celebrated him as the controversial, yet lovable goofball he wanted to be. We would have fondly recalled the cringe-worthy cover blurbs and hep-cat patter of Stan's Soapbox and all the fun being in the Marvel clubhouse was when reading comics still got you beat up on the school bus.

But the Marvel movies came, the huge money, the Disney buyout, and all the retrospective squabbling over who was owed what for having thought up the idea of web shooters. Stan was no longer a whimsical comic book editor but the guy in the film cameos - the symbol of huge corporate profits that trickled into his own pockets but not those of Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, and the rest of the real idea men. Stan outlived his well-honed image, and by the time he died, too many knew there wasn't much behind the big grin or the tinted glasses.

And that's why his death didn't feel like the loss it might have. Because for nearly 50 years the man didn't do very much save continue to claim credit for a creatively-fertile period, now long gone, to which he actually contributed very little.

In spite of all that, I still have a soft spot for the guy. Goes to show you how effective a well-polished media persona can be.