Posted by on January 12, 2012  Film/TV
Jan 122012

REVOLVER (directed by Jonas Odell, Stig Bergqvist, Marti Ekstrand and Lars Ohlson) is one of my favourite animated shorts ever. I first saw this film at a festival in the early 1990s and I was mesmerized immediately. (Seeing it projected in a theatre is definitely the right way to go). “Cyclical” is the only way to describe the structure and the end result is evocative, poetic and haunting, at least to me.

I had a copy on VHS which went missing (permanently borrowed, is my guess). So years later, when in Sweden, I made a trip to Film Tecknarna to buy the copy I have now. I was hoping to meet the filmmakers themselves but that did not happen, sadly.

I have never been able to figure out why some non-linear films films are tantalising in their ambiguity but other, similar films are merely vague and annoying. Perhaps the difference is when there is an underlying structure, with its own internal logic that appeals aesthetically in some way to the mind? I remember reading somewhere that the film-makers were interested in making a film with the same approach to repetition as a piece of music (and the soundtrack is great too).

Put your headphones on, give it your full attention and allow yourself to be hypnotised.

As seen on TV

 Posted by on October 31, 2011  Baker's Dozen, Drawings, WRITING
Oct 312011

The older I get the longer a haircut takes, despite having fewer and fewer actual hairs on my head to cut. A similar principal is in effect at a grand-master chess match: fewer game-pieces on the chessboard means longer deliberations between moves.

Despite receding hair, getting a haircut now causes me no anxiety whatsoever. Ironically, I most worried about my hair when I had plenty to spare. As a small boy, I saw the world through an unruly mop, but even attempts by my mother to merely WASH my hair caused me to howl with as much tonsil-quavering gusto as being dragged to the dentist.

The drama of childhood dental appointments is easy to understand –my yowling correlated precisely with the actions of a bloke jamming a drill in the nerve-endings of my teeth– but it isn’t immediately clear why anyone grooming my hair caused such dread. Of course, in the 1970s, even grown-men loathed the barbershop but that was mere fashion. My hair-angst went much deeper than that, and was not connected to aesthetics at all. Like some tiny SAMSON, I saw grooming of my hair as an attack on my very self.

No matter how “good” the haircut, even if done professionally at the barbershop a few blocks from our house, I hated it anyway. Mum’s desire to save an inevitable public fracas, not to mention personal expense, meant that the haircuts were more likely to be done at home, by her. There were already 4 of us boys when I was 7 years old, so trimming our hair must have been an unending and utter misery for poor Mum. However, there came a savior: THE HAIR MAGICIAN.

In the 1970s, the K-TEL corporation solved the problems of common folk with little doo-hickeys, whatsits and thingamajigs. A particular point of interest was that each product had been “seen on TV” though only in the commercial that pointed out that fact. One such advertisement promised that a product called THE K-TEL HAIR MAGICIAN would deliver a haircut by merely combing your hair. Why, after a few strokes of this gadget (which looked like a long-handled comb) you’d be the very picture of style! (Such as it was in 1973). All this, without having to pay for a haircut! Mum must have thought all her prayers were answered at last.

I remember sitting out in the back yard on a kitchen chair as Mum swooped in with her newly-bought miracle gizmo. Predictably, as she combed it through my hair, I howled like a banshee, though this time with good reason; a haircut from the HAIR MAGICIAN hurt like holy hell. The K-TEL wizards had cunningly installed razor blade cartridges between the teeth of this comb to do the cutting. In theory. In reality, a few strokes from this new-fangled comb left hair entangled in the fangle, cutting capacity was lost and subsequent styling was achieved by hair being not so much cut as TUGGED out by the roots.

Sadly, a wave of the Hair Magician’s wand did NOT magically transform me into the smiling BRADY BUNCH kid of the TV commercials. Instead, I was transformed into something resembling a mangy dog who’d had chewing-gum cut from its fur with toenail-clippers. In terms of an identifiable fashion style, it could be compared to the punk look, but about 5 years too soon to be either identifiable or appreciated.

The only consolation was that it was relatively easy to blend in, even with such a hair disaster atop my head. Not just because the 1970s was the time when everyone’s hair went wild but also because mine wasn’t the only Mum to fall under the evil spell of THE HAIR MAGICIAN.

Tasty Eyeball Food

 Posted by on October 22, 2011  Reading:
Oct 222011

I am only just now going through the incredible array of books I bought, traded or was given, at APE last month. The very next day after the show, I went to PORTLAND for two weeks, where I was given another great book by Graham Annable. SCORE!

The totality of my reading stash of graphic wonders now includes the following:

“THE NUN WITH TWO GUNS” by John Hoffman
“LA LA LAND” and “LE MENAGERIE” by Bernyce Talley
“ICE BEAR JUDGES YOU” by Daniel Chong
“HIDDEN” by Graham Annable.

APE this weekend!

 Posted by on September 27, 2011  Conventions, Updates
Sep 272011

Once again, it’s time to GO APE. My favourite San Francisco comics-show will be held this coming weekend at the CONCOURSE EXHIBITION CENTER. I will be exhibiting there, at table #108, flanked by friends on either side; John Hoffman will be at #107 (with his crew; Kris Pearn and Craig Berry) while Michael Aushenker and Javier Hernandez will be at #109. Not to mention the fact that TONS of other friends will be exhibiting at the show too.

Now that Wondercon will be moving to Anaheim in 2012, not only is APE San Francisco’s coolest comics show, it’s the ONLY comics-show left in town, at least until 2013 when Wondercon may return. In the meantime, I hope to see you this weekend!

Dr Sketchy’s

 Posted by on September 18, 2011  Drawings
Sep 182011

Last night, Julia and I attended a life-drawing sketch session at San Francisco’s branch of the famous Dr Sketchy’s anti-ArtSchool, held at the 111 Minna Gallery. It was a lot of fun.

My understanding is that the models are always dressed and posed to a theme and this time it was “burlesque clowns”. Three 20 minute poses and one 40 minute pose.

After several hours of drawing a sexy clown, we went with Julia’s friends Nadine and Lisa (who had also been at Dr Sketchy’s) to Meet my pal Bosco at HENRY’s HUNAN, where we all enjoyed a tasty dinner and several hours of pleasant conversation. “Bizarro sketch night”

NUN with 2 GUNS

 Posted by on September 15, 2011  Conventions, Drawings, Friends, Reading:
Sep 152011

Here’s a Pin-up I just finished last night for John Hoffman‘s NUN WITH TWO GUNS comic book, which is the culmination of several years of doodling on his part. A while back, John co-created this character with his buddy Warwick J Caldwell, and now, after a few years of random drawings by both of them, she finally has her own story, completely written and drawn by John this time around. It will debut at the APE indie comics show here in San Francisco, two weeks from now on October 1st-2nd. I will be exhibiting there myself, and it just so happens that my table, #108, will be next to John’s, at #107. Fun!

Having been asked to draw my version of a no-nonsense gun-nun, naturally I got into the mood by remembering my own beat-downs at the hands of the bad-assed old nuns at my Catholic primary school (none had any guns, thankfully, or I might not be here today). I began by thumb-nailing poses of a gun-toting nun; either blazing away, or crouched atop a cathedral gargoyle. THE DARK KNIGHT in a habit.

Then, realising that such action stuff would surely be covered in either the story itself or the OTHER pin-ups, I started thinking less GUN and more NUN. What would the inner-life of a vampire-hunter nun be like? Maybe she prays with the guns, which have been consecrated and each named for a warrior angel from the bible. Being Catholic, no matter how much she hates those VAMPIRES, there’ll be GUILT about killing them. She wraps THORNS around the hand grips (seen in bottom panel) and when she shoots the demons, she is punished for her sins too.

I thumb-nailed more ideas, and had a hard time deciding which to finalise. Then, researching online, I saw photos of stained glass windows, which were medieval Catholic COMICS if you think about it; telling stories in a visual (and multi-panelled) way, and I decided to use as many of the thumbnails as I could, in one pin-up. I wanted to draw the guns covered in Catholic charms, like those MILAGRO CRUCIFIXES you see in Mexico, and should have added some blood dripping from her hands, but I ran out of time. With all my fiddling, I just got the pin-up to John in the nick of time. Given to him last night, the book is at the printers today!

ZINE FEST This weekend!

 Posted by on August 30, 2011  Conventions
Aug 302011

This coming weekend I’ll be exhibiting for the first time at the SAN FRANCISCO ZINE FEST. In addition to my books, I’ll have a few original little paintings for sale as well.

I’ve attended myself a few times before, most recently LAST year, when I enjoyed it so much that I had to try being on the OTHER side of the table this time. It is a very small show; you could take in the whole thing in an hour or two. It has a low-key, indie atmosphere focused very much on books. Not just comics, but self-published poetry and magazines. Best of all, unlike many such shows, it is FREE TO GET IN!

The ZINE FEST takes place near the 9th & Irving neighborhood. The first building you come to, just inside Golden gate Park, is the S.F. County Fair Building (A.K.A. the Hall of Flowers).

If you’re in the Golden Gate Park area this holiday weekend, please come by and say hello. The ZINE FEST goes from 11AM-6PM on both Saturday and Sunday.

3 Little Pigs

 Posted by on August 21, 2011  Drawings, JourneyMan, Work
Aug 212011

Many of the most-fun projects I work on never actually get made, like this one for example.

These sketches were done for a re-telling of all the classic FAIRY TALES where the BIG BAD WOLF is the baddie, BUT this time told from his point of view. We learn that he was set-up in the LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD story, and RED was actually his girlfriend. The poor wolf is framed by the 3 LITTLE PIGS, who were 3 horrible little THUGS in our version. It was funny.

We were having a lot of fun developing this idea but the needle-scratch moment came when we found out that a film called HOODWINKED was already in production elsewhere. Clearly our timing was bad and therefore the project was shelved.

Showdown on Harbor Drive

 Posted by on August 2, 2011  Conventions
Aug 022011

San Diego, July 2011:

This year, TWO comics related events went toe-to-toe in San Diego; COMIC CON, THE undisputed heavyweight comic book show** and, across the street-car tracks, TR!CKSTER, a scrappy little newcomer that punched way above its weight class.

I was involved in BOTH! Which qualifies me (somewhat) to REFEREE the showdown:

In the left corner: THE REIGNING CHAMP, COMIC CON!

Rhode and I had realised long ago that there would be no time to do one of our Kooky “Booth-Themes” this time around. Even a silly idea (like last year’s YARD SALE) takes a few days of preparation but we live on opposite coasts now. We drove down to the show together on the Tuesday morning before Preview Night, having met each-other for the first time in months that very SAME morning.

Prep-time being nil THIS year, we decided to actually display our stuff instead, which is a novel concept for us! Here’s the thing; sometimes those booth displays actually distract from the artwork. When you have a giant tin-foil robot towering over your booth there isn’t much room left to display prints and books! Despite last minute mini-drama, when we discovered that our trusty back-drape and table cloths had vanished from storage, a hasty trip to the fabric store saved the day, and I think we did a pretty good job of displaying our stuff, perhaps even the best we’ve ever done so far.

Rhode’s sales were his best ever! Despite high hopes, I sold only 1/3 what I sold last year. Having no new books may explain the downturn in BOOK sales but new PRINTS (and the best displayed range of designs ever) sold poorly too. Hard to explain why. We spend a lot of time behind the booth discussing such mysteries… Why does a slow-selling print suddenly sell out the next year? Why does a hot T-Shirt design go cold and then heat up again? Is it placement? Timing? Who knows? I guess the key is to always try new things and see what sticks, without getting so tangled in the SALES treadmill that you stop enjoying making the stuff in the first place.

Something new for me this year was selling little original framed paintings. Some came from my archives or sketchbooks, and others were painted while sitting at my booth.

What we took away from this particular COMIC CON is that we BOTH need to generate new material. New books, new designs and so on. Each of us definitely enjoys a show the best when we have a new book, even though the sales from those years aren’t necessarily the best. The satisfaction of having MADE something we are proud of always trumps sales. The other thing we talked about on the drive home from the show was the fact that we often decorate the booth but we have never done so to support any of our IDEAS. We have dressed as Car Salesmen or Robot men from the future but we have never decorated the entire booth in support of SKELETOWN or SEPHILINA and I think THAT is what we need to do next. Take it to the NEXT level.

**Funnily enough, even the vastness of Comic Con is but 1/3 the size of Japan’s COMIKET INDIE comic book show (IE; their version of APE!) which happens TWICE each year!!


Comic Con is, of course, THE definition of a comics convention, but Tr!ckster is a little harder to categorise. That is where the TR!CKY part comes in. (UN-conventional, you might say…) Tr!ckster is a bookstore/gallery/seminar, with a full bar on the side, but there are no booths and so forth. At least, that is what it looked like THIS this year. Who knows what size and shape it will take next time? Because part of the Tr!ckster concept is that it is a POP-UP event and will adapt to whatever space makes itself available. Sort of an indie-comics Halloween Super Store. With booze. Yeah.

Even though I was already locked into Comic Con 2011, having paid for my booth space a year before, I was very interested in the Tr!ckster project right from its inception. Namely, some anxious conversations several years ago about the NEW direction of Comic Con, which appeared to be moving away from its roots as a book show and steering in the direction of Hollywood (or perhaps E3).

And so, the conversations about an alternative began. “CREATOR CON!” became The rallying phrase for that growing community of people looking for something focused more strongly on the artists and writers who MAKE the stuff we all love. And now, a few years later, TR!CKSTER has grown out of that conversation. But what I think is significant about Tr!ckster is that it is only the beginning. Tr!ckster demonstrated last month that there was more than enough room in San Diego to have not only Comic Con but something ELSE as well.

My Time at Tr!ckster itself was sadly limited by the fact that I was committed to a booth in the nut-house across the road. But, during daylight hours, I was represented in Tr!ckster by my contribution to the Anthology book and my books & prints in the Tr!ckster store. In the evenings, Julia and I would go over there to hang out and, right from the get-go, I loved the feeling of the place. Personally, I liked it best when the mix of creativity, mingling and shopping was just-so. A Life drawing session jumping in one area, while other people hung-out in the bar to chat and then wander through the bookstore with a drink while meeting new friends. For me, that blend of people making art and buying it and/or networking was absolutely perfect.

A few nights later, when there was a rock band on site blazing away in full effect, I personally found it a bit too crowded and noisy… but of course I had just spent a wearying Saturday at Comic Con and had been looking forward to the mellow side of Tr!ckster that I’d enjoyed a few nights prior, so my opinion may not be typical of the majority. Everyone else certainly seemed to be enjoying themselves!

Being one of the few who exhibited at BOTH shows, There is an interesting comparison to be made between COMIC CON and TR!CKSTER in terms of sales, and it is not what you might expect. ALL my books sold better at Tr!ckster, where I paid no booth fees. That is a very sobering fact. When even my presence at Comic Con helps my books sell no better than at a store where I was not even around most of the time, it really highlights the notion that people at Comic Con are not there for books at all.

And the WINNER of the event IS… EVERYBODY!!

It was fun starting this post by casting Tr!ckster as an opponent to the huge Convention across the road, but it didn’t feel that way at the time. They are related but separate things. One is about spectacle and promotion, the other about creating and connecting. Julia said it best when she noted that Tr!ckster actually ADDED to the Comic Con experience, taking the comics-themed fun into the evening and giving us all one MORE reason to be in San Diego that week. In fact, I can see a time when San Diego in July might become a FESTIVAL rather than merely a convention, with events happening all over the city that week (or even that entire month?) There could be COMIC CON, TR!CKSTER and a multitude of other small pop-up events. I like that idea.

At the beginning of the CREATOR CON discussion, some envisioned a getting back to basics CONVENTION; a booth-based show that focused on artists the way Comic Con used to, 30 years ago. But the Tr!ckster guys decided to do something that would NOT be modeled on the classic convention format. Tr!ckster is very much artist driven but is something like an art SALON or gallery. Meaning that there is still room for more re-imaginings from other people if they want to do the leg-work. The Tr!ckster crew has shown the way; You don’t need to wait for permission to make the thing happen that you want to see happen! There will be room for other shows, possibly also happening concurrently with Comic con. I love it.

thanks to Julia Lundman, Tony Preciado and the INTERNET for the photos!