May 2001 Archives

Pettibone influenced by comics

Last night I read the interview with artist Raymond Pettibone in L.A. Weekly, conducted by novelist Dennis Cooper. Pettibone talks about his work in relation to cartoons and comics and claims a closer artistic affiliation to comics than to illustration. In comics, Pettibone asserts, writing and drawing are born of the same artistic moment, whereas in illustration, there is a descriptive intent that is based on the priority of writing. In other words, illustration comments on writing but comics is an organic presentation of drawing and writing. There is also a nice enlargement feature on the web site that allows the reader to see samples of Pettibone's work close up.

New narrative forms

I recently received notice of the upcoming eNarrative 3 conference in San Francisco. I've never been but it looks like a very stimulating and forward-looking event.
The program is informal but there is supposed to be a discussion of weblogs and serial fiction. There is an element of faddishness to weblogs, it's true--but there's no denying that the Internet has revitalized interest in reading and weblogs seem to be emerging as a genuinely new literary form.

E3 sexism

I pushed past my distaste for Salon in order to read a review of E3 that focussed on women's presence in the gaming industry. Why don't I trust I my instincts? The condemnatory article contends that because the gaming industry is pervaded by sexism and games are overrun with degrading images of women, gaming is therefore outside of the moral values of mainstream society. Oh, the humanity! Please, somebody stop me--I'm laughing so hard I could cry.

Site Down

My apologies to my regular readers for the difficulties in accessing "In Sequence" over the last few days. The host server was down for several days. Hopefully this won't be a problem again anytime soon.

My first E3

Thanks to my job working for, I was able to get my hands on a free exhibits pass to this year's E3, the Electronic Entertainment Expo. I'd been counting down the days til this weekend and my excursion to the convention did not disappoint. What a show!
As I drove up to the convention hall in downtown Los Angeles, I felt somehwat wary when I saw that the convention parking lot was full and that I would be forced to hunt down some quasi-legal parking lot in the midst of the city. With gang tags on almost every corner I didn't want to have to walk too far to the convention center, even in broad daylight. But I found a public parking lot close by and was momentarily mesmerized as I stepped out of my car and into a scene that seemed straight out of Transmetropolitan. The blocks surrounding the convention center were swarming with hardcore gaming chicks with piercings and full body tattoos, geeky guys with Watchmen T-shirts, slick media and entertainment types in suits--all this against the backdrop of L.A. downtown street life--people waiting for the metro, building-size murals of Martin Luther King Jr. and Eleanor Roosevelt peering down from the sides of skyscrapers, and enormous banner of Sonic the Hedgehog leering down from the side of the Convention Center.
Once inside the main exhibit hall, the feeling of intense overstimulation only intensified. The only things I've experienced that even come close to the same level of sensory assault are being on the floor of the MGM Grand Casino in Las Vegas, or being at Disneyland on New Year's Eve. I suppose if you dropped 1,000 TV screens in the center of either of those experiences--blaring action-packed images at top volume--you might have an approximation of what E3 is like. There were 5 exhibit halls to get through; I visited 3 before I maxed out.
In case there were any doubt about who rules the roost in gaming, it was made by abundantly clear once one entered the main exhibit and saw the huge Electronic Arts set-up in the primo spot by the entryway. To show off their multi-port development strategy, EA had copies of all their upcoming sports titles--Madden 2002, NHL Hockey 2002, etc.--demoing side by side on X Box, Playstation 2, and Nintendo Game Cube systems. The demos were off-sync by 30 seconds so it was impossible to do exact frame comparisons, however, I was most impressed by X Box's rendering of detail in the facial expressions of the players on Madden 2002.
EA was also showing game previews on a screen about half the size of a regular theater screen. The one that intrigured me most was "Pirates of Skull Cove" for Playstation 2, which had a female pirate as the main character. There was also a preview of The Sims Online that showed various Sims characters checking into an online disco house party, some wicked special effects from James Bond for Playstation 2 (how about checking out those Bond girls with some X-ray specs?) and a really beautiful set of sequences from an upcoming Harry Potter game for PC.
My self-imposed mission was to get my hands on the X Box. Microsoft made numerous console stations available for hands-on play, with the action projected onto digital widescreen TVs for onlookers and those waiting in line to see. Yum. All the games I saw I looked good, with landscape and atmospheric details (like snow, for instance, or the leaves on the trees) really jumping out on the screen. Oddworld looked fun, but the game I finally got my hands on was Azurik: Rise of Perathia. The game play was a bit jerky--no doubt because it was a demo--but the visuals were amazing. Both ice and fire effects showed transparency and seemed to glow from within, while the player and monster movement was smooth and fluid, like an animated film. Microsoft really did its homework with the controls, which felt like they had molded to my hand.
I stopped by the Everquest booth to ask if there were any plans to bring the game to the Mac. The suit in charge gave me the usual "there's not a big enough audience" rap. Then I asked if Everquest would be made available through the broadband connection in Playstation 2. There was a pause and then I got a charming smile and a definite "no," said in that very distinct Hollywood manner that says "I'm lying straight to your face right now."
In terms of gamer enthusism, the biggest crowd seemed to be around Square's Final Fantasy. There was also a lot of enthusiasm for Nintendo, which definitely had the the coolest exhibit design. The Nintendo area was walled off from the rest of the show floor, so that when one entered, one felt like as though one had entered the hippest party around. There was a large, eye-catching wave sculpture at the entrance with a fountain embedded within it, and glowing water lamps leading into the exhibit area--very cool, very 70s, very Spencer gifts. They were clearly working the whole retro Japanese design thing to their advantage.
I had a great time at E3--and it's a good thing I did, because I missed the opening of the Glendale Apple Store to go to it. So many gadgets, so little time.

Aria returns

Aria is back!
I've been a fan of this Image comic book since the moment I laid eyes on it. Lush, beautiful art work lured me in, then the storyline delivered the sucker punch; I've been reading and collecting it ever since. I'm so glad it's back!
"Aria" has changed it's name to "Aria: The Soul Market," but it's still the same group of characters and the new story extends the previous plot line. According to my local comic book dealer, Avalon Studios was so continuously late with the title and comic dealers were so fed up with the delays on delivery that the only way they could keep publishing it was to change its name in order to give it a fresh start. I know I've asked comic store owners about the title numerous times in the past 6 months, but I'd rather it be late than not have it at all.
The artist working on Aria has changed, and perhaps that's part of the strategy for keeping the book on schedule. Considering how intricate the art work has been on Aria, I'm not surprised the publishers couldn't keep a reasonable schedule. The new artist has done an admirable job of interpreting Jay Anacleto's original characterizations and the punk fairyland world of Aria. Here's hoping they can keep up a good pace.

DC boards

As I discussed last night, I went to DC Comics' web site to check out the message boards and immediately remembered why I hadn't bookmarked the site. It's lousy. The navigation is terrible and I won't even discuss the design. But once I actually found the message boards I saw a long string of folders on fire with hot flames and, sure nough, one of the first threads had to do with gay characters. So, yes, they're worth checking out. By the way, if you linked through to the interview I mentioned last night, be sure to check out the whole thing--it's several pages long and it's easy to miss the links at the bottom that take you to the next page.

Gay comics creators

Ran across a long interview with several gay and lesbian comic creators. After reading it through, I've decided I need to check out the DC comic forums. They sound like a hotbed of queer dissent--something we don't see enough of these days.

Entertaining Meat Cake

I recently discovered the comic book "Meat Cake" by Dame Darcy while tooling around the web. I picked up numbers 7 and 10 at the ever-so-wonderful Meltdown Comics and Collectibles in Hollywood, which is where I usually head when I'm looking for something that I anticipate is going to be hard to find.
I am a big lover of the underground and the marginal, but even so, I wasn't really prepared for "Meat Cake" or Dame Darcy. The first issue I read passed me by in a haze of confusion--I couldn't grasp what was going on exactly--something about outer space and mermaids and a band. But I did quite enjoy the stream-of-consciousness strip at the very end on how to tell if your doll is possessed. Very informative.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the comic was the biographical material at the end showcasing Dame Darcy's other artistic and expressionist enterprises, including her band, her dollmaking service, and her palm-reading service. I didn't think too much of "Meat Cake" after one issue but I did admire Dame Darcy's adamantly "outsider art" approach to life. I mean, I don't want to live in some toilet in the east village and pursue the Muse but I have the utmost respect for those who do.
Some days later I picked up the other issue, and this time the story seemed to make sense, there was some continuity to the characters, and the charm of Dame Darcy became more apparent. I liked the Edward Gorey influenced artwork, such as the panel I've reproduced here of a headless woman pouring herself a drink while swinging on a chandelier. I don't know if I'll check in with "Meat Cake" on a regular basis, but I'm glad I took a peek at this unusual artist.

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