Driving around Los Angeles recently, I noticed that guerilla graphic artist Robbie Conal has been postering the city with a new political drawing, which I've reproduced here.
Seeing his latest work brought me back quite strongly to the Reagan-Bush years, when Conal produced his haunting "Men Without Lips" and "Women with Teeth" series. It gave me that same I've-got-to-get-out-of-this-country-before-the-right-knocks-on-my-door-in-the-night feeling that became so familiar to me during the 80s.
Conal's web site has an archive of his many entertaining, edgy works and I highly recommend taking the time to view or to renew your interest in his drawings. There is also a useful primer on how to do guerilla postering yourself, should the spirit move you.
September 2002 Archives
Alan Moore got a mention on last night's Twilight Zone, which featured a story about a female graphic novelist with writer's block. The story seemed to be about a male comic book creator initially, but the gender reversal that came at the end was a nice surprise.
I am pleased to announce that In Sequence has a special feature, "The Rescue of Floyd," running in the right side bar.
Following up on my previous post, I did in fact wind up in my friendly neighborhood comic book store yesterday. I couldn't afford my wish list, but I did get some of what I wanted, plus a few extras. Here's the take: Filth (#3, 4), Automatic Kafka (#2, 3), Vertigo Pop! (#2, 3), The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (#2), Milk & Cheese (#1). The last title was an impulse buy, because I noticed that someone, somewhere in the Blogosphere is into it so I decided to try it out.
Aaron asks, what comics would you buy if you had the money? Don't even get me started! Too late. Here is my answer:
Like Aaron, I've been reading Filth, so I'd pick up whatever I haven't bought already.
Collected issues of Alan Moore's Promethea in book form.
Nightwing, because Devin Grayson is writing it now.
Latest copies of Oddball, Automatic Kafka and Vertigo Pop!
Mail Order Bride by Mark Kalesniko.
The Green Lantern/Green Arrow Archive.
Incidentally, I really like Aaron's domain name--it made me want to rename my site www.bitterlezbo.org. Also, Neilalien tipped me off to this topic--when is he going to publish his list? And when are we going to learn some behind-the-scenes details regarding the man, the alien, the mysterious palindrome that is Neilalien? I mean, I've been exciting his chicken for a long time now, and it's just not doing it for me anymore. I need to see an about page, an Amazon wish list, something--you know what I'm saying?
Via Hoopty (seen here in an adorable Hello Kitty t-shirt), I found Skittish Sims, a web log about the Sims that includes stories about the blogger's Sim neighborhood, "Bloggerville." As you may have already guessed, Bloggerville is populated with Sim personalities of many of the bloggers we know and love--Sim Hoopty lives is house #1!
Yesterday I received an e-mail from my pal Neilalien alerting me to the site Women in Refrigerators, which he thought I'd be interested in. The site contains a compendium of the various nasty ends that female characters have met in the pages of comic books.
Because of the tendency of comic book characters to regenerate--as on soap operas--multiple forms of derangement, depowerment, or death are generally involved in their demise. Thus, consider the fate of poor Betty Banner: "abused, changed into a harpy, multiple miscarriages, dead." Or Celsius: "insane, dead, called delusional liar." One of my favorite entries was for Raven, who is listed as "sometimes evil, sometimes dead." (This attracted my eye because that is exactly how I was feeling at work last week.)
Quite a number of visitors to Women in Refrigerators, including several comic book creators, have weighed in with responses to the list. As I read through the list itself, my first thought was how much it reminded me of a list I once saw of all the different ways female Catholic martyrs have died. Because martyrs supposedly had God's strength in them, they were often reputed to be difficult to kill. For this reason, multiple methods were often employed to get rid of them. So the martyrs list went something like this: Saint Such-and-Such: eyes plucked out, breasts cut off, boiled in oil; or, Saint So-and-So: whipped, flesh removed with hot pincers, torn apart by wild beasts.
All of which is to say, I guess, that bad ends for women are a very old--and often quite tediously repetitive--story. But bad ends for women are also part of an archetypal form of story-telling, of tragedy. I'm sure one could find both types of stories in comic books--anyone care to nominate a few specific titles?
Has it been over a week already? I'm sorry I haven't been posting, but I seem to have fallen down a metaphysical rabbit hole somewhere in the vicinity of 9/11. Are you familiar with those Zen sayings that are supposed to invoke some sort of insight into the mysterious paradox of existence, like "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" I believe they are called koans.
Sometime last week I was contemplating the phrase, "Tom Ridge, Director of U.S. Homeland Security," and it invoked a koan-like stupor that lasted for several days. Except it was not blissful or peaceful the way Zen is; it was more like staring down into a black hole after eating too much low-fat ice cream. Anyway, I've snapped out of it, and lo and behold a week has passed, and the blog is sitting here languishing. So sorry for the lapse--I will try to post more this week.
Microcontent News has posted a review of Michael Chabon's award-winning novel about comic books, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. Blogger John Corante points out some interesting parallels he finds in weblogs and comic books ("mongrel art forms," to use Chabon's words) and their relationship to mainstream journalism.
Following up on yesterday's post, one of my co-workers reported seeing the poster below at other locations around L.A., so it does seem to be part of a campaign of some kind, artistic or otherwise. On a somewhat related note, I discovered a most impressive diagrammatic representation of Wall Street misbehavior while rummaging around Ben Hammersley's weblog. I particularly like the clip art, and some of the little call-outs, like the fact that Martha Stewart wrote the preface to Michael Milken's cookbook. As Dr. Phil would say, what was she thinking?
I'm not sure if this is a one-off graphic art manifesto or part of a series, but I saw this street poster on the way to work yesterday and had to take a snap. The caption reads: "Then it hit me: I'm not going to be famous, I won't get to be a rock star, I am going to be stuck on the payroll doing work that doesn't interest me for a very long time." I assume this was meant to coincide with Labor Day, as I hadn't seen it before.
I was shocked to read in Slate that there appears to be some dissatisfaction with the art on the new state quarters. The author writes that the designs on the state quarters released to date "fall into three main categories: the single icon, the kitschy collage, and the tableau (or the good, the bad, and the ugly)." She then goes on to say that the "five collage quarters resemble '50s souvenir plates." Well, as a big fan of the state souvenir plate, I have to say I see nothing wrong with that. I mean, what do you expect from a quarter? You can't even buy a nice Hello Kitty sticker from a gum machine with a quarter these days, but somehow it's expected to rise above kitsch status and become great art?
Besides, take a gander at these lovely candidates for the Iowa state quarter! I don't think I could choose. I am anxiously awaiting the unveiling of the California quarter. I favor a "Gold Rush" theme, or perhaps something with the state bear would be nice. One thing I liked about the Slate article is that it tipped me off to the existence of Coin World's State Quarters's page, where the controversy about the state designs is brewing. I had no idea there were so many people concerned about state quarters!
Of course, my interest has to do with the sequential nature of the project--the serial release of artistically imprinted coin. I did not previously know that the public was encouraged to submit designs, but I think it fits with the essentially democratic nature of coin art. You're standing there, doing your laundry, maybe picking up a soft drink, and you turn over the change in your hand, and suddenly there's this new miniature piece of artwork for you to admire.