Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Chaos in the Elevator

Quick pencils from the Mesh panels I'm coloring today.
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Monday, July 28, 2008

Quick: A Magazine!

I purchased this issue of Quick (November 6, 1950) at a flea market. About the size of a calorie booklet sold in a grocery store checkout line, it aimed to please every reader, featuring sections on animals, art, books, national and world news, sports, science, health, etc. - all for a dime.

This issue features news on China invading Tibet, a summary of MGM top-man Dore Schary's book, Case History of a Movie, an interview with Gloria Swanson (who had just finished shooting Sunset Boulevard), an article on the death of Al Jolson, news on Somerset Maugham's films and new TV show, and a dire headline which never became a permanence: "Football Attendance Down, TV Blamed."
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Solitary Confinement

One of perhaps hundreds of Pictures of Benevolence drawings I produced in the '80s.

You can order a selection of Pictures of Benevolence mini-comics here:
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Friday, July 25, 2008

Musing on Prokofiev

Chills ran down my spine when I put on the recent live disc by Muse, H.A.A.R.P.; it opens, amidst a sold-out screaming Wembley Stadium crowd, with a St. Petersburg Kirov Orchestra recording of Prokofiev's "Dance of the Knights", from his Romeo and Juliet ballet score.

And so Muse displays up front (literally) what I've long thought is one of their primary musical influences. Their performance in a different concert of Rachmaninoff's ominous Prelude in C-sharp minor, another piece written by a Russian composer from the same time period, seals the deal. To put the icing on the cake (and to use another metaphor), a photo of the concert in the accompanying booklet shows a band member dressed in the sort of sailor suit which might have been worn in Sergei Eisenstein's Battleship Potempkin, another analogous period piece.

I've been heartened to see the resurgance and the resurgance of influence of possibly-lost musical styles in recent times. For nearly twenty years the advances pioneered by Brian Wilson (to name one example) were, for the most part, ignored or disparaged by the cutting edge. Nothing is less fashionable in any given time period than the last revolution, and in the '70s and '80s only XTC were willing to risk ridicule by utilizing Wilson's way of writing melody and instrumentation. Then came The High Llamas (originating from the primal melodic punk of Microdisney), The Wondermints, Belle and Sebastian, The Thrills, Super Furry Animals... now, forty years after Pet Sounds, it's hard to find groups who don't tip their hat to Brian; Pitchfork Media's top album of the year 2007, Person Pitch by Panda Bear, practically sounds like a Brian Wilson demo album circa 1968.

And so it is with Prokofiev, whose minor key, ironic, and gorgeously beautiful melodies have been informing alternative music for nearly thirty years. I first noticed the trend in early Depeche Mode; not on their first album, the Vince Clarke-penned Speak & Spell, but the follow-up lps A Broken Frame and Construction Time Again, all culminating in their moody goth masterpiece, Black Celebration (1986). Radiohead has practically built a career on utilizing the sort of melodic structures pioneered by Prokofiev; it's not hard to speculate that OK Computer is what Prokofiev would have sounded like had he been born in 1975.

In short, it's heartening to hear that good music need not die, but can live on in the work of future generations, even if the thousands of screaming fans in Wembley Stadium are none the wiser.
The Muse concert, BTW, or what I've seen of it, looks amazing, a bombastic display of agit-prop and earth-shattering anthems.

The guitar-carrying robots are cool, too.

You can order it here:
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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Beetle Bailey T-Shirt

Here's a Beetle Bailey shirt drawn by Mort Walker, which I colored. The 11th Annual Collector T-shirt is a fund raiser for the Tulsa, Oklahoma Boy's Home - all profits benefit the Boy's Home.

Click here for the Tulsa Boy's Home website:

And thanks, Michael Lail, for the opportunity to contribute to this!
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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Mesh Updated

The Mesh has been updated with four new panels. Check it out here:
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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Mighty Mort Meskin

Who knows what Mort Meskin's last comic book work was?

A story I ran across in a 1964 issue of DC's Strange Adventures #169 may have been his last - a year later Meskin became an advertising director and commercial

Meskin, who worked out of the Caniff/Kirby school, was
capable of some of the most delicate linework I've seen; some of his romance covers from the '50s are so beautifully drawn they'll make you weep. This mid-'60s story, however, has the (I hate to use the word) sloppiest work I've seen by Meskin. It's apparent he was ready to chuck comics soon.

Even this story has many glimpses of exceptional expressiveness which shine through, though, such as this background policeman's face. Notice it's nearly all drawn with a line the same width, maybe even a marker instead of a brush. Yet, it works.
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Monday, July 21, 2008

Another American Idiot

A preliminary pencil drawing of the renowned visionary on stage with Green Day, for the new book by Sirianus, The Lost Quatrains of Nostradamus.
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Two Against the World

In a world of sudden revenge, they've got each other's back!

Steve Topping and A.M.Siriano, aka Emperor of Earth, at a recent shindig.

Check out the Emperor's Nostradamus site at:
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Sunday, July 20, 2008


A sample from panel 22 of The Mesh. I'm coloring panels 21-24
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Eyes Wide Shut

I saw Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wides Shut several times at the theatre during its first run.

Note: the (soy-based?) ink used on these theatre tickets from the last ten years is fading fast. I had to brighten this ticket in Photoshop big time in order to render it legible. If you want to keep these, scan 'em soon!
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Saturday, July 19, 2008

One Bad Dude

One of ten unused bad dudes drawn for the cover of All-Fist Comics
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Mahler: Beyond the Infinite

Here's the cover of the first cassette I bought and listened to on my first Walkman, circa 1981. I bought (charged) the Walkman and the cassette (which had just been released) at the old, magnificent Lazarus in downtown Columbus.

When I was very young, music - especially certain pieces of classical music - had a scary and profoundly mysterious quality and effect on me which has mostly, though not completely, faded away through decades of nearly constant music listening (I think some groups, like Stereolab, attempt to recreate that feeling, with sporadic results). The music bespoke of the inchoateness of the universe, of dangers adult and unknowable, of inscrutable sonic and physical worlds. The low-treble rumbling undercurrent in Herbert Von Karajan's rendition of Also Sprach Zarathustra (used in the 2001: A Space Odyssey soundtrack) was like a premonition, a sonic background to the universe which we can sense, but not grasp.

Though musically "jaded" by the early '80s (as a decade of Steely Dan, Talking Heads, Sex Pistols,The Clash, Devo, Aerosmith, The Contortions and the B-52s will do to one - not to mention enough classical music to choke a horse), Bruno Walter's version of the Mahler 1st still had/has the power to represent. I remember also the first experience of hearing the music through the Walkman headphones, lost in my insulated world as I walked the city streets, Mahler providing the accompaniment everywhere I went for weeks - and this great, glorious stereo sound came from a little plastic box (these weren't your father's transistor radios)! Even the cassette hiss (it was an older recording) sounded great.

I still look to Walter for Mahler goodness. I'm playing this recording today. The Walkman is in the electronic scrap box, along with a couple others, all of which stopped working, each one manufactured successively cheaper.

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Wild Goose Mini

A page from a mini-comic drawn for a presentation of my work at Wild Goose Creative's Third Thursdays, last February.
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Friday, July 11, 2008

Bruce - "Don't Make Me Angry"

Speaking of Bruce Chrislip, here he is at the 2006 Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo.
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Charlton Comics

I love this logo. It brings back a lot of memories from the early '70s, when the comics racks in drug stores and department stores were filled out with a seemingly limitless array of Charlton titles; poorly printed but enticing war comics, romance comics, horror comics with art by Steve Ditko and Tom Sutton, Popeye, Blondie, Beatle Bailey, etc.

The party eventually ended. The Charlton comics gradually disappeared, and then the comics racks disappeared.

My good friend and comics historian Bruce Chrislip has a fascinating story about the Charlton printing facilities, which I won't recount here.
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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Prince - Party Like It's 2036 A.D.

A drawing I did of Jack Kirby's Prince Tuftan (from Kamandi), for a friend of mine, Charlie Nicklaus.
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A recent pencil sketch from The Mesh.
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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

My Flag Is Down

A book I purchased in Licking County in a Vineyard Church parking lot sale.
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