Saturday 2 June 2007


D oing the Islands with Bacchus - Like the 'Immortality' cover I showed on may 21, this is another that I lived with through several variations over a ten year period. In the top two I was stuck at two extremes; one puts the protagonist so far back among the beach girls that we hardly notice him, while the second brings him so far forward that the girls could be in another picture. The lower composition tries to resolve the problem by having a large girl in the foreground and the small group further off , but not too far. I like that I kept the rough painted edge in that second one in my xerox copy. You never see that again after the picture is printed as a cover. I remember visiting Matt Wagner in Portland Oregon around the time I painted the second picture and we discussed the aesthetic of painting up to a straight edge by using masking tape. Collectors apparently like to have a clean edge. Damn them I say; let's see all the workings. The foreground girl in the lower pair is based on a figure from a ladies' underwear catalogue; I was very taken with the arrangement of a strong reflective light thrown up from the hot sand
(1) is an ink drawing intended for the cover of a third issue of the Harrier Bacchus in 1988 if the series hadn't been discontinued (#2 saw Bacchus arrive among the Greek islands to begin his adventures there). I saw a chance to successfully submit it to the Amazing Heroes annual swimsuit special (Fantagraphics) 1991-(third girl back looks out of proportion, and the band of distant figures was added to fill the space that would originally have been taken up by a logo)
(2) Doing the Islands with Bacchus, Dark Horse mini-series 1991, 1 of 3- a xerox of my cover in oils, untrimmed, without logo and title type.
(3) coloured ink drawing, solicitation image for my own 176 page collected Doing the isands With Bacchus 1997, all the girls in this one, (colouring too), by Pete Mullins from photo refs.
(4) chemical proof of my finished cover in oils, 1997, without logo and title type. Note the seated girl in the middle-distance, from a photo, who appears in all three of the colour versions and may even still be sun-baking in my cumbersome file of old reference cuttings, third drawer down in the old metal cabinet..

coincidentally from comments:
"This next story caught my eye after re-reading 'Doing the Islands with Bacchus' the other night."-Ben Smith
An 89-year-old (british) woman took a £2,000 taxi trip to Greece - because she can't stand waiting in airports.-BBC NEWS-30 May
Taxi driver Mr Delefortrie said: "I like driving and it seemed a good idea. The drive through Austria was spectacular.
John Coulthart alerts me to a new exhibition opening June 1:
DALí & FILM - A GROUNDBREAKING SHOW AT TATE MODERN. This is from the 24 Hour Museum site:
The dream recounted by Gregory Peck for analysis by Ingrid Bergman (in the Hitchcock movie Spellbound, the dream sequence of which was designed by Dali)– with its distorted perceptions, eerie landscapes and faceless tormentor – remains one of the most powerful depictions of the subconscious ever seen in the medium of film. The image of the eye returns here, again being slashed by a man with a pair of scissors; other disembodied eyes watch the chaotic action from their position on top of plant stalks.
in other news:
Man falls off balcony in spitting contest

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Friday 1 June 2007

covers- BACCHUS no.17

T he Yellow Bustard. I was going to inscribe that on the cover of this sly dig at Sin City, but I thought, oh everybody will get it. I suppose they did, but nobody ever said anything. Picture on left from Frank Miller's The Yellow Bastard, picture on right by me except for the rubber chicken, which Pete Mullins contributed and logo and color were added by Mick Evans at the design stage. We had conquered that problem some time before, as explained in an earlier post. Apart from my suspicion that everybody missed the joke, we had no problems whatsoever with this one, and the solicitation image was the same drawing as the finished cover. Why can't life always be like that?

After enjoying the Beirut video the other day I’ve been doing some digging. Hayley Campbell sends me this Guardian article from November 24 last, the day before I started blogging, in which Zach Condon and Eugene Hutz are cussing at each other. Ah, not since the heady days when trad and modern jazz locked horns have such passions been raised.
'There is no such thing as Gypsy music'
From Basement Jaxx to Beirut to Gogol Bordello, bands are looking to the Balkans for inspiration. But, asks Dorian Lynskey, is this a genuine new musical hybrid or just cultural tourism?

I've been enjoying Leif Peng's look, over the last couple of weeks, at the work of great American illustrator Al Parker
There are yards of beautiful pictures.

wha? there have been 50,000 views of this pilot of the Furry Freak Brothers movie and I've only just heard about it? Gilbert never mentioned the possiblity of a movie when we had dinner with him, Hunt Emerson and the Knockabout crowd in Angouleme in France two years ago.
(via mr j, drjon and just about everybody else who heard about it before me)

I'm interviewed at Suicide Girls. These long distance telephone conversations are always tricky, but I don't seem to have embarrassed myself too much here.
There's another interview at Comic Book resources. This was by email, so there was less chance of me making an ass of myself, but you be the judge.

Website of writer Miranda July is the most original and funny thing I've seen online in a long time. (link via Neil Gaiman's blog)

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Thursday 31 May 2007

judgement in Wicks case.

I'VE BEEN WAITING FOR THIS, so i'll do an update here so I can post it before my pal Tom Spurgeon gets up in the morning.
Family of Ben Wicks wins back misplaced drawings
Toronto Star- May 31.-4.30 a.m.
Case of 2,800 cartoons left behind by movers sets legal precedent for protection of artists' works
In what is viewed as an important legal precedent for the protection of artists' works, a judge is ordering the return of more than 2,800 Ben Wicks drawings to the family.
In an 11-page decision released yesterday, Superior Court Judge Thomas Lederer ruled the cartoons, depicting political figures back to the late 1960s, are the property of the late political cartoonist and not Richard Harnett, who found the drawings 15 years ago. They had been left by movers, packed in green garbage bags when Wicks' son, Vincent, moved from Keswick to Vancouver in 1992.

If, like me, You'd never heard of the chap before all this, here's a profile
and here's more
Acclaimed cartoonist Ben Wicks was a pint-sized cockney who never lost his accent or his sense of humor.
Wicks make a name for himself in Canada, not only as a cartoonist, but as a journalist, TV personality, author, entrepreneur and humanitarian.

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covers- BACCHUS no.30

With this one at least I had a confident idea from the start. Collage waving 'Yoo-hoo' at the reader. She hadn't been on a cover for quite a while. In fact she hadn't been in the storyline either since Bacchus was locked up in jail. The problems started when I painted it in gouache. Well, actually if I'd just stuck with the gouache we might have been okay, but I coloured her coat with a fluorescent orange pantone marker. I'm sure Evans would have called me an idiot, and remembering how well that Eyeball Kid cover came out, I'd have just said 'photograph it and see what happens', in my naivete not realizing that whenever these mad ideas worked out well it was because some poor muggins, unbeknownst to me, had put a lot of thought and effort into how it might be reproduced. So Mick grumbled, had a few beers with me, grumbled less, took it away to where he was working the nightshift in a design studio, and dropped the negs in at my place the following morning on his way home (he described our working method in brief a few days ago in comments). We'd usually be pressing ahead with the days rigors when he arrived. I had two drawing tables in the front room for me and Pete, as well as big desk with the typewriter on it, which was Anne's station. In fact, it wasn't really a 'front room', more the passage between the veranda and the living room. The front door remained open all day, letting in the subtropical sunshine and occasional bodies trying to sell me a story idea.
The problem this time was that the orange insisted on reproducing as a bright yellow as evidenced by the chemical proof Mick was showing to me. I can't recall whether we had another attempt to photograph it, but my solution to the problem in the end was to retouch the chemical proof and use that as the actual cover art. The retouching involved quite a bit of additional colour on the face. The surface of this was tacky, and we may have kicked it around before I decided it was to be the precious finished surface. There's a little speck of dirt stuck to the character's nose, and when I tried to remove it I just made it worse.
The true solution never occurred to me at the time. I had successfully made xeroxes of the painting at full and half size, which is why I couldn't figure out why it wouldn't reproduce for the process camera. There would be times like that I dearly wished I had been accepted for the graphic design diploma course way back in '74 (to this day I can't figure out why I couldn't get in there... must have been my arrogance or something) since I've spent so many days wrestling with technical problems associated with printing. Anyway, the local university paper made a special issue devoted to comics and Minty Moore became a key guy in rounding up material for them. I gave them the large size xerox of this cover as a stand alone piece of art (there's a great deal going on in the graffiti behind the figure), and it printed perfectly, at a nice big tabloid size too. In other words the xerox process converts everything in the art to the same material, photopcopy toner, so that all the elements react in the same way under the process camera. It's when you mix media on the same surface that you run into problems. Lesson learned.
(1) is the solicitation image as it appeared in the Previews catalogue, (2) is my half-size xerox and is colour-true (There may be a moire pattern caused by the scanning for showing it here.) (3) is the print job.

I awoke today to find that I have that new Blogger feature I’ve been hearing about, the one that deletes your post while you’re working on it, and it doesn’t matter that you saved it earlier. It’s gone, pal. Thus the following has been done more than once, so let’s just hope it makes sense.

Women in Art a short video. This is very lovely. Thanks for the link to my fellow artist, Christopher Moonlight. Christopher also says he just picked up The Black Diamond Detective Agency at Barnes and Noble, so it is in the shops now..

Belgians do what PM can't: banish Tintin -The Australian-Sally Jackson- May 31
Bill Leak, The Australian's artist and daily editorial cartoonist, has been threatened with legal action unless he stops depicting federal Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd as Tintin…
This follows the news that three Tintin movies are in the pipeline, with Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson confirming they would direct two of them. Leak said he had been drawing Rudd as Tintin at least since December. Tintin's dog, Snowy, also features in the cartoons, although not his best friend, the hard-drinking Captain Haddock. "Sadly, Julia Gillard doesn't have a great big black beard," Leak said yesterday.

(link thanks to Michael Evans)

Nobel laureate's next project will marry words and pictures.- May 30-Guardian
The Nobel laureate, whose previous acclaimed works include My Name is Red and Snow, had wanted to become a painter before he began writing novels... As part of the early groundwork for the book, he is preparing to teach a course at Columbia University in New York this autumn which has the working title of "pictures and texts".
"It's sort of a random survey of the relationship between pictures and texts," he explained, "from Plato's cave to Heidegger's Van Gogh shoes." The course will examine pictures as illustrations of texts and texts as descriptions of pictures, and explore the intermingling of picture and text in human thought...

Followers of this blog will recall that I have a special interest in the evolving concept of the novel in our times.
(link thanks to Ben Smith)

German mistakes subway for underground car park
May 30, -BERLIN (Reuters) –
her vehicle got stuck on the stairs, police said on Wednesday.

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Wednesday 30 May 2007

covers- BACCHUS no.29

T his issue had the story that was bumped along from #28, whose cover I showed yesterday. I must have realized it was getting too difficult to predict where I'd be when the time came three months later to draw the promised story, for I've drawn a standard sort of pin-up cover in the solicitation image (1), showing a grouping of the characters as they were appearing in the supporting (reprint) story. The coloring on the printed solicitation (2) looks like Pete's work. Very nice too. I can imagine I bought the catalogue just to cut that out for my files. The printed size of these could vary; this one is two and a half inches high, yesterday's was two inches. With the finished painting (3), which Pete has painted so thoroughly I can't recall how much I was involved, a boot is tromping on the flag of civilisation. In retrospect, the idea is too complicated since it's not an object that anybody could possibly recognize. What I really wanted to do was have Bacchus wiping his bottom with it (4), as he does in the story, and was promised in the solicitation for the previous issue, and I've mocked up here just for a laugh, but I didn't think the distributors and the shops would stand for it.

Book without words wins literary prize The Australian, may 29.
The graphic novel, The Arrival, by Shaun Tan, won the Community Relations Commission (CRC) Literary Award for 2007.
The $15,000 award was one of 11 announced tonight at the annual New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards dinner in Sydney.
(thanks to Michael Evans)
I wrote about the book on dec 11
Alan & Mel's Wedding Reception Flickr set. (thanks, drjon)
Marjane Satrapi shares the Jury Prize at Cannes. I missed this profile in the Herald Tribune from last week.-may 22
Marjane Satrapi at Cannes: An Iranian graphic novelist's coming of age

(via First Second blog)
here's another great sound. French band Dionysos, and my First Second stablemate Johan Sfar appears to have designed the cartoon video. (link via mr j.)
If you liked that Nick Cave cover I drew for Punk Planet, David Carroll has posted a big full size version. My monitor is showing a lot of yellow on the face that shouldn't be there, it should be a flat flesh tone all over, but there's some nervous pencil detail that's picked up nicely. Mick Evans cobbled all my bits and pieces together in photoshop for this job by the way. the main portrait sketch is on a piece of tracing paper (used to trace the best parts of an earlier sketch) which when last seen hayley campbell was using as a bookmark in her copy of From Hell. In an artist's house, such things are taken for granted.

update: she says "'it's no there noo, it's shifted.' Now it's a bookmark in How to Beat an Artist."
in other news:
Man wrestles leopard in his bedroom--Tue May 29,
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - An Israeli man wrestled a leopard to the ground after it entered his bedroom in a desert college and tried to make a meal of his pet cat.
"He jumped on the leopard and pinned him to the floor, then his wife called us so we could take it away," Amram Zabari, a local park ranger who rushed to the scene, said on Tuesday.

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Tuesday 29 May 2007

covers- BACCHUS no.28

I headed into my third year of Bacchus, without having missed a month, although in the third and fourth years the schedule would slip down to ten issues per year and then eight in the fifth and sixth. That's sixty altogether in six years. For most of that time, If I missed a month of Bacchus, there would be something else to take its place, either a big collection or a 48 page special such as the Birth Caul. In this third year I found quite a few of the cover predictions were hopelessly off course by the time we came to draw the issue. With this one I thought we'd be up to the collapse of social order and the advent of Bacchanalian chaos, but a couple of short chapters were inserted to delay that, such as the one titled 'the murder Ballad'. If I remember correctly, Nick Cave had just recorded his duet with Kylie Minogue, which had her playing the dead girl floating in the pond. With Minty Moore we came up with the idea of the blues singer narrating a murder ballad in rhyme and I pulled out the oil paints once more, unused since the Bacchus color Special cover. The printing on this cover was the single most heartbreaking dissapointment in my whole publishing career. So, (1) is the black and white small scale cover solicitation image. (2) is how it looked in the Diamond catalogue. Pete Mullins inked and colored it I think. Interestingly, the story described here would be in the following issue (see next post) but this cover idea was kicked out a second time and thus never used. (3) is my prepress color-correct proof of the painting, which has never been seen anywhere before. Click for an enlargement. Seeing it as it was meant to appear, for the first time in ten years (I sold the original quickly) I felt quite moved, recalling all the tragic feelings I tried to put into it. (4) is the dismal end result of the print job. For a couple of hours I felt like giving up.

In fact, what impresses me more than seeing the actual colours after all these years, is the fact that I was able to put it out of my head and get on with the next issue and the one after that. And the covers of those issues would create their own particular problems. Actually, no, what terrifies me the most is that this was all ten years ago.

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Monday 28 May 2007

comic book craft

scripts (1) (2) (the example of Alan Moore in From Hell, and my observations on same)
Drawing paper (what to do it on.)
balloons (word balloons, they come first)
stages (from pencil rough to finished picture)
composition (putting it together pictorially)
markmaking (things used for putting ink on the page.)
inking (the more conventional conversion of rough art to 'line art')
zipatone (those old fashioned shading screens)
colouring (on computer nowadays)
covers (1) (2) (problems and solutions, from my own anecdotes. including notes on reproduction problems and self publishing)
logos (putting the title on it)
Fumetti (photos instead of drawings)
rules (toward a rhetoric of the art of comics. Commanding the art of expressing yourself in the most effective way.)


First photo of the Ashgrove groper!

Police catch the blackguard on surveillance camera!

May 27, 2007-Detective Inspector Bob Hytch said the offender – an opportunistic groper who often smiles at his unsuspecting victims – is responsible for the attacks committed between January 13 and November 22 last year. "He mostly rides past and turns around or approaches them from behind and always surprises his victims. He gropes them on the bottom, breast and groin,

THE FIRST I hear of the photo is the hystercal laughter of my daughter Erin. Dad, he looks just like you!

Yes, but that's not my bike.
Yes, but it says "The offender strikes in daylight between 8am and late afternoon, often using different types of bicycles, including a woman's bike." That's when you're out and about, and remember you borrowed mum's bike for a year after you broke your own.
"There are lots of reasons he may have access to a lady's bike. He may have access to several cheap bikes; the ones he has used are not sophisticated at all," Det-Insp Hytch said.
He's wearing one of your shirts, and look, he's got your esky on his head: Det-Insp Hytch said the foam helmet worn by the offender was rare and was not stocked in major cycling stores.
Wait, it's the phone. hayley from London
Dad! that's the funniest thing ever. I can't stop laughing.
How do you know about It?
Erin sent the link
aw. jeezis.
hey, dad, look on the bright side, they estimated your age at 38. I have to go and tell my flatmates my dad's a perv.
okay, honeybee.
...thanks for roning.

(line drawing above is from After the Snooter)

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Sunday 27 May 2007

covers- BACCHUS no.18/19

Y esterday I was writing about those little advance cover images that I'd send for the previews catalogues. Once I acknowledged the unlikelihood of the first idea being the one that would make the eventual finished cover, it seemed inexpedient to go to the trouble of drawing it up in a 'finished' way. Also, since my covers were more often than not painted, an inked line version was surplus to requirements. Thus I decided to cut a corner. Instead of drawing a full size cover at this stage, I'd make a very small drawing that would look good at the repro size of two or three inches high. In other words, since the distributors were agreeably showing a picture in their jam packed catalogues, I'd make the most dynamic use of the available space by composing to best suit the scale, and think of my picture as a 'placeholder' for a better one that would come along later. There was a lady at one of the distributors who phoned to point out that I had delivered a cover different from the one advertised in the catalogue, which was against the rules. I responded by pointing out that the rule was a sound one designed to stop publishers from offering , say a brilliant cover by Dave Stevens and then delivering a dumb one by Eddie Campbell, thus causing discontent with the readers who would naturally feel gypped. Since I had promised a cover by Campbell, and then delivered a more detailed cover by Campbell, I wasn't playing against the purpose of the the rule. I presume the matter was referred to somebody who knew who Eddie Campbell was, and no more was heard about it at this end for the rest of my duration as a publisher.
Anyway, after that first year of self publishing, most of those solicitation images were quite different from the covers as later published. Above are a couple of good examples. You can see how in the small versions the bold and simple black and white miniatures command their space more authoritatively, while if you click through to the bigger version, the colour image comes into its own. The Issue #18 (oct. '96) preview has a profile of Bacchus that is almost bigfoot cartooning. I tend to prefer it to the finished picture. The Subject of #19 (nov.'96) was so suited to Pete Mullins' skills that I handed it over to him and kept out of the way, so that one's 100% Mullins. The small girl's head sufficed until I or Anne found a photo ref for the finished image. With that issue Mick Evans finally got to redesign the logo after complaining about it for a year. 'Colo' was of course our version of the popular British mint, 'polo'. The story in this episode was one that Marcus Moore wrote for me, about the invention of a mint for inserting in your posterior, or the 'arse-mint.' Forever after, in the pages of Bacchus, Marcus was referred to as 'Minty Moore'.

(That's after 'Dinty' Moore, who was the chef in the great Bringing Up Father daily comic strip. There's a great site devoted to it, courtesy of Mark J. Holloway, including Dinty Moore way down the page.)

Short Is Good: The concise joys of condensed books -- and the virtues of brevity

Wall Street Journal-May 12-By TERRY TEACHOUT
NEW YORK -- "Orion Books, one of England's top publishing houses, has just brought out the first six titles in a series of abridged versions of such classic novels as "Anna Karenina," "Moby-Dick" and "Vanity Fair." The covers of these paperbacks, which have been shortened by as much as 40%, bill their contents as "Compact Editions."
Of course great art deserves to be experienced on its own uncompromising terms, flaws and all. But the older I get, the more I appreciate those artists who say what they have to say, then shut up. Is there a more powerfully moving novel than F. Scott Fitzgerald's 56,000-word "The Great Gatsby"? Or a funnier film than Buster Keaton's 44-minute "Sherlock Jr."? Or a more profound meditation on the brevity of human life than "Anakreons Grab," Hugo Wolf's setting of Goethe's 12-line poem about the grave of an ancient Greek poet? "The happy poet rejoiced/In spring, summer and fall/Now at last this mound of earth/Protects him from winter." I'd trade any number of operas for that exquisitely wrought three-minute song."

European men are flocking to Bulgaria to buy 'breast-boosting beer' after EU accession led to customs duties on the drink being abolished
Constantin Barbu crossed the Danube from Romania to buy Boza in the Bulgarian border town of Ruse.He said: "I've bought a case for my wife to try out. I really hope I see an improvement."

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