Saturday 13 December 2008

In condemnation of CDs of old music that do not include

N O T E S.

I'm listening to a cd on the Prix Calin label from 2003 which I picked up in a three-for-the-price-of-one sale in Singapore in 2005 en route to Angouleme. I had terrible trouble getting out of the shop because I only wanted one for the price of one and had no interest in any of the rest though I wound up throwing in a late Isaac Hayes album just to help them clear some space and departed hastily. The disc I'm listening to is a round up of Charlie Christian cuts among which I saw a few I didn't recognise as being already in my collection. There are no notes. I mean just who, where and when kind of notes, not florid descriptions of what I'm hearing.
The poor kid died age 25, after a brief three year recording career, so it's not the dates that are a problem, but there are quite few undocumented live tracks here. And Christian is one of those artists that if there is a bit of tape somewhere of him tuning up his guitar, it will have been put on a cd long before now. (wikipedia: "Although Christian never recorded professionally as a leader, compilations have been released of his sessions as a sideman where he is a featured soloist, of practice and warm-up recordings for these sessions, and some lower-quality recordings of Christian's own groups performing in nightclubs, by amateur technicians.") Elsewhere I have another cd of his rare taped moments at Minton's with Clarke and Monk. It has a photo of him on the front of a card which is blank on the back. I had to write my own notes on it. And as for the 1947 radio session during which Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie do an entirely improbable rendition of Tiger Rag, I've never seen that on a cd at all, so I'm holding onto my old 1983 LP double album on a French label. At least it's got the times dates and who was in the band, though I added a few extra notes of my own in tippex on the fold-out surface of the black laminated card. You'd be impressed. Or horrified, if you're the sort of person who buys second hand stuff and gets livid on finding that some jackass has written all over it.

I wrote a post on another blog a couple of years ago titled 'Charlie Parker's cabbages' and I just discovered I still have the drawing.

First to claim it in comments can have it in the mail.


Friday 12 December 2008

missed a few days as I had bad cold.
I've read this twice; ostensibly a review of My so-called freelance life by Michelle Goodman, a self help book for working creatively, Elizabeth Bachner writes a 5,000 word essay in defense of the old fashioned idea of genius. (Bookslut, Dec. 2008)
We live in an anti-genius society, and it’s high time that stopped...

What Michelle Goodman is describing sounds identical to a cubicle job, only done in your bathrobe, potentially surrounded by children and pets. For people everywhere on the food chain, our tangle with the problems of figuring out how to get by is usually either ignoble or torturous, or both. Why does she have to bring “nobility” into it, or insult artists who need to make their real work their only priority?..

Nobility is not the prudent decision to do corporate work so that you can enjoy dabbling at creative projects in your spare time. Nobility is the constant, courageous daily effort to pursue and embody truth and beauty...

It’s social suicide these days to admit that art isn’t “work” for you, that it’s something that happens to you as if you’re possessed, that to not create it would be like seeing a human baby bleeding and abandoned on a street corner and leaving him there to die, that you are dazzled by the electric words that come to you from some angel or demon or forgotten, ancient god. But the fact is that the creative part is erotic, and mystical, and rapturous, and deadly, and filthy, and horrible, and ecstatic...

Create your work and then try to place it. If it won’t place, figure out some way to get by. Don’t jump out your fifth floor window or drown yourself in the local river, but neither should you tailor your poems to get accepted in the Peoria Poetry Journal. That’s committing another kind of murder...

... creating real work is different from the meaningless products of mundane society. The process is different. The dazzling, thrilling results are still different, even all of these years after a bunch of sour academics, unhappy geniuses and talented but hyperbolic writers have proclaimed the death of art.
I apologise for quoting slightly more than 10%, but the piece sits so well right now with my 'let's stop talking crap' frame of mind. It has a few detours but is rigorously worked out. Read it all, link at top


Tuesday 9 December 2008

the cockeyed morality of 1950s tv westerns.

Quite often we have to admit that even the stuff we like is bollocks. It's been established in a previous episode of the old Maverick series I'm watching on the museum channel or whatever it's called, that things were pretty wild out there in the west. A citizen was gunned down in the street and there was nothing anybody could do about it. In today's episode, however, a woman's husband has been missing in Indian territory for some time, presumed dead. It's a particularly dangerous location, being the 'graveyard of the gods' to the natives. The woman desires to marry another bloke. And even though this is a near lawless place, it's still a near lawless 1950s America, and blokes and girls can't just go hitching up without due process. So they go into the badlands to establish whether the husband is dead or what, because it would be entirely immoral to remarry without ascertaining said position. The husband is also a condemned murderer, which is another reason he has to be got back, to face justice. In the course of the search Maverick casually murders a native American who is guarding the holy place. The purpose was to avoid bringing the whole tribe down on them so why he couldn't just get thumped on the head I don't know, because in movies getting thumped on the head causes you to slump down silent and unconscious instead of causing you to scream in agony as it does in real life. Next they have to shoot a dozen other native Americans who are justifiably angry about it, all just young chaps with aspirations and hopes and a sweetie back in the wigwam like thee and me. None of this evokes remorse or regret of any sort. It turns out the bloke she was going to marry is the one who committed the murder that the husband is wanted for in the first place, so he gets kilt by the injuns, the sanctity of marriage is preserved and all's well that ends.

related posts: The cockeyed morality of modern day comic books.

meanwhile in the real world:
Woman loses hearing in passionate kiss
A passionate kiss ruptured a young woman's eardrum in southern China, state media reported on Monday, in what has been dubbed the "kiss of deaf".
The 20-something girl from Zhuhai city in Guangdong province was treated by hospital doctors after completely losing the hearing in her left ear, the China Daily reported, citing the Guangzhou Daily.
"The kiss reduced the pressure in the mouth, pulled the eardrum out and caused the breakdown of the ear," the treating doctor, surnamed Li, was quoted as saying, adding the woman's hearing would likely recover in about two months.


Monday 8 December 2008

the Spirit: The New Adventures Archives (Hardcover)
These stories have been out of print for a decade. I see Dark Horse now have them and they're lined up for a May 15 release in a single 200 page book:
In 1997, almost six decades after the character's first appearance in 1940, legendary artist and writer Will Eisner gave permission for a new series of stories to be commissioned featuring his signature creation, resurrected detective Denny Colt, also known as the Spirit, written and drawn by the most famous names in the comics industry. The call went out, and the response was nothing short of remarkable, with contributions from such creators as Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (in one of their rare collaborations since Watchmen), Neil Gaiman (The Sandman), Paul Chadwick (Concrete), Eddie Campbell (From Hell), amongst others. In these pages you'll find new tales of Central City's protector versus familiar villains such as the Octopus and Sand Saref; witness his undying love for Ellen Dolan, daughter of Commissioner Dolan, the only man to know his secret identity; and glimpse what might be the Spirit's fate in an uncertain future.
Moore and Gibbons gave us three interconnected stories that are quite brilliant, and I have two stories in there, one of them a ten pager in collaboration with Neil Gaiman. Watch for it! I wonder if they've fixed our colour boob in my other story. (we made the Spirit green. it looked blue on my monitor.)

Hey! One thing that has always defeated me with regard to Blogger, is how to control the size of images on the page. I think I just accidentally figured it out.


Sunday 7 December 2008

chris Mclaren has posted seven photos of his recently obtained copy of the 'Painfully Limited' edition of From Hell and it's pleasing to see it again. This was the neatest trick I ever pulled off in my seven years as a self publisher.

The biggest problem I had when I came to publish From Hell was that I no longer had most of the art. I had sensibly presumed that the previous publisher, Kitchen Sink Press (KSP), would have known the value of the thing and looked after such matters. So I had been steadily selling off the art originals, but I didn't anticipate that the publisher and I would fall out. I was able to negotiate the rights back based on the fact that we were owed fifteen thousand dollars that wasn't forthcoming. Then the person who had wound up holding a lot of the physical materials after the collapse of the company was trying to SELL me the From Hell negatives. This was wrong in so many ways, so I set about reconstituting the entire book from the equal mix of available art plus the full size high quality xeroxes that I always took care to salt away before sending in each chapter. In fact we finished up with a better looking set of pages. The two chapters rendered with a lot of crayon and charcoal came out much better than in the KSP printings. But there remained the problem of what I was to send our foreign clients to reproduce from. The master pages, half art and half xerox and with a couple of weeks of cleaning and reworking, were too valuable to ever let out of my sight again. The solution I arrived at was to ask Graphitti Designs to overprint thirty copies for me when they made the signed and numbered limited hardcover, and to leave these unbound as bundles of loose pages. I would then send a couple of sets to each of my foreign licensees. This was a far from perfect process, but the From Hell art was all drawn before digital scanning was the norm. After a while it looked like that market had dried up and I took a notion to have the remaining nineteen copies bound and then sell them. When I first collected From Hell in one book it was an enormous undertaking and I went at it very cautiously. The five printings of the softcover under my own imprint were all made on the cheapest possible materials. I have occasionally regretted that, but the initial orders from Diamond Distribution were so low, less than six thousand of a book that would go on to sell over two hundred thousand (and rising) copies worldwide, that caution was only sensible. When I decided to bind these leftovers I thought that for once I should make a 'beautiful book,' an object lavish in every possible way. The binding job cost around $110 per unit. The binding is plush kangaroo leather, with the logo embossed in blood red; the book is placed snugly inside a black hard shell box, also embossed with the logo in red. Then I painted a different little image inside each copy. I offered it for either 300 or 350 bucks on the front page of the old Eddie Campbell Comics website and the whole lot sold out in less than a week.

Publishing books was an interesting adventure, but I don't think I could go through it all again.
Here's an earlier post about a whole different set of problems that arose when our printer went bankrupt in 2005.
Top shelf's subsequent second printing was essentially a new edition, being the first digital version of the work, and sporting a new painted cover.
Topshelf's Fourth printing now in stock. (ninth printing in all counting my five) And note that the production values of their editions are higher than those of mine.
And strictly for the anally retentive, I wrote out my notes on all the various editions up to the end of 2001 on the old website