Saturday 17 September 2011

UK premiere of Real Steel, based on the short story Steel by Richard Matheson and starring Hugh Jackman. Good to see producers Don Murphy (From Hell) and my fellow Scot, the lovely Susan Montford, whom I haven't seen in about four years. Best of luck with it! It looks like a lot of fun.


Friday 16 September 2011

This is for four year old hayley campbell. it's a little bit late.

I was playing the version by Bob Crosby and the Bobcats (1940) during dinner tonight, but I can't find that one online. Milton Brown and the Brownies is near enough.

Brown actually turns out to be very interesting. he is credited with founding that uptempo and frantic style of music known as 'Western Swing', circa 1930, heard in its full glory above:
After leaving the Light Crust Doughboys, Brown formed the world's first Western swing band in Fort Worth, Texas, the Musical Brownies. The first incarnation of the Brownies featured Brown, guitarist Derwood Brown, bassist Wanna Coffman, Ocie Stockard on tenor banjo, and fiddle player Jesse Ashlock. Shortly afterward, pianist Fred “Papa” Calhoun and fiddle player Cecil Brower (who replaced Ashlock) joined the group. Like the Light Crust Doughboys, the Musical Brownies played a mixture of country, pop, and jazz, but the Brownies had a harder dance edge than their predecessors. Almost immediately, Brown and His Musical Brownies were a huge success. The group had a regular spot on the radio station KTAT and drew large crowds to various Texas and Oklahoma dance halls. Their home venue, Crystal Springs Dance Hall in Fort Worth, was sold out nearly every Saturday night from 1933 to 1936. Brown and Wills remained friends; and Wills' Waco, Texas-based band, the Playboys, was modeled after the Musical Brownies.
In April 1934, the band recorded eight songs for Bluebird; and then another ten recordings for the label in August. Brown and his talented group of musicians were responsible for numerous innovations, notably in late 1934, the Brownies added the true pioneer of the world’s first electrically amplified steel guitar—Bob Dunn. Dunn was a jazz guitarist who first heard electric steel guitar played by a down and out blues performer on the Coney Island boardwalk—Dunn's innovative steel guitar solo riffs singlehandedly created country & western's most recognized solo instrumental sound. His upbeat "Taking Off" instrumental is an excellent example of his Jack Teagarden-inspired solos; a towering inspiration to many Western swing, country and even rock guitarists in the years to follow. (more, Wikipedia)
Brown died in a car crash at age 32 in 1936.
Ps- I added all this background info after Hayley appeared in the comments


Thursday 15 September 2011

An excellent 3,000 word essay on the work of cartoonist Glenn Dakin, written by Rich Baez, posted Tuesday this week.
There are strips here, some lasting one, two, or three pages – each a simple flow of near-calligraphic images dredged up from somewhere, with not much in the way of motion or movement forward – which, in my mind, never seem to stop; I continually play them like pop songs, easy and abstract. The connections between them are vast, continually expanding, and the mysteries (or is it just one? I return to that word ridiculously often in this essay, but there’s no more perfect word) contained therein always beckoning. There aren’t many books like this, with so many landscapes at play, unknown vistas.

I'm pleased that Baez regards Dakin's work as highly as I do. Here's a Photo of myself and Dakin from a hundred years ago, which I came across on the 'net recently. I don't remember seeing it before, though I am familiar with the one taken just before or just after. By Phil Elliott I think, the only person I know who habitually used black and white film.


Oscar Wilde grandson scorns 'new' play Guardian-14 Sept.
The grandson of Oscar Wilde is accusing an Olivier award-winning theatre company of "dishonesty" over its claims that it is staging "the world premiere of the only unproduced Oscar Wilde play".
Merlin Holland told the Guardian that his grandfather did no more than devise a "minimal" scenario – just a few paragraphs – for a drama called Constance, which Wilde jotted down in a letter of 1894. "He never wrote a word of the play."
He disputes the claim by The King's Head theatre in Islington, north London, that it is staging "a genuine, brand new, Oscar Wilde play", which opens on Friday.


Wednesday 14 September 2011

I came across this on the 'net, a convention sketch I drew for somebody somewhere. These things are hit or miss, though naturally I try to have a basically acceptable image I can do in my sleep and that won't embarrass me if I chance upon it later. Every now and then my unconscious butts in and I accidentally do something that surprises me, like this one. I always use a ball point, on the principal that the ink comes out of it no slower or faster than the rate as my artistic brain works. Also, I have acquired a facility with it so that you can see some variety and spontaneity in the line.
(click to enlarge)


Tuesday 13 September 2011

Steve in comments a few days back:
"...that's one of my favourite panels in Alec. I groped towards why it was, back when I thought I could write stuff like this out loud ..."
Steve wrote a whole essay on that panel at the link. The same panel was used on the cover of a Spanish book published by the Semana Negra festival in 2008. They were doing special events on the subject of autobiographical comics. I wasn't able to be there because I was doing my Monsieur Leotard tour. The wife, who was never amused about me sitting up drawing all night, said at least they got the title right.

Here's a video from the event. I think the speakers are Phoebe Gloeckner, Spain Rodriguez, Angel de la Calle, Fabrice Neaud, and if i've got that wrong, somebody correct me. There are three different languages; Spanish shows are always a linguistic soup. (arf! I've just remembered the time I called down for soap in a Spanish hotel and they brought up soup- it's in the big Alec book)


When Leif Peng's daily email link came through today my heart leapt. That has to be Noel Sickles, I thought to myself. This is just a detail. The whole drawing and several more more at Today's Inspiration.


I've pulled out a favourite Bacchus cover from 1995 for the front of volume 2 of the new Bacchus collection. Back in 1995 the only record I was keeping of artwork was large size colour laser prints. These are not good enough for re-use of the art on a front cover at the original size, and I regretted not being able to use this old favourite on the Italian editions. Then I found a black and white full size (A3) photocopy and had the idea of recolouring that. Pete Mullins had coloured the original, so the new version has some variations. I also thought it was neat the way Edizioni BD reframed it in a more assymetrical arrangement and have repeated that for the new one.


Monday 12 September 2011

Meanwhile in Googlescotch:

old bit from my blog:
If you have ever heard me talk, you know that I have a Scottish accent. It presents no impediment to communication whatsoever unless you have previously plied me with alcohol, after which all the sounds become exaggerated in their distinctive colourings. An 'E' becomes excessively E-ish and the same for all the other sounds, and such clarity is usually more than the human ear can withstand. While googling myself this morning I followed a link to a transcript of a talk I once gave where I am introducing 'The History of Ron Howard". I can only presume it was the History of Fom Hell.
What do you know? It's still out there:


Here's an item that came about during my year of not blogging. Nat Karmichael works as a mental health nurse in a town not far from Brisbane. He has five daughters, like Tevye the milkman. And once every twenty years, or something like that, he gets an unshakeable urge to publish stories from the old Australian newspaper strip, Air Hawk. The title, written and drawn by John Dixon, ran from 1959 to 1986 in Australian newspapers both daily and Sunday. I used to see it every week in the USA paper The Menomonee Falls Gazette circa 1973-76, ( I have been meaning to write about the MFG here soon). Nat published a few selected episodes from the series back around 1989/90 if memory serves, in comic book form. I have one salted away somewhere. And so the urge once again awoke and it shuffled from the back of his head to the front, and now we have a new published selection of the strip. He commissioned me to paint the cover for it, which I found awfully difficult. Back in the day the covers on the comic book reprints were always action-oriented, like this number 1 from the series way back in the early '60s.

We thought it was necessary for this new cover to say AUSTRALIA in a significant way, and so I felt I was wrestling with a lot of information, trying to make it look comfortable in a limited space.

This is a local news item from July 8, including the photo of Nat:

COMICS are set to make a comeback later this year upon the release of the complete 1970s Air Hawk adventure series.
``It is regarded by many as one of the best-drawn flying strips ever,'' Nat Karmichael said.
The Peninsula-based editor and publisher has been corresponding with author, Mr Dixon in America for many years but will only be meeting him for the first time during this book launch.
``I'm very excited to meet him, he doesn't know yet that I've dedicated this book to him as a celebration of his life.''

The book includes stories about Mr Dixon from friends and family members, as well as a short history of Australian comics.

``A lot of Americans are oblivious to the outback side of Australia and the fact there is an organisation dedicated to looking out for the people who live there,'' he said. ``I'm also hoping people will look at comics in a different light. Air Hawk represents a little part of Australia and it is something we should be proud of.''

Mr Dixon, 82, worked on Air hawk for 27 years before moving to California where he eventually got married and had three children.

I tended to feel that Air Hawk was one of those strips, like Johnny Hazard by Frank Robbins, in which the action moved too fast for the set-up to acquire any depth. It was drawn in that slick style of the '60s that liked to throw the ink around in a rough but controlled way.

The above is from a 1964 Sunday. Below is earlier, from 1960, showing that Dixon arrived at the more vigorous style on the job.

Nat has published the book under the imprint ComicOz, which has a complete site including more on the subject of Air hawk as well as a shot the cover of the next volume by Michael Dutkiewicz, who captures the spirit of the strip with greater ease than I did, and a sketch of the third by Gary Chalenor. Buy, order, etc. at the link.

ps. I have never been there, and I got it from a photo, but I am assured that the desert really is that glorious deep red-orange.


Sunday 11 September 2011

Here's another from Melbourne. The Lifted Brow has been going since January 2007 (when It launched in Brisbane in fact), and I must say I'm impressed with the tenacity of that young whippersnapper Ronnie Scott (here's a Jan 2010 interview). It used to be an old-style bound small-format literary journal, but now, since January 2011, appears bi-monthly as a tabloid size newsprint item. Ronnie is one of those new school 'literary' people, like the folk at McSweeny's, or Bookslut, who have no hesitation about regarding comics as part of the literary parade, a matter that was kicked around on this blog a few months back. Mandy Ord was in the last one (in colour- there's always lovely colour all around), and Renee French is coming up in the next one, and a sampling of other cartoonists including me. I send in a regular series titled The Empty Nesters. It's a full page in black and white, consisting of a banner and 12 panels. Here's three panels to give you an idea. It's in the style of Honeybee, which you may recall from The Fate of the Artist and, like that series, it describes the life of a daffy married couple. (click to enlarge)

Here's a blurb at at mag nation
The Lifted Brow has grown into a vast and ambitious literary journal which is reminiscent of the early issues of McSweeney's and indeed, featuring a number of their authors. Legend has it that the editor works in an underground parking garage in Brisbane and, at one point, sold cupcakes to pay for printing.

And one from its own site:
The Lifted Brow is a bimonthly magazine based in Melbourne. It’s edited by Ronnie Scott, designed by Elwyn Murray, Sam Cooney is our fiction editor, and Ellie Savage edits Middlebrow, our arts liftout. Every two months, the Brow publishes fiction, art, comics, and commentary on everything from maths to celebrity to design. The idea is to fall somewhere in the wide, open space between our friends at Frankie and The Monthly: it’s just meant to be fun and smart.
Since its inception in 2007, the Brow has been home to Christos Tsiolkas, Helen Garner, Neil Gaiman, Frank Moorhouse, Heidi Julavits, Spiral Stairs, Jeffrey Brown, tUnE-YaRdS, Dan Deacon, Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Claudia Gonson, and David Foster Wallace. Our regular contributors include Alice Pung, Spencer Krug, Tao Lin, Blaise Larmee, Eddie Campbell, Jez Burrows, Anna Krien, Renee French, and Vijay Khurana.