Wednesday 22 February 2012

Here's What Rochester Looks Like (as a Police Composite Sketch)

In terms of image-construction itself, Davis used the forensic software program Faces ID, which gives users (creepily, incredibly) about 10,000 individual facial features to choose among. He then used the authors' descriptions of their characters as guidelines in his selections, selecting the most true-to-text facial features, Identikit-style. For the inevitable gaps in the characters' descriptions (noses and ears, Davis discovered, were often ignored by authors), he did some educated guesswork, considering factors like the era the author was writing in and other elements of the story that might inform its characters' appearance.

"So," Davis says, "it's a combination of literary criticism -- which I know well -- and forensics -- of which I'm an utter amateur."
Also, Madame Bovary, Humbert Humbert... and more at The Composites, including Daisy Buchanan and Sam Spade. (The Atlantic, feb 10... link thanks to Bob Morales)

Tuesday 21 February 2012

I'm reading the appeal brief in the case of Marvel vs Kirby. It's hard slogging to get through all this legal terminology.
"Did the District Court err in denying Defendants' motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction over indispensible parties, and assuming personal jurisdiction over lontime California residents Lisa Kirby and Neal Kirby, whose sole contact with New York was merely mailing statutory notices of termination as required by 17 U. S. C. 304(c)(4)? The standard review is de novo.
Then we come to this bit:

When, I ask you, did the word 'knockoff' become acceptable English usage???
I'm reading Comics Press's excellent trio of collections of The Heart of Juliet Jones daily strip By Elliot Caplin and Stan Drake, when suddenly I've solved a little mystery that has bugged me for years.

Sheldon Moldoff, working anonymously, took over pencilling Bob Kane's share of the Batman comic book stories circa Jan. 1954. But I always had trouble pinning down the exact moment, due to some anomalies in the images, namely that some panels were too well drawn to have been done by Moldoff. For a long time I thought there was another ghost in the mix and that one day we'd be able to put a name to this mysterious artist. Then it dawned on me that it was just a case of Moldoff copying figures from the work of assorted artists from all over the place. For example, here's a panel of Catwoman from Detective #203, Jan 1954:

which is clearly modeled on this Matt Baker Phantom lady splash page from June 1948:

This figure from Batman #92 of June 1955 is the one that has mystified me the longest, as it is clearly not a Moldoff figure in the middle of a job otherwise unquestionably by Moldoff:

Now I find that the source is this figure of Eve Jones in a Stan Drake panel from April 1954:

After a year this kind of pilfering disappeared from Moldoff's work and for the rest of his career he turned out pictures that were invariably stiff but which had a simple, if not quite naive, charm about them.

You learn something every day. Now if only I could learn something useful.

Monday 20 February 2012

From the New York Review of books. Feb 15

E-books Can’t Burn
Tim Parks
Only the sequence of the words must remain inviolate. We can change everything about a text but the words themselves and the order they appear in. The literary experience does not lie in any one moment of perception, or any physical contact with a material object (even less in the “possession” of handsome masterpieces lined up on our bookshelves), but in the movement of the mind through a sequence of words from beginning to end. More than any other art form it is pure mental material, as close as one can get to thought itself. Memorized, a poem is as surely a piece of literature in our minds as it is on the page. If we say the words in sequence, even silently without opening our mouths, then we have had a literary experience—perhaps even a more intense one than a reading from the page. It’s true that our owning the object—War and Peace or Moby Dick—and organizing these and other classics according to chronology and nation of origin will give us an illusion of control: as if we had now “acquired” and “digested” and “placed” a piece of culture. Perhaps that is what people are attached to. But in fact we all know that once the sequence of words is over and the book closed what actually remains in our possession is very difficult, wonderfully difficult to pin down, a richness (or sometimes irritation) that has nothing to do with the heavy block of paper on our shelves.
more at link