Tuesday, November 18, 2008

RW in the Columbus Dispatch

Several months ago, I decided to start a webcomic about my new life here in Columbus. At first I wasn’t entirely sure how good it would be or how long it would even last. I just felt like it was something I needed to do. Who knew that anyone would even read it, much less want to write about it?

Dispatch article

Monday, November 17, 2008

If It's Comic Related, You'll Find It's Got A New Look

The Comic Related News & Reviews website has been around for nearly five years now, chugging away in the online salt mines of comics commentary. Founder Chuck Moore has been an ardent supporter of quality comics, from the top-of-the-line mainstream books to the smallest of the small press mini comics, and does all he can to promote & support them (mine included). For the longest time it seemed that CR was a one-man show; but over the past year, it's grown to include over half a dozen contributors and thousands of visitors and as of this past weekend, the site has gotten a serious make-over.

In an email dated November 8, Moore states:

I'm sure you've noticed that we've moved from being a primarily press release driven site to generating more and more original content. We're really coming into our own on this front and I sincerely thank Peter Simeti, all our columnists and all our great reviewers for making this happen. As we move increasingly into the news business, this flow of original content, commentary and discussion will only increase.

Looking ahead, we're going to start playing in the Newsarama / Comic Book Resources sandbox all the while maintaining our goal of a small press first focus. My goal is to transform us from being A destination site to THE destination site and 2009 is the year where we start making that happen.

And he further added,
"I couldn't be happier with the way things turned out now that the site has relaunched. It packs a visual impact to go with the great content provided by our numerous writers. Think you've seen it all? Wait until you see phase two of the redesign as we begin focusing more on the community aspects of the site updating the look of our forum AND integrating more places for readers to comment and take part in the evolution of the site. As I like to say... If you think you know Comic Related, you haven't seen anything yet!"

All that I can add is-- from the looks of things, it is going to be a colorful ride!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

DR. SKETCHY'S Anti-Art School Announcement

Calling all artists, aspiring artists of all skill levels, and girlie gawkers: DR. SKETCHY'S Anti-Art School is in session THIS SATURDAY, November 15 from 5-8:00 p.m. at East Village in the Short North (630 N. High).

WHAT IS DR. SKETCHY'S, YOU ASK? Dr. Sketchy's is the little event that became a movement. Founded in 2005 by artist Molly Crabapple, Dr. Sketchy's Anti-Art School gives local artists the opportunity to sketch the most beautiful burlesque dancers, the most bizarre circus freaks, the most fabulous drag queens, and other fabulous, beautiful, uber-fantastic models. Every other month or so, we will let you draw them for three hours. Interspersed with posing there will sometimes be performances, ridiculous drawing contests where you can win booze or prizes, and other surprises.

This month's models will be a few of the lovely Velvet Hearts, Calamity Rain and Femme Mystique, and special guest The Reverend Roy Rogers!

SIGN UP for the next Dr. Sketchy's Columbus Anti-Art Class here - $10.00 advance PayPal payment, $15.00 at the door. Don't miss the chance to catch this live figure modeling class! It's a sketching class... with booze!

Monday, November 10, 2008

It's Time For (more) Cartoons!

Whether you're a wide-eyed kid (or a kid at heart) or a cynical, beaten-down adult, you can always enjoy a good cartoon, right? This Saturday (Nov. 15) at CCAD's Canzani Center, the Columbus International Film & Video Festival is showing a wide array of animated shorts from all around the world. In the morning (10am) is when they'll show "Saturday Morning Cartoons From Around The World" for children of all ages; then, at 7:30pm they'll begin "Animation 4 Adults," featuring the Grand Prix Oberhausen winner "Chainsaw" a stunning story about Frank Sinatra, Ava Gardner, chainsaw safety, and bullfighting (for adults of not-quite-all ages). Admission is $5 (free for students) and parking at CCAD is free. (Fun Fact: The Columbus International Film & Video Festival is the oldest film festival in North America, having existed since 1952!)

Creative Columbus survey now up

The Creative Columbus survey is designed to measure the breadth and depth of the arts community in Central Ohio for the purpose of increasing business opportunities.
This study will identify how the various creative businesses and organizations, workforce and talent are represented and connected in Central Ohio. To help us measure this economy and community, we’re looking for everyone to participate in this "creative census"
- businesses and organizations
- self-employed professionals
- employees
- students
The survey is up from now until the 25th.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Ten Cent Plague

The heart of David Hajdu’s The Ten Cent Plague: The Great Comic Book Scare and How It Changed America is the story of Janice Valleau Winkleman. We first meet her, in the book’s prologue, living with her husband Ed in a Florida retirement village. But this retiree harbors a secret past that not even her children were aware of: She once made her living drawing comic books. Hers is one of over 800 names listed in the book’s appendix of people who were driven from the medium forever by the backlash against comic books that culminated in the 1954 Senate subcommittee hearings on Juvenile Delinquency and the subsequent adoption by the industry of the draconian Comics Code,the most restrictive set of content restrictions ever enforced on any medium, which drove many publishers, most notably EC Comics, to abandon the field. Throughout the narrative, Hajdu returns to Winkleman’s story, tracing her career from her first job at MLJ Comics (known as Archie Comics these days), obtained at age 19 through connections at the art school she attended, to her final, reluctant, decision more than a decade later to walk away from the industry for good. Though she eventually took up painting as a hobby, Winkleman would never again attempt to make a living as an artist, in comics or anywhere else. When asked why, she responds, “I was scared to death. Don’t you know what they did to us?” Hajdu does indeed know, and in the remainder of this unforgettable book, he lets us know as well.

To be honest, and this isn’t a criticism but merely a caveat, the book doesn’t really live up to its subtitle. This isn’t really a story of how the backlash against comic books changed America, but of how that backlash was an extreme and tragic example of the changes that swept all aspects of American culture and society at the midpoint of the 20th century. The book’s greatest strength is Hajdu’s ability to convey his sweeping social history in starkly human terms. His focus is squarely on the people, from industry giants such as Spirit creator Will Eisner and William Gaines, publisher of EC Comics and a central figure in the controversy, to those like Winkleman, who toiled in relative or even complete obscurity, not even allowed, in most cases, to sign their name to their work, whose lifes were forever altered by the events he details. He also provides insight into the characters and motivations of those who fueled the backlash against comics. These instigators include the infamous Dr. Frederick Wertham, whose sensationalistic book of spurious pseudo-pyschology, Seduction Of The Innocent, provided much of the grist for the anti-comics mill of the Senate subcommitte and other comics detractors, and the ambitious Senator Estes Kefauver, who hoped to use the publicity generated by these hearings to jumpstart his bid for the White House. Aiding them at the grassroots level were the mostly well intentioned, if ultimately misguided, community and religious leaders who took their protests to the extreme of organizing mass burnings of comic books in mostly small towns across the nation, and the children, members of what at the time was the intended audience for comic books, who aided them, sometimes reluctantly and with regret but surprisingly often willingly and with relish, in their crusade by gathering up comic books to fuel the funeral pyres and applying pressure on local merchants, often in the form of a threatened boycott, to stop selling them.

Through striving, and succeeding, to put a human face on this tragic yet, outside of the community of comics professionals and dedicated fans, nearly forgotten episode from our recent history, Hajdu has produced not only one of the most important books of comics and social history yet published, but he has crafted a page turner of a story as involving and compellingly readable as Michael Chabon's Pulitzer Prize winning novel covering the same historical period, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Klay, to which I would heartily recommend The Ten Cent Plague as a companion volume.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

art-related events for 11/6-11

- As part of the Andy Warhol exhibit currently playing at the Wexner Center, Andyland will be this Saturday, a party event which recreates the Factory environment and provides a little of the "superstar" experience.

- Here's one I missed from last week: now playing at the Ohio Historical Center: the work of Norman Rockwell and the lithographs of Currier & Ives. (FYI: the Milton Caniff exhibit is still ongoing until March!)

- MadLab Gallery is having a video film fest Saturday night.

- Lot of stuff happening at the OSU Urban Arts Space: The Ohio Watercolor Society opens an exhibit in the Riffe Gallery tonight. Also tonight, one reception for two shows: an exhibit by artist Alan Crockett and a show by the Department of Art faculty.

- The Columbus Film Festival continues Sunday with To Each Her Own, 8PM at Liquid; and Tuesday with The Challenge of Change: In The Melting Heart Of The Alps, 8 PM at Germania.

- I've neglected to mention the Cowtown Film Series, which actually has been going on before I started posting here, but anyway... Tonight's showing is The King of Iron Town (check the website for the trailer) at 7PM.

- Radio station Sunny 95 presents a Rock and Roll Art Show, Friday - Sunday at Polaris.

- The Clintonville Arts Guild has an arts and crafts show and sale Saturday.

- The Columbus International Festival is this weekend.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Goodye, Opus and Hello, President Obama

This past Sunday, November 2, after 28 years (well, 20 if you don't count the 8 year hiatus between Outland and Opus), Berkely Breathed and his bow-tied alter ego departed the pages of the Sunday comics section, with, if I can be honest here, more of a whimper than a bang. The most recent incarnation of the strip never really lived up to Bloom County in its heyday or even Outland at its best, but in all its forms, Breathed's strip has been one of the highlights of the comics section and will be missed. Luckily, I have all of the books, so I shan't be missing Opus too much.
Among Breathed's many accomplishments is his 1987 Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning. However, the events of last night throw into serious doubt Breathed's skills as a political fortune teller. In a sequence of strips from 1988 (which I intended to scan on Saturday to accompany this, but I chose instead to have a total emotional meltdown. We won't go into that in a parenthetical phrase. However, if you're reading along at home, said sequence is reprinted on pages three and four of Night of the Mary Kay Commandos and page 148 of Classics of Western Literature.), "deeply Democratic" Tom Binkley is beset with a "liberal Democrat guilt fit" because he thinks "Jesse Jackson is kinda loopy." He goes on to say, "Jesse can give a heck of a sermon...and he rhymes well...But I'm sorry...I...I just don't see him as the leader of the free world."
To assuage his father's anguish, young Mike Binkley calls on Oliver Wendell Jones' father, Frank, who assures Tom, "Speaking for blacks worldwide, we don't hate you!" and goes on to predict that "The first black in the White House will be a conservative."
To be fair to Breathed, given the political climate of the time (a time that extended to about six months ago, in truth), this was a perfectly reasonable assumption. And if Colin Powell had ever chosen to toss his gold star festooned hat into the ring, it most likely would have become reality.
Instead, last night, this nation elected to lead it the man described by his GOP critics as the most liberal member of the United States Senate.
It's funny, though, that four years ago, John Kerry was the most liberal senator. And I'm sure that if the race for the Democratic nomination had gone differently, you can just guess who would have found herself tagged as the Senate's most liberal member.

The Times The Are A Ch-Ch-Changin'

Since Ray's spent the past two days on the election, I thought I'd round it out with a small sampling of political cartoons from The Cagle Post.

Many people are happy and quite proud...

...playing a part in this historic event...

...the history books are definitely going to remember this day fondly...

Ah, but then there are the others who have a different point of view...

I've got my own thoughts on the matter. But no matter which side of the coin you're on, the coin itself is worth the same amount (unless, of course, there's an economic depression). Hopefully, we can all work together to help make the American Dream worth dreaming again.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Chicks Dig The Shirt

Back at Mid-Ohio Con last month, I picked up the Barack Obama T-shirt pictured above, featuring an image painted by noted comics artist Alex Ross, best known for his work on Marvels and Kingdom Come. As I said in my last post, I wasn't quite the true believer that I am now, but a cool T-shirt is a cool T-shirt when all is said and done.
I am, in fact, wearing said shirt as I write this, and, it should go without saying, wore it to the rally on Sunday. I figured my chances of getting a bus after the event were about zero, and if I did it would be unbearably crowded, so I set out to walk toward Clintonville. Along the way, I noticed a couple women, and really good looking ones, giving me, as the saying goes, "the eye." Of course, I knew what was going on here. It wasn't me; a tall skinny dork with broken glasses, a football shaped head, a big nose and bad teeth; that caught their eye. The truth is that, as the headline says, chicks dig the shirt.
I wonder if that will still be the case after the election. I guess that depends on the outcome. All the reaction my Michael Dukakis T-shirt gets is pointing and laughing.

Monday, November 3, 2008

By The Time We Got To The Statehouse, We Were 60,000 Strong, And Everywhere Were The Signs Of A Celebration

Did you know that the next President of the United States of America is only two inches tall?
Or so he appeared to me at the Barack Obama rally at the Ohio Statehouse yesterday. It could be, of course, due to the fact that I was quite far from the speaker's platform. In a crowd of 60,000, however, I suppose I was lucky to have been able to see him at all.
I am, either by nature or due to certain events in my past life, if not a full blown cynic then at least a dedicated skeptic, and while I did vote early for Obama, I didn't quite buy the whole hope and change message. Until yesterday. Perhaps it was because I was surrounded by 60,000 cheering true believers, or maybe it was something about actually hearing what was, to be honest, mostly the standard issue stump speech that he has delivered hundreds of times and I've heard most of on the news, in person and from the man himself. I can't really say, but by the end of the rally, I had, to quote a sketch from Saturdays SNL, "drunk the Obama Kool-Aid." I wish I could vote for him all over again. Hopefully, I will be able to vote to re-elect him in four years.
Anyway, this is supposed to be a comics blog, so I'm going to connect this to comics presently.
The 60,000 attendance figure, more than twice what had been expected, comes from National Public Radio's All Things Considered. The NPR correspondant also noted Obama's muffed attempt to reach out to the geek vote. Challenging his opponents self-styled image as a "maverick," the candidate repeated his charge that John McCain voted with George Bush over 90% of the time on economic issues, saying that McCain was more a sidekick than a maverick, "like Kato with the Green Lantern." The NPR reporter correctly pointed out, and I got as he said it, that Kato was, in fact, the sidekick of the Green Hornet.
This gaffe, is in an odd way, reassuring. After all, the POTUS has more important things to do than read comic books, especially super-hero comics.
I bet Dubya knows the difference between the Green Hornet and the Green Lantern, although I picture him as more of an Image comics reader. I can picture him, in the summer of 2001, poring over every detail of the latest issue of Spawn or The Savage Dragon while the now infamous briefing paper entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike Targets Inside US" languished unread in the bottom drawer of his desk beneath a half-eaten bag of stale Cheetos.
I end this rant with a reminder--no--an admonition to all of you to get out and VOTE! If you're in Franklin County, there's still time to get in line at Vets Memorial to vote today. If you're in line by 7 p.m. they have to let you vote. If you can't get out today, then remember that polls are open tomorrow from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

underground art @ Gallery 83

The Lantern has a piece about a new gallery that opened on Saturday.