Sunday, July 27, 2014

A pinch of this, a dash of Tang

The fiber optics out of Beijing are always better than elsewhere in the country, so I caught up on 4 weeks of "Falling Skies." I enjoy this show quite a bit. They are short (10 episode) summer seasons, and the fifth and final one will be in 2015.

"Guardians of the Galaxy" is getting some really great early reviews. Any kid growing up on Marvel comics during the 1960s who stuck with all of these characters for 50 years could never, ever imagine how the studio would end up being so, so smart about these properties. The marketing of this film, introducing the characters, was genius.

Not to mention the next freaking Avengers movie.

The house ad for the "Hotel Massage" in Jinhua was … different. The bathroom stocked two full boxes of condoms, and also stocked his and hers light cotton underwear for sale on the same display. Yikers. I probably should have scanned those sheets with a UV light. Or not. Hotline, indeed.

Visiting four cities at different stages of their development, as opposed to the traditional tour destinations, has given me a new metric for assessing the degree of development, namely, the level of sophistication of the breakfast buffet.

Is there a real kitchen grill behind a glass shield, where you can order any sort of eggs you want, or are there two kids in greasy chef coats standing at a small fry pan on a tabletop burner (on a small table) dishing out the fried eggs?

Is there conventional Western silverware available or not?

Is the organic juice the actual juice of oranges or is it Tang?

And, I have travelled a lot, and never ever before have I encountered orange juice (the Tang kind) that was served out of a coffee urn, at a piping hot temperature.

Is the mattress stone hard or not?

For that matter, are the beds short enough that your big America feet, sitting there at the end of your long American legs, dangle over the edge?

Down at the bar, in the refrigerated display cooler with the beers and the cans of Cokes, is the thing actually turned on?

When the air conditioning goes out in the entire hotel, and they come into the room to deliver an electric fan with the two-hour promise for the repair, how many hours past the two hours before they move you to the hotel next door?

Don't get me wrong: I am not complaining. I consider it all a great adventure, actually. The hot orange-colored juice drink really got my attention, though.

I asked my host in Jinhua if there was nearby convenience store, or inside grocery, where I could go grab a (cold) fizzy beverage. He said sure, just a minute's walk to the east outside from the hotel, a two-story inside market with all the amenities, he was there yesterday on the way home. Less than 16 hours later, the place was completely gutted for remodeling, and looked like it had been that way for a month. By the time I left, less than two days later, it was substantially rebuilt. No one ever gets this about China : it is not just that the slope of the line is positive, it's that the magnitude is so damn high.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Brag Aart: In the Days of the Mob #1 p 27 by Jack Kirby

There are often complaints about how Vince Colletta over-simplified, softened, and eliminated background detail from Kirby's art, and it's probably warranted. This series came later in the game, when Kirby was at first at DC in the early 1970s. There were two issues in a magazine format, as I hear it, and they simply got lost among other magazines because readers for this were not looking there. The stories were collected, years later, and appreciated in retrospect.

I'm so lazy to scan anything any more, so the image you see above is actually derived from the image you see below, which was used in the eBay auction. Thanks, Adobe.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Brag Aart:

"Blue Moon Stones" by Barbara Kacicek

I thought this composition had a huge amount of energy in it. Starting from the inevitable focus on the big blue dot of the flower as a starting point, the lines in the bottom two stones swirl you up to the third.  In fact, the balance seems just a bit off, like that top stone should be causing the lot of them to topple. But you are pulled just a bit by the arc of the line in the top stone, as it not only reflects the arc of the moon-sliver, but also invokes the slight tug of the moon's gravity that is keeping the balance in place. You swing up to the moon, around its arch, and it lands you with force, right to the crotch of where that second stone meets the first. It does not fall, but you do, back along the arc of the bottom stone an home to the blue flower.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Brag Aart: Elan Meets Rafa by The Mice

I have mused before about how generally terrific the Internet is for artists who simply want to create and then share their creations. Sometimes these look big and flashy, and sometimes they look like "Elan meets Rafa."

Under the pseudonym of The Mice, someone whom I think is a young woman living in California has been hitting a regular, semi-weekly deadline with a delicately written "boy love story with a cat and a sharpie pen."

There are about 400 pages of story to date, available at

The writing is engaging because the characters have character.

The artwork is not sophisticated, ranging from High School Art Class to what I would call Evocative Drafts with Great Charm and High Potential. But the point is that the whole package is fun to follow; it did not take long for me to look forward to each installment.

Here is a representative page:
Sometimes I really love plain, old-school drawing: no tracing, no photo references, just you and the notebook and the pencil.

When I admire, I try to support, particularly if it involves art. I cruised back through the story and identified 40 or so pages I thought I would like to have of this work, and then offered a reasonable price for all of them. Here's a couple:

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Brag Aart: Pears & Strawberries by Abbey Ryan

"Two Pears & Four Strawberries" by Abbey Ryan

I'm behind the great Firewall for a month. I'd say things are a little more strict than in the past, at least where I am. My VPN seems to last 3-10 minutes and then shuts down, and I cannot directly connect to Google. 

I am happy I got most of my research done before the trip. Every time I call up a search and get nothing, I wonder: how does anyone get work done this way? The answer, of course, is that they have more available work-arounds than I do because they live here.


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Brag Aart: JM Watt

Original advertising art for Rowntree's Chocolates by British illustrator and painter John Millar Watt (1895-1975). This is thought to be from the 1920s. In 1921, Millar, as he was known, created a strip that would eventually be called "Pop," in honor of its lead character. This was one of the few British strips to be successful in the US. His wife, daughter, and grand-daughter are all artists (

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Little Nemo

You might recall the most-excellent "Little Nemo in Slumberland" homage that Gerhard did a while back. For the uninitiated, this references the work of Winsor McCay, whose spectacular 16"x21" artwork is still admired and respected, a hundred years later.

For the uninitiated, this references the work of Winsor McCay, whose spectacular 16"x21" artwork is still admired and respected, a hundred years later.

Gerhard's piece (above), along with the work of over 100 contemporary artists, each doing a "Little Nemo" homage, is now available through a Kickstarter campaign, planned as a big book in all it's 16"x21" 144-page glory! 

There's 2/3 of the way to their printing goal of $30K in less than a day. 
Some cool rewards remain as of this writing.

It's a $100 buy-in for this art book. 
For $225 you get the book with all kinds of signatures, plus some swag.
For $275 you get yourself sketched into the book as a sleeping Nemo; presumably not riding a camel, but you never know. I am certainly asking Gerhard to Bactrian me in to one of the copies I am getting.

"Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream"

Friday, June 20, 2014

Brag Aart: Stone Circle by Barbara Kacicek

Stone Circle
8"x8" oil on cradled panel

I thought this was a quite clever composition. You see these rocks on the New England seacoast all the time.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Little Big Horn

If you are as old as I (and is anyone as old as I?)…

{bonus points if you catch that allusion}

… then you know the name Val Mayerik. Prolific Marvel artist in the 1970s, particularly known for his work on Man-Thing and for co-creating, with Steve Gerber, Howard the Duck, an origin which has no small role in the inspiration for Cerebus the Aardvark.

Val has hooked up with a writer named Jim Berry, and they are producing a graphic story, a historical depiction of the Battle of Little Big Horn. They are running a Kickstarter to finish it off, called "Of Dust and Blood."

Mayerik is now a commercial artist, but he has a keen interest in the American West and its history.

The Kickstarter is here.

I missed out on getting the oil painting that is the cover, and it is a sweet painting. Regret.

I will, however, pick up these rewards if it is funded:

These 4 acrylic paintings of the principal characters: Custer, Sitting Bull, Greenhaw and Slowhawk (the full view of Custer shown below. It is 10.5" x 7.5").

I will also get this really nice watercolor (10"x10"):

I am also in for one of the original art pages that will feature me as a character. Presumably I will not be sitting on a camel.

You can buy in for a s/n copy of the book for $30. Or you can get one with a Mayerik drawing in it for $80. There is only one of those "star as a character and get the page" pages left, but if that goes, I suspect they'll increase the number available if you ask nicely.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Colourized Cerebus

The incomparable Margaret (Cerebus Fangirl) noted that she had come across page 3 from issue 11, at a convention, which had been colored in. She thinks (and I agree) that it looks like a marker-job done by Dave rather than a Gerhard water-color job. That brings the count up to 3 or 4, depending on how you count that partially colored page with the neat-o background added to it (see below).

Cerebus 64 p 7: