Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Book Publishing is scared.

Shannon just sent me this awesomely scary article from Salon. I haven't read it all yet. It is interesting that panic is sort of affecting a lot of people. More later.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Reich is Killing It!

Elijah Brubaker's Reich made it onto the Forbidden Planet (the English one) blog, on Dan Goldman's best of the year! Wonderful news as Elijah is right now wrapping up work on #6.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Points to keep in mind, by Alex Toth.

Points to keep in mind.
As I try to do! (and often fail, I might add!)
By Alex Toth
  • Eliminate the Superfluous, the unnecessary. Be lazy!
  • Edit your art continuously, at every stage. Save work!
  • Focus on the remaining (important) picture elements.
  • Emphasize what is important in a scene. Save drawing!
  • Isolate such key elements (as one does in a view finder).
  • Closeups only when needed: face(s)-for mood and expression, and objects-small, difficult to distinguish in other ways.
  • To set a scene, a place, to establish a locale, etc., go to a wide shot, angles okay (down/up, etc.)-but again, simplify.
  • Then, cut to tighter shots-pace them, for interest, etc.... (wide/one shot/two shot/group/close-up/tight close-up).
  • Establish light source, if need be, for dramatic mood and for blacks, drop shadows, etc., on figures & objects and walls, as correctly placed as you can make 'em!
  • Eliminate such light/shadow work in other shots.
  • Simplify, simplify, simplify, throughout!
  • Remember, some scenes will and must be pedestrian, unimportant, and dull-because they are "bridges" between key storytelling scenes. As in any storytelling form, movies, TV, books, plays, music, opera painting, etc., you can't knock 'em dead with every shot. Remember, this is what gives pace to a story, visual commas and periods in a pictorial "paragraph" or "sentence"! These are the resting places in an otherwise moving storm! Use them! Without fear!
  • Some such "rests" or "pauses" can be heightened in pictorial interest by way of a pretty scene of quiet mood-if your locale allows! Don't stretch logic to do it!
  • By learning to eliminate unnecessary objects, figures, and backgrounds, etc., you cna focus on what is left to draw in the shot-and draw it well enough to "carry" the shot.
  • In other words: strip it all down to essentials and draw the hell out of what is left!
  • All of this advice is based on Roy Crane's critiques of my work-and he is absolutely correct, on all points!
  • In the Wash Tubbs and Captain Easy strips and in Buz Sawyer, with Sundays focused on pal Roscoe Sweeny, his work of fifty-odd years demonstrates its validity! In his work, as in no other of his contemporaries' offerings, you will find an extraordinary sense of balance, in his design of space within a panel frame, a strip, or a page! His simplicity allows us to see the use of shapes within his pictures, how they create tension, action or repose... clearly!
  • He avoided confusing details!
  • To quote something just read: "To add to the truth only subtracts from it!!! (Isn't that beautifully put?)
  • Authenticate devices, objects, machines, locales, furniture, buildings, etc. ... to lend credibility!
  • As Sickles put it: "Understand how a thing is built and you'll have no trouble drawing it through!"
  • Spend more time thinking-about what and what not to draw, and how-and you'll do less drawing!
  • Pre-plan, pre-think...Thus, save work and time!
  • But-whatever you do, do it well!
  • Tell the story as best you can! Bend to the storm!
  • Be honest to it. Give it all you've got! Enhance it!
  • Study films, photographs, paintings, etc. for composition! For cutting, cropping out of non-essentials, pacing, punch, economy, forceful and direct impact. But also for beauty and subtlety-tension, suspense, action, humor, light and dark, balance, line vs. mass, ad infinitum! Use it all!
  • Analyze everything you see-be critical! Positively so!
  • See-observe-remember! Build up your memory file!
  • Good Luck-
Best Alex

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Sequart, temporary new home

From Rob Clough:

This is a note to let everyone know that since the sequart.com website is down due to server issues, I decided to temporarily move my High-Low column to this url:


I apologize for any inconvenience. When sequart.com is back up and running, I'll move anything I post on this website back over there. I've already posted my first column, a review of Jeff Lemire's THE COUNTRY NURSE. I'll have a number of other columns up shortly.

Friday, December 12, 2008

All-woman autobio apocalypse!

Venus in Blue Jeans, Venus in Furs /All the Ancient Kings- Julia Gfrorer: These two I picked up because the covers looked gorgeous, and then I got home and opened them up and the insides were not as enchanting. Venus has a few pages that show off some cool looking sketchbook pages, crammed in between a lot of small panels where nothing really happens. All the Ancient Kings is a series of short comics starring Hunter S. Thompson and Bob Dylan and a whole bunch of musicians and counter-cultural celebrities interacting. They might be roommates? It's the more entertaining of the two.
Estrus Comics #6 : More Kiss & Tell Stories - MariNaomi: This is like getting drunk with your girlfriends and talking about your exes, the comic. I loved it. Brutally honest, perfectly concise, with blowjobs.

The Marty Chronicles - Liz Dunning & Teppei Ando: Basically a story about Liz's interactions with an awkward guy, Marty, centered around playing and watching college volleyball tournaments. Marty is somewhat awkward, and does odd things throughout the nearly 60 page story, but aside from being weird there's nothing hugely criminal happening. Teppei's art has this sketchy energy that carried the whole comic, though occaisionally it's hard to tell what's happening. The pacing could be better, and the dialogue can get a little tedious at times, but it's not a terrible effort.
In the tall grass #3 - Tessa Brunton: "Look, there's this girl I want you to meet, she's not the biggest looker in the bunch, but she is funny as hell! Great personality." Tessa's style is still getting there, but she seems to have found her voice. There's a bunch of short, funny strips that range from finding free stuff on the street to watching drunks on the BART, and two longer, more introspective/emotional pieces about dating and deaths at a water park. Add her blog to your rss or whatever, Tessa's got game.

Spaniel Rage- Vanessa Davis: Vanessa is totally the master of diary comics. She fits in more story in a panel than most people can do in a page, and she doesn't even use panels. You already know this is good.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Chris Cilla on Top Drawer

A must read interview with Chris Cilla on Top Drawer, by Luke P.
Chris is one of my favorite comic artists.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Chronic Comix Claptrap

Wow, the Claptrap is rolling along. There have been a couple great episodes. And a lot of interesting commentary. In spite of the fact that Thien Pham is now trying to get in my pants like Daniel Meade from Ugly Betty, I still think this show has a lot of teeth and also, is really thoughtful. I'm listening to the new one with John P. but I'd suggest going back and listening to Jim Rugg and Jeff Brown.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Golden Tissues Rules!

Hey, so I'm part of a GREAT show that is currently up at the Pony Club Gallery in Portland, OR. There are some amazing artists in the show including a lot of Sparkplug published ones and people we distribute. Please go take a look at the show, if you can.


Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Book Report!

Click on the picture to blow it up large...

Cooking Wine

So, in addition to MK and Nate's reviews we are going to start a new feature on the Sparkplug Blog: The Book Report.

Juliacks and Shannon O'Leary are going to hand-write up old fashioned style book reports on notable independent comic book releases. One will write the report and then the other will grade the report, writing notes and suggestions for improvement on it. They'll be sending these reports from coast to coast, in an effort to squash the East Coast/West Coast war going on in comics.

Shannon is the Sparkplug promtional Athena. She is a life long comics fan and California native, transplanted to the big city, New York. Shannon put together the anthology comic book Pet Noir for Manic D. Press and creates her own comics including the recent Crimes Against Shannon.

Juliacks is the creator of Swell, one of the best self-published comics of the past couple years. She makes comics, graphic novels, performance videos, installations and two-dimensional works of all kinds. She is also pretty amazing. Like Shannon, she left her side of the US and went to the other. She now lives in Los Angeles.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Mini Comics Reviews by Nate Doyle and MK Reed!

Our pals MK Reed and Nate Doyle have agreed to put their high falutin' comics know-how to the test and are going to start reviewing Sparkplug distributed mini comics on a fairly regular basis.

If you don't know anything about Nate or MK, then you should listen up right fucking now. Here's everything you need to know about them in semi propaganda format.

Nate is originally from a small, rural-farm town in Maine, Nate Doyle now resides and draws in Brooklyn, NY. He graduated from the School of Visual Arts in 2008 with a BFA in Cartooning, he has worked on numerous mini-comics, contributed to several anthologies and is the creator of comics/zine Crooked Teeth.

MK Reed is the creator of Cross Country, I Will Feast On Your Whore Heart, Pale Fire, and Catfight. Her comic "Americus," which appeared in Papercutter #7 was nominated for a 2oo8 Ignatz for "Outstanding Story," and she is one of the founders of the prestigious Nerdlinger Awards. She currently lives in Brooklyn, and like everyone else, is working on a graphic novel. Her comics can be found at mkreed.com

Hear their critique-errific blogging roar in the days to come!