Archive for October, 2010
This weekend I attended the 2010 Festival Of Cartoon Art at Ohio State University. The conference happens once every three years in Columbus, OH and is sponsored by the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum which is a phenomenal facility dedicated to comic arts education and research. I had been planning for this conference for months and have to say that it was well worth the wait.
The Festival Of Cartoon Art has been happening for 30 years and provides a nice intimate environment for cartoonists and cartooning enthusiasts to get together and celebrate comic art. Though I have attended a variety of comic art related events this was the first I had ever gone to that put the majority of its emphasis on comic strips which was a welcome change.
The conference started with a variety of presentation by graduate students who had written academic papers about comics starring through the lens of narrative theory. I was in awe at the way in which these students used their unique perspective to explore a variety of comic texts and determine what they could learn from each text. One of my favorite presentations was entitled “Knowing One’s Limits: Metalepsis, Pseudo-liveness and Mediality in Scuola di fumetto (Rat-Man, a hilarious Italian Superhero comic book).”
This presentation enlightened me to a whole new world of vocabulary (try saying metalepsis ten times fast) and managed to explore some interesting conventions that only the comic medium is capable of utilizing.
The conference also marked the 100th anniversary of George Herriman’s Krazy Kat which was a newspaper strip that ran from 1913 to 1944. This was celebrated with another academic panel of paper presentations, a speech by Michael Tisserand (an author who is writing a biography about George Herriman), and a reception at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library And Museum in which they were showcasing a Krazy Kat exhibit. It was inspiring to see the way in which a single comic strip can live on after so many years. If you are not familiar with Krazy Kat I strongly suggest picking up a reprint of the strip at your local library.
The remainder of the conference (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) consisted of presentations by working cartoonists and comic historians as well as numerous opportunities to socialize and network. I would guesstimate that out of the 250 people who attended the conferences about 75% of them are registered in the National Cartoonist Society (NCS). The NCS is a group of cartoonists, often times believed to be elitist in nature, that offer inductions through a rigorous application process. This process verifies that your living comes from cartooning and acceptance to the NCS is determined by the perception other NCS members have of your work. Basically, it is very difficult to join the NCS and only the best of the best are permitted to join. By having the opportunity to surround myself with all of these working NCS professionals I was granted a sneak peek into the life of the working cartoonist and I loved every second of it.
Presentations ranged in topics from the history of DC comics and how to make a living creating web comics without the backing of a newspaper syndicate to a tribute to former King Features Syndicate editor Jay Kennedy who passed away in 2007. The picture above is from the Jay Kennedy Tribute featuring Matt Groening (Life In Hell, The Simpsons, Futurama) , Bill Griffith (Zippy The Pinhead), Patrick McDonell (Mutts), and Brendan Burford (the comics editors for King Features Syndicate). Each presentation was packed with great information but more importantly each gave me a creative rise I had not felt in quite a while. Being jammed into a room with 250 other people that have the same passion as you can change your mentality in an instant and if that collective thought process allots a positive vibe the possibilities are endless.
Throughout the weekend I managed to have discussions about punk bands with Matt Groening and Jen Sorensen, discuss my love of Will Eisner with Bill Holbrook, better understand newspaper syndication through Jan Eliot, and form awesome new friendships with fellow comic lovers Jeremy and Dan Juravich, fellow cynic Stephen Johnson, and fellow filmmaker Joel Schroeder.
The whole weekend left me energized and feeling confident that I was in the right place for once in life. The comics community is the nicest group of people and they truly understand how to support one another. Despite the fact that I was the worst artist in that room, everyone treated me as an equal and encouraged me to start my own comic. With that said I am going to do my best to start another website, www.zlorya.com, which will hopefully turn into a venue for me to host a weekly webcomic of the same name.
To make a long story short (too late!), this weekend has empowered me and hopefully some great creations should be just over the horizon. After I polish off my animation this week expect some awesomeness.
P.S. Since I didn’t fit this into the above writing I think the following information may interest a few of you. The Columbus Museum Of Art had an exhibit featuring all of the original artwork from R. Crumb’s interpretation of The Book Of Genesis.
It was a fascinating exhibit and was my first chance to see Robert Crumb’s art in it’s purest form (seeing as drawings he has done on diner place mats sell for $2,500 a piece I probably will never own any of his work). The man’s line work is always spot on and nothing truly compares to it. I believe the exhibit is traveling between different museums; if you have a chance to see the work I highly suggest it.
Crumb is one crazy visionary.
P.S.S. The other exhibit within the Columbus Museum Of Art was called Furs, Fins, And Feathers which was intended to showcase art that incorporated different animals in a variety of mediums. One of which was a sweet checker board consisting of different colored rubber duckies. If you managed to attain King status your ducky wears a decorative lifeguard tube around his/her neck.
Unfortunately, LA destroyed NY as my buddy Joel managed to kill my ducky platoon.
Posted on 19 October '10 by zlorya, under General Update. No Comments.
When I was in sixth grade I made a vow to myself that I would live as healthy a lifestyle as I possibly could. I was going through some major health problems at that point in my life (which I’m sure will all be explained within my art at some point in my existence) and made a conscious choice to not do anything else to harm my body.
Two years down the line a lot had changed in my life. My family had moved from Hillcrest, NY to Chittenango, NY, I was attending a new school where I was slowly learning how to socialize, hospital treatments were few and far between, and I was introduced to a variety of underground subcultures. Eighth grade was the year in which personalities and long term life choices were starting to solidify for most of my peers. The stoners began to explore the difference between hookah and bong hits, the theater gurus started to have wet dreams about their debut in the Justin Beiber musical (which translates to Britney Spears LIVE in the year 2000), JNCO kids started to peruse the clearance racks at Sears for oversize bell-bottoms, there was a hormone race for all, but a select few chose to see how far they really could take their sexual lives without concern for the aftermath, exercise and around the clock nutritional intake journals filled the book bags of a variety of students that spent their weekends pricing whey powder, economics took on a whole new meaning to those pinching pennies for a just out of reach of a Playstation 2, and a small group of us began to explore the underground culture of the local, national, and international Punk and Hardcore movements.
Punk and Hardcore was more than to music to me, even then. Going to the mall to buy CDs of The Vandals, MXPX, The Queers, Strife, The Bruisers, and the like was more than just a shopping experience, it was a quest for a new life philosophy. My quest had started in a hospital bed a few years earlier but I needed to find a soundtrack to match it. I instantly latched onto pop-punk but started to dabble into the faster and angrier music. I was exposed to bands like Earth Crisis and Strife that sang about their devotion to drug-free and alcohol-free lifestyles but their musical presentation and lyrical style didn’t hold my attention as it felt more like a performance than someone laying their beliefs on the line. With that said the record stores never opened me up to the philosophy that I could sing along to but I always loved the search.
Flash forward another 4 years. I was a senior in high school, still a lost soul but finally starting to figure it all out. I learned how to communicate properly without stumbling over my words, I had a steady job that I really enjoyed, my green Honda Accord (may it Rest In Peace) was a ticket to sanity, I had a group of friends that always made me laugh, college (my theoretical saving grace) was only a few months away, and I played bass and sang in a band whose best shows were in my basement with the three members jamming and jumping around. It was during one of these band practices that my guitarist, Phill, suggested we take my car to a local show that was happening within the next few hours. Without any hesitation the three of us packed into my car and drove on down to the Westcott Community Center.
The Westcott was a venue that I had frequented on numerous occasions for a variety of shows but always felt a bit alienated from. I knew people there, always socialized, and sang along to the bands but I never was one of the locals. I was more-so a stranger who wondered into the wrong house and stayed for a while once every month of so. When we arrived this time things were a bit different. Mohawks, multicolored hair, and a variety of facial piercings were not in style while awkward kids with oversize t-shirts, camouflage shorts, and intellectual conversations were hip. Phill had rushed us there to see one of the first shows by a band called Black Sheep Squadron who were a band that a measly thirty kids had apparently come out to see. We stood in the center of the room and watched this group of four crazy individuals scream their lungs out, bleed on their instruments, and speak words that finally made sense to me.
“This song is about how, even in my mid twenties, some morons feel the need to question me when I tell them that I choose not to drink” rang out of the vocalist’s mouth which prompted a surge of endorphins to my seventeen year old brain. I had finally found a philosophy and a place to explore my spiritual beliefs.
Black Sheep Squadron wore their Straight Edge philosophies on their sleeves and it was as straight forward as possible. This is what we believe, we take pride in our beliefs, if you don’t agree with it we don’t care, and if you partake in an alcohol-free and drug-free lifestyle come on and scream your lungs out. I can proudly say that I have lost my voice many times to this philosophy and that I look forward to many more.
If you have not been able to determine the definition of Straight Edge through context I will simplify it for you. Straight Edge is a life choice in which an individual chooses to abstain from drug and alcohol use for the duration of their life (the choice to abstain from promiscuous sex is often a belief in many Straight Edge individuals but differs from individual to individual). The term Straight Edge and the beliefs that go along with it were originally coined by Washington D.C. based Hardcore-Punk band Minor Threat who wrote a song entitled “Straight Edge” (to be more specific Ian MacKaye, the vocalist for Minor Threat, wrote the song). Later in the band’s existence Brian Baker developed a logo for the Straight Edge movement which consisted of three solid X’s (like so: XXX). The correlation between Straight Edge beliefs and the X’s started after a realization that kids who went to shows under the legal drinking age would often have big black X’s drawn on their hands by the club’s bouncers to inform the bartender that these kids were not to be served alcoholic beverages. Rather than viewing this as a negative moment in a child’s life Brian Baker embraced the symbol of the X and developed his XXX logo (each X corresponding with on of the Straight Edge beliefs; no drinking, no drugs, no sex).
As time went on the Straight Edge movement exploded as youth all over the world began to live the lifestyle. Major Straight Edge population spikes have occurred in cycles throughout the years (at its inception, the youth crew movement, the straight edge vegan metalcore movement, etc.). Unfortunately a large percentage of individuals who claim the Straight Edge lifestyle fail to stick with it and end up partaking in drinking and drug using at some point in their life.
At some point in the history of Straight Edge October the 10th (10/10 = X/X in Roman Numerals) became an unofficial National Straight Edge Day around the world. Many bands, promoters, and show-goers celebrate National Straight Edge Day by going to shows featuring Straight Edge bands. Today marks a fairly significant National Straight Edge Day as the complete date is October 10, 2010 which translates to X/X/X in Roman Numerals (unfortunately that only happens once per century).
Today the guys who helped me realize the power of Straight Edge (Black Sheep Squadron) are playing their first show in Chicago for the first time in many years which features a variety of other Straight Edge bands from around the United States and I hope that some random show-goer has the same experience I did when I first saw them. The ability to come to a self-realization and turn the negative energy we often times feel into something positive that forever alter the course of our lives can be a very powerful tool. I realized my beliefs about thirteen years ago, solidified these beliefs seven years ago, and am proud to say that even after all of that time my ethics have not changed. Choosing a drug-free and alcohol-free lifestyle has allowed me to understand the world in a way that only a sober individual can. I have no beer goggles, I have no lame excuse as to why I took specific actions I later regretted, I learn from every experience I have, and I can see my future glowing bright in the distance. I am proud to be a Straight Edge individual.
Happy National Stage Edge Day! I suggest drinking a root beer, laughing with friends, and giving yourself a pat on the back for being who you are.
Posted on 10 October '10 by zlorya, under Rants. 1 Comment.
This website, just as all of the art that I create, is intended to represent different quirks of my personality in hopes of helping me better understand my own identity. With the amount of research I have been doing for my graduate work I have not had much time to create new art to further explore this identity crisis. Rather than not updating at all I am going to attempt to post more art that I have been exploring to see how those artistic creations play a role in defining who I am.
***WARNING: If you take issue with homosexual activity (both consciously and unconsciously acted up) please do not bother reading the remainder of this post. The play and film that are to be discussed will not interest you.***
When I was in high school my school offered discounted subscriptions to Syracuse Stage. The theater had a season that typically ran for about five or six shows and I had the privilege of going to each show for my last two years of high school. Every few months, always on a Tuesday evening, I would hop onto a bus and arrive at Syracuse Stage for the performance of the night.
Syracuse Stage’s selections always ranged in content and style thus I never bothered doing too much research into what I was going to be seeing. The surprise of the show was one of the joys of going. I never knew what I was going to be exposed to and thus could never be disappointed by previously built up expectations after reading a review in the paper. After a few shows, I realized that (just as in cinema) the surprises the theater could expose me to helped me better understand what is required to create a captivating piece of art.
One play that I was intentionally ignorant about was the play M. Butterfly which was based on true events. The story follows a French diplomat who has an affair with a Peking Opera singer that he met at a performance of Madama Butterfly. As I watched this situation unfold I was captivated by the interactions these two people had. Each person had their own secretive quirk and I had no idea what to make of the experience.
By the time the intermission hit I had to get up and walk around. I proceed to the bar to buy a Shirley Temple while questions about the criteria for love and infidelity swam around in my mind. I sipped on my beverage and gathered my thoughts while shifting over to a group of students I came to the show with. I had been standing in their social circle for no more than thirty seconds when someone inquired “Isn’t it strange watching a man play a woman?”
Up until that point I had believed that I was watching an interaction between a French Man and a Chinese woman when really I had been as blinded as the protagonist. The French man had allowed himself to become so blinded by his own fantasies that he believed, for years, that the relationship he was having was with a female rather than a male performing as a female.
Without giving too much of the plot away I can confidently tell you that the unique experience of seeing that play unaware of what I had manage to get myself into altered my perception of art making and allowed me to further question my own existence. Alternative perspectives, like the ones within M. Butterfly, can help you expand your knowledge in other facets than geography and basic culture. Though the play takes place in both France and China, the knowledge that can be attained from is not isolated to those two countries.
Tonight I took the time to watch David Cronenberg’s take on M. Butterfly which was made in 1993 starring Jeremy Irons and John Lone. Cronenberg’s interpretation, though very similar to the play as they are both written by the same person, takes a different interpretation in regard to advertising that the female figure is actually a male actor.
Within the theater it can be a lot easier to withhold information from the viewer. A director’s choice to whether or not to develop programs for the show (where all the vital information is held) will not stifle ticket sales. Within major cinematic productions a director must anticipate having the names of his/her actors/actresses plastered all over movie posters, newspapers, television commercials, billboards, internet side bars, and so on. With this knowledge Cronenberg advertised that John Lone would be playing the role of the Butterfly (the man acting as a woman) arguing that it would reinforce the self deception the protagonist is putting himself through as everyone (including the audience) is aware that he is involved with a man. As the audience sees how blinded the French diplomat is by his own fantasies it is inherent that the viewers starts to question their own lives.
If you’re interested in seeing a film that will help add further confusion to your own life I highly suggest watching the play or seeing the film. Both are capable of forcibly shifting your brain in a new unforeseen direction and act as very strange educational tools. Tonight, as I re-exposed myself to M. Butterfly, I started to question my own dreams, aspirations, identity, and the value that specific relationships play in my life, not to mention I started to crave another Shirley Temple.
Posted on 8 October '10 by zlorya, under Rants. No Comments.