Archive for January, 2011
At the current moment my brain doesn’t want to form cohesive thoughts so I will try to keep this short before my synapses fail to fire all together.
Doug Tennapel is a fantastic artist who has managed to maintain a stable career creating absurd characters for a variety of different formats (Earthworm Jim for video games, the Catscratch cartoon for Nickelodeon, and an assortment of characters for his graphic novels and comics). I have adored his work since I was first exposed to it while playing Earthworm Jim on my Nintendo Gameboy and thinking about how unique the concept and style was compared to other video games of the time (how many games have you launching cows into the sky to reach the next objective?).
There is no doubt in my mind that his work had a very distinct impact on me as a young creative person. I have great respect for anyone who has the ability to do what they love and put all of their personality into their creations day after day.
My only major complaint about Doug Tennapel’s artwork is that it has not been terribly accessible to people that are not already familiar with him. Despite the fact the his graphic novels have been some of the most imaginative pieces of graphic literature in the past decade they can be difficult to come by.
Today I discovered a new project by Tennapel that hopefully will intrigue a few of you. He has started a daily webcomic called Ratfist which is a quirky superhero tale. If you read these few pages it already becomes apparent the confidence that Tennapel has in his quirky ideas and how that confidence enhances his storytelling. While your reading it consider how absurd the information that he is throwing out to you is but also consider how believable the world he creates is. Men with dog faces, superheroes who talk to their pet rats about marriage, and a variety of other elements would typically seem like throw away ideas but he utilizes them in the comic format to create a story that leave you curious as to what he will post tomorrow.
This confidence in my quirky art is something that I hope to truly attain some day. I hope to be able to develop a habit of sitting at my drawing board and creating images that surprise me and make me feel even more confident about creating the next one.
If you have a chance give Ratfist a read and see how it makes you feel. I found myself laughing out loud and gasping with surprise a few times despite the minimal information that has been posted in the story thus far. If you absolutely hate his work I apologize in advance, but at least it didn’t cost you anything to take a gander.
Posted on 23 January '11 by zlorya, under Rants. No Comments.
I started reading a new essay about Postmodernism for my graduate class tonight around 11PM. I realized I was getting a bit fatigued, finishing the chapter I was on, and then turned on my computer with the sole intention of deleting spam from my email and posting the following “Waiting Room” pictures drawn on a post-it note.
To my surprise my inbox greeted me with a message from one of my former students at Washington Academy explaining my influence my class has had on his life. He started off by explaining a thrift store purchase he had made of a book by Scott McCloud, a comic book and media arts theorist that I referenced quite a bit during my time teaching media arts. He then the way in which my class has had a noticeable impact on his life and that he wanted me to know that.
I’m sitting here starring at my screen hoping for the right words to explain how this short paragraph made me feel. Teachers often pride themselves on the way in which they energize and excite students about the subjects they are paid to teach but the majority of the time fail to recognize the wonderful service that their students do for them. A proper education process is a two way street; the teacher enlightens the student to new ideas and different ways of thinking related to a variety of subjects. The student considers and then absorbs these thoughts and is thus prepared for more information. On the reverse end, the student’s awakening and enthusiasm toward learning re-energizes a teacher in a way that can only happen in the classroom. This creates a cycle in which the teacher becomes more excited about teaching and develops new ideas to teach the students while the students begins to trust the educator and becomes open to bigger ideas and more abstracts concepts that they may not have been prepared for in the beginning of the educational experience. This yin and yang scenario, when truly balanced properly, is beneficial to bother parties.
All of the work that I created and the ideas that began to incubate in my brain during my time teaching at Washington Academy were developed because of the amazing interactions I had with my students. Some days I would leave class feeling more refreshed than I did on a night where I actually had a chance to sleep the allotted amount for a male in his early 20s. Nothing can match the enthusiasm that students have to learn and I always tried my hardest to be ten times as enthusiastic as they were. This constant battle of excitement helped me reach a creative point in my life that I never thought possible. So to all of my former students, please remember that the lot of you did me a great service just by opening your minds to my wacky ideas of art making. I learned a great deal about my own artistic beliefs from our classes and I want to thank you for the inspiration you instilled in me.
Now with this extra boost of teaching energy I am going to dive through the rest of my postmodern philosophy.
Posted on 15 January '11 by zlorya, under New Work, Rants. No Comments.
Cartooning has always interested me for multiple reasons. I think the primary intrigues lies in a person’s ability to create a world that I am incapable of visiting but will always want to. I would love to sit down and have lunch with Charlie Brown while Schroeder entertains us with his piano playing or travel back in time to Craig Thompson’s memories of high school, love, and losing religion as he illustrated in Blankets. These different universes are not just intriguing because they house personalities that I adore, but because they have a visual appeal that can’t be met in our three-dimensional world. The two-dimensional page leaves much more to the imagination than the desensitizes three-dimensional world we experience everyday.
Adding to my curiosity about how these cartoonists’ creations is the way in which the worlds transfer from the creator’s head, to his/her hand, to the page, to the printing press, and lastly to the reprinted page someone on the opposite end of the world can hold in his or her hands. This journey consists of so many steps that I am only able to grasp small amounts of each one. The last part of the process is the aspect I would like to discuss tonight/this morning (depending on your perspective, of course).
A cartoonist typically pencils out their comic, then inks it, erases the original pencil marks after the ink dries, and sends it to the printer where the image is converted from a gray scale image to a blank and white one for more crisp lines when the page falls into my hands. There are many variations to these steps (see the work of David Mack or Eric Powell and it will change your life) but traditionally this is how Beetle Baily transitioned from Mort Walker’s head to the Sunday page of the Post-Standard Newspaper.
Since I started my ink illustrations a few years ago I have fiddled with the transition from gray scale images to black and white ready for print ones. For whatever reason, my heart has fallen for the more raw of the two.
Below is a small sketch that I drew a few months ago and was planning to use on a new set of promotional bookmarks. The actual size of the original illustrated image is probably smaller than the size you will be viewing on your computer. If you focus on the character’s mouth you can see the inconsistency in the ink’s color and the way in which a traditionally black area becomes splotchy. Lines doesn’t seem very smooth, often times seeming as those the character is covered in fur.
The next image is the same picture after being converted for black and white printing. The character separates more from the background and appears more apt to actually being crying out rather than existing with his mouth left open. The main flaw is that the edges of the image (where my inking inconsistencies happen) are much more jarring though keep in mind that when this image is printed it will be shrunken down considerably rather than blown up as it is on your computer. A traditional comic book page is drawn on an 11 inches X 17 inches Bristol board but is later printed at 6 5/8 inches X 10 1/4 inches. This makes the furriness that is left appear minimal to the reader who has attained the final edited and printed copy.
Despite the glaring issue that the image needs to be shrunken down to a size that is smaller than the original image in order to attain its most “traditional” look, I still cherish my original inconsistent image the most.
My ability to create universes and characters that come back again and again to entice the reader lacks in existence. Rather, I like to think my strength is to create images that describe different aspects about me through the inconsistencies and brutal honesty of the image. These images aren’t intended to be downsized and printed so that someone can critique them. They are created to explore who I am, and what better way to do that then showing you an image that is as close to the original flawed image as possible? Maybe someday I will reach a point where a little deception is needed but at this point in time I’m learning at a far faster rate through detecting and embracing my errors.
Stay Raw And Honest,
Posted on 11 January '11 by zlorya, under New Work, Rants. No Comments.