2010 Post Thanksgiving KGB COmix Reading!

Hello readers,

Our annual post-Thanksgiving Sunday Comix Reading at KGB this year will be Sunday November 28 at 7pm and will feature:

Lisa Hanawalt: http://www.lisahanwalt.com
Mike Dawson: http://www.mikedawsoncomics.com/
Kate Beaton: http://www.harkavagrant.com/

KGB Bar:
85 East 4th Street


Let's Get Furious Cover

God knows I've never designed a good book cover myself, so we're letting Andrew Devries Barton at Top Shelf design it and he's making lovely choices. Here's the cover at right, and the entire spread below.

The book is 378 pages, baby. That's more than 300 pages longer than your average new graphic novel these days at about the same cost.

Coming in May 2011.


On Not Shooting the Outline

My wife, Leela and I were trying various episodic TV from HBO, and we watched our first episode of ROME. Hundreds of Caesar’s troops on horseback, are trudging through the woods towards the Capitol. They come to a river. One Centurion looks to another and says “What river is that?” Centurion #2: “That’s the Rubicon.” The troops cross it.

Leela looked at me and scowls, “They’re just shooting the outline!”

You can imagine the dramatic outline of the story here: Caesar makes his decision. The troops prepare. The march starts. They cross the Rubicon, marking the first act of war in Caesar’s civil war.

What’s missing in the producers’ execution is some grace, some evocation of emotion, some decorative element, some genuine grubby humanity.

Mamet gets it right in On Directing Film: “...In the beautiful drama, each moment serves the purpose of the superobjective, and each moment is beautiful in itself. If the moment only serves the superobjective, we have plodding narrative pseudodrama, good only for object-lesson or ‘message’ plays.”

Not shooting the outline, or poetry, is about getting to know the plot point and using it as a springboard to let your humanity explore. This can come in any form of detail- beauty of language (be it verbal or visual), emotional depth, psychological clarity, connections and “poetic units”, great jokes, etc.

If your outline says “The surgeon accidentally put a guy’s feet on backwards” but you write:

The surgeon had finished up sewing
The feet on a man without knowing
He switched them around
Now he walks into town
They can’t tell if he’s coming or going
(-Edward Lear)

You’ve made poetry.

If you write, "Doctor, you've accidentally put the patient's feet on backwards" you've shot the outline. Or written a set-up for the Muppet Show's "Veterinarian Hospital."

Some writers find poetry in language. From Shakespeare to Lear to Mamet, they lock down the outline- the structure of the drama to allow the verbal landscape to soar. A hip-hop artist’s outline might be a single line: “Tell them how bad-ass your rhymes are” and from that 4 minutes of verse flows.

Other artists will find it in their drawings, lighting, composition, etc. Douglas Sirk transcended his “pseudodrama” with an excess of style. Osamu Tezuka dazzled with a brilliance in his craft.


Talks with my Buddhist student

I had a discussion with a student who deeply invested in Buddhism. Some thoughts:

There is a spiritual world and a material world.

If you choose to be in the material world, even just a little, you have to act, you have to do something.

When you choose to be present and you pay attention, you realize life is incredibly strange. So is art. It can be like living twice- it has the potential to be just as strange and wonderful and horrible for the artist as real life. But not everyone has the courage to go through it twice.

Attention is the best artistic gift you can give yourself.

"My life has been about paying attention to things. Most people don't know how few things they pay attention to." - John Cage

Random quotes

Random quotes. Organizing my How to Say Everything detritus folder.

"Nothing is worse than a good beginning" - Pablo Picasso

"As soon as your mind knows that it's on and it's supposed to produce some lines, either it DOESN'T, or it produces things that are very predictable. You want your mind to wander, that's really what you want to happen." - Paul Simon

"Be regular and [word illegible in my notes] in your life so you can be violent and original in your work" - Flaubert

"I was obessesed with movement and action... I pursued them all my life. I began to fall into patterns. Ultimately... you align everything with your need" AND

"Dramatize means to characterize. I wasn't characterizing, I was doing biblical illuminations... As I began to become aware of drama, I became aware of character." AND

"I got away from a totally abstracted view to a more personalized one. I tried to humanize..." AND

On comparing his own work to Harold Grey: "I've never reached that level of being able to casually- I'm corrupted by my ideal to still have a Wagnerian element enter into every subdued picture that I want to do." - Gil Kane, TCJ interview (this and above three)

"Intention of an artist: to make enough mistakes to be able to receive gifts" - uncredited.