Sunday, May 20, 2007

PLEASE NOTE: BLOG HAS MOVED TO srbissette.blogspot.com

PLEASE update bookmarks and feeds accordingly. sorry for the inconvenience!

Sunday Morning...


...have a great one!

I think this is a real stained glass window photo from a real church, but who knows. Sent to me by Tim 'Doc Ersatz' Viereck, from who'll you'll be hearing much more this week!

Have a fine Sunday, folks...


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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Morning, all --

The Center for Cartoon Studies graduation is today.


Here's the talk I'm giving the students and their families this morning;
I'm counting on all of them being too busy to have time to read my blog before heading out to the morning brunch, where they'll be subjected to this -- surely, once is enough
(but at least enjoying some of White River's finest dining at the Tip-Top Cafe).

This one's dedicated to a few folks:

To my daughter Maia and my son Daniel;
to James and Michelle;
and to the great Joe Kubert,
for making dreams come true, and showing me the path.


Enjoy -- and have a great weekend.
_____________________

IÕm going to direct my talk today to the parents as much as the graduates and fellow CCSers, so please, bear with me.

All we have are our stories.

When I was a kid, growing up in northern VT, there were things we took for granted:

America was the greatest nation in the world -- General Motors made the best cars -- Chrysler, Pan-Am and TWA and Howard Johnson would be around forever, and -- stories and comic books were kid stuff.

Comicbooks were for us KIDS, not for grown-ups.

It was tough being the only kid in Duxbury, VT who wanted to draw comic books for a living.

My next-door neighbor, Mitch Casey, was a couple of years older than me; he was the first person I ever saw draw a comic book -- tiny home-made, stapled pamphlets, made by folding 8 1/2 x 11 paper over, drawing the comic page by page on each side, and selling them for milk money at school.

Mitch taught me to draw comics, but as he got older, he abandoned our collaborative comic-creating efforts -- girls and sports were more interesting.

I kept drawing.

I kept making up stories.

My father, a military man who served in four branches of the service and worked hard all his life, blue-collar through and through, had a tough time with this.

Drawing never seemed a very manly thing to do, and how was his son ever going to earn a living doing something so silly? My older brother and younger sister volunteered for the military -- that made perfect sense to my father -- but I kept drawing, against all opposition and odds and attempts to steer me to more adult concerns, and this never, ever made sense to him.

In 1968, when I was thirteen, it just didnÕt make sense to want to draw comic books all oneÕs adult life. I might as well have said I wanted to live on one of the moons of Saturn.

In 1968, if I wanted to try and turn a friend on to what I considered the best in comics, the best I could do was loan him or her a stack of worn comicbooks, saying, ŅThese really are great!Ó Nine times out of ten, these would be superhero comics -- most likely Marvel superhero comics -- and these were still easily dismissed as ephemeral, childish things.

In 1968, there were no comic BOOKS, the term Ōgraphic novelÕ didnÕt even exist yet. TIN TIN was still relatively unknown in America, and the only evidence of manga in America were Saturday morning TV shows like ASTRO BOY, adapted from Osamu TezukaÕs classic MIGHTY ATOM manga series (though we didnÕt know that).

In 1968, when the great filmmaker Stanley Kubrick and great futurist and science-fiction author Arthur C. Clarke joined to make the ultimate sf film, 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, they populated their future with artifacts and trademarks of the American corporations certain to survive into the 21st Century: Pan-Am, Howard Johnson, and so on.

Like I said, we knew in our heart of hearts those American business icons would last forever.

A lot has changed.

Every single American corporation that appeared in 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY no longer exists.

Chrysler no longer makes the best cars in the world -- in fact, they havenÕt done so in decades. Chrysler is effectively no more, as of this past week; a shadow of its former self, a clutch of corporate assets to be sold off piecemeal by its current German owner.

But comic books are still alive and well. Comic books have been the wellspring of most of our summer blockbuster movies, habitually breaking opening weekend boxoffice records and now one of AmericaÕs major export successes.

In fact, AmericaÕs #1 export is no longer tangible goods -- steel, cars, manufactured goods -- but STORIES. Stories are the 21st CenturyÕs coin of the realm, of the world.

Stories, characters, imaginary concepts, INTELLECTUAL PROPERTIES: movies, TV programming, music, novels, comicbooks and graphic novels. Many of AmericaÕs most lucrative exports derived from intellectual properties are adaptations of comic books and graphic novels, primary among them movie adaptations.

Comic books have grown up -- not only are there adult comics, but comic BOOKS -- GRAPHIC NOVELS -- have, for the first time in history, as of this past winter, eclipsed comicbooks in gross dollar sales. They are now in every book store, a known quantity, a desirable commodity.

This was unimaginable, a pipe dream, in 1968. But a generation dreamed -- the Will Eisners, Harvey Kurtzmans Jack Kirbys and Joe Kuberts of the world -- and dreams can come true.

But every generation has to MAKE their own dreams come true.

Every generation has to tell their stories to the next, TEACH the next, so that they can tell their stories -- so that they can dream, and realize their dreams.

A lot has changed.

For me, life changed when I attended the first comics college in North America, the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art, Inc. in Dover, New Jersey. I went in the fall of 1976, a little over 30 years ago; I was a member of the first class, ever.

For me, life changed when my father, diehard blue-collar military veteran that he was and still is, met the founder of that school, Joe Kubert -- a manÕs man, a military vet, and a hard worker who raised a large family (five kids!) on what heÕd earned drawing comic books -- and suddenly, what IÕd wanted to do all my life made SENSE to my father. It WAS possible. It WAS -- well, OK.

I owe so much to Joe, and to his school, to my Kubert School classmates and everyone who was there. It was a dream of JoeÕs to pass on all he and his generation knows to US -- and what a gift it was, and remains.

It is perhaps the greatest gift IÕve ever received, since my parents gave me life itself. Joe and his peers told us their stories, and taught us to tell our own. Thank you, Joe.

I was already publishing my first work -- earning my first paychecks -- before I finished my first year in that two-year program. I graduated from North AmericaÕs first-ever cartooning college in the spring of 1978. I was entering the comics industry in a time of great turmoil and collapse, but my peers and I made our way into the industry, bit by bit, drawing by drawing, story by story, job by job, and by the 1980s we were part of a generation that changed comics. We made our mark, as best we could. We earned livings and raised families.

My God, my daughter graduated from high school in that once-faraway future year -- 2001!

My son graduated from high school four years later.

Who would have thought, in 2001, I would even have a daughter? A son?

And that I would be able to raise them both on what I earned telling my stories and drawing comic books?

A lot has changed.

I told my stories, and those I shared with creators I was lucky enough to work with; I made my mark in comics for three decades, and thought it was time to move on.

But my work wasnÕt done -- it was important to tell my stories and pass on all I know to the next generation.

How, then, could I resist the invitation, from James Sturm and Michelle Ollie, to teach the first-ever class at North AmericaÕs only other cartooning college?

Well, I couldnÕt resist. And here we all are, today.

We have our stories, one and all.

It has been my great privilege to teach, draw with, and get to know your children -- now adults, all -- the pioneer, first-ever class at the SECOND comics college in North America, the Center for Cartoon Studies. It has been a great, grand adventure for all of us, and no other class will experience what THEY have experienced, accomplish what THEY have accomplished.

They have stories they alone know, and can tell.

Many of them have already shared their stories, their art. They have self-published, here, many comics. Many of them have already earned their first paychecks as cartoonists and illustrators, and have completed or launched work on their first graphic novels.

They are part of the first American generation to grow up without any negative baggage attached to comic books. They are the first American generation to grow up with ADULT comics, GRAPHIC NOVELS, a part of their landscape, a reality rather than a dream.

They know there is nothing silly about telling stories. They value stories, the greatest American commodity today.

They are part of the first American generation in which intangibles -- stories, characters, ideas, INTELLECTUAL PROPERTIES -- are AmericaÕs #1 export, the fuel that drives the engines of pop culture, and they -- these students, these graduates -- are FULL OF IDEAS.

They have stories, and will make and tell many more. They know HOW TO PUT THEM DOWN ON PAPER, into digital space and the world, they have the necessary knowledge and tools to make their way in the world.

What they have, today, is worth more than Chrysler and Pan-Am and Howard Johnson, worth more than American cars or steel. In the 21st Century, stories are worth more than all that.

Your faith in them, their art, their stories -- in their dreams -- is commendable and wonderful.

They are entering as uncertain and difficult a world as any prior generation has. ThatÕs scary, yes, but they are armed with their own unique stories and skills, their own unique visions and voices, and with the community they have formed here, with one another.

They are better prepared for the 21st Century than any of we who grew up in the 20th Century -- believe in them, because they believe in themselves -- and they are RIGHT to.

ItÕs THEIR world now. They have stories to tell. I want to see, hear, read them all.

It has been an honor to teach you, to know you, to work with you, to draw with you, to see you here, today, with your families. I look forward to knowing you, drawing with you, reading YOUR stories, YOUR comics and graphic novels, for years to come -- for the rest of my life.

May you know one another, love one another, dream and draw and change the world together, from this day forward. May you read one anotherÕs comics for the rest of your lives, and teach all you know to the next generation.

YOU are the first graduating class of the Center for Cartoon Studies, and we applaud you.


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Friday, May 18, 2007

And to Think it All Started Here...


Yep, that's James Sturm and I moving his studio across the street to what was, in the summer of 2005, the new Center for Cartoon Studies building. Hard to believe it's been two years, but here we are -- the first graduating class, about to graduate -- tomorrow.

It's been a heady, at times heavy week at the Center for Cartoon Studies. We've completed the senior thesis review sessions, and I'm savoring a little breather between that intense block of work (the prep in particular, though I loved reading and re-reading the thesis projects -- pretty stunning group of cartoonists going out into the big, bad world this Saturday!). Tomorrow is graduation, and I've got a little work to do to prep for that.

The intensity has been in part revolving around the mounting finality of this transitional period. It's been sad to say goodbye to some folks, and that will accelerate tomorrow, as many of the folks who have been absolutely central to our day-to-day lives together are leaving after commencement to their respective family homes. I had lunch with Rich Tommaso yesterday; Rich has become a great friend, we've bonded over a number of shared interests and Rich was an invaluable part of the Drawing Workshop I helmed for the Freshmen class this spring. Rich and graduate Caitlin Plovnick are moving to Brooklyn on Sunday, and I sure am going to miss them. Of course, we'll all keep in touch, and be seeing each other in the years to come, but the reality of the community of the past two years going through inevitable, here-and-now change that necessarily revolves around the departure of so many key community members is a real roller-coaster ride.

That said, part of the transition, too, is the evidence of the new incoming freshman class of 2009 -- CCS discussion board posts from incoming fall students has been ongoing all month, and soon we'll see a new community arrive, merging with the standing CCS community and bringing all the excitement, change and transformation that implies.

Ah, CCS; I'm now part of a college community, and all that entails. I love it.
______________

I saw Paul Verhoeven's new film Zwartboek/Black Book last night, and I can't recommend it highly enough. This is Verhoeven's best film in years, and a genuine return to form -- what The Pianist was for Roman Polanski, Zwartboek/Black Book is for Verhoeven.

For fellow Verhoeven fans (Steve Perry, take heed!), it's absolutely critical to note that this film isn't just his return to his Dutch roots, but also reunites Verhoven and writer Gerard Soeteman, who was absolutely central to Verhoeven's often brilliant pre-Hollywood body of work. In fact, Soeteman was Verhoeven's primary collaborative partner in the whole of the director's pre-Hollywood career arc, scripting and co-scripting what remain Verhoeven's best films, beginning with Verhoeven's debut feature Wat zien ik/Business Is Business (1971) and blossoming with Turks fruit/Turkish Delight (1973) and Keetje Tippel (1975), which in many ways provides a blueprint for Zwartboek, as did Soeteman/Verhoeven's breakthrough international hit Soldaat van Oranje/Soldier of Orange (1977). Zwartboek is almost a perfect fusion of Keetje Tippel and Soldaat van Oranje, chronicling as it does the often harrowing experiences of a Dutch Jewish woman (Carice van Houten, giving a powerhouse performance) struggling to survive WW2 in Holland, and the convoluted tangle of loyalty, deceit, devotion and corruption that entails.

Soeteman and Verhoeven built upon the success of Soldaat van Oranje with the excellent Spetters (1980), the marvelously delirious De Vierde Man/The Fourth Man (1983, which also introduced actor Thom Hoffman to international audiences; Hoffman features prominently in Black Book), and concluded this ripe collaborative streak with Flesh+Blood (1985, aka The Rose and the Sword), which sadly led to an acrimonious split of the team as Verhoeven rushed to Hollywood and launched that phase of his career by directing an episode of HBO's The Hitchhiker ("Last Scene," 1986) and the classic Robocop (1987).

That Soeteman and Verhoeven are back together is something to celebrate; that they are also hard at work at a second 21st Century collaborative effort, Azazel, is tremendous news, and promises Verhoeven may at last be free of the restraints Hollywood placed on his creative life (his last American film, Hollow Man, 2000, was derivative and disappointing at best). As already noted, this new work also reunites Verhoeven with Dutch actors from his classic Soeteman era: Thom Hoffman (who was Herman, the central object of desire in De Vierde Man), Derek de Lint (Alex in Soldaat van Oranje), Dolf de Vries (Turks fruit, Jack in Soldaat van Oranje, Dr. de Vries in De Vierde Man), etc. are familiar faces to Verhoeven fans, and it's exciting to see the chemistry onscreen anew.

All this makes Black Book the theatrical sleeper of 2007 thus far. Don't miss Zwartboek/Black Book if it's playing near you, and I'll post a review proper next week when I start squirting those overdue Cine-Ketchup packets all over the keyboard. It stands, along with Das Leben der Anderen/The Lives of Others and El Laberinto del fauno/Pan's Labyrinth, as the best film I've seen thus far this year.
_______________

Sorceror's Apprentice: Bush, Gonzales (NY Times photo)

Speaking of "loyalty, deceit, devotion and corruption," in real life,
  • this week's Congressional testimony yesterday of James B. Comey, former Deputy Attorney General under John Ashcroft, was a real jaw-dropper
  • and demonstrates the monstrous extremes that the Bush White House pursued to carry out its illegal, secret spying program against the people of the United States. I'm no Ashcroft fan, mind you, but it's startling to see how vast the ethical gulf between Ashcroft's reign and Gonzales's dynasty in the Justice Department really is, and how far we've fallen.
  • If you're clueless on this, it's time to catch up ("...an account of Bush administration lawlessness so shocking it would have been unbelievable coming from a less reputable source...") --
  • -- there's no more damning evidence of the corruption rampant in the Justice Department, and how irresponsibly current Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales's behavior has been (and how fiercely he has exercised and exercises his loyalty to his President, placing that above US law and our Constitution).

  • Bye, bye, Wolfowitz (if you have the computer/high-speed access, also check out the two 'related videos' on the left menu bar at the Yahoo News site, particularly President Bush's gobsmacked incredulity); hello whatever next uber-corrupt crony President Bush appoints --
  • -- and we wonder (like children) why American credibility is so shot in the eyes of the world.

    Have a great Friday, one and all...

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    Wednesday, May 16, 2007

    Whoa, Blog Plagiarism!

  • Hey, this rip is busted! Prudence Shaun News is ripping off my blog verbatim -- ballsy!




  • I've posted a comment to this blog-borrowing-blog, and my thanks to eagle-eyed Rick Veitch for catching this -- and I'm willing to bet this post Rick caught online is gone by the time many of you click on the link above. But who knows -- I mean, it's weird, really.

    As of this posting, at about 7:25 PM, on my own blog, the site sports a verbatim lift of
  • my own February 5th post from this year,
  • presented sans graphics.

    Thanks for catching this, Rick! Anyone else find any similar hanky-panky going on out there, let me know ASAP, please and thank you.

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    Cool Cat


    Tuco lovin' the sun (photo by G. Michael Dobbs)

    Cool Daddy: I was on local TV -- WCAX-TV (Burlington, VT's primary TV station) -- in a story about the Center for Cartoon Studies.
  • Check it out; scroll down to the "Top Stories- Drawn Here Parts 1 and 2."

  • Note that one CCSer (hey, Emily!) says, "I was watching it on Windows Media Player on my PC at work and it went right to the part about the school but apparently if you try to watch it on a Mac it plays the whole newscast from the beginning which is a pain."

    Full day of CCS duties today; I'll write something more tomorrow. Have a great Wednesday...

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    Tuesday, May 15, 2007

    Zombies, Brickbats & Dragonflies


    With real spring hitting, the black flies are finally out, along with the blessings of night moths and my first glimpse of butterflies and dragonflies yesterday by daylight. I love this time of year -- so, to commemorate the new awakening, here's some early morning dragonflies for you. Dragonflies courtesy of my daughter Maia Bissette ('Technicfarce' c 2007 Maia Rose Bissette) -- Thanks, Maia!

  • Whoa, sobering news yesterday for Chrysler's 80,000 US employees, and another major landmark in the changing times as we continue to lurch into the 21st Century.
  • Don't underestimate the import of this devastating turn for the auto manufacturer, which unmoors one of the true 20th Century corporate giants those of my generation grew up with as an economic anchor, for better or worse.

    Seismic shocks of another kind are continuing to hammer the fringes of the Bush Administration, apart from our ruinous foreign policies and wars:
  • A panel of executives at the World Bank just ruled that its President (and Bush appointee) Paul Wolfowitz broke the bank's code of conduct and violated the terms of his contract,
  • but the big news this morning is that the second highest official in the US Justice Department, Paul McNulty, is resigning -- maybe Alberto Gonzales will yet have to pay the piper for his crimes against the Constitution?
  • Time will tell... keep an eye on these ongoing situations.

    Not having enough real-life apocalyptic catastrophes in our own lives, my stepson Mike and I dashed out last night for the viral armageddon opus 28 Weeks Later. I had some fun with it; the film is an invigorating and sturdily made outing for most of its running time, but ran out of gas in its final act. Six+ screenwriters credited, and nothing new to add to its subgenre; it's 20th Century Fox's genre subsidiary Fox Atomic doing its bit for keeping derivative traditions we used to depend upon cheapjack producers to keep alive back in the '80s (and the second such Fox Atomic outing I've seen in a little over a month, on the heels of The Hills Have Eyes 2, which was nastier, meatier, more satisfying fare for this depraved horror addict). Still, nice to see a flick with Mike, and we enjoyed the time out -- more on 28 Weeks Later when I play Cine-Ketchup next week (after a long hiatus posting such comments, though I've seen tons of movies). I hope to see Paul Verhoeven's Black Book before then, too (a return to form for a one-time masterful director?)... lots to talk about in that department.

    But here's what I really want to share with you all this fine rainy Tuesday, to wind up on a cheerier note. This just in from Colin Mathieson and Dave West of Accent UK, aimed at contributors to the Zombies anthology, but worth sharing with all of you as a report of that collection's successful debut and an update:

    Dear All

    Just back from Bristol earlier today so brief update on what was probably our best ever convention!

    WeÕre very pleased to report that Zombies was a well received hit with record sales and an overwhelmingly positive response. Everyone commented on the quality of the strips, the design and the printing with the result that there was a real buzz about the book.

    Thankfully many of you were there and able to share in the moment and enjoy what had to be one of the busiest Bristols ever (despite the weather!). It was great catching up with you all and registering everyoneÕs delight with the way the book turned out and hear of your own creative projects and ideas for Robots Š actually we had several ŌnewÕ interested writers and artists wanting to contribute to next yearÕs Robots so weÕre expecting another strong batch of submissions.

    "An Alphabet of Zombie" (c) 2007 SR & Daniel Bissette

    We are hoping for a wide coverage and distribution with us being approached over the weekend by no less than 5 separate retailers to stock both Zombies and our other release Wolfmen, with provisional deals set up with 2 others! We also had an encouraging meeting with DiamondÕs representatives (and await their USA panel review with interest) so your work is getting the best chance of a wide audience and will hopefully complement and highlight your own individual projects.

    Special congratulations must also go to Andy Winter, whose Hero Killers book deservedly won this yearÕs Eagle for favourite British black and white comic book. AndyÕs award nicely follows last yearÕs success for fellow Zombies contributor Dave HitchcockÕs Spring Heeled Jack series, so well done chaps!

    A fuller report on Bristol will follow on the website in due course and weÕll keep you informed of Zombies progress but in the meantime thanks once again for all your hard work and being a successful part of our annual anthology.

    Cheers

    Colin M and Dave W

    Colin added, "Zombies had a tremendous reception Š your cover really caught everyoneÕs attention and when they saw the quality of the strips inside, it was an easy sell! Several buyers mentioned your Indie Spinner interview too, so that proves the plugging works!!"

    Shameless huckster Bissette signing off, reminding you to
  • keep an eye on the Accent UK site for photos, updates, news and ordering info -- remember, Zombies does not yet have a US distributor, so you may want to order your copies now via Accent UK --

  • -- and to have a great Tuesday, one and all. Cheers!

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    Monday, May 14, 2007

    Top o' the World to You...


    Monday Musings

    There's a little more on the Ascutney climb to share with you all this morning, largely thanks to the arrival of photos from the trip itself and scans (compliments of CCS no-longer-just-a-freshmen Bryan Stone) of the two pages I drew between 3:30 and 5 AM the morning after. A little explanation is in order, though, before you get a peek at those two pages.

    Here's Bryan's photo of the whole CCS hiking party last Wednesday atop the fire tower on Mount Ascutney -- from left to right, Chuck Forsman, Ross Wood Studlar, Dane Martin, Alex Kim, Sean Morgan, Peter Money and yours truly -- since he snapped the photo, Bryan is absent from this shot.

    However, I know Peter and Sean took some photos up there, too, so hopefully we'll have a complimentary shot featuring Bryan up on the blog before the week is out.

    As you can see from these two photos, it was a grand and glorious day weather-wise. Bryan posted his pix online, and
  • you can see them all here, followed by more photos from the CCS Montreal trip (including more Drawn & Quarterly office shots).

  • Now, like I said, a little explanation is in order this morning.

    You see, the following two pages of Bissette comics art are the concluding two pages of an epic battle James Sturm orchestrated and conducted in his CCS cartooning class two or so weeks ago. I only know it as Fight Comics -- no direct correlation to the Fight Comics of the Golden Age, that I know of -- and it looked to me (correct me if I'm wrong, CCSers) like every member of the freshmen class created a character for the brawl, and via some arcane democratic or tyrannical system I'm not privy to, an order was voted upon, raffled, designated or divined for each artist and their respective character to have a one-to-two page face-off, with the winner of each match then going on to the next match, until by process of creative collaborative elimination only two characters were left.

    In the end, James asked me if I'd draw the concluding page(s) -- in essence, end the battle, conclude the climax, decide the winner and hence get James off the hook if anyone was unhappy with the resolution (note: "It's Bissette's fault!" has now entered a new era of relevance and validity for a whole new generation). It was also, of course, an honor, but also a duty. A duty to CCS, and to James, and to all who ply the inky trade. My Captain called, and I must answer. My Commander-in-Chief beckoned, and I obeyed. The orders were given, the sails were set, the die was cast, the shit hit the fan.

    I was handed a stack of odd-sized photocopies, and instructed to resolve the seemingly unresolvable, pitching a character named "Bryan Stone" -- shown in the character design sheet lifting his glasses and blasting deadly light rays from his eyes, like Cyclops in the X-Men -- against a character both adorable and ungainly, the 'Baby With Adult Legs.' The kid sure is cute, but man, those hairy adult male legs just put you right off your Maypo, bunky.

    [Photo: The real Bryan Stone and Joe Lambert; photo by Becca Lambert.]

  • Now, Bryan Stone, as you may have determined this late in this morning's post, is a real guy.
  • He's an adorable guy, in fact, just as sweet-natured, benevolent, kind, attentive and mild-mannered as any person I've ever met (and a heckuva cartoonist, too). Bryan Stone was created by -- well, his parents. The real Bryan Stone, that is.

    However, the deadly-eye-ray-blasting Bryan Stone was created by
  • JP Coovert,
  • also one hell of a cartoonist and a fellow no-longer-just-a-freshman at the Center for Cartoon Studies. Baby With Adult Legs was created by
  • Joe Lambert,
  • another motherfucker of a cartoonist and no-longer-just-a-freshman CCSer.

    [Photo: The real JP Coovert, photo by Joe Lambert.]

    So, this is what James handed to me. The fate of two comics characters just out of the incubator, barely in the world more than a week but already battle-tested and toughened by ink-and-paper warfare -- babes in the woods, yes (literally, in the case of Baby With Adult Legs), but already trench-war-hardened vets.

    But it was not just their fate I held in my hands, but that of their creators -- cuddly Joe Lambert and huggable JP Coovert -- and, damn it, that of the real, flesh-and-blood Bryan Stone! A man's man, cruelly thrust (by JP) into a world of panels, pages, pus, puke and panic!

    How would I resolve this conundrum without inflicting undue (due is OK) agony on any one, maybe two of these virginal young cartoonists, aching to pop their inky cherries against the calloused rubber condom wall of the real world?

    How would I end this senseless violence, this epochal combat, without letting down one or more of these budding geniuses, who are so eager to spew their creative juices into the collective womb of our open, festering brainpans?

    How could I condone the sadistic, no doubt visually glorious murder of either Bryan Stone, death-ray-eye-conduit though he be, or Baby With Adult Legs, the toddler on ten pins, the Titan Tyke, the spittle-flecked sprinter?

    How?
    How?
    How?


    Now, there's one other player in this drama -- he-who-must-never-be-forgotten by we who ply the inky trade here at the Center for Cartoon Studies, and most of all not to be overlooked by we who teach the inky trade at CCS.

    And that, my friends, is Inky Solomon.

  • What can I possibly say about CCS's spiritual leader, the legendary cartoonist and teacher Inky Solomon, that has not been said before (and better) by others?
  • Though the pen-and-ink Inky has been delineated (and co-created, in his way) by James Sturm and Seth, legendary cartoonists in their own right, Inky Solomon has nestled into the souls of all who dwell at CCS.

    He has swept away the pine needles and softened the stone floors of our hearts, carefully prepared the kindling we all harbor and built a warming little fire in our bellies, fueling the comics jones we share until it erupts into raging bonfires of creative life! Inky is our Dolemite, making of us all Human Tornadoes; he is our beatific Buddha, our jazzy Jesus, our infinite Inky!

    So, troubled though I was by the task placed within my hands, stern though the Sturm mission was now yolking my sturdy shoulders, fragile be the lives laid in my sweaty palms, frightful the soul-crushing potential of any misstep I might take, I turned to our own CCSolomon, Inky -- the Inky within.

    I consulted my inner Inky, the calm core of peace and tranquility that a half-century of life cartooning has coalesced, and determined the following:

    1. I would not 'decide' anything. Life would decide.

    2. If Joe Lambert showed up Wednesday morning for the Mount Ascutney hike, Baby With Adult Legs would win.

    3. If either JP (creator of Bryan Stone, comics character) or Bryan Stone (comics character incarnate) showed up Wednesday morning for the hike, Bryan Stone would win.

    4. If either Joe and JP, or Joe and Bryan, showed up, the battle would win (in typical comicbook fashion) in a draw -- a draw, with neither winning nor losing, but both ending up in a happy, wonderful, heavenly place, except there would be no My Little Ponies there (surely, a circle of hell is inhabited by those little bastards).

    5. If none of the trio showed up, both characters would die horrible, agonizing, extremely graphic and terribly grueling deaths.

    Thus it was decided; thus Wednesday morning came and went, and thus this was the fateful conclusion I wrote, drew and lettered Thursday morning, as the sun rose and the new day began:



    Note: Joe Lambert and James Sturm are already working on scanning the complete Fight Comic and posting it in some form online soon. I'll keep you posted (pun intended), and I'm as eager as any of you to see/read it all!

    PS: This is the final week of the Spring semester here at the Center for Cartoon Studies -- a fateful week for us all. Graduation is this coming Saturday, our first graduation ever. We've already had some heartbreak, some tears and fond farewells as some of our number move on into their summers or into their lives, away from CCS and White River Junction and this growing creative community; we're already into the momentous evaluation of the senior final thesis projects, with two full days ahead of 9 AM to 5 PM one-on-one assessments. It's a heady week here -- send your best to the CCS students, those with us, those departed; those moving into their new lives in the real world, those moving into their second year; those coming new to the fold and experience this coming fall.

    We're at a crossroads and the shifting of a new axis as definitive, new and unexplored as that we encountered at the very beginning of the school's existence in September of 2005.

    Wish us all luck, please.

    Here's to CCS, one and all!

    May Inky be with you all -- have a great Monday!

    PPS: My old friend Neil Gaiman has posted some lovely photos and a few comments about this past weekend's historic wedding of Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie
  • here, so enjoy.
  • Nice to know they're wed at last, and much love to both, where ever they are.

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    Sunday, May 13, 2007

    We're Not Quite Done Yet, and Already We're Nostalgic:
    The Infection of Time, Or,
    A Sunday Morning Peek at
    Joe Lambert's CCS Photos --




    As I spend the weekend pouring over an incredible array of final thesis projects from the Center for Cartoon Studies seniors and gifts of final projects from most of the CCS freshmen (soon to be seniors!), I'm moved to steer you to
  • Joe Lambert's pix of the May 2nd CCS Drawing Workshop session in my new backyard,

  • which was immediately followed that very afternoon with a drawing session from this miniature city we had constructed the week before -- a whirlwind of activity Joe has also documented via pix (scroll down to Joe's "Box City" photo album posting).

  • Left: Morgan Piellizilla. Hey, we still have to 'Godzilla' the city, guys and gal!

  • All of Joe's pix illuminate this old Myrant post on a recent Drawing Workshop exercise, if you want more context --
  • -- and although we're only two days past the completion of final projects (for both classes), I'm already revisiting and working on revised Drawing Workshop syllabus outlines to streamline and improve the whole two-semester effort for next year. Sigh. So little time, so much to draw and teach.

  • Joe's blog is always worth a visit, currently opening with photos from the CCS trip to Montreal (including a peek inside the Drawn & Quarterly offices, for those curious about that megalithic corporate universe) and other CCS activities. Thanks, Joe!
  • (More CCS in Montreal pix are here, compliments of fellow freshmen Penina Gal. Thanks, Penina!)


  • Here's a link to a venue for some of Joe's comics, too, which are -- well, excellent.
  • (Fair is fair: since I'm linking in thanks to Joe's sites, Penina's fine illos and comics creations are also visible here, and they're pretty damned good, too.)

  • Now, before I get into today's intensive reading, re-reading and note-taking from the thesis projects, I'm off to the flea market -- yep, it's that time of year.

    Clear, sunny, but cold -- ah, flea market season in a new part of Vermont. What wonders await me?

    Have a great Sunday, one and all --

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