Thursday, November 27, 2008

"I Was There when Words Collided"

My work was mentioned in the recent When Words Collide column by Tim Callanan. How cool is that? See it here.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Comic Books Re-covered #4: The All-Star Squadron

(colored with Crayola markers)
The comic book "re-covery" project goes like this. I pick a comic cover that amuses me in some way, then I redraw it in my own style. I hope that I'm learning about comic cover design strategies, like this one: Good Guys vs. Bad Guys Slugfest.

This comic came out in 1983, the year I graduated from high school. I wasn't buying comics at that time, and probably wouldn't have bought this one anyway. The story is as confusing as the cover. It takes place during WWII on DC's Earth 2. According to Wikipedia,
Earth Two was created to explain how Golden Age versions of characters such as The Flash could appear in stories with their Silver Age counterparts. Its continuity includes DC Golden Age heroes, including the Justice Society of America, whose careers began at the dawn of World War II, concurrently with their first appearances in comics.
Confused? So am I! In the first 3 pages we are introduced to 17 characters, most of whom I've never heard of. As you continue, more and more costumed characters climb aboard as if it were a Pre-Crisis Noah's Ark. The Ultra-Humanite has gathered bad guys from her own day, some from the future '80s, and some from a place called Limbo. This is one of those comics that is so bad it's good, giving us hilariously absurd characters like the Monocle -- who can shoot blasts from his spectacle.

"Drive...Breathe Again" (100 Themes -- Update)

I like the idea of "comics improv". You might also call them word association comics. We've all seen "Who's Line is it Anyway" when someone yells out a word and the comedians do the best they can with it, on the spot. I like drawing comic strips that way, responding to challenges, giving myself a time limit, and doing the best I can with it.

One of the challenges floating around now is called 100 Themes. The challenge is to draw one panel or illustration for each. Part 1 (above) I did back in May. Six monthes later, I've got another page done.!

Here is the complete list of themes.

The Themes:

1. Introduction
2. Love
3. Light
4. Dark
5. Seeking Solace
6. Break Away
7. Heaven
8. Innocence
9. Drive
10. Breathe Again
11. Memory
12. Insanity
13. Misfortune
14. Smile
15. Silence
16. Questioning
17. Blood
18. Rainbow
19. Gray
20. Fortitude
21. Vacation
22. Mother Nature
23. Cat
24. No Time
25. Trouble Lurking
26. Tears
27. Foreign
28. Sorrow
29. Happiness
30. Under the Rain
31. Flowers
32. Night
33. Expectations
34. Stars
35. Hold My Hand
36. Precious Treasure
37. Eyes
38. Abandoned
39. Dreams
40. Rated
41. Teamwork
42. Standing Still
43. Dying
44. Two Roads
45. Illusion
46. Family
47. Creation
48. Childhood
49. Stripes
50. Breaking the Rules
51. Sport
52. Deep in Thought
53. Keeping a Secret
54. Tower
55. Waiting
56. Danger Ahead
57. Sacrifice
58. Kick in the Head
59. No Way Out
60. Rejection
61. Fairy Tale
62. Magic
63. Do Not Disturb
64. Multitasking
65. Horror
66. Traps
67. Playing the Melody
68. Hero
69. Annoyance
70. 67%
71. Obsession
72. Mischief Managed
73. I Can't
74. Are You Challenging Me?
75. Mirror
76. Broken Pieces
77. Test
78. Drink
79. Starvation
80. Words
81. Pen and Paper
82. Can You Hear Me?
83. Heal
84. Out Cold
85. Spiral
86. Seeing Red
87. Food
88. Pain
89. Through the Fire
90. Triangle
91. Drowning
92. All That I Have
93. Give Up
94. Last Hope
95. Advertisement
96. In the Storm
97. Safety First
98. Puzzle
99. Solitude
100. Relaxation

Andy's Weekend Adventure -- Part 2

Last Saturday I had the opportunity to participate in a workshop for librarians called Graphic Novels: Comics in the Library. Many of those attending new kids were crazy about comics, but didn't know where to begin building their collection. I enjoy sharing how I use comics to teach a multitude of essential skills, but every time I participate in one of these I'm convinced I learn as much as anyone else from the other presenters.

Robin Brennar got us started with a presentation called What are Comics? We learned that comics are a format, not a genre. She shared how comics can help with literacy skills -- especially the 21st century set of skills for information in today's very image-oriented information age. She knew about of slew of new really great books I hadn't heard of. Now I have a long list of new things to look for.

Then it was my turn. I like the photo below, because even though it's a little blurry, it looks like I know what I'm talking about. My presentation evolves slightly every time I present. I now include what I call Comic Book Readers Theatre, Cartoon Drawing Building Blocks, and how comics can be used to teach the writing of dialogue and the literary devices of onomatopoia, alliteration, and hyperbole.

I met one of the other presenters, Tim Callanan the night before. In the hotel lobby we watched the new Brave and the Bold Batman cartoon and talked about comics for two hours. This guy is a walking encyclopedia of practically every comic ever written. Tim is an English teacher, but also writes columns and reviews for Comic Book Resources and has written a book about comics and edited another. We had a great time comparing notes, and I enjoyed his presentations the next day. I think we made a great tag team duo, since I presented the building blocks of drawing comics and he followed up with a panel layout and drawing exersize. His second presentation was 50 Graphic Novelists you must Know.

After sitting for five of six hours, and looking forward to a five hour drive, I decided to stretch my legs a little before driving home. I visitted the Outer Limits comic shop in Waltham. This place was wall-to-wall comics -- new stuff, old stuff, hardcovers, everything. In addition, I've never seen so much vintage retro stuff. If one was so inclined, you could buy one of the toys I had as a kid and threw out for, oh, $300 or so. I'm not about to do that, but it was a great walk down memory lane.

Andy's Weekend Adventure -- Part 1

Saturday was the day I was invited to speak at a workshop for librarians called Graphic Novels: Comics in the Library. It was in Waltham, Massachusetts. I figured out that by adding just a couple hours of driving time, I could visit a place I've wanted to see -- The Center for Cartoon Studies in Vermont. It was a last minute idea and a longshot, but I emailed one of the teachers there who happens to be one of my favorite cartoonists. Alec Longstreth graciously agreed to give me a tour of the school, and I sat in on part of one class.

The only bad thing that happened this weekend was that I forgot my camera, so the photo essay you see below is compiled by photos swiped from various sources on the internet!

The school is a really neat place. The main building is an old department store downtown, that they have refurbished into a school. I think it's neat that they've maintained some of the characteristics from days of yore in the building, like the Colody's sign they discovered when cleaning the place and restored. Below is the lobby, which had an exhibit of original comics art pages. This in itself was worth the trip to me. By seeing the original art page it's possible to analyze the artist's process in a way you can't when you see the work in print.

In the basement is every kind of imaginable printing equipment from electronic to silkscreen.

In a separate building is the Charles Shulz library. There the students have access to a huge collection of cartoon and comic reference books and anthologies.

Alec Longstreth was my guide. Unfortunately he wasn't teaching that day, but it was cool to meet him. He is unbelievably tall, while still being down to earth.

In my next post, I'll write a little about the actual workshop.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

On the Road Again

Saturday I will be presenting to a group of librarians in Massachusetts. The workshop is A Crash Course in Comics. I'll post some photos of the trip when I get back.
Below is the new cover for the package of notes I give to participants.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Star Trek

Here's a bootlegged preview of the new Star Trek trailer. A little fuzzy, but gives us a glimpse of what will be in the movie.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Serendipity -- Accidental Invention

Finally! Another comic done. Since school has started, it's been really hard to find time to make comics. This comic was made for an assignment with the theme of "Invention".

Okay, now this I just thought was funny...

J'ever notice -- you get a bag of Doritos and it's only one third full of chips? Contents settle during shipment, my eye! We're paying for bags of air?

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Gospel According to Marvel Comics

Thanks to Comics Coverage for pointing out these examples of superhero comics showing characters taking time to wax philosophical on the existence and character of a higher power. For instance, Captain America, though racing the clock to find and dismantle a bomb takes time to counter the taunts of Batroc the Leaper with words of Truth!

And the Watcher, below, counters the heresies of the frantic Sue Storm (Invisible Girl).

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Nathan's Masterpiece

There's nothing like the feel of a paintbrush in your hands. This is Nathan's pumpkin painting. He says it's the Hulk!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Brave and the Old: Batman and Mighty Andar Team-up

Just to prove that he is more than an urban legend, the Mighty Andar made an appearance recently in our area. He teamed up to help his friend Batman go trick or treating at our local Mall.
Nathan loves his Batman costume. He has been wearing the mask for days.

He was really good about saying "Trick or Treat" and "Tank yoo!"
We got an unbelievable amount of candy there. It was fun to see all the neat costumes the other kids (and some of the grown-ups wore).