Archive for ‘Theory’

Southern California, Take Note

LAAFA 2-day Workshop

It’s that time again!

In February, I’ll be bringing the Two-Day Making Comics Workshop back to The Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art for a fifth year.

14 hours of everything I can teach you through lectures and hands-on exercises. An intense look at the art of telling stories visually.

The workshops welcome everyone from experienced artists to stick figure beginners. We have a great time every year, and everybody learns a lot, including me.

Here’s the link to SIGN UP. As always, availability is limited. See you in February!

Friday Odds and Ends

Congratulations to all the Eisner Nominees this year. It was especially gratifying to see our old friend Barry Deutsch snag a nomination in the “Best Publication for Teens” category for his wonderful Hereville.

That it’s a tough category (Smile alone would make it one) is even more gratifying. Wouldn’t have a been a tough category at all just a few short years ago.

In other news, here’s an endearingly nerdy article on Mathematical Equivalence in Comics that was pretty much tailor-made for guys like me—and presumably some of you if you’re reading this blog.

Just found out that tomorrow is Mini-Comics Day! (love the small logo).

Part Two of Jessica Abel’s Helsinki report is up.

A few people on Twitter have suggested that, based on Belfast’s Build Conference website, Erik Spiekermann and I better than most at holding a pose.

And finally, here are some David Lasky Disaster preparedness comics, ’cause um, y’know, just in case.

Hm. Guess I’m in a random mood today…

ANYWAY, have a great weekend. See you Monday!

The Infographic that Ate Comics

Damian Niolet recently sent word of a giant infographic he created as a personal cheatsheet showing…


Well, here’s his (perhaps a bit tongue-in-cheek) description from the graphic itself:

“A graphical representation of the process of creating a work of fiction in comic book form and the tools and knowledge necessary to do so, as based on the theories and works of Scott McCloud (with some minor additional concepts from Damian Niolet).”

It’s big, beautiful, and kinda terrifying  (to me at least), and if you want to download a hi-res copy, you can find a link to do so either here or here.

I have a weird job!

Wanna be a Guinea Pig?

Neil Cohn is looking for volunteers to, well… look at comics. You guys can do that, right?

He’s even offering a drawing for a prize, so go for it.

And while you’re at it, check out Neil’s other studies and essays at his Visual Linguist blog.

[link via Journalista]

Happy Accidents

Simon Cottee’s A Brief History of the Modern Pixel is the latest entry in an ongoing discussion in videogame circles about the power of the simplified aesthetic of early lo-res games. I get roped in as usual in connection to cartoon art and the points I make about universality in Chapter Two of UC, but it’s a very game-native presentation with some interesting points.

Comics and games both have some sorting to do when it comes to old technologies. Some of the old technical limitations have genuine aesthetic advantages and are worth hanging onto long after they’re no longer necessary. But mixed in with those happy accidents are other artifacts bathed in nostalgia and fetishizing that sometimes makes it hard to tell the useful from the merely warm and fuzzy.

Cottee obviously wants to help with that sorting so more power to him.

[link via boingboing via fpinternational]

Talk, Rock, Kick, Ass

Catching up a bit:

Liked the visual essay Less Talk More Rock on BoingBoing last month. Good approach to tackling a problem in games that assails every medium; how to reconnect with core principles and the unique potential of an art form in the face of commercial dilution and the imported sensibilities of other media.

Getting “back to basics” can be much more than just turning back the clock. Taken in its more profound sense, it’s also the key to moving forward.

Saw Kick-Ass last night. Not bad, though our crowd might have been happier if the movie had just been called Hit-Girl (Yeah, yeah… balanced round-up of that little controversy here).

I confess to not having read many of Mark Millar’s comics yet, although I’ve noticed that every time he comes up, someone always seems to be angry at him. What’s that all about?

For me, the coolest part was seeing THE preview in a theater for the first time, and hearing SP name-checked in the movie.

Oh, and the Sparks song!!

“…the River in Which We Sink or Swim…”

Bill Griffith recently offered his Top 40 List on Comics and their Creation and it got me thinking about the influence of his generation—the RAW/Arcade generation you might call it—not only on comics but on popular culture generally.

If there’s one document that sums it up beautifully, it’s Gary Panter’s funny, screwed-up, poetic, and profound Rozz Tox Manifesto from 1980; a call for artists to infiltrate the lumbering machines of popular culture and start messing with the gears.

Through twisted masterpieces like Panter’s designs for Pee Wee’s Playhouse, or his friend Matt Groening’s long-running, society-scouring The Simpsons, it’s become clear in retrospect that these guys were (at least partially) dead serious about many of these ideas.

As of the last ten years, the idea of infiltrating mass media can seem almost redundant. The great mass of media is increasingly generated by a decentralized confederation of unaffiliated knuckleheads like you and me. But as long as there’s a hellish laugh track still running somewhere, Panter’s virus still has work to do.

Is it Comics?: An Interesting Fence-Sitter

Got this in the mail last night:

My name is Ira Marcks. I am a cartoonist from NY who recently collaborated with Jake Lodwick (founder of Vimeo) on an experimental illustration/animation project.

It’s sort of like a 45 minute music video with one sliding frame. But it’s also like a graphic novel told in a single, 50 foot long panel.

I settled on the term ‘Illustrative Score’ to describe the project and it’s method.

Check out Ira and Jake’s stimulating results here (and Ira’s personal site here).

And when you’re done, I’d be curious to hear your reactions to the old “Is it Comics?” question. Not a technical debate comparing it to this or that definition (though I’m sure those will come up), just gut reactions. Does this feel like comics to you?

I’m curious, because I’m totally on the fence!

Anyway, cool stuff regardless of what we call it.

Where Your Eyes Don’t Go

The esteemed Mr. Manley sends word of a cool game by producer and director Tyler Glaiel and artist Jon Schubbe called Closure.

It’s a spare independent flash game now being developed for other formats which plays with some of the ideas I talk about in Chapter 3 of UC to great effect.

It’s really cool so I decided to link to it—and then realized that I already had an email from Tyler Glaiel telling me about the game over a year ago.


I am so behind on my email.

Anyway, check it out!

When Metaphors Touch Down

Long-time friend of the site, Greg Stephens suggested I check out this article by Tokyo-based Craig Mod which offers his take on different contents’ ability (or lack thereof) to migrate easily from device to device.

His whole presentation has an amusing vintage-Tufte meets RC-era me feeling, and some of the reasoning may be a bit fuzzy, but his ideas are fun, provocative, and worth a look—as are the many comments that follow.

Craig’s main point—that there are types of content that can’t be endlessly re-flowed and re-purposed because their formal presentation is integral to the work—is a huge issue for comics and the source of a lot of our growing pains to date.

For years, I’ve watched as we’ve tried out a dozen different metaphors for comics on the Web. Pages versus windows, flipping versus panning, “strip” versus “magazine” versus “book”… all the while assuming that the best metaphor(s) would simply win out in the end on an open network.

What worried me is that sooner or later, one or two of those metaphors were bound to migrate to dedicated reading devices, and when they did, the designers of those devices could simply choose which metaphor suited them and lock them in. For a really long time.

If such devices follow an app store model, such experimentation doesn’t have to stop dead in its tracks. Maybe. But there’s no question that “later” is becoming “sooner” is becoming “now” and if we don’t make some smart decisions during this stage of growth, comics could veer dangerously off course for years.