An Afternoon Spent Glaring at Cartoonists
I went to the "Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art" comic-book convention over the weekend, but I didn't see very much, honestly. I was there helping my man Uncle Staple (author of "That Damned Cat") promote his own convention down in Austin, which I can safely say is better all around than this affair. Better organized; better programming; more independent; uglier people; more exciting hostility; less fragile egos. Plus, the tables are assayed at a reasonable fifty American dollars as opposed to three hundred, so you don't feel like some asshole in New York is scamming you.

It's funny: conceptual artists in Chelsea don't have to pay for space, and they work maybe a hundreth as hard at what they do. They are beloved by men in spectacles and women without eyebrows, and their asses are cupped, fondled, and Frenched. But comics people always get scammed. They got so much life and energy in them, and then they get scammed and abused and throttled every day of their lives 'till they die, and that's if they "make it" and don't "give up" or "succumb to the vices of penury.""

Anyway, I knew this place was trouble when I started walking through the bottom section of the festival and the first thing I saw was this big table for Disney. I frowned, slumped, and bit my grits. I paid 10 bucks to hang out with Disney? Man, Disney ain't people. They aren't hunched up in basements and attics, getting tension headaches from the hunger and the squinting, blowing whole paychecks on beer for the pains and fruit cocktail for the vitamins. I don't even smile at children who are wearing Disney porn. I scowl at them. And they don't even realize it. Their minds are too full of big eyes and little ideas.

Film is a whale, and it already swallowed up the world of fiction years ago. I want to warn comics people: warn them AWAY from glitzy, krill-sucking motherfuckers like Disney, Warner Brothers, and Rodriguez. But then again, maybe the fiction caste could use some company in the belly of the celluloid, foxfur Leviathan. Perhaps the comic folks will bring us news of the outside world.

Anyhow, after realizing that this was not going to be much of a punk and potatoes affair, I only spent a few hours in the convention, and most of that was spent upstairs in the "green house," trying to support the people who had been locked away in the attic of the Puck building like the mad woman in "Jane Eyre." Mainly, I walked around frowning with my hands in my pockets, wondering about it all, staring people down, trying to inspire them to draw mean caricatures of me in their sketch books.

I didn't realize this until afterwards (when I looked at the small stack of things I had purchased) but evidently my preferred comic book aesthetic is "copy machine toner lines." The prettier the book, the less inside it, I have discovered -- culminating in gorgeous, lavish affairs where every word inside is something that makes me mad and tense, grumbling at each new overreaching, shrill bit of pulp-gristle.

If you hate writing and it is hard for you, hire a writer to write your comic.


"Paper Parables," by Andrew Glass: Didn't really do much for me. A kid travels through the woods and messes with a scientist and his creations. He makes mistakes out there, in the woods, in the wilderness, in the trees. I don't know. Probably took a long time.

"Track Rabbit," by Geoff Vasile: Terrible people populate a dead and alienating universe and try to have sex with each other and do drugs. Between the cracks in the dead horror of their lives, they attempt to manifest emotions in the same con-artist way that mediums conjure spooks from the spirit plain. This was not pleasant to read, but perhaps it was cathartic, or perhaps it is a satire. I do not know.

"Woodland," by Phil Miarmi: This is a retelling of the 2000 election with squirrels. I did not care then; and I still do not care, even with squirrels. I watched an interview with Wyclef Jean last night who was asked what he thought about politics and music. "POLITRICKS," he said, and pointed to the fact that no one should ever let themselves be used to promote the ends of an agenda. He said the place of art is to deal with the social issues themselves. It is always sad, strange, and pathetic to see the works of art produced by political figures, and the same holds true for works of politics produced by artists. The ambits of power of the two disciplines not only do not overlap: they are actually in life-and-death conflict. That being said...

"The Diarrhea Diaries," by Phil Miarmi, Aaron Delarosa, and Mark Griffin, is fantastic. Three horror stories about shit, dancing around the idea of the artist and the need of the artist to create and share, coupled with the tension of the artist who is overwhelmed by the fat links of his or her product. The middle story in this collection is so fucking awesome that I showed everybody I know, and now I'm gonna show you. Good job! This is what you should be doing. Leave the politics to the kids with their bikes and their smooth brows.

"Angst, Volume 2," by many Norwegians: I hung out with these guys outside during a mid-day fire alarm, and told them tall tales of Texas and discussed the fate of death metal. When I went back inside, they gave me a free copy of their glossy, sexy 15 dollar anthology. Some of the stuff in here does not survive translation into English, but it is a fascinating artifact nonetheless, and the art is often phenomenal, if you care about that sort of thing. Dense, crabby lines; weirdo jaws; strange feelings. My favorite bits in this book are a piece about traffic, and a short about the Edvard Munch exhibit causing a riot. Norwegian comics are cold and dense and will make you smile!

"Novel Excerpts from ECW Press,"by Joey Comeau and Jon Paul Fiorentino: I respect and appreciate what these guys are trying to do here, selling their impending novels with comic propaganda. "Stripmalling" doesn't really appeal to me, however (too sly, too heavy handed), and I would like it much, much better if the cuteness were eliminated altogether and the store in question was just called "Wal-Mart." Getting sued would be the best thing that could happen to these guys. The "open letter to Nintendo" postcard is much more intriguing to me, although I have no idea what this novel is about. Either way, these guys should send us copies of their books when they come out and we will review them. We have been sold!

"You Don't Know Much About Jesus," by Peter Quach: Jesus versus Bruce Lee, and then? I wish there wasn't a story here about childhood. I wish it was just a comparative look at Jesus versus Bruce Lee, culminating in a fight, culminating in blood and shrieking. That's what I wish. Anyway, it was still pretty good. But not GREAT.

"Jobnik Manifesto," by Miriam Libicki: A pamphlet explaining and apologizing for a different comic book that evidently has controversial opinions about Israel and Palestine. It answers a lot of questions I didn't ask. "Turn Jerusalem into a theme park run by the Japanese," said one of my old English teachers. He had one good leg, one leg made of steel, and a lot of dogs. Who the fuck knows? In some ways, this is not as fun as a Jack Chick tract. In other ways, it is exactly as fun as a Jack Chick tract.

"The Detective," by Louis Petersen: I read this book, but I do not know what happened inside it. Something, surely.

"The Cosmic Adventures of Buddy Dharma," by Erik Haines and Charles Schneeflock Snow: "Exposure to an unshielded singularity is warping out [sic] perceptions of space and time. And in a few seconds we're all going to be squashed into spaghetti. You jerkass." Yep; one of those

"I Survived GWAR," by Cathy Leamy: Now this is what I'm talking about! Simple ambitions, carried through with judicious attention to detail and with wit! The book was funny, the damn pictures were sufficient to the story, there WAS a story, and I learned what a GWAR stage show is like. I always wanted to go, but I could never afford the tickets. I liked this comic. There is a demon who has problems becoming erect enough to spray blood through his fake penis. Reading this little comic, my hate-filled eyes danced for a moment and my rat-features pulsed with momentary joys! And then, at the end of the book, she even managed to get home at a decent hour!

So, to sum up: check out Phil Miarmi's comics about his shit problems, and check out the work of Cathy Leamy, who appears to have a damn sense of humor and a damn sense of perspective. People should stop writing comics about politics if they want me to take them seriously. Also, you should edit your comic at least once before you inflict it on the world.

A panel is like a paragraph of description and requires transitions. A line of dialog must have attribution. Etc, etc, etc...


Posted by miracle on Tue, 10 Jun 2008 15:48:07 -0400 -- permanent link

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