Joe Alterio's blog on illustration, comix, design, animation, and other bouts of total awesomeness.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Fever Dreams

Los Angeles' cool thin tendrils slip their sticky coils around me for a few nights this weekend, and all I can think of is the electricity in them that used to be thrilling, but now is static discharge to my frontal cortex. We all assume mantles at a certain point, if only because it's easier: sometimes, your three sentence rundown of how you are in your brain keeps you from going over the edge with self-doubt or, even worse, a booze-fueled existential slip up. Part of my Cliff's Notes involved being the Consummate Los Angeles Defender. My stock lines are familiar to anyone who has gone abroad and felt the need to defend their home country as a place of decent human beings. "It's misunderstood, there's wonderful parts about it, it's so damn trendy to hate it". But for some reason on this particular visit, Madam Angeles kiss feels cold and clammy.

Out in Sherman Oaks, and something strikes me that I could never put my finger on before, maybe because I was too close, too complicit. There's no people here. The abstract of complaining about cars is something that naturally leads people to think of traffic, smog, and delays. But my epiphany is of a more natural sort: looking around, the human form is nary in sight. Tucked safely away in their flying vehicles, funneled onto the city streets where everyone is behind tinted glass, sunglasses, air conditioners. The sight of a human being is rare from the window of a car here. And that, combined with the bright newness of the malls and and streets signs make it look like a place where something just happened for which you were a little late, and now everyone's gone.

But I'm here with Kevin, which is gratifying. We talk projects of all sorts, and as usual when I'm with him, I get excited all over again for my various ridiculous hair brained creative schemes. We flit from location to location like purposeless bees, carried by Santa Anna winds from a production studio to the Tee Yee Lounge for Knob Creek rocks to Canters for Lox and capers. We talk about robots and monsters and comics and films and merchandising and how can rest on our laurels and still make rent. It is a infinitely futuristic web 2.0 existence we lead, joining the other sort-of employed college educated professionals who haunt coffeeshops and exist on their Macbooks and are allowed to be nowhere at 2 PM. Our perfect lucky states are enviable.

Los Angeles breaths. We breath with it and hope it all lasts for a little while longer. The tendrils keep their buzz.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Sketchblog 11/14/07

My new and very belated present to to my friend Rebholz, for his and his wife Catherine's wedding in 2006. Click here for a larger view.

It feels good to get back to comics. Illustration feeds my face. Comics feeds something else inside. Like that weird multi-headed worm that showed up on those medical scans.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Dreams of A Rarebit Fiend: The Movie

Above is actually my first introduction to Rarebit, when I was still in film school, comics weren't in my mind yet, and my animation teacher was blowing my mind every day with more and more obscure early animations. Once again, McCay was decades ahead of any of his contemporaries. I couldn't bully stupid YouTube into including it in the last post, so...enjoy.

Dreams of A Rarebit Fiend: The Book

Over at the Boston Globe Brainiac blog today, Josh Glenn has a really cool and enlightening slideshow about Winsor McCay's early comic (predating Little Nemo in Slumberland), Dreams of a Rarebit Fiend. True to McCay form, the comic's loose pretense, the wild imaginings of restless sleep after ingesting some rarebit, is a close ancestor to Slumberland. The McCay mandate insisted on any excuse to draw the strange and surrealist imaginings going on in his head, and both Slumberland and Fiend offer as much freedom for odd imaginings as possible while still keeping a modicum of plot continuity. He was the world's first pop surrealist, to be sure.

In his slide show, Glenn examines a (unfortunately rather pricey) new self-published book by German scholar Ulrich Merkl, which gives Rarebit a close examination and makes the argument that McCay, and Rarebit in particular, influenced a great deal of popular images in our culture. You won't hear any dispute from me that McCay remains one of the most important artists of the the 20th century, though some examples, like the Buñuel film Age D'Or, carry the argument much more robustly than others, like Mary Poppins. Regardless, it seems like a great book, and the slide show by Glenn is a joy to watch.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Sketchblog 11/7/07

(Click image to enlarge)

Above is the wrap-around album cover art I did for the new Edisyn album. I think it turned out well, if I may be so immodest. I had another idea originally which was rejected that I think I may still ink and color anyway. I worked a little bigger this time on both of 'em - this is 15 inches long - so I think it'll make a good piece for my upcoming show, when I actually get around to planning it.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

All Dressed Up

Oops. I forgot to post these on the Day of Days, but better late than never, I guess. As evidenced below, and from previous precendents, these are all homemade. I love my friends.

Dangermouse, Wingman, That Katmari Damacy king-guy, a rubber duckie, and JonBenet Ramsey

Bumblebee (tragically, sans mask) and a giant Tootsie Roll.

Hall and/or Oats. I can never tell which is which.

Also, more R and M. As usual.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Back In The Saddle

I actually have a studio now! Swish!

It seems like a subconscious cycle I must perform every three months, much like how dogs unwittingly circle before they lie down: blog a lot for a spurt, stop blogging because something time-consuming happens, come back and apologize and resume. Well, I'm done apologizing. I moved, goddammit. And that takes a lot out of you. As you can see from the image above, we still have a lot to do before the house is fully functional, but we're getting there. I will apologize to everyone that's been trying to reach me, whether personal or professional: I have a huge backlog of unreplied-to emails and uncompleted projects, so bear with me over the next few weeks. Suffice to say, our new place is lovely, spacious, and waaay too expensive. C'est le vie.

Luckily, I haven't had any lack of huge projects to distract me, one of which of course is the constant sword over my head Robots and Monsters: there's new members up, with more coming (project of the day today), as well as the first of our Special Contributors submissions, which are all fantastic. Thanks to Lawrence Yang, D. Emory Allen, and Adam "Ape Lad" Koford for showing up so big and donating your immense talents. You all rule.

I also had the good fortune of being hired by Ignited LA to illustrate their set of holiday cards that goes out to all their clients and friends. The job took a long time, but I think the results are worth it: the images above is just one of many images I made for them, and I'm happy because it pushed me stylistically, and but still ended up looking great. I'll definitely be posted photos of the actual cards when I receive my set.

With album cover as well as snowboards on the to-do list, I'm gonna be plenty busy, but again, if you've contacted me and are waiting for a reply, be patient: I'll get to you all, I promise. I can mouse....