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

Monday, December 31, 2007

Year's End

Above is some of my most recent advertising work that I've done for Golden Lasso, up in Seattle, which I'm happy with. Once again, it looks like I'm solidifying my rep as "that robot guy". Also, I'm pretty sure I worked with one of those robots at a temp job once.

As the year draws to close, I like to think about projects I did, weird events that occurred, and people I met that left an impression. In that vein, the run down:

This year I:

- Hooked up with Richard Salzman as my agent, which has been nothing but a great

- Got invited to Seoul to present at SICAF about mobile comics.

- Launched

- Ran my first marathon.

- Got a totally awesome new apartment.

- Got mugged at gunpoint.

- Saw 2 friends get married, and wished well 2 more from afar.

- Spent an awkward Christmas with both my parents at once, the first time in 12

- Actually got most of my income by drawing for money, a first.

Which makes 2007 kind of a gorgeous year, in retrospect, besides the mugging part, and even that, once could argue, is informative in a Bukowski-would-have-dug-this-life-experience-kind-of-way. So I'm nothing but pleased.

Every single year, I write down things that I'm going to do in the next year on a piece of paper, and I keep it in my wallet. It's a constant barking reminder of all the stuff that I still want to get done, and there is no better sense of satisfaction than to cross one of those bad boys off the list. The problem is, I really have no one but me to keep me honest. So this year, I thought I'd post my list. That way, there's more incentive to not write a check my drawing hand can't cash. So, consider yourself witness, dear reader. You are now a part of this.

Next year I'm gonna:

- Get hitched to the greatest girl on the planet.

- Get a publisher for Robots And Monsters: The Book.

- Assemble the pieces for a solo art show.

- Get some comics in a few newspapers.

- Finally do something constructive with The Basic Virus.

- Fix my motorcycle.

Also, I'll be in a show next Friday at The Space Gallery in San Francisco, in which I did a custom skateboard , but I'll give more updates on that later. Stay tuned.

Happy New Year, y'all. Be good to one another out there.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Lurvely Spam

Back when The Internets was a mite fresher than it is these days, without the foetid stank of 2G1C mingling with the smoke of a billowing BMW Pain Olympics, my friends and I used to have a good time emailing back and forth some of the more poetic passages of text in the spam we received. Often culled from online sources, patched together in a completely random way, these little pieces of web wisdom would fall onto our collective plates and occasionally produce a real gem. We often bandied back and forth that someday someone (read: one of us) should do something with these things. Someone did.

Linzi Hunter illustrates spam subject lines in that beautiful, Ward Kimball mid-century style so popular these days, and they are, in a word, wonderful. Damn! One of us should have done this. Oh, well. Throw it on the pile with Apocalypse Insurance, Guerrilla Dogs, and Google.

(via the Hermenautic Circle)

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Sum of Our Years

Living My Life Faster - 8 years of JK's Daily Photo Project from c71123 on Vimeo.

From the Times today, an unbelievably fascinating project from Detriot Artist Jonathan Keller.

Besides the obviously cool, if slightly pedestrian project theme ( ", totally move faster than you think, man!"), I'm more impressed by the technical aspect of the project. You'll notice that his nose tip is in the exact same place every time, which makes me wonder what his method is: perhaps using the previous day as a 50% overlay? A laser guide? Tape marks and shot through a one way mirror? It's impressively consistent.

The other part I really like about this project is his plan is also to keep this project going for the rest of his life. Considering the projected age span for folks of his ( and my) generation, there's a possibility of what would end up being about a half an hour film of a man aging to 90 years old. What an incredible send off once he actually dies: way better than your average wake.Talk about life's work.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Rest On Your Laurels

I was informed the other day that my dad, Brian Alterio has had some of his photographic work from the 1970s entered into the Government Art Collection of the United Kingdom. I understand that this is akin to having your work added to the Smithsonian National Art Archive collection here, so it's huge honor. Most notable among entrants is the image above, the irony of which is that my dad doesn't have a print of this image anymore, or even the negative. I had to email the GAC and beg them for a scanned file, which at 150K, is the biggest file size I could get out of their greasy little hands. So it truly belongs to The State now, I guess.

As a part of the neo-verite school that was bubbling around Britain at the time, alternatively called the Young British Photographers and the Romantic Realists, my dad was but a small cog in the upswell of recognition that photography was an art form best taken on the fly with little fuss, moving away from the staid tired images of previous generations and into more visceral iconic images. From my dad's blurb:

"I was first introduced to photography while trolling the stacks at the library as an under grad at the Mass College of Art in 1966. I happened across a book by Alfred Stieglitz the seminal figure in American photography in the early 20th century. Struck by the power of his images, I urgently set about buying a cheap, rudimentary, yet effective, range finder camera.

From that point onward the trajectory was steep and powerful until I found myself in England in 1972. Coincidentally, the precise point in time when British creative photography was about to make it's second mark in history other than the obvious and great historical figures that populate the books in our libraries and bookshelves today.

At that time I always carried my trusty Lieca everywhere I went day and night every day 365 days a year. Inspired by my predecessors and stimulated by the now famous cadre of young British photographers that would hang out at the offices of Creative Camera in London, I would shoot dozens of rolls of B/W per day and return home to process them.

That period was one of great influence and inspiration in both directions. I had the pleasure to meet and befriend one of the great yet here-to-fore unsung giants of that time Paddy Summerfield in Oxford. Paddy's approach was so unique and powerful as to be the undiscovered avante garde of that period. We shared many hours of hotly debated topics that ranged from Herri Cartier Bresson's "decisive moment" to and including the purity on the frame edge at the precise time of exposure."

I'm gratified at this turn of events of multiple fronts, not the least of which is that I'm really happy for my dad. Once I was born, and then later my sister, my dad stopped shooting and actually got a real job and career. When we were growing up, he would occasionally take us out shooting, but it wasn't as often as probably he would like: he had a lot of his plate at the time, from sustaining a family to managing a crumbling marriage. I can't help but feel partially responsible by my mere existence for my dad not being more renowned than he is. But that's enough Psychology-by-Blogger; I'm just glad he actually is getting some recognition for his vision.

My dad's mention of Paddy Summerfield lends me to add one more link, Paddy's photographic site. He's still shooting, and some of his work is truly amazing, especially the 'handheld' series under 'portrait. It's visionary work, check it out.

Congrats, pop. I love ya.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Jazz's St. James Infirmary Blues

...And then this is just weird.

St James Infirmary Blues

People always ask me why I'm such a grumpy old man and hate on most modern cartoons. This is why. If you're an old hand, enjoy again. And if you've never seen this, gird yourself.

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....

Thursday, October 11, 2007

A New Member of the Fleet

Firstly, apologies for my blog absence, dear readers: a long life is a busy life, and all that that entails. The blogosphere exhausts me, but also emboldens me. I only hope that, on the balance, I give as much as I take.

I'm proud to announce the long awaited web portfolio site of my great friend Matt Rebholz, at Any one of you that are on the web and a Rebholz fan will know that this was a long time coming, and is sure to enrich the web art community in untold ways.

I have a complicated relationship with Matt: I met him during play auditions in 8th grade. I was up for the role of a young Christopher Columbus (the older iteration of which went to this chump), and he was drawing manga before manga was cool on the auditorium floor. I rudely told him I thought the arms on his character were too long, he rightly rebuffed me haughtily, and we're still strong friends today.

Let me riff for a sec on Rebholzian art, and say that it is, unto itself, a very organic beast. Rebholz' obsessions with teeth, penises, liquids, scales, fur, and hair, parlay an animalistic and raw notion that is constantly attempting to break through a constructed fabrice: even buildings, structures, and mechanics all have an organic tilt in the world of Rebholz. It is a monstrous menagerie of imagination, deviancy, and nightmare-ish illusions that (at least my take on the) art has little seen since Maurice Sendak. Besides being one of my best friends for more that 15 years, I also inhabited the great City of Angeles with him for a period, and that too comes through: the raw, heretical, beastial notions of existence that Los Angeles proffers up to it's profane gods. Rebholz' artistic vision, still in it's early stages but already frighteningly good, captures with outrageous poignancy the obsessions of our obsessed culture, ranging from drugs to conspiracy to the commodification of art itself.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Clickwheel relaunch

As some of you may remember, I'm part of an online webcomic and mobile comic group, Clickwheel, that hosts some of my comics (about 2/3s of 365, the first few episodes of The Basic Virus, as well as a few comic-casts). A while ago I stopped uploading for a few reasons, namely, that I got a lot of web traffic but little restitution, it had poor marketing, and that process of and design of reading comics was unintuitive, and frankly, kinda lame. I'm happy to report, however, that in subsequent 6 months of furlough, it was bought by 2000 AD and that it is trying to reinvent itself as a destination again, an effort which I heartily applaud.

Part of their effort is (gasp! shock!) actually commissioning exclusive content for Clickwheel. The above panel is part of the second chapter of Colin White's fantastic series "Comics on Small Screens", an experiment of his in which he tries to tell stories by pushing the envelope of how many panels a screen can handle before it stops making sense. Loyal readers of this blog may remember that Colin and I were both invited to South Korea to talk about mobile comics, but Colin couldn't make it: nevertheless, I consider him my (somewhat more talented) brother-in-arms when it comes to trying drum up support and discussion about possibilities of mobile comics. I'm also totally flattered to report I make an unexpected cameo in his new series. Thanks, Colin. Go get it!

My main issue with CW, and one unfortunately that still hasn't been addressed, is
the actual physical process of getting the comics on your phone or iPod. It's tough to be in the tech biz these days: things move so damn fast, what used to be a project about comics on iPods (hence the name, "Clickwheel", already outmoded) has now necessarily turned into a project about comics on iPhones and iTouches. The duct-tape and bubblegum patch that was first initially proposed - just providing customers with JPGs they can download and put onto their mobile device - is unfortunately still around, and feels as caveman as ever. However, I have been assured that a CW reader app is in the works, and with iPhones now having not only wifi capability but WAP push, one has to assume that a smoother process - like just subscribing to your favorite comic and having it show up on your phone every day, a la RSS - is right around the corner. One has to assume. Fingers crossed.

Nevertheless, check out what CW has to offer anyway: its definitely light years ahead of what most other big slow stupid media companies are doing with content, it's cool, it's now more community oriented, and it's run by really nice guys. I'll go back to uploading new work too, and maybe develop something for them: the potential for instant comics to you wherever you are is just too great.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Faster Than A Speeding Bullet

I just bought the new DVD of the Fleischer studios Superman series from the 1940s, and to my delight found that they've just been made Public Domain, which means that, in light of all the other locks put onto to seeing work on the web, here's a few precious gems that you don't have worry about be caught about. I could go on and on about how amazing the framing is, that all the backgrounds look like they're shaded with chalk and airbrush, or that even the animation, for a weekly serial, is fantastic. But I don't need to. Just watch them all, and enjoy. Lookee them robots! Wowsa!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Silhouette Maker

I've discovered my new favorite comix artist: Tom Gould, of London. Check out his whole site, it's all very phenomenal work, as is his client list. He's like a unholy hybrid of Edward Gorey, Steven Beistey, and R. Crumb. Agh...I'm swooning because I love all of it so much. I'm gonna try and get him for Robots And Monsters. Fingers crossed!

Monday, September 10, 2007

"A slime draws near. Command?"

Future Systems on London has just won the contract for building the new national library for the Czech Republic, on the strength of their kinda outside-the-box design, picture above. Now, I ain't no prude, but frankly, I'd love to see a return to a little classicism one of these days when it comes to destination building design. What's the matter with dentals and dorics? Having recently lived in a city with a very weird and newsmaking library, I know I'm bucking the trend, but screw it: stuff like this just seems dated immediately out of the gate. Czechs 20 years from now are going to walk past this thing and roll their eyes and say "Ugh, that's SO early 2000s."

Let me just say this: the buildings pictured below also were viewed as "groundbreaking" by some circles at some point in time, too:

Nuff said.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Don't Get Too Comfortable

Via Digg:

The site for Alan Weisman's new book The World Without Us is a trip, and knows exactly what it needs to do to get hits, science be damned: give us pretty computer generated images and little Quicktime clips of what that subprime hunk of real estate that we're sweating over so much will look like in a billion years or so. Like all the best forms of pop-sci, if the site is any indication, Weisman's book uses the guise of 'science' to give us the vicarious thrill of reading about our probable end game. Futurism seems to come in waves, and the combined forces of the millenium change, 9/11, and the Global Warming® Brand Social Concern place us firmly in the Apocalyptic cycle, not that I'm complaining, mind you. The last time we saw this merging of science and culture to scare the bejeezus out of us was the 1970s, was of the best decades, in my humble opinion, for art, film, and music. With great fear comes great imagination, I guess. Check it out.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Oh My Freakin' God

This one is for Rebholz: after the unbelievable let down of Reign of Fire and the false promises made on it's movie poster, finally, finally, there is a movie that gives us exactly what we need: army guys vs. dragons. Only slightly less fantastic than this trailer is the comments on the YouTube page debating whether these are dragons or wyverns.

I heart The Internets.

(via Techsploitation)

Obey the Orb

From Wired, a piece about The Orb , a "glanceable" (chuckle) ambient information object that, instead of shouting data at you, is more passive in it's presentation.

"That's the power of "ambient information," which tries to combat data overload by moving information off computer screens and into the world around us. The Orb was originally sold as a tool for monitoring financial portfolios. You could set it to shine a serene sky blue when your stocks were going up or pulse an alarming red when they were tanking. Studies showed that people were two to three times more likely to actively manage their investments, selling off deadbeat stocks and buying better-performing ones, when they used the Orb. This is the psychological paradox of ambient information: We're more likely to act on a subtle but continuously present message than an intermittent one we're forced to stare at."

Great idea, cool object, and what a way to see the power of numbers when it comes to energy saving. But what I really love is that diagram above, from The Orb's site.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Worst. Movie. Ever.

Back sometime in 1987 or 1988, a tattered manila folder with KFC stains on it made it's way from DC out to glamourous Burbank, CA, onto the desk of some producer at Warner Brothers. On it was scrawled in child-like script 'Batman: The Movie". A worse thing has never happened to the film or comic world since. Well. Maybe this or this. But that's it.

As someone who is himself in the midst of collaborating on a pitch book based around a comic, I recognize immediately my position is untenable, but a man's gotta eat, and the reality is that comic book movies are big bucks these days. And I mean big bucks. And if you lump fantasy and sci-fi movies in there, you've just about got the big money market cornered.

The rise of the comic movie dovetailed nicely with the rise of CGI: if you ever seen the old Spider-man TV show and it's subsequent effects, you see why previously super hero media felt a little limp. There's only so many times you can run the film backwards before the kids catch on. Suddenly, fireballs and monsters looked really really cool. And everyone knows cool = moola.

The problem is that comics and movies operate in two completely different visual languages.

I won't bore you with some real pencil neck talk, but to be brief: no matter how fresh the effects are, comics always worked on the imagination in ways that made the reader complicit in the action of the comic book. Comics books are an active medium. Movies are passive: you just sit there and receive the cues. So whenever I see a movie translated from a comic book of fantasy novel, no matter how great it looks, a little piece of me dies because it's like watching everyone's imaginations stuffed into the same little box. Anyone that thought juggernaut's charges looked like anything but this, tough luck. That's the way it is now.

Without further ado, this amazing list of the Pulp Secret's Top Ten Worst Comic Book Movies. They're all incredibly crappy, and there's few I have to rush out and rent. It takes a lot to make an even crappier looking Fantastic Four movie. Prost!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

We're all so damn smart

I was sitting in Dolores Park yesterday, on an absolutely perfect day, eating crackers and talking about The Simpsons with Molly. A more perfect way to spend my Saturday, I can't imagine.

We were discussing The Simpsons, abstractly because of the movie (a lukewarm affair), but more specifically because of my friend Annalee Newitz's post about why she hates The Simpsons. Annalee, if you ever picked up a copy of Wired, or happen to have ever been on the internet, is everywhere, and an especially deft commentator on our times and technology. Having said that, I realize my little rebuttle won't get much traction, but I'd feel deficit if I didn't at least give it shot.

Firstly, don't get me wrong: I don't think NewsCorp needs my help, nor is one of Murdoch's most profitable babies above reproach. I'm under no illusion about The Simpsons® brand laughter generating product. Long ago it forfeited any claim to cultural cool, or to subversive appeal. It is now as formulaic as Spacely Sprockets, ring the bell, watch Homer's pants fall down, laugh. Repeat. Rake in money.

But it wasn't always that way, and I think it has to a lot to do with the environment it was forged in.

Remember Pulp Fiction, and that how at the time it seemed so fresh, and it now seems so...Nineties? There's a particular element to The Nineties Cache that demands nothing more than the aggregation and coopting of different cultures and obscure references: whether Tarantino films or Beavis and Butthead, our post-glasnost sense of worldliness manifested itself in the urbane set as a knowingness of all cultures everywhere. The real Cold War was replaced with the cultural Cold War: you just got some Japanese food specific to Hokkaido? Well, we're going to see some Icelandic opera. Pulp Fiction was so groundbreaking because it was, when inspected, nothing more than just an aggregation: Hong Kong action cinema, 1940's noir, Eastern Europe pulp films. The media of the time embraced all that, and I hold that no institution did it, and enshrined it, better than The Simpsons. At it's best, The Simpsons references come so fast and furious that it takes a cultural swami to keep up.

The thing is, that stuff is not just Ninties: I hold that it's just about we have these days. For all it's shiny new hip and coolness, BoingBoing is endgame of that: it's nothing but links to other cool things. There is no creation on Boing Boing. Many posts are even just repeating the text of email tip sent by the tipper directly on the page. To that end, Boing Boing and The Simpsons share a very real commonality: the collection of cool, the currency of hipness, with the more obscure making the higher value denomination.

My thesis stands thusly: Post WW2, the cultural cache belonged to belonging; the status quo was the only route into society. Then, the maturation of the baby-boomers brought about a similar cache for status quo, but one in direct opposite
We are in the Age of Recognition: humor, insight, intelligence, artistic creation, all of it has the highest value when it makes an oblique reference to something else.

In this light, I can't see The Simpsons as anything less than one of the ancesteors of everything we hold up to cool throne these days. So I gotta give it it's props. The humor is old, the drawings are stale, and backgrounds have always been awful: but every time I laugh at Colbert or visit Digg, I'm paying respect. You gotta pay respect. D'oh on, brothers and sisters.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Big Mutation

This discussion is a bit long in the tooth, but there's plenty of great sites that give you commentary on things as they happen. This is not one of those sites. You come here for my sublime wit and charm. Sit. Have another mohito.

All glib comments aside, the untimely recent deaths of artists Teresa Duncan and Jeremy Blake have been rolling around in my head like a marble in a tin can. I knew neither of them personally, and I only knew Blake's work professionally; Duncan's was either too high brow for me, or I don't keep up with the art scene (prolly both). I'm not a big fan of notching one person's life above another, even for art's sake. On the day Duncan was found dead, 35 Iraqis were found hogtied, tortured and killed. This doesn't make the loss of Duncan and Blake any less unfortunate, but it also doesn't make it more so. Nevertheless, the story bugged me in ways I couldn't put my finger on, like a popcorn kernel in the back of my throat.

The puzzle piece fell into place a few days ago, on a flight back from Boston, when I was reading the August 13th issue of the New Yorker. Within is a very disturbing article by Richard Preston titled 'An Error in the Code' The article concerns a rare disease called Lesch-Nyhan syndrome, which, besides having horrific symptoms, is the result of a very tiny alteration of the genetic code. Literally a one-letter switch dooms the victims to a life time of self-destructive behavior of Herculean proportions.

What is depression, and more specifically, what is depression when it comes to artistic vision? There's a insistent and hotly debated claim about the link between depression and artistic aptitude, and, truth be told, it's pisses off a lot of serious depression sufferers. The romantic vision of depression is that which Poe called "the insistent demons": the storm that rages inside and forces out the needles that pierce our banal reality. To be linked so closely to ones emotions, it could be argued, is to be closest to that which makes despair as well as joy.

How far away is a meaningful painting away from a suicide note? How much of a glimpse of the dark side do you have to see to write a great novel? And where is that line
between being a great artist and going over the edge? Is killing yourself when the demons go a step too far?

Harper's this month related the story about Hemingway, and a theory, and just a theory, as to why Hemingway shot himself. Norman Mailer, a close friend of Papa, proposed that Hemingway thrived on being close to death to to stimulate his synapses into creativity: thats where all that big game hunting and bull-running bullshit came from. Every night, Mailer theorizes, Hemingway would sit at his writing desk with a glass of booze, put the shotgun in his mouth, and see how far he could pull the trigger: July 2nd, 1961, he went a click too far.

This pleasant little anecdote suffers the same problem as most of the starry-eyed tales spun late at night by Ginsberg wannabes who drink their blackberry wine by the jug: it creates a mythos of romantic desirability around a real disease that tears apart lives and families. Having the additional information now at my fingertips in a battered copy of a New Yorker that a disease with symptoms that, 100 years ago would classified as "straight-up crazy", and is now known to be caused by a few genetic typos: it makes my head spin.

Follow me here - Depression can be classified as a disease, and evidence points to a genetic prediposition. And as depression and art are linked, as apocryphal evidence so strongly suggests, is the creative impulse just a genetic typo, too? Are we wired to blissfully ignorant of some of the more sublime ironies and observations about life? Are we forged to ignore creativity, and it's only by random mutation that we get Chekov, Strummer, and Tezuka?

Man. I need a drink.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Potpourri Wednesday

So I've been a little latent with the blogging these days, and for that I apologize. One of my mid-years resolutions has been to blog more. But my brain isn't really functioning today, so in place of actually saying anything interesting, I'll pass along some cool stuff which as reached me via The Internets over the past few days.

*GammaRayBots, an art project/online store by Tom Torry, who collects found objects and creates completely kickass robots for sale. He also has a pretty gnarly Flickrstream with some cool altered postcards.

* Williams Gibson: 'The word 'cyber' is going away.' No cybershit, Willie. A few years ago, I worked for someone who's business was based around the word 'cyber': I didn't have the heart to tell them it made the business sound like about 10 years too late. Besides, Nano is totally the new Cyber.

* Oh my flippin' god. How cool is this? Collect 'em all! (Thanks, Rebholz.)

*Continuity Concern: Run by impressario Tim Lillis, CC is your one-stop shop for the systematic destruction of the greatest cultural virus in our modern world: Contin-
uity. Dig it.

*More damn Robots and Monsters are up. Check it out.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Across The Finish Line

This Sunday, Molly and I completed the SF marathon, all 26.2 miles of it, and for the next 2 days, I had to go down the stairs backwards.


Except that's not a joke. I really did.

Regardless, I want to thank everyone who came out and showed us support, who wrote us emails and text messages the night before, and especially everyone who donated to our fund raising drive for the SF AIDS Foundation. Thanks to all of your donations, between the personal stuff and the Robots and Monsters efforts, we managed to raise a jaw-dropping $11,890.00 in the fight against AIDS. Thanks again to everyone out there that put in their time, money and love to help us with the project. You guys all totally effing rule.

Speaking of which, as always, there's more robots and monsters. Slowly but surely, I'm plugging away at that list. If you've ordered one, and you want to know where you are on the list and when can expect yours, just drop me an email and I'll see what I can figure out.

Thanks, again folks. I'm off for a soak.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Virtual Tour of Hell

I found this site while on a completely random search. It's not really about comics or animation, and just a little bit about design, but I'd feel deficit if I didn't pass it on nonetheless. It's like a handy primer for those of us that don't read The Bible. Find out where you'll end up! I'll see you guys in Circle 6: The Heretics. They have a sweet wet bar.

Warning: The site is a bit hincky in the Flash dept. "Skip" the first page.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Other Magazine Cover

I just did the cover for the next issue of Other Magazine, which is about Dead Magazines: those publications , that for some reason or another peter out, or never really made it in the first place. And with a failure rate of over 75% in the periodical industry, there's plenty to chose from. This cover was fun to do: thanks for everyone's help finding fave magazines and 'zines that are no longer with us. Keen eyed observers will find my short-lived 'zine, Manifesto, has a pretty good spot in the image. Well, hell, I gotta do SOMETHING to commemorate all that time and effort, right?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Tintin And The Race Race

In a move that immediately shoots to near the top of the list of Business Decisions Perhaps Performed Under The Effects of Some Serious Drugs, (and there's some serious competition), Little-Brown has just announced that they will be releasing Tintin in the Congo in English, apparently deciding that American won't truly be ready to plunk down 10 bucks to see the new movie until they have a deep understanding of his racist past. Besides the questionable nature of packaging it as they would any other Tintin (I could see it released as a scholarly work for cultural examination, but are they really planning to plop this down next to Explorers On The Moon in the kids section?), the greater question has immediately been raised, which is, does a racist past invalidate a piece of art?

For those not in the know, Herge's second foray into Tintin adventures, (the first being the deeply surreal and anti-Bolshevik Land of the Soviets) takes place in the Belgain Congo, and is a mishmash of uncomfortable stereotypes, cartoonish buffonery, and deep-seated ignorant carictures of the Congolese people specifically, and black folks in general. You don't need too much imagnation to get the loathsome gist: bones through the noses, fear and deference to the white man, and Tintin playing the good European and teaching the locales "manners". It is the worst type of repulsive racism. It was also 1930.

Now, I won't be labeled a defender of Herge's racists proclivities, or for any in the popular media, for that matter: any of you that know me, know my dedication to dismantling of the machinery let allows such odius thoughts to propagate. However, the underlying question proves trickier. Can someone extricate themselves from past mistakes and regain respect, espcially if so much of their art and lifework was for good?

I'm not a big fan of the word "hero", and I think one can appreciate and respect the work without respecting the artist: so many of my favorite works have been created by mosogynists, drunks, abusers, liars, adulterers, thieves, and monsters of every stripe, it's sometimes seems a wonder you can find any artist at that is a stand-up citizen. So I don't let that make me blue: I'm adult enough to separate the creator and the creation.

But what of Herge? Does it matter that he expressed shame and embarassment the rest of his life for those earlier follies? Do mistakes of such a catastrophic nature get forgiven as youthful ignorance? And perhaps even the biggest question: if it didn't become socially unacceptable over his lifetime to be a racist, would he still have renounced the work?

I can't answer these, nor can anyone, they're merely food for thought. But I beg of you, those that will no doubt be exposed to that hateful book in the coming months; let the work, not the worker, speak to you.

Friday, July 13, 2007

"But, man, could that guy paint."

If there's been a hiatus on this blog (and there has), I can't chock it all up to a huge amount of work, or tireless invention, or even blogger fatigue (though they do take part) - the summer of 2007 has become the Summer of 1001 Engagements: weddings, graduations, bachelor parties, brises - they all have taken me away from the unholy, never-sated maw of The Blog (ok, maybe not the last one). That said, I've been back to my home, in Boston, several times in the last few months, and while there, I usually stay at my mom's place. And therein lies the problem.

First, a few caveats: I love my mom, in all of her glorious weirdness. Normal moms leave me a bit cold; to what other mom could you come home to at 2 AM on a Tuesday from a night of drinking, to find her painting on Polaroids, a pot of tea on, with a Werner Herzog movie on the television? Not many, I would hazard. And secondly, I know my mom will never, ever read this, unless someone prints this page out and gives it to her, because she avoids computers like other people avoid boiled giblet stew and tongue sandwiches (two faves of Mom's).

You'll excuse my apparent immodesty-by-relation or whatever you want to call it, but my mom also happens to be one of the greatest painters I have ever seen let alone met, and, I would hazard, one of the last true romantic painters out there. I say this without pretense to fame, without name-dropping, and without really any askance of someone else to confirm it. I know it is true. I challenge anyone, be they first year art school student or longtime curator at one of the great museums, to come and inspect the piles and piles of jaw dropping working that lays about our home. I can assure you they will come to the same conclusion: she occupies a realm of talent, dedication to craft, and patience, that sometimes seems to have left this world long ago. The one oil we have hanging in our house regularly causes visitors, be they art directors or handymen, to stop in their tracks and gawk. Her work is that striking, and yes, she is that good.

Additionally, I can also assure you she will never be known for it. The history books lie closed to her. For one thing, my mom is the very antithesis of self-promoter. But more than that, the amazing thing is that she doesn't seemingly yearn for that recognition. She does it because she can't do anything else. She paints, because she paints. That is all. In our world of resume advice and marketing seminars, I admire the hell out of that. It seems like such a quaint notion: doing what you like, for you.

I was sitting in what was my sisters room at one time, and is now the guest bedroom, the other weekend, and the subject of painters came up. She is a ferocious Impressionist fan, but not in the gross, sorority-girl, everyone-has-a-print-of-Water Lilies way. She could give a crap about the subject matter. Hers is the eye and recognition of a tradesman, a draftsperson, one who understood what incredible vision, and yes, talent it took to assemble such images out of seemingly random lines. What a deep understanding of visual cues, what a keen way to observe the world: the break down a reflection on a jar with a stroke just so, and just so. Beyond whatever art school claptrap they teach you about the Impressionists, comes through a deeper understanding of what it was they did, each action, each specific mixing of colors, back when paint didn't come prepackaged in 90,000 colors. She appreciates the actual work of it.

I am nervous when it comes to art talk with my mom, not only because she knows so much more than me, but because she so much more of a talent than I am. After her diatribe about her amazement at the great painters, it was my turn to be put on the chopping block. I asked about imagination, that surely the current crop of comic artists and skateboard painters, the printmakers and Pop Surrealists, they had an imagination to the work that made up for the oil painting that took monthes to create, surely the intellectual breaking out would somehow take the impressive place of a nineteen hour sitting with a Pope. She shrugged her shoulders. In a roundabout way, I asked her if she respected what I did, viewed what I did in a similar vein, that I too could be included in her codex of art. She told me she was jealous because my work took so much less time. And I still got paid.

And still, we struggle on.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Yeah, they totally killed the black Transformer.

Spoiler alert - Jazz dies in the new Transformers movie. They killed the Black Sidekick. Amazing. I'm surprised the Transformer who was good at inventing things didn't have an Asian accent. But the movie? Surprisingly good. I mean, at least they didn't take themselves too seriously. Best line of the night: "We learned that the humans, like us, are more than meets the eye." Booo!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Sketchblog 6/22/07

Above is another project I had boiling until about an hour ago: a site template for a new restaurant in Chicago called 'Chaise' that wanted a style similar to a French wine poster from the 1920s. Above is my first stab at it, which I like alright, but I thought could have been pushed to be really outstanding. Alas, the client has decided not to do a separate site at the last minute, and have the Chaise site be part of their corporate main site. A shame. I thought this one could have been a lot of fun to do.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Sketchblog 6/21/07

Some of the stuff that's been sucking my time away from this blog lately: a few illustrations for a text book, geared towards Middle Schoolers. I was called because they wanted "edgy". Heh. I find the whole event a little odd. The images in my textbooks in school always entranced me more than the text or, god forbid, the actual lessons, and probably influenced me in ways I can't comprehend. To be making the images for a new crop of young minds to perhaps be influenced by - well, the whole thing reeks a little too much of the Circle of Life, if you ask me.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Infinite Canvas, Infinite Schmanvas

The above from the fantastic site Cover Browser. Thanks, Terry.

Sorry I've been dark for a bit: a bout of actual, big time, paying work (shock! horror!) has kept me low, backing up my Robots and Monsters production, my comic work, and fun, too, dammit. I'd be lying if I also didn't cop to a bit of blog fatigue: about two years of being steadily into it, and after a while, a realization creeps into your head.

"Ugh. I just THOUGHT that. I have to WRITE about it, too?"

But what the hell. I've gotta give you SOMETHING to read while pretending to work, right?

I'll start by admiting that not ALL of my non-blogging time is spent working, per se. Some of it is spent "working", while Skyping with colleagues, and the discussion of
web comics and Scott McCloud came up, more specifically, his new (now, old) web comic, The Right Number. I found a discussion of web comics, especially amongst people not in the echol chamber (and also potential consumers) to be informative. Present at the chat are myself, Matt Rebholz, at UT Austin for his Masters in Printmaking, Terry Salmond, a San Francisco film maker, and Rob Ford, Director of Technology for a school dsitrict in Massachusetts, and webmaster for Kaiju Big Battel.

The thread picks up on The Right Number...

I want the interface to be an intregal part of the story? Otherwise, it's just a schtick.
I see your point...What if the next panel was somehow integrated into the previous panel?...but that might get even schtickier.
The teeny next panel just throws me off without providing anyting else than just "Look what I did."
Yeah...I think if it was integrated a bit more
If he had to put a picture frame or window or something in every single panel
Plus,if the notion of 'zooming in' is intregal to the story...tell me why
Maybe it rhymes with this idea of the guy homing in on his perfect mate via his crazy algorythm phone number thing... I dont have a problem w/ the zoom
I think it does a nice job of approximating the sensation of looking from one panel to the next in a print your actual focus is fixed, so you cant shift it from one panel to the next...McCloud is much more of a scholar than a creator I think
Indeed....web comics are hard
true dat

joe knows that
This seems like a way of feeling out what works and what doesn't
The great thing about the interface is that it didnt require any movement within the browser window
True...McCloud goes on and on about "the infinite canvas", but I HATE those type of web comics
It becomes an inconvenience to experience it
The experience becomes about the creation rather than the story which to my mind...
is wack.

You need to somehow counterbalance or make the audience forget about the loss of the comic as physical object, which is a very important part of the experience....
like McCloud points out, part of the magic of comics is the compression and expansion of time- being able to see a whole span of time in one instant, by surveying an entire page for exaample
...and also the backwards and forwards flow
I like artists that add things you can go back and find later..."How did that fire start?"...
Like Ware
"Oh, he dorpped the cigar three pages ago."...Damn, I'd like just take this conversation and blog it
We'll just be outed as dorks.

And on webcomics in general:

Joe Q. Public doesn't find advertising to be as offensive as paying 25 cents...weird!
Right, but for the content provider it's a similar idea.
Its no suprise that people are more willing to endure advertising than pay for a product.
No...but as a sea change, just like having creator USING the web instead of just put print comics online, it is a difference in thinking about "selling" work...
a lot of comic artists still don't feel like real creators until some schlub plunks down 4 bux for a hard copy. Its psychological.
Do you feel that way?
Sometimes, but im getting over it
I think thats natural
It's how we were brought up
It goes back to the appeal of a comic AS object, if you value the actual physical comic, than of course youll feel more validated if you can hold something you've made
...I dont think its a bad thing nessecarily.

Beyond the fact that I talk too much, these are all very very smart guys, and what came through in the discussion was the web comics have still not broken through the main stream to arrive as a form worth paying attention to, yet. People can talk Penny Arcade and PVP all they want, but look at the content: it's so niche and concave, you can see yourself reflected in the opposite wall. We have yet to see a real breakout, popualr webcomic, along the lines of a Maus or a Persopolis. Could it be about form?

The chat has two seemingly disparate threads: that the notion of Infinite Canvas is tiresome and not helpful to the enjoyment of the comic, and that the physical comic is desirable, but ALSO that the desire is there NOT just for print-comics-that- happen-to-be-online, which is what most web comics are. To my mind, this all means that comic artists, and especially web comic artists, need to stop bitching about being the underclass of artists, being so 'disrespected' and such, and need to start creating great, compelling ways to view their stories. And while there's been some great experiments, it sure hasn't happened yet.

To round out this talk, I present Dr. Nordten, the fantastic web comic by Thomas Gronle-Legron and Holger Marsielle, two German guys I just so happened to present with in Seoul. These guys may be having the conversation that we in America with all our Scott McClouds should be having. And once I get Thomas to send me a link, I'll be posting their 3D version. Maybe the future of comics...lies in microfilm?

Monday, June 04, 2007

Nerve Comix Issue

Just a quick note to urge you to check out the new issue of the online magazine Nerve, which is the new comics issue. I often get emails from people asking me about new stuff to check out, but I'm no Drawn: sometimes I'm too busy to actually find cool new stuff, myself. This Nerve issue has some nice introductory strips from some radical rising-but-under-the-radar artists such as Leah Hayes, as well as more established folks like the untouchable Paul Pope. Chynna Clugston has the best one on there (she's like a girl Evan Dorkin!), and even Sophie Crumb's strip isn't half bad, considering the fact that she's busy carrying around that last name like an albatross. On the whole, pretty good stuff. Also, more than half of the artists are women: that's a nice change of scenery. There's also an awesome article comparing TMNT to Sex and The City. Outstanding!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Sketchblog 6/3/07

After all that rigamarole over the past few months, I finally see nothing but wall-to-wall drawing on the horizon, and that, to use a tautological dialect that hasn't been seen on these pages in many months, is a right hearty sight for these salty eyes, me hearties. Above is a sampling of the new Robots and Monsters additions, with more on the way. Below is an avatar from a project that I just finished, which I'm OK with, considering what They-Who-Shall -Not-Be-Named asked for (don't ask). I'm not usually a fan of this type of made-for-Wacom, GI Joe coloration. I think it looks weak and cheeseball normally, but it's passable here. And with more jobs being worked on, a new episode of TBV in the works, and a super-secret project nearing completion, I'm thinking that for the next couple of weeks, this blog is going to be nothing but drawings, drawings, drawings. w00t!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Tintin in the Land of Hollywood

The raiding of the temple happened slowly at first. A few keen-eyed grave-robbers here or there: a Philip K. Dick jewel, a Jules Verne bauble. Occasionally done right, more often done terribly, those of us In The Know could shake our heads and scoff, comforted in the knowledge that the true sources lay hidden, wellsprings that continued to delight those that cared to look for them. Then, the onslaught came, starting, oh, I'd say right around here.

I can't fault Hollywood for grave-robbing: I love movies. I went to film school, for chrissakes. And for every unmitigated disaster of a movie adaptaion of comic books or other imaginative stories, there's also some incredibly successful ones that make you love everything about it so much more. Unfortunately, Hollywood has a nasty tendency to recognize the brilliance if imaginative works, and then trying to substitute imagination for special effects. It takes a light touch , and an adding to the artistic effort, not just a rote copying with CGI, to make something like this work. And when it does work, when the creators do care enough to invest their own love and interests into it, it doesn't matter that the special thing you had to yourself now has a huge audience. So what if the douchebag in the next cubicle knows who Harvey Pekar is now: it was a great flick.

But this impending Tintin behemoth on the horizon makes me more nervous than anything that's ever been announced. Unless you've been living under a rock for the past week, you prolly know that Steven Spielberg has tapped Peter Jackson to finally head up the rights he decided to exercise, that of the long-awaited Tintin movies, a 3 picture deal that either has phenomenon or debacle written all over it. And my jittering excitment is tempered by a fear, that seems to harken back to my teen angst days as much as my art snobbery of Herge's mastery.

Here's the rub:

I am a rabid Tintin fan, ever since a very young boy,when I found a battered copy of The Calculus Affair at a book sale at the local branch of my town's library (and I still have it!). Anthony Lane has a rather pedestrian article in last week's New Yorker about Tintin that really doesn't illuminate anyone that has vaguely paid attention to the life and work of Herge. The long and the short of the piece explains away most of Remi's life as an effort to make up for some of his more racist carictures and collaboration with the Nazis by ennacting the indefatiguable wunderkind reporter as a kind of soul scrubbing boy scout, righting wrongs with an innocence Remi lost long ago in 1938. And I just call bullshit on the whole thing. Not just Lane's article, which, while a bit vanilla, is more or less quite accurate with the facts. I call bullshit on the whole Deconstructing Tintin thing.

There are some wonderful books taking apart the books, the characters, the man, the life, the times. Even some incredible comics that do the same. But the thing is, it's just too close for me. It takes the fun out of it. It's like taking a picture of a long lost relative out and going on a four hour lecture about why light turns silver halide into images the eye can see. I guess I can see it's informative: but it doesn't make me appeciate the person in the picture anymore or less. And this is just the beginning.

Within 2 years, Tintin will be on the cover of Entertainment Weekly, and Rolling Stone, that scumbag lead singer from Coldplay will wear a Haddock teeshirt onstage during shows, and Paris Hilton will name her new dog Snowy. And the Tintin that I know and love, the Tintin that is mine and rests on my bookshelves, the books whose spines contain crumbs of crackers eaten over them long ago, the Tintin who prompts puzzled looks when I wear him around, but that gets a look of knowing recognition by 1 out of 50 Americans, that smile that spreads across their face, that wink and nod I get...that Tintin will be gone, and I'll be left to pick up the pieces.

-> As a less curmudgony aside, (finally) check out the Seoul pix here! Woohoo!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Homeward Bound: The Uncomfortable Journey

I'm sitting in the lobby of my hotel in Seoul, waiting out the time until I get a plane to come back home. All in all, a successful and enjoyable visit, I think. The presentation went well: there's wasn't as many people there as I had hoped, but that was kind of the theme of the SICAF this year: the poor chair, the former Korean trade ambassador to the US (super nice guy: we talked a lot about American football, which was cool) had this rictus grin of defiance on his face when it came to the numbers, so I can't blame them too much. The crappy thing was that we were a bit hurried with our talk because we had to make way for the SIGGRAPH presentation, who wants to create a SIGGRAPH Asia. I can understand: the Koreans really want SIGGRAPH in Seoul, so they're willing to rush along the stupid "artists" they invited to talk, but it still felt lousy. I'll tell you, though, these suits were an embarassment to the organization: lame jokes, shouting at Koreans as if louder makes them understand English better, and Powerpoint presentations in which every single they say is written out on the slide. It was like an Edward Tufte nightmare. But I got told by a professor Digital Storytelling at Tokyo University that my talk was "enlightening", so that was an ego boost.

In other news, I dunno if it's just because SICAF is in town or what, but the TV stations here are chalk full of American movie versions of Marvel comic books: in the past three days, after coming home from the bar, I've seen X-Men 3, The Hulk, and Spidey 1. Something struck me about them today, besides the over all lousiness. Jon Favreau, if you're out there, whatever else you do with Iron Man, this I decree: you CANNOT use a sequence of DNA or vaguely scientific macroshots in the credit sequence under goofy music. It just doesn't work. I don't know who's lame idea this was, or if it's next to the Stan Lee clause for all Marvel movies, but this baloney has GOT to STOP.

OO! DNA splicing! OO! Hypodermic needle injecting something green or blue into skin! OO! Some douchebag holding up a test tube to the light! Let's think outside of the box on this one, okee, Jon?

Friday, May 25, 2007

Im n yr Korea, eatin yr Kimchee

Hullo folks- still in Korea, still eating veeery mysterious food, still can;t gte my damn camera to upload photos to weird Korea blogger, and about to do my presentation today. (Fingers crossed.)

A few observations from yesterday:

•The Engrish here (or, as I was told by a local, Korglish) is pretty outstanding: besides most Western style restaraunts (pictures coming soon, I promise!) being named after English words (no surprise there), the words they choose are especially weird. "Delicious" , "eat", or "Burgerhouse" would be too obvious, I guess. No, the Koreans decided to be a little different and name their Western restaurants after English modifiers: I've seen "With", "Actually", and my favorite, "This". But the Outstanding Korglish Of The Week goes to a young girl spotted walking through a mall yesterday, who wore a tight pink teeshirt that said

"Happy? HIV!"


•Seoul seems to have an obsession with shopping malls: I can only assume that a burgeoning country, which 50 years ago was not a global economic player, that undergoes such a drastic economic jump is a bit in love with a newfound sense of consumerism. But the tourists maps here neglect temples and museums in favor making sure to list not only the all the megamalls and shopping complexes, but the 7-11s, as well. Huh?

•I was introduced to the practice of "booking" today, in which Korea youth with not enough time look for love in a very efficient manner. We stumbled across a booking club quite by accident, and I have to tell you, it seems to be a pretty smart way of doing it for the busy yuppie. The deal basically is that this club, with music and drinks and the usual accountrements, has a bevy on vested waiters. The guys come in and sit down, the girls come in and sit down, and the waiters are supposed to have a good eye at matching people. The waiters rush around, pulling and push the girls in front of guys, and trying to make matches like a giant game of Memory. Then, the two match-mades get to chat and see if the match is right, or if they pass, and wait for the next victim to be plopped in front of them. Apparently, really good match-making waiters, or bookers, who have a good eye for who is a good match for who, make a good living, and are in very high demand.

And who said romance was dead, eh?

I'll be presenting today and the coming back tomorrow, pictures and all. And then, back to the good stuff. New episode on the way! w00t!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


Hello from scenic Seoul!

Finally landed and settled after a hellaciously long flight, and my first experience with SICAF. The flight was made mildy more entertaining by a bevy of South Korean businessmen. Let me say that South Korea is not a miserable country one needs to forget the plight of. So I really have no idea what these guys were drinking for. But let me tell you: South Korean businessmen (or at least these fellas) are like fratboys after winning the Rose Bowl. To say that they took advantage of the free drinks on flight could be considered an understatement. Suffice to say, 8 whiskeys later, when the guy closest to me fell out of his chair into the aisle and began to roll around and giggle, it was time to land.

I expected someone to pick me up, but due to miscommunication no one did, so it was a hectic few hours figuring out where the hell to go. But I'm here now, and having successfully managed to master the Seoul subway system (a breeze, natch!), I'm feeling better about my situation. I still kinda feel like an idiot American for not knowing another language like everyone else here. That's something to fix. Soon.

I visited the Seoul Expo Center, where they showed me the set-up they have for The Basic Virus, and it's all very professionally done and looks great. Thanks to Hong-Kwan Lee and his minions (seriously: he snaps his fingers and guys go running) for putting in so much effort for it. Also got interviewed by the South Korean blogosphere. I hope I didn't say something that might have gotten mistranslated:

"Seoul, South Korea: Comic artist Joe Alterio sez he puts mole rats in his underpants for fun and profit."

My camera is acting weird, but hopefully it will clear up, and I can post some pix soon. Stay tuned.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

bOINGED to death.


What a weekend., after getting bOINGed and later written up in the Boston Globe's Ideas Section, took off like a rocket, forcing my hand to shut down donations earlier than expected. It probably also means that we cut off some additional funding, which breaks me up a bit, but I had to stop the insanity sometime: as of this writing, we raised over $8300 (w00t!) for the cause, from over 15,000 hits to the site, which is just stunning to me.

The consequences:

A.) We reached our fund raising goal, and then almost tripled it.
B.) I'm going to be drawing robots and monsters for a very, very long time.
C.) bOING bOING has a power heretofore unheard of when it comes to "underground" interests.
D.) This link gets me misty-eyed in Amelie-esque, sappy, I-guess-we're-all-connected- somehow-kind-of-way
E.) All of the above.

(Turn to next page for answers)

In any event, thank you to everyone for stopping by and donating to such a good cause. Rest assured, your 'bots and 'sters are on their way (Eventually. Those at the back of then line: well, they'll make great Christmas presents!). Check out a continually expanding gallery of them here, and keep in a mind that R and M will be reopening later on as a more expanded project, with different artists, different causes, merch, links, and a whole lot more, so stay tuned. Email me if you want to get put on the mailing list, or know an artist who wants to help out.

As a reminder, I'll be leaving for South Korea on Tuesday, for my presentation about mobile comics at SICAF. I'll be posting photos and updates of the trip when I get chance. Very exciting: I think I may actually get to meet Moebius . My nerd-heart is all a-twitter. 너를 빨리 보십시요!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Robots and Monsters and the 100th Post *UPDATE!*

This blog is 100 posts old today! Woo Hoo! I'd like to personally thank all of you for stopping by and saying hello, leaving comments, linking, and generally giving me the time of day. I know there's a lot of outstanding places to waste your time on the web: I'm humbled that any of it all is with me. So, thanks.

And what better way to celebrate such a landmark than with a charitable effort, eh? I'm proud to introduce my new project . As you may or may not know, I've undertaken running the San Francisco marathon in July to raise money for the SF AIDS Foundation and the Pangea Foundation, which help folks afflicted with AIDS in the Bay Area, as well as in the third world. This project is part of that fund raising efforts.

It's pretty simple: for a simple donation of 25 bucks, you can give me three words or phrases, out of which I'll draw and paint a robot or monster and send it to you. Hopefully, if enough people participate, we'll start getting some great breadth of imagination in the gallery. You can read more about it all here.

In the long run, after the marathon, I'd like to turn into a continuing source of revenue for charitable causes, with a whole bunch of artists contributing to a multitude of causes: kind of like a mash up between 700 hobos, Fist-A-Cuffs, and an NPR pledge drive. But cooler. So if you're a artist who wants to participate, or your a cause that might want to partner up, be sure to drop me a line.

Thanks, again, everyone.

**UPDATE!** Thanks for the link love everyone: BoingBoing, Drawn!,The Boston Globe's Brainiac blog, Suicide Bots, Kaiju Big Battel, Scatterboy, Continuity Concern and everyone else. I am eternally grateful. Now I just...have these...drawings... *sigh*