Thursday, February 22, 2007
All the drawings are based on interview footage from the show's 500 programs--Ratso is the "puppetronic rat host" of the show. I saw the Demolition Dollrods (or Demolition Doll Rods, I found both spellings) play several times in Ann Arbor MI and Austin TX in the early 90s and you can see why they're a lot of fun to draw. Read more...
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Friday, February 16, 2007
The story "Moomin's Desert Island" starts with an ill-fated trip, this time in a helicopter, that crashes suddenly over a small desert island:
After the Moomins gather their senses they look for food on their island. Moomin Mamma plays Locke and goes hunting only to find... wild boars!
But here's the part that had my head spinning when I first read it: Moomin is out digging a hole when he encounters something unusual just under the surface:
Yes, he finds a hatch!
Down below there is an abandoned cave where ancient Moomins used to live, where they were involved in mysterious, sinister activities, as the explorers learn through cryptic signs on the wall of the cave:
So what does it all mean? Are Moomins the true Others? Are they related to the invisible monsters that stampede through the jungle? And what is their involvement with the Dharma Initiative? I can see I'll have to start a whole new website devoted to this mystery... Read more...
Monday, February 12, 2007
After Angoulême, Jessica and I had a few days off in Paris before our bookstore signings. We went to the Centre Pompidou, which has a really great Hergé exhibit, advertised around the city with the iconic rocket (shown here hanging behing the space-age tubing of what is surely the greatest escalator ride on the planet--you can see all of Paris from the top):
The exhibit design was pretty thorough, including these great decals on the floor:
Along with the Hergé exhibit there was a small but very impressive exhibit called BD Reporters, featuring original comics and sketchbook pages from Loustal, Mattotti, Nicolas de Crécy and others. Here's a glimpse of one of Baudoin's "collage" pages:
The Joe Sacco section was particularly informative, showing a lot of photos, sketches and annotated scripts. Here are some photos of Soba followed by some early studies for the character design:
After a few days' rest it was back to work. Jessica and I took the TGV down to Lyon to do a signing at Éxperience. Owners Jean-Louis and Nicolas were great hosts and fed us full of as many kinds of meat as they could stuff us with--I'm sorry I don't have photos of them or their store, which is in the middle of downtown Lyon if you happen to be passing through. The walls and ceilings of the store are covered with drawings by artists as varied as Jeffrey Brown and Jose Muñoz. I added this little sketch to the mix (the Matt character is actually drawn on the ceiling):
Next day we came back to Paris for another signing, this time at a new and sure-to-become-legendary space called Le Mont-en-l'Air, in the newly-fashionable neighborhood of Ménilmontant:
Le Mont-en-l'Air is a comics and fanzine shop in the tradition of Quimby's, See Hear, and Un Regard Moderne. Owner Guillaume, a retired acrobat and former employee of L'Association, uses the walls as gallery space. While we were there the walls were covered by drawings by Placid, whose demented cubist comics some of you may remember from Verre d'Eau, the last issue of Weirdo.
That night we went to a party at L'Association for Eprouvette #3 but I didn't get any good photos out of it. I also arrived too late to meet two Oubapo members that were there early on, Anne Baraou and Étienne Lécroart. (I gave Menu a packet of some of my constrained comics work to distribute to all the Oubapo members so they can see what their US correspondent has been up to other than Exercises in Style). We chatted with Jerome Mulot and Florent Ruppert, the award winning co-authors of Panier de Singe and Safari Monseigneur. Turns out they have some kind of residency in Connecticut in April so you will likely be hearing more about them here soon. (You can read a translation of one of their stories via this link from Comics Reporter. It's actually not one of my favorites of theirs but it gives you an idea of their idiosycratic use of word balloons and page layouts.)
Our last event in Paris was a signing the next day at one of the city's best comics stores, Super Héros.
The previous two signings were not all that well-attended but this last event really made up for it as we whipped out the dedicaces and passionately discussed the state of modern comics with our host Christian acting as MC and provocateur (I felt like I was on a radio talk show at various points--someone should have been recording!).
We had dinner that last evening with Igort, Gipi, Alessandro from Canicola, and a few other stray Italians. It was a nice, low-key end to our ten-day trip. Igort is working on a crime story written by a well-known Italian author while at the same time overseeing the Ignatz series, including his own comic. Gipi is getting ready for a full US onslaught, with two books lined up at First Second coming out in the near future. By the end of the evening my adrenaline abruptly ran out, just in time to drag myself to the airport to come home.Read more...
Friday, February 09, 2007
Stripgids is a free magazine put out by the organizers of the Strip Turnhout comics festival, which takes place every two years in Belgium. I did a cover for their second issue, which also features excerpts in Dutch of Exercises in Style. Editor Toon Horsten gave me a copy at Angoulême, where we discussed the Dutch-language edition of my book the festival is planning for the fall. Read more...
The next two sketches are drawn about 90 degrees apart from the same seat, by the door of a bar called Chez Prune on the Canal St. Martin in Paris.
Thursday, February 08, 2007
Even as you arrive in the city of Angoulême you start to see signs of comics' presence all over, including the street signs.
As documented elsewhere (check out The Comics Reporter or Journalista for links to other photo reports and reviews), Delcourt, who published La Perdida, also recently published Sunday Press's giant Little Nemo book. This is a view of their booth with a giant Nemo bed towering above.
For a change of scale, here is the L'Association booth, where I spent a bunch of my time signing 99 Exercices de Style. From left to right you can see L'Asso staff members Céline (who did the amazing re-lettering of my book), Fanny, the artist Caroline Sury, and Charlotte (who translated my book).
Alvin Buenaventura, Jordan Rae, and Dan Zettwoch at the Buenaventura Press. I was disappointed with how out-of-the-way the fanzine tent was, it was kind of off to your right as you navigate the throngs of fans lined up for dédicaces seated in their little folding chairs. Alvin seemed to have the best spot though: as you were walking past you could make out Kramers Ergot and other goodies in the distance, pulling you toward the fanzine area.
Jessica and I stayed in a funny little hotel converted out of old farm houses and situated by a golf course on a hill overlooking the city. That's Jeff Smith you can just make out in the photo. He and his wife Vijaya stopped by for one day on their way to India.
Here I am at one of my moments of glory: signing books next to Edmond Baudoin! Baudoin was a marvel to watch, he would do a leisurely fifteen minute sketch while he held forth on his philosophy of drawing. He also started to talk up my book to his fans and got me a bunch of sales--merci Edmond, je te dois quelques verres!
The Woodring family at the awards ceremony. Woodring père flanked by Max and Mary. Jim's show of originals at the CNBDI (Angoulême's comics museum) was stunning. One afternoon Peter Kuper and I spent a good long while with our noses pressed to the glass trying to figure out how he does it. When you see some art in real life you instantly notice all the imperfections, patches, and smudges that don't show up in reproduction (not necessarily a bad thing, I should point out)--not so in Jim Woodring's case.
At dinner after the Saturday evening awards ceremony with, on the left, Monsieur le Président Lewis Trondheim, an amazing dynamo of energy and charisma, and recent award winner Charles Burns.
The day at Angoulême is not complete until you have stumbled over to the Chat Noir or the bar of the Hotel Mercure to drink and chatter until the wee hours. This is me at the Mercure with cartoonist and Ignatz series publisher Igort on the right and, in the middle, our mutual Spanish publisher, Jesús Moreno of Ediciones Sins Entido. (Ejercicios de Estilo will be debuting this summer at La Semana Negra in Gijón, Asturias, by the way.)
It's Sunday morning and things are winding down. On a last trip through the fanzine tent I find Amanda Vähämäki (of Campo di Babá fame) and Alessandro Tota at the Canicola booth. Congratulations to all of them for winning the Angoulême fanzine prize.
In the front courtyard of the CNBDI there are a bunch of maybe 20" square cement slabs that have been drawn in by a wide variety of artists, including my good friend Tom Hart, whose slab was quite prominently featured.
Up next, photos from Paris and Lyon. I'm not as meticulous as some more journalistically-minded bloggers when it comes to details, links, and context, so feel free to ask questions in the comments field. Read more...