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Monthly Archives: December 2009

NEPHEW ART

Perhaps I’ll try to actually find some of my own, personal, “nephew art,” to which I referred in the post about my uncle’s passing. In the meantime, here’s the B. Kliban cartoon to which I referred. This might be my favorite cartoon of all time. It’s at least in the top five.

nephew-art-klibanAs always, click for larger view. Cartoon ©B. Kliban

BELATED BALTIMORE COMIC-CON CABOOSE

Oops. Found this as an unposted draft, so this is my final post for 2009. I was a guest of the Baltimore Comic-Con (thanks, Marc Nathan!). I manned my table and signed, sold and sketched for two days. One of the attendees commissioned me to draw “a big butt girl,” and this was the result. I like the way it came out, so let’s end the year on a big, shapely, butt. Happy New Year, everyone!

big-butt

THE HELL OF IT

These might be the final sketches of 2009. Maybe not, but they’re probably the final ones I’ll post this year. These are character design sketches for the book I want to do set in Hell. I am hoping to finally find a home for this baby in 2010. I’ve wanted to do this story for many years, though its earlier outlines were quite different. The plot has finally gelled, so let’s hope that I finally set it to paper soon.

merv-sketches

Dot-sketches

FROM THE ASHES TRADE ON AMAZON FOR 32% OFF!

Hey all! Got some extra dosh to spend for Xmas or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa? Then please spend some of it (very little, really) on the spiffy trade of FROM THE ASHES. It boasts over twenty five pages of bonus material (thumbnails, prep art, sketches and character design stuff, cover gallery and more), plus a foreword by comedian Marc Maron (whose podcast, WTF, was #3 comedy podcast of 2009 on iTunes). I’m really proud of this book, so if you were waiting for the trade to finally read it, now’s the time to order it! And if you already bought the comics, this is the sweet-ass edition you’ve really wanted all along. BUY IT!

FTA cover

Irwin Greenberg, Albert Weatherly, R.I.P.

“Do rather than don’t.” — Irwin Greenberg

I really don’t want to start a trend here—especially not this kind of trend—but again I find myself adding another pair of obituaries. My most beloved art teacher, Irwin “Greenie” Greenberg, died yesterday, at the age of 87. He profoundly touched the lives of everyone who knew him.

I was fortunate enough to have had him as a teacher at the High School of Art & Design. Greenie—as his students and colleagues knew him—was a true inspiration. The adage “those who can’t do, teach” might have suited others, but not Greenie, whose work was, is and ever will be breathtakingly assured, graceful and lovely to behold. He was a master watercolorist and his teaching was commensurate with his talent.

Greenie lost an eye in WWII, but you’d never know it to look at his work. Though he often employed a small spyglass to see the models in better detail, his lack of depth perception never showed in his work, as you can see in the examples here.

Greenie was a beautiful person who shared his gift and his life, through stories told in class, with everyone lucky enough to have known him. I always regretted not staying in touch after I graduated. In a way, since I chose the path of cartooning, I always felt I’d somehow let him down. But that was on me. I’m sure he wouldn’t have felt that way. Greenie didn’t judge.

My uncle, Albert Weatherly, Jr., also died, today. He was 85. He was much more of an enigma to me. He was a concert flutist who left the orchestra to pursue fixing and selling flutes. He ran his own business, Albert Weatherly Flutes, in midtown. He brought an unsurpassed level of craft to servicing flutes that garnered him a clientele of all the biggest names in the field. Jean-Pierre Rampal, James Galway and James Moody were among his patrons, and all held him in the highest regard.

I did my first “professional” (ha!) assignments for him, doing art for t-shirts and tote bags for his business. Another late hero of mine, the cartoonist B. Kliban, had a cartoon called “Nephew Art”, which depicted bad art done by nephews. But it, like some of Kliban’s best work, was a metaphor for bigger, deeper things. That said, it might be my favorite Kliban cartoon, and that I am guilty of having created some “Nephew Art” of my own makes me both proud and humbled.

At thirteen I did a bag that boasted an anthropomorphized flute strutting along, à la Crumb’s “Keep on Truckin’”, only in this case it was “Keep on Flutin’”. Yeah, I know. I did many bags and tees for Uncle Al, and he actually paid me money. That meant a lot to me. It made me feel a bit more legit at an early age.

Al was very hard to know. He was quiet and, as I say, a bit of an enigma. But when he did share I always appreciated it. I never really knew him well, but I’ll miss him. I’ll miss them both.

CINEMA SEWER COVER THUMBS

I’ve enjoyed the often filthy Canadian movie ‘zine Cinema Sewer for quite some time (especially issue #16, which was devoted in part to post-apocalypse movies). CS is a treasure trove of exploitainment for the cineast who enjoys some muck in their movie viewing. I was happy to oblige its publisher/writer/creator/cartoonist Robin Bougie with cover art for its “Film Noir” issue (coming sometime in early 2010). Here are some thumbnail sketches I did. I ended up going with a variation on the upper right-hand one (see my gallery page for the final art, or click here).

thumbnails

Detail from final art (click for larger version):CS-detail

Oldie But Rushdie

Usually when I look at my old art I don’t like it (kid stuff not included; that, I love). But I was just going through my flat file, purging some stuff, and came across this cover I did for the Village Voice Literary Supplement. It had to do with the Salman Rushdie fracas (it’s from 1989). Anyway, maybe because I did it in a different style it’s like the work of someone else and I can be a little more objective. I think it’s pretty good.

vls-rushdie

David Aaron Clark, R.I.P.

I just learned that an old friend of mine died last week.

In the late ’80s/early ’90s, David Aaron Clark was an editor of mine at Screw. I wrote my comics review column, “Panel Debasement,” for him (the one that a few posts ago I lamented having written—or at least the way I wrote it). My friend John Walsh—who at the time was also an editor at Screw—suggested I write the column in the first place, but for whatever reason—conflict of interest? No, that sounds too professional—he passed along the actual editing to Dave. Dave and John had a funny working relationship/friendship. Very prickly; lots of insults and verbal sparring.

Dave was the basis for the character Elvis Seward Foucault III (so-named because Dave loved Elvis Presley, William Seward Burroughs II and Michel Foucault) in my comic series Minimum Wage (later Beg the Question).

When Dave first arrived at Screw he was just a portly nerd whose path had led him there. He’d had loftier literary/journalistic ambitions, but such is life. He dressed in jeans and sweaters and was clean-shaven. He found a groove at Screw and fit in. He was a funny guy, but dry of wit. Very dry. Walsh’s humor was broader and he scored laughs easily. Dave’s humor kind of snuck up on you.

Dave and I hung out fairly often in those days. But he metamorphosed during that time period. The sweaters and jeans were replaced by leather pants, full-sleeve tattoos, elaborate facial hair and big leather dusters and cowboy hats. All black. His personal life was often tumultuous and took an irreversibly dark turn with the suicide of Jean, his then girlfriend and band mate (he had a band called the False Virgins). This forever altered him (as such an event would do to anyone with a pulse). Dave always seemed in conflict with his lapsed—but never cured—Catholicism. Though a self-professed agnostic, he took to sporting a large crucifix pendant. Guilt was a big theme with him and after Jean’s death he started a course of both personal and public atonement.

He started performing S&M rituals in videos and onstage. He’d be cut up and pissed on. Later on it provided darkly comic fodder for my cartoon version of him, but at the time and in reality it was disturbing and I wanted nothing to do with it. He often mocked me for my “cloistered” and “safe” approach to life. His humor became more acid. When one goes from being a spectator of porn to a participant, it’s a slippery slope. After some ugly tabloid incidents in his personal life he left Screw and headed west to pursue creating porn full time. We lost touch, though on occasion we’d run into each other. Last I saw him in the flesh was at the San Diego Comic Con. I wasn’t sure why he was there, but I suspect that you could take the boy away from the geek, but you couldn’t remove the geek from the boy. He still liked comics, etc. I hadn’t seen him since before I’d started Minimum Wage and I wasn’t sure if he’d seen it. He had and he told me he thought it was “brilliant.” His word. But it meant a lot to me to have his blessing.

I tried many times over the years to reconnect with Dave, via the Internet. We sometimes would start a correspondence but it always derailed almost immediately. I think maybe my life was just a little too prosaic for him. He’d chosen his path and the two didn’t overlap, even via email. About two months ago I tried again on Facebook. I wrote him and he wrote back and not much was said and that was it.

He was 49. He was never a likely candidate for the Old Pornographers’ Home, but still.

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