Friday, December 5, 2014

Life's Not Complete Without Artistry

OMG it's been years since I've written, blah blah blah. I wish I could say my business has taken off since I've been going to artisan and craft shows, but it hasn't, cause I isn't. I started a new job working 80+ hours a week, where NO ONE likes comics, and I expend so much mental/physical energy there that by the time I'm free the last thing I want to do is sit in a hard-backed chair in my freezing living room, neck bent over a low-lit desk, poring over the right shapes, sizes, and colors for a tiny box that no one might ever appreciate.

Right before I started my new job, which was also the last beautiful weekend I could sit out on the deck without my paint freezing, I worked furiously on about 60 light switch plates, a Peanuts frame or two, a few cigar boxes, and Calvin & Hobbes magnets. I was set for a craft fair! I was ready with (in my artistic estimation) hundreds of bucks worth o' stuff!

worked tirelessly all day with no complaints, the water slide egging me on
 photo winona gif_zpsfiavxnqq.gif
(By the time you read this, I will be gone, having jumped
--having plummetted--off the Winter River Bridge.)
Then I started my new job...and I got discouraged. I gave up. I dismissed my comic passion as a forlornly but ultimately silly squandered dream and decided to spend what little free time I have sleeping or finishing delicious novels in a steaming bath. It's just that I've never even been to a craft fair, and don't know anyone crafty around here that will or could help me get started. The very thought of doing everything--all those little things--by myself is probably more overwhelming than actually putting a to-do list in action and gettin er done. I couldn't help but wonder if even an Awkward Rob Lowe on my arm (or clinging to my shirttail) would inspire more confidence and bring back my artsy drive, but I just felt alone--utterly alone.

It was therefore with mixed feelings that I accepted the challenge of an upcoming bazaar (!) at an animation studio here in Connecticut. My brother Wes works there, and says his co-workers, who are busily animating the Peanuts Movie slated for release in 2015, are absolutely nutty for Peanuts-themed stuff. Half-begrudgingly, I set out to slap together some boxes, magnets, and other Peanuts-themed-stuff...and the thrill of creation seized me once again!

just a smattering of what these lucky animators will be able to buy at the Blue Sky Bazaar!
I also (praise the lawd!) got a few days off next week, which excites me further--I can take baths AND continue my craftiness. Yes, my dismal lonely life has improved. "Life's not complete without artistry," says Snoopy.

He is absolutely right.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

"Why waste time learning, when ignorance is instantaneous?" - Calvin

Two posts in one day! I can't help it. I went to work with that cordless screwdriver in the morning and took pictures in the afternoon when the sun came out. Here's the finished Calvin and Hobbes box:
two latch locks on top, two long horizontal drawers with two knobs apiece on bottom.
Not sure what kind of box it is. My mom found it at a tag sale scratched up and half-painted, and it had a wine label printed on one of the wood drawers I eventually sanded off. The heavy hinged lid and two pullout drawers remind me of a silverware chest. Well, not no mo!

I started the box after collecting a pile of Calvin and Hobbes books at Goodwill and searching through them for a theme, deciding almost instantly on using one of Waterson's most famous and beautiful illustrations: the dinosaur state of denial! The colorful and defeated Ms. Wormwood alongside gave me an idea too good to pass up in lieu of JUST a dinosaur box, however--plus one of the book collections, The Days Are Just Packed, was an actual Scholastic Teacher's edition. When the heck were they "teaching" Calvin and Hobbes in school??

Using only school-related panels, I designed a narrative divided between Calvin's daydreams as Spaceman Spiff, Stupdendous Man, fleeing dinosaur--and his unfortunate elementary school reality. After all, if I can't sell this on Etsy I know I'll have a Christmas gift for a teacher I know who more readily identifies with Mrs. Wormwood...
tell it like it is, Wormwood!
By the time I'd come to the back of the box I was running out of Calvin and Hobbes dinosaur and school-related comics, so I took advantage of the Scholastic Edition by ripping off the cover and using it on most of the back! It was thick as cardstock, and I had to sit on it for an hour in a difficult yoga position to make the glue stick, but it was worth it.

Lastly, the box had been worked on previously, and was gouged and glued with tiny metal scraps. Even after sanding and painting the bottoms needed a smooth finish, and I thought despairingly of wrapping cardboard with velvet, staples and hot glue, measuring and fitting, and knew the box would never get done. Then I drove to Michael's and found sheets of black foam for 99 cents each. After wiping away tears of joy, it was easy to measure and cut a few inches off each sheet to fit, then press in with some glue.
smooooooth yo
 The final step: listing on etsy. So much descriptive work! Groan! Shameless plug!

Til next time.

Everybody Get Random...and some comic / feminism

I am actually kissing this dirty cordless electric screwdriver. <3
We finally moved into a new house! While moving I managed to steal my mother's power screwdriver, which when not stressed and preoccupied by moving 30+ years of stuff elsewhere she is otherwise fiercely protective of. It's amazing how many pieces I mentally declared "unfinished" because screws were missing or not properly tightened. Those little things! I can completely finish decoupaging a trunk or guitar in a single day, but lugging the paint and tarp out to touch up, getting out the mask and varnish days later, driving to Home Depot for the right sized screws...those tidbits add up and clash with my lazy, all-or-nothing undiciplined style. 

On a side note I found out my Harry Potter heroine plot suggestion from a few posts ago had been realized in "Divergent," a waste of two hours I spent watching last weekend. After indulging in the great guilty pleasure of celebrity research, I was begrudingly liking Shailene Woodley's disbelieving in cell phones and chanting to the moon every month when I came upon all her anti-feminist blather. Sigh.
Oh Shai. Why couldn't you have just worshipped feminism like a misunderstood religion?
The men mostly piped down when they saw the breastplate

Feminism has a lot to do with and in comics lately. Marvel seems to be leading the charge: in 2012 the Captain Marvel moniker (previously male) was assumed by a woman; in early 2014 the new Ms. Marvel debuted as a Pakistani Muslim female! Also in 2014, Thor--the popular movie Thor, who kissees Natalie Portman!--became a woman, much to the dismay of men everywhere.

But is it really just trendy capitalist brillance, "feminist bandwagon bullshit" designed to reap megabucks for Marvel? This article, peppered with curses, comma splices, and great esoteric comic facts, addresses general diversity in comics while scoldingly predicting the black Captain America will "never make it to the silver screen." For success, diversity should be consistent, incorporated over time and not "shoved in audiences' faces." Has all this new diversity just been an easy way for Marvel to stay culturally relevant?

This brilliant blog post addresses the historical portrayal of women in comics (i.e. at war), discussing the positive attention and power bestowed upon these authentic figures versus the potential negative of innacurate and violent comic revision within a white patriarchial past. What are the ramifications of educating and celebrating the history of marginalized groups in comics--through a frame of violent power assertion?

THIS is a good way to start dialogue! all rights reserved
Meanwhile, on National Suicide Prevention Week last year, women (and men) across the country were given a chance to win a sweet illustrator spot at DC Comics for an appropriately bangin' drawing of Harley Quinn naked and committing suicide in a bathtub. Also in an alligator pond surrounded by chickens, and as a naked lightning rod atop a building in a thunderstorm. (Oh DC. If it weren't for Batman...) But all that's for another blog post!

So much to read, so little time, and I admittedly know next to nothing about comic history, feminist or otherwise. I'm just so pleased to read great articles about sociology of comics, even if I don't always know the characters, in part because it's rare to justify interest in comics beyond movies with most people. My blog began as a tenative product showcase for "comic art" I made, though I've always hoped it would evolve...though as I am more of a lazy reader/sponge than informant or informed dialogue-starter, I'm just not sure in which direction.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Strong Enough (to be my magnet)

Couldn't wait to post! The magnets turned out well and were neat and easy to finish. Got the 100-pack of 6mm magnet discs yesterday and was done clawing the superglue off my hands tonight!
finally done! though I guess you can't tell from just the front.

Hail no. Just HAAIIILLLL no.
Now, according to various DIY/craft websites, for appropriate adhesion, neodymium magnets have to be carefully cleaned--each surface, and not just with alcohol, it isn't  "strong enough," warned one site. Then each to-be-glued surfaced should be scratched with a nail to maximize adhesion.

Did I mention I got a pack of 100? Have I mentioned my clumsy fingers?

So I did the best I could do by dousing the magnets in rubbing alcohol. While listening to Sheryl Crow, for maximum adhesion. Then I dabbed each cork comic piece with superglue, let the magnet settle atop it, and mashed down for 10 seconds with the end of a Sharpie paint marker.

Today, my triceps are sore, and the magnets are clinging resolutely to the cork, for the most part. I did have a few magnets pop off (I'm testing them by flinging them at my fridge and pulling them off), but I'm attributing that to trying to place two or three magnets at once and the superglue drying too quickly.
My next step is figuring out how to package them. I got a package of iridescent gift wrap on sale for $2 at the craft strore I'm only half-willingly planning to use. Surely there has to be a cuter, more creative way to package (while remaining inexpensive)?

Daredevil and Superman magnets, B*$%#!!

This weekend I varnished all the soon-to-be-magnet comic cork pieces by laying them out on a board (above) and spraying them with the lacquer I'd just splurged on at Home Depot. It was windier than I'd thought and I was ultimately scared off spray varnish for the rest of my now-shortened life.
Daredevil to the left, Superman on the right, and a bow to package them with!

I also finally ordered MAGNETS from Amazon. The first ones, ordered through Prime and sure to be here tomorrow, are 6mm round. I'm worried they'll be too small for my clumsy fingers, but they were cheap. The second batch of 200 is 10mm by 2mm. I used a ruler while ordering and I still don't know which will be easier or better. I'm picking up superglue later today and hopefully these magnets will be all applied by the end of the he week.

Tedious, but ultimately worthwhile.

 In closing, I realized I reference Breaking Bad way too often in this blog, but now that we're on the subject, how about that Better Call Saul promo? Nine seconds?!

Well, we'll always have magnets.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

"I don't like these stories with morals:" farewell Superman, sup Calvin & Hobbes.

Mid-month Superman started wearing on me. I'd bought 100 comics in a bulk ebay sale and already made a few guitars and boxes out of em...but Superman's constant do-gooder thoughts and peremptory admonishments finally became insufferable. That's not even mentioning the redundant battles and ridiculous enemies. Just ONCE I longed for Clark Kent to cheat on Lois or deliver to Jimmy a well-deserved slap.

So what better a comic character to turn to than Calvin (& Hobbes)! Even Calvin's metaphysical musings inevitably lead to violence. A little iniquity can be refreshing, even compelling.

My hands are STILL black.

I found a couple Calvin & Hobbes books at Goodwill for $3 each (boy has Goodwill gotten expensive)! Because this was my first attempt with C&H, I wanted to make something simple. Traipsing on over to Michael's, I picked up some square wooden frames for a buck each, took 'em home, and painted 'em enamel black. Using only non-VOC paint, of course.

I also forgot to take "before" pictures of the pages and panels I used. Fortunately, I found the first one on google:
Here's the finished frame:

Can you see the mistakes? Bleeding permanent marker, some paper tears...sigh

Yes! I used Wite-Out to try to cover a paper tear! Aughh!

The first frame took a few hours, mostly because I was deciding how to piece the comics. I had to divide panels into smaller pieces; luckily this comic was non-text and there and there were a lot of small action pictures. I wasn't used to the paper, though, and made a few mistakes.

The second and third mirror were mistake-free, but while the second took a mere hour, I pored painstakingly over the third all night (though...this might have had something to do with the Breaking Bad marathon). Here are the the final two:
In one corner, Calvin philosophizes on early man; in the other, he faces his mortality

I'm pleased with how they came out and how relatively easy they were to do, though I must warn you, multi-tasking making these and watching Breaking Bad will most likely cause you to miss all of Walter White's frustrated, animated facial expressions. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

J.K. Rowling can't stop writing. She should try this idea next!

Aside from penning her "adult" book The Casual Vacancy, a few years back, JK Rowling has released (as of last week) two books under a pseudonym AND an "adult" Harry Potter chapter! Of all these I've only written Cuckoo's Calling, a truly bittersweetly amazing read. The whole time I was impressed by the language and sentence structure and character development I was thinking "she wrote Harry Potter!" The whole time. I have an inkling now as to why she wanted a pseudonym in the first place.

Anyway, though I'm sure she doesn't need any more writing ideas, I thought of one today I'd love to see penned: the rise of a young Hufflepuff (through teenage years and beyond) to the next great savior of the realm (or whatever)!

It sounds so ridiculous like that it makes me squirm a little. Which might be why this story could work. As we know, each house of Hogwarts is associated with a specific but encompassing passion, or character: bravery, intelligence, ambition, loyalty. Despite J.K. Rowling's claim Hufflepuff is her favorite house, everyone knows those badgers love honey (and butterbeer) more than honeybadgering. A Hufflepuff would never, could never, "defeat" anybody; it's supposedly not in their nature.

But what if there was a Hufflepuff--female, I'm afraid it's only fair to say she should be, after Harry--who was not just loyal, but brave, intelligent, and ambitious, and decidely more of the latter than the very former. A somewhat defiant, awkward and confused teen, abruptly labeled (by a talking hat) as something she secretly dreads and knowingly fears becoming, her chronicle could begin in turmoil as she faces the odds of misunderstanding and self-doubt. Once this is internally conquered, will she fight and overcome her typical Hufflepuff characteristics to overcome her phlegmatic nature? Or will she transcend it by solving major and multifaceted problems others can't in unique ways? Will she even have to "defeat" anybody?

Hey, I'm not writing this book. Still, it should be written!