Wednesday, March 26, 2008


A couple days ago I finished another new piece, March.

It's on my website here. You can see bigger images there.

The tiny text says, "Can't we dig some kind of pit-trap in its path?"

When I was posting about a drawing I made last year called Scale, I wrote about my fascination with morning glory vines. I referred to them as tiny snakes, and tried to describe how, when you watch them grow, they seem almost to demonstrate a consciousness in the way they search for and grab supports. My virtual pal Justyn sent me this link to a great video of morning glory vines that shows exactly what I mean.

In this piece the morning glories are snakes, but they're also symbols of the corrosive and beautiful passage of time. Anyone who gardens in Philadelphia- or rather, any wimp who gardens in Philadelphia- knows what I mean by this. Morning Glories are a weed here, and if you are once wimpy enough to let a morning glory flower in your garden you will have 500 of them the next year. I do this every summer. I love them, and I can't resist.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Shôchan no bôken: Adventures of Shôchan.

Browsing around the NYPL image library site I came across a Japanese comic book from 1923 called The Adventures of Shôchan. It's not translated, but every page is scanned, and it's gorgeous in a very Herge style. And it predates Tintin. Tintin first appeared in 1929.

Here's Shôchan and his sidekick squirrel named Risu. Who, I'm sorry, is way cooler than Snowy. Apparently Shôchan is a youth journalist like Tintin, only he travels to way better places. Like, say, heaven.

Most of the pages are scanned at this size, and unfortunately there's no zooming in. You can see tantalizing bits of the action in the small panels.

And when I say action, I mean action.

It's not all tumbling over waterfalls, though: check this page out- it's an encounter with death.

There's a whole thing with some mice, a black cat and what I really hope is the squirrel in a white suit.

There are six volumes online. It looks like each volume has two large illustrations. Here Shôchan meets the vulture.

I could look at this image all day.

And here he beats down some red flying heads. WHY can't I read Japanese?

You can look at the whole set of Adventures online here , and there is plenty more to see. There are centaurs, crazy Norse looking horsemen and a whole lot more flying heads.

There doesn't seem to be a lot written online about Shôchan and Herge, but I'm not the only person to notice the resemblance. It's pretty insane. It looks to me like Herge stole the whole Shôchan concept, drawing style and formula. And I keep thinking that Tintin is wearing Shôchan's socks.

You can also see more Japanese book arts at the NYPL here. Ehon: The Artist and the Book in Japan.

Monday, March 10, 2008


Today I finished a new piece, Placate.

The text says,"Does it placate Mister Death to talk about him on and on? Is it polite to talk behind his back? Ought one not to invest heavily in puppies?"

Larger images are on my website here.

I borrowed a skull from my neighbor across the street so I could draw it in this piece. She's a lovely person, and she'd happened to mention that she had one while we were chatting on the street one time, so when I needed to draw a bony head I went tripping cheerily across the street to ask if I could borrow a cup of skull. I felt very jolly about the whole escapade while I was planning it. I loved the idea that my neighborhood, which has recently become extremely gentrified, still had enough artists in it to support such a wacky neighborly exchange.

But then she put the skull in my hand.

And it felt like a head. I wasn't ready for that. I thought it would feel like a plastic skeleton's head- like the kind of skull you see in anatomy classrooms. No. This skull was lumpy and individual, and it felt like it does when you touch the back of someone's head.

I pretended I was brave. I didn't want my neighbor to know that it was all I could do not to play hot potato with the skull until she took it out of my hands. I played it cool. Or tried to. When I got the skull I remembered that my neighbor had mentioned that she'd bought the skull on ebay. Which seemed very much worse when it was in my hands.

I thanked her profusely and then ran inside and got a towel so I didn't have to touch it. I hauled it up to my studio and spent the next several waking hours drawing it as fast as I could. Just so I could return it. With cavalier jokes. About the creepy rattling noise it made when it moved.

Next time I'm borrowing the puppy.