Thursday, March 18, 2010

Long Strange Trips: Neilalien's Decade of Strange

"By the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth!" - Stephen Strange
Dusted off an homage vignette from a few years back that was remixed from some "visual notes" taken during an MFA exhibition by painter Ian Burcroff, and appropriately larded with lyrics from a mutually favorite band of ours. I was just starting to experiment with the whole one-page "image + text" juxtaposition assignment in my drawing classes (more background info here, here and here), and I also credit Ian's work to be a stepping stone into a better appreciation and deeper understanding of a style of artwork I never used to pay much attention to. So it was sort of a mid-life renaissance proving once again that developing friendships with ones peers in the art community can often open those doors of perception in a personal way that academic settings often fail at achieving - objective study never can come close to bridging into firsthand, physical experience and direct interaction with creators. Which is an important dimension to carry over into the classroom setting and reinforces a constant message underlying many lessons: don't talk about it, just do it. That goes both ways with expectations of students and demonstrating techniques. Again and again and again until you get it right. Anyhow, sometimes it's the seemingly random connections with folks that leads to surprising and unexpected changes - been proud to sport one of my favorite paintings of Ian's in the cabin.

Still, none of this explains the appearance of one of my old favorites of golden-age classic Marvel characters, but this might help: is a Doctor Strange fansite blog that also covers comic-book-industry-related news and items of interest. I stumbled across it only because one of my daily surf sites mentioned it in passing: a decade anniversary in blogging is certainly worth pausing to consider regardless of the subject matter.
This particular excerpt from the anniversary post I found to be particularly insightful, as it reinforced some key guidelines and provided much introspective navel-gazing crucial to blogging and writing - and there's the obvious parallels to creating art:
"Question One is always, What's the longevity secret? It's a two-part answer- probably not as profound as desired, unless it's profound in its simplicity. (1) Passion plus firm boundaries. Having internal goals and motivations for doing the weblog- wanting to learn more about writing, HTML, web design, comics art, the comics industry, etc.,- as opposed to external goals like traffic, money, etc.- goes a long way. It's a creative outlet that brings me great joy- but I don't let it take over my life, and I never make it a job. I don't blog when I don't feel like blogging. I don't link to something that doesn't interest me or that I haven't read. (Nothing is more obvious and damning than a lack of interest.) [...] The blog is not toil and trouble, it's an escape from toil and trouble. So as yet, I never burned out. I kept it fun. If by protecting my joy, that means I haven't shared or given of myself as much as I could have or as much as people expect from a weblog, or seem aloof, or I haven't reviewed a comic book in a timely fashion, or I don't get that book deal or get paid for blogging, or it means the night-sweat horror of a million missed links- so be it. The weblog is what it is. I do stubbornly addictively resist going a week without blogging, but if I do, so be it- you've always known what you're getting, a working guy in his pajamas when he has time to blog about one of his life's passions. I respect the audience, and try to be the consummate classy professional- like a Broadway actor or the Undertaker, when that curtain goes up, it's A-Game time, regardless of what's happening backstage or if the entrance pyrotechnics just gave you second-degree burns- I have never blogged about ennui with comics or blogging- but the moment I think to myself that I *must* blog today, that I owe you anything for visiting a free personal website, it's over. I'd love to have the community of comments, but comment moderation is something else that makes a weblog a job- and with all due, this is the place where I express myself, not you. You got a Twitter and a back button on your browser too, champ. I'd love to write romantically about the blogging act being inherently about an exchange- and obviously, I am tasked with showing a visitor why something I link to is of interest to me and potentially to them- as much as I might coyly insist, I'm not merely bookmarking for myself publicly- but the final analysis must always be, at least for me, that I do this weblog to satisfy my own needs, and you visit to satisfy yours."
'Nuff said and well stated.

"Wait until you get my bill." - Dr. Stephen Strange

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