Sunday, November 15, 2015

"Notification (Mark All as Read)"

My burgeoning collection of comics advances much like a glacier does in our household: like a solo snowflake, each individual volume unto itself might not represent any significant increase to the total, but as the cumulative weight and mass eventually begins to slowly sprawl across the cabin, grinding out everything in its path under the inexorable pressure. A while back The Significant Otter lovingly built a customized bookshelf in an attempt to accommodate this ongoing continental drift of graphic novels, but unbeknownst to her there was unfortunately a secondary outpost that had built up in my campus office over the past few semesters. That satellite collection would be the continually refreshed stacks of “best-of” examples I use to show my students during the critique assignment on sequential art, or for the comics course, and also when doing demos (plus it turns into a de facto lending library). So when I brought these cases of books home it was the geologic equivalent of a tectonic plate shifting, until a new nature order was reestablished, and equilibrium restored. At least until the next foray to the comic shop (see nerdgasm below). And by no means are the stacks and piles haphazard – despite the clutter aesthetic there’s a place for everything + everything’s in its place… at the very least there’s a specific zone designated solely for comics and comics alone. Really, it's all in order, it just doesn't look like it.

original thumbnail doodle

All this is to say the bottom horizontal panel is pretty much what it looks like in my little corner of the cabin. The overall concept arose from a recent reaction to a piece I had put up on the Book of Faces, which afterwards I realized how much time + energy it takes to monitor and respond to social media when something goes relatively viral. And nevermind the incessant stream of emails demanding attention every time I log in to any one of several accounts, that sit fermenting like virtual compost heaps until wading in with the weekly shovel. When all of this peripheral stuff is juxtaposed against the preferred “anti-social” media of simply reading, it becomes immediately apparent how much less stressful and, in many ways, infinitely more rewarding to stay ensconced within the incubating buffer-zone of books.

Line art version

Just like the optimal workflow process of making comics, where I’m always juggling multiple pieces at various stages of development, it’s a similar situation when it comes to reading books. There always seems to be a current one, or series, that will be temporarily derailed by something new, or something old, and then the whole sequence is shuffled and reset. Repeat ad nauseam. Case in point being immersed into Ann Leckie’s outstanding "Ancillary" trilogy, which in turn triggered a desire to re-read a few of of my all-time favorite sci-fi books by the late Ian M. Banks, while simultaneously perusing the pages of Ralph Steadman's "Nextinction" (note: a cartoonist friend who also happens to one of my favorite science writers recently got to interview him about this awesome new book here). Oh but wait, all of a sudden here comes this! Nerdgasm!

Excerpted panel with digital enhancements

And whattaya know, to complete the artistic triumvirate, the same goes with music: the new wave of tunage that comprises the studio background mixes (Scale The Summit, Volcano Choir, Chromatics, The Joy Formidable, Screaming Females, Caribou, Kurt Vile, Disclosure, Christine and the Queens, Gun Outfit etc.) which all gets interrupted with spontaneous revivals of classics like The Kinks and The Who etc. – trumped yet again by such long-running favorites such as Genesis (bonus trivia: Nursery Cryme, Trespass, Foxtrot and Abacab all provided the soundtrack for this one particular piece).

Incidentally, I wrote this entire post largely on account of one Mr. Atticus, aka The Omnipresent Studio Editor, who decided to camp out right before the scheduled watercolor session, as usual, right where all the action is. Or was supposed to be, until he perfectly illustrated the whole art-imitating-life/life-imitating-art thingy.

"I'm here to help"

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