Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Daniel Clowes, Poster for the movie, "Happiness", Meltdown Comics, 1939/1999 (The Year(s) in Movies)

1939 and 1999 were banner years in cinema. 

1939 saw the release of “Gone With The Wind”, The Wizard of Oz”, “Stage Coach”, “Gunga Din”, “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington”, “Rules of the Game”, Dark Victory”, “Only Angels Have Wings”, “
“Ninochka”, “Hound of the Baskervilles”, “Destry Rides Again”, “The Hunchback of Notre Dam” “Gulliver’s Travels” and “Wuthering Heights”

1999 saw the release of “Boys Don’t Cry”, “Being John Malkovich”, “3 Kings”, “Mystery Men”, “Election”, “The Sixth Sense”, “South Park- Bigger, Longer and Uncut”, “The Matrix”, “Iron Giant”, “Magnolia”, “Galaxy Quest”, “Fight Club”, “The Talented Mr. Ripley”, and “American Beauty”. I want to add to this list “Princess Mononke” and “Happiness”. Technically speaking, both movies were released in 1998, but I didn’t seen them until the following year.

I acquired the movie poster directly from the artist/designer, Daniel Clowes, at a book signing at Meltdown Comics in Hollywood, California, where Mr. Clowes had various examples of his work for sale. I saw the poster and asked for it. Dan either gave it to me outright or sold it to me for a nominal fee.

I asked Dan if the poster was difficult to draw. Dan affirmed that it was; all the stars had approval over their likeness, resulting in multiple revisions.

Clowes, with his acid dark humor,  was a perfect match for “Happiness”. The poster communicates clearly that the title is ironic; none of these people are happy- they are separated from each other,  in their separate worlds. They glance suspiciously side to side, or, if looking forward, the direction of their heads keeps the gaze from being “at cam”, though the foregrounded Phillip Seymore Hoffman character comes closest. I find it interesting that PSH was given such a privileged position, since his wasn’t the most important character (in my opinion, that honor goes to Dylan Baker as the pederast, Bill Maplewood”). Of course, I haven’t watched the movie since it’s initial release, so my memory may not serve me well.

So here it is, nicely framed after all these years. Now I have to figure out where I’m going to hang it.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Daniel Clowes, "Unused OK Soda Ad Art", Melt Down Comics, Independent Comics

I brought this from the artist himself at a signing at Meltdown Comics, in Hollywood, California, U.S.A.; It must have been in the early ’00’s. I choose that vague date because, at the same even, the artist sold me a copy of the poster for the film, “Happiness”, which was released in late 1998.

"Unused OK Soda Ad Art" was the only piece Mr. Clowes was selling that was within my price range; the comic book page originals were not.

I collect Clowes because I think he’s a master draftsman and an inventive storyteller. His mordant world view appeals to me. His ink technique yields benefit to close study. 

In the case of "Unused OK Soda Ad Art"  for instance, I find the faux-magnifying-glass inset instructive in the way he subtly “feathers” the close-up shapes as they curve away from cam, where in the “unmagnified” larger image these same shapes are described with single lines. I also am intrigued by the fact that each line is of a single thickness, but avoids the “rapidograph” feel by consistently tapering at their ends (whenever they aren’t bisected by another line.) 

I love the oblique composition of the magnifying-glass insert, both by itself and how it fits in with the over-all piece. I recognize the subtle asymmetricality of both the composition in total and it’s invidiual components.  All in all, I find "Unused OK Soda Ad Art" simple yet somehow deeply satisfying.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Colby Bluth, "Pen-Demonium", Crow Quill Pen Demo

This is not original art, but might be of interest in any case. It’s a piece designed to demonstrate and explore various pen nibs. It’s by fellow Comic Artists Professional Society (C.A.P.S.) member Colby Bluth. I think it’s pretty cool, and when I get done with my current big side projects it is my intention to accumulate and test all the nibs presented here. Thanks, Colby!

Saturday, May 2, 2020

0scar Edward Cesare, "European PowersConvening", New York Times Magazine (?)

I won this piece in auction from Heritage on October 2, 2016. The auction notes credit this piece to Oscar Edward Cesare’. It is signed by him in the lower right. It has a an image area of 18” x 7”, on a  21.5” x 11” sheet of gray charcoal paper, painted in gouache over light pencil sketching. On the reverse side is hand-written, “European Powers Convening”, and “N.Y. Times Magazine, Oct 9, ’60”. However, Wikipedia states his life span as being from 1885 to July 23, 1948. So, apparently whoever wrote on the back was incorrect about the provenance of this piece.

To further quote Wikipedia:
“Cesare was born in Linkoping, Sweden. At eighteen he moved to Paris to study art, then traveled to Buffalo, New York, to continue his studies. In 1903, he moved to Chicago, and by 1911 he was living in New York City.

“Cesare worked at several publications throughout he is career, including the Chicago Tribune, New York World, New York Sun, New York Evening Post, Our World, The Century Magazine, Bookman, Outlook, Nation’s Business, Literary Digest, Fortune,The New Yorker and The New York Times Sunday Magazine.”

Wikipedia classifies Cesare’ as a caricaturist, painter, draftsman and  editorial cartoonist. All of these abilities are on display in this marvelous painted drawing- drawn painting? Gouache drawing? I have made crops of all the characters/caricatures, in order to luxuriate more sybaritically in the virtuoso skill on display in all 4 above categories.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Allen Carter, Damn Tourists 1, Page 3

I won this page at the C.A.P.S. (Comic Artist Professional Society) Annual Fundraising Auction a couple of years back. It is a page from the first issue of “Damn Tourists”, now in its 5th issue. It is independently published by Carter Comics, which also publishes “The Figure of Speech Mongoose”, and Cosmic Force (now in its 6th issue).

Allen and I are fellow members of C.A.P.S.; I’m not sure how long I’ve known him, possibly 4 or 5 years. I’m most impressed by his dedication to the craft of marketing and promotion: he seems to know the venues that allow independent publishers to vend their wares, and how to hook up with the promoters of said events. Along the same lines, I admire his persistence and drive. In 10 years, he’s produced a substantial body of work, and is doing all he can to get them out into the world. This is an inspiration to one such as myself who has made abortive attempts along similar lines.

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