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30 November 2013
  LULU Book 2: Chapter 4, p. 64 Pencils (Updated with Inks)



LULU by John Linton Roberson ©2013. Based on the plays of Frank Wedekind

More of the next part of LULU, with pencils here for p. 64. Inks posted when they're done; keep checking back. As you saw before, Schwarz indeed has taken on a hipster look. To fit with his new station as a Great Artist.
Click image to enlarge.

http://fav.me/d6w6v8j

Update: The plain pre-lettered and pre-greyed inks.
http://fav.me/d6wgxo6
 

And of course, you can get your copy--print and digital--of LULU Book 1 now, at Amazon, Comixology and Createspace. Just click here!


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29 November 2013
  LULU Book 2: Chapter 4, p. 63 Pencils (Updated with Inks)
http://www.jlroberson.org/comix/lulu/index.html

More of the next part of LULU, with pencils here for p. 63. Inks posted when they're done; keep checking back.

Click image to enlarge.

LULU pencils p. 63 ©2013 John Linton Roberson

UPDATE: Here's the inks, pre-lettering & greys. 

http://fav.me/d6w20oo

And of course, you can get your copy--print and digital--of LULU Book 1 now, at Amazon, Comixology and Createspace. Just click here!


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27 November 2013
  Jed Perl is Attacking Art Spiegelman for the Wrong Reasons

Jed Perl has a piece at the New Republic about Art Spiegelman's CO-MIX retrospective, charmingly entitled "Art Spiegelman Is Comics' Most Pretentious Faux-Artist." Whoa, no trolling for pageviews there! Nevertheless, here is a link.

He does include this cringey quote by Spiegelman...
“Spiegel means mirror in German,” Spiegelman once explained, “so my name co-mixes languages to form a sentence: Art mirrors man.” Neither Picasso nor Matisse ever said anything quite that pretentious.
Ummm...okay, I'll give you that. That is pretty bad. But compare to the intensely egotistical statements of, say, someone like Gustave Courbet, and it pales a bit.
 
There is also the fact Perl doesn't really go into, in my view a far truer criticism, that he hasn't done anything especially ambitious since MAUS--not anything nearly on that scale anyway. After that he has been more akin to an editor or art director (and keep in mind, I do like IN THE SHADOW OF NO TOWERS, LITTLE LIT, and indeed all his stuff, precisely why I wish for something meatier)--at times including title). And his best books since then, like the excellent BREAKDOWNS, were retrospectives of pre-MAUS work. Compare this to his contemporaries, like Alan Moore, who just kept getting grander and grander ideas to this day. 

 
Leading one to a possible conclusion that MAUS was in fact the CULMINATION of his career.
So that I think would be a valid criticism of Spiegelman: that he has been resting on his laurels for, Jesus, has it really been 22 years since the final volume of MAUS? (and 27 since the major media coverage the first one got)

 
It would be excusable in an older man, but Art was still relatively young back then. He's made an industry out of MAUS.  The book itself, lecturing on it, commentary on it, etc. MAUS is a great work and you could say anyone would be happy to do only one work in their life as good. True. But this is the mercurial Art Spiegelman we're talking about. To stall at that point--as far as important work--is not particularly excusable.

 
That said, Jed Perl's premise is: to think comics can be high art or be ambitious is itself pretentious. Perl also doesn't understand Spiegelman, nor Art's idea of comics as a form of writing. (which I agree with wholeheartedly) Great draftsmanship is NOT a criterion of good comics--in fact sometimes it gets in the way, the need to make a pretty picture rather than understanding storytelling. And I say this as someone who tries quite hard (how successfully is up to others to decide) to be a good draftsman and effective storyteller. Perl doesn't really get what comics are. Then again, most of its practitioners and publishers don't, either.


So you know, he can go fuck himself. How's that for unpretentious, Perl?

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24 November 2013
  Another Goddamn Cat Post? Yes.

Some new pictures of Artemis, who's been ill but getting better, and Charlie, who's getting bigger. He'll be 8 months old in December, despite appearances.

(Photos taken by Christine Hannigan)





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23 November 2013
  LULU Book 2: Chapter 4, p. 62 Pencils (Updated with Inks)
http://www.jlroberson.org/comix/lulu/index.html

More of the next part of LULU, with pencils here for p. 62. More as it develops. Click image to enlarge.
LULU p. 62 pencils ©2013 John Linton Roberson.

Update: Here are the pre-greyed, pre-lettered inks. (the blank middle is where the titles will go) Click to enlarge.
http://fav.me/d6vfrrj

And of course, you can get your copy--print and digital--of LULU Book 1 now, at Amazon, Comixology and Createspace. Just click here!


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22 November 2013
  "Poor Little Rich Girl" starring Edie Sedgwick (Warhol, 1965)

Following up on VINYL, here's the first film the doomed Edie Sedgwick actually starred in. Did you know she was a cousin to Kyra Sedgwick, by the way?


And I think this is an appropriate epilogue, given her fate and how little Warhol seemed to care about his part in it. This song breaks me in two every time I hear it.


"I know she's dead. It wasn't me."

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21 November 2013
  European Rendezvous - Chris & Cosey CTI 1983 (Complete)

The early industrial Doublevision "video album" by Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti (late of Throbbing Gristle).


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18 November 2013
  LULU Book 2: Chapter 4, p. 61 Pencils (Updated with Inks)
http://www.jlroberson.org/comix/lulu/index.html

And now a sneak peek at the next part of LULU, with pencils here for the first page of the next part. More as it develops. Click image to enlargenate.

LULU Book 2 p 61 pencils by John Linton Roberson(c)21013

And of course, you can get your copy--print and digital--of LULU Book 1 now, at Amazon, Comixology and Createspace. Just click here!

Update: here's the inks, pre-lettering (though there won't be much on this page) and pre-greys.

http://fav.me/d6uxqu1

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17 November 2013
  Science Marches On, Nigeria Edition
"I have solved it through science. There is no gay, because magnets. QED." Then he smiled, confident of his genius. He alone, Chibuihem Amalaha, had this revelation. Why had no one thought of something so simple before? He wondered where he would display his Nobel. He invited reporters to spread the shining word of his discovery.


"See. I have the magnets in this beaker, to make them even more scientific."
"Why is it sealed?"
"For the reason their repulsion is so great and furious they might fly like bullets into your eyes."

"Say, are those magnets stuck togeth--"
"This interview is over."

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  The Bear Planned Its Trap Very Carefully


The family just wanted some family fun for the whole family. With food. And they achieved their goal, and were happily showing everyone.
AND THEN IT SMELLED THEM.


"I have pizza!"
"I have Coke!"
"I have whatever this is!"
"I have salad so I can watch my figure. Tee hee."
"NOW YOU ARE STUFFED WITH FLAVOR, I HAVE YOU"

 
And only one tooth you wouldn't think would hurt worse
AND YET.


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16 November 2013
  Suzy Spreadwell Episode 1: Read It Complete Online

Episode 1 of Suzy Spreadwell is now done, and you can read the whole thing start to finish here. Do tell your friends! Episode 2 coming in the near future. (I'm not certain whether to work on that next, or the next part of LULU. Feel free to offer your opinion in the comments)

http://www.jlroberson.org/comix/suzy/index.html

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  Pranked To Death: What Is One To Make of the Ragged Obama Presidency?
Andrew O'Hehir, normally a film writer, has a piece over at Salon I'm sure will cause a lot of fury. Money quote:
"Barely a month after the misbegotten shutdown, Obama has handed the Republican congressional majority all the political momentum they had thrown away and then some, a gift-wrapped invitation to win big in 2014 and continue the polemical paralysis of Washington into the indefinite future."

Might be a bit overstated, but it does point to a real problem--exactly the problem I've had with Obama since the start: he does not know how to defeat the GOP as far as the actual processes of government, and when you consider the state of the GOP, that's pretty sad. This is a party he could easily have crushed by now. He compromised with them far too long, and once he was ready to stop it was too late; he'd already given them all they wanted. He's allowed them to screw up every initiative he's had since the start. Pranked to death.


The GOP is to blame for being obstructionist. And he's to blame for not finding a way around them. Ultimately, it's the one I expected something from that's to blame. If wolves eat your children because whoever's in charge has taken no measures to keep wolves out, is it the wolves' fault, or is that to be expected of wolves, and keeping them out was what your leaders were supposed to do? What I wanted was for the government to be saved from these people and start actually doing things again. Obama has not accomplished this.

The GOP humiliated themselves with the shutdown, but Obama's incompetence with the rollout of the ACA--a perfect moment occurring nearly at the same time for showing action versus inaction--made that count not at all. You can say "five-dimensional chess" to me till you're blue in the face, but lack of results is lack of results. Intent is nothing without execution. And it would be unforgivable if he handed the government, via how badly he's done, to the GOP, which is something far worse. And you could argue in 2010 he already did.

The one and only thing saving Obama and the Democrats now is just that the GOP is an evil, repulsive wreck of a party that no one, in its current state, wants in actual charge, and that wouldn't know what to do with being in charge anyway, as they've spent 6 years straight doing nothing but prevent governance. And that's it.


But one party wins out of two.
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13 November 2013
  Bezhin Meadow/Бежин луг (Sergei Eisenstein, 1937)

Reading about this unfinished (and mostly lost) propaganda film by Eisenstein, it occurs to me this sounds an awful lot like the later Nazi propaganda film HITLER YOUTH QUEX. And both descend from an old Catholic legend about a boy who, despite being beaten to death by a bunch of non-Christians, refuses to say "There is no God." (I don't know if that tale has a name, but Jay Lynch once adapted it, I believe) And it recurs with slight differences throughout history, including this example from the 20th century. It's usually built on a scaffolding of truth but with huge, purple, sentimental flourishes, as melodramatic appeals to emotion will be.

In this case, it's the story of Pavlik Morozov, the boy who had a statue built to him as a Soviet hero, for informing on his father for anti-Soviet words and deeds. So the story went, Pavlik was stabbed to death for it. In HITLER YOUTH QUEX, Quex (yes, that's his name) is killed by a group of communist agitators for distributing pro-Nazi literature.  

In both cases the young child hero character has an abusive father. Here it's a peasant who, at the start of the film has beaten the protagonist's mother to death and plans to set fire to the wheat crop to deny it to the state. In QUEX it's a lumpenproletariat who resents and beats his son and wife, and refuses to join the Nazis (after an attempt at recruitment by a young and dashing SA man who speaks enthusiastically of Nazism as patriotism and adventure) while his son becomes a dedicated Hitler Youth member, against his wishes. In this case the child is a Young Pioneer, which you can tell by his neck scarf. Both refuse to accept the state, which is literalized here as an actual mother suckling a baby of the peasants, replacing the mother lost. The beatific dead mother being the only attractive adult in his family, all the rest grizzled or old and haggardly; the past is ugly and primitive, while the future is largely pretty and clean-shaven, as represented in the characters' appearances. And of course, this film is part of the campaign against the "Kulaks," part of the same campaign as EARTH.  (which was also criticized for "formalism")

The intended audience here would have been the rural youth in areas of collectivization, who indeed were often abused by their drunken parents. A usual aspect of this in other Soviet propaganda aimed at this audience was the promise that they could better themselves and escape their grip. Again, a scaffolding of truth.

This is a fairly common propaganda narrative, and has even been showing up lately in Uganda to be used against gays, as it has been against Jews, pagans, communists, and others. Propaganda tropes never really change; they're just repurposed and customized. The purpose of this one is to combine a shaming example (look how dedicated even this small boy was to the cause! Are you more  a coward than a small boy?) with a motivation for revenge a la the blood libel stories of medieval times

In case you're wondering, the story of Morozov is false. Your first clue might be this official portrait of him.


An interesting thread of propaganda history, because Goebbels in fact stole propaganda techniques from the Soviets every chance he got, much as the red in the Nazi banner was originally incorporated to fool workers into thinking they were in some way socialist. (A number of German workers thought Nazism was socialism, but one that would be exclusively German rather than in any way connected to Moscow, as the Spartacists had been before Stalin abandoned them)  

Considering its roots in a tale of a child that refuses to say there was no God, it's worth pointing out that it's a refusal to say there's a God that does him in here. Religion here is used as a means of abuse, the Bible literally pushed in his face.

The film got Eisenstein in considerable trouble with Stalin, for "formalism." Eisenstein recanted it before completion. The film was not finished, but here is a reconstruction based upon existing stills.



Here is a short piece on the history of the film and its reconstruction.


I'm surprised the late Dr. Richard DeCordova didn't bring this film up in my Soviet film class at DePaul, but that was 1988, and long before the days not only of the fall of the USSR, but before Youtube, so there was nothing to really show the class. 
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09 November 2013
  Suzy Spreadwell: America's Sweetheart Episode 1, p. 14

This week's Suzy. and that's the last page for this episode. So you'll have to wait a bit to find out just who's following her in that car. 

Read last week's here, and click on image to read full-size version!
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08 November 2013
  Blockbuster Can Burn In Whatever Hell Chains Go To

Apart from feeling badly for the people out of a job, I am positively gleeful at the demise of Blockbuster. I don't understand why anyone would mourn it, just like I didn't understand why anyone mourned Borders. Both of those chains did everything they could to destroy the very little stores those same people pretend to love.

I recall the coming of Blockbuster as what destroyed all the neat little video stores near DePaul when I first got there. Still, I adjusted to it. Then I remember wanted to rent LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST. Which their owner banned because, I know it's hard to see now, it was thought "blasphemous." 

And that ban remained for many years. I don't know when they dropped it because I didn't go in anymore.* 


From that point onward I did everything I could to avoid them. When I lived in Berkeley before, that was easy because there were two really good video stores right near me, including Five Star Video. What could I get at these stores that I couldn't at Blockbuster? I'm not sure, but I can tell you I never would have discovered Pasolini in Blockbuster. Five Star, weirdly, is still there at University & California. Facets, too, is still around in Chicago.

And Blockbuster is dead.

And that makes me fucking laugh so hard.


*Except: one time in 2003 I went in to get KILL BILL 1, and they wouldn't give me a card because I had a debit and not a credit card. Weren't very nice about it, either. Right the first time,. thought I, and never tried again, and registered for Netflix that day.  Everyone take a moment to remember a time when Blockbuster treated customers with the arrogance that comes with knowing you're the only game in town. And look where that gets you when you become obsolete.
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07 November 2013
  Suzy Spreadwell: First Try at a Cover Image...

...developed from this sketch most of you have already seen. Click image for larger version (which is also available as a print, hint hint). 

And be sure to see this week's page. Just one more left in this episode, coming this Saturday!
http://www.jlroberson.org/comix/suzy/01/01_01/suzy_01_00.html
Visual timbre of flag inspired by Jasper Johns.

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03 November 2013
  Nico: Icon (Susanne Ofteringer, 1995)

Now that Lou is no longer with us, it's possibly time to review some more of what has been lost of a truly unique cultural moment long ago in now-dying NYC. Here, complete, the famous 1995 documentary on the singer Nico.


And here is her best album, the icy MARBLE INDEX. In particular listen to "Frozen Warnings." I think, on the basis of this alone, Nico counts as the godmother of goth as much as Reed might be godfather of punk. (though I think Lou's influence was more profound on post-punk, on what became "alternative rock")

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  Lou Reed - "Billy" (1974)

From SALLY CAN'T DANCE (1974), one of Reed's lesser-known gems. This is Lou's story of himself and a childhood friend, and paths not taken, and how the conventional path might not be the safest. Overwhelmingly sad song.


I highly recommend the whole album , which in my opinion is almost flawless except for the horrible "Animal Language." But Lou has to have at least one clunker per record. The cost of Lou trying everything is that sometimes that fell flat. But a real genius always has a flawed catalogue.

Bonus from the same album: "Kill Your Sons," about Lou's parents when they tried to ECT the gay out of him.

(Live version from 1983, with Robert Quine on guitar)
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02 November 2013
  "If...." (Lindsay Anderson/David Sherwin, 1968) + "Women In Love" (Ken Russell/Larry Kramer, 1969)

Two groundbreaking British films that will probably not be up at Youtube long, so watch while you can. First, "If....", the first in the loosely-linked "Mick Travis Trilogy," that also includes "O Lucky Man!" A film that had a serious impact on British film and culture, and, among other things, got Malcolm McDowell the role of Alex. Post-Columbine, this film doesn't seem so surreal anymore--more prescient.


Second, Ken Russell and Larry Kramer's notorious and explicit adaptation of D.H. Lawrence's WOMEN IN LOVE. Sometimes very silly, but that's Ken Russell.


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  Suzy Spreadwell: America's Sweetheart Episode 1, p. 13

This week's Suzy. next to last page for this episode.

Read last week's here, and click on image to read full-size version!

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  Another Illustration for Leitz - "Memoir of a King"

The latest for that commission I've been working on. Previous here and here. Click image to see larger version.
http://jlroberson.deviantart.com/art/Illustration-8-for-Robert-Leitz-fantasy-novel-411031132

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  The Flamin' Mamies - "If You're A Viper" + the Dirtiest Song Ever Sung

Just happened across this version of the 1936 Stuff Smith classic, thought it was kinda cool. Enjoy. You also might like to give them some love on their Facebook page.


Here's the 1938 version by Lorrain Walton.


Special bonus: what might be the dirtiest song ever, from 1935 by Lucille Bogan

And I don't mean "for its time." 

I mean, EVER. And quite NSFW.

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"Eternity with Beelzebub, and all his hellish instruments of death, will be a picnic compared to five minutes with me and this pencil." - E. Blackadder, 1791
JLRoberson Self-Portrait 2005.
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