A rather time consuming sketch i did on the computer, just doing some quick mapping for some sort of neat space scene. Trying to work with spacing and light relationships. Expect some more of these, they are fun.
The first two sketches are some very quick gesture drawings i did of a goat and a pair of kangaroos from a Zoo in Miami. The other drawings are drawings from a drawing game i made up with my siblings in which each player suggests two elements to be included into a themed drawing. On each sketch you can see the elements listed that i had to include in the drawing. Great exercise in problem solving and thinking outside the box. and the faces are just an old doodle i scanned from my sketch book
At the Random House booth, a graphic novel checklist from Pantheon Books listed eight new releases for 2008. Mind you, a lot of their "new" releases are new editions of previously released material, though some of it hasn't been seen for a while, or not at all in English yet. In addition to paperback editions of Charles Burns's Black Hole(January) and Jessica Abel's La Perdida(May) are a second volume of Joann Sfar's The Rabbi's Cat(April) and the long-awaited Art Spiegelman collection Breakdowns: Portrait of the Artist as a Young %@&*! (October), which includes work long out of print (and expensive on the used-book market). All of this is great news—I prefer to assign paperbacks to students rather than hardcovers, and more of the Rabbi's cat in English is always welcome. I imagine volume two will go at least as far as to include the fifth (French) volume of The Rabbi's Cat (the first English-language volume comprises the first three French-language albums). That extra-long volume, Jérusalem d'Afrique, is at times shocking; it may be my favorite single work by Sfar (not that I've read that much by him).
The real shock, though, is seeing a work advertised by another favorite cartoonist. Coming in December: Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli, an artist barely seen in bookstores since his masterful collaboration with Paul Karasik on the graphic-novel version of Paul Auster's City of Glass. I'd link to more information about the forthcoming book, but it's not listed yet on either the Amazon or the Pantheon websites. Here's what it says in the brochure:
Mazzucchelli triumphantly returns to the graphic novel with this fascinating portrait of an accomplished architect who attempts to escape his past, only to find that it has long since shaped his future.That's it. No pictures, no page count, no price listed, though there is an ISBN (978-0-307-37732-6 hc) and a phone number to call for orders: (800) 733-3000. No doubt more info will trickle out by next December, but this bombshell news was too good to keep!
It's a pleasure to wander the streets downtown (cold as they are) just to marvel at the skyscrapers; it's doubly fun to do so shortly after having taught Chris Ware's Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth, which makes such rich and interesting use of Chicago's architectural history. At one point I caught myself wondering if I could spot the corner where Jimmy sees Superman jump off a building to his death; I suspect (but do not know) that Ware modeled that streetcorner on a genuine spot in the city.
Isaac had the further pleasure of giving a short paper on Chris Ware in a panel at the convention on Thursday. I should probably let him talk about that one (especially since I was sadly unable to attend).
The only comics I've seen in Chicago this visit are two minicomics that came up at the home of my friend (and contributor to Satisfactory Comics #5) Jenny Blair and her sister Lisa. Over Shabbes dinner, the sisters Blair showed me a delightful comic by the sometimes cantankerous comics critic Noah Berlatsky. Called Superheroes I Have Known, it's a charming piece of faux-naïvery featuring what look like a child's drawings of superheroes who are quirky in a very childlike quirky way, with each drawing accompanied by a handwritten description of what "I" knows about the superhero in question. It could easily have been an arch, self-satisfied production, but damn if it isn't actually charming—not least because some of those quirky heroes are Grade A funny. I for one wish there were more to read of Shellock Holmes, the crab detective, and his cetacean sidekick ("Elementary, my dear whale!"). The best part? It's priced to sell: 50 cents at Quimby's in Chicago, possibly still available from the author via the comic-title link above.
The other comic I read is not for sale, but you can read it for free right here (or in its original context on Lisa Blair's blog for November 8, 2004). It's an autobiographical page drawn by Jenny about Lisa's purchase of a suitable plant to serve as a Christmas tree. Like me, Jenny converted to Judaism (with a visual cue in her self-caricature: look for the small Hebrew "chai" necklace in panel six), and this page shows her peaceable ecumenical enjoyment of a family Christmas tree. I admit I enjoy seeing the strangeness of having an outdoor-style tree indoors, all the more when it's decorated unlike any natural tree in the woods. So in that ecumenical spirit, I hope those of you who celebrate Christmas are still enjoying your twelve days thereof!
More updates more regularly, and soon, I hope!
Today I went for a hike on the old historical road between Jerusalem and Jericho, currently known as “Wadi Al Qelt” (Al Qelt Canyon). I led a group of 14 – mainly university students – to this place so as to encourage them so seek such experiences. I think we are so blessed somehow to be living in the Land of the Bible. Many stories simply come home when seeing them in this new context. As we walked in the heat of the sun through this difficult and exhausting road, I could picture Elijah running away from Ahab, and David running away from his son Absalom. This is also the road that probably Jesus took in his travels between Jericho and Jerusalem.
We saw many caves on the way, and there is also a marvelous Greek Orthodox monastery that dates to the 5th century A.D. Simply stunning and incredible. Yet even more incredible is the fact that so many monks lived throughout the centuries in this very isolated place out of their devotion to God. One of the students wondered about the value or ministry of such monastic acts arguing instead that it is better to be out serving in the community. I wondered on the other hand how many Evangelicals are ready to leave everything behind and come live in such a place – just for week – so as to have a quality and quiet time with God.
While we are so used to hearing the voices of our pastors in our churches, or our teachers in seminaries or Bible Colleges, I argued that it is in such places, out in the nature or on the top of mountains, that we hear God’s voice in the clearest way. I am a teacher. I love to talk. I mean I LOVE to talk and teach. It is in such places that God clearly challenges me to simply shut up, enjoy the scene, and Listen. Such a humbling experience!
This particular hike was a blessing to me since I was not asked to do the teaching. The students led the spiritual time and we had a wonderful devotion and worship experience and God did speak to me not only through the beauty of the place, but also through the talk of the students. Only if we talk less and listen more!
There is nothing like Christmas in the little town Bethlehem. I particularly enjoy singing in the manger square right in front of the nativity church. Thousands gather in Christmas Eve in the square to listen to the singing. My Choir has the privilege of singing in the square every year. I personally have been taking part in this event since 1995. Every year it is a refreshing spiritual experience. It never grows old.
I always share with the Choir how “praise and worship” has a very long tradition in Bethlehem. It began with David the Psalter, and continued almost 2000 years ago when the angles appeared to the shepherds singing “Glory to God in the Highest”. We are proud – yet feel unworthy - to continue this great heritage. We serve a worthy King!
Bethlehem continues to be a small town. This time it is also a besieged small town. There is nothing more depressing than the wall surrounding the town. And yet although this year witnessed a significantly increased number of tourists visiting the town, the reality is that there is lots of pain and despair in the hearts of the people. Christmas season offers a small breath of air for celebrating and rejoicing. Bethlehem suddenly becomes very crowded and alive. The Catholic Patriarch comes to the town in huge march and thousands welcome him. The Palestinian President also comes to the town, and many ambassadors and “important” people. Security is ridiculously high and the traffic becomes crazy annoying. As I was stuck yesterday in traffic, I wondered, “What have we done to Christianity?” I wonder if Jesus comes back to Bethlehem today, with the likes of Mary and Joseph; will there be room in the inn for him? Bethlehem celebrates Christmas today the worldly way. When the celebration is over, everything goes back to where it was, including the depression and despair in the lives of the people.
All of this reminded me of the incredibly humble life Jesus had while on earth. In this Christmas, I was reminded that Jesus was born that he may die for us. He lived a life not for his own sake. He lived for His Father and for those around him: His neighbors, the ones He loved. May we all learn how to give and live for others and not for our own pleasures and desires. I pray this for myself, and for the very small Christian community in the little town of Bethlehem. The amazing thing is that in giving we receive more than we give. There is nothing more rewarding than giving and living for others (Didn’t Jesus somehow say something like this?). This is true worship.
Merry Christmas from Bethlehem!
Alternative greetings to "Merry Christmas"
Happy happy day!
Merry Christmas, readership. To celebrate the holidays, all my employees have made their own very special holiday specials. Blue Space has written you all a poem. Care to read it, Blue Space?
THANK YOU, ISAAC. MY
CHRISTMAS TIME IS A TIME FOR SHARING
A TIME FOR LOVE AND A TIME FOR CARING
CHRISTMAS TIME IS A TIME FOR TEARING
OPEN CHRISTMAS PRESENTS YOU MAY HAVE BEEN GIVEN
JESUS IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON
THE SEASON ISN'T FOR NO REASON
IF YOU SAY IT IS YOU'LL BE TRIED FOR TREASON
GIVEN THE CURRENT POLITICAL CLIMATE UNDER THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION
SANTA CHRISTMAS IS THE MAN
WHO GIVES OUT PRESENTS FROM HIS VAN
ONCE SOME SMART KIDS TURNED AND RAN
BUT DIDN'T GET VERY FAR, AS IT TURNED OUT
…Is that it?
Ok, great. Thanks Blue Space. Very festive. Next we have something from an old friend of mine, or rather a young friend, we haven't heard from him in a while because he was placed in foster care for a few months because of some issues at home involving drug abuse, regular abuse, and homelessness, but apparently he's back with his mom now and doing great. Allow me to reintroduce my 7 year old main-man, Danny Elfman! (no relation to the film composer.)
Hi Isaac! I made a drawing for Christmas! Do you want to see my dinosaur?
Your drawing is of a dinosaur?
No my drawing is of Christmas! Look I have a dinosaur!
Wow, Danny, that's a great little tiny plastic dinosaur, did you get that from a gumball machine?
No my mom gave it to me for Christmas!
Wow, did she get it from a gumball machine?
No, she always keeps the stuff she gets from gumball machines and doesn't ever let me play with it. She found this in the parking lot of the government place!
You mean the DSHS office?
I don't know but I like dinosaurs! She said if I take really good care of this one she might get me another one next year! Or maybe just take this one away for a while and give it to me again next Christmas, but she said I won't know the difference!
Well your mom's a very nice lady isn't she Danny? Do you want to share your drawing with us now?
Ok! Mom doesn't like it when I draw or play with toys in the house, she says I can only play outside but it's sooooo cold! Last time I tried to play with my GI Joes I got so cold that I fell asleep and then I got really sick and had to go to the special hospital where all the Mexican people go and you have to wait a long time. So I drew this when I was in the bathroom so she wouldn't see--don't tell her! Ok look!
That's beautiful Danny. Really creates a warm sense of home.
Finally, although he couldn't be here with us in person today, our good friend Senator Pablo McDougal has sent us a little holiday cheer, a Christmas greeting in the form of a little video of his seasonal musings. Let's see it, Pablo!
But now that I've had a couple of days to recover from the end-of-term grading marathon, I have been able to put a few minutes into redrawing Ipthorin in one panel, then a couple of hours into inking the page. It's not the best cartooning I've ever done, but it is finished (I think), which is what matters.
Please, I beg of you, click on this image to see how our story ends.
I invite you to notice that I have not merely satisfied Jesse's remaining two constraints—as long as you count the middle of the second tier as a panel, it's the third silent panel in a row; the third panel on that row is mostly swiped from Jesse's recent and awesome Bluefuzz minicomic. Not merely, indeed, for I have also chosen two constraints from each of the preceding four sets of constraints and nodded to these in individual panels: the Corrigan and the Reverse Corrigan; the shop-sign and the Passion of Joan of Arc; the Ditko and the Segar (also a little nod to the J. Chris Campbell in the transition to the last panel); a borderless panel and a reference to Duchamp; even (why not) a panel of pure silhouette. You can see signs of me planning this stunt on one of the thumbnail pages I posted back in November. I'm surprised no one commented on that.
We're planning to leave the whole story up on the website for a little bit longer, but we'll pull most of it down when we start coloring the pages and printing them as postcards. When that happens, you'll have the option to buy a copy of the story, either all at once in a single envelope, or serialized to you (or the recipient of your choice) in the mail one page per week.
Meanwhile, please enjoy it in black and white for free, while it's here. I encourage you to use the comments section to discuss overarching themes in the story. For example: what view does this story take of potentiality and the realization of a single potential? What does that imply about the authors' apparent unwillingness to "grow up"?
Found a photo of an old drawing i did. The drawing is long gone but i tried to select just the line from the photo and put it in photoshop. Ill probably work with it more later but heres some quick color. Might make a cool t shirt?
Well i worked on this from the second i woke up, to the second i went to bed. One full day worth of work, and im pretty happy with it.
Found and old Sketchbook, decided to scan some old sketches and give them a little umph in photoshop. Enjoy
The trip to Nablus was not an easy one at all. It took us almost 3 hours, two buses, and three major check points, to get there. But in the end it was well worth it. Nothing like bringing the joy of Christmas to community that is desperately thirsty for hope. The look on the faces of the 400 people who filled the "Good Shepherd" Anglican Church as we sang and preached the good news of the Gospel will remain with us for a long time. And the smile on the children' faces as Santa gave away Christmas gifts was so satisfying as well.
Pastor Ibraheem Nairoz could barely express his joy in words! "You broke two barriers", he said. "First you made it through the siege and the check points to come here, but most importantly, you have broken a big psychological barrier"
Being a minority is never easy and is always full of challenges. These are not good days for Palestinian Christians. Many are leaving. For those of us who decided to stay, we have to encourage and bless each others. This is our call. Nothing is more satisfying. We serve a great and worthy king.
Let us go over to Bethlehem. (Luke 2:15-20)
“Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened”.
Great things indeed had happened. The King of kings was born and Salvation is coming from Bethlehem!
It was not enough for the shepherds to simply hear about the good news. They had to go to Bethlehem and witness themselves and see in their own eyes the glory of the Lord to appreciate more what was taking place. There they saw Mary and Joseph and the new baby in the barn, and began to realize and understand that God’s ways are radically different from man’s ways. He is bringing redemption and salvation in the least expected and predicted plan. A plan that includes shepherds and a baby-king in a barn.
God continues to surprise us today. In his wisdom He made sure that He still possesses a people in the place where He was born, a people that carries His name and testimony. Yet Christians in Bethlehem today are a small minority with no real power or authority. They have survived centuries of wars and foreign occupations and to the day they still long for their freedom. Yet they continue to exist and testify that God has kept all His promises and accomplished His plan. His ways are truly different from ours.
When the shepherds returned from Bethlehem, they were “glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen” (Luke 2:20). God is worthy of our praise. He dwells among the powerless and brings to the lowly ones dignity and honor. He chooses the least expected ones to be chosen for the task, whether it is a virgin from Galilee, or a small minority today in Bethlehem. He came to our earth in the least expected way, with little or no reception from us – other than the welcoming of shepherds. For this reason He deserves our praise.
Come to Bethlehem today and be a part of this story. Come to Bethlehem and celebrate the new born King of Peace. Come and share in glorifying and praising God for all the things that he has done, and continues to do in this little town of Bethlehem.
Peace on Earth. (Luke 2:1-14)
“And on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
“Peace on earth” proclaimed the angles the night Jesus was born. Peace is what the world yearned for in the days of Jesus, and peace is what continues to be missing today in the town and land where Jesus was born, and indeed in the entire world.
What peace then were the angles singing about? Definitely not that of the world. Seventy years after this massage was proclaimed Jerusalem was destroyed and the Holy Land continued since then to witness war after war. It must be peace of a different kind. “My peace I give to you” Jesus said. “Not as the world gives do I give to you” (John 14:27). While Jerusalem was witnessing its destruction, another Jerusalem was being built. A new Kingdom was breaking through into our world, and we are all invited to participate in the building of this new Kingdom of peace.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matt. 5:9). The Church of Christ today must share in bringing about this “peace on earth”. We are to be “peacemakers” if we want to see the Kingdom continuing to advance. We must create an alternative community of peace that attracts and invites people from every tribe, tongue and nation. This alternative community (the church) must demonstrate what the world is not and that is through being a community of love to one another, justice, security, acceptance, and grace. A community of peace!
The prophecy of Micah echoes to us through the centuries: “But thou, Bethlehem… out of thee shall one come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting… And this man shall be our peace” (Micah 5:2-5). Amen. Jesus himself is the peace the world yearns for. When Christians embody Jesus who is peace through their sacrificial works of compassion and love, the world will begin to experience this “peace on earth”. May the Church of Christ be a community of true peacemakers!
We have seen His Glory! (Luke 2:1-14)
“Glory to God in the highest”
Some 2000 years ago, a baby was born in a barn, from a little known Jewish virgin, in the little town of Bethlehem. This virgin had made it all the way from Galilee with her fiancé on horseback. Some unknown Shepherds came in the middle of the night to greet the baby after angles appeared in the heavens to tell them about him. And one more thing: this baby turned out to be the Savior of the world!
Let us face it. This story seems very odd and incredible for those not familiar with it. It simply does not make any sense. Yet this is precisely what Christians believe took place and what they celebrate every year. And this is precisely what makes Christianity and Jesus unique.
God became flesh and lived with us! “We have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). We have seen his glory not from castles and the marching of armies, or through worldly accomplishments, the building of cathedrals, or the establishment of Empires. But we have seen it from a barn in Bethlehem, and through shepherds visiting in the middle of the night. We have seen it in the establishment of a Kingdom that is based on humility and love. By the standards of the world this is not glory, and therefore we read that “there was no room for them in the inn”. God’s glory however is seen in His humility. Only those who are humble enough and powerless can see it.
God is great! His greatness is manifested in His incomprehensiveness and transcendence. Yet it is also manifested in His humility and incarnation. “For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: "I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite” (Isaiah 57:15).
I pray this Christmas that we are all from the kind of people with “contrite and lowly spirit”. Only then can we “see His glory” and be revived. For the believers in Bethlehem today, the birth of Jesus therefore is and can only mean good news.
This drawing is dated October 30, and I'm not sure what prompted it; maybe the arrival of Hallowe'en put me in mind of kitchen witches, one of which dangles from the wall there, and I figured I'd better make my doodles vaguely useful by practicing a character from our story. So here's our faithful dog boy, whipping up some dog chow in a kitchen that looks a bit like the one in my old apartment...
Incidentally, those numbers at the bottom left puzzled me for a moment until I remembered why I'd staggered them: those toward the left indicate the pages drawn by Isaac, those on the right the pages drawn by me, and the slashes indicate which we'd finished by this point. Pity those last two pages both took ages to post!
I used to scoff at health. I was your typical twenty-something bachelor, subsisting mainly on frozen pizza and Taco Bell. I drank very little water, I hardly ever slept, and I maintained a diet rich in sodium, preservatives, and trans-fats. In relatively recent times, I have turned my life around. I gave up Freschetta and fast-food, I drink gallons of bottled water, I get…well…some sleep, I eat balanced nutrition, I even take vitamins. I must feel vastly healthier, my life must be completely revolutionized, right?
There is no discernible difference.
That's right. For all my troubles, all the inconveniences, added expenses, and flavor sacrifices, I really don't feel much better at all. Still just about equally tired, still get sick about equally often…the only thing I have to show for all this effort is Multivitamin urine the color of antifreeze.
Is health a myth? A hoax? Is the whole health movement just an elaborate placebo? Even if there is some difference, does it even come close to equaling out the amount of extra energy spent on living healthy? I don't know what the mathematical formula is, but there needs to be some kind of cost/benefits analysis here.
Cost of Living Healthy:
Giving up the tangy, salt-soaked heaven of Freschetta pizzas
Countless hours lost by home-cooking meals from healthy ingredients
Eating the exact same thing (beans and brown rice, fruit and spinach smoothies) for almost every meal
Extra cost of buying vitamin supplements and healthy food as opposed to the cheap and convenient Four Food Groups of Taco Bell (Nasty Beans, Nasty Meat, Bleached Flour, Nacho Cheese Food Paste Product)
Giving up most forms of Fun in order to go to bed early
Benefits of Living Healthy:
Slightly less general nausea
Maybe a study needs to be done to determine if we should even bother. I've never heard a discussion of whether or not being healthy is really all it's cracked up to be. There are plenty of conflicting health reports being released all the time—"Chocolate is Good For You!"/"Chocolate is Bad For you!", etc—but where is the report declaring "HEALTH MAY BE BAD FOR YOU!" ?
GETTING SHOT MAY PREVENT CANCER
Getting shot, long thought to have serious impact on overall health, may in fact help prevent cancer, according to a new study by the FDA. The study found that people who had been shot by any type of gunpowder-based weapon, from handguns to high-powered rifles, had significantly lower chances of being diagnosed with cancer than people who had not been shot. The study examined a wide range of statistics, dating from the present back to World War II, during which the majority of Americans had been shot, and cancer rates were at their historical lowest. The link between cancer and getting shot was not entirely clear, although some researchers speculated that bullet-lead may be quite high in antioxidants.
By the way, in our last poll, "Which Cultural Element is Making the Strongest Case for the Imminent Downfall of Society?", the winner by a landslide was "The absorption off all music and popular culture into Hip Hop / R&B".
What does this mean, exactly? Is that culture causing a negative impact on the rest of society, or is society just eagerly diving into that pond because it's the easiest, simplest, most digestible route for our generally dumb culture? Discuss.
You'll want to click this thumbnail to enlarge it. I mean, if you want to read the page.
You can see the fancy special effects I used to indicate the panel where Stepan steps into Serkja.
I'm planning to get to work on the lettering as early as tomorrow, and to work gradually on the inks over the weekend. No sense rushing this thing now. If you've got any comments, please let me know. There are a couple of panels where I'm not a hundred percent happy about the composition of the image, but I also feel like the page is at least mostly good enough.
Did I miss anything? Have I made any dumb mistakes? Does this count as an ending? Why do I feel less certain about p. 10 than I did about p. 1, when we had no idea what the comic would even be about?
Meanwhile, let me note that in the past two days, I got a couple of books that promise to keep me busy in any spare minutes I might have between now and the spring semester. One is The Complete Calvin and Hobbes, which I got on Amazon for a ridiculously low price (something like $58 instead of its $150 cover price); the other is the new second volume of the Acme Novelty Datebook, which is a powerful reminder of the value of keeping a notebook. Chris Ware draws and thinks like an utter genius, even in his moments of self-loathing or idle time. It's hard to think of a more impressive record of a cartoonist's working process, or a more impressive book of incidental drawings.
Like the volume before it (and like the final paragraphs of Gulliver's Travels which I happened to re-read this morning), this installment of Acme Novelty Datebook is a stern rebuke against pride.
If Chris Ware tells himself, every day, many times a day, that he sucks, then what can the rest of us think of ourselves?