A while ago Shannon O'Leary had a book idea she ran by me, an anthology about cartoonists' take on feminism. I thought it was a good idea, because I believe that women are equal to men, but had no thoughts about how to make a comic that didn't feel like a college essay. Frankly, I always felt pretty equal as a woman, especially as a white educated middle class woman. That was, until I had a kid. Then suddenly all my dreams of artistic freedom were, uh, revised. It's the only time in my life where I felt like the difference of the sexes was laid bare. I really struggled with this piece... here's the first page, and the rest is up at Bitch.com. They put this comic up to promote the kickstarter for The Big Feminist But (Shannon and Joan's anthology includes great stuff from Vanessa Davis, Gabrielle Bell and Jeffrey Brown among others). If you feel compelled to donate, that would be awesome. I'd love to hear your stories as well if you are a parent and an artist struggling to do both.
Alexa made a lot of cute animal comics, which I am not predisposed to love. But she worked really hard figuring out the nuances of cuteness, and in the meantime, became a really good designer. The simplicity of adorableness is hard to achieve--one bad line and you move to cloying or saccharin. But Alexa avoids all of this...check out her map project from the end of the semester! I have a feeling that Alexa will get a lot of children's book illustration work. Good for her in advance. Cha-ching!
Lily was a bit of a basket case at the beginning of the semester, I knew that she could draw, but she was beating herself up too much about what she was doing. But then she figured it out. Her zombie comic is a great. I am jealous of the way she can make something look good with just black and white. And her website with all of her drawings looks great too. Go look at it!
I am thrilled to be a part of this month’s Lucky Peach! My piece for the best food magazine around is about how you probably don’t want to eat sushi any more. Gotta say it was kind of a bummer doing the research for this one… Here’s an excerpt, go out and buy the magazine!
Shantel is one of those "wildcard" students. She had never made comics before taking my class in the Spring, but obviously had a great sense of design and was a hard worker, because she was an animation major. Her first two projects were extremely ambitious, but didn't quite hit the mark, I think due to her total lack of experience. Her last project, the poster you see below, blew everyone's mind. I love it specifically because it breaks the rules. Her color choices are experimental. The subject matter is provocative, but she pulls it off, with direct drawing, and interesting space and color. She will continue to do amazing stuff, I'm sure.
Over the summer, I want to spend one day a week highlighting the work of great students that I've had. Please email them with love. Joe took my inking continuing ed class at SVA two summers ago. It feels like you're cheating as a teacher when you get a student like Joe, because he came in to class basically totally formed, he just needed to simplify his line work a little, and find the best materials to use. He figured out the brush and proceeded to get a dream job animating for an awesome and very popular show on Adult Swim. Recently he made this comic for my website, which I love.... Thanks JOE!
Few people know how to tap into a child’s deepest emotional life and shape his or her subconscious forever. Maurice Sendak did. My favorite book of his is Outside Over There, and the reasons why keep changing as I get older. In the Night Kitchen and Where the Wild Things Are seem to explore primal urges and dreams, and are resolved by the characters waking up, or going back to their mommies. I love these books, but in Outside Over There, there’s more at stake.
A baby sister is kidnapped by goblins. The baby is replaced by a changeling made of ice (the scariest thing I could imagine when I was a kid). The mother is absent--waiting for her husband who’s away at sea. Our hero, Ida, probably four or five, has to save her sister using her will, her mother’s cloak, and her wonder horn. The goblins happen to be disguised as babies. Ida entrances them by playing the wonder horn, making them dance so fast that they dissolve into water. Few people could draw this transformation with such naturalism. In the end, Ida is charged with the responsibility of raising her little sister, while her mom stares off to sea, waiting for Ida’s papa to come home. When I was a child, I looked up to Ida. I marveled that a girl could be so brave and save her sister. I longed for one of those big flowing night gowns, and I wanted a sister.
The drawings in this book changed my life. I scrutinized the sunflowers growing up and up and the facial expressions of the portrait in Ida’s room changing slightly. The German Shepherd. The musician and the sailors hidden in the compositions. Sendak’s inspiration seems to have been German and Netherlandish engravers. These drawings don’t take any short cuts. They are very rendered, but carry an emotional weight.
Do I identify more with this book because the main characters are girls? Possibly. The story seems to be more about girls, and what is expected of them. If the protagonist was a boy, would he be expected to raise his younger sibling? Ida has big feet and flowing hair; she's going to be tall and gorgeous. She's more in control of herself than the boys in Where the Wild Things Are and In the Night Kitchen. She has grace.
Now we read this book to my daughter. She’s 2 1/2 and I don’t know how much she gets of it, but she wants to hear it over and over. She thinks the goblins are aliens. Maybe she can just tell how enthusiastic I am about the story. Sendak knows he can take children to these dark places, but he builds in the security of the adult reader guiding them along. This book takes childhood seriously. It talks about love and responsibility and heroism, in a way that is never spelled out. I read somewhere that he revised the book over one hundred times, and it shows. It reads like Yeats, like perfect poetry. I don’t mind reading it over and over again to my daughter, always marveling at new details in the drawings.