Monday, November 16, 2015

Your Type


Heather Benjamin

When you find old romance comics the covers, typically printed on newsprint or some other low grade paper, tend to be beaten up and falling apart in a vendor's quarter bin. The imagery across the board is that of idealized love, but the fatigue of time has battered the surface of these covers away to reveal the fetishism of love that lies beneath.

Romance Story though has a gloss cover, it’s smooth and built to last in the modern world. The cover harkens back to the romance comics created by Kirby and Simon, but cuts directly to the point of their narrative underbelly, reveling in the inhibited nature of their origins.

The central character on the cover is shown masturbating to an image of nostalgic love (circa 1950). That Benjamin is confident enough in her own narrative to place a sticker, heart shaped and with an illustration of an eye, over the woman's exposed vagina shows her own playfulness with restraint. A kiss on the neck is okay, an exposed private part not so much.

*********************

Sad Sex was confused and raw, a book made by someone fighting with themselves. Exorcise was a series of drawings meant to reclaim the personal identity of one's sexuality and explore what that means. And now we have Romance Story, a collection of 24 drawings that no longer wishes to look inwards at one's own struggles, but rather place those self-discovered truths against those of nostalgia.

The myth created in the romance comics of the 1950’s, an idealization of love created by the post war middle class, is set in contrast to Benjamin's own mythology. Her figures appear no longer as just woman, but as half woman / half horses; Mythological creatures in their own right. These figures are depicted peaking through the small windows of brick buildings into the lives of these idealized 50’s lovers and surrounded by the constellations, moons, suns and symbols of several millennia of human existence.

By flanking these scenes in such deep mythology Benjamin is placing the images within the vast context of history, making the sequence taking place in their window frames seem all the more brief (and untrue) in comparison to the vast and ever expanding narrative taking place outside of it.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Interview: Blaise Larmee


Blaise Larmee is a cartoonist.The most recent collection of his work, 3 Books, was published by 2dcloud.

This Interview was conducted by Oliver Ristau and Shawn Starr.
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You became the marketing director of 2dcloud this year. What are your thoughts on marketing, both as a marketer and as someone being marketed to?

Walking around downtown Toronto I was struck by the amount of signage that in a comparable American city would have been legible, with Patagonia meaning one thing and American Apparel meaning another, but here replaced with Canadian brands I'd never heard of. There is a typography underlying language that, once the meaning becomes monolithic, comes to the fore as characteristic of expression. Most of the typography is also monolithic but at least this arena is open to play.


Framing seems like an important aspect of 3 Books. The introductions create a specific "context" for the work, but also the way you frame the images on the page adds another aspect. How much do you think the frame affects the way we view the object being framed?

Installation shots are a display of power. Especially when the work itself seems unredeemable. It's a neat effect, a sort of sleight of hand, like when high fashion uses ugly models. We focus on the figure while the  ground transforms it, leaving us disoriented, our sense of judgement suspended. That's one intent, at least. There's also the effects of circulation, how things move through different contexts, how that rubs off on the text. How the text can act as a sort of isotope we can track as it moves through various social bodies. Comics is in this inbetween place that gatekeepers of other scenes can't wrap their heads around. It's a weak position but, maybe as a result, it's horizontal. I can release my omnibus with 2dcloud and Leslie Weibeler can release her poetry book with Sonatina.


What are your thoughts on repetition?

It's the basis for any comprehension that unfolds through time.


What do you think of Terry Richardson?

What can you do ultimately? If you're qwoc you can participate in this representative system we have, liberalism. Your voice will channel many unheard voices. There is a moral demand for these voices to be heard. The need is tokenizing but you can play with this, use this platform and be used by it. It's not ideal but what would be better? There's a number of readings of anything but there's a certain default we are all aware of, that of clickbait, tabloids, reality TV, YouTube comments: women's bodies. And 'women' here being shorthand for young white women. It can be a woman with her back to us looking at an abstract painting, it doesn't matter. This is the currency. As I get older I feel less aware of reality as a state of flux. I look at how it exists, where it might be headed in the near future, when the next iPhone comes out. I've lost a sense of imagination. I've moved away from children as subjects because they skirt these issues. That's their main function really. There was some criticism of Amalia Ulman, like, is her work feminist or antifeminist? I could imagine an artist who works for decades in a feminist capacity that attracts little attention. And I could also imagine this same artist producing a single 'antifeminist' work that goes viral and everyone is asking, should we be paying attention to this? The allegations against Terry Richardson were reported as clickbait. Or at least this is how they circulated. Titillating copy packaged as moral outrage. It's just the same currency, in this case a sort of behind-the-scenes narrative aspect of its production, presented in a moral documentary framework. Assuming we're stuck with this currency, as we're stuck with patriarchy, all we can hope to do is redistribute it to those that have so far been exploited by it. But is that accomplished by authorship? At some point a sort of lesbian separatism seems to be the only way out. This is how I read Sophia Foster Domino's recent work. If there were men in these stories they just wouldn't work. That to me is an integral part of the fantasy. A group show of women curated by a woman exhibited in a gallery owned by a woman. That's getting somewhere. But as you can imagine, these things aren't airtight, there's always someone profiting, and men are in the best position to profit, so why wouldn't they? The question of what men should do isn't so compelling in a social justice sense. I don't really agree with any of the suggestions I've heard, other than basic ones like stop talking. Ultimately I don't believe change is possible. In terms of redistribution, wealth only begets more wealth. Giving it away is only going to give you moral wealth. Look at Germany. Your inheritance is all you ever have to work with. Melancholy is the basic political identity. But I don't really feel sad about it. It's more boring than anything.


Do you think about being old sometimes?

Yeah.


What does the New York Public Library mean to you?

Nothing in particular.


Is Mowgli, Kipling's colonial boy, a comment on cultural appropriation or the imbalance of power between the sexes?

I just feel such a strong affection for him. Brown boy who hates society. It's my favorite Disney movie.


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Do image overlays represent Blaise Larmee? Is Blaise Larmee your real name? Is Chateau Marmont the place where you live?

We’re all avatars for the public’s desires. There’s really no way around it. We can deconstruct and reassemble these desires in ways that seem more open, more inclusive, but it all adds up to the same thing. Inheritance. Privilege. We have these mechanisms for understanding but we still can’t do much with it, other than increase our empathetic capacities, possibly allowing pleasure to enter our lives in ways it otherwise wouldn’t, allowing for opportunities we wouldn’t otherwise notice, but always with that same underlying scheme in mind. I'm not saying this scheme rules our lives entirely but in the realm of the public it dominates. And publications are public, of course. It's the language I speak.


3 Books is described by your publisher as “a collection of drawings, a photo book, and a catalogue of paintings” but not a “comic.” Do you make comics ? How do you feel about 3 Books being read in the context of comics?

I'll always make comics and I'll always be disappointed with its limits.


What do you see as the limits of “comics” as a term?

Well, comics is a fan community. It's perhaps more about personal health than anything else. I'm beyond trashing it. There's a reason I'm a part of it. R.H Quaytman mentions how books allow one to create their own architecture in which to present their work. That degree of control is necessary on a health level for me. But then there's the architecture of spx. Tents set up in a hotel. These are fairs more than festivals. The festive element is like this awful weight attached, a sense that showing up is half the work. The best shows are the ones where no money is made. But where do you go from there?


Bill Blackbeard’s collection lives on in libraries, TJC print editions are over, Comets Comets is now a Russian tech site, and tumblr posts from years ago can suddenly reappear and become new again. How do you view art history, or more specifically comics history, in the post-net world?

The stage is certainly set in comics for a lot of history being made. That’s the message that’s been building and seems to have culminated in this last spx.


What aspect of tumblr is most interesting to you in relation to comics and/or art?

I think the notes are interesting.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Piles of Art

I always like looking at other peoples stuff so here's some of mine. 

This is the majority of my art collection. It's in no particular order. 

(Also if any artist who's work appears here wants me to take it down just yell at me.)


By Cathy G. Johnson

During the Baltimore protests over Freddie Gray's death Cathy offered free drawings to anyone that donated to a bail fund for protesters. I thought that was a good idea and so here is the drawing i got.


By Ben Urkowitz.

This was a commission from a few months ago. Ben suggested using the "Gary Panter" short prompt for coming up with a piece, so i picked a quote from Godards Masculine Feminine "This film could be called The Children of Marx and Coca-Cola." My favorite part is that they're pepsi logo's and not coke.



By Sammy Harkham

This is the original pencils to the cover of Comics Comics 3. Comics Comics is pretty big for me, and Sammy Harkham is even bigger so this seemed like an ideal purchase.


By Sean Phillips

I was really into The Invisibles in college.


By Cliff Chiang

This was bought before all that Brian Wood stuff came out...and also him working with Brian Scabby Scab Watchmen. I still enjoy Chaing's work, but he should really stop working with people named Brian.




By Andrew White

I got one of these as an up-charge for buying This Is A Brick Wall and the other for pre-ordering his book M. I enjoy how White is playing around with the overlaying of panels / symbols in his art.


By Blaise Larmee

This was one of the early rewards for pre-ordering 2DClouds fall collection. There were about five or six different prints you could pick and this seemed like the one least likely to cause strange conversations when hung on a wall.


By Conor Stechschulte

Conor posts these really beautiful water color paintings on Tumblr that he charges way to little for. This is one of them.


By Liz Prince

I *think* this is the first commission i ever got at a con. It's of Mad Man if you couldn't tell.


By Josh Simmons 

This is from one of Josh Simmons mini's for Oily Comics. It's a quintessential Simmons page, meaning it's exploration of power dynamics scares the living shit out of me.

By Josh Simmons

I came home from classes one day to a random email from Josh Simmons asking if I'd be willing to trade a stack of Jack Kirby 2001 comics for a painting. If you couldn't guess i accepted the trade.


By Julia Gfrorer 

This is one of Julia Gfrorer's very reasonably priced $40 "small" commissions. It's a still from Carl Theodor Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc. My favorite part of this piece is Julia's ability to capture the grace and underlining sorrow in Maria Falconetti's eyes.


By Jason Overby

If you were one of the first 20 buyers of Jason's new book The Being Being you got a small little drawing. The books good enough to buy without the added bonus of a drawing though.


By Ryan Cecil Smith 
 
Random package filler. I like the colors.
By Michel Fiffe 

Michel's been doing these pre-colored sketchcard/canvas's at cons recently that always look amazing. So when he offered a limited number on his website i snatched one up. It's of Lone Wolf. Although the eyes of Meifumado should have already given that away.

By Charles Forsman.

Chucks one of my favorite cartoonists out there. Captain Easy's one of my favorite characters of all time. So yeah....


By Gary Panter

I got this from the Santoro silent auctions going on right now. It was a "i doubt i'll win it but might as well try" bet that ended up going my way miraculously.


By Josh Bayer

Josh Bayer will pretty much throw a giant ink drawing in with any purchase from his site. That dude's an art machine. This one came with his book on horror comics/horror cartoonists Birth of Horror.

By Lala Alberts

I like that Lala's work has an uncomfortable relationship towards identity and sex.


By John Pham

This is a print you got if you ordered Epoxy #4 from John through some weird paypal exchange i'm still not sure how i heard about. I think it was mentioned on Comic Books are Burning in Hell.

By Frank Santoro 

Santoro comes from the Copacetic Comics tradition of being an excellent packer of postal goods. This was drawn on the cardboard surrounding the Brian Chippendale piece shown bellow. As a heads up to any cartoonists i will keep any postal item you doodle on.

By Brian Chippendale 

Another "i guess i might as well try and bet on it" item from the aforementioned Santoro auctions. Based on the description i guess it's a sketch of Frank bartering with people over old comics at SPX a few years ago.


By Ryan Cecil Smith

This was a t-shirt design for the band Shiggy Jr. I have no clue who the band is but i liked the art enough to buy it.

By Sam Alden 

Sam has to be one of the top four people doing comics right now, and he's definitely the best person working in pencils. This is fan art of Sayoko Hagiwara. It's drawn on some kind of paper i've never felt before that's super light and fragile feeling. I'm grateful it survived the drawing process.

You can buy a sweater with the image on it to if you are so inclined.


By Julia Gfrorer 

My blog refuses to let me invert this picture, but it's of Gfrorer's $10 surprise postcard drawings. I like how they just show up in your mailbox without the gravitas of packaging. They're just postcards.That's all.

By Ines Estrada

Ines kind of ripped of Julia Gfrorer's postcard idea, but it's a good idea so *shrugs*


by GG

This drawing was on a random card inserted into my first order from GG's webstore. I always love when artists do that.


By Nou

This is an original drawing on a sticker. Like the postcard drawings i mentioned above, i kind of love the idea of original drawings on throw away objects. The sticker invokes the idea of a comics panel while relying solely on the reader to place it into a specific sequence among other objects. Also as an art object it implicitly creates the idea of the item being a "collectible" rather than a piece of "art" to be collected. It becomes a pog, not a Picasso. Whether or not it's left stuck or not.

By Helen Jo

Helen Jo draws the coolest people you never want to come across. This is a print of some of those people.


By Uno Moralez.

Man, what the fuck is Uno Moralez up too.

These are limited edition prints that were available with Frontier #1. As you move around the physical space of the print the image changes, replicating Moralez's gif artwork to a degree print will never be able to achieve.

They're as cool as you would think.



By Charles Forsman

These are my favorite two pages from possibly my favorite single issue ever. Forsman's line is so alive here that it just makes you feel like a teenager dancing the night away after drinking stolen vodka in a house you shouldn't be in.

By Jason 

I have no clue how i came to own this.

By Adrian Tomine 

This sits 2ft away from my air conditioner. It reminds me of hot summers and clean sheets.


By CF

I got this print during the Picture-Box going out of business sale. I wish I'd bought more stuff during that...

Anyways the colors on this print are amazing.


By Chris Samnee 

Samnee had a sketch blog a few years ago where he sold his warm up sketches. This one is of Guy Davis The Marquis. It's pretty awesome.

By Sean Murphy

I got this around the time Punk Rock Jesus was coming out at a convention. Murphy can draw, you gotta give him that.
By Benjamin Marra.

Ben Marra drawing Dalton and Doc from Roadhouse. You're welcome for making this exist.

By Ryan Kelly.

I have a soft spot for Ryan Kelly art.
By Jeff Lemire 

This is the first piece of original art i ever bought. It's also the first piece of original art most people comment upon seeing in my house.

Jeff Lemire was so good for a bit there. Remember Essex County and Lost Dogs...what happened.

By Mickey Z

This is the second page to Mickey Z's story in Thickness #2. Thickness #2 may be the best single issue of an anthology ever and this story is one of its highlights. I love that Z places her word balloons inside of her figures mouths, creating an almost breathless quality to their reading. This page is so dense and yet so readable.
By Alex Robinson 

I read Box Office Poison at the perfect time to fall super in love with Box Office Poison.
By Aidan Koch 

The way the shades of blue interact in this piece has always fascinated me. I don't think i have more to say than that.
By Jonny Negron 

Just classic Jonny Negron.
By Chuck Forsman.

I don't think I described this commission past James and Alyssa being in it and Chuck nailed everything i wanted out of it.

This is a con commission, i pretty much just said draw whatever you want. It turned out pretty well.