Here is a progression of sketches of Gogol as I study his face and head toward the caricature I am aiming for. I am closer, but still not quite there yet. Still, I like these. The main challenge was his hair. Gogol was quite the dandy, and had really gorgeous hair that he seems to have been proud of. Honestly, he could have modeled for Clairol or L’Oreal. But he died long before those companies could have offered him the gig. Oh well. He gave us genius works of literature instead.
These sketches are in preparation for my adaptation of The Nose. That will appear later this month.
The other day I read a blog post about a Tumblr-based controversy involving comics by a friend of mine (whose name I’ll leave anonymous to protect them from further abuse.) I am on Tumblr frequently, but I follow friends, comics, artists, some politics, various geekery, so I somehow missed this debate over my friend’s work. (They certainly ignored it. Wise.) The blog post was thoughtful, pointing out reasonable criticisms, and mostly defended my friend’s work and framing of certain sensitive issues related to gender and sexuality.
But I was curious, so I popped over to Tumblr to search their name. Damn! The results were jaw dropping. Was I reading about a sensitive artist who deals with difficult topics with humor and humanity? Nope. Apparently my friend is a monster. Occasionally I came across criticism that was well-founded, pointing out the kinds of problems my friend would listen to and think about and learn from. They’re reflective and self-critical, so are open to evolving. But that kind of criticism was pretty rare. Most of it sounded a lot like the verbal abuse the Tumblr icon is heaping upon the confused corgi above. In fact, I borrowed a lot of the cliched verbiage for the dialog.
Of course, people have a right to be upset and vent on social media. I do it all the time. I do my best to avoid the toxicity, the mean-spiritedness, that social media and the anonymity of the Internet notoriously encourage. And no one owes my friend a lesson in political or spiritual evolution. But it’s hard to see what purpose is served by the deluge of bile.
I read The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov for the first time a few years ago. It reignited my love of classic Russian writers, drove me back to Gogol, and eventually influenced the direction I am taking in comics now. This summer I have picked up the novel again, using this time the elegant translation by Mirra Ginsburg; my first reading was the Michael Karpelson translation, a lovely rendition which has been completely overshadowed by the Pevear-Volokhonsky, now in a 50th anniversary edition that I will probably buy for completist reasons (not to mention the Michael Glenny.) All those competing translations aside, I was inspired to revisit Behemoth, a character I had casually drawn on my iPad the last time I read the novel (see below). I was never happy with that version, as it didn’t really fit the image I have of Behemoth in my head. I like this new sketch much better. I plan on doing other characters soon: Homeless, Azazello, Woland, and Fagot, for starters. Possibly the title characters, too.
Full color manga-sized collection of the first 20 weekly strips starring Fetch, the demon-cat who haunts my life. Politics and personal problems merge with humor and satire. Plus extras! Print: $5.00 + $3.50 shipping (US only) • Order via Square Up Digital Download: $2.50 via Gumroad
A lot of people are less than thrilled with this election. It is, as they say, butts.
Come November I will throw my vote at the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton. I don’t think she is as bad as many make her out to be, but I am not blind to her very serious problems regarding war, Wall Street and opportunism. Those are problems she shares with just about any other mainstream candidate you can think of these days, including the current president, who at one time had successfully avoided most of them. The system is larger than he is, however, and all of the other presidents. To say Clinton represents the system’s problems is simply to say that she is a creature of the system — better than most of them, in fact, but not necessarily above them.
None of which is an argument for her opponent, the fascist bastard bragging he is “outside the system.” Not by a long shot. Guys like that are what make the system so bad in the first place.
Sociologist Christine Monnier commissioned me to illustrate a lecture on using observation in social scientific research, based on the work by Lynn Lofland on privatizing public space. You can see the images in context in this video below. Thanks, Christine!
We talk a lot about elites. Our political system is broken by corporate elites. The elites in Washington (or Brussels or wherever) are out of touch with the people. The global elite has no national loyalties, implements policies that enrich them at our expense, and send our young people to die in wars for elite interests.
All of which I think is true. I have been advocating for alternatives my whole adult life, yet I have to be honest: they were not very effective, tended to undermine themselves, and also grew increasingly out of touch. This election has seen millions of voters in both dominant parties come out against the neoliberal establishment; but it is really depressing that the narcissistic billionaire with fascistic tendencies is the one with a good chance of becoming president. The Brexit vote is another expression of this knee-jerk tendency by voters to reject their dysfunctional elites without having anything coherent to replace it. In other words, they have no real agenda, no policies, no alternative political framework. Just reactionary petulance.
And racism. So much vile racism. You see it among the Trumpzits, and now the Brexits feel empowered to punish foreigners (or anyone who looks “foreign”) with bullying, abuse and violence.
My hope in the US is that we have in Sanders a committed reformer who will build a movement to inspire a generation of citizens to get politically involved. He has an agenda, and there are popular movements (Occupy, Black Lives Matter, etc) with a healthy list of things they would like to do that have made Sanders’ campaign relevant. He won’t become president; hopefully Clinton will keep the fascist from office, and we will have space to build a movement that will replace neoliberalism with a democratic socialism beneficial to all people.