Sunday, September 30, 2012

HEART OF DARKNESS, page 013

(This illustration is also known as The Joe Kuth Memorial Barbecue.)

Title: "Something like an emissary of light, something like a lower sort of apostle."

6.75 inches by 11 inches
ink and marker on watercolor paper
September 11, 2012

Saturday, September 29, 2012

HEART OF DARKNESS, page 012

Title: "...and then with a certain eagerness asked me whether I would let him measure my head."

6.75 inches by 11 inches
ink and marker on watercolor paper
September 10, 2012

Friday, September 28, 2012

HEART OF DARKNESS, page 011

Title: "In the outer room the two women knitted black wool feverishly."

6.75 inches by 11 inches
ink on watercolor paper
September 9, 2012

Thursday, September 27, 2012

HEART OF DARKNESS, page 010

Title: "...on one end a large shining map, marked with all the colours of a rainbow. There was a vast amount of red -- good to see at any time, because one knows that some real work is done in there, a deuce of a lot of blue, a little green, smears of orange, and, on the East Coast, a purple patch, to show where the jolly pioneers of progress drink the jolly lager-beer. However, I wasn't going into any of these. I was going into the yellow. Dead in the centre. And the river was there -- fascinating -- deadly -- like a snake."

6.75 inches by 11 inches
ink and marker on watercolor paper
September 3, 2012

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

HEART OF DARKNESS, page 009

Title: "In a very few hours I arrived in a city that always makes me think of a whited sepulchre."

6.75 inches by 11 inches
ink on watercolor paper
September 2, 2012

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

HEART OF DARKNESS, page 008

Title: "...the original quarrel arose from a misunderstanding about some hens. Yes, two black hens."

6.75 inches by 11 inches
ink on watercolor paper
August 30, 2012

HEART OF DARKNESS, page 007

Title: "But there was in it one river especially, a mighty big river, that you could see on the map, resembling an immense snake uncoiled, with its head in the sea, its body at rest curving afar over a vast country, and its tail lost in the depths of the land. And as I looked at the map of it in a shop-window, it fascinated me..."

6.75 inches by 11 inches
ink and marker on watercolor paper
August 29, 2012

'Moby-Dick in Pictures' eBook on sale for about $10

For those of you always on the go, with limited space, or passionate about eBooks, the digital version of my book Moby-Dick in Pictures: One Drawing for Every Page is currently on sale at Amazon for an astounding $10 and reKiosk for $9.99. You'll have to scroll down a bit at that reKiosk link to see my book, although there are a number of other fantastic offerings from Tin House Books there. Plotto in particular is a blast to page through.

Best yet, if you do purchase the eBook, you can email your receipt to theopenbar@tinhouse.com and they will send you some promotional postcards from the book. I ran out of these a long long time ago, so this is your best chance to get them. Each one is a beautiful reproduction of one of the illustrations from my book.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

HEART OF DARKNESS, page 006

Title: "They were conquerors, and for that you want only brute force -- nothing to boast of, when you have it, since your strength is just an accident arising from the weakness of others. They grabbed what they could get for the sake of what was to be got. It was just robbery with violence, aggravated murder on a great scale, and men going at it blind..."

6.75 inches by 11 inches
ink on watercolor paper
August 28, 2012

Saturday, September 22, 2012

HEART OF DARKNESS, page 005

Title: "Land in a swamp, march through the woods, and in some inland post feel the savagery, the utter savagery, had closed round him -- all that mysterious life of the wilderness that stirs in the forest, in the jungles, in the hearts of wild men."

6.75 inches by 11 inches
ink on watercolor paper
August 26, 2012

Friday, September 21, 2012

HEART OF DARKNESS, page 004

Title: But Marlow was not typical (if his propensity to spin yarns be excepted), and to him the meaning of an episode was not inside like a kernel but outside, enveloping the tale which brought it out only as a glow brings out a haze, in the likeness of one of these misty halos that sometimes are made visible by the spectral illumination of moonshine.

6.75 inches by 11 inches
ink on watercolor paper
August 26, 2012

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Bald Bill and Dierdra Michelle

I guess it's mostly on account of my book Moby-Dick in Pictures, but I get a lot of emails these days. I've probably gotten more email in the past year than I ever got in the ten years before that. Almost all of it is nice though, which is good. Sometimes though, I get an email that is so heartfelt, so genuine, and so intriguing that I actually feel a connection with the writer. That's very rare these days, especially with electronic communication. The email I got from artist Dierdra Michelle was like that.

Dierdra is an artist and you can see her paintings at her blog With a Raven's Wing. Below is Tattoo Tilda, 24" by 36", acrylic paint and real rhinestones on canvas.


She had somehow discovered my Moby-Dick project and emailed me asking about the best place to buy a copy. She wanted to give it to someone who was very special to her, the tattoo artist known as Bald Bill, who she described as "a sea dog from way back, a Boston boy who served in the Navy" and who was "covered in fish tattoos." Bald Bill, who runs what looks to be a phenomenal tattoo shop in Vermont called Yankee Tattoo, is the kind of person who, by the very nature of the life he's led, just seems to command a kind of respect. Honestly, when people like Bald Bill and Dierdra take an interest in my own art, I sometimes feel a bit strange. I mean, I'm just an Ohio kid who never left the state, never sailed on any sea anywhere, never served in the military, never traveled the world, and in general just lived a fairly quiet and outwardly nondescript life. Sure, yeah, the stuff that goes on inside my head would probably fry most people's brains, but very few people see that and in only comes out in the art that I make that, for the first decade or so, no one really ever saw. I don't know, maybe it's through the art that Bill and Dierdra and others found that connection.

Anyway, based on Dierdra's story as well as what she shared about Bald Bill, I wanted to do something a bit more special for them since they were adopting a copy of my book. I didn't have a copy I could send them so I wouldn't be able to draw in it, and I decided that the next best thing was to make a special drawing that they could maybe paste into the book as a big bookplate. Something to show my respect for them, and my gratitude for their kind words. This one was much larger than a usual bookplate, measuring around 6" by 8", and I consciously tried to work in elements of scrimshaw and some older, black and white tattoo linework. I think it turned out quite well and Dierdra tells me Bald Bill may even frame it instead of pasting it in the book. That really means a lot to me.

So, to Bald Bill and the artist Dierdra Michelle, many thanks and much respect. Fair winds and following seas, my friends.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The "Moby-Dick Big Read"

This is amazing. From the Moby-Dick Big Read web site: In the spring of 2011, artist Angela Cockayne and writer Philip Hoare convened and curated a unique whale symposium and exhibition at Peninsula Arts, the dedicated contemporary art space at Plymouth University, under the title, Dominion. Inspired by their mutual obsession with Moby-Dick and with the overarching subject of the whale, they invited artists, writers, musicians, scientists and academics to respond to the theme. The result was an enthusiastic response which evidently could not be contained within the physical restrictions of a gallery space and a three-day symposium.

One of the results of that inspiration is the incredible online project, the Moby-Dick Big Read. Starting on September 16, 2012, visitors can stream or download a new chapter of the mighty book every single day until the story is complete. Each chapter is performed by a different reader, and the line-up is stellar, from Tilda Swinton to Stephen Fry to Nigel Williams and many many more.

Even more exciting though, each chapter will be accompanied online by a different piece of art related to Moby-Dick. These will cover a wide spectrum of visual arts from paintings and drawings and photographs to sculptures and installations. And I have had the great honor of being included in this project, as one of my drawings will accompany chapter 131, "The Pequod Meets the Delight." I will post again when that time draws near.

If you are at all interested in the novel Moby-Dick, if you have never read it but feel that you might be able to listen to Melville's words given new life by an amazing cast of gifted actors and readers, if you'd like to see the way that this incredible and mighty book continues to resonate with visual artists today, visit the Moby-Dick Big Read. It is absolutely incredible, and to be a part of this project is for me an honor beyond words.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

SPX 2012

On Saturday September 15, my wife and I attended SPX, the Small Press Expo, in Bethesda, Maryland.


We had been there twice before, in 2007 and in 2010, but neither of those experiences could compare with this year's show. We spent almost all of the day on Saturday wandering the show's crowded aisles, and never before have I seen a room so full of wonderful and smiling people so enthusiastic about comics. It was absolutely remarkable, and it was easily the most fun I have ever had at any show. No other SPX, no other MoCCA, no other SPACE, no other BCGF had this unique atmosphere of excitement, passion, friendliness, and creativity.

As always, I took quite a few photos and picked up stacks of incredible comics and graphic novels, so here is a look.

The weather was just beautiful on Saturday. Sunny, warm, dry and slightly breezy. A beautiful late summer day. On our way in to the Marriott Hotel in Bethesda, where the show was being held, we ran across this. It seems that Moby Dick will forever haunt my footsteps.


The show is always very easy to find, as my wife can attest.


In our prior trips to the show, there was always a short line to get in, but nothing like this! The line was huge! Amazingly, the staff handled the heavy influx of attendees very smoothly and efficiently and we waited for maybe 5 minutes before we were paying for our day passes.


This year, SPX greatly expanded the amount of room where the show was held, but the show planners also only modestly increased the number of tables for exhibitors. This was a brilliant move, since it made the aisles pleasantly wide and roomy and allowed for all attendees to walk around the entire room relatively comfortably. Even so, the crowds were just astounding. This was a very well-attended show!


My first stop was to see Pat Aulisio. I'm not sure who that is standing next to him, and I apologize for the omission. Also, that book looks mighty familiar...


On the left, with his head down but that god-slaughtering beard still showing, is the mighty Josh Bayer and on the right in the plaid shirt is Ian Harker.


Josh's head was down because he was working on this drawing inside the copy of Suspect Device #2 that I had just purchased from him.


The venerable Kim Thompson holding court over at the Fantagraphics spread.


Also at Fantagraphics, Lilli Carre signing her newest collection Heads or Tails.


Next to her, Noah van Sciver signing my copy of The Hypo.


Thomas Herpich signing copies of his new comic White Clay at the AdHouse Books table.


And Chris Pitzer (in the green plaid) holding court over the AdHouse Books tables.


John Porcellino had a finely curated spread of amazing comics at his Spit and a Half table, and debuted a brand new issue of his King-Cat Comics, which is always cause for celebration.


Mark Burrier sharing some of his work with a fan.


This SPX really seemed to be packing the star power, with appearances by Dan Clowes, Chris Ware, Los Bros Hernandez, Adrian Tomine and many more. Here, at the Drawn & Quarterly tables, Adrian Tomine signs books.


Secret Acres debuted the beautiful new graphic novel The Understanding Monster, Book One by Theo Ellsworth. Theo was actually there and talked to us for a bit. He was genuinely kind and humble, but as he mentioned, his holographic face kept glitching up so this was the only suitable photo I was able to take of him while he was drawing in our book.


One of the great joys of big shows like this is stumbling across something fantastic that you had never seen before. Andy Kettler's big beautiful Neon Super Gladiator was one of those.


I was told that this is the first time the legendary Annie Koyama and Koyama Press had attended SPX, and here she is doing a very brisk business at her table. Annie really knows her comics.


In between, while making a quick run to the car to drop off some loot, we ran into the radiant and brilliantly gifted Marnie Galloway who was waiting to attend a panel. Watch for her collected In the Sounds and Seas coming later this year, the recipient of a Xeric Award!


Scott C. managing the crowd and selling scads of his Great Showdowns mini-prints.


It is always a pleasure to see Dr. Jay Hosler, professor of biology and comic artist, and he was showing even more pages of his long-gestating comic saga The Age of Elytra.


The Picturebox table brought an unexpected double dose of goodness in the persons of Sammy Harkham, signing copies of his new collection Everything Together and the elusive and mysterious Jonny Negron signing his debut book Negron. It's hard to tell from this photo but the bill of Sammy's hat was enormous.


And here is the drawing Jonny did for me in my copy of Negron.


Mari Naomi was at SPACE this year, just a few tables down from me, but somehow I ended up missing out on her graphic novel Kiss & Tell. Thankfully, I remedied that situation at SPX. Again, I apologize, I am not certain who that is next to Mari.


ANOTHER unexpected delight! On the left is Jimmy Giegerich (his tumblr is here) and on the right is Andrea Kalfas (her tumblr is here) who had a table at SPX.


These are the artists behind the two images based on Gene Wolfe's The Book of the New Sun that I included in this lengthy post. First, Jimmy's take on Severian and the Undine...


And Andrea's vision of Severian confronting the Undine at the sandbar...


They were incredibly nice, and we chatted about The Book of the New Sun for a bit. It was great to meet them, and I picked up some lethal Vampire Killer prints.

And finally, one of the greatest highlights of a show absolutely packed with them, was seeing the Nobrow table. Nobrow is a UK-based publisher of art books, comics, graphic novels, zines, prints and much more. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time they have had a presence at any American show, and they are making some real inroads into the US market. Many of their titles are now available from both Amazon and Diamond with the promise of many more to come. Their design and production values are topnotch, and every single book is a treasure to behold. To the left is whoever was more or less in charge of the table, and he was quite nice to talk to, while on the right is Luke Pearson who was drawing in copies of his books Hildafolk and Hilda and the Midnight Giant.


Another look at Luke, this time drawing a surprisingly elaborate and deeply appreciated scene in our copy of Hilda and the Midnight Giant.


I saw this at a gas station on the drive home from Maryland to Ohio and was smitten.


Alright, the rest of these are photos of my haul. Easily the most books I have ever purchased at any show anywhere. But such wonderful books they are! From Nobrow, Hilda and the Midnight Giant by Luke Pearson and Adventures of a Japanese Businessman by Jose Domingo.


Also from Nobrow, the 17x23 Showcase, Hildafolk by Luke Pearson, and Megaskull by Kyle Platts.


From the Fantagraphics tables, The Lost Art of Ah Pook Is Here by Malcolm McNeill and The Hypo by Noah van Sciver.


Also from Fantagraphics, Ralph Azham vol. 1: Why Would You Lie to Someone You Love? by Lewis Trondheim and Noah van Sciver's minicomic The Death of Elijah Lovejoy.


And also from Fantagraphics, the excellent Blacklung from Chris Wright and the long-awaited Cartoon Utopia from Ron Rege Jr..


From Picturebox, Sammy Harkham's Everything Together and Jonny Negron's Negron.


From Secret Acres, Theo Ellsworth's The Understanding Monster, Book One.


From Koyama Press, Lose #4 by Michael Deforge and Wax Cross and Baba Yaga and the Wolf from Tin Can Forest.


From Pat Aulisio's table, Marvel Comics Presents #6 (with stories by Josh Bayer, Pat Aulisio, Keenan Marshall Keller and Michael Hawkins), The Legion of Monsters minicomic by Marc J Palm and Josh Burggraf, Yeah Dude Comics and F'Real Real both by Pat Aulisio. All available at Drippy Bone Books.


The bizarre and irresistible mindfuck that is Suspect Device #2 by Josh Bayer and many many others.


From Dr. Jay Hosler, Ant Edna & Wilbur and from his extremely talented son Max, one of the most enjoyable comics on science you will ever read, Ribozymes.


Notebook Drawings, an art book cleverly mirroring an old spiral bound notebook, by Jim Rugg and Neon Super Gladiator by Andy Kettler.


And finally, Gongwanadon, Cusp and White Clay, all from Thomas Herpich.


Seriously, SPX was amazing this year. Can't wait to see what's next!