Monday, January 27, 2020

Remember them. Never forget.

Where things can lead when too many listen to a perpetually outraged 'strong' man who blames entire groups of people and promises greatness.

Saturday, December 07, 2019

I used to be...

Okay, deep breath, big confession, show and tell. Names will be withheld, but though I have barely drawn a thing in the last fifteen or twenty years, I used to be an artist. Partly I really haven't wanted to anymore, and partly I started to get pain in my hand making it increasingly difficult. It's hard to make a long curving line in ink if you can't move freely, and the depth control to use a brush can desert you even more completely. Here is a small selection of what I did do back when I could do it. There's a lot more but my old computer and the scanner that worked only with it were on their last circuits and now not even functional enough to scan anything more.

I liked ink, I liked finishing someone else's work in ink, the more different the style the more I usually enjoyed it, and I probably inked a lot more of others' drawings than of my own. I even got paid a few times, I even did a comic book once, unfortunately it was being sold before they had artists fully lined up and I had a day job I could get out of only partially (and with a lot of stress and lack of sleep) and maybe I wasn't even capable on a first job to get in 25-28 pages, b&w (no color to fill things in for you) in on a monthly basis. I tried two with tone sheets (that stuff got really expensive on this scale), did a couple more without but trying my own by hand shading to fill the b&w panels out, and inevitably I crashed. I took about six weeks to do an issue. You don't know these things until you do them. Hell of a first gig, b&w, 25-28 pages. A letterer on the issue I crashed on had erased some of the pencil art. I got ten pages in and then some and the art seemed to get more demanding in detail. I said I'd finish the next one and started on it and UPS-ed the unfinished comic in. I got a phone call at my day job of an editor in a panic, though it seemed mostly because the letterer had numbered the pages wrong, but he was sure I had a missing page. I still got paid, the cheques cleared, the bonus cheques, the reprint cheques, but sadly end of that 'career'. I mailed back the issue I had started on and had to keep denying I had a missing page. I hope he figured it out finally. Did I feel like crap though, I had let everyone down, I had let the pencil artist down in a way that still bothers me because he was/is a fantastic artist I learned a lot from (dared hope he learned something from me back, not for ego, just because that's what I valued), let down whatever readers there were, let down the company, let down the day job business I was a third owner of. Not fun.

I still kept my hand in, did some illustrations for text fiction mags that paid in copies, appeared in a German magazine with some outright cartoons, inked a lot of different artists for fun or once in awhile for publication (one I think I only finally saw the three issue the comics ran in a dozen years after the fact). In 1994 I was doing sample pages for DC comics and doing pretty well. I had just written to the art director some stuff about how I'd grown up reading Supergirl comics (she'd sort of just come back to comics at this time) and Shazam, but really didn't feel i was right for the Lobo (or Swamp Things) pencil pages (photocopies) and probably said I really hated this over-muscled psycho-grinning space-biker character and how it made you feel stupid to be associated with comics. Crossing that missive in the mail was a letter on the DC stationary (a tower of super characters on one side holding up the DC logo on the main side) telling me  he liked the new sample pages and how fast they came back, and that so-and-so would've probably contacted me by now about an assignment...

...well I never got that letter, if anyone did I wonder what they made of it, or maybe it was simply not sent. Maybe it was the sort of cartoony Lobo they had wanted to assign me, and I had just said how I detested it. I built up this idea and saw hints of it in one of the letters I'd gotten back. I decided if it was I would not do it. I had used different pen names for art and writing, I could do it and blame someone else while taking the money and credit within the company... but I had no interest in doing this kind of work, it was a lot of what I hated about what I knew of comic books at this time (I had stopped entirely as a reader circa 1987): extreme, violent, 'dark', male bodies looking like only The Hulk used to, women posing in ways that made their spines look broken with helium filled boobs. I never got another letter from anyone. I must've said the wrong thing. I even telephoned NYC twice and was kind of blown off by someone that seemed like a very busy temp, though once they took my number down (although it was on every sample page anyway). Just not meant to be... back to doing stuff for fun or little publications, or making my own. I did see more writing  published, (even under my real name) qualified to join the Fantasy & Science Fiction Writer's Association (which I did for a single year), and even was nominated for an award (one of my pen names, an anagram of mine, and I didn't know about this until a few years after the fact). I was having some other problems in life come to a head, including health, and just let people and things fall away bit by bit. Met someone who wanted to marry, he was diagnosed with stage four cancer and the next year and a half from that were full of ferry boats, buses, and sleeping in chairs in hospital rooms in two U.S. states.

Back to the artist's story, what I didn't know all that time is how the art director had died fairly suddenly. I had no idea! To me it was all a closed chapter, something and someone I used to 'do' or 'be'. For years I still imagined that art director in an office getting comic books together and out to the printers on time (I didn't look at comic books very often, and one local comic shop even had a big cut-out of Lobo in the window to really repel anyone like me), wondering if he ever thought of me one more time or ran across the old pages. I wondered if Dick Giordano who I'd met with twice further back might've asked about me? Other than people I knew's own comics, which were mostly all for little companies, I didn't crack one open again until a long time later; someone had given my boyfriend the first issue of an X-Men comic set in the past, made by the artist who had done it when I had started reading in circa 1979-80... something I could at least relate to looking like what comics had looked like. But anyway, the art director had died about when I had gotten that last letter, maybe it was his last letter to anyone... and finding this out so long afterwards was a real shock. It must've been mayhem at the DC offices afterwards, who would give much priority to an inker who had last worked four years earlier for a publisher on the other side of the continent? I could've done it though... I wasn't the total loser as I suspected; I could've done 17 or 19 or whatever pages that was the main feature in a monthly DC comic, certainly the fewer pages that their new talent Showcase book required, open for color, and they knew I was versatile and had done professional level work on some very different artists' styles.

"I coulda been a contendah!" Going back I see some familiar names did make it, and am happy for them. It doesn't seem too important to me anymore, I am someone who no longer is an artist, I'm a was though, and I think I was pretty good. It was an identity once, I needed it, then I just didn't. Plus the comic books had really changed, basically to what looked like underground comics without the humor or unofficial low-brow status. I knew some underground cartoonists but I was never cut out to do that kind of thing much myself, it was deconstructive somehow, naughty... and they were deconstructing the mainstream comic books now to extremes where it was damaging. I cared about readers, about kids that some seemed embarrassed to have as readers of their super-people literature... basically a lot of the positive fun had gone (and as I wrote elsewhere, the superheroines in particular all seemed to be getting killed or maimed). I didn't want any part of that even when I was trying out at DC. The circulations shrank, the specialist shops and conventions became something between the main focus and the only focus. Pretensions were inflated beyond reason and comic books were no longer comic books but graphic novels or sequential narratives... who has a Crime & Punishment with super costumed people in them? I sure didn't and don't, as either a writer or an artist.

These are a few remnants of another age, like the 20 cent to 50 cent cheaply printed comics I grew up with. Not to be continued.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Jerome (the Giraffe, but also a Beare)

Canadian radio personality and puppeteer (and so much more), Rod Coneybeare has passed on. He was a stalwart of the music-centeric The Friendly Giant CBC Canadian tv program for decades and I always tuned if as much for his wonderful voice as for the equally wonderful music.

(He's the bloke with the beard and hand up the rooster)

His son wrote a nice tribute to his father recently here:

Also, the CBC website shares a trove of memories (including video and audio):

Another site (with the above photo) is:

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Kinks Klippings

I've been meaning to upload some of these for awhile; one of the great '60s British groups, and '70s, and '80s, and... you get the idea.
I'm a bit rusty at this. Starting in early 1965 but probably on sale in late 1964 The Kinks debut as 'Good Guys' in Rave magazine...

And here are some early Beat Instrumental appearances starting with Dave as their Player Of the Month!...

The last two are from hard cover annuals for Teen Beat and Top Pop Stars 1965-66. If you open them in another window and then double-click on them and choose 'view image' you can see them much larger.

I'll try to get some of the others I had gotten ready long ago and not managed to come up with anything much to say about, such as the Small Faces, Pretty Things and early Pink Floyd up soon. I don't really clip these by the way, the magazines stay complete as nature intends.

Friday, June 08, 2018

"Bad morals are still morals"?

The U.S. Supreme Court has recently added a strange new precedent to the law books. A professed Christian man who makes and sells wedding cakes with people's messages on them has been backed in the 'right' to discriminate on the basis that his writing a message on a wedding cake for a gay couple goes against his 'principles', as if writing on a cake were a legal personal document of some kind! Anyone else could come into his open to the public bakery and buy a wedding cake with a message of their liking iced upon it, but like the black kids who used to have to go to the back window of a deep south diner, to 'those' people he won't sell what he has advertised and will sell to everyone else. It's his freedom. A strange freedom, a silly freedom, but should it be made a legal precedent of any kind?

Well, we certainly don't want to force anybody to sell a cake that would violate their deeply held personal and spiritual principles! No, much better some people innocently go into a public business expecting to buy a cake like anyone else only to be judged immoral in some way and singled out for exclusion... in the land of the free. But I have a principle of my own that so far has stood the test of time and fluctuating subjective moral judgement... it is people before things. People, or a flag? Hint: choose the people. But, you say a cake maker is a person. Indeed, he may otherwise be a very nice and reasonable, well meaning, good book reading Christian. Except the gay would-be customers are just wanting a cake, they are 'doing' nothing wrong, they are just being people like anyone else buying a cake, a cake that says something like "Congratulations on your marriage Bill + Steve" (and would Belinda + Stephanie be as morally wrong to this baker?). The would-be cake seller, though offering alternative cakes, is actually 'doing' something, well, I've never heard of this before... of cakes and writing on them being the personal reflective statement of the baker/seller. Huh? In the U.S. of A., the big deal making dynamo of modern history? Since when? That ones not in the Bible, the Qur-an, the Upanishads, or any of the Buddhist meditations I breathed carefully through as a teenager.

Perhaps we should think of it as the U.S. of Amnesia as it wasn't that long ago since Mr. Sammy Davis Jr. was told the freight elevator in a hotel was just as good. So those gay people getting married are 'free' to go to another baker. Don't question why somebody who will only decorate cakes for some people but not others goes into the retail bakery business in the first place, we wouldn't want him to have to question himself, we'll get the top court to protect him in his one man extreme but mostly silly worldview about other people's marriages.

Then there's always the rubes who will say, hey, why do 'those' gay people have to marry and force their marriage on others? There are gay people who don't marry. They are probably trying to trick some poor devout Christian fellow into endorsing their union against 'his' will. Uh, yeah, because it is all about him, not cake, not people being able to go into a shop open to the public like anyone else and get the same thing offered for sale as anyone else. Some Christians seem to think their religion invented and gets to define marriages, but big news flash from the greater perspective here... there were people pairing off in monogamous couples of all kinds long before the earliest dated writing that went on to be collected into the Christian Bible. Yes, shocking I know, but Adam and Eve, or really a couple pretty similar to them way back when, did not even have books of any kind. They lived thousands and thousands of years before wedding cakes were invented, and they were married to each other. Bill + Steve, and Belinda + Stephanie are married, like an Atheist couple, or an Inuit couple, or a handicapped couple, or a multi-racial couple, or any two consenting people over the age of consent are... married. And there is nothing wrong with that. You are not married to an Inuit but it can actually be perfectly okay that someone is you know! Nobody is married to cows, or furniture, surely we really don't need to question to the point of silly extremes do we? Silly extremes like cakes normally for sale suddenly being personal statements of deep spiritualism. Polygamy may one day be legalized who knows, but at present given a history of abuse to vulnerable women and unable to consent children (and driving out excess males for someone else to take responsibility for), we haven't gone there yet and it's not legally accepted. If they wanted a cake with eight names on it however, how many people would tell them their money's no good?

You don't see 'no shirt, no shoes, no service' signs often these days, but even so... 1. The sign would appear at an entrance, in advance of any interaction. 2. Nobody is infringed by putting clothing on, and if there were some real reason they would be they could ask for accommodation. 3. It isn't a restriction based on a grouping of race or gender/expression/marital status. 4. Other patrons may have their experience effected by someone not wearing the basics of clothing of the community and should be considered.

I was so very proud of my country, Canada, when along with Holland we simply recognized different people's marriages as what they are; marriages. That and the U.S. moon landing are things I mark as positive progress for we human beings. I don't see anything extreme or wrong in gay people wanting to marry. They are doing nothing against anybody else. So why does a top court say they 'did' something to a baker who in not doing something was actually 'doing' something different than he was doing for every other customer? Already a U.S. hardware shop is hanging a sign about not selling to gay people. And does it really come into the equation if they are unpleasant in some way? Looking for trouble or 'uppity'? Devout Hindus are 'allowed' as it were to open a McDonalds type hamburger place in the west, it's a 'free' country, but the reality is that they would tell everyone they can't serve a beef hamburger and probably go out of business. It doesn't matter if they are 'uppity' or not, or of a high or low caste, we couldn't possibly 'force' them 'not' to open one. We can't 'force' bakeries not to open for business in a community to the public to sell cakes equally, but if they don't the existing laws against discrimination of people based on a grouping should apply, and if damages can be shown some form of restitution, not doubt very small as we're talking about a wedding cake, ought to potentially be on the table as with any other discrimination case. Yet supposedly what we can't do is simply and realistically say that maybe if cakes are such a strangely spiritually fraught business for them that, like a person allergic to bee stings, they should go into some less complicated endeavor. No, we'll all have to risk being subjected to sudden judgement and exclusion based on some group we are inherently a part of, lucky you if you don't happen to be part of many disapproved of groupings.

My gosh, to not turn us all into pretzels of twisted logic, because guess what, twisted logic is 'still logic'... to say, put things like cakes second to actual living breathing people in front of us... now that could lead to a Jewish person having to make a cake with swastikas festooned all over it... yes, all over it, this could really happen! Not. Well, not if you are a rational adult person of at least a little real world experience, and some of us have experienced actual discrimination too painfully often. Some of us have family histories with people murdered by populist strong men and Orwellian double-talk people's states who promise much and then seem to never leave quietly after wreaking havoc on many, but not all, in the name of a flag or high 'principle'. You thought this was just a guy doesn't want to sell a cake, big deal, so why should he? He doesn't 'have to', that would be far too mundane or rational a thing to do, but being open to equal trade is a foundation of western democracy, and also the freedom to seek damages when through no fault of your own you have been treated unequally. Take a bite on that!

Bad morals being 'still morals' is a science fiction genre writer's conceit. One of those things that can be an entertaining basis behind a story but brought into a three dimensional reality akin to a driver-less car being tested that turns out to be 'unsafe at any speed'. Obviously people are entitled to say something is personally not for them of course, or in the case of someone allergic to bee stings have that basic gravitational reality 'forced' upon them if they try to take up bee keeping. So who is making a cake maker marry another man? As for the big ineffable spirit man in the sky who nobody has ever been able to prove the existence of... well if there is a creator, and I do keep an open mind, 'he' seems to really like variety. Haven't you noticed? There are some who spend entire lifetimes studying that variety and learning, a wise person knows something about how much they still don't know, and possibly even what they can't know. I can't know what it's like to be a man in love with another man, not first-hand, so why wouldn't you take the word of those who say they do know from personal experience? Do we tell someone who hears a sound we can't that this sound doesn't exist simply because we can't hear it? Perhaps God is that sound for other people and is whispering or imparting instructions to judge and discriminate through collections of translated old writings from various times and places, but that seems a more negative possibility than two people marrying, people who we at least know from other writings existed long ago in a place called Sparta when there was no Christianity.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

It's all fun and games...

...until some planet loses it's sun!

I originally bought them with dimes from returned bottles out of a spinner rack at a corner-shop. The first 'super' comics to grab my interest since Supergirl (Kurt Schaffenberger version), and Shazam! (which also had Schaffenberger art) earlier... the 'Uncanny' X-Men! I was just in time for Phoenix to meet up with some British television inspired villains (looking like Peter Wynegarde and backed by a Hellfire Club straight out of the Patrick MacNee and Diana Rigg Avengers) and become rather a bit twisted (a Peter Cushing lookalike named Hammer was to be found in the Iron Man comics of the same time). Dark Phoenix was pretty trippy stuff to be reading at the age of twelve, but what really got me reading was that they introduced a mutant girl around my age! The characters were actually fairly 'real' looking, and even wore interesting clothing some of the time. Wow. I wondered what made them want to change (usually without any comment or verbal agreement) into the gaudy spandex, but you know, you just accept these things as somehow necessary in a comic book. If not for that though I reasoned, this could be decent science fiction ala John Wyndham, Theodore Sturgeon or A.E. Van Vogt.

Anyway, I wanted to post something, so thought I'd blather on like a newly forged fan and gush about the Chris Claremont & John Byrne X-Men comics I've been buying/re-buying. Someone slipped my bf a copy of X-Men: The Hidden Years #1 at some point in the years past and it sat there until I glommed onto it and eventually sought out all the ones that came after it. I guess it was inevitable I'd want to follow up with what I could afford of the '70s issues I loved so much. The art had a lot of expression, preserved by star inker Terry Austin, the women in particular had presence and humanity (and a subtle sexuality in contrast to a lot of the ridiculous stuff that others would plaster about the super-universes before long).

And then of course Phoenix had to die. That sun she lustily scarfed down had an inhabited planet of billions... oops! Even at 12 I knew phoenixes rise from their ashes (plus they would've told me in the Dark Shadows re-runs), and so she has come back over and over. The best come-back though was finding out original X-Woman Jean Grey wasn't actually Phoenix after all. Thank you Kurt Busiek (apparently), and again John Byrne. But by then I had really reached the end of following comics (Supergirl's dead body gracing various covers played a part in that; it seemed like everyone had been getting rid of super females in particular since Phoenix had been put on trial and taking the ultimate fifth). It was good to know poor Jean Grey hadn't died after all, and her humanity even in copied form had actually saved all of creation! Yay! Now Supergirl has been on tv for three seasons too, so it's easier than ever for me to 'get my cape on'. I missed this bit of colourful fantasy in my life after all.