Clockwise from top left:
2. Ficus microcarpa
4. Thai basil
I don’t know why, but Thai basil is not doing well from the beginning of winter. Lack of sun light? It’s been put under the same condition as others. Does anyone know what I should do to Thai basil?
Not all, but some components of my sculptures are ready-made items. These ready-made and semi-altered glass pieces will appear in my work in the future.
My wife’s uncle who lives in Taipei, Taiwan is a tea connoisseur. We get a variety of local teas sent from him from time to time. Taking a moment to steep and pour the tea is such a relaxing ritual – especially in a cold winter day. When I was in Taiwan this spring, I had a brief lesson from the uncle about a proper way of making tea, so I’m (almost) confident about what I’m doing!
Gold-colored brewed tea (left) and whole-leaf green tea being steeped (right)
1. I have had a very strange day.
2. Technology is not cooperating with me right now.
3. It is cold and snowy out here.
4. I will try again tomorrow.
TOP LEFT An illustration by the Canadian cartoonist Seth. Last I checked, Seth doesn’t sell the original art from his comic pages. I believe he sells the roughs, and he also sells loads of his illustration work, but not the finished comic originals.
TOP RIGHT A self portrait by Canadian artist Julie Doucet. I can’t remember if this is a panel from one of her comic books or not, but I think it is.
BOTTOM LEFT Page 2 of Betty & Veronica Summer Fun #28 from 1966 by Dan DeCarlo. DeCarlo is the artist responsible in large part with the look/style associated with Archie and the teens from Riverdale. His brushwork is some of the best in all of comics – ever.
BOTTOM RIGHT Self Portrait of an Artist Worrying About His Next Book by Dr. Seuss, signed/numbered by the artist (121/495). His next book after this painting, by the way, turned out to be Green Eggs and Ham.
I’m going to talk about comics today. All weekend, the 2011 edition of the Central Canada Comic Con is happening at the Winnipeg Convention Centre, so this is about as timely as a post about comics can get. I don’t plan to attend the comic convention, but that’s just me.
TOP LEFT The Smithsonian Collection of Newspaper Comics (1977), edited by Bill Blackbeard and Martin Williams
This book is excellent. It contains a broad overview of every significant comic strip from the 20th century. There are more comprehensive collections that exist of the individual titles contained therein (I’d recommend the beautifully-reproduced collections from Sunday Press Books), but the history written about each strip and the spectrum of genres makes this an essential collection. If you’re at all interested in nerdery like this, you should add this to your bookshelf today.
TOP RIGHT Amazing Spider-Man Omnibus Vol. 1 (2007), collecting Amazing Fantasy #15, The Amazing Spider-Man #1-38, The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1-2, Strange Tales Annual #2 and The Fantastic Four Annual #1
Sure, you can buy countless comic collections containing the work of Stan Lee, the writer of this collection. The main selling point of this collection, though, is that it contains Steve Ditko‘s complete Spider-Man run. Ditko, the reclusive artist of these issues, is an absolutely fascinating character:
- Stan Lee was fervently left wing, while Steve Ditko was a hardcore right winger. This is especially hilarious as another character Ditko created around the same time, Dr. Strange, was embraced by the psychedelic generation (Ditko hated this).
- Without warning, Ditko left Marvel Comics and the character (Spider-Man) he helped create.
- I mentioned Ditko was reclusive, and boy is he ever. There are only a few known photographs (and a self portrait) of the man and he doesn’t do interviews. For someone who created the look of one of the world’s most iconic superheroes, that’s very odd.
- He is a strong believer in Ayn Rand’s Objectivist philosophy.
There is an engrossing BBC documentary by Jonathan Ross, In Search of Steve Ditko, that covers most of this. If you watch the documentary, you’ll be treated to legendary comic creator Alan Moore reciting a poem he wrote about Ditko’s really bizarre creator-owned superhero Mr. A. Documentarian Ross also has a piece for The Guardian here.
Aside from Ditko’s crazy backstory, his Spider-Man comics are superb; Ditko is a master visual storyteller, and there’s something appealing and just a little bit off-kilter about his work. In terms of classic superhero comics, this is one of the best collections available.
BOTTOM LEFT The MAD Archives Vols. 1 and 2 (2002 & 2007), collecting MAD Magazine #1-12
I’m not sure what needs to be said about MAD Magazine. Most people are familiar with the satirical magazine, but these volumes are vital because they show where the magazine started: as a comic magazine. Do yourself a favour: go read some classic MAD issues and laugh along with the Usual Gang of Idiots.
BOTTOM RIGHT It’s a Good Life, if You Don’t Weaken by Seth (1996), originally published in Palookaville #4-9
Seth’s drawing in this volume is his best, in my opinion. It’s fluid, lively and nostalgic, and displays great emotion. His more recent work, while still impressive, has veered into more simplistic and stylized territory. I select this volume to represent modern cartooning. It’s difficult to do this, what with so many other incredible artists and storytellers producing stellar work, but I suppose I discovered It’s a Good Life, if You Don’t Weaken at an impressionable age (16) and it’s stuck with me ever since. All of my subsequent comic purchases have been informed by this one comic.
Go read some comics.
Mixtapes are so much fun to make. I haven’t created one in years. Sure, everyone makes “playlists,” but, well, those just ain’t the same.
Please forgive the self indulgence of this post.
BACKGROUND LEFT | November 2005*
1. Minotaur Shock “Muesli” | 2. David Byrne “Glass, Concrete & Stone” | 3. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah “The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth” | 4. Wolf Parade “Modern World” | 5. Andrew Bird “Fake Palindromes” | 6. Art Brut “Good Weekend” | 7. Annie “Heartbeat | 8. Erlend Øye “The Black Keys Work” | 9. Elvis Costello & The Attractions “Watch Your Step” | 10. Roxy Music “Take a Chance with Me” | 11. Iggy Pop “The Passenger” | 12. Lo-Fi-Fnk “Unighted” | 13. Belle & Sebastian “Your Cover’s Blown” | 14. Rodriquez “Sugar Man” | 15. Vitaminsforyou “Churchill” | 16. Nas “One Mic (Fog Remix)” | 17. Boom Bip feat. Nina Nastasia “The Matter (Of Our Discussion)”
BACKGROUND RIGHT | December 2001
1. James Kochalka Superstar “Soundcheck of Love” | 2. Lee Dorsey “A Lover Was Born” | 3. Day One “Waiting for a Break” | 4. The Turtles “I’m Chief Kamanawanalea (We’re the Royal Macadamia Nuts)” | 5. Pip Skid “I Rap, You Listen” | 6. N.W.A. “Fuck tha Police” | 7. Del the Funky Homosapien “Mistadobolina” | 8. DJ Shadow “Organ Donor” | 9. Brassy “I Can’t Wait” | 10. G. Love and Special Sauce “Everybody” | 11. Beck “Lonesome Whistle” | 12. The Evaporators “I Gotta Rash” | 13. Nice and Smooth “Sometimes I Rhyme Slow” | 14. Ron Hawkins and the Rusty Nails “Small Victories” | 15. The Crabs “Mission Impossible” | 16. Main Source “Snake Eyes” | 17. Biz Markie “Turn tha Party Out” | 18. The Sadies “Loved on Look” | 19. Ryan Adams “Gonna Make You Love Me” | 20. Pizzicato Five “One Two Three Four Five Six Seven Eight Nine Ten Barbie Dolls” | 21. Trick Daddy “I’m a Thug” | 22. Nina Simone “Funkier Than a Mosquito’s Tweeter” | 23. Oasis “Married with Children”
FOREGROUND TOP | September 2006*
SIDE ONE > 1. The Blow “True Affection” | 2. The Ramones “Howling at the Moon (Sha-La-La)” | 3. XTC “This is Pop” | 4. Cassius “Toop Toop” | 5. Lo-Fi-Fnk “Wake Up” | 6. Justin Timberlake feat. T.I. “My Love” | 7. Dizzee Rascal vs. Zongamin “Stand Up Tall vs. Bongo Song (Hold Music Consultant Remix)” | 8. Love is All “Turn the Radio Off” | 9. The Exploding Hearts “You’re Black and Blue” | SIDE TWO > 1. Devo “Gut Feeling/(Slap Your Mammy)” | 2. Islands “Rough Gem” | 3. Le Sport “Tell No One About Tonight” | 4. Lily Allen “Smile” | 5. The Jam “Town Called Malice” | 6. Hot Chip “Colours” | 7. Junior Boys “FM”
FOREGROUND BOTTOM | February 2006*
SIDE ONE > 1. Petra Haden “God Only Knows” | 2. Jens Lekman “Maple Leaves” | 3. Brooks “Roxxy (Hot Chip’s Women of the World Mix)” | 4. Pet Shop Boys “Flamboyant” | 5. Mariah Carey “Emotions (DJ Copy Remix)” | 6. Cydi Lauper “When You Were Mine” | 7. Roll Deep “The Avenue” | 8. Dopplebanger “Got It Twisted Sister (The Rapture vs. Mobb Deep)” | 9. New Order “Krafty” | 10. Ms. John Soda “Nº One” | 11. Styrofoam & Sarah Shannon “I Found Love” | 12. Death from Above 1979 “Black History Month (Alan Braxe & Fred Falke Remix)” | 13. Sons and Daughters “Dance Me In (JD Twitch and The Truffle Club’s Optimo Mix)” | 14. Dogs Die in Hot Cars “Man Bites Man” | 15. Mouse On Mars “Mine is in Yours” | SIDE TWO > 1. Elvis Costello “Love for Tender (Demo)” | 2. Erlend Øye “Every Party Has a Winner and a Loser | 3. Bertrand Betsch “Pas de bras, pas de chocolat” | 4. The Human League “Don’t You Want Me” | 5. Hey Willpower feat. Annie “Chewing Gum” | 6. Junior Senior “Take My Time” | 7. The Boy Least Likely To “Be Gentle with Me” | 8. Belle & Sebastian “Funny Little Frog” | 9. Missy Elliot “Hot (Ratatat Remix)” | 10. Debbie Deb “When I Hear Music” | 11. Four Tet “Smile Around the Face” | 12. Blue T-Shirt “You Still Believe in Me” | 13. Of Montreal “Wraith Pinned to the Mist and Other Games” | 14. Spoon “I Summon You” | 15. The Go! Team “Friendship Update” | 16. Kate Bush “Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)”
*Made for my then girlfriend, now wife, Lisa.
Incidentally, while typing these dozens of artists and song titles, I listened to portions of these mixes. I suggest revisiting your own artifacts like these if you can. Nostalgia like this is good for your soul.
Thought I’d wrap up the week with a sampling of my poster and print collection. The art & culture of movies, music and toys are my passion and daily inspiration. Welcome to the walls of my apartment.
LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the look and feel of a hand-bound, silkscreened and photocopied mini-comic! Every visit to a comic store results in a bag full of these miniature marvels heading home with me.