Great piece on the significane of materiality

As you might know, I’m an advocate for print. You might also know that when I’m trying to come up with new stories, the way in which I typically dive into the endeavor is to choose a form that I’d like to work in. Form always dictates a new story. If I’m unsure of whether or not the story works, I simply ask myself if  it feels right in the vessel that’s transmitting the story. More often than not, this is the reason why my stories don’t cross over too well on the digital landscape. Nevertheless, it’s a fluid creative process that avoids insurmountable creative blocks.

In light of this process, I often times find myself thinking about the constant talk of the digital world supplanting the analogue. I feel that those kinds of conversations sensationalize the issues, imagining that we are humans that transmit stories perfectly as pure information.

We don’t and we can’t.

The specifics of the reading experience are integral to how we understand and contextualize a text. That’s why I think a lot about a text’s materiality.

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Aaron Kashtan recently uploaded a talk that he gave at Georgia Tech regarding the reasons why he teaches Materiality. If you’re interested in notions of bridging the analogue/ digital divide, I’d recommend reading the talk while looking at his presentation. If you’re into that, you should definitely delve deeper into his blog.

I use these sorts of texts in order to model the sort of thinking I want the students to engage in when they do their own writing, because my real goal is to get the students to understand writing as a material, embodied process. Again, our instinctive belief is that writing is all about the expression of ideas, the expression of semiotic content, and that the container in which those ideas are embodied is irrelevant. I want them to realize that that’s not the case, that writing is always an embodied and situated process and that it always results in the creation of some sort of material artifact.

Appreciating Tove Jansson


I would like to share with you the recent documentary that was put out by the BBC on the incredible life of Tove Jansson.

I hope to write more at length about the impact that her work has had on me, but for now, I hope you can enjoy the following documentary. I was overjoyed to find it online.

Relaying a Public Service Announcement from 4CP

This afternoon I came across a message from Half-Man Half-Static, who runs the great little online galleries 4CP(Four Color Process)Comic Book Cartoraphy and Supertype!, a comics typography gallery.

I’ve mentioned 4CP in the past, so forgive me if you’re already familiar with what Half-Man Half Static has been up to. The post was regarding the likely loss of his public galleries due to Twitter’s acquisition of Posterous. I highly recommend you visit the galleries to gander at some wonderfully curated crops of the magical 4 color process. Download what you like (and be sure to jot down the source notes. That’s always pretty useful!)

Here are some examples of the recontextualization that Half-Man Half-Static works with:

And the post:

It looks all but inevitable that Twitter, who acquired Posterous last year, will be eliminating the blog platform. This means that all my blogs will vanish, which is a shame, because all my blogs are actually compendiums of very specialized comic book material, meant to be permanent galleries, available forever.

It’s possible that I will reinvent the 4CP gallery elsewhere, as I continue to be interested in making images of that sort, and feel strongly (given my aesthetic interests) that the Web ought to contain a big library of this kind of material. As far as I know, 4CP is the only one, and it seems to continue to delight new and returning fans from a variety of backgrounds.

However two other galleries will not be recreated, if Posterous folds. I encourage you to check them out now, if they sound interesting to you.

COMIC BOOK CARTOGRAPHY compiles approximately 120 large scans of mid-20th Century comic book maps, diagrams, and cutaways. As with all my blogs, you can download the full-sized files easily, if you want to keep them around.

SUPERTYPE! is an extremely narrow gallery, containing nothing but the mastheads from comic book covers from the late 1930s through the 1970s. It’s a compendium of comic book typography at its most blown-out. What motivated me to give it a week of evenings in the first place a the particular Posterous template that makes the blog look like a giant magazine rack, with just the titles peeking out. It’s a combination of my scans and images sourced from the Web, but they’re all reasonably large and ready for graphic design pirating.

Please alert interested parties

If you know of others who’d be interested in my blogs, or have a social media platform that will reach such people, I’ll be grateful if you’d spread the word, while the blogs still exist. I made them because I thought the world needed concentrated material of this sort, with one-stop convenience, and I’m bummed that my work has turned out to have a very short lifespan.

Such is the inevitable fate of anyone who relies on a free service in a corporate culture that doesn’t feel any responsibility to non-revenue customers. Given all the content, time, sweat, and love people put into their work on blog platforms, summarily shutting down a platform – because it no longer comports with a business plan – strikes me as something like a book burning.

Incidentally, I’d be very interested in connecting with digital gallery owners who might be interested in mounting a 4CP exhibit. The scans look great on very large screens, and given that I’ve made at least 500 of them, a well-curated selection would surely be a visual treat on that scale. People often suggest a 4CP coffee table book, but I can’t imagine how awful the copyright issues would be in such an undertaking. A gallery exhibit seems doable.

Thanks to all who have enjoyed these galleries and who have corresponded with me over the last couple of years.

Again, check it out the blogs if you haven’t already.

If you’d like to see behind the scenes of the process, check out Blow up Your Comics. There are 30 posts where John Hilgart, Half-Man Half-Static, pulls back the curtain and shows you how you too can find bliss in the recontextualization.

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If you like the projects that he’s been running and have some ideas for him, be sure to get in touch with him. It’s certain that he’ll appreciate the input.

Who knows what will happen to them in the coming months.

Support my friend + Updates

My friend, Rachel Dukes, is running an Indie Go Go Campaign to reprint some old work along with some brand spanking new comics. If you’re a fan of Coffee, Cats or Comics you’ll definitely want to check out her work. She’s got a spritely line that sits on the page like a familiar friend. She warrants paying attention to.

Have a gander at Coffee Cats to see if her work tickles your fancy. If it does, why not help financially support her comics making endeavors?
00010203040506You can find more of her work on her site, Mixtape Comics.

Speaking to my own work, below you’ll find a selection of a couple of my favorite illustrations that I did for the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Pocket Guide For Upper Valley Teens.

The goal was to revamp The Pocket Guide for Upper Valley Teens, a resource Put together by Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, and distributed at all area middle and high schools, reaching VT and NH teens, parents, and schools. I did 36 simple water color drawings  included for the pocket-sized paper guide (and the accompanying website). I was brought along to complement the text and add color, interest, along with a youthful vibe to the new Pocket Guide. (The art had previously been clip art and stock photography.)pocket guide highlights

Andromeda goes Quarterly

I’m excited to relay the following announcement from Little Tired Press regarding the newest issue of Andromeda and it’s transition to a quarterly publication:

Andromeda has transcended it’s hey day as a monthly comics publication and is now dawning a new age as a Quarterly Comics Anthology. The very 1st issue as a quarterly will be available for reading as well as purchasing at the Copacetic Comics Company in Polish Hill. This will be a seriously casual event, mostly chatting about comics and Andromeda in particular. A handful of the contributors will be there as well as Andy, editor and publisher of Andromeda, to answer questions or talk shop. Copies of the new Quarterly will be on sale for only $5 each, which is a steal as the book is 40 pages mostly in color and wrapped up nicely in a snug perfect binding. So swing on by 3138 Dobson Street next Thursday starting at 6pm for an evening with the burgeoning Pittsburgh’s comics and cartooning superstars!

Below is a peek at the luscious cover by Andy Scott. I can’t wait to get my hands on one of these puppies and to see how the beast has changed as its moved from a monthly to a quarterly publication. If you’re interested in getting a sneak peak and about learning of the recent changes hop on over to Andromeda’s Facebook page.

Rad Pittsburgh dudes at a rad Pittsburgh shop

Julie Sokolow put together a great little documentary of Jim Rugg, Jasen Lex, Tom Scioli and Ed Piskor’s trip to Pittsburgh’s New Dimension Comics.

It’s well worth your time to listen to these dudes geek out over back issues.

Oh and if you haven’t already checked out Jim and Jasen’s podcast, Tell Me Something I Don’t Know, head on over to their site and check out the chit chat’s they’ve had with artists over the past couple of months. The subject matter covers quite a broad scope, so there’s sure something of use to you!

22 Panels that Always Work (Sometimes)

An oldie but a goodie from Ivan Brunetti from Schizo #4. Riffin’ on Wood.