Thursday, September 15, 2011

Dylan Williams In Memoriam

When I found out in making plans months ago with Tom Neely to share a table at SPX 2011, which happened last weekend, that we would also be representing Dylan Williams's Sparkplug Comics (my favorite publisher), I was giddy as a school girl. As it became apparent to me that he was in ill health, the giddiness gave way to a dark cloud, yet Tom and I, and I think most everyone who knew him, had so much faith in who he was and what he represented, there was light in that dark cloud as we all believed he'd make it...because we needed him to make it. The news came in toward the end of the first day of SPX that Dylan had died. What occurs to me in pondering his passing, is that, because of who he was, there is still light amongst the dark clouds.

Perhaps the oddest aspect of Dylan's death to me is that I never met him in person (I've spent most of my life "land locked" in Kentucky, far away from the centers of zine and comics culture). Yet, knowing him from a distance, as far as I can remember, began with the issue of Destroy All Comics which featured an interview with John Porcellino and Dylan's article on Bill Blackbeard. I wore that issue out in the 90s, reading and re-reading it. It caused me to take note any time I saw Dylan's name in print connected to comics. As Sparkplug developed throughout the oughts, I followed its progress and came to see that I admired Dylan's work as a publisher more than anything in comics besides simply the work of individual artists.

I kept up a correspondence with Dylan via mail, email, and Facebook. I treasured Dylan's Facebook postings so much I remember being upset when he'd get taciturn about it and disable his account for a while. If I never got to meet Dylan in person, I certainly treasured our correspondence. Whether it was bonding over obscure zines from the 90s we'd both read, or whether it was discussing horror movies and Dylan saying he'd repeated my musings at his store, Bad Apple, and jokingly confessing he didn't give me credit when "stealing" my ideas, or whether it was a discussion of the metal band Flotsam & Jetsam spiraling out into long autobiographical digressions into metal and music that devolved into statements of shared personal philosophies, Dylan, six years older than me, was like an older brother whom I much admired so that when we got on the same page, it gave me great joy.

When I started to do comics reviews in the past year, I ordered some Sparkplug books. When Dylan realized what I was up to, he sent me a huge box of books for free, which I did not want him to do. Even as I explained to him it was my intent to pay for all the books I reviewed, he wouldn't listen to me. Even as an arch critic of comic book culture, in microcosm, and the culture at large in macrocosm, Dylan always struggled to be big-hearted, inclusive, and generous, instead of giving in to cynicism. When Dylan went on record to say nice things about my work, it meant more to me than any review or any other sort of accolade (and even when he had criticism or disagreed with my approach, it always resonated). Did I tell him this? I don't think I did. I should have. I thought I would have a decade, two, or three to get to spend time with him in person; it didn't work out that way. The tragedy of untimely death.

On Sunday evening after SPX sitting outside with a group of folks, I remarked to Tom Neely that it was apparent that in 41 years Dylan had done a life's work. "More than a life's work," Tom corrected me.

To aspire and to be inspired to be more like he was, we can bring the chilling use of the past tense next to his name out of the past and into the present tense. Dylan did what he was born to do. The burden to do and be better, following his example, is on us.

Everything I will do in comics...the memory of Dylan Williams will be close to my heart.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Stephen Crane's "Black Riders and Other Lines" Adaptations to Comics Form Preview

The following are examples of my approach to adapt some of my favorite poems from Stephen Crane's Black Riders and Other Lines into comics form. The plan now is to publish these ten poems as a book along with the strip Wakefulness by way of a comics preface, with an eye towards someday illustrating/adapting Crane's entire book (for a decent wage). These works and this impulse were born out of a personal time of both darkness, light, and transformation. I mean, what isn't? But I hatched many of these lines while surfing a particularly turbulent personal tsunami. Enjoy these now; I may take them down as the print version nears fruition, but, either way, here's a peek behind the curtain...

Monday, April 11, 2011

Leg Art Comics #3: Secrets in Lace

"I like the little way the line runs up the back of the stockings."--David Lee Roth

You know what you like, you put pen to paper, and molecules start moving.

In my various sojourns as a leg man, whether it's making a study in my sketchbooks or out there on the street, it's become apparent to me that the company Secrets in Lace is one of the only out there that manufactures nylon stockings and lingerie with the quality and specifications that lives up to the standard of the 1940s and 50s.

And now I've joined the company as an official affiliate. That's right. Dig it: henceforth, any of y'all make a purchase from Secrets in Lace and yours unruly gets a taste. It's all part of my rock and roll fantasy.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Dracula's Daughter

I dunno. I guess I just like Gloria Holden in Dracula's Daugther(1936).

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Diary of a Leg Man: Leg Art Comics #2

"Yeah, she was a tease but isn't every woman worth a damn?"--Elmer Batters on the subject of his favorite model.

Meanwhile, back to man's favorite pastime...further sketchbook journeys in the game of gams...

I got asked recently if Crumb influenced my preferences. The answer to that is no. These things were evident to me, in an early form, prior to being familiar with Crumb. Up to a certain point in my late teens, I'd only ever seen the cover to Zap #0. At first it was somewhat dim, but my self-awareness of being a "leg man" was fairly concurrent with puberty itself. How Crumb did influence me later, however, was to empower me to not tuck away my predilections away in the shadows.

That said, Sexton Ming lifted the phrase "crumb girl" from me for his album of the same name (which is explained in the liner notes of this now out of print disc). Sexton and I have gone on at length delineating the female form. Sexton likes "meaty," as he puts it, legs. His lovely wife has meaty legs. I like meaty legs, too.

Of course, there is a fine tradition of skinny leg men chasing big leg women, but what's more important to me than any specific size is the shapely femininity of a woman's legs, that roundness which appears to define womanly shape vs. manly shape. I've started thinking of women as Shapely Superclusters.

"What's up with the stocking thing?" you might find yourself asking. It's a multi-layered subject, complex. We won't solve the mystery here, but here's a few scattered sentences on the subject. For one thing, if this were the 1940s, the jive I'm putting down would be considered normal, and you un-initiated would not be asking me so many questions. Hosiery is pretty cool in general, but really, it is the classic fully fashioned nylon stockings which produce a more fully developed consciousness. Fundamentally, it doesn't matter. But if we have to wear clothes, I know what I like on the ladies, and there's something about the manner in which a fully fashioned stocking frames a woman's leg that just works for me. It's like explaining why one likes a certain song, a certain sound; after a certain point words fail. The way a stocking appears, as if a lovingly cross hatched diaphanous layer in reality, is similar to the way I draw and in essence see the world in general. It all works together.

I wear suspenders for men: dress shirts, dress hats, undershirts; I'm layered as well, and wouldn't ask any woman to consider anything that I'm not prepared to do the masculine version of myself. All you louts that go out in public in your sweat pants can hang out together and talk about how I'm a weirdo.

This episode of Leg Art Comics brought to you by Secrets in Lace.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Spud Crazy 2/3/11

Let's go crazy. I think Prince said that. Yeah, this is the week. The scene is Lexington, KY.

I think I'll grab my coat, hat, and cane and get myself to the world premiere of the new Harry Dean Stanton documentary at the historic Kentucky theater on Wednesday. Then I think the next day I'll stroll down to the opening reception for the art show and release party for the limited edition excerpt of Spud Crazy by Nick Tosches and yours unruly at Institute 193.

Not only is it a book, it's a soundtrack of new music again by me, Robert Beatty, Brian Manley, and Justin Eslinger. Not only is it an opening reception for an art show, Manley & Eslinger (with an unnamed Theremin player) will perform sets of live music during the reception to provide another variation on this tuber theme.

Then at some point in there I'll celebrate my birthday on the fifth, probably with a fifth, and think of William S. Burroughs, who shares the same 2/5 with me as an inception date. My thoughts will most likely consider Burroughs's time in Lexington at the Narcotics Farm. Then I'll probably study upon the fact that Richard Hell, who wrote an intro for this Spud edition (and published a book of Tosches's poetry on his CUZ imprint), is originally from Lexington. Then I'll consider that I almost forgot Hubert Selby, Jr., who was the catalyst for the initial correspondence that would eventually lead to Tosches and I collaborating on this Spud plane we all now live on, and, oh well, yeah, his father was from Kentucky. And with all these thoughts in my head, I'll consider that Spud cigarettes were manufactured in Kentucky.

Then I will take a drink with my smoke and forget about Kentucky and forget about myself and Spud Crazy will seem the sanest game in town. My town, your town, any town. As Nick Tosches might put it, "Are you hip to Cybele?"

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Symptoms of Spud Crazy

The indomitable Nick Tosches and myself are working on a graphic novel of Spud Crazy. The first image is a page from this book, the second is a preliminary sketch. On top of that, to kick things off, is a promotional video. Let me explain...

Whatever it is or isn't, it is first showing itself to the light of day as a 30 page excerpt of a work-in-progress (to coincide with an exhibition of those said original 30 pieces of art) published in an "art edition" through Institute 193, complete with an introduction by Richard Hell and an accompanying essay by Bob Levin, packaged together with its own soundtrack by the Spud Imperials (a one-shot band consisting of myself, Robert Beatty, Justin Eslinger, and Brian Manley).

Friends, you can get in on the ground floor here, helping to make this noble endeavour reach full fruition by donating to the Kickstarter pledge drive
, orchestrated by the head honcho of 193, Phillip March Jones (193 is a non-profit). Also note that by pledging 25 bucks or more you get almost half off the retail price by preordering the book now. Not to mention that there are several spending options for those of all the tax brackets that include me having to cough up various amounts of original art. Act fast to join the party wagon. For NO CHARGE WHATSOEVER you get to see me do the good bad acting free forming on the subject of Spud Crazy in addition to sneaking a peek at the artwork for the book and hear bits of the soundtrack in a video by Coleman Gunyon and the aforementioned Robert Beatty.

More info coming closer to the 2/3/11 show/book release. Stay tuned.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Fat Elvis and Fat Jim Morrison Team-Up!

Perhaps not the most reverential way to remember Big E's birthday, this gag in my sketchbook was based on a goof in conversation with Jeffrey Scott Holland on a "what if" scenario in which the fat period version of Elvis were to join forces with the fat (and bearded) period version of Jim Morrison of the Doors. Being that riffing with Mr. Holland was the starting point, and the follow-through was executed in the aforementioned sketchbook, this marks a dual posting here and at our Transylvania Gentlemen blog. This ain't safe for work and it is an affront to good taste, so enjoy!

Click this link and navigate the "funny" pages.