Archive of articles classified as' "Art"Back home
Since Soon-ok’s retirement, there have been a lot of changes in our lives, almost all for the good.
First off, she’s happier, more relaxed, and more energized than I’ve seen her in ages. She never wanted a job, much less a career, but took one to keep the family stabilized as my own career started careening wildly. Without her we would not have squeezed by; without her my own career would have floundered completely.
So we owe her a big one, and she is more than entitled to her retirement.
Second, as she rightly deserves, she’s getting to do a lot of things she wanted to do, such as travel and renovate the house. I’m glad for this, and more than happy to go with her and help her in the various projects.
But it plays havoc with my own productive schedule, and I find myself falling further and further behind.
To get caught up, I’m jettisoning a lot of things I used to do. One of those things was keeping up with numerous comic strips. I’ve been a fan of the art form since I was a little kid and first entranced with Dick Tracey and Little Orphan Annie and Buck Rogers and Pogo and Li’l Abner and Mr. Mum. Each December I post my list of the ten funniest strips of the year; I want to keep doing that, but in recent years I’ve had to forgo the yearly overview of all the strips I track.
I’ve already dropped several strips that I felt had exhausted themselves and become repetitive. Here are six I’m dropping simply because of time constraints; they’re still good and I still enjoy them but I have to
jump through too many hoops make too many clicks to read them.
That doesn’t sound like a big deal, but every productive minute is precious now, and I’ve got to ration them like a stranded traveler in the desert rations his water. If you read my previous post on the topic, you know what it feels like when I can’t write, so to squeeze out a few extra minutes, I’m giving up a lot of things I used to enjoy.
Feh, enough mawkish self-pity. If you like comic strips / web comics and haven’t tried the following, give ‘em a look. They’re all good. (Descriptions courtesy JSOline)
Baby Blues by Rick Kirkman & Jerry Scott is an entertaining and poignant view of parenthood and childhood. Wanda and Darryl MacPherson spend the majority of their time chasing, refereeing and pleading with their three children.
Edge City by Terry & Patty Laban is a groundbreaking comic strip about a hip, Jewish-American family juggling relationships, careers, and tradition at the fast pace of modern life.
Mutts by Patrick McDonnell explores the special bond between animals and their guardians, and the endearing friendship of Earl, the dog, and Mooch the cat.
Safe Havens by Bill Holbrook is a comic strip that focuses mainly on Samantha and her group of friends, who met as toddlers at Safe Havens Day Care and are now young adults enrolled at Havens University.
Sally Forth by Francesco Marciuliano, Jim Keefe is a timely comic strip about a working mother, who juggles her mid-management job and finding enough quality time for her husband and daughter. Somehow, Sally manages to keep her sanity and sense of humor.
Zippy the Pinhead by Bill Griffith creates a reality all on its own with a unique cast of characters, including Griffy, Zippy’s foil; Zerbina, Zippy’s wife and their children, Fuelrod and Meltdown.
…and now there are none.
They were truly legendary, the first fan boys to become more than fans, ur-geeks who went on to help shape modern culture to varying degrees throughout their long, productive lives.
I had the pleasure of meeting and talking with Ray Harryhausen several times over the years, though never as long as I would have liked. He was a charming and soft-spoken man, very gentlemanly and polite. The kind of person you’d cast as a kindly old grandfather on a Disney Channel movie, not the kinda guy who gave us this…
My very first exposure to Ray Harryhausen occurred roughly around the same time I first encountered the work of Ray Bradbury. Rain pre-empted a scheduled kindergarten trip, so to keep us quiet they screened a 16mm print of Harryhausen’s King Midas.
Yikes! Not exactly kid fare, is it? Not when you compare it with the Popeye and Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck cartoons that ran endlessly on local kiddee cartoon shows.
Yeah, cartoons had their scary moments, but they were cartoon-scary, more funny than frightening, certainly not real in the sense our families were real, and certainly comforting insofar as we’d seen dozens of Popeye and Bugs and Daffy cartoons so we knew nothing really bad was going to happen to them.
But Harryhausen’s animated version of the classic Greek myth (updated to fairy tale medieval Europe) was unsettling. First off, we didn’t know these characters, so we had no idea if they were going to come through intact or not. Secondly, they occupied some weird realm more real than cartoons but not yet fully in our own world.
That probably is the best explanation for Harryhausen’s unique hold on the imagination of millions of young boys and girls, even after he left his series of self-produced fairy tales to go on to provide special effects for major studio productions.
He brought the unreal to life in a way that was difficult to emulate with costumes and props. He could create monsters that truly looked monstrous, not like a guy in a rubber suit, and bring them to life in a manner that easily achieved suspension of disbelief.
There was, for lack of a better word, charm to his creations, and he beguiled generations of audiences and fans.
As posted above, his trek began early in the days of science fiction fandom, when a handful of excitable young boys poured over the meager offerings on the newsstands and cinemas. Ray H. was friends with Ray Bradbury and Forrest J Ackerman, and the trio grew up together in pre-WWII Los Angeles, fueling each others’ interests and desires in the realm of imaginative stories.
Just as Metropolis and Amazing Stories grabbed hold of young Forry Ackerman’s mind, so did King Kong with Ray Harryhausen. There’s not enough time or space here to do full justice to the story (besides, that’s what the Internet is for); suffice it to say Ray & Ray & 4SJ ended up fulfilling at least some of the lofty dreams of their youth, and in doing so inspired and challenged many, many others (yrs trly included) to follow their dreams as well.
One closing story to demonstrate the friendship among the trio: Following his work assisting Willis O’Brien on Mighty Joe Young, Harryhausen was offered the gig of providing the special effects for a new monster movie. Ray H. read the script and quickly realized the core scene in the film — a scene where the monster, attracted by a foghorn, attacks a lighthouse in the mistaken belief it’s one of its kind — was lifted from Ray B.’s famous short story, “The Foghorn”.
Most people in Hollywood would have said nothing, a few would have notified their friend and let them handle it on their own.
Ray H. did something far, far smarter: He suggested to the producers that they contact Ray Bradbury as a consultant on the sci-fi angle of the film.
They did, and so they walked into a perfect trap where if they denied they had lifted the story they would had demonstrated prior knowledge of Ray Bradbury and so would have lost any possible lawsuit…
So they bought the story from Ray B. and credited him in the movie…
R.I.P., Mr. Harryhausen, and thanx for all the wonderful memories and inspiration…
”What’s my motivation in this scene?”
Someone asked me what was so difficult about being called away from one’s muse. To them — and they weren’t being mean-spirited — writing a story or drawing a picture or composing music was the same as baking a cake or hanging wall paper: You can always start any time you feel like it.
Well, yeah…if by “any time” you mean “whenever the muse calls”. As Charles Bukowski famously observed, ”…it comes out of / your soul like a rocket / …being still would / drive you to madness or / suicide or murder”.
Every creator I know is nodding at this (and, yes, there are creators who manage to harness themselves to a steady work schedule; I contend for them the faucet is always on and they don’t know how #%@&ing lucky they are to be able to fill their buckets on their own timetable).
For the rest of you, I’ve made a little simulation after the jump that will give you the barest inkling of what it feels like to be a creator denied access to pen / paper / pixels when inspiration hits.
Hold your breath, follow the jump, and don’t inhale again until you scroll down to “10“.
Content Dictates Form
Less Is More
God Is In The Details
all in the service of
without which nothing else matters.”
– from Finishing The Hat
#1 — His name was Steele Savage.
#2 — He possessed an extraordinary
flair for the mythic and the legendary,
fully capturing the fantastic aspects while
at the same time grounding them with
a solidity that made them wholly
#3 — I mean seriously, can you find anybody
with a cooler name? I think not.
#4 — While most famous for his mythical subjects,
he displayed a wide range and showed an inventive
approach to every genre and topic he tackled.
#5 — Did I mention his name was Steele Savage?
The news this weekend was so overwhelming it took a while to sink in, to get me to wondering if this wasn’t what the killer had in mind when he went to the school…
Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not. (Matthew 2:16–18, KJV)
Peter Paul Rubens
Pieter Bruegel the Elder
Matteo di Giovanni
Ed Emshwiller was one of the all time great cover artists for sci-fi books and magazines before dropping out of the field to become one of the all time great underground filmmakers & pioneers of electronic / digital media, founding the CalArts Computer Animation Lab and serving as dean of the School of Film / Video for the California Institute of Arts. But back in the day he used to contribute these whimsical Christmas themed covers for Galaxy magazine…