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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

(DO THE) PETE DUNCAN!


For a personal history of my involvement with this comic, please see King-Cat #70.  Meanwhile, enjoy!

Friday, March 26, 2010

SNAPDRAGONS






"Snapdragons," from King-Cat #50 (Available in King-Cat Classix).

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

JOHN RININGER


I met John Rininger in DeKalb, in the late 80's, when I was publishing my zine Cehsoikoe.  He worked at the Kinko's on Lucinda and printed it up for me.  Soon enough he was contributing to it as well, and we became very good friends.

Though we were good friends, John was a little inscrutable to me.  His mind moved at a much, much higher rate than mine, and held in view, simultaneously, seemingly hundreds of disparate ideas and directions.  Looking back, his art was really a tangible record of this thinking.

We hung out at his place on Lincoln Highway, where he lived with Katherine.  The apartment was full of books, old junk, cups of coffee, and various, as he called them, "devices."  He liked to listen to phonograph records at the old spoken word speed of 16 rpm.

On one of the only two "dates" I've ever been on (a "first date" no less!), I took my gal to John's house for Friday Night Movies, which consisted of two (or three?) projectors running simultaneously onto one screen.  I will spare you the contents of the films, but suffice it to say, to John, there were no restrictions.  Amazingly, I went on a second date with that girl, and more.  She was cool.

After a few years John moved into the city, and I moved to Denver.  We corresponded through the mail.  John sent me his weird, dark zines, Catalyst Komics, and I sent him my sappy zines.  We'd visit each other from time to time.   He started having gallery shows, and became deeply involved with the Artist's Stamp sub-culture.  His prized possession was an old-school perforating machine.


"Telegraphes"
Cyberstamp, 225 x 225 x 16 million,
from a full sheet of 14
John Rininger, aka Rausch Post


It was no secret that John was troubled.  How could a brain like that not be?  He became somewhat infamous for being held against his will in a psych ward, his experience of which was written up as a cover story, featuring his artwork, in Chicago's New City weekly.  Afterwards, he was delighted that he finally achieved an enormous press run with some of his work.

John's masterpiece was what he called "The Scroll," a 1200 foot long continuous image, which he worked on for years and years.

In November of 2006, John passed away at home.  He was 45 years old.  I feel lucky to have shared some of life with him.



* * *

Other John R. links:

Photos, Postcards, and Ephemera
Xerolage #39
Tom Long's reminiscences of John




Saturday, March 20, 2010

THE SOUND OF BIRDS



Happy Spring!




"The Sound of Birds", from King-Cat #62.

Friday, March 19, 2010

ZEN BUDDHIST BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

This is kind of a weird thing to post about, and I hope I don't come off as proselytizing, but I'm oftentimes asked from readers for a list of recommendations for books on Buddhism.  If you're not interested in such a thing, please feel free to ignore this post!

Of course, there are hundreds upon hundreds of books in print on Zen, but these are some of my favorites, titles that I always recommend to people starting out:

Taking the Path of Zen by Robert Aitken Roshi.  Aitken Roshi was one of the first westerners to bring back to the US an authentic practice experience from Japan.  His writing is warm and clear, avoiding jargon, and very inspiring.  He's written many books, all of which I recommend, but this one was specifically made for beginners.

The Dhammapada, translated by Eknath Easwaren.  The Dhammapada is a collection of the earliest Buddhist teachings, and Easwaren has provided a vivid and lyrical, yet simple, translation. But the real gift to beginners is that his lengthy introduction provides the most accessible description of the Buddhist worldview that I've ever read.

Opening the Hand of Thought by Kosho Uchiyama Roshi.  Uchiyama Roshi was a Soto Zen iconoclast, and these teachings for modern practitioners are direct and no-bullshit.  This book contains down-to-earth discussions about and instructions for zazen, Zen meditation.  Thoroughly contemporary and rock solid.







Other recommended titles:

The Three Pillars of Zen by Philip Kapleau Roshi.  The first book written by a westerner that presented Zen as a practice and way of life, rather than a philosophy, this classic work presents talks and commentaries by Kapleau's teacher Yasutani Roshi; a selection of first person accounts of practice; and supporting texts, sutras, and teachings.
Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind by Shunryu Suzuki Roshi.  You really can't go wrong with any writings by this modern day master, but this is his famous book for "beginners."  Another fascinating and beautiful book is Crooked Cucumber, a biography of Suzuki Roshi, by David Chadwick.

The Roaring Stream: A New Zen Reader, edited by Jack Shoemaker and Nelson Foster.  An exhilarating, chronological anthology of Zen Buddhist stories, teachings, and poetry.

Flowers Fall:  Commentaries on Zen Master Dogen's Genjokoan, by Hakuun Yasutani Roshi.  Dogen Zenji is the main figure in Japanese Soto Zen, who brought the practice from China to Japan in the 13th century, and Genjokoan is perhaps his best loved and most studied work.

The Wholehearted Way: Commentaries on Dogen Zenji's Bendowa, by Kosho Uchiyama Roshi.  A beautiful book with rich, fascinating commentary by one of my favorite writers, Bendowa contains a Q+A format section, in which Dogen Zenji answers questions from a beginning student.








I should of course point out that the whole purpose of Zen is to go beyond limited notions.  Books and words are, as they say, a "finger pointing to the moon," not the moon itself.  To get a real sense of Zen practice you have to do it.  Simple online instructions for Zen meditation can be found here.

For Dogen Zenji's own instructions, please click here.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

MY DAD'S BIRTHDAY


This was my Dad's favorite comic of mine.  That's him in the last panel.  Happy Birthday Pops!

Friday, March 12, 2010

"NIGHT OF TEARS... NIGHT OF TRUTH!"

Well, I don't have much to day about these, except I used to own Night Nurse #2, and I remember reading it in the High School cafeteria with all my friends, and having a good time.  I'm not a comic book historian, and I was surprised to find that Linda Carter, AKA Night Nurse, was a repeating character in the Marvel Comics universe.  The four issue series ran from November 1972 to May 1973.

Below are the covers, as well as a link to download the series, with commentary:





Click here for more on Night Nurse, and comics downloads.

Early 60's Marvel comic.

* * *

More Night Nurse commentary and history:





Tuesday, March 9, 2010

CLASSIC COMIC BOOK BACK COVERS

As a depressed cartoonist with internet access, I spend a lot of time looking at old comic book covers online.  They're beautiful.  But what I find almost as beautiful are the back covers of old-school comics.  Here's a quick sampling of a few, from the early 1970's.













Friday, March 5, 2010

KING-CAT ON TOUR: March-April 2010


I'm leaving for tour in early March.  Besides the confirmed dates listed below, I will also be stopping in Memphis, Nashville, Atlanta, Athens GA, Birmingham, and Tallahassee.  I won't have scheduled signings in those towns, but if you live nearby and want to meet up, please drop me a line!  Thanks everyone!

JUST ADDED: ATHENS, GA -- HONEY'S SALON -- TUES. MARCH 30 -- SEE BELOW!!!

(PS: I have a month's worth of posts scheduled in advance, so this blog will be updated automatically while I'm on the road!  Check back often!)


Thurs./Fri. March 11-12 -- CHICAGO, IL
Comics Symposium of Chicago

(Thurs. 5:45-6:45 PM "Comics as Art" panel w/
Paul Hornschemeier, John Porcellino, Christa Donner,
and Bernie McGovern)


Fri./Sat. March 12-13 -- CHICAGO, IL
Chicago Zine Fest

(Fri. Zine Reading at Quimby's 7 PM, followed by Zine Art opening at Johalla Gallery)
(Sat. Tabling at CZF + King-Cat slideshow/talk at 12:15 PM)


Fri. March 26 -- GAINESVILLE, FL
University of Florida Comics Conference

(Keynote address)

 
Tues. March 30; 7 PM -- ATHENS, GA
JUST ADDED!!!
Honey's Salon
Mercury A.I.R. building
160 Tracy St. Suite 10
Athens, GA 30601
(706) 254-4008


Fri. April 2; 8-10 PM -- HOUSTON, TX
Domy Books
1709 Westheimer Road
Houston, TX 77098
(713) 523-3669


Sat. April 3 -- AUSTIN, TX
Austin Books/Domy Books

Booksigning: 1-3 PM at
Austin Books and Comics
5002 North Lamar Boulevard
Austin, TX 78751
(512) 454-4197

Slideshow & Reception: 7-9 PM at
Domy Books
913 E Cesar Chavez
Austin, TX 78702
(512) 476-3669


Tues. April 6; 7 PM -- NORMAN, OK
Atomik Pop!
918 W. Main
Norman OK 73069
(405) 329-9695

* * *

Fri.-Sun. April 16-18 -- DENVER, CO
Denver ComicFest

* * *

Sat. May 1, 2010 -- BOULDER, CO
Free Comic Book Day
Time Warp Comics
3105 28th Street
Boulder, CO 80301
(303) 443-4500

Sat May 1, 2010 -- WESTMINSTER, CO
Free Comic Book Day
I Want More Comics!
10355 Federal Blvd Unit C
Westminster, CO 80260
(303) 460-7226


Thursday, March 4, 2010

DEVIL DINOSAUR HOMAGE IN COLOR


Hommage à Jack Kirby (et Morrissey)

Drawn by the Jovial John Porcellino
Colored by the Nerdy Noah Van Sciver
2010

To see the rough b+w version, click here.
To see a painful comparison with the actual cover, click here.

* * *

Lyrics © Morrissey
Devil Dinosaur and Moon Boy © Marvel Comics
Can we have a job, please?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

(Some of my) FAVORITE COMICS OF 2009

Everybody makes these kinds of lists, so, I thought, why not me?  These are just SOME of the comics I read last year, that I really enjoyed.  Some of them came out a long time ago, but I only finally read them in 2009.  One of them came out in 2009, but I didn't read it till a few weeks ago--  I still included it.  Of course, this is no definitive list:  I can't claim to have even begun to KNOW of all the comics that came out last year, and I'm an old man--  undoubtedly I've forgotten something.  Also, I still have a box of comics that I got while on tour that I have barely begun to crack.  So take this list with a grain of salt, and if it turns somebody somewhere on to something that they wouldn't have known about otherwise, that's the point.  Huzzah!

(No particular order):

1. Genesis by R.Crumb (Norton)

This book really surpassed my (high) expectations.  People I know and respect have had varying opinions on it, but I think it's a masterpiece.  By restricting himself to the traditional text, Crumb has achieved something really special, something that only an artist with his age, experience, and perspective could have pulled off.  I have a special place in my heart for these types of old religious writings, but even so, I was surprised to find myself moved to tears at the conclusion.  Now--  how about Exodus?


2. OMAC: One Man Army Corps by Jack Kirby (DC Archives)

My friend Ray has been trying to get me to read OMAC for years now, going so far as to send me issue #1 in the mail.  So I finally read it.  We'll see how it all shakes out, but this may be one of the most influential comics for me, as an artist, that I've ever read.

After years of hand-wringing and miserablism, this collection reminded me of just how much I love comic books.  Ever since then I've been on a comics rampage-- I can't get enough of them!  And that long-term doubt and shame I've felt about my role in life, as a cartoonist, has evaporated in the morning light.  I LOVE COMICS.  There.  I said it.


3. Like a Dog by Zak Sally (Fantagraphics)

It's impossible for me to be objective about this book, as Zak is one of my closest friends, but this is a really powerful, fascinating collection of comics.  Very dark, and even brutal sometimes, but bracing, and highly original.





4. Blammo by Noah Van Sciver (series) (self-published/Kilgore Comics)

Another great comic by another good friend.  Noah started out talented, and has improved with every issue.  Bleak and hilarious, his comics emerge from a classic Underground sensibility, but are thoroughly modern at the same time.  Great stuff.






5. Amazing Adult Fantasy Omnibus by Kirby, Lee, Ditko et al. (Marvel)

I discovered the existence of this book while messing around online, and when I did, I became very, very happy.

Before it became the launching pad for good ol' Spiderman (in issue #15), Amazing Adult Fantasy ("The Magazine That Respects Your Intelligence!") featured goony, wonderful sci-fi and monster comics by Kirby, Ditko, and Lee, among others.  Reading this stuff changes my brainwaves in a very, very good way.  Also highly recommended:  Marvel Masterworks reprints of Tales to Astonish and Tales of Suspense.


6. A Drifting Life by Yoshihiro Tatsumi (Drawn and Quarterly)

A brilliant, engrossing memoir of Tatsumi's early years in Manga, from his precocious childhood through early adulthood, when he and his friends created the mature, groundbreaking gekiga style of Japanese comics.  Didn't want it to end.  Will there be a Volume Two?  Please say yes.




7. Aya by Marguerite Abouet & Clément Oubrerie (series) (D+Q)

Nothing too earth-shattering here (except of course for totally destroying the typical American notions of what life in Africa is really like), but this day-to-day tale of growing up in 1970s-80s Ivory Coast is absolutely beautifully written and drawn, and a complete joy to read.





8. Cecil and Jordan in New York by Gabrielle Bell (D+Q)

The best collection yet of one of my favorite contemporary cartoonists;  Gabrielle Bell's quietly detached views of modern life are sweet and smart.







9. The Complete Little Orphan Annie Vol. 1 by Harold Gray (IDW)

After years of hearing how great this comic was, I was happy to find that it completely lives up to its reputation, and then some.  Masterful from its earliest pages, in this classic strip Harold Gray really knew how to keep you coming back for more.  I'd tell myself "Just one more page... then I'll go to sleep!"  Not likely!  Can't wait to read the next one, and the next one, and the next one...


10. Doing Time by Kazuichi Hanawa (Fanfare/Ponent Mon)

I kept looking for a portal into Manga, for something idiosyncratic and personal that I could really sink my teeth into, and this true account of Japanese prison life was it.  I read it at Zak's while on tour, and afterwards I felt like a whole new world had opened up for me.