Friday, December 28, 2012

Soldier Porn...

Sometimes something pops up that elicits immediate, reflexive action.  My policy on Facebook recently has been to accept almost any "friend" request without judgement.  I must have accepted one from "Military Pinups" some time ago, but don't remember.  Then I got a message from the artist and all hell broke loose.  I may be too thin-skinned, but I for one find the following kinds of imagery beyond offensive.
 Main banner from artist J. Kidd's facebook page "Military Pinups".

As you can see,  I hope, it's essentially soft pornography designed for soldiers.  I'm aware that in the past, like WWII, there was "nose art" and the like which resembled the "pinup art" of the day.  So why is this any different?  I think there are many reasons why, which I find obvious, so I am baffled as to why so many of them need explaining.  But apparently they do.

Consider: there was a time, as in the Roman Empire, when slavery was considered normal and almost universally accepted.  100 years ago, some races were considered to be innately inferior, and this too was accepted.  Today, we know better--at least most do.  The trouble with the treatment of women in our culture, i.e. presenting them as sex objects, is something that I believe will eventually be transcended.  Hell, if I can do it, anyone can.

I'm a little ashamed at having fought with the artist JK over at Military Pinups, but it is telling that after we did he removed the banner from his page and replaced it with another image in which the woman's head was actually higher than her bottom.  I'd criticized the prior picture.  So, I had hit a nerve, but then he recanted and switched it back yet again.

If I was told my older work was pornographic I'd have denied it too, just like JK, but now I see objectification clearly wherever it is.  But I never did anything like this stuff.

J. Kidd told me that his model was "very proud" of posing for his artworks, prints of which wind up getting shipped overseas to Afghanistan.  He told me a little about her character and personality, but of course none of that is communicated in the picture.  When Playboy lists the "likes and dislikes" of its playmate centerfolds, it isn't without some humor.  I mean, who cares about the real person underneath?  That's not the point, is it?

My friend Richard A. Tucker rightly pointed out that it's extremely dangerous to be giving out porn to soldiers.  I agree.  My feeling is that "Military Pinup's" work will make almost any young soldier crave harder pornography in about 5 seconds.  The works are basically like a "gateway" drug, only the path is much clearer and direct than pot to heroin, because it's all the same thing to differing degrees.

Other reasons to be wary of giving Porn to soldiers:
These examples are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the dangerous environment created by objectifying women.  The U.S. Military has always encouraged drinking, as I know well from my father's Army career; they make drinking inexpensive and easy.  Packs of cigarettes were once standard issue with rations, too.  The fact that some people can't or won't see the obvious connections is baffling.

 A dangerous mixture of sexual and militaristic imagery.

Another relevant question is that if one wanted to "help" the U.S. Military effort, there are far better ways than this, like perhaps working to end the wars altogether, or helping educate young men not to enlist in the first place.

Then they can stay home and learn to respect and not objectify other people.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Ready to Jacque?

Several fellows have contacted me outside of this Blog to discuss, and mainly defend, their Porn habits. I feel a need to say this: if you want to discuss this subject, please do it in the light of day, as I am not responding to anonymous emails any more.

And speaking of being in denial, or perhaps more kindly, "not being ready" for the truth, I am continually running up against porn influences in this little Comic Art backwater I'm currently in, and predictably also encountering even more fellows with their heads in the sand about it.

I confess that in the early 1990s, I did a good bit of work for SQP--for Sal Quartuccio Publishing.  In fact, they did my very first two art books titled "Sorceress" one and two.  They published many, many other titles, all with their own themes, like Vampire women, Warrior women, and so on.  The overriding theme was definitely, always, "women".

 What Publisher SQP has been up to lately, as if you couldn't guess.

The reason these books were so widely and wildly popular is that they are essentially "presentable" pornography.  In other words, because the figures are "drawn" the viewership can easily rationalize that the stuff is not Pornography but Art. The idea essentially is that if it's drawn, and doesn't actually show penetration, then it can't possibly be porn. You can keep it in the house and not irk the wife, and probably study it without being tempted to "jack".

And you can collect all the books in the series, with SQP, possibly hundreds of them, and not think it's any kind of "habit".

Other rationalizations cover more but different marshy ground, calling softer porn "Erotica", "Cheesecake", "Pinups" or "Nudity", or describing it otherwise as "Titillating" and so on, basically anything other than the big "P" when in fact it's all Pornography to one degree or another.

Bougereau: an "artistic" excuse for yards of exposed flesh. Do you care what these "people" think or feel, or who they are?

Not to say our culture has cornered the market,  or that it's all a case of living in some modern Sodom and Gomorrah, there's been porn in other cultures where folks had too much time on their hands and therefore are easily exploitable.

So how can Art portray nude or naked people, or handle subjects like sex, without becoming Pornographic?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Connection Disconnect...

I just placed the following on my Facebook page:

Hey all you guys and goils-- I am online only on Mondays and Thursdays from here on out, so if there's a lag in my replying to you I'm sorry but that's why.

I've made some decisions about my computer usage, and have decided that I want my old life back. After the first three days of cold turkey some Beta waves actually came back to my brain again. The days got longer and I thought in a way I ha

dn't for many, many years.

I thought about FB, too--and for all the promise of "connection", which to some degree it does do, there's also a tremendous "disconnect" as I sit here alone in front of a computer.

I am sure this weird duality has a lot to do with why FB is so successful and popular, it appeals directly to the "Self" and then each self nurtures itself with a little piece of every other "self". It's like a school of Piranhas eating itself.

And as we all sit here alone and connected/disconnected, the Powers That Be make billions selling our information, as you may already know. What are we really getting back, except another freakin' habit?

I also contemplated this: if every online "message" (ad, email or FB posting, etc.) was a knock at the door, how fast would I stop answering it altogether? How about you?

And I asked myself: when was the last time I got an email that I treasured so much that I actually wanted to print out and keep, like a "real" letter? I'm not sure I ever have, so I want to try real letters again. I may send you one!

I really think that if I didn't have to use a PC to run my business I'd toss the thing in the trash. The way it is, twice a week to handle orders and emails is enough. I HOPE it's enough.

It's bold, and it's radical, but I am going back to Paper and long, quiet afternoons. If you care or dare to join me, I'd like to hear about your experience.

We're like astronauts, going where other fear to tread; going full in the face of fashion, trends, technology, against the tide that is sucking away our lives...

Thursday, November 8, 2012

New Arrivals...

Here's some feedback on my recent Porn essays I recently received from a source who'll remain anonymous:

What's wrong with a little legal porn? There are a lot of people who don't have lovers at the moment and enjoy the visual stimulation. Yes there are some horror stories in the porn industry. But most of the actresses know what they're doing. They are not being exploited because they are being paid fairly. In fact many of these women end up owning their own production companies. God forbid you ever become single. No self pleasuring until you find a girlfriend. I don't think so. Plus scientific evidence shows frequent ejaculation wards off prostate cancer. Just another point of view.

Porn objectifies--all of it.  If it didn't, it wouldn't be Porn.

And there is no love in it, none at all.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Boob Tube Continued...

This image recently arrived from my friends at the MCBA, or Minnesota Comic Book Association, which is a non-profit organization that puts on conventions.  I like their shows and have attended a bunch of them as a guest.

"Fabletown" claims to be a sort of Comic Book Renaissance movement turning away from Superheroes.  This art could be Adam Hughes, I don't know.  I realize that most Comic fans would find this pretty innocuous, and certainly not "Porn" in the familiar sense, but take a closer look.

First, you get every "flavor" of woman:  blond, brunette (or brown), redheaded and black hair. All bases are covered there. And, not only are the women as slim and elongated as any fashion model, they also have massively pendulous breasts completely out of proportion to their body-types.  For their breasts to be this freakishly large would require either implants or some incredible rare genetics.

They are also depicted in bed, and their expressions reflect joy, exuberance or pensiveness.  You can fill in the rest yourselves without more ethics lectures from Hoffman, but my salient point is that this stuff is still more objectification and exploitation of women, and that fact that it's front-and-center as a promotional image doesn't say much good about the health of Comics generally or of this new- self-proclaimed "break" from the status quo, "Fabletown".

It's no break at all, kids--it's exactly more of the same.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Porn Revelations...

I was recently asked to contribute to a "Doomsday" portfolio, and until then I didn't know what a "Doomsday" was.  So I did some research first before saying yea or nay.

 No softness here.

Turns out this character looks like a cross between a walking gem show and an overblown bodybuilder with a really tiny head, the idea being I guess that crystals and diamonds are hard and so they'll make muscles seem harder too. I was instinctively revolted and naturally had to figure out exactly why.

I'd also add that this character is best known for "killing" Superman, which is yet another example of Comics falling on its face. Killing the hero is easy and obvious, and dumb because a dead hero never was a hero.

In this case, the analysis didn't take long.  My feeling is that "Bodybuilding" and the body-image it represents is like the opposite of anorexia in women--though in all fairness, men can have anorexia too. What the promotion of this steroidal imagery does is tell males that their bodies aren't up to society's current standard, in the same way that Pornography tells them.

Hoffman gets in the way again.

And nowadays, not only is mainstream Porn making some guys pressure their wives and girlfriends into getting surgery etc, but they also are getting pressure to adopt the male porn-star "tat" look. In fact, the Porn industry is actively promoting its own lines of fashions for a mainstream audience.

And Comics have bought into Porn, mainly via its intense inferiority complex of recent years.  Those feelings make it imitative of any other popular medium--Movies, especially, and Gaming, as examples, and most disturbingly, Porn. That's Marvel and DC, kids.

The key indicator for Pornography is basically simple: it's when you objectify another person for your own sexual satisfaction.  

Here's a brief artist's statement I wrote to accompany my "Doomsday" drawing.

“My intention with Doomsday was to depict a man-made creation symbolic of evil that has been transformed into fertilizer for flowers while beings from a different vibratory plane visit to offer him their love and good wishes for his new life.”

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Pledge Drive...

Lately I've been retiring a lot of my various projects, in other words, I'm no longer selling them.  You may know that most publications have a "peak" and then sales slowly decline after that.  These older books of mine like Electric Frankenstein do still sell steadily, but in spite of that I feel they no longer represent me, so I'm willing to sacrifice the income just to get them out of the way.  They are cluttering things up.

After five years, no more.

While I'm talking freely here, I have a new idea I'd like your feedback on.  Ready?  WELL... We all know that Comics and Fantasy Art have been increasingly invaded over the years by growing amounts of "T&A".  Some have explained this to me as simply being a preference of an older male audience, but I think the cause runs deeper than that.

The Cause, to me, is basically an infiltration of Porn.  Now, this is not to take the moral high ground on other artists, because I have surely contributed to it over the years. But, you may notice the shock exhibited by Comics outsiders when confronted with "standard" comics imagery these days; they tend to recoil.  Fans are accustomed to it, but it's very weird to the general public.

A Sample of the Porn invasion in Comics.

Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc. has been flipping out lately because as licensors they don't understand what Porn has to do with Burroughs' writing and characters.  Sure, he may have said they're nude in the books, but that's hardly the point; the books say it, they don't show it.  Tarzan was naked for some time, too. No one's showing that.

So anyway, the mantra among comic artists these days has become one of so-called survival; "If we don't cater with sex, we'll starve".  Plenty of talented people are wasting their lives on this stuff.  I think it's gone far enough, and I'm ready to act as an example and starve if necessary.

Make no mistake, today's comic art is porn, it's just a matter of degree.  Porn relies on objectification, mainly of women, and this effects falls across a wide spectrum.

People, human beings, loaded with personality and character.

The above is a perfect example of watered-down porn. The characters pose for no other reason than to titillate, obliquely offering themselves to us for a sexual romp.  The fact that this is but one example of an Industry-wide phenomenon doesn't speak well for the health of that industry.  Like us comic artists, would Marvel and DC die by leaving out the Porn?

If they did, then it's a good time to die.

What I want to begin here is a pledge list for Comic Artists, that they will no longer pander and if necessary die by starvation rather than continue and contribute to this miserable and negative trend.  As I've said I have contributed to it in the past, but enough is enough.  Are you brave enough, and do you have enough faith in your talent to go it alone--without taking the easy way out, demeaning women and yourselves?

So who's got the guts out there?

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Why Tarzan Matters...

Here's an essay I wrote a few months ago about Tarzan:

As a fictional character, Tarzan stands in stark contrast against modern Man.  Whereas Tarzan is fully integrated into the natural world of the Jungle, today's man only sees it from afar, as if through the wrong end of a microscope, as something outside himself, to be studied and probed with his Intellect and judged by his ego for whatever technological or monetary profits it may yield.

Authentic feral children have not as yet displayed many of the character traits of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan, although we cannot be absolutely sure due to their apparent limitations of language and therefore thought.  But it has been shown that they live fairly effortlessly in Nature compared to us, oblivious, for example, to our arguably paranoid notions about shelter and cold. 

Amazonian tribes today who have been insulated from modern civilization, and some Australian Aborigines, for example, function within their environments and know its flora and fauna intimately.  In comparison, we  know something about the flora in our gut only as it relates to our health and therefore our ability to contribute to the prevailing economic system, and we understand in generalities a few things about the Earth's lifeforms as they appear on the other side of the glass of our video screens.  But as a rule we live in a severe state of near-complete  disconnection from other lifeforms.

What we have failed to understand, or even feel, is that Nature does not stop at the edge of a TV screen, or at the outlying parts of our bodies, because Nature is our bodies.  And we deny this truth at our own peril.  Ours is an age of chronic ill-health, and everyone knows someone who suffers from its characteristic ailments: high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, obesity, depression and so on.  Could Tarzan ever be "depressed"? 

Certainly Tarzan had emotions and could feel sadness and loss, but to create depression he would have to become a full-time astronaut completely disconnected from the Earth--exactly what we have become through our technologically-based lifestyles.  And why so much illness, and so little cure?  What is at the core of this epidemic of sickness that grows and grows no matter how much money and science we hurl at it?  And how can a fictional character almost 100 years old realistically help us?  Is Tarzan today obsolete--as ridiculous a figure as George of the Jungle?

Today, our predicament is that we become sick because we deny ourselves, our core natures, as a part of greater Nature.  When we use electric lights to artificially extend the length of the day, our minds may know it is night, but our bodies--and our endocrine systems and other light-sensitive cellular machineries--think that the longer days mean Summer.  And what is typically mammalian behavior in Summer?  To gorge on as much carbohydrates and sugars as possible to put on fat for the coming Winter. 

But today, for us, that "Winter" never comes, but the gorging goes on unabated year-round.  Grocery stores sell "low-fat" foods which still make us fat due to their high carb/sugar content.  A bear, for example, ready for hibernation, exhibits all the symptomology of modern man's ill health: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, pre-cancerous tissues, obesity, stress, depression and so on.  These "feast" traits all vanish after the "famine" of Winter, and the animal is healthy once more and ready to begin the cycle again.

We also are animals, and it is informative that animals in Nature do not get get cancer or diabetes, and they don't need to eat "low-fat" or jog to "keep their heart-rates up".  But our animals, our pets and most livestock, do get our diseases--and why?  Because they live with us, eat our food, and bask in our artificially long days.

Most if not all these problems can be solved by re-synchronizing our bodies with the Sun, waking and sleeping within the day-night cycle, and cutting out most carbohydrates and sugars. That is, eating and behaving like cavemen, or more singularly, like Tarzans. 

The other option is to continue on our present course of disconnection and sickness, in which the human organism basically evolves into a new form, a form that cannot connect with the natural world, cannot feed properly and cannot reproduce, because it is converting to a state of deadness.  Because, when Nature has no need for an animal, it kills it.  And the Nature in our bodies has decided that we are no longer necessary to it/ourselves and therefore we must die.

And we are doing all we can to help the process along.

My own experience with Tarzan started long ago with a Sunday afternoon movie on television in the mid-1960s.  I remember African natives being lashed to tied-down trees and then being torn in half alive as the ropes were cut and the bent-over trees released.  As a child I squirmed over that crotch-ripping horror.  But my next exposure was far more sedate--an abridged version of Tarzan of the Apes as published by the Whitman company.  I read it voraciously and spent hours studying its colorfully green cover artwork with its idealization of Tarzan, who I thought resembled my father only with hair on top.

Most recently I re-read Irwin Porges' entire Edgar Rice Burroughs biography and Phillip Jose Farmer's excellent Tarzan Alive.  With both of these books and some of the preceding elements of this essay in mind I dove into the green "jungle" of South Carolina for a two-and-a-half month vacation, spending as much time as possible synchronized with the Sun and Moon, living on "caveman" food like nuts, berries, fruit and meat, sleeping in a cave (my van) and wandering the river's edge in the heat.

What I found out there, alone and solitary like a real-life Tarzan, was an experience that didn't require
words or intellectual explanation; as I watched groups of buzzards scouring the shores for food, I saw
them not as part of a Wild Kingdom TV program but respectfully as my competitors for a limited food supply.  Animals like butterflies and baby turtles that were not in competition were seen with wonder and reverence, and like the plant life all around, not as separate selves but as all as part of a tapestry of Life at which I was the thoughtful and meditative center. 

Even as I later returned North to Wisconsin to reunite with my wife and children, driving hungrily past horrid and garish fast-food restaurants on the highway, I began instinctively looking at birds, possible fish in rivers, and even roadkill as sustenance.  At rest stops I saw people's pets and wanted to eat them.  I was returning to the Winter Land of the North, like some sun-browned Ice-Age cave man back from the hunt carrying nourishment for his family.

But while I was in those hot jungles of the South, where not another living man or woman was in sight, at those times I felt--and I could only express it in one way--that I was Tarzan.

My personal feeling is that Tarzan as a character needs to be put to rest, not only because he is so incredibly irrelevant today, but also so that new creations can fill the space he's occupying.  At this point, he is little more than a distraction, and a warm-and-fuzzy experience for fandomites which they grasp at over and over again trying to recapture some lost original thrill which now is forever gone.  It has become a meaningless, repetitive gesture.

My essay, Why Tarzan Matters, was, I felt, about the only authentically important thing that can be said about the character.  I predict that most Burroughs enthusiasts will likely find little use for it.

Tarzan was a picture of health but his followers are lingering.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Hero of Our Story...

I've had some acute insights lately about women, sex and porn, and this is from someone not only with an addictive personality but also who's been disconnecting from a porn addiction that goes way back to around 1970.  But Porn is something we don't talk about, isn't it?  For such a huge problem in our culture, the silence is deafening.

In America you're catered to at every turn with some well-marketed and potentially-addictive substance (or idea, or image) that will float your boat and help get you through the day.  Or so the unspoken claim goes.  Sure, have 5 teaspoons of sugar in a soda, or a cigarette, or some alcohol or drugs or porn.  Even if you ain't online at this very second, just looking-over a woman in public can imitate the porn rush.  And so fantasy spreads into reality.

In light of all these recent observations I've had not only deal with my own demons but also make decisions about my own work and its effects on the small society of comic art fans.  That's all lower-case, of course.  I've written extensively in the Orb books about the ill-health of the field, mainly its lack of ethics and derivative themes concerning sex and violence.

Getting away with brutality via trickery of human-shaped mannikens.

At any rate, after peddling thousands of titillating artworks over the years, and basically having been forced to by the marketplace in order to survive financially, I've modified my own work in terms of the sexuality in it.  To some the alterations might seem slight, but apparently to others they are simply not acceptable.  Recently, the following message arrived here via eBay's "ask seller a question":


I think Mike Hoffman is equally or more talented a draftsman than the inimitable Frank Frazetta, but here his execution is indolent, and he is obviously very bored and uninspired. I see mediocre women built like this drawing ALL DAY LONG.

When I buy fantasy art, (especially women) I want her body to be fantastical, waist tapered to near impossibility, manly or at least androgynous at the shoulders and tits reaching out to the heavens, but ALWAYS pretty!!. C'mon Mike, get your ass out to the titty bars again, buy some shots and get some lap dances and reconnect with what you do best, GODDESSES!!!

Hoffman is technically as good or better a draftsman than Frazetta, but currently waaaaaaay less motivated and executes lines with a lot less testosterone. I love your art and I own lots of it so get fired up again Mike with effeminate, physical surreality, please. Reality is boring enough.

Always, an objective fan (and collector).

And my reply?

Welcome to Reality.

This communication has reassured me that I am on the right track, as the irritation displayed by this person clearly shows that I am no longer adequately supporting his fantasy with my artwork.  In fact, I'm an utter failure in doing so.

 The uncooperative artwork in question.

Perhaps no one will wonder about the actual "personality" of Vampirella as depicted above, her likes/dislikes, her past relationships, her parents or her Astrological sign, but clearly the further we move toward a complete picture of any particular individual woman the less we objectify women as a whole.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Original Origins...

I don't post here much anymore, what with most people hogging Facebook all day long there doesn't seem much point.  Also, while I'm not running out of thoughts, I'm running out of the drive to communicate them.  And no one's really asking what happened to all the talking, either.  So?

Anyway, there's a new ORB book out, which hasn't been available long enough to make any waves, but probably it will sometime and certain folks will think I've lost my mind.  Why?  Because one of the articles concerns my experiences with extra-dimensional beings I call "The Blue People".  The Universe is a lot bigger than most may think, but I know now that it stretches infinitely in all directions, some we haven't imagined. But you can handle infinity, right?

The newest edition.

Other essays discuss the sad state of Comics and our culture, but who wants to hear about that?  More fun just to stay addicted to the electro-gizmos (smart phones/dumb people), continue chasing after increasingly elusive "warm and fuzzy" (or banal & fluffy) experiences, like Comics, or bouncing around like a freakin' pinball from the continuous din of pointless distraction on all sides.  I even went outside and sat under a tree to escape it all.

I wrote to the Rickford brothers to point out my last entry but got no reply.  Why?  I don't know.  I'm still interested in the race question, so I grabbed the book "A Modern Atlas of African History" recently and looked it over, astounded at the level of interference there by other nations.  The book is mainly maps, but imagine my surprise upon seeing the one below:

Neither you nor I are supposed to make light about the nation located between Togo and Nigeria named "Dahomey".  It is emphatically not where "da homeys" came from.  Are we clear on this?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Live and Learn...

It's with a mixture of pain and pleasure that I announce the retirement of my Afrobat comics numbers 1 and 2.  They sold reasonably well, and I initially designed them in the mode of 1970s Underground Comix, very much in the vein of Grass Green's work.  You could probably add in some elements from Blaxploitation films and a little Kirby storytelling and you'd more or less have it.

Part of the decision stemmed from my copping a copy of Spoken Soul, the Story of Black English, from a library sale down South a few months ago.  I read the chapters about Ebonics, and about the so-called "Ebonics jokes".  That was part of the recall action, but the main thrust was a half-buried memory of a Comic convention about a year ago...

What happened there was typical of any fan's search for graphic fulfillment, but in this case a Black man's eyes scavenged the table-tops and locked onto the African-Afro of my Afrobat comics.  He had his two young sons with him, and bought both issues.  At the time I pocketed the cash and thought little of it, but later I admit some shame that he likely expected a real superhero and instead got ridicule of his race.

I am not happy at the prospect of kicking people when they are down, and to African-Americans, that's partly what Afrobat does.  Had I made clever wordplay that parodied White language, like "collateral damage" etc., the pain wouldn't be as great as when inflicted on a people so downtrodden and victimized for so long.  Even now when Whitey gets uptight, they seek out the same old Whipping Boy, perhaps now in the useful form of "Welfare Queens", and get straight to work.

So, my own aptitude with language, grammar and dialects directs my mind to create wordplays like "Himalayan over there", which might be funnier if they were directed at the wealthy and powerful instead of African-Americans who suffer at the bottom of society.  The salient point here is that Ebonics "jokes" basically say that these people are too stupid to speak "properly".

So, my feelings of guilt and shame over this are expressed in the retraction of Afrobat.  Maybe he'll be back someday in another form, more kind, compassionate and loving.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Life as a Pork Chop...

I discovered an Australian artist named Tony Edwards sometime back in 2009 and dug his old surfing-influenced art so much I actually wrote to him and asked about getting some prints. He was real nice but said he'd moved on to landscape painting and that his older stuff was basically behind him. I kinda wanted to say "anybody can paint barns, but wit is rare" but I didn't, and a good thing too, as you'll see later.

The Goodvibes art that caught my eye.

Tony wrote to me again last month about his new collection of Captain Goodvibes material, and in spite of the exorbitant Australian postage rates went ahead and got one. If you want one too ya better hurry, they're only printing 1,000.

Da Big Book.

And what a book it is. On newsprint, with dayglo inks throughout. It's a truly beautiful book, and big too, about 13.5x9 and around 400 pages. These notorious Captain Goodvibes strips started around 1973 and ran in a paper called Tracks. There are hundreds of these faithfully reproduced along with various other pieces, and they're so visually dense I haven't begun to digest them all yet.

You could say they're "Underground" in appearance, but there's a meticulous artistry to much of it that most of the American Comix guys couldn't come close to. It's as if some artistic proto-species had evolved alone downunder without much input from elsewhere and not giving a marsupial damn either.

Can you zoom in on this one?

And I'm glad I bit my tongue about the landscape stuff because Tony's pieces are flippin' exquisite, a term I don't use loosely. They simultaneously embody the kind of linearity he employed 30+ years ago and yet are completely "painterly" as well, so the tension between the two approaches generates some real eyeball interest. If I had to compare them to anyone, and no kidding, it'd be Edward Hopper.

A beguiling sample of Tony Edward's current paintings.

If you're rich and lucky you may still be able to grab a copy from

You can't have mine but if you drop by I'll let you look at it.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Post #300...

Welcome to Post #300, and not only is it an anniversary, but it's also a New Year. It also turns out I've been on eBay for ten years, but that's not exactly cause for celebration around here.

I recently wrote some stuff about Art today, and here's part of the correspondence--I'll try and reference w/text when necessary:

Well, thank God Frazetta didn't go to this guy's ( An Italian "Maestro") school. He'd have been smashed down flatter than a pancake. The world would have been robbed.

As for Art students, only a small % of grads will ever amount to anything. My experience is that the teachers know all along who doesn't belong there--and they take the money anyway. Usually the parent's hard-earned money.

Speaking of money, these Classical Art techniques apparently developed in order to flatter the people with lots of it. Now, the Fine-Art grads can go out into the world looking for folks with lots of $ who need flattery. Or, as they actually suggest, learn how to crank out paintings by the yard. Then you can try to compete with the Chinese on eBay.

Maybe it's just me, I am not a "joiner". All I need is a book.

Then there is the question as to how relevant all this Art History and its techniques really is anymore. Some young kid, when smacked with centuries worth of "This is how it must done" may never be able to escape mentally. It's a kind of prison.

A few hundred years ago, when life was much slower and quieter, I suppose the effect of these paintings was very different. Now, I think the effect is not the picture, but to the young artist it's "I want those skills".

And I admit that's what it was with me, too. Having the best skills is really just another way to beat people up. It's a form of violence. You wouldn't believe how many artists have told me their dreams where they went to visit Frank Frazetta. Why? Because he's the Art Uber-male, the Alpha, the Bad-ass.

I guess this is where Ego will serve the artist better than anything else. Like a Picasso had the audacity to tear up everything up to that point and reassemble something new from other inspirations. He drew from plaster casts too, so no wonder he was a little crazy.

At this point, I'd rather look at a cave painting from Lascaux than any clever Still-Life no matter how technically good it is. Who taught them how to draw? Did they have their own schools, where some fat parasite charged them in fresh meat and women?

All this stuff sorta reeks of that "Past Is Better" idea to me, that the "Old Ways" are still the best. They're not the best, although they may have been for their time, but today is a different time.

There's groups online that champions people like Bougereau, and they actually claim that those paintings "speak" about life whereas Modern Art is a hopeless dead-end. Check these people
out, they are totally rabid:

So it's all fight-fight-fight, and in true religious fashion, indoctrinate the Young and clueless. Some of the Young may be looking to their Elders for advice and direction, and God help them
if Classical Painting chops is the best they can offer in view of the Future we're facing.

I've seen modern "classical" paintings, with all the rendered light and oil paint stuff, trying to be relevant about things like 9/11, and to me it's like listening to a Edison wax-cylinder recording
about the Moon landing. I can't describe it any other way than CORNY. Pure, unadulterated, maudlin CORN.

How about a series of hand-tied lacework depicting the chain of events of the Afghanistan war? Heck, Lace is lost art, too.

Maybe human nature doesn't change, but societies do, and I don't think there's anything much about our contemporary lives that is screaming out to be immortalized in Oil Paint, lace, or anything similar. We need to use our own tools and techniques to talk about ourselves.