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Tag: Comics

Links to note… I'm way late edition

The NYT on Kenneth Noland’s death

Joe Cameron on photo book value vs. photo book use (Please Note: A former Teacher of mine) While you are at that site – this is the best photo related blog post ever.

The Daily Batman (see above) is just too good not to share

I thought Lenny Kaye looked great at Robert Miller last Wednesday

Hot Gossip: Word on the street is Manfred Baumgartner is about to sign a lease for a small gallery space in a terrific location in D.C. (DC could use his return, his last gallery in DC was always amazing – I still remember his Joan Mitchell show)

Someone seems interested in the whole Deitch saga, see Green, Tyler (here, here, here, here, and here) – in all honesty, it’s a pretty interesting story.

Photo of my show being installed (Below) – Drop by Thursday night in Chelsea if you can. (511 25th Street)

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The smiley face is the American version of the swastika

Recently I was reading the comic form review of the new movie Died Young Stayed Pretty in the Vilage Voice and that quote struck me as interesting and perhaps in it’s absurdity absolutely correct.

I quietly filed that great quote in the back of my head and just went about my day for a few days and suddenly I was seeing the smiley everywhere I really didn’t want to. The first was one of those Wal-Mart ads with the “rollback” slashing prices as the corporate behemoth swallows local culture whole with it’s army of pensioners greeting you at the door – a future they never envisioned in retirement. The next one was more unexpected – the movieThe Watchmen – which has used a smiley face as an icon for the graphic novel for years – a comic book I really enjoyed when I read it back in the eighties (that along with Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight were probably the most impact full titles of the eighties) and I guess I just got used to seeing the cover enough – but was shocked by how well used it was in the current movie adaptation – funny enough it’s use mostly does symbolize an approach to humanity that at time is questionable in it’s relationship with the culture around it.

After these two, examples the image just kept coming at me like a bad dream – never really being used for anything better than a cynical symbol of a desire towards consumer culture or worse as a an icon used by a sales culture that is at best dominating and at worst the future employer and cultural access point of the future poor and struggling middle class.

Have a nice day.

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Superman's sexual fetish revealed

Superman isn’t the only one with a secret. Joe Shuster, the artist who co-created the Man of Steel along with writer Jerry Siegel had one of his own.

In the 1950s, when Shuster and Siegel were fighting with DC Comics to regain the copyright to their character, Shuster was unable get any work. So instead of illustrating the adventures of Lois and Clark, Shuster took to decidedly different sorts of couples in images for Nights of Horror, a fetish magazine sold in Times Square sex shops.

It doesn’t take a huge imagination to look at the cover of Craig Yoe’s upcoming Secret Identity: The Fetish Art of Superman’s Co-creator Joe Shuster (Abrams, $24.95 – Available in April) and picture the young artist getting out his frustrations over what he’d lost, because the faces seem awfully close to those of the most famous famous couple in comics.

Most (if not all) of this is taken from SCI FI

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Robert Crumb at ICA (Philadelphia)

I love comic books, however when they get into a gallery somehow the love starts to fade.

Comic books were the reason I started to draw and then paint in the first place so it’s not like I have some kind of dislike about comics going on here – far from it – I still buy comics. I’m not talking about Magna, I’m talking about old school Marvel and DC comics – although to be sure it’s mostly independents as opposed to the big two. Which brings me to Robert Crumb (and really the spirit of all the San Francisco based alt-comics of the sixties/early seventies) and his show at the ICA. Which was just a bore.

I think the problem stems from how do you really give someone the experience of reading comics in a gallery/museum setting. The ICA has done all the things that people try to do – present whole stories on the wall like the pages just go on and on, as well as putting open books in glass covered tables so people can read through them. Both of these things work with seeing the art and reading it like some kind of wall text at the beginning of a show the trouble here is that comics are just not that medium. Comics are an intimate and mentally explosive experience that is about closing off the world around you than just reading it and showing the pretty pictures in a open room. It is probably that intimacy and immersiveness that I miss the most.

The show is well done, and hits all the high points that a non-comics fan would want to see – Mr. Natural, the “keep on trucking guy”, Fritz the Cat (with no mention of that horrible Ralph Bakshi film), The Snoid, The Devil Girl, and even an American Splendor or two (his period of illustration for Harvey Pekars’ stories based out of Cleveland) even his foot and leg fetish are well documented and everything is shown in a respectful and positive way. Things for the fans are thrown in as well – giant wood cut-outs of important characters (see above) – a more than life size sculpture of Aline (his wife). His recent images of old-time musicians are here too. You really do have all the ingredients to see the key elements and central motif in Crumbs work, himself.

What a self we get to see, both anti-hero and super-hero. Crumb was always able to walk both sides of that line with his boldly creative personal stories of triumph and tragedy to his sexual adventures and misadventures. Always the man in an ill fitting suit with out of step tastes and at the same time a pop icon. I’ve always thought that Crumb’s askew narcissism was his greatest asset in showing his world view to his readers – any somewhat awake viewer will see that, and be the better, or worse for it.

There are things that really work in the white cube – but somehow comics are not quite there. They should be, but we as artists and viewers (and curators) need to figure that out for the future. I’m looking forward to one day seeing Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Jim Steranko, Don Martin, Harvey Kurtzman, The Hernandez Brothers, Art Spiegleman, Charles Burns and many others sitting in a room with Fat Fredie’s Cat while in the same room we see minimalist, conceptual, and earth based art made during the same time period.

R Crumb’s Underground runs through December 7, 2008

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