Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Sons of the City

Hello everyone!

As promised a couple posts ago, I'd like to spend a little time on the fact "not all free is good". Book fans of all stripes are all too aware of that theory since Milwaukee became Schwartz Bookstores-free.

Schwartz bookshops served the Cream City community for 82 years, since 1927, when Harry Schwartz started his first store in the back of a beauty shop. And didn't only serve by selling books. He supported local and national authors with in-store book signings, and... at times... with his checkbook (funding the publication of books).

Schwartz was succeeded by his family and, eventually, opened 5 stores in total. This feat marked Schwartz Bookstores as the most successful independent bookstore chain in the state, if not the country. Of course, times change and people often change with it. Internet shopping, large corporate bookstore chains, and a shaky economy have all contributed to hard times for the Schwartz family. In early 2009, shoppers on Schwartz's mailing list received the official news the stores would be closing at the end of March. This is truly sad news for a community which seems so proud to support locally-owned business.

Could anything have been done to save the stores? Probably not, but it does raise the question of what waits for us in the future. What happens to the local comic book shops? Where will independent/self-published authors sell their wares now? Will life for those authors be the same, if they cannot establish personal relationships with the people responsible for selling their artwork? Time will tell.

On the upside of Cream City sons making good on their life passion, I've added a new link to the Cream City links listing. Damian Valentine Mayek, working simply as Damian Valentine Music, has an amazing story about what can happen to those who pursue their dreams with self-belief. Please check out his site, especially the bio section, to learn more about this amazing musical and visual artist.

Hats off to Schwartz and Mayek for giving the Cream City faithful one more reason to be proud of the city they hail as home.



Sunday, April 19, 2009

New Booty

Hello everyone!

Sorry to disappoint, but the title above is in no way a reference to the latest hit from the flavor of the week in the rap game. The title doesn't refer to a new Chris Rock comedy routine either. I'm simply sharing some cool stuff I've been fortunate enough to get my grubby mitts on recently.

1) Title: Bardin the Superrealist. Author: Max (Francesc Capdevila). Publisher: Fantagraphics Books. This hardcover collection of psychedelic strips written and illustrated by the Spanish artiste (Max) was released in 2006, but I've only now discovered the gem. God, art, vice, life, death, philosophy... no stone is left unturned in a style familiar to fans of Walt & Skeezix, Krazy Ignatz and Jimmy Corrigan.

2) Title: Notes Over Yonder and Tiger! Tiger! Tiger! Author: Scott Morse. Publisher: Red Window/AdHouse Books. Those fortunate fans keeping up with Scott Morse over the years have noted a constant exploration of story styles, format and presentation. This is an artist who really doesn't know the meaning of fear or limitations. Notes and Tiger! are his most recent reminders life and art are always linked firmly in the mind, soul & heart of an artist. It's worth noting Tiger! is clearly marked volume one so I'm looking forward to more in the series. If you keep up with his blog, you are aware there is a new addition to the "Ancient" book series coming our way soon. Mister Morse is also working on other projects (somehow) when not at his day job with Pixar Animation Studios.

3) Title: Birth Of A Nation. Author: Aaron McGruder/Reginald Hudlin/Kyle Baker. Publisher: Crown Publishers. Ah... politics, solcial commentary, comedy, and purty drawings enclosed between two hard covers. Reads like a dream come true, doesn't it? I thought so too. Unfortunately, it took me all of 4 years to discover this fine work. Fortunately, good art... in any medium... never grows old or stale. This is, yet, another brilliant example of comics as serious literature.

4) Title: Your Career In Animation. Author: David B Levy. Publisher: Allworth Press. Okay, Okay... no... I am not an animator. BUT... I love animation... AND... I would love to be an animator... AND... it serves as a great companion to my copies of Eisner's Shop Talk, Eisner/Miller and Comics & Sequential Art. I don't think any artist's library is complete without a small collection of books tackling the subject of art and commerce.

So... now you're probably wondering what kind of reviews I consider the above. Well, they aren't reviews at all. I'm simply passing on information in hopes you'll become interested enough to get up, get out, pick up, read and form your own opinion .



Monday, April 6, 2009

Cream City Conversations with Jennifer Young

As promised Saturday, here's the latest on Jennifer Young. I will prove a bit wordier than usual in this 'conversation' so I'll keep this intro short and sweet. Enjoy!

1) For the uninitiated, your name and location?

Jennifer "Jenny Bunny Bunns" Young, Atlanta, GA

2) What have you been up to lately? What are projects have you been attached to in the first 6 months of 2008?

Because I've transitioned to a different tattoo studio - the first one since my apprenticeship, I'm wrapping up The Apprentice Diaries, my comic strip diary of my life as a new female tattoo artist. Volume 8 will be my last. Now that I've left my "alma mater" to move onto a new studio, I've renamed my comic strip diary The Inkbunny Diaries. Both hardcopy versions will be available on my website and various book selling sites (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Borders) and Lulu.com.

Other than that, in the past year I've been getting back into the art-show circuit, starting in the Atlanta area. The first one I did in 3-4 years was last December, and since then I've been in 4-5 art shows and did a spot in a lecture series at The Contemporary in Atlanta, GA. They can be a little stressful if the deadline is short notice, but it pushes me to draw for myself, which I rarely do otherwise. And it pushes me to explore different avenues and to delve deeper into familiar themes.

3) When and where can people pick up and/or see these works?

My website is probably the most convenient way to see everything I do and how to get stuff! I'm also on Facebook and Myspace, too.


4) What projects and events are on the horizon? Do you have release dates in-mind at present? If so, indulge us.

I just released my final "Diary of an Apprentice" volume (8) a few of months ago. I was also really excited to be in the recently released Anthology, Muscles & Frights! YAY! Other than that, I've got a few art shows coming up, the one I'm most looking forward to is at the Youngblood Gallery in Atlanta, GA, opening January 10th!

*Note: Great news all around. Did I ever send you a personal copy of Muscles & Frights or did you slip through the cracks when you didn't show at Fallcon? Whoops! -AR

As for my new comic strip diary series, "The Inkbunny Diaries", I'm debating whether I should submit it to publishers, or keep going with self-publishing at Lulu.com.

*Note: Your army of fans would probably be the best sounding board on this. Either way, I know your books will continue to look amazing AND be very entertaining. -AR

5) Have you been working in any new mediums or experimenting with your known style and tools, at all?

Yes! This year I've applied more of my art nouveau influences in, including my tattoo work. I've invested in getting new materials to help supplement my graphic design and illustrative work, like getting a wacom tablet and new software, etc.

*Note: Mucha is at the top of my most beloved artists ever... in any medium. I've always enjoyed seeing the At Nouveau influence in other artists. -AR

6) Do you keep a sketchbook? If so, what do you get out of this process? Do you think it's a good thing, in general, for an artist to do?

Of course it's always good to keep "in shape". However, lately, I have not really kept a set sketchbook. I just use loose papers or different paper pads, depending on what I'm doing. I think working at a tattoo shop has made me form these habits - not that other tattoo artists do this... it's just been so hectic between work and side-work that it's all I've been able to use whenever I have time.

*Note: After a (too) long hiatus from drawing and painting I've put some sketches together -recently- and I also put together an ink drawing for someone... what a relief. I feel ready to put together more finished work now. I suppose there must be some relation between constant sketching and final product productivity. -AR

7) Do you ever use these sketchbook drawings for your printed works? If so, please explain how the sketchbook art informs your finished work.

I like the sketchy look. I often think, as far as my own work, anyway, that my sketches look better than the final draft. I just enjoy the loose line work laying under the stronger lines. There's something very beautiful in those lines - like happy accidents, etc.

*Note: I wish I had the patience for this. I love some of my brush works, but I feel too... erm... exposed when showing that work. My usual tight pen work makes me feel some sort of strange, unexplainable security. -AR

8) With convention season in full swing, where can the comic book reading public expect to see you and purchase your merchadise [personally]?

The only one I make time to go to these days, because of my busy work and travel schedule, is the Minnesota FallCon. I always look forward to seeing everyone there each year - it really brings me back to my Midwestern roots, haha! Unfortunately, due to scheduling conflicts with a new tattoo shop I moved to, I could not make this 2008 one :(

*Note: You were sorely missed Jenn. I think you would have loved the ICC lounge. -AR

9) The big convention this year has got to be Fallcon 2008. If you plan to be there, will you have anything special for that particular show?

I'm bringing as much stuff as I possibly freaking can.

10) Now we're caught up on what you're doing and where we can see this year. What are you reading and watching these days? Is there any particular book or film you'd like to make sure people are looking for?

Between everything I'm doing and involved with, there is very little time for reading, unfortunately. In fact, BECAUSE everything's been so hectic, I no longer have the attention span for reading. So instead, I've been following webcomics & blogs, such as:






And a plethora of misc. others.

As far as film and TV, I recently saw Bolt, and LOVED it. I'm also following the shows House and Dexter.

11) Anything already in the works for 2009?

Ha! One thing life has taught me - always work toward long-term goals, but never plan too far ahead. There are too many surprises down the road.

Thanks, Jenn!

There you go, folks. I hope you'll check out some of the sites shared in the 'conversation'. The economy being what it is, we could use all the free stuff we can get our grubby little mitts on.

But not all that is free is good... I'll be letting you in on what I mean next installment.



Saturday, April 4, 2009

Rise Of The Ogre

Hello all,

After a long, long hiatus... I'm coming back with more frequent updates and other posts. This time I really mean it.

My first order of business will be posting a new Jenny 'Bunns' Young interview. Miss Young has been busy changing her website, pumping out those illustrated diaries, inflicting inky pain on patrons, and other mayhem. Look for this to surface within a week.

Have a nice weekend.