Tuesday, October 06, 2015

I'm Trying To Do More "Scenes" + APE Musings

It helps to work with good material.

I went to the Natural History Museum today. In L.A. They have lots of stuffed animals--and dinosaurs! I mean, TONS. I only had time for these two quick brushpen studies.

I'm taking my animal drawing class here this Saturday. Wish me luck.

The teaching is going good, except I seem to have run afoul of their absentee/substitute policy...dunno if they'll re-up me for next semester. Oh well, what can you do. It's been fun so far!

Attended APE Con this last weekend; it's been my favorite convention these last couple years, tho' I wouldn't call it a huge money maker (none of 'em are, except Emerald City). But this year they moved from San Fran to distant San Jose, and resultant crowds were pretty thin. However, I did get a big response from my new HORIZONTAL format banner. People really paused and admired...and then walked on.

And downtown San Jose is very cool, almost the perfect setting for a Con as far as easy walking convenience and lots of great restaurants and affordable, nice lodgings with an historic flair. Really hope it can take root and start to thrive.

But here's the bigger question APE's dimminishment brought on: in 2015, what IS an Alternative Press Expo really about? The title fills my head with visions of Last Gasp and Fantagraphics and Dan Clowes wannabes (guilty!)...but is that really the market today? I mean, does anybody really want to gather and celebrate that stuff anymore?? It was always outside the mainstream, but now is it just like, who gives a crap?

p.s. Tom Moon I talked more with Stuart Ng about book publishing and I pitched him on yr book(s). I PROMISED TO BRING YOU TO HIS LAIR AND HAVE YOU SHOW HIM WHAT YOU GOT.


MrGoodson2 said...

Brilliant synergy generosity bringing in Stuart Ng on a Tom Moon publishing discussion. Ng will have solid gold ideas on how the book should be done. Probably go-between on the printing operations.

Take your kids to the LaBrea Tar Pits. Draw some saber tooth skeletons.

Any kind of field trip seems to be logistically challenging. Do you have the students agree to spending twice the amount of time class ordinarily takes?
I wish i could go. Maybe I can . I haven't checked lotto yet.

That top scene is great. All that confident work of line and tone and no undo button. At this point you are doing a new Xtreme sport with your art. Working without a net.

MrGoodson2 said...

And you posts are so meaty. I forgot about the headline being about APE. You're right. There is no gate keeper. Most art is outsider art (the description of my art on one of my Frazetta copies on Ebay)

MrGoodson2 said...

Notice on that entire ebay page, no mention is made of Frazetta. Kind of embarrassing.

Tom Moon said...

Great drawings as usual Marty.

I'm not sure I understand your comments about the alternative press market. Are you saying that nobody cares that much about Fantagraphics and Last Gasp anymore and that there is no significant market left for that kind of work? Do you feel that it wasn't worth the effort going to APE?

I hope that that is not the case since those publishers are among my favorites, and I've always pictured that my own work would fit in with their market. But if that is what you are saying, then it sadly confirms my own feeling that it's not a feasible strategy for me to publish hard copies of my comics and try and sell them at the Cons. I'll have to think of something else.

But in any case, thanks for talking me up to Stuart. He seems like a great guy. This last Con I saw a couple of little publications at his booth that made me think, "This looks like something I could do." I'd be happy to show him my work sometime and get his feedback.

Davis Chino said...

Dudes! Always brightens my day to hear from y'all....

Answers/comments in order:

1. Elz, integrating field trips into the class schedule has been no problem, not least because my class IS SCHEDULED FROM 10:00 AM to 4:45 PM every Saturday. Yes--almost 8 hours (with a sub-hour for lunch). THAT'S intense.

2. It would be great to have you along. You could be my teaching assistant!! Team teachers!

3. I love that you appreciate the straight-into-ink element of my art...I'm seeing all this Inktober underdrawing going on and I think "p'shaw!"

4. Tom, it's more the idea that the world has moved on from a time when comics were split between an obvious "mainstream" (all the heroes--which I just typed as "herpes"--easy to do if you hit the "P" instead of "O" on the keyboard! Ha!) and the "outsiders" (Crumb, Fantagraphics, et al); but that alternative genre/demographic/fanbase has become so diffused and diced-up and in general sought out and serviced by so many outlets that the old-school "Alternative" label hardly applies anymore. As San Jose patrons were telling me, Fanime Con at the same San Jose Convention Center was HUGE--filled the MAIN hall, not the little junior temporary building we were in.

More thoughts later...

Tom Moon said...

Ah, so Anime/Manga is in these days? That does seem to be what young people are attracted to. The style has never really appealed to me. As far back as when Speed Racer was on TV I thought it looked weird, and the animation was so tacky. And those big eyes, so like Keane paintings, give me the creeps.

You know what old movie I like that has a very strange but cool style to it? - Done in cutout stop motion, it's an old French/Czechoslavakian film called "Fantastic Planet" (La Plan├Ęte Sauvage). I remember seeing previews for it when it first came out in the seventies, but I only watched it for the first time about a year ago.


BDMontag said...

On my Facebook newsfeed I get posts from the self- publisher association. A lot of the posts are kickstarter for graphic novels. The posts are a little too wordy for me ( yes, I am a hypocrate) but I don't see anything "alternative" in this self published stuff. The big two have their properties, but there is nothing particularly mainstream about them either. Take away the DC and Harley Quinn would be indistinguishable from anything I see trying to be self- published or by Marvel. Emo, check. Busty with guns, check. Gerald McBoing Boing style with ironic edge, check. Etc. So there are just different distribution networks, for a small total markrtplace, but no real distinctions. Is that anywhere close to your point , Marty?

Davis Chino said...


YES, like that.

"Alternative" should be about a unique approach to the content, or making stories that aren't gettin' told elsewhere. Not just the JV team trying out tomorrow's potential "properties," hoping to make Varsity.

This commonality of story/attitude you describe Ben--I'm seeing the same thing. The market seems saturated with it...and this makes my hopeful, optimistic side think, there must be an untapped hunger out there for something DIFFERENT--like The Teen Ellis!!...I mean, right?

There ARE those wordless stories and such like that represent the truly non-mainstream: the Art Spiegelman-type abstract stories, or the deliberately obscure, or obtuse, or just plain supra-twee works that you find in "serious" collections. Some are beautiful, some are cool, most are just a little too much like art school students talking to each other as a way to avoid their homework...and it's all so far afield of the sorta stuff WE'RE doing.

I've learned this artsy realm has its own economics and players...for instance, Eric Haven, our "UR" man (creator of "Bed-Man, Dreamlord of the Night Sky"); I see him as more like US, but in this world he's published by AdHouse Books, who pub a lot of this art school obscur-o stuff. Everytime I approach one of those publishers with my stuff (as I did with AdHouse), the chill in their response makes me think I've broken some unspoken rule. Guess I look like a Marvel/DC book to their artsy eyes!

But I also think the great new literary tide of the "graphic novel" never really came in...you've got some cross-over success stories like Alison Bechdel (sp?) and of course Clowes and Chris Ware and Adrian Tomine and Lynda Barry...but it's not like every Barnes & Noble now has a shelf dedicated to this "serious/adult" genre...in fact, it's a pretty thin field, and they just get dumped in among the hero books. Second wave dudes like Jordan Crane Michael Cho ("Shoplifter") may get one-off shelf space in there, too, but their stuff is kinda disappointing, and certainly not setting the world on fire.

And nobody is going to APE to buy these sorts of books, which I think were the kinda books APE was founded to champion.

So: a convention that's outlived its usefulness?

Davis Chino said...

Tom: YES to animanga's continued popularity--again, look at the aisles of B&N, I always see at least a few teens splayed on the floor of their ENTIRE AISLE OF MANGA, reading in a manner that can only be called "voraciously."

BUT I've been getting more and more "young folk" coming up to me at Con's complimenting my style and expressing a desire to move outside of their manga-centric reading experience.

And then they go buy more Deadpool.

I'll look at this movie you linked....

Davis Chino said...

And Tom have you ever looked at the original Speed Racer manga from the 60's?? The comics? They're damn well done. Solid as heck. Great cars.

But yeah, eyes are too big. And too anglo (what was up with that??? Jim Gorham--can you enlighten us??).

Tom Moon said...

I didn't know that you have been busy approaching publishing houses like AdHouse. That's great news that you are out there doing a lot of legwork. And their response was interesting. You are probably right that by comparison Teen Ellis is too mainstream for them!

What is "supra-twee"?

Tom Moon said...

Fantastic Planet is a real cult classic. The entire movie used to be available on YouTube, but no longer. There are just a couple of segments remaining. Still you can get the gist of it just from watching those. The link I provided is to just one of the 8-minute segments.

No, I've never seen the Speed Racer manga from the 60s. Can you find me an example?

Tom Moon said...

Oh, here's the entire movie in French with English subtitles on DailyMotion:


MrGoodson2 said...

Fantastic Planet was a mind blower when I saw it at the May theatre when it had its American release. It tapped queasiness areas with weirdness that might be common in the formative human mind. Child desire for God power. The little characters were so stoic about all the big mayhem done to them. Really blood thirsty. It made the payoff with access to the giants pleasure-breeding area very choice.

I shared with a Screenwriting FB group that I felt a movie story was always a build to a showdown. I think I'm onto something. And since lots of people recommend figuring out your ending first when you do a script it makes it a simplistic matter to think "It will be a showdown."

Fantastic Planet obviously has that showdown I described. Someone used Big Lebowski as an example of no showdown. But they cited the Nihlists at the end as the minor example of an ignorable showdown. I agreed at the time. Then I realized the showdown is with...The Big Lebowski! Of course that's the showdown.

Tom Moon said...

I just now watched Fantastic Planet on the DailyMotion site and again I loved it. I realize I'm very attuned to that Moebius-type East/West-European-comics feel with its 60s-underground-psychedelic overtones.

That aesthetic collides and combines with my Carl-Barks-Mort-Weisenger view of the world.

MrGoodson2 said...

That's a very cool blend of art stylings.

Rickart said...

Thoughts about APE...I think alternative has just become mainstreamed. I think most of what we consider alterative these days are either the click-y New York scene stuff that appears in RAW (is RAW still around?) or its online stuff that has found a super niche fan base. The latter group do better at bigger, more mainstream cons because that's where they're fans go because their fans like lots of things, not just alt comics. Think of the two women who sat next to us at ECCC a couple of years ago... they had lots of fans who sought them out at ECCC, but those people probably also like other alt stuff AND more mainstream stuff. So, as a fan with a variety of tastes, do you spend your hard earned money on admission to APE, or some huge con where you can see ALL of your favorite creators, both big publishers and indy comics? The same goes for creators... it makes more sense to invest in a table at a big con with bigger crowds, crowds that are likely to have a substantial population of your fans and potential new ones as well.

Rickart said...

Also, I would say that if you want to see a selection of graphic novels that are being produced that aren't superheroes, then you might want to take a look at your local library. The library in Lynnwood WA has a huge selection of Manga and SuperHero comics in the YA section, but they also have graphic novels for grown ups shelved with the regular fiction. So alt comics still are around, but they are finding other channels to the marketplace.