G A N Z E E R . T O D A Y

reads

One of the first entries in my new notebook because I have a terrible book problem and very inadequate space to accommodate it, yet here I am eyeing a 700+ page type specimen book as I type this.

Why am I like this?

The Chris Ware quote is from IN THE STUDIO: VISITS WITH CONTEMPORARY CARTOONISTS which—initially—I was a bit disappointed with only because I was expecting to see cartoonists in their studios and get a good look at their setups, daily routine, and much talk about process and craft stuff. None of that is in there. But now that I know what is in the book and possess no false expectations to be crushed, I find that I enjoy returning to it now and again, picking up on something new every time. Like that quote for instance, which rings true to me as a perfect methodology for crafting stories.

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First day of one full week of solo parenting has commenced and I am already dead. And it just so happens to coincide with the week I'm determined to wrap up this chapter of TSG because it really has been an awful lot of time, hasn't it?

His mother though—gods bless her—did book a sitter for 2 days out of the week, and organized daycare transport for 3, so at least that's some of the load taken care of.🤞

Currently reading: BLOOD, SWEAT, & CHROME: THE WILD AND TRUE STORY OF MAD MAX: FURY ROAD, and the title does not lie. If half of what is recounted in this book is true, then the making of this film is truly mad and most certainly unlike that of any other film in history. The book reads fast and drops glorious little nuggets throughout along with much inspiration. And I'm willing to bet that the 384 pages dedicated to chronicling the movie's wild journey barely scratches the surface. I was only 50 pages in when I realized I had to go ahead and order THE ART OF MAD MAX: FURY ROAD immediately, which I'm actually surprised took me this long to get around to.

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“And the strangest thing about the nightmare street was that none of the millions of things for sale were made there. They were only sold there. Where were the workshops, the factories, where were the farmers, the craftsmen, the miners, the weavers, the chemists, the carvers, the dyers, the designers, the machinists, where were the hands, the people who made? Out of sight, somewhere else. Behind walls. All the people in all the shops were either buyers or sellers. They had no relation to the things but that of possession.”

As much as I enjoy seeing Ursula K. Le Guin rip Capitalism to shreds, her prose has failed to captivate me. At least as far as THE DISPOSSESSED is concerned. 139 pages in so far, and I care not for a single character or any of the events that might transpire, which is a good reminder that ethos alone—however important it may be—is never enough to fully carry a narrative.

Still, there are a great many nuggets sprinkled throughout:

“To make a thief, make an owner; to create crime, create laws.”

#reads

From Le Guin's THE DISPOSESSED:

“Sabul had ceased to be a functioning physicist years ago; his high reputation was built on expropriations from other minds. Shevek was to do the thinking, and Sabul would take the credit.”

And then later:

“Shevek's career, like the existence of his society, depended on the continuance of a fundamental unadmitted profit contract.”

There's a high concept nugget of a story there. An analogy for the rebellious independence of a small nation state from the tentacles of colonialism told through the microcosm of a post-graduate “rebellion” within a university setting.

Le Guin's story isn't that, but that would be a story worth telling, as it is my understanding that much of how universities operate is in need of complete reimagining.

I wouldn't be the one to tell it though. This would require the expertise of someone neck deep in university life and that ain't me.

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I know fully well that the Kindle is terribly old tech (as of 5 years ago), but the luddite in me kept me on the fence for years about acquiring one for myself. I finally took the plunge mainly in response to my dwindling shelf space. My love for reading paper books aside, there's also my love for bookmaking and book design itself that I tend to appreciate, in addition to—quite frankly—the heavy discounts on some incredible paper books you might find at second hand stores, which has been my usual go-to for acquiring books for years now.

I'm not really a complete luddite. I'll embrace the latest piece of tech when it comes to some things (hello, Terra Kaffe), but rely on tried and true traditional approaches when it comes to others (pencil + paper for me, baby). With books though, the shelves (or lack thereof) made the decision for me.

And y'know what? I'm thoroughly enjoying it. Reading a 400 page book that is in fact lighter and thinner than my phone is certainly a convenience. The fact that you can connect it to your Goodreads account where your highlights turn up? * chef's kiss *

I just wish it would auto-update one's reading progress though. On a completely different note, I would love to see more laptops incorporate e-ink displays into their design, not entirely unlike what Lenovo did with their ThinkBook Plus series.

“The idea is like grass. It craves light, likes crowds, thrives on crossbreeding.” – Ursula K. Le Guin, THE DISPOSESSED

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It occurs to me that what Neil Gaiman did with Silas in THE GRAVEYARD BOOK, in that he describes everything around and about the character for us to conclude that he's a vampire without ever once actually telling us he's a vampire is the literary equivalent of what Sergio Toppi does visually with his negative-space silhouettes.

I love this a great deal and would love to work it more into my practice (both in my writing as well as my visuals).

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There was one day in London I had designated as the comicbook day, whereby I'd get a crew together and we'd do a bit of pub and comicshop hopping. Due to scheduling difficulties, the crew however was narrowed down to Ahmed Raafat, James Harvey, and Isteshhad and the day became a couple hours. Nevertheless, it was still a highlight!

Got one pub in and two comix joints; Notting Hill Comics Exchange and Gosh!. Also made a little trade with James Harvey and got his latest, LUIGI MODE, which—judging by the first issue—is so very good in true James Harvey fashion. Nobody makes comix likes James, not visually, in tone, story, or anything. Such a unique, masterful, and most of all odd voice he is.

Only other thing I managed to read is one of those SPEAKEASYs, a British rag about the comicbook industry from the 80's and one that I'd never heard of before. The one I read, dated June 88, is evidently an important one! It reports the formation of the Eisner and Harvey awards after the dissolution of the Kirby Awards, the establishment of Alan Moore's Mad Love publishing outfit, and even newcomer Rob Liefeld's HAWK & DOVE debut (Rob Liefeld who within less than 10 years would be paying Alan Moore $10k a script for his stellar yet seldomly talked about work on SUPREME and others). The way history unfolds will never cease to amaze me.

Plenty of other gems in the issue, including an interview with even then obnoxious Howard Chaykin and a review of Bryan Talbot's ADVENTURES OF LUTHER ARKWRIGHT which I haven't seen in a good 20 years and probably need to restock on and reread but I have too many books as it is and need to remedy the situation by either unloading books first or moving into a bigger space but I'll be damned if I move anywhere else ever again goddammit.

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Just arrived. My first order from directly from Fantagraphics who produce some of the finest made books in existence. They've certainly come a long way since publishing their very first comic in 1982: LOVE AND ROCKETS #1 by the Hernandez brothers. Certainly the best and—dare I say it—least likely success story in comix and independent book publishing in general.

I'm a great admirer of Barry Windsor-Smith's artistry and storytelling and have forever been saddened that his STORYTELLER magazine was so short lived. I have all those issues except two (#4 and #7).

Excited to sink my teeth in this beautiful tome, although... I won't really get a chance to do so until June when I return from my travels.

Just about finished penciling a page of THE SOLAR GRID, but will have to end there because today I am half dead and delirious.

#Journal #Reads

Reading the original SPIDER-MAN run by Steve Ditko in black and white, a few things stand out to me:

  1. It's astonishing how you can really see the influences Ditko would later have on Frank Miller, something that isn't so so obvious on the outset, especially if you read Ditko in color, which obscures Ditko's play with light and shadow and some of his graphic solutions (stark patterns, etc.).

  2. Block out Stan Lee's copy, and the comix “read” infinitely better! The flow is smoother, and SPIDER-MAN suddenly becomes a far more “adult” comicbook.

  3. Peter Parker is so unlikeable. In a funny kind of way, it's almost as if his character is an amalgamation of the most unlikeable aspects of his creators; Lee and Ditko themselves.

  4. The tone of it is so different to Kirby's FANTASTIC FOUR, so much that it's beyond obvious that Lee's only involvement was slapping copy on stories (and characters) he had little involvement in creating. Not very good copy at that. I mean, if there is one atrocious and terribly outdated thing about any of these comix, it's the dialogue and captions.

  5. Calling these “comix” is pretty accurate. They are so weird and off-beat in comparison to the far more sterile output of DC around the the same time, which at that point had already taken on a far more corporate approach to its output. Rewind 20 years earlier, and you find that at its onset, DC's comix had weird and oddball written all over them (when the actual creators of the characters were making the comix), sharing qualities with what we'd later identify with zines and very indy comix.

  6. All corporate comix today are essentially fanfiction. Not only that, but it's fanfiction at its worst: assembly-line productions, overseen by editors and catered to fit company policy.

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Finally got my copy of Amy Austin Holmes' handsome looking COUPS AND REVOLUTIONS, for which a photograph of one of my works from Cairo circa 2011 was used. I also had the pleasure of consulting on the type treatment and overall design of the dust jacket, which the team at Oxford University Press handled superbly.

Looking forward to sinking my teeth into this one together with Elizabeth Nugent's AFTER REPRESSION, which I've been slow-reading, contemplating, and digesting.

As I often discuss with my peers (10 years after the, ahem, inciting incident), fervor alone is not enough. It's high time we educated ourselves, which backed with our experience(s) should serve us well if we're ever to move past the place of melancholy and defeat.

Things to look forward to.

(The piece of street-art featured on the cover, by the way, is one of the works I'll be discussing in WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?, a live discussion with Bassem Yousri and Lara Baladi on March 27 at 3pm EST)

#work #reads