BLOTTING PAPER The Comic: Production Report No.31

This is the second report documenting the production process and progress of the third issue of my artist’s book/comic Blotting Paper: The Recollected Graphical Impressions Of Doctor Comics, Chapter 3, The Chthonian Turn: The Cats’ Revenge. I am currently sorting out the script, refining ideas, and developing others. There has been some unscripted image-making and printmaking activity with the intention of using this as a loose but parallel means of creating vaguely conceived and experimental visual content. Examples produced through this printmaking strategy are featured below.

Red face print #1–© 2013 Michael Hill

Visage of first red shade–© 2013 Michael Hill

In the present chapter the cats deliberate over what to do following the sudden departure of Doctor Comics. Meanwhile the latter character continues his travels in the chthonian world confronting various vaporous forms and ghostly figures including a trio of red shades that roam there (see the three red shade illustrations). The raw state of these printmade images will most likely be subject to further graphic manipulation.

Red face print #2–© 2013 Michael Hill

Visage of second red shade–© 2013 Michael Hill

Red face print #3–© 2013 Michael Hill

Visage of third red shade–© 2013 Michael Hill

More visual developments and an update on progress will be posted on this blog around the end of the month. For a visual diary record and time-line overview of this project, see all of the BLOTTING PAPER production reports.

Issue #1:  No.1   No.2   No.3   No.4   No.5   No.6   No.7   No.8   No.9   No.10   No.11   No.12   No.13

Issue #2:  No.14   No.15   No.16   No.17   No.18   No.19   No.20   No.21   No.22   No.23   No.24   No.25   No.26   No.27   No.28   No.29

Issue #3:  No.30   No.31   No.32   No.33   No.34   No.35   No.36

Q: A PROJECT FOR THE PRESERVATION OF COMICS

I have been involved with this project as an advisor for the past three years. It’s formal title is Q-COLLECTION COMIC BOOK PRESERVATION PROJECT and is an initiative to preserve a collection of comics. I like to refer to it as Q, the “Q” standing for the city of Quincy, Massachusetts. The city’s shield was presented to the project’s founder Dr. John Offerman Sindall for use on the project. Sindall, a member of Mensa, has collected around 200 key American comic books from the period 1930s-1960s. The list of comics in the collection is here. This was an era of printing comics on low grade paper that will eventually crumble into powder at a mere page turn. The Q project is a strategy to prevent this by cutting up the comics, coating them with Mylar and mounting them in wooden binders that will provide an estimated life of 10,000 years. Hearing this part of the process, that the comics will have to be destroyed in order to be saved, is disturbing for some collectors but librarians understand. It means the comics can be read. This collection is not about unopened first issues in sealed plastic bags.

Two of the comics in the  collection, both No.1's, Strange Adventures (1950) and MAD (1952).

Two of the comics in the collection, both No.1’s, Strange Adventures (1950) and MAD (1952).

In addition to the comics the collection contains associated artifacts such as trading cards, bubble gum wrappers, photographs, ads, membership cards etc. These too, will be subject to the preservation process.

Superman bubblegum wrapper.

Superman bubble gum wrapper.

Sindall has put together a wide-ranging international advisory committee for the project. Here is my statement of support: In a world in which comic books have been treated for far too long as consumables and ephemera the Q-Collection Comic Book Preservation Project represents a significant plan to preserve key items of these as popular culture artifacts. This project also provides physical protection against the transitory status of comic books by means of coating, wrapping and encasement in protective materials that will ensure defense against their decay. The selection and acquisition of these rare comic books that have become classics of popular culture, their preservation treatment, deposit and safekeeping and subsequent availability for reading and research by future generations has my support and deserves backing by business benefactors, patrons of popular culture and by an appropriate public collection institution.

The collection is destined for the Library of Congress.

BLOTTING PAPER The Comic: Production Report No.30

This is the first in a series of regular reports documenting the production of the third issue of my artist’s book/comic Blotting Paper: The Recollected Graphical Impressions Of Doctor Comics. It continues on from those posted on the first chapter/issue The Ingurgitator (see posts #1-13 below) and the second chapter/issue A Blot On His Escutcheon (see posts #14-29 below). The new chapter, The Chthonian Turn: The Cats’ Revenge, deals with the cats’ reaction to the demise of Doctor Comics and that gentleman’s adventures in another dimension to which he has travelled. I hope to self-publish it before the end of the year.

Title page for Chapter 3 The Chthonian Turn–© 2013 Michael Hill

Title page for Chapter 3–© 2013 Michael Hill

As with the two previous issues printmaking is involved in the generation of images via woodblock, linocut, Japanese sosaku hanga technique, rubber stamps and wooden seals.  In addition other visual communication techniques such as drawing, painting, collage, cartooning and photography with the intention of producing a limited edition artist’s book kind of comic.

One of the spirits in the underground sky–© 2013 Michael Hill

Design of one of the spirits in the underground sky–© 2013 Michael Hill

I also intend producing more colour pages in this issue following the use of sporadic spot colour in Issue #1 and the 8 full colour pages in Issue #2. The colour will assist in the graphic representation of both the real and imaginary worlds featured in the comic.

Another of the spirits in the underground sky–© 2013 Michael Hill

Design of another of the spirits–© 2013 Michael Hill

For a visual diary record and time-line overview of this project, see all of the BLOTTING PAPER production reports.   Issue #1:  No.1   No.2   No.3   No.4   No.5   No.6   No.7   No.8   No.9   No.10   No.11   No.12   No.13

Issue #2:  No.14   No.15   No.16   No.17   No.18   No.19   No.20   No.21   No.22   No.23   No.24   No.25   No.26   No.27   No.28   No.29

Issue #3:  No.30    No.31    No.32    No.33   No.34   No.35   No.36

Archive of Australian Alternative Comics: IMAGINARY WORLDS SYMPOSIUM

This symposium continued the association between the University of Technology, Sydney and Supanova of staging comics related academic events. In this case topics were not confined to the study of comics in general nor Australian alternative comics in particular. Rather, the papers reflected  a more wide-ranging list of subjects that included connections between comics and fashion, film, animation, literature, calligraphy and computer games. There was even a presentation on the design of comics for young readers with vision impairment. This range of topics had resonance with Supanova’s own broadening interests that had spread from an initial focus on comics (it was originally known as ComicFest) to a wider pop culture spread.

Page from the SUPANOVA program listing the event.

Page from the SUPANOVA program listing the event.

The symposium researchers focused on the use of the design elements of image and space and the manipulation of these in the creation of fantasy worlds in these various media forms. Co-curated by Dr. Vicki Karaminas and I the symposium was staged at the UTS city campus in the Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building on 14th October 2005 and was opened by the Dean of that faculty.

This is the fifteenth in a series of posts called Archives of Australian Comics History that document moments in the recent history of Australian comics, particularly alternative comics and the Australian Small Press, however, as stated above, this post has a broader orientation. I started researching this subject in the late 1990s and it eventually led to my PhD thesis: Ph.D. Macquarie University, Division of Society, Culture, Media and Philosophy,  A Study Of Contemporary Australian Alternative Comics 1992-2000 With Particular Reference To The Work Of Naylor, Smith, Danko And Ord, 2003. On completion of the research I donated the materials and comics I had collected to the National Library of Australia: Michael Hill Collection of Australian Comics.

Posts in Archives of Australian Comics History:   Comic-Fest   Comics in Record Shops   Comics Workshops   Down Under Ground   Getting SMASH(ed)!   Imaginary Worlds Symposium   International Exhibition of Drawings   OZCON   Mind Rot   Savage Pencils   Sick Puppy Comix   TiNA Arena   MCA Zine Fair   2002 Sequential Art Studies Conference   2nd Sequential Art Studies Conference

COFFEE TABLE tenth fix

It’s a yōkai Xmas with master mangaka Shigeru Mizuki material on my coffee table this month! This marvellous creator of both autobiographical and fantasy manga with the gekiga approach to graphic storytelling of placing cartoon style characters over realistically drawn backgrounds has legendary status in Japan but really needs to be better known in the rest of the world.

Mizuki GARO cover.

Mizuki GARO cover of Kitaro carrying a basketful of yokai characters.

After serving in New Guinea in World War II Mizuki got his start in graphic storytelling as an apprentice artist in kamishibai, or paper theatre, in which successively shown painted cards operated and accompanied with vocal and musical narration by a street performer, told a story to audiences standing on street corners in Japan.

Early shape and form of Mizuki 's popular character Kitaro

Early shape and form of Mizuki ‘s popular character Kitaro.

Mizuki moved on to the print media from street theatre, making manga for the rental market and participating in the emerging gekiga form of alternative comics developed by Yoshihiro Tatsumi. Interested in the ghosts and spirits of Japanese folk tales he developed his Kitaro character in a series of yōkai stories based on a popular kamishibai play by Masami Ito called Hakaba Kitaro from 1930s.

Early shape and form of Mizuki 's popular character Kitaro.

Early shape and form of Mizuki ‘s character Kitaro with his father Medama Oyaji.

Mizuki found an outlet for his stories in GARO magazine, an anthology publication of alternative manga. There he gained an assistant, Yoshiharu Tsuge, the developer of nejishiki, or Screw Style manga.

Early shape and form of Mizuki 's popular character Kitaro.

Kitaro’s father Medama Oyaji.

In the stories Kitaro’s deceased father reanimates himself as an eyeball and, with the eyeball as a head, grows a new body, hangs out in Kitaro’s hair and his hollow eye socket(Kitaro has lost one eye) and tries to help his son with his adventures.

Early shape and form of Mizuki 's character Kitaro. with Ratman.

Kitaro with father and Nezumi Otoko.

Shigeru Mizuki 's popular character Kitaro.

Shigeru Mizuki ‘s popular character Kitaro.

Recently four of Mizuki’s works have been translated into English and published by Drawn & Quarterly. I expect he will become more better known outside Japan both for his manga GeGeGe no Kitaro and his interest and expertise in yōkai. 

The Mizuki manga about the old woman who taught him yokai.

The Mizuki manga about the old woman who taught him yokai.

Autobiographically based war comic.

Autobiographically based war comic.

In Onwards Towards Our Noble Deaths (originally published as Soin gyokusai seyo! in 1973) based on his own experiences in the Japanese army in New Guinea during World War II, he portrays the sadistic officers who, driven by their ideological beliefs, were cruel to their own troops. Still, Mizuki manages to find several humorous anecdotes of life in wartime and the determination to survive.

Japanese history gets the Mizuki mix of cartoons and realism.

Japanese history gets the Mizuki mix of cartoons and realism.

SHOWA 1926-1939 is a history book presented in manga form with contrasting graphic treatments of the history portrayed-the newspaper/media representation running alongside the cartoon adventures of Mizuki and his family living that history or the effects of it. Happy Xmas Shigeru!

CupofCoffee-1RRead the other coffee table entries:  COFFEE TABLE first fix(Day of the Dead/Halloween comics)   COFFEE TABLE second fix(Gary Panter)  COFFEE TABLE third fix(Osamu Tezuka)    COFFEE TABLE fourth fix(Football comics)    COFFEE TABLE fifth fix(Swamp Thing, Hedorah and Twin Tail)    COFFEE TABLE sixth fix(American Masters)    COFFEE TABLE seventh fix(Brian Chippendale)   COFFEE TABLE eighth fix(Hergé and Tintin)    COFFEE TABLE ninth fix(Art Spiegelman)    COFFEE TABLE tenth fix(Shigeru Mizuki)

COFFEE TABLE ninth fix

On the coffee this time is a nod to Art Spiegelman who recently visited Sydney with his Wordless show. Art has produced a significant body of work as an artist, critic, scholar and spokesman for comics art over six decades. Initially active in the Underground Comix scene of late Sixties era San Francisco Spiegelman then worked for Topps trading cards and contributed to the development of the form and profile of the graphic novel with his work on Maus. There was also his co-creation of RAW magazine with Françoise Mouly, his co-editorship of Arcade and his occasional cover art, cartoons and illustrations for The New Yorker.

Art Spiegelman on the coffee table.  (Photo-© 2013 Michael Hill).

Art Spiegelman stuff on the coffee table-books, ink, pen, banana skin, ashtray and sketch books. (Photo-© 2013 Michael Hill).

In his performance at the Sydney Opera House he created moments of theatrical drama by chain-smoked an e-cigarette instead of one from his pocketed pack of Camels, spilling his can of Coke whilst speaking breathlessly, expertly and entertainingly about comics history. The sequence on Frederic Wertham and comics burning in the 1950s was particularly amusingly presented and accompanied by a stunning set of visuals.

RAW magazine with Gary Panter cover illustration.  (Photo-© 2013 Michael Hill).

RAW magazine with Gary Panter cover illustration. (Photo-© 2013 Michael Hill).

His collaborative projects with Françoise Mouly have included the Little Lit series Folklore & Fairy Tale Funnies, “It Was A Dark And Silly Night…”, and Strange Stories for Strange Kids,  The Toon Treasury of Classic Children’s Comics and RAW magazine.

Spiegelman/Mouly additions to my library. (Photo-© 2013 Michael Hill).

Spiegelman/Mouly additions to my Doctor Comics library. (Photo-© 2013 Michael Hill).

Famous for his two volume Maus he has created other books including Breakdowns, In The Shadow Of No Towers, Open Me…I’m A Dog!, Meta Maus (about the making of Maus) and the 3 piece sketch book set Be A Nose! 

Promo for the Art Spiegelman and Phillip Johnston production Wordless at the Sydney Opera House 2013.

Promo for the Art Spiegelman and Phillip Johnston production Wordless at the Sydney Opera House 2013.

Wordless featured Art’s speedy monologue, syncopated at times with a live Jazz sextet. It involved, in part, a homage to the wordless, woodcut graphic novels by Frans Masereel, Lynd Ward, Milt Gross et al.

The latest release and in every sense a coffee table art book. (Photo-© 2013 Michael Hill).

The latest release and in every sense a coffee table art book. (Photo-© 2013 Michael Hill).

The CO_MIX exhibition visits Germany.

The CO-MIX exhibition visited Cologne after Paris and prior to New York.

Photo of Art in the German exhibition booklet.

Photo of Art in the German exhibition booklet.

Spiegelman text and Chip Kidd design profile of Jack Cole.

Spiegelman text and Chip Kidd design profile of Jack Cole.

Art Spiegelman also has an impressive track record in comics studies including Jack Cole and Plastic Man: Forms Stretched To Their Limits, with Chip Kidd, and Krazy! an exhibition at Vancouver Art Gallery in which he co-curated the comics and graphic novels components with Seth and co-authored two chapters on their selections  in the exhibition catalogue.

Krazy! exhibition catalogue, Vancouver 2008.

Krazy! exhibition catalogue with Dan Clowes cover illo, Vancouver 2008 in which Art c0-curated the comics section.

All up, it amounts to an impressive graphic legacy. And it was really good to see him live! Thanks for coming down under Art!

CupofCoffee-1RRead the other coffee table entries:  COFFEE TABLE first fix(Day of the Dead/Halloween comics)    COFFEE TABLE second fix(Gary Panter)   COFFEE TABLE third fix(Osamu Tezuka)    COFFEE TABLE fourth fix(Football comics)    COFFEE TABLE fifth fix(Swamp Thing, Hedorah and Twin Tail)   COFFEE TABLE sixth fix(American Masters)   COFFEE TABLE seventh fix(Brian Chippendale)   COFFEE TABLE eighth fix(Hergé and Tintin)    COFFEE TABLE ninth fix(Art Spiegelman)    COFFEE TABLE tenth fix(Shigeru Mizuki)

BOOKBINDING THE GRAFIK GUITAR

My hand-made artist book, The Grafik Guitar, has recently undergone a wonderful transformation by virtue of being creatively bound and covered by Imogen Yang. The result: it’s art!

The Grafik Guitar artist book, front cover-bookbinding design by Imogen Yang. (Photo-© 2013 Michael Hill).

The Grafik Guitar artist book, front cover-bookbinding design by Imogen Yang. (Photo-© 2013 Michael Hill).

The Grafik Guitar artist book, endpapers.  (Photo-© 2013 Michael Hill).

The Grafik Guitar artist book, endpapers. (Photo-© 2013 Michael Hill).

The book consists of 38 prints on the theme of the deconstruction of elements of the guitar. The images were carved in lino and wood following the Japanese creative print (sosaku hanga) approach using Japanese knives, gouges and chisels and printed on Chinese 2 ply paper with Dr. Ph. Martin’s water colour ink and some sumi.

The Grafik Guitar artist book, pages. (Photo-© 2013 Michael Hill).

The Grafik Guitar artist book, pages. (Photo-© 2013 Michael Hill).

Imogen emboss-printed the guitar strings block onto a strip of kangaroo skin for the front cover and had me add my signature chop. Her use of 6 thick binding strings to the front and back cover boards echoes the guitar’s 6 strings and I can’t explain the stitching pattern she has employed to bind the pages together. As an iteration of the cover design she has used my separate guitar strings prints for the endpapers. Wow!

The Grafik Guitar artist book, cover and stitching, bookbinding design by Imogen Yang. (Photo-© 2013 Michael Hill).

The Grafik Guitar artist book, cover and stitching-bookbinding design by Imogen Yang. (Photo-© 2013 Michael Hill).

The book is currently on display at the Art Gallery of NSW in the 16th annual exhibition of the Australian Bookbinders. The exhibition runs from 7th November to 14th December in the Research library and archive.