Please welcome my Coffee Table posts to this blog. This one debuts here but some others first appeared on my former blog Doctor Comictopus. The basic idea is to set up a coffee table scenario that includes a coffee table art book as an accoutrement to the cake and coffee and possibly relate the choice of materials to some current event. That would be a comics art coffee table book of course, usually large, hard covered and heavy although the one featured in this post is soft covered and light but does relate to a topical event. The plan is to pull one book out of my collection every month or so and make a scene. This post is new and fresh, a first timer here.
Painting by Louise Graber, skeleton doll from Mexico, wooden and metal sculpture by Richard Black, comic by Jis and Trno, and pumpkin postcard by Yayoi Kusama. (Photo by Michael Hill)
On the coffee table there is an actual Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) skeleton doll (it’s that time of the year with Halloween just a few days away) and a large format comic El Santos y El Peyote en La Atlántida by Mexican cartoonists Jis and Trno. I met these guys at ICAF some years ago where I also first met Gene Kannenberg, Jr. Jis and Trno each did a drawing for me in their comic book that I bought. Their comic is really funny, strongly satirical and in Spanish. The doll has removed his legs and is relaxing on a wooden sculpture called Cloud by Australian artist Richard Black. There is also, appropriately, a Dancing Pumpkin postcard by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama and a Grateful Dead poster from the Stanley Mouse studio for some concerts at the Avalon Ballroom. Setting these elements off in the background is a painted enlargement of a death scene page from Louise Graber‘s comic Black Light Angels. In the foreground, barely visible, just an edge I suppose, is the coffee table but the coffee and cake are out of frame. BTW the coffee was Italian and the cake Chilean. The table has orange ceramic tiles, suiting the thematic colour, and was made in Orange, NSW. Let me know what you think about all this.
Coffee Table arrangement-detail. (Photo by Michael Hill)
Yayoi Kusama’s Dancing Pumpkin postcard.
Bones and roses in 1966 Grateful Dead poster Skeleton and Roses designed by Alton Kelley and Stanley Mouse.
Doctor Comictopus alias for Michael Hill Ph.D (a.k.a. Doctor Comics) designed by Michelle Park.
Poster designed by Louise Graber from original print by Michael Hill.
The launch will be accompanied by an exhibition of 33 hand-made art postcards produced in sosaku hanga style, the ‘creative print’ movement that emerged just over a century ago in Tokyo. Creative prints became the voice of a group of artists who went under the name Pan and met for sake parties by the Sumida River (Sumida Gawa), the centre of the Floating World of old Edo and site of the classic Ukiyo-e print movement. James Michener described this new approach: …in contrast to the classical system in which the artist merely designed the print, leaving the carving of the blocks to one technician and the printing to another, the newer print artists preached that the artist himself must do the designing, carving and printing. A new term was devised to describe such a print-sosaku hanga, meaning “creative print.” (Michener, 1968: The Modern Japanese Print p.11)
There are books and fish in this comic. The principal character Doctor Comics reads a lot of books and frequently eats fish. The first chapter contains a lot of books including graphic novels and at least one fish. Glee, or Glebe, is a very bookish suburb and is located just across the road from Sydney University and near two others, the University of Notre Dame and the University of Technology. The area has several bookshops, cafes and restaurants. It is also within walking distance of the Sydney Fish Market. The Bookseller of Glee (below) is a portrait of the proprietor of one such bookshop, Gleebooks (that Doctor Comics occasionally writes reviews of graphic novels for) and friend. Although he stocks graphic novels he refuses to sell coffee and cakes.
The prinicipal character in the comic is an aficionado of fish and cakes as well as comics. We’ll get to the cakes and coffee shops later but as regards his interest in fish his cats don’t mind this aspect of his behaviour at all. In the first chapter there are no cakes or coffee and only one fish, possibly one of the two fish shown below, but it’s a large one. And a bottle of wine. And the introduction of the two cats, too.
Just when I thought I could make a reasonable amount of progress on my artist book/comic Blotting Paper: The Recollected Graphical Impressions Of Doctor Comics I have encountered a few interruptions that have resulted in delays in production. There has been a good side to this, however, of the ‘working on other interesting projects’ type of interruptions kind. One project is on Anime and Manga research into particular works of Tezuka, Rintaro, Matsumoto and Miyazaki and the films Galaxy Express 999, The Dagger of Kamui, Laputa-Castle in the Sky, and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. The other involves workshops in the sosaku hanga technique of creative Japanese printmaking. Both of these activities will form part of a Japanese Cultural Festival in Suva in the South Pacific and both subjects are ones that I find quite stimulating. They may even provide some material for future chapters of my comic.
In terms of making my comic I have managed to continue pulling bits and pieces of already completed work together and have unpicked or modified other bits that I had considered to be completed. Here’s the title page design(above) for the first chapter The Ingurgitator, as it currently stands. Originally produced in colour a black and white version will appear in the comic. It consists of a combination of image-making techniques including drawing, painting, inking, printmaking and collage. The original sketch was made during a trip to Shanghai to attend an Animation Expo in Hangzhou in 2007.
Production of my artist book/comic Blotting Paper: The Recollected Graphical Impressions Of Doctor Comics continues to progress although somewhat erratically due to digressions, delays and interruptions. My intention of having the first chapter finished by the end of the year remains though. In my transition from comics studies to comics production the most striking discovery has been the amount of time required to create the artwork. Whereas I can sit down and write a thousand words about a comic in a few hours, creating a page of art takes a fewl days. From all of the comics creators that I have interviewed in Australia the common rate denominator was “a day per page”. I wish! In addition to printmaking as a means of image-making I am doing some drawing. I love this process and the mental spaces it takes me into. I enjoy getting lost in there.
The story is set in Sydney when my Doctor Comics alias character is older but contains flashes backward to earlier times. It’s been fun trying to imagine what I shall look like then and trying to recall via photos how I appeared when I was in my twenties. In any case it is partly autobiographical and partly fictitious and so the character doesn’t look exactly like me. Below is a combined image of the Doctor Comics character and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
This is the first in what I intend will be a regular series of reports documenting the production progress of my debut solo comic/artist book Blotting Paper: The Recollected Graphical Impressions Of Doctor Comics. Partly autobiographical and partly fictive it draws on selected comics related incidents and reflections from my academic career including attempts to carry the comics flag within art and design education in both teaching and research. It also contains anecdotes relating to my Doctor Comics’s alias’s adventures and to my own longstanding interest in comics studies. Following several false starts the first chapter has been written, the design roughed out and the artwork under construction. Printmaking is employed including wood and linocut, Japanese sosaku hanga, rubber stamps and seals. Drawing, typography and handwriting will also be incorporated as image-making techniques. The intention is to make a comic in an artist’s book type of format.
Although I am finding it a more time consuming process to make a comic than to read and review one I am enjoying the creative experience and I anticipate spending more time making and less time critiquing so I have switched my Twitter profile from ‘critiquing and creating’ to ‘creating and critiquing’.
Some of the stamps, chops and seals. (Photo by Michael Hill)