There’s no reason you should be able to make any sense out of these hastily-taken cartoon photos I took at the conclusion of the National Cartoonist Society’s Reuben Awards at the Jersey City Hyatt last night. Suffice it to say that the indeflurkable (I just made that up) Mike Lynch and I were the “winners” of the Gag Cartoon Smackdown, in which we “competed” against fellow cartoonists David Sipress, Emily Flake, Michael Kupperman, and Jeff Stahler in an improv draw-off hosted by the alleged “Matthew Diffee.” There were scenes of dominatrix snowmen and accidents involving Dunkin’ Donuts and disastrous French cuisine, and great music also. Thanks to Jeff Keane for letting it happen. It won’t be the last time we do this, so stay tuned.
Monthly Archives: May 2010
When I first moved to Hoboken I read a blurb in a local magazine about a woman who was creating art out of masking tape. It sounds like a novelty idea, but “Tape Girl” Kayt Hester is actually a terrific artist – and, like my last interviewee, is doing great things with everyday objects. She painstakingly creates her work by ripping the tape into pieces with her bare hands – no scissors or Exacto blades are used – and assembles them into images which are striking for both their roughness and their precision (in particlar, I fell for this Lady of Guadalupe). Kayt’s compositions are innovative and unpretentious, and she was kind enough to answer some questions for me before the opening of her new show at LITM in Jersey City on June 2.
DD: I’ll start with the most obvious question. Why tape?
KH: Why tape? Well, I had a lot of black darkroom tape left over from my days as a professional photographer. When i retired from photography (more like lost my job) I sold most of my equipment but had all this tape. One day I picked it up and just started playing around with it, ripping it up and making little pictures, then slightly larger pictures. It took on a life of its own. It just grew.
What was the first work you did where it was more than just playing around, where you said to yourself, “yeah, this is a legit thing”?
Its funny because it took other people to make me see it was legit. In 2005 I had decided I wanted to try my luck at getting a photography show somewhere in Jersey City, so I took my portfolio to LITM and met with Jelynne Jardiniano, the owner. Somehow there were a few of my small tape pieces randomly tucked in my portfolio, which must have been an accident. I did not intend to show them to anyone; I think I had only stuck them in there to keep them flat. Jelynne liked my photos, but she was much more into the tape work, which was surprising to me, because I had not looked at it in a serious way. She told me to go home and make more, and if they looked good then maybe I could get into a group show. I went home and got to work, and she eventually gave me a spot in a group show called “Elecktra Complex.” Jelynne could have easily just closed my portfolio and said “no thanks” and I would have gone home and watched Law and Order instead of diving into the box of tape. But the show went really well and other offers for shows started to just roll in. She lit a fire under me and changed everything that day. click here to keep reading interview
The art world will surely miss Frank Frazetta, the iconic fantasy artist who passed away yesterday. Known for his musclebound warriors, buxom women and terrifying creatures, Frazetta was one of the greatest illustrators of the 20th century and has spawned legions of imitators. Because he is no longer with us, the question that has tantalized millions of followers will now, sadly, remain unanswered. And that question is: “What if Frazetta had created the comic strip ‘The Family Circus‘ instead of Bil Keane?”
Okay, maybe it’s a question that nobody has ever asked. But that’s the job of the visionary, right? To ask those kind of questions? Since a Frazetta ‘Circus’ will never happen, I have taken the liberty of mashing up Frazetta’s art with Keane’s captions. You’re very welcome.
Last night is one of the reasons I love New York, because it’s one of the few places that you can see stuff like this (even from my, umm… less than optimal view, below). Lincoln Center hosted a free performance of “A Checkroom Romance,” the story of a man so obsessed with coat checkrooms that he decides to convert his daughter’s room into one, written by Ben Katchor and Mark Mulcahy. Katchor’s inimitable comic artwork formed the visuals for the story, and Mulcahy and band performed the score.
Mark has long been one of my favorite musicians and he’s simply getting better, providing a lively and evocative narrative without being melodramatic or show-tuney. Katchor‘s drawings are great, and the oddball story was clever, satisfying and affecting. It’s a shame that they are doing so few performances. Guys, you gotta take this thing on the road. I’ll make sure there’s a coat check.
Recently I have been enjoying Fantagraphics’ second volume of comics by Fletcher Hanks, the mysterious man who wrote and drew an impressive number of comics all by himself from 1939-41, then abruptly quit. Hanks’ own son never even knew that he had been a cartoonist. If you’re not familiar with these reissues, they’re irresistible reading. Hanks’ wrote primitive sci-fi stories with some kind of impending armageddon in every panel. His wild and imaginative characters speak in hilariously stiff dialogue, and his powerful compositions and amped-up color schemes showcase “action” figures that are drawn in the most awkward and artificial poses. It’s a fascinating combination.
One of the things that’s making me chuckle is his obvious use of repetition. When Hanks had a face or a pose that he liked, he would seemingly cut corners by tracing it and using it over and over again. Now, I’m a big fan of cutting corners, and like most cartoonists, I basically draw the same nondescript face in every cartoon, because that’s part of what helps the gags to work. But Hanks uses the same face for all of his protagonists: Big Red McLane, the hero of one comic, basically changes his clothes to become Stardust, the hero of the next. Still, it’s great fun. Here is a gallery of his main character (notice how I did not make that word plural):
But wait – how do you draw a bad guy? Wait for it…. wait for it….