Men in Tights

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I’ve been decluttering recently, as I mentioned in a previous post. I’m not entirely sure what has driven this urge, but it is something that has been lurking at the back of my mind for a long time. I have a lot of stuff that I don’t really engage with any more, not junk, but stuff I can happily do without as I get older. I don’t see the point in dragging it round with me wherever I go. Sometimes it’s only around because the business of selling it or giving it away is more trouble than leaving it be.

And as I mentioned in the same previous post, one of the things I am taking my leave of is my comics collection. The first part of which is the box of US comics, Marvel and DC that I accumulated in the early eighties.

Scanning and photographing all these comics’ covers for ebay purposes has led me to muse on the strange phenomenon that is the American Superhero comic.

Large men (usually) in tights with right on their side and magic like powers, engaged in epic battles involving extreme and bizarre violence against other large men (usually) or man like creatures, also in tights and wielding strange magic powers, whose intentions are less than benign to say the least. Often in mid air, against a backdrop of The Modern American City.

Weird. . .

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It does seem to be an extension of the epic hero tales beloved of folk stories the World over.

In an effort to find out what lies behind this be-tighted battling I Googled a few superhero related phrases and eventually found an excellent article by a guy called Chris Gavaler who has studied the psychology of the American Superhero Comic. Worth a read.

http://subcultureforthecultured.com/featured-columns/why-superheroes

Here’s a quote –

“Traditionally superheroes reduce complex issues to simple, child-like dimensions. The good guys are all good, and the bad guys are all bad. That’s a highly distorted but deeply reassuring way to look at the world. And the solution is always the same: righteous violence. America loves righteous violence. We also prefer our heroes to stand apart from our government, as a kind of incorruptible moral force that polices everything. Which means we embrace the myth of the benevolent vigilante, and superheroes are the ultimate example.”

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“The traditional superhero is all-powerful and all-good, which is the way the U.S. likes to perceive itself in the international arena. Other nations are the needy citizens of Gotham. In foreign policy, we want and expect the rest of the world to follow our lead. The superhero may be the greatest embodiment of American exceptionalism. When the Cold War ebbed, the role of the U.S. shifted and superhero mythology began to explore a lot of grey area in what had been a previously black and white universe. But World War II and Cold War nostalgia continue to haunt the genre. America loves supervillains. They help us define ourselves.”

Fascinating stuff. Makes sense to me. A simpler World where good and evil are easily and reliably identifiable, and evil is defeated by superior levels of violence. Until the next time, and the next time. . .

Oh well, back to ebay. I’ve sold about half the stuff I’ve listed, which is pretty good. And I’ve made more than I would have predicted, I mean, if someone had said, “I’ll give you £50 for the lot” I’d have jumped at the offer. I’ve sold about a third of my US comics and made about three times that, so I’m happy. I need to get a job lot of jiffy bags though.

History. .

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Our House – circa many years ago

Our village is having a sort of Open Day in a couple of weeks, with an accent on local history. Some houses are opening their gardens and a few of us arty types are opening our studios. Though obviously, as I work on computer, I shan’t have much to show. . . I shan’t be throwing open my hard drive to the general public. . . I might have a few books for sale and a couple of drawings and prints. Such as this cat wot you have seen before on this blog, but is worth a second look. . .

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Gill will be exhibiting a load of her excellent paintings of course, and as has been hurriedly knocking out some smaller works for those of more restricted means to buy should they want to. I shall do some prints for her on my trusty A3+ canon as well.

The pic below isn’t one of the more hurried, smaller works obviously. It’s of a street performer in Covent Garden, but is mainly about the crowd and the light.

She has a website.

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The most interesting part of the whole experience for us has been the information we received about our house’s history. It belonged to the family of a local farmer whose descendants still live in the village. They even sent us a scan of  an old photo of the previous inhabitants. ( the house dates from about 1850 apparently ) The smart and bewhiskered gentleman on the right rejoices in the wonderful name of McTrend. His daughter, 2nd on the right, married into the family of the aforementioned local farmers and continued to live in the house.

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Our elderly neighbours knew them when they were young and tell us that they were ‘A good Christian couple’. . . Oh well, we must be a big disappointment to the neighbourhood 😉

It’s great to see this fine upstanding Victorian family standing outside our very door at the front of the house. . .

I also wouldn’t be surprised if that is the same actual window behind them that I spent the last couple of days hacking out rotten wood from, filling , sanding and repainting 😉 Old houses, they’re lovely but they keep you busy. . .

(Actually, come to think of it, that’s a sash window, and I was repairing a casement window, so I was talking rubbish, but my observation about old houses still stands.)

Stuff and things and things and stuff. .

I’m having an ebay posting fest right now. I have what I guess you could call a comics ‘collection’, all of it in boxes in the garage. As I haven’t looked at any of it in years hardly, I decided to declutter and sell it if I could.

I’m starting with the American comics I accumulated in the late seventies. Not sure why really as I am not a great fan of American comics generally. I did grow quite fond of the work of Jack Kirby however, he has a simple dynamic style and takes strange liberties with the human figure, not always successfully to my mind ;-).

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So I spent a fair bit of time photographing around 100 comics (just for starters!) bringing them into Pshop and saving as jpegs. I’ve put about thirty or so on ebay over the last few days and have sold about fifty percent, so I’m quite pleased. I will be doing this for the next few months at this rate though. . . At least I get to recycle all the Amazon packaging and jiffy bags I hoarded for just such an eventuality!

Apart from that I’ve been hacking out rotten wood from a window frame and making good again. . . making a wood panelled wall effect using MDF and those thin edging strips you get from DIY shops. Looks bloody good actually ;-). Sorting out all the accumulated free copies of my books that were in boxes in the attic in order to give them to Primary Schools locally, putting up shelves in my studio to put the rest of them on, taking some crap from out of the garage down to the dump, putting bits and pieces on freecycle and getting the car MOTed.

So nothing creative to blog about.

So here’s a drawing of a cat.

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Picture Book Den

The Picture Book author website that I wrote a guest post for a few weeks ago, called Picture Book Den has an interesting post from author Pippa Goodhart, featuring a character I invented.

In my post I mentioned how sometimes I come up with a drawing of a character that arrives with no story attached. Usually the concept and the character arrive in my head together, as a kind of package, or the drawing of the character suggests the story. I gave an example, a cute character called Small Bear, who I just couldn’t get a suitable story idea for.

Pippa, with my blessing,  based her blog post on the thought process she would go through to create a story based on that character. The post is a very interesting insight into how a writer’s mind works, and into the creative process involved in producing a story for a children’s picture book.

Here’s the direct link – The ‘Small Bear’ Challenge

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Small Bear

Well, my nose is most definitely out of joint. . .

cat2My lovely cat drawings have not been accepted for the Cambridge Drawing Society Open Exhibition. Hmmph!

Apparently the ‘cartoony’ style didn’t find favour with the panel. . .

Oh well, it’s their show. Definitely a bit put out though, even though I know I shouldn’t be 😉 I feel a bit like that TV presenter character in Father Ted who, as soon as he imbibes even the tiniest drop of alcohol, goes into a massive rant about how he was unjustly sacked.

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Henry Sellers, that’s the feller, so it is. He’s in the Song For Europe one. God I love Father Ted 😉

Feck! Arse! etc.

Fat Cat book went down well. .

Feedback from the Bologna book fair re the large moggy pictured below was good. My publisher now has to firm up arrangements etc, and seeing as it’s the London Book Fair at the end of the month as well I don’t expect any sensible conversation about it until after that. But it looks like it will go ahead, which is good news.

Hoorah! and Pip Pip! etc. . .

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Pattern and Surface Design Stuff, and stuff. . .

I have been doggedly and slightly obsessively (if you can actually be slightly obsessive) producing and refining pattern ideas for fabric and related surface design on and off over the last several months, repurposing images and patterns I create in the texture creation engines of certain bits of 3D software, (pursuing my possibly delusional conviction that what I am producing is quite interesting and would look great on fabric. . .) and have been learning quite a lot in the process. I have been trying out my designs the fabric print on demand website Spoonflower (click the image, it is linked to the site). Not a lot of response yet, but I haven’t been promoting anything I have put on there. I do need to start doing that really, but getting seen, let alone noticed amongst the mass of designs on there is pretty hard . . .

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This design is simple sine based shape overlaid with a textural linear pattern

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This is a simple repeat pattern in three colours based on a simple recursive sine fractal shape.

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This design struck me as being like a digital version of a traditional damask. The symmetry helps. There is an echo of traditional design to it, without there being any trace of a traditional motif there at all.

I have to say I find these echoes of human design occurring in a purely digital medium, (strongly directed by me), really fascinating. Many pattern designs and motifs are stylised from nature. Nature is (arguably) underpinned by fractal mathematics. So when fractal mathematics throws up forms evocative of those in nature, and of natural forms stylised by being processed by the human brain, (arguably, another fractal process) it’s perhaps not too surprising. There’s something of the basic maths of how the brain is constructed and how it constructs the world in there somewhere. Or it might just be in my head that this echo happens, I don’t know. I see fractal mathematic related forms and distributions of things everywhere. Mainly coz it is everywhere, and because I’m looking for it. . .