Friday, March 30, 2012

Genteman Beetle

Design for one of the main characters of a children's chapter book I'm working on.

Now Officially Official!

Also, now it is officially official! I'm on the Red Fox Literary site!

Click Here!
Thanks again to my new rep, Abigail Samoun!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Fred Rogers, John Waters and Self Esteem in America

Fred Rogers' message in Mister Roger’s Neighborhood, first and foremost, was for children to accept themselves, and to accept others. That everyone was unique, and special, and of worth. This implied an acceptance not only of the self, but of diversity in general.  He had a unique talent to speak to children, and he was very conscious of his audience. The message was directly to them. He addressed not only the need to accept yourself and to accept others, but he acknowledged the feelings of children. In his song “What Do You Do With the Mad That You Feel?” he sings,

“What do you do with the mad that you feel, when you feel so mad you could bite

When the whole wide world seems oh so wrong

And Nothing you do seems right?”

On the cusp of the punk movement, John Waters expressed his anger through his films. His films weren’t an endorsement of the behavior he portrayed, but they satirized the absurdity of what society rejected. Society rejected difference. The characters in his film reveled in that difference and rejected society’s rules, taking this rebellion to its ultimate extreme, as Waters acknowledged that rebellion too can be just as absurd when taken to great lengths. It wasn’t a rejection of rebellion, but a self awareness of it. Rebellion is necessary and healthy, but rebellion for the sake of rebellion is absurd.
As Waters emerged, so did the punk movement. The punk movement too was about a rejection of society’s rules, and the DIY aesthetic was all about existing outside a dependency on that society.  It was this kind of rebellion that Waters both satirized and embraced. He had a great affection for those who rejected conformity, but he also recognized that rebellion was not an end in itself. In romancing this rebellion, the punk movement formed a parallel culture that in its way was just as conforming. Hand painted leather jackets, Doc Martens and band pins became a uniform. The punk ethos became competitive--who could be more punk? All of this lost sight of the true origin of the movement. It became rebellion for rebellion's sake, much like what Waters illustrated in his films.
But Waters understood and embraced a similar core Ethos, and his heroine was the embodiment of it. Devine was not only everything that society rejected, but she was rejected by another emerging parallel culture, what was rapidly becoming the gay mainstream. To the more conservative side of gay culture, she was an ugly caricature. To Waters she was beautiful. She was beautiful because she embraced and celebrated who she was. Society couldn’t tell her who she could be. Waters was saying in his films, in effect, that Devine was special just the way she was. 

Devine: Special Just the Way She Is

Though the parallel shouldn’t be taken too literally, Lady Elaine Fairchilde was Rogers in drag, his own version of Devine. Like Devine, she could be abrasive, she could be loud, she could be a mischief maker. She was Rogers' vehicle to express this side of himself, but like Devine, it was an affectionate portrayal. Just as Rogers loved each and every one of the characters in his Neighborhood of Make Believe for their individuality, Waters loved each and every one of the characters in his films for the very same reason. The only truly unsympathetic characters in Waters' films were authority figures, or those who caused shame in others. While Roger’s taught you not to be ashamed of who you are, so did Waters. He exaggerated and satirized shame, and showed the absurdity of the people responsible for imposing that shame.

Rogers in Drag?

Both Waters and Rogers approaches were (and in the case of Waters, continue to be) largely uncompromising. Rogers approach in many ways was as much gorilla theatre as Waters. The sets are simple and spare, some of the performances by the cast could be amateurish and unpolished. Like Waters dialogue, sometimes Rogers songs are a little blunt, and hit the mark a little too square on the head. This uncompromising approach was also an evolving one. In the early years, before Mister Roger’s Neighborhood, Rogers incorporated religious songs into his repertoire, and initially, when he was asked to exclude them, he refused. Later he accepted that the addition of these songs could narrow his audience. In Waters earliest films he didn’t always behave in the most responsible, or humane (I think some of you might know what I’m talking about) way he could have. In more recent years Waters' has explained that he's no longer as angry as he once was.  But I don’t want to take this parallel too far. I’ll just end by saying that both men have had an enormous impact on our acceptance of diversity and individuality, and the world is a better place because of them.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Best Three Zombie Movies You Haven't Seen!

What has been great about my relationship with Reg over the years is that slowly she's begun to love my nerdish enthusiasms. Superhero movies, Doctor Who, and more recently, zombies. It all started with Shaun of the Dead. I couldn't get Reg to watch a horror movie of any kind, until Shaun of the Dead. We had watched the BBC series, Spaced, which she loved, and I told her that Shaun of the Dead had much of the same cast and was made by the same people. Not only did she love Shaun of the Dead, but she said she wanted to see a real zombie movie. So we went through the canon: Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Return of the Living Dead, and newer ones like 28 Days Later. I knew I had fully corrupted her when I warned her that there was a zombie birth scene in the remake of Dawn of the Dead, and she said, "we have to see that."And we did. And she thought it was great. Now The Walking Dead has just ended its second season, and she's starved for good zombie entertainment. If you're in a similar boat, here are a few recommendations.


 A "shock jock" radio host has lost his national radio job and is forced to work at a radio station in the small Canadian town of Pontypool. Of course, there's a zombie Apocalypse...

The entire film takes place in the radio station, as it begins to dawn on the radio station staff that they may be the last people in the town who haven't caught the bug. The bug, in this case, in a very novel twist, is language itself. Somehow this zombifying disease has imbedded itself in the English language as spoken by the townspeople, and the more they are exposed to certain words and phrases, the more they are at risk of zombification. It could almost be a play, but this stagey quality doesn't prevent it  from being very tense and very scary. Great writing and great performances by all.

The Signal

In this one, the vehicle for zombification is a signal sent  through radio, TV and cell phone broadcasts that makes people go homicidally nuts until they slowly become mindless homicidal zombies. Some are able to resist the signal. Some are only able to sort of resist the signal. It's not always clear by how much. So people are in various stages of confusion, bizarre behavior and homicidal intent, and some people who seem OK, aren't exactly. Or maybe they're just a little OK. It's this ambiguity that makes the movie so much fun. The three sections of the story are written and directed by three different auteurs, but it's not an anthology format. It's all one story, centering around a couple who are trying to reunite in the midst of the disaster. There are lots of scares, but at times it can be truly hilarious, especially the second of the three parts. The tone of each part is a little different, and some people have complained about this, but it didn't really bother me. Again, it's a sharply written, well acted and genuinely scary movie. 

Dead Set

Technically not a movie,  Dead Set is an English mini-series that has one of the most self evidently awesome concepts in the history of zombidom.  There's a zombie apocalypse and the only people who haven't realized it yet are the cast of Big Brother. I haven't seen Big Brother (without the zombies, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want to), but  I read that the general set-up  of Dead Set is much like the real English Big Brother series. We've only seen the first three of the five episodes of Dead Set, but so far it definitely lives up to its premise. This one is a lot harder to find, and I don't think it's available on DVD yet, but it's worth seeking out. 

Hope you enjoy, and if you have any recommendations of your own, please leave them in the comments below!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Figure in Movement: Points of Stress

Points of Stress and Movement in Inanimate Objects

In drawing from life or from a realistic subject, you want to capture the subjects essential character; what is the essence of an apple that makes us read it as an apple? In the figure, the best way to describe movement is to accentuate or exaggerate points of stress.

Anything that's flexible has movement. Every fold of drapery suggests how the drapery is resisting and surrendering to gravity. A force meets another force and there's a fold. Gravity acts as another force and there's a dip in the fold, or part of the cloth rests on a surface or another fold, generating more folds from that contact point. Each point where these forces meet is a stress point. 

Here's a drapery study by DaVinci:

Here, I've tried to illustrate in the same drawing where the points of stress are, and how those points of stress effect one another:

#1 and #2 indicate points where tension converges. #3 indicates a point of stress where gravity rests.

Points of Stress In The Figure

Drapery is a complex subject, but I just want you to get a sense of how something essentially inanimate can be dynamic. Here's a gesture drawing I did from the live model, about a 5 minute study: 

Here I've tried to illustrate the points of stress. The arrows represent the movement towards these points.  Think of a point of stress as that point when a branch is about to break, or a car is about to crash--it's those points of tension before the finish of the action that demonstrate movement, even if that movement has no ultimate destination. Bones don't have to be about to break to show the tension of the muscles or the distribution of weight.

Here's another figure, also a 5 minute study:

The arrow at the center is the center of gravity. Points of stress are all about either resisting, or surrendering to gravity. Points at rest surrender to gravity. Points of tension imply a resistance to gravity. Both points at rest and points of tension are stress points, points that, if given emphasis, describe the most movement in a figure, but the points at rest are just as important as the points of stress. The rest points give us a sense of weight and substance. The stress points give us a sense of suppleness and texture. 

Texture and dynamism in portraits
To get a sense of an object or figure's texture, there has to be a force playing against it. We can't tell visually if a rubber ball is very hard or very soft, or very heavy, or very light unless we see how weight or gravity acts against it (though light too, is a significant force at play in describing texture, but that's another subject altogether). In the same way, the muscles act against the flesh. If there's no points of tension in a figure, the figure will not look dynamic. It will tend to look stiff and inanimate. Even in a portrait, tension and release of tension describe expression, even if that expression is a placid one. There are still points at rest that can be emphasized. Lines on a face, relaxed or tensed describe how flexible the face is. Elderly and wrinkled faces show gravity, how the skin is softer and less elastic, but this is all expressed through stress points.  Here are some longer studies from life:

The portrait is of my dad, but the rest of these drawings are from one of my favorite models who models for us at The Davis Figure Drawing Group, Steve Savage.  A really dynamic and great model! Thanks for reading.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Klesmer Vampires Steal Christmas the Audiobook!

Klesmer Vampires Steal Christmas The Audiobook!

Here it is! My first audiobook. Or at least, audio short story. It's about 13 minutes long. Since I listen to a lot of audiobooks, I'm a big admirer of a good reader, and I find that authors aren't always the best readers of their own work. I'm sure there are readers out there who are a lot better than I am (I've heard them!) but I did my best to make it entertaining. Some of my favorites are Susan Bennett, Lee Adams, Robert Forster, Jennifer Wiltsie, Jonathan Davis, and Neil Gaiman, and of course David Sedaris are great readers of their own books.

You can listen to it below, or you can download it directly, here. You're free to download it, or share it. And of course, you can read the story the old fashioned way here.

Klesmer Vampires Steal Christmas

I made it on the free Mac program, Garage Band, and it required a good bit of editing. I hope you enjoy it, and I hope you don't mind my silly voices! Also, I hope I got the Jewish stuff right. I stumbled on the word "hebrew" for some reason, and I'm aware that observant Jews can eat chicken and cheese together, but "Jewish nachos" with whitefish just sounded funnier. Otherwise, forgive any errors. I didn't do a ton of research. The whole thing is a big experiment, so please let me know what you think! Comments are very welcome on this one.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Klesmer Vampires Steal Christmas

The is the first time I've posted my fiction on my blog, so this is kind of an experiment. I'm pretty happy with the story, but you won't be finding it in Cricket Magazine anytime soon. Not only is it that rarest of all things, a young adult short story, but the language isn't entirely age appropriate and it pokes a little harmless fun at conservatives. Maybe some day I'll write a few more short stories and make an e-book collection out of it, but for now, this will be the only place you'll be able to read it.

Klesmer Vampires Steal Christmas

                “Happy Holidays,” beamed the frizzy haired semi-retiree. She was wearing the store uniform, a red smock with a name tag that read, “Your greeter is Margaret” and a giant red and green “Happy Holidays” button.
                “Merry. Christmas,” Stew’s dad glared, enunciating the words through what would have been a smile if smiles were made of razor blades. Margaret blanched.
                “Did you have to do that?” said Stew’s mom once they were out of earshot of the greeter.
                “What? Heaven forbid I mention Christmas, on Christmas. Heaven forbid I don’t say ‘happy holidays’ like all these other brainwashed atheists,” Said Stew’s dad.
                “But you don’t have to look at them like you’re Jeffrey Daumer every time you say it. Besides, I don’t think she’s an atheist. I think I’ve seen her at our church. I think she’s in my mother’s prayer group,” said Stew’s mom. “They just make them say that.”
                “See? See? That’s exactly what I’m talking about.” Said Stew’s dad.
                Why was it ‘Merry’ Christmas anyway? thought Stew. You didn’t say “merry” anything else. His dad didn’t say, “have a merry day” or anything like that.
 “I’m going to go look at games. What time do you want to meet?” asked Stew.
                “You can, after we get you some sweaters,” said his mom.
                “I have sweaters!” said Stew.
                “They’re two years old and they’re all ratty,” said his mom.
                ‘Can’t you just get them for me?” asked Stew.
                “OK, but you won’t like the ones I pick,” said his mom.
                “OK, fine, I’ll go,” said Stew.
                “First we have to get your father a new jacket,” said his mom.
                “This is going to take forever,” said Stew.
                “If I have to listen to you complain the whole time, I’m not going to get you any videogames for Christmas,” said Stew’s dad, but it was a threat that had lost its potency after he had said it for the fiftieth time.
                “You mean: Santa isn’t going to get him any videogames. And of course he’s going to get his presents. Don’t traumatize him,” said his mom. Even though he was twelve, his mom still insisted on talking about “Santa,” and Stew always felt like he had to go along with it. Whatever made her happy.  As long as he got his stuff.  “Of course, they might be videogames. We won’t know what Santa brings you till Christmas,” his mom winked.  They better be, thought Stew.
Gitty up, gitty up, gitty up lets go, we’re having a ball,” the Christmas music cajoled over the store speakers.  Stew hated Christmas music. He particularly hated the “gitty up” song. What did “gitty up” even mean, anyway?  Why didn’t you just say something like, “go, horse.” And why was it always a “sleigh” and not “sled?” It was like the whole “merry” thing, something you only said on Christmas even though they hadn’t talked like that for hundreds of years or something.  In fact, aside from the presents, Stew wasn’t that into Christmas in general.
His friend Paul was Jewish, and he was supposed to get eight presents on eight days, but they always turned out to be boring, like sweaters and socks. Fortunately his grandparents had what they called a “Hanukah bush” which was the same as a Christmas tree, but Jewish, and they got him all the presents he wanted. They even got him Grand Theft Auto last year, so they couldn’t have been all that religious. Stew’s dad wasn’t all that religious either, for that matter.  He only got this way at Christmas time.  For some reason, every year his dad made this big deal about how the world had it out for Christmas and everyone was going to get brainwashed into saying “happy holidays” and stop celebrating the birth of Jesus. As far as celebrating Jesus went,  they went to Sunday service, and they had a plastic nativity scene under the tree, but that was about as Jesusy as they got. Mostly Christmas was about Christmas music and decorations and getting stuff.
                As they headed towards menswear, his dad scowled at the kosher food section in this super obvious way. Any other time of year, his dad didn’t care about Jews or the kosher section, but now that it was Christmas he had to make a big deal about it. All his dad was doing was making Christmas suck even more, and he was pretty sure that his dad’s obsession with Christmas had nothing at all to do with Jesus, and was mostly just an excuse for him to be a dick. He wouldn’t even let Stew go to his friend Paul’s Bar Mitzvah.
 “He’s deliberately having it on Christmas to spite us,” his dad had said, but it wasn’t like he was having it on Christmas. It was the Saturday before Christmas, and Stew had never been to a Bar Mitzvah before. He knew most of it would be boring, but he had heard that the food was awesome. So while Stew was shopping for sweaters, Paul was having his Bar Mitzvah.
The food was the usual Bar Mitzvah fare. There were latkes and matzo ball soup, and what Paul’s grandmother called, “Jewish nachos,” which were like regular nachos, but with whitefish instead of chicken or beef.  Paul had wanted a chocolate cake, but instead it was some kind of white cake with a fruit filling, but at least it was cake.
He got through his Aliyah without a single mistake. Well, mostly. He’d hiccupped on that first eloheinu, but then it all had gone pretty smoothly after that. Now it was over, and he could finally get all that Hebrew out of his brain and enjoy himself.
Then there was the klesmer band. Paul didn’t used to think he liked klesmer, but this klesmer band was different. This band played a lot faster than the old guys who usually came to bar mitzvahs, and they were a lot younger. The lead singer and dulcimer player was what his grandmother would call “a real shtarker,” and the violin player looked like a fashion model. She was playing so fast, the bow was nothing but a blur as it danced across the strings, making it irresistible not to dance along with it. Soon everyone was dancing, his grandparents, his younger cousins, everyone, even though most of them never did, especially his grandmother. Even Paul couldn’t help dancing. Then Paul noticed something else about the singer. His eyeteeth came out at least an inch over his upper lip, like the plastic Dracula fangs you got at Halloween. The violin and viola player also had fangs. What were they all wearing fangs for, and why hadn’t he noticed before?
 Just as Paul thought this, the singer appeared in the middle of the audience. Paul hadn’t seen him leave the stage, but there he was in the middle of the crowd, sinking his fangs into his grandmother’s throat. It happened so fast that Paul wasn’t sure if he could trust his own eyes. But it was true. The singer was sucking the blood from his grandmother’s throat and draining her pale. But she didn’t scream. No one made a sound. For some reason, all they could do was keep dancing. Even Paul was still dancing. He had to get out of there. He had to run, but all he could do was dance. So he danced out of the temple rec room and down the hall, and out the door until he could no longer hear the music. And that’s when he ran.
The new Halo was pretty sweet, but Stew had barely gotten a chance to check it out. He was hoping to get in a little game play in before they had to go, but instead, his mom kept making him try on sweaters. As far as Stew was concerned, one sweater was as good as another, but at least he stopped her from making him try on one of those, “hello, I’m a dork” Christmas sweaters with the holly and reindeer patterns on it. If he hadn’t been there to say, “no” she might have actually bought it for him, so maybe it had been worth it to stick around. By the time they got home it was already dark, and his mom was starting to make dinner.
“What are we having for dinner?” asked Stew.
“Enchiladas,” said his mom.
“You see, look at what we eat. Mexican food. Everyone eats Mexican food now. This country is being overrun by illegal immigrants, but we all just stand by and eat their food,” said his dad.
“I like Mexican food. You like Mexican food,” said Stew.
“That’s not the point,” said his dad.
“Mom, can I go play games?” Stew asked.
“Sure honey,” said his mom.
“This kid doesn’t care about anything but videogames. I don’t think it’s healthy. He’s probably being brainwashed,” said his dad.
“By Mario Brothers?”  Stew asked.
“No, no, I mean by all these—I don’t know. Isn’t there one about stealing? If he keeps playing these games he’s going to turn into some kind of felon,” said his dad. But before his dad could argue the point any further, the doorbell rang.  When his dad answered the door, he was met by a group of carolers. There were all wearing Santa hats, a man and a women and three teenage girls. They were all blond, and obviously related, a couple and their three daughters. They were singing that “gitty up” song, and ordinarily Stew would have gone to hide in his room, but the girls were pretty hot.  His dad put on one of his fakey smiles, and Stew stood beside him trying to smile too, and also trying not to stare for too long at the girl’s boobs. Stew wasn’t sure what else he was supposed to do when people were caroling at you. He didn’t think his dad knew what to do either. It was starting to get really uncomfortable, and Stew was hoping the song would end soon. When the singers finally finished the “gitty up” song, they all said “Merry Christmas” in unison, and the man held out a coffee can filled with bills and change.
“That was…great. Just a second,” Stew’s dad said, taking out his wallet. “Uh, all I have is a twenty. Do you think maybe you could make change?” There was a long awkward silence as they all smiled painfully at one another, until Stew’s dad said, “Hey, what the hell, it’s Christmas, why don’t you take the whole thing,” before reluctantly stuffing the bill in the can.
“God bless you,” said the man before they all vanished out of sight, as if they were afraid Stew’s dad might change his mind.
“That was real generous of you, dad,” Said Stew with not quite enough sarcasm for his dad to call him on it.
“You know, you know, you wonder where all that money goes. I mean, how do we know they’re not just keeping it?” said Stew’s dad.
“It’s going to go to their church!” yelled Stew’s mom from the kitchen.
“But how do we know?” Stew’s dad yelled back.
“I don’t think they’re felons, dad,” said Stew, and this time his dad gave him one of those, “you better watch it” glares.
After dinner, stew decided to peek out the front door to see if he could catch another glimpse of those teenage girls and their boobs, but as he had guessed, they were long gone. In the distance, he heard music. It was the sound of a violin, and there was singing, but it wasn’t Christmas music.  At first, Stew couldn’t make out the words, but when he listened more closely he realized that the words were foreign and he couldn’t understand them anyway. He was about to close the door when he saw a kid running down the street wearing a suit and tie and one of those funny little Jewish hats. The kid was shouting. He was shouting Stew’s name. It was Paul. Stew wasn’t wearing any shoes, so when he reached Paul, his socks were completely soaked by the snow, but he was more worried about Paul than his socks. Paul was holding his chest, breathing hard and wheezing.  He looked awful. He looked like he had been running for miles.
“What’s going on, Paul? What are you doing here?” asked Stew.
“Once Paul had caught his breath, he said, “They’re—they’re coming.”
“Who’s coming?”
“They’re…they’re..” started Paul.
“Why don’t you come inside and have a drink of water or something,” said Stew. Paul was so exhausted Stew practically had to drag him to the front door.
“What’s Paul doing here?” asked Stew’s dad. “He looks like hell.”
“I…they’re coming and…my grandmother,” Paul said, not making any sense. Stew could still hear the music from inside the house. It was getting louder and louder.
“What the hell? What’s that? That’s some kind of—dammit that’s some kind of Jewish music. No offense Paul,” said Stew’s dad, not sounding particularly sorry, “What are they…I bet this is some kind of—they’re just doing it to spite us!  Because of the carolers!”
“They’re they’re…” stuttered Paul, trying urgently to get the words out. Then the doorbell rang, and with sudden clarity Paul shouted, “Don’t answer it!”
“And why not?  I’m going to give these guys a piece of my mind,” said Stew’s dad. When he answered the door, the music was inescapable. The three musicians were standing on the porch playing a wild and free and completely entrancing melody, like nothing Stew had ever heard before.
“Hey, hey, I want to—I want to talk to you,” said Stew’s dad, struggling to talk over the music. “I know what you’re trying to do. You’re trying to make some kind of Jewish statement.  You’re—you’re anti-Christmas, that’s what you are!”
All at once, the musicians stopped playing. The singer looked Stew’s dad in the eye and said, “We’re Unitarians,” before sinking his fangs into his dad’s neck.
“They’re vampires!” said Paul, finally getting out the words, and they were the last words that Stew and his parents would ever hear.
The End

This story was inspired by a particularly amazing klesmer band I saw in college, whose name, unfortunately, is lost to me. Of course it's also inspired by the "war on Christmas" propaganda that was popular for a while on Fox News. I'm also particulary fond of contemporary Jewish culture, and the little ways that reform Jews use to get around some of the more stringent traditions without rocking the boat too much. Christmas is simply unavoidable. Kids want the same stuff their friends get. Parents want to please their kids, and unfortunately, kids aren't always as generous.

You may also notice that my protagonist is twelve, but I don't pretend that he's completely innocent, or that he's not sexually curious. The "girls are icky" stage usually ends for boys at about nine or earlier, but for some reason contemporary YA fiction for younger readers still refuses to acknowledge this. When I was in grade school, we used to go to this roller rink called "Roller King", and I was always attracted to the girls with braces. At the time I thought braces made them look more mature, since it usually meant they were older and starting to develop. Teenagers were hot. Even when I was nine. But acknowledging this reality unfortunately causes parents to get nervous. So I wrote this story without regard for market. I was having such a good time that I wrote the first draft in one sitting, and polished it up the next day, which happened to be this morning. I hope you enjoyed it.


Monday, March 12, 2012

50 Monsters Mock-Up Cover

So here's the mock-up wraparound cover for my unpublished book, 50 Monsters to Give You the Creeps. It's in dummy form right now--a dummy is the roughed out version you present to the publisher. I'm pretty happy with it.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Moebius, 1938-March 10th, 2012

My First Embarrassing Encounter with the Great Jean Giraud (AKA Moebius)

Moebius had more influence on me than any other artist in my teens. He died today before I got a chance to redeem myself for a very embarrassing meeting when I was 13, at The San Diego Comicon, back when Comicon was actually about comics. I just couldn't help myself. I waited in a line to get him to sign my book, and when I got to the front of the line I had a complete nerdgasm. My friend Josh's mother was there with her camera, and I posed for a picture with him, and so somewhere there's this picture of me pointing at Moebius with an ecstatic smile, looking like I'm about to have a psychotic break. I wish I could take it back, but I went completely nuts. My fantasy was that the two of us would meet for coffee some day, and I would show him my work, and he would admire it, and I would tell him how I felt about his work, and I would tell him about that first meeting, and we would laugh about it, and we would find that the two of us shared a deep inner connection, that we two walked the same spiritual plane. Of course that will never happen now. Not that it ever would have. 

This was the book I had him autograph:

I loved everything about it. The simplicity of the drawing style, the fluid line, the colors. It was this wistful fantasy story originally written to promote a French car called the Citroen. Here's a page where Stel and Atan, the two bald-headed protagonists, have driven their Citroen across the desert of the planet they call "pool ball" to encounter a group of aliens from different worlds who have all formed a shantytown around this huge crystal pyramid, that, for some magical reason, they have all been drawn to:

I still have my copy. It has ink stains on it, and is a little worse for wear, but it still has Moebius' signature next to a sketch of his signature character, Arzach. He drew a drawing for every single person in line. Here's Arzach:

Le Garage Hermetic

My second discovery was a book called, The Airtight Garage:

In French, it was called, Le Garage Hermetic, "hermetic" meaning both airtight, and esoteric in French, so that part was lost in the translation. The Airtight Garage was this completely improvised story that Moebius started kind of on accident while trying to meet a tight deadline. He simply made it up as he went along, page by page, each time giving himself some impossible challenge, having no idea how he was going to tie up all the loose threads. And believe it or not, somehow he managed. It all made an odd kind of sense in the end. It has got to be my Favorite Moebius story by far.

I have another well worn book called, The Art of Moebius. The center spread had an image he did in collaboration with an artist named Geof Darrow.  Darrow did the drawing and Moebius Moebiusified it. I looked at this thing for hours.

Moebius Owns Science Fiction in Hollywood

You may not realize it, but just about every science fiction movie in hollywood since Blade Runner has been inspired by Moebius in some way. Including Blade Runner. I don't mean to downplay the contribution of Syd Mead, who may well be just an influential, and who did design much of the look of Blade Runner, but first there was a story by Moebius called "The Long Tomorrow" that looked like this:

And was written some time in the late 70s. Moebius, in the French Magazine, Metal Hurlant (Heavy Metal in the US) made the future that has dominated sci-fi for the last thirty or forty years. Everything new and novel about science fiction movies and imagery of today started with Moebius.

Moebius also designed much of the look of Tron though Tron might have looked a little cooler if they stuck to Moebius' original designs:

The recent Sequel to Tron not only borrowed everything from the original, but it missed the point. They took Moebius' elegant simplicity and turned it into, well, Blade Runner. 

The French Avant Garde director, Jodorowsky, gathered together some of the best designers and illustrators of his time in the late 70s, with the intention of making a film based Frank Herbert's Dune. It fell through, but this is how it might have looked with Moebius' costume designs:

Instead of the black Jumpsuits and sepia palette that they ended up with in the Lynch film. Here's one of Moebius' many contributions to the otherwise mediocre The Fifth Element:

And he kept working, and inventing. This is from a book that features a series of drawing inspired by the New Mexico dessert. This is Moebius putting his pen to paper and just letting it do his Moebius thing. Like The Airtight Garage, no sketches ahead of time, just a pen and paper:

But I'll never get to meet him as a less spazzy adult. I'm positive he couldn't have possibly remembered me anyway, but still, I wanted to impress him, and impress upon him, that I was no longer that kid. But now it will never happen. I can't believe he died. He's younger than my dad. It's simply not fair.  He will be very, very missed.

Edit: I forgot to mention the very sweet and modest thing that Moebius AKA Jean Giraud told me at the San Diego Comicon. I told him he was my favorite artist, and he responded, "Then you must not know very many artists." And he was right. With so many egotistical artists out there, (particularly cartoonists) the remark was honest and generous. Speaking of artists less than modest, I once read a cartoonist's remark about how he was affronted when someone told him that he was their second favorite writer. To me, it sounded like a high compliment. We can't all be Van Gogh, or Picasso. We can't all be Dostoevsky. But Moebius remains close to my heart. 

Friday, March 09, 2012


Another monster from my monster book, the fearsome Australopithacat, the ancestor of the common house cat. The dummies finally complete! I'll post the cover soon.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Leaping Springaloris

Another monster. Getting closer to finishing the cover for my 50 Monsters book dummy. The interiors are already complete, so it won't be long now. I think I started this project 3 years ago, and started with about 70 monsters, then chose my favorite 50 and came up with names and descriptions for each of them. Each description is a sort of cautionary narrative, or represents a particularly annoying sort of person, though some are just silly and don't represent anything. It was a good time. Hopefully it will be a real book some day!

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Skippidus Dippidus

Another monster, this one's a little timid. Another for the mock-up cover I'm working on, the last step for the 50 Monsters dummy.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

A Hairy Who

A monster not entirely accidentally named after the Hairy Who movement of Chicago. Call it a tribute.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Thursday, March 01, 2012


And ink drawing of one of the monsters for my monster book.