Hello. How are you? This issue’s title is stolen from a song by Talking Heads, from the film True Stories. It’s not a secret message or anything, I just like it.
February was quick. January was a blur thanks to a bunch of overtime at my day job, which bled over into February a little. Then my wife got sick, and I got sick, and I started to become much more interested in making some new stuff. More importantly, my overall mood improved after a slight post-holiday dip. I did some regular meditating (which, if nothing else, reminded me why I don’t regularly meditate much) and decided to just start doing stuff. I’m trying to keep the to-do list to a minimum, or at least to near-term things.
I took advantage of some post-holiday sales to stock up on some supplies and creative doodads, most notably a small MIDI keyboard to use with GarageBand. I’m looking forward to inflicting some music on you later this year.
If you missed it last time, check out the SNOW:
From the archives:
Sketch for a thing I did about 8(?) years ago where local artists in Saint John picked up an old vinyl record from a participating shop and then painted or otherwise made an original work of art out of it. I made up a horrifying series of pictures based on the record itself.
My other big activity this past month was creating a group called Making Comics at Meetup.com, a site and app that lets you coordinate meetups with people interested in a variety of topics.https://www.meetup.com/Making-Comics/
The first meetup is this Saturday at 1 PM at Radstorm. I made this little sign for it:
So far there are a couple of dozen people in the group and about a dozen attending the first meetup. I’m excited to meet them and make some comics.
Brad Warner, on the current trendiness for guided meditations:
Shunryu Suzukui Roshi once talked about how, in Japan, they sometimes grow cucumbers in special wooden boxes so that they all come out perfectly straight. He said that he did not want to do something like that to his students. He said he wanted to allow their zazen to be their own. That way, he said, they could be free to be “crooked cucumbers.” Later on David Chadwick called his biography of Suzuki Roshi, Crooked Cucumber.
In my opinion, at best guided meditation is like telling someone a bedtime story. At worst it can be used as a form of mind control or indoctrination. When someone is in a receptive state in meditation it seems almost like an act of violence to me to introduce any ideas into their heads.
When you sit zazen with me you’re on your own!
Faith Erin Hicks is from Halifax. I don’t know if she is even 30 years old yet but she has an impressive stack of graphic novels under her belt with no end in sight; including her own original trilogy called The Nameless City. It’s been wonderful to watch her career evolve over the last nearly-a-decade. I’m looking forward to reading her new book which I picked up this week, and not just because its title is taken from a famous quote attributed to Jack Kirby: Comics Will Break Your Heart.
Also on the go at the moment: the complete Jack Reacher short stories by Lee Child, which contains one of the most straight up bananas stories I have ever read; and Peter Fleming’s The Death of Homo Economicus, which is more fun than it sounds.
Highlights of this past month’s comics were Junji Ito’s creepy adaptation of Frankenstein and a trio of books written by Kieron Gillen: the last act of The Wicked + The Divine, a strong opening continues for Die, and Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt is a reframing of Watchmen and much of what has come since.
Netflix keeps adding new series more quickly than I or anyone can keep up with. Nicole and I just started watching one about zombies in medieval China, I think? I’m also a few episodes into their adaptation of The Umbrella Academy, and enjoying it well enough.
There’s a lot of Orson Welles on Netflix these days thanks to their new restoration of one of his unfinished films. I tried watching it and lost interest pretty quickly, but one of his truly greatest films is also available - The Stranger.
Nicole had an Oscar viewing party that I was largely disengaged from; I think I saw only one best picture nominee (Black Panther) and as usual I found it hard to take seriously an Academy that would reward yet another remake of A Star Is Born while ignoring startling films like Hereditary or even Aquaman. The Academy has had its head up its own ass for some time, so I don’t get my hopes up. I am very glad that Olivia Coleman won, and the animated short called Bao, and of course the Spider-Verse, which deserved Best Picture as far as I’m concerned. I believe it’s on Blu-Ray later this month, just sayin’.
We watched the Lifetime movie about Harry and Meghan for How Did This Get Made purposes, and it was both awful and fascinating. I watch a lot of Hallmark movies. I am not proud. But that one, whew. On the other hand, Rebel Wilson’s sendup of romcoms called Isn’t It Romantic? is a perfect comedy because it clearly loves what it mocks. It’s one of those smart contemporary comedies like Spy; the kind of movie I wish was the rule, not the exception.
I rewatched the pilot of Sports Night by Aaron Sorkin, his first (and arguably best) job in television. It is stagey, but its all star cast makes it look easy. And I realize now as I type this that I will have to watch the entire series again. Unfortunately it was only on for two seasons, so a rewatch does not take long.
It is probably worth mentioning that someone I think of as a kind of personal hero is a character from Sports Night. Much as I idolized Magnum PI as a flawed but essentially good male role model when I was a kid, I saw William H. Macy do a string of episodes of Sports Night guest starring as a “fixer” brought in by the network to improve ratings. I loved the character and I loved how he approached his work. He gets to deliver a couple of memorable monologues, including one about the inventor of television, a person that so fascinated Sorkin he eventually wrote a Broadway show about it.
Another one of my fictional comfort foods is Inspector Morse, the series of detective novels by Colin Dexter that became a wildly popular series of TV films in the UK starring the late John Thaw. It spawned a sequel series and after that, a prequel series about young Morse called Endeavour. I’ve been watching the latest series this past month and I might just start a rewatch of the original Morse series soon. And by the time I’m done that, it will be spring.
Still listening to the Into the Spider-Verse soundtrack a lot, plus the <raymond holt> jazz </raymond holt>. As I type this I am listening to the Final Fantasy XIII soundtrack. I recently ordered a replacement copy of my beloved Final Fantasy VIII soundtrack (the orchestral version). I listened to that CD approximately a million times but misplaced it in one of my moves.
Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend is always an enjoyable audio version of one of his celebrity interviews, with arguably the most enjoyable ad reads in podcasting; but the recent episode with guest Timothy Olyphant is brilliant.
I decided I wasn’t a big enough goddamn nerd and have been a little active on the How Did This Get Made? message boards lately. They were talking about the great (and super weird) film True Stories. Which put “Wild Wild Life” back into my head, where it often passes through anyway.
If you see a to-do item in italics, that means it got worked on. If you see it in bold, that means it got done.
Executive summary: I have a new dumb comic in progress called Deleted Scenes, which is a storyboard style depicting “humourous” outtakes from popular films. It seemed like a genius idea until I realized it was basically Robot Chicken, and I might even be subconsciously stealing one of their jokes. If I am, please don’t tell me.
I had planned on finishing up a western comic I started last year but suddenly got the fever to work on what I am now calling Project Transformer, a bizarre little trip through pop culture that involves a bunch of short comics that are loosely interlinked. Like a short story cycle or concept album, if I may be forgiven for using either of those terms. So that is looking like the next thing that will get published.
I am also thinking about publishing a revised and updated (and probably redrawn) version of my mini-comic called You’re Not Fooling Anyone, which I made after the Columbine massacre 20 years ago to point out the need for gun control. Needless to say I am very sad that this comic is even more relevant now than it was then. So, I want to do a better job of it for these times.
Have a good March. If you’re near Charlottetown, come see me at the Island Entertainment Expo on the 30th and 31st. If not, see you back here in about a month.