A lot of us out there have one indelible image come to mind when we hear the name, “William Randolph Hearst.” We see a close-up of Orson Welles‘s lips as he sighs, “Rosebud,” and lets drop out of his hand a little snow globe. But surely there was more to the man and the best part of his legacy has got to be his contribution to the birth of newspaper comic strips. Why, to this day, King Features is both admired and respected, the company he founded to develop and distribute comics, columns, editorial cartoons, puzzles, and games around the world. Ohio State University’s Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum will celebrate the centennial of King Features Syndicate with “King of the Comics: William Randolph Hearst and 100 Years of King Features.” The exhibition runs December 13, 2014 – March 15, 2015. For more details, visit right here.
Tag Archives: Pop Culture
Cats have never been, nor ever will be, domestic servants. It just goes against their very nature. However, in Megan Kelso’s new minicomic, “Cats in Service,” she makes a strong case for it. Of course, it’s not simple. There are complications.
Seattle Art Museum is a veritable Popland for its show, POP DEPARTURES, OCT 9 2014 – JAN 11 2015. For more details, visit our friends at SAM right here.
What follows are field notes from the current show. Consider it a review, a guide, a friendly tour. When it comes to reviewing a show like SAM’s exploration of Pop Art, it’s a brave new world. Today, a handful of local art critics no longer command public opinion as much as make a noble contribution. No sooner have they done that, in a poetic, or quirky, or straightforward fashion, than a babble of reactions shoot out from below in the comment section. And that’s exactly what Andy Warhol would have wholeheartedly approved of!
As much as can be said for Pop Art shedding a light on a dead end, Pop Art is full of life. It’s our world, made up of mass media galore and celebrity worship. Let’s do something about it. Since it’s not going away, engage it. Make art. The babble in the comment section can rage on and on and on. Some of us learned how to love the bomb, so to speak. That is the overriding sensibility to be found here. There’s social commentary, critique, and satire, of course. But, ultimately, when Warhol suggested that everyone would get their fifteen minutes of fame, it wasn’t a barb but a realization.
SAM provides a refreshing look at Pop Art byway of where it came from and how it continues to reverberate to this very day. You may even see such familiar figures as Warhol and Lichtenstein in a new light. What this exhibit does so well is demonstrate how, as time progressed, and consumer culture became more complex, so did contemporary art. Layer upon layer, extended the bright and bold message of consumerism. As the landscape of pop culture evolved, and devolved, art responded and collaborated.
Art and its subject end up doing a dance together. And the most subversive work will find its way into the mainstream. Consider the cacophonous video on display by Ryan Trecartin. You may find that you got the joke and want to walk out as soon as you walked in. But stay a while. Wait a minute, something about these vacuous characters spouting gibberish and thinking themselves profound is very familiar. Compare this to the mainstream co-opting (or is it stealing?) by Saturday Night Live with their popular ongoing skit, “The Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation With at a Party.”
As we view the Warhols and Lichtensteins, we don’t need to see them as only a part of art history. They continue to breathe life. They continue to provide a road map (sorry, no GPS) for making sense of the landscape.
“Pop Departures” is on view from October 9, 2014 thru January 11, 2015. Visit our friends at SAM right here.
It was a hive of activity at Washington Hall in Seattle, on November 15, 2014 for the annual Short Run Seattle Comix & Art Festival. Comic arts festivals continue to gain ground as interest and demand grows for independent comics. Here in Seattle, Short Run has proven to be the leading venue to connect creators with the public. Now in its third year, the festival offers a dazzling selection of work by some of the best talents in the U.S. and beyond.
I had the pleasure of chatting with Short Run’s Guest of Honor, John Porcellino, and he was quite gracious. My partner, Jennifer Daydreamer, and I had gotten to see an advance copy of the documentary on his life and career, “Root Hog or Die.” Jennifer asked if it had been planned to have the documentary and John’s new book, “Hospital Suite,” come out at the same time. And John explained that the documentary had been years in the making and it was a wonderful coincidence to have these two separate projects join together into a tour. “The documentary is an extension of the book,” said John. I’d go farther to say it’s an extension of King-Cat Comics, as if it took on another life as a film. Well, more to talk about at a later date. I asked John for some recommendations from his Spit and a Half distribution catalog and I’ll be reviewing them shortly.
Among other friends we got to catch up with were Mark Campos and David Lasky, both longtime Seattle cartoonists. I have recent work by Mark that I’ll be sharing with you soon too.
David Lasky, as many of you know, is the co-author, with Frank M. Young, of “The Carter Family: Don’t Forget This Song.” I saw that the book was part of a series of Short Run raffle items. Well, you don’t need to enter a raffle to get your copy of this unique history of the legendary country music icons. You can find it right here.
I also got a fun treat by another beloved Pacific Northwest cartoonist, Pat Moriarity. He had told me about a limited edition mini-comic he had created just for this year’s Short Run. In “Skulptura?” an artist attempts to find his muse. And I also got to chat with Eroyn Franklin, organizer of Short Run, with Kelly Froh and Janice Headley. She was a pleasure to talk with. I asked her about her upcoming comic, “Dirt Bag.” And it is coming along nicely. There was a preview at Short Run that I missed finding. I also should have gotten there early as the early birds got a goodie bag of comix. Well, maybe next year.
In closing, what can I say, Short Run was a rousing success. If you’re in Seattle this time next year, make plans to attend. It’s a comix and art festival and a whole lot more as you’ll see on their site.
We are assured that capitalism will always survive because humans are never satisfied with the status quo and must push forward to whatever and wherever their “enterprising” minds take them. In the new sic-fi comic, “Drifter,” we see what some of these minds have wrought in a distant future both bleak and dangerous. Of sure, the environment, from one planet to the next, was the first to be compromised for these human settlers from the future. Is it a curse to be human? Our main character, Abram Pollux, stumbles upon the scene, barely surviving a crash landing to the lawless backwater world of Ouro. His first action is to kill a native point blank. Not off to a good start.
Do not go gentle into that good night. Why should you? And don’t just rage. Get yourself a whole new body like in Pete Toms‘s comic, “The Dupe,” in the latest (special 3D) issue of Study Group Magazine. This piece certainly sets the tone and then some for a magazine full of ebullient work featuring in-depth essays, interviews, and a variety of work by talented cartoonists who tend toward the underground. Come in and sample everything and be sure not to miss the 3D because it is out of this world.
SHORT RUN 2014: John Porcellino, Guest of Honor; Main Event is November 15 at Washington Hall in Seattle
Short Run, a showcase of small press cartoonists, is back for another year of festivities and a comix and arts festival, at Washington Hall on November 15 here in Seattle. On that date, nearly 200 cartoonists, publishers, zinesters, authors, and animators will be gathered to sell their works and celebrate the world of independent and emerging artists. The full schedule of events will include a mural painted in the Central District by South African artist Jean De Wet, art shows at Joe Bar and the Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery, and readings, screenings, and panels across Seattle.
John Porcellino, known for his self-published memoir comic, King-Cat Comics and Stories, will be the guest of honor. This year is special as it marks the 25th anniversary of King-Cat Comics and Stories as well as sees the release of a new book, “The Hospital Suite,” published by Drawn & Quarterly (read my review here). And there is a new documentary on his life and work, “Root Hog or Die” (read my review here). There will be a screening of this documentary with Porcellino and director Dan Stafford in attendance at Central Cinema on Sunday, November 16th.
The full schedule and press release follows:
In “The Babadook,” the bogeyman in this movie is especially frightening, on a level that will have you wrestling with your own demons. And you never really see it. Even though you do. As fast as you may find yourself on the verge of exposing a trusty horror movie trope, this film moves faster. It certainly doesn’t shirk from one of the biggest tropes of them all: the conflict between being normal versus being different.
What if that troubled little boy, Samuel, could just get with the program and act normally? Maybe there’s some medication he could take to control him? But what if medication is far from what is needed here? Samuel (played by Noah Wiseman) has a compelling answer to that as the film’s focus, its lightning rod.
We learn a lot from Dan Stafford’s documentary on cartoonist John Porcellino. “Root Hog or Die” provides us with some basic truths that resonate as we explore the life of someone both unique and, by his own account, just an average guy trying to make a life. The whole point here is to embrace the average. As Porcellino states at one point, he’s concerned to see an erosion of “the middle ground, when a person can live without an elaborate ambition and yet not be sleeping by some dumpster.”