I first encountered the Venus of Willendorf, that most iconic symbol of fertility, flickering on the screen from a tedious college slide lecture. Despite the less than inspired presentation, that overt and voluptuous figure won out. Up close, it was so imposing while, in fact, it was such a tiny, and quite vulnerable, statuette. Cartoonist Jason Fischer couldn’t help but want to play off that irony with his new comic focusing on two friends. One is in the spirit of the Venus of Willendorf. Her name is Vee, a 20-something fast food worker. And her best friend is Pony and she’s a demon. So, a whimsical and supernatural team-up.
Reading TERRA FLATS at Stumptown Coffee Roasters in Portland
This is an independent comic, published by Press Gang, out of Portland, Oregon. What it reminds me of most is the light-hearted humor of Sabrina, The Teenage Witch, or Casper, The Ghost, where there is a menace, there’s a showdown, and then things float back down to normal. No one really gets hurt and you learn something about the characters. In this case, the showdown is between a brother and sister who are both toying with the affection of Vee. In the process, we learn about what Vee really wants.
There’s a winning upbeat style to Fischer’s artwork. And his balancing of humor and thoughts on the dynamics of relationships adds up to a fun read for readers of all ages. I picked up my copy of this comic at Floating World Comics in Portland. And, if you’re in PDX, or want to order from them online, you can find them here. I also saw this comic again, out of the corner of my eye, at the blur of activity that was this last weekend’s Short Run comic arts festival in Seattle.
Colorist Nathan Fairbairn, Drawing Assistant Jason Fischer, Bryan Lee O’Malley, and me
Now, a few more words on our cartoonist, Jason Fischer. I saw him a couple of years back when he did a presentation with Bryan Lee O’Malley for Bryan’s most recent graphic novel, “Seconds.” He was the drawing assistant. Jason drew backgrounds, food, monsters and did some design work. It was his introduction to the comic industry. He’s been steadily making progress and could use some more patrons. Visit his Patreon right here.
Press Gang is an imprint of Alternative Comics. Find Press Gang here. And find Jason Fischer right here.
South Park Block: Theodore Roosevelt guards the Portland Art Museum
One of my favorite strolls is walking down the South Park Blocks in downtown Portland and then making it over to the Portland Art Museum. I was recently in Portland and enjoyed such an outing. This was just prior to the new Andy Warhol show. So, I need to make another trip from Seattle in the near future. That said, I had a wonderful time spending most of my time taking in the permanent collections. Just for fun, here are some observations.
PAM 2016: Cymatic Modular Triangle
I was in a contemplative mood. I found myself focusing on the various juxtapositions of art I came across. There were so many pleasing combinations on view that I could not help documenting some of the most striking ones. So much to see and process. This is just a quick sampling. I also include one of the temporary exhibits that intrigued me, “Sound Beyond the Auditory,” on view until the first of the new year. I’ll say a few words and you can go to the video that showcases a really cool pulsating triangle. This exhibit is made up of experiments in cymatics, the process of making sound visible and tactile. People enjoyed each work on view and were compelled to linger over the Cymatic Modular Triangle. They would stomp, tap, click, whatever sound they could think of, to influence the colorful patterns it responded with. This exhibition was developed in partnership with CymaSpace. For more information on their programs or how to volunteer visit cymaspace.org.
Bourdelle and Monet
Getting back to my study in coupling of art works. In no specific order: we begin with Bourdelle and Monet. The massive yet pensive bust, “Head of a Figure Called Eloquence,” 1917, by Emilie-Antoine Bourdelle, takes in the scene and is a perfect counterbalance to a water lily painting by Monet.
Caro and Oldenberg
Anthony Caro’s quirky “Table Piece XXX,” 1967, fits right in with what looks like a study for a large scale Oldenberg, “Profile Airflow,” 1969.
Rauchenberg and Stella
Rauchenberg shares space with Stella.
Rodin and Monet
Rodin’s exuberance gives way to Monet’s calm.
Smith and Berman
David Smith’s spiky sculpture, “Portrait of Don Quixote,” 1952, wages a battle with Eugene Berman’s expansive “Time and the Monuments,” 1941.
Smith and Berman
Olin Levi Warner’s sculpture rides the ebb and flow of time with the paintings of Edward Lincoln Espey.
“Charrette de boeuf (The Ox Cart),” July, 1884
“The Thatched-Roof Cottages of Jorgus, Auvers-sur-Oise,” June 1890
By far, the most moving combination is of a painting early in Vincent van Gogh’s life coupled with a painting from the month of his suicide. The space between the paintings seems to stand for such a troubled life as Van Gogh’s. One painting seems perhaps serene and studios. The other painting we might read into it resignation. We can sense a mastery, a certainty within uncertainty.
Portland Art Museum
Portland Art Museum is located at 1219 SW Park Avenue. “Andy Warhol: Prints from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation” runs from October 8, 2016 to January 1, 2017. For more details, visit the PAM website right here.
Portland beckons. Perhaps you are heading out to the Oregon Convention Center or you’re just looking for a centrally-located hotel right next to the Max light rail. Hotel Eastlund is a great place to stay when visiting Portland. I made that discovery during a recent stay. It coincided with the annual 24-Hour Comics Day that I take part in along with countless cartoonists around the world. For me, the location, the atmosphere, and the hospitality all added up very nicely. I was able to easily get around town and rely upon a quiet and comfortable room to settle into a drawing marathon.
Hotel Eastlund in Portland, Oregon
It all began with my arrival at Union Station. I took the train from Seattle. In fact, I read and prepared my review for this year’s Best American Comics during my train trip. I then walked over a few steps to the Max light rail and hopped on. Moments later, I was at the hotel. An upbeat and peppy style welcomes each visitor. The eye follows low-key colors and a pleasing combination of white and orange.
Hotel Eastlund: An Adventure Awaits
Boutique hotels are all about an upbeat and hip environment and Hotel Eastlund definitely met and exceeded my expectations. You feel, as you enter the lobby, with hints of the futuristic and the urban, that anything is possible from your new home away from home. The surroundings are chic and yet practical. There is plenty of comfortable seating and lots of informative brochures. Walk down a bit and you’ll find a roomy business computer station. And past that you’ll find a welcoming and nicely stocked café. There is also a gym and a chic rooftop restaurant. The more you take in, the more you see that this is a boutique hotel with a grand hotel vision and scope.
The Magic of Hotel Eastlund
The room was quite pleasant. I fired up my laptop and set about planning my visit using the hotel’s free Wi-Fi. I looked out the window to observe the Oregon Convention Center and the Max light rail. Just beyond that, at walking distance, I would find a number of shops and restaurants including the Lloyd Center shopping mall. But, first things first, I jumped into the shower to help keep me alert for the long day of sightseeing followed by an extended drawing session. I’d already made a number of sketches but there was more that lay ahead, along with inking what I had started in pencils. And I also managed to fit in going to see Peahces at the Wonder Ballroom. I did not stay late but late enough. Before going out, I did make a quick trip up to the hotel’s rooftop restaurant and bar, Altabira City Tavern. The view is simply stunning. I had a delicious glass of house red wine. My only regret is that I did not stay longer and, with spacious seating and inviting fire pits, it was quite tempting not to leave.
Once back to my room to pursue my night of drawing, I settled in with some coffee. I wanted to tie in the quirky offbeat character of Portland with my own drawing sensibility so I focused on work from my ongoing graphic novel about the science fiction writer George Clayton Johnson. Among his accomplishments, he co-wrote, with William F. Nolan, the landmark sci-fi novel, Logan’s Run. Bill Nolan, by the way, was in Portland to celebrate with the Portland Film Festival, the 40th anniversary of the blockbuster movie, Logan’s Run. So, all that said, I felt like I was right where I needed to be. As daybreak emerged, I flipped on the TV and enjoyed Hotel Eastlund’s Channel 2 which focuses on Northwest filmmakers and storytellers, presented by Lower Boom. Among the programs, “The Benefits of Gusbandry,” starring Brooke Totman and Kurt Conroyd, is totally hilarious. Check out the video for more about my hotel stay and the drawings I did during my visit.
That morning, I was grateful to sit down with a hot breakfast. I could have called room service but I chose to throw on some flip flops and my jogging clothes and make my way down to the hotel café, Citizen Baker. I give the hotel high marks for a lively and upbeat atmosphere throughout my stay. Considering I had a pretty hectic schedule as I set about taking in Portland from various angles as well as being true to my drawing regime, it was most appreciated that I could rely upon Hotel Eastlund’s professionalism and thoughtful hospitality. The hotel is utterly gorgeous. We can sometimes take things for granted. I think Hotel Eastlund makes it all look carefree and easy. Hotel Eastlund is a refreshing and smart new addition to Portland’s Eastside making it a fun and exciting destination in its own right.
Citizen Baker at Hotel Eastlund
Another visit to Hotel Eastlund is on my agenda and the sooner the better. There is simply so much more to enjoy. So, if your next destination is Portland, keep in mind how easy it is to get here from the Westside on the Max light rail, just a brief trip across the Willamette River then you are literally just steps away from the hotel. And, if you have more involved needs, there are five stunning private dining and meeting rooms including the 3,400 square foot Cosmopolitan Grand Ballroom that features floor to ceiling windows and breathtaking views.
Find Hotel Eastlund at 1021 NE Grand Avenue. Their phone number is (503) 235-2100. And visit the Hotel Eastlund website right here.
If you’re looking for new talent on the rise that offers the next wave of sci-fi action movie adventure, then look to director Marco Kalantari’s short film, “The Shaman.” It is a pleasure to have at Comics Grinder an interview with Mr. Kalantari, which you can listen to here. And Comics Grinder has an exclusive manga adaptation to his short work as well as a review, which you can view here. This is a short film with promises of bigger things to come. It is definitely a look at what a visionary director can offer.
The dark year 2204, in a world that has seen 73 years of continuous war.
The face of conflict has changed. People kill people but they now rely on giant, intelligent battle machines to fight. Meanwhile, mankind has re-discovered the arts of magic and Shamanism and the Generals on both sides use well-trained spiritual warriors to face the threat of machines. Shamans have special senses; they are experts in all aspects of the “unseen” and the “beyond”. They believe that every person, animal, plant and object has a soul. When crossing the border to the Netherworld, the Shaman can find this soul and interact with it. That is what makes him such a deadly, highly effective weapon. They track and convert the souls of their enemies’ giant battle machines in a psychological soul-to-soul confrontation. But Shamans are not invulnerable. They are just people and can be killed like anyone else.
Shaman Joshua Van Kern and his squire Lene embark on a mission to convert a giant battle colossus and succeed where troops have failed.
And you can always visit the director’s website right here.
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.
Someone in the front row just asked, “Is this ‘SEA/PDX: MAX AT HOTEL MAX: Getting to Know Max, Part 1?'” The answer is, “Yes. Please sit down.” I just trimmed back the title a bit for brevity and style sense. Anyway, everyone is welcome. You’re in the right place. Have a seat. Remain seated, it will be better that way.
You will now see what my 24HCD activity last week has set in motion.
As I had mentioned last week, we are rolling out a new webcomic here at Comics Grinder. You can find it right here and we’ll try to keep to a weekly schedule, like posting Sunday into Monday, for the foreseeable future.
So, welcome to SEA/PDX. In this comic, you will get to know Max. He attaches himself to various interesting places and things. He finds himself attached to Hotel Max, a unique hotel in Seattle, a one-of-kind venue that showcases original art. Of course, this appeals to the artistic Max. He loves art and he loves adventure. That has brought him to Hotel Max.
In the weeks ahead, we’ll settle in and see what makes Max tick. There’s a mystery woman in his life, Lucia, and so we’ll see a lot of her too.
For now, I hope you enjoy this nice helping of comics directly linked to my 24HCD and under the subtitle, “Max at Hotel Max.”
Emi Gennis has edited a wonderful anthology about mysteries, urban legends and unsolved crimes, UNKNOWN ORGINS & UNTIMELY ENDS, published by Hic & Hoc Publications, and you can read my review HERE. Now, I had planned on interviewing Emi ever since my review! And so I can kick myself for not working my video camera properly. I think Emi and I had just hit upon something miraculous while in conversation and now I can’t recall the exact details. I think we were on the verge of discovering an easy way to time travel but we didn’t bother to take notes! Ah, well. But, then again, isn’t reading comics the best way ever to time travel? Forget your flux capacitors and travel back in time with some good comics. Emi has a couple of mini-comics that follow the themes from her anthology: one is a true crime story while the other has a steampunk vibe to it.
“The Unusual Death of Gregory Biggs” by Emi Gennis
“The Unusual Death of Gregory Biggs” is a very neatly presented 5.5″ x 8.5″ 12-page mini. Artwork is strong. Story is told in a compelling way. It’s not your usual CSI type of crime story either! Only $2.
“Unfortunate Mishaps in Aviation History” by Emi Gennis
“Unfortuante Mishaps in Aviation History” is another beautifully rendered mini. I really like this format. And Emi has a way with capturing facial expressions and being mindful of details: clothing, perspective, architecture. It demonstrates a high skill level and a love for the comics medium.
Well, again, I feel bad that we missed the video portion to this post but there’s always next time. I look forward to seeing more of Emi’s work and she should definitely submit her work everywhere she can, including that most engaging publication, THE STRUMPET.