Friday, October 29, 2010

You Gotta Fight For The Wright.

A couple of weeks back I went off to see the latest film from this man:

That's English director Edgar Wright, experiencing the soothing touch of Michael Cera. It occurred to me on seeing his new flick that he's someone who's made me laugh a lot in the last ten or so years. Apart from that, he's got a wonderful way with a camera. Perfect whip pans, zooms & close-ups, intense colours, strong composition - this is plainly a man who enjoys his work. Reminds me of Sam Raimi or Robert Rodriguez on their best days. His sound design & musical choices are very distinctive too - just listening to his film & television work is great fun.  Given all that, I figured I should do a quick Yay Him, just in case he'd escaped the eagle eyes of any Arsegravy readers out there.

For a good long while Mr Wright has worked with these people:

As my dear Dad would say, that is holding the man. And the man is Simon Pegg. The one with the handfull is Nick Frost. These days Pegg is a busy lad, with TV shows, movies, books & a huge round of promotional appearances on the go, all of which is fair enough really, given that he does seem to be a very funny & talented chapotle.

He's always on the job, as you can see. But there was a time when Wright, Pegg & Frost were just starting out. Actually the thing I'm about to mention isn't quite where they all started out, but it certainly got them a lot of attention & besides I'm really just doing the edited highlights, so without detailing the short-films, tv shows & stand-up.. lets skip to the sort-of beginning, with this:

The sharehouse sitcom like no other sharehouse sitcom, Spaced was a TV series directed by Wright, produced by Nira Park & written by Jessica Stevenson & Simon Pegg that aired as two seasons in 1999 & 2001. It was honest, sweary, stylish & wonderfully free of the hellspawn of canned laughter. It also felt like it had been written by people who'd grown up with exactly the same TV shows, books, movies, comics, video games, food & music that I had. For me, the second series is the one where they really hit their stride perfectly - but that could just be because it's the one I saw first. I know plenty who go for season 1. Either way, its short, sweet run of 14 episodes is well worth a look.

Spaced also featured the work of artists Jim Murray and Jason Brashill. These two provided the comic book art that Tim's character makes in the show plus a series of caricatures used in promotions, like the one above the above. (If anyone can tell me which of them produced this particular cartoon please do drop me a line as I'd love to figure out the division of labour & give proper credit.)

The success of Spaced got them into trouble. Zombie trouble.

I won't go on & on. If you've seen it you already know, if you haven't I don't want to spoil it. But I will say a quick word about zombie films - and I'm only including yer actual undead here, not the voodoo variety.. I have to admit that even though I have a soft spot for Romero's Night & Dawn, (and also against popular opinion enjoy the Spierig brother's Undead) there are really only three zombie flicks I've seen to date that I love & can go back to over & over. One is the fabulously loopy Delamorte Delamore by Michele Soavi with Rupert Everett, the next is Danny Boyle's Triffids rewrite, 28 Days Later, and the last is Shaun.

With it's well drawn characters, follow through on the dramatic aspects of the story that give the serious side some weight, beautiful photography & editing and absolutely cracking gags, it's hard not to be a fan. Also it knows it's genre inside out & clearly loves it, which means it never feels half-hearted or condescending. A tasty undead morsel.

And then the cops arrived.

Like The Bill remade as a Hammer horror or The Wicker Man with a sense of humour & way more ammunition, Hot Fuzz is a film that, like Shaun, densely quotes it's sources while affectionately pointing out their failings, capitalizing on the well-trodden genre-territory by piling on ever-more inventive twists. Plus it has the biggest baddest cop show theme never used in an actual cop show by Bond composer & John Barry devotee David Arnold & the small matter of Edward Woodward, Billie Whitelaw, Jim Broadbent, Paddy Considine, The Daltonator and that bloke who played Belloq in Raiders of the Lost Ark! HOW CAN IT LOSE? It just can't. It's science. Oh, and it doesn't completely shy away from the careful-what-you-wish-for implications of its enforcement-utopia conclusion. Perhaps that hag was right. Perhaps he is just another fascist. To be able to imply that without endorsing it and get a cheer from the crowd is a particularly neat trick.

Maybe it's the friendships of the people behind the camera, maybe it's their affection for the material, but all 3 of their projects I've mentioned here have a sense of genuine fun that comes across strongly on screen. It's also work that has the noticeable quality of something made with actual care.

Like I said at the start, what brought this lot to mind in the first place was Wright's newest film:

Sounds like it's had a rough trot both at the box office & from a fair chunk of the critics. And maybe it's not quite as personal as Wright's work with Frost & Pegg - but if you grew up through the Atari or even the Playstation years & love music & comic books.. and particularly if you ever went out with someone who had a very dodgy dating history, then Scott Pilgrim is for you. It's a surreal, hyperactive, romantic smack-down. Also it has a tiny little bit just for the kids who saw the Flash Gordon movie one time too many. Bonus points.

I must admit, it does feel a little strange to want to go to bat for someone in the privileged position of making relatively high-budget crowd-pleasers like these last few. But none of the films I've mentioned here seem remotely like the soulless, plastic multiplex spam that usually fills that category to bursting. So far Wright and the gang have had idiosyncratic ideas and expressed them with beautiful craftsmanship. The more crowds pleased this way the better.

The catch to all of this is, comedy isn't very predictable. Humour is so personal. I think Anchorman is funny. My older sister hates it. The French think Jerry Lewis is a riot. I think he's a git. That's the rub. So if my recommendations end up giving you about as many big belly laughs as 100 Years of Solitude, my apologies. You really just never can tell.

Oh, one last thing - any illustrators n such looking for image resources related to these guys should probably check out the Blood & Ice Cream blog . It's gold. Many thanks to them!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Eureka. It's Greek For Knob Gag.

Today at Arsegravy Headquarters I've been rummaging through the carefully arranged piles of newspapers, bills, sketches, junk mail & biscuits and from out of the dusty clouds two old cartoons of mine shook loose.

I think the first one is from about 8 years back, & while it was never used I do at least remember having a lot of fun making it - any time hideous rubbery faces & deformed human organs are required is a good time, right? This was also a project done before my current thin grasp of search engines & the interwebs had been established, so it involved lots of library visits checking out medical books, magazines & movies to see what surgeons & patients should look like. Also to see how minimal I could be with drawing surgical equipment while still making it obvious that the guy in the picture was in hospital & not just being tortured.. The extracted organ ended up combining tongue, intestine, heart, stomach lining, scrotum & some blistery disease I forget the name of. Good times.

In the past I'd been happy to do cartoon inks using just a couple of different gauge ball-point pens - the way you can vary the line thickness through more or less pressure on the tip always appealed - but this time I swapped over to the UniPin series. They've got a good range of nib sizes plus water & fade proof ink, don't cost a fortune & they seem to be available everywhere. Unfortunately the scan I've managed of the inked version is a tad lacking in fidelity, but the original is holding up well. The colour was added using the cheap student acrylic Chromacryl - great colour range & so non-toxic you could probably eat it. Having said that - kids, don't eat it.

The other picture was a quick one done for the Mechanics Institute, marking the 150th anniversary of the Eureka Stockade. Their request for a cartoon on this subject was not immediately inspiring. I just didn't see a bloody revolt by goldfield miners over taxation without representation translating into a laugh riot. I remember talking to my friend Nick K about this & as usual he had good advice. He basically reminded me that being overly respectful of those caught up in an historical event wouldn't help make the point, or the joke - be honest & be blunt about it.  Then I thought about all those pictures of guys panning for gold. Bent at the waist.

Yeah. When in doubt, knob gag wins every time.

Friday, October 15, 2010

This Lady Reanimates Parts The Others Can't.

I love a good bit of exploitation. Or is that a contradiction? Good exploitation? Regardless, it's a love that's led to the presentation of Arsegravy's first Beautiful Trash entry - 1971's Spaghetti-Horror exploitation classic, Lady Frankenstein. The director of this film, Mel Welles, was a New York clinical psychologist, fluent in five languages, who traded the couch for the camera while also finding time to be a radio DJ, writer, producer & actor. You might recognise Mr Welles' face from Roger Corman's original 1960 Little Shop Of Horrors, in which he appeared as Mushnik, the undertalented but edible florist.
Welles' association with Corman proved to be a lucky one in the making of Lady Frankenstein. Just as production was about to begin in Italy, one of his financiers wrote a dodgy cheque - leaving him short $90 000. With actors & crew already hired & sets built, he made a last minute appeal to Corman, who was happy to make up the shortfall on a film that already looked like one of his own.  Mixing the faded star of Joseph Cotten with the undisputed talents of game Eurohotty Rosalba Neri, as well as some truly appalling monster makeup & an entirely overdubbed cast of backing players..well, it's obvious this is one for the ages.
But none of that would matter if it weren't for the poster. The poster is what thrusts this film's mismatched head & shoulders above the Beautiful Trash competition. Looking at the handmade movie art of this period through the photoshop-montage dulled eyes of today is a wonderful and tragic thing for an old school illustrator. Maybe it's a side-effect of the corporatisation of production - fun or invention in design are often minimised as too risky. (A similar effect can be seen in trailers - the early 90's saw studios make it a standard contractual agreement that directors would have no say in cutting the trailers for their own films, so the marketing department & nervous execs took over, resulting in the substitution of enticement with synopsis.) Sorry, digressing..  Poster.  In a nutshell, it's work made on a shoestring budget with a crazy deadline to hustle punters for cheap thrills, yet with a style & vibrancy that really grabs you & stays in the memory.  Also it's hilarious. Talk about selling the sizzle. That creature is seriously packing.
I'm not saying it's high art. It's pulp. But in its own trashy way, I think it's beautiful. 

Did I mention how much I admire the art of old Detective magazines & 70's comic books? This's surely a close relative.
And you've gotta love a movie that doesn't even spell the director's name right on the poster.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Shipping News. Now With More Flying.

Time to get back to some regular politics-free illustration. In an earlier Arsegravy post I think I mentioned taking way too long on a tattoo design of a flying ship for a friend. For myself, I've never trusted my own tastes to be long-enough lasting to take the inky plunge. Combine that with changes of general style, obviously happening all the time but usually in a very noticeable way say every ten years or so, & the idea of choosing poorly in the pretty permanent department of skin art has put me off. Sure, with the right person & design they can look great. But when it goes wrong, it can REALLY go wrong - how bout a picture of your fiance that comes out looking like Mr Potatohead? Fail. Then there's a photo in one of the art books at work of a fella whose back is one big glorious, full colour presentation of all the characters from... A Nightmare On Elm Street. Gotta wonder if he's still happy with that.

With this in mind I opted for a cooling-off period & dragged my heels. Not that I didn't like his idea - I really enjoyed the dreamy, Munchausen steampunk aspects of it - but I did want him to be sure. Kieren - the man with the plan - had given me a sketch of what he was after & as the months went by (3 of them I think) I slowly looked at references but kept it on the backburner. Eventually he spelled it out - super keen, classic idea, get a wriggle on. Even kept a shoulder reserved for it. So I made a start. 

In retrospect I'm very glad to have done this job - it was a great reminder of how rusty I'd got taking time away from constant illustration in the last decade. My perspective work was - well frankly, a total guessing game. After way too many stabs in the dark I bit the bullet & reread my old notes from uni. It meant a lot of redrafting but felt like it was good for me. An odd side-effect was the tendency to trace vanishing points for random objects wherever I went. Just double checking that everything was obeying the rules, I guess. Still, when you catch yourself being quietly entertained establishing the horizon by guessing the intersection of the lines of the supermarket lights & floor it probably is time to get a grip & take the groceries home.

From that point on I looked at a mountain of material dealing with hot-air balloons & dirigibles, steam engines, boat design & everything that stemmed from them - seafaring knots, anchors, mastheads, netting, boilers, paddlewheels, lamps, gas-burners, steam-whistles, rigging.. the works. Partly I went into the little details because the research side of illustration is something I enjoy - don't judge - but also it was because I've never been big on technical or machine drawing. I was never one of those kids who could sit down in school & draw a beefed up racing car or a Robotech monster from memory. People, faces, landscapes or cartoons, sure. But if you wanted to cross a Monaro with the Batmobile, not so much for me.

Despite the unfamiliar territory - or maybe because of it - the work was fun. One of the rules was not to make it too posh - no Spanish Galleons, much more functional & industrial. Also not to go over the top with minute detail, given it was going to be tattoo sized. So no pinching from Baron Munchausen, sadly. But I did find one really terrific & obscure image that turned out to be a big influence - it was a print from the early 1800's detailing the plan of a Belgian physicist, painter, ex-priest, balloonist & showman named Etienne Gaspard Robertson to build "La Minerve". Robertson (extending his name from Robert for the stage) was notorious for his exaggerations & seems to have "borrowed" substantially from previous designs. The seriousness of his suggestion is also doubtful, with one contemporary commenting that La Minerve was "of such baroque extravagance.. that Roberson was either mad or clowning.." And it really was a big idea - a massive 160 foot diameter balloon carrying a 150 foot ship below & a crew of 60, whose aim would be to travel the world on voyages of discovery for up to 6 months at a time. It would feature an observatory, kitchen, library, church, gymnasium, theatre & launching platforms for smaller balloons. It's goal was pure research & it took its name from the owl-loving Greek goddess of wisdom. She was goddess of a whole bunch of other stuff too & also showed up in Rome but that just complicated things, so I ah.. ignored it.

Unsurprisingly, Robertson's project never happened. People weren't keen. Hanging the toilet underneath the ship from a silk ladder probably didn't help. And admittedly the epic scale wasn't overly practical. But I did love the concept, and I felt like it was a nice sideways-reference to the enquiring mind of the tattoo's recipient. Just bring down the size & haul in the facilities, and we had a ship with a purpose - and a name. The Minerva.

^ Robertson's original Minerva design.

^Just a few of the references & sketches stacked up in the designing process..

^The finished Minerva tattoo design.

One last note - if there happen to be any odd format issues on the page, my apologies, but I really do struggle with the Blogger programming sometimes! A while back they changed some part of their code which deliberately or not, led to captioned photos being inactive. Which is to say no longer able to be enlarged by clicking on them. Although the old captioned ones still seem totally active & fine. So unless that changes I'll just be writing below the pics from now on I guess. Unfortunately Blogger also only allows you to write below pictures  from the left margin of the page if the image is medium size. I know that makes no sense, but them's the breaks.
Sorry folks, I'm just not the IT crowd.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Tony's In The Hood - But Not In The Lodge.

Interesting few weeks. Since the last Arsegravy update the house-poxing preferences of the voting public have brought the first Greens member to the House of Reps & planted quite a few more in the senate, chipped off a parliamentary barnacle whose nickname should've sobered up his supporters years ago, shifted unprecedented power & attention onto 3 independents & really pissed off the powerbrokers of the 2 major parties. In short, & for those who came in late, it's a hung parliament.

I could happily rake the coals at tedious length, but everybody else has beaten me to it, so I'll keep it quick.. ish. The Green thing makes me reasonably happy because they're among a tiny few left in politics here that don't sound like robot versions of Humphrey Appleby. They also don't seem to give a toss about the spin priority of being On Message - which is to say, abandoning all the detail of an argument & endlessly parroting the line you wish to slap on the evening news, even if it means never once answering a question & sounding like someone with the memory-span of a below-average goldfish. Highlight examples in this campaign include Julia's "Moving Forward" & Tony's "Stop The Boats", as well as "Stand Up For Real Action", which unfortunately for him was easily misheard as Rear Action. Perhaps he was hedging his bets. Anyway, point is the Greens often tend to say the things I've been thinking. Long time since anyone in the majors did that.

Two more little but noteworthy items - first, the demise of Iron Bar. Yep, after 30 years Wilson "Iron Bar" Tuckey is no longer a Liberal MP. When he arrived in parliament in 1980 it was already more than a decade since the incident that earned his nickname. The story goes that as a publican in the 60's, he beat an Aboriginal man with a length of steel cable. While the guy was being held down. Other career highlights include boycotting the apology to the Stolen Generation, claiming that terrorists were among "boat people", blaming environmentalists for bushfires & using his ministerial position to try to get his son out of a driving conviction. On conceding defeat, Iron Bar described the victorious National Party candidate Tony Crook as "a nobody". Colleague Joe Hockey was once moved to describe Tuckey as the Liberals "mad uncle".  Keating preferred to go with "criminal garbage".  Clearly he will be much missed. Exit Wilson Tuckey, finally beaten by nobody.. but himself.

Second, it's official - Bill Heffernan is the devil. Might not sound like a newsflash, but it's now confirmed by Bill himself. In the last couple of weeks all the players involved in negotiating the necessary number of seats to rule have made "stable government" their absolute proviso. So when appealing for the desperately needed support of 3 independents, Liberal Senator Bill Heffernan thought the best approach would be to ring up one of them, Rob Oakeshott, and tell the woman who answered the phone that person calling was "The Devil. Ha ha ha." Later the Senator defended this by saying he was not aware he had been talking with Mr Oakeshott's wife - he thought it was one of Oakeshott's children.

Now that's stable.

As it turned out Gillard got there - just. Given their already ideologically watered-down state, Labor's obligation to now work with independents from all over the political spectrum seems likely to mean we're in for a few years of extremely middle of the road government. But I confess it is a big relief not to be looking at 3 years of nasty neocons. This morning on ABC's Insiders show, old Howard mate Gerard Henderson felt it necessary to very gravely point out that while Mr Abbott had been called The Mad Monk by some media, in fact he was neither of those things. He was not mad or a monk. 

Sure, it was weirdly funny at the time, but Henderson's plodding deadly seriousness is not just the pitiable condition of one sad-o - while not confined to the Coalition, there is an intense concentration of Takingyourselfwaytooseriousliosis in their ranks.. (Maybe with the exception of Barnaby Joyce, but that's a whole other story.) To me that means there's a major lack of self-reflection, and that's an ailment that makes it way easier to do very shitty things to other people. Combine that with the personalities of Tony's whatever-it-takes henchmen - Eric Abetz, Philip Ruddock & Nick Mintion to name a scary few - and it does make me feel like the hanging parliament actually represents the public's dodging of an electoral bullet. Maybe I'm getting Waytooseriousliosis myself. Better stop.

So to finish, here's a few recent sightings of Tony, the boy in our 'hood.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Toxic Shite Should Always Be Properly Labelled.

Here's a little something just freshly delivered to the Arsegravy desk, most likely from the surgeon general or local equivalent. Just in time too! Boy, I nearly drank that.
And at the dawning of the last shopping day til a superkeen nation is led, doubtless dizzy with participatory electoral pride, up the garden path of their nearest state school to sample some sausage sizzle & make a carefully considered contribution to the delightful democratic confetti, it really is impossible for me not to cross my fingers & hope... August does not spawn a monster.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Fabulous Forum Theatre

I'm conscious of the danger of making every post into a crazy rant from the cranky old man. So for a change, here's something I love.
When I was a kid the family used to come down to Melbourne for holidays & catch up with rellies & friends. As a result I always had an affection for the place - the smell of the air (which I later realized was a combination of gas leaks & leaded-petrol fumes, but what can ya do?), the diffuse light that was so unlike the blazing nuclear-war intensity of north Queensland, the cool weather... and the amazing old buildings. Given the relatively recent arrival in Australia of europeans, I guess most places in the world wouldn't consider any construction here to be truly old. But having grown up in a state where heritage always came off second best to "development" and historically significant buildings could literally vanish under wrecking ball & dozer in the middle of the night (when the right mates slipped ministers the appropriately stuffed paper bag - or backed up the right size dump truck, if you count the more ambitious under-the-table investment relationship between notoriously corrupt then-Premier Joh Bjelke Petersen & industrialist Leslie Theiss, among many others), Melbourne looked positively like The Grand Tour.
And so, large chunks of Melbourne are close to my heart. Some of them I can't even be objective about. The Forum Theatre is a good example. We visited it when I was so young I still wasn't totally sure if it was open air - so convincing to a 6 year old was the carefully painted & lit high ceiling, made to look like the night sky twinkling with stars. It also has a weird Mysterious Orient flavour to the exterior, which I'm told is part of the Moorish Revival movement popular in the mid-nineteenth century. . It was designed by American architect John Eberson & opened in 1929, seating over 3000 people & accommoding a Wurlitzer organ with 21 rows of pipes. Sadly the organ is no more. But it still houses all kinds of oddities - little alcoves with fake Greek statues in the lobby, balcony areas either side of the stage populated with more statues & fake pine trees with a stuffed bird suspended above them (!), as well as a beautiful proscenium arch & lots of sculpted floral & seashell decoration. It might well tip over into kitsch. If it does I just don't care. Can't be objective. Love it.
It's possible we saw Back to the Future there. Memory's a little hazy, but that rings a bell. If we did, it must have been one of the last films they showed back then, because the same year that Doc Brown & Marty McFly dodged the Libyans & took a plutonium powered DeLorean plus a walkman full of Van Halen to the Enchantment Under The Sea Dance - 1985 -  Greater Union sold the Forum to an oddball evangelical group called Revival Centres International. In the next ten years, while they spoke in tongues to each other (not kidding), the place was allowed to run down. The worship stopped when the church was split over the vexed issue of there being nothing but eternal fiery damnation for those who chose to have sex before marriage. I'm not making this up. More than half of their flock left the herd because of objections over this one. Hopefully they found someplace new & sensible, where they could speak in tongues and get jiggy wit it.
Anyway, these days its a brilliant live music & events venue. Last week the Melbourne International Film Festival wound up, with the Forum once again making a terrific Festival Club. My friend & fellow illustrator Pam & I stopped in to hear American director Joe Dante talk movies with Paul Harris from RRR's Film Buffs Forecast. Good company, great coffee & free Brunetti's cake - all under the faux night sky of one of my favourite places in Melbourne. Sometimes life is sweet.

The Forum. A big fave.

The greatness of the decorative Griffin.

Wonder how the revivalists felt about this guy?

The deluxe, slightly bizarre antechamber to the toilets..

Forum as MIFF Club, Joe Dante on stage.

Archway lion, just off the foyer.

Gargoylish lobby observation.

The Romans and their stuffed bird, above stage left.

Decorative flourish on descent to the gents.

One of the many wall alcoves.

Proscenium & coffee. All good.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Fresh Fish Really Hits The Spot!

Had to post this one. A beautiful production still from the sequel to Creature From The Black Lagoon, courtesy of Ain't It Cool via Gus H. Touching to know cross-species romance ain't dead.

Creature from the Black Lagoon. Catch of the day.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Heros & Villians.

The Liberal Party, now out & proud as Conservatives (in all but party name of course) had its big campaign launch today. You might wonder why this would happen a fortnight after the announcement of the election. Building the breathless anticipation of an excited nation? Nah. Apparently the reason both the major parties leave it late as possible is because it's only when the launch occurs that the parties are obliged to start paying their own way. Up to that point it's all paid for by the public purse. So you go as late as you can, naturally. The Labor Party, still in the closet about its own conservatism (in all but deed of course), launches next week.
Shortly after being welcomed by a 90 second ovation current Lib leader Tony Abbott described an elderly gent down the front as "A HERO!" Perhaps it was an attempt stir memories of George W's "Man of Steel" sentiment, because yes, the ol' hero was of course the Deputy Sherriff and philosophical wind beneath Tony's wings, John Winston Howard. Having brushed off his recent rejection by the International Cricket Council & the accompanying reruns of film of him repeatedly & unsuccessfully attempting to bowl a cricket ball, the former PM entered the campaign with obvious relish. And why wouldn't he? Abbott's vision is simple -  the Howard Years rerun in lycra instead of tracksuit. Man of Steel, father of Iron Man. 3 years go by & the electorate are now bathed in nostalgia for the time of a leader whose slippery deceits were so notorious that his own cabinet & colleagues nicknamed him "The Lying Rodent." Good to have the bar set so heroically high.
Given all that, I figured I should join in the commemoration by dusting off a couple of my pics. The first is called "Catch His Fire (Fahrenheit 457)" & dates from the thrilling time when the Howard team were both courting the Catch The Fire ministries evangelical vote and overseeing the rorted 457 working visa, which charged foreign workers large sums to come to Australia & get screwed over on wages or do work they hadn't agreed to (abattoir work, for example). Any complaints would see them sent home. Around the same time the PM was also attacking schoolteachers & various academics for being "idealogical". All that ironfisted far-rightness with its eyes on shutting down debate reminded me of Beatty the Firechief in Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 - a cunning, well-informed zealot, burning up books & people "for the good of humanity". At one point he says, "fire's real beauty is that it destroys responsibility & consequences. A problem gets too burdensome, then into the furnace with it." Perfect for the era of the Hot Button Issue, with all of its deliberate stoking of angry heat & none of the light of informed debate.
The second image was made after the 07 election, when boredom rather than any ethical considerations saw JH finally ejected from office. A scene from the end of the old Flash Gordon movie came to mind. The one where the apparently unkillable & dastardly emperor Ming the Merciless is at last despatched by impalement. Howard's own political hero, Robert Menzies, was nicknamed "Ming".  It seemed like a fitting tribute.

Catch His Fire
Hail Ming!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

These Rocks Don't Lose Their Shape. Unfortunately.

For those who came in late, the high-voltage excitation of a federal election is currently coursing through the lumpen mass of the country's body politic. Prognosis is of course poor, two heads one brain, a deformed basket case version of any genuine ideals, I can't go on I'll go on, etc..  To celebrate this fabulous event I thought I should post two little gems from a couple of those cartoonists I was getting all worshipful of. The Leunig is only from a few years back, but the Pryor piece, which feels like it's straight outta last week - is from 1977. How sad is that? Oh, and apologies if the picture quality isn't great - they were photographed straight off our fridge. Yep, it's that kind of fridge.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A bunch of recent works.. and some explaining.

Thought I should put up clearer pics of some of the pieces from the exhibition - and probably explain some stuff. It didn't occur to me when I booked it, but the exhibition I had in May was actually my first ever show. Over the years I'd done commercial work & included art in group projects, but never put up a collection all my own. Maybe that comes from the Illustrator background - usually you produce work specifically to serve a narrative, often provided by someone else, and normally that's the person who pays you. The work is seen by others when it gets used for the author or publishers purpose & you move on. From an Illustrators point of view exhibitions can seem like the preserve of the Fine Artist. Or maybe that was just from THIS Illustrators pov & I just never compared notes enough to notice it was bollocks. And then in the last ten years I slowed the making-pics right down & didn't think about it much.. Given all that, I'm really happy it didn't crash n burn horribly.

The work in the show came partly from years of enjoying political cartoons - from Larry Pickering's endless knob gags of the 70's & 80's (although probably not his bonkers right-wing misogyny) through Geoff Pryor's beautiful draughtsmanship & general smarts in the Canberra Times, I've always admired these guys. Ron Tandberg, Bill Leak, Peter Nicholson (the brilliant Rubbery Figures man, for us fossils who remember it..), Michael Leunig, Cathy Wilcox, Mark Knight.. what a spectacular bunch. And that's just in this country. Anybody who's missed out on em should really go & have a look - they're worth it. And at a time of exclusive concentration by the media/public feedback loop on the sizzle rather than the steak, there don't seem to be many others apart from this lot quite as genuine or dogged in attempting to nail the PR stooges & wind-up toys that run everything now. Love em.

Another thing that had been on my mind for a while was stenciling - my favourites were always the ones that served the same purpose as political cartoons. I could go into detail, but you know how slow I write. Its late. Gotta keep it short! Oh, by the way, hope it doesn't sound like I'm saying my stuff is just like the guys above. I only mentioned all of that in an attempt to explain that their work inspires me - & that I really enjoy art with some reasonably well-formed idea behind it. Having said that, you can now scoff openly at how poorly my own pictures line up with that concept.

The Easter Tradition

Known Unknowns

Massive Cock



The 8 Arms of Highly Effective Cthulhu

Avoidance Behaviour

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Must've nodded off..

Wiping away the sleepy dust & the drool, I notice it's about 3 months since my last update & at this point I should probably mention that I've never in my life been a diary keeper. The thought of expressing an idea badly really bothers me - writing an email requiring any kind of argument to be made can easily take me an entire evening. I'll often spend a half hour composing, editing & rewriting a text message. Including rewrites it just took 15 minutes to put together the last 3 sentences. Obsessive compulsive? Hush yo mouth.
 On top of this, I don't feel I've got enough of a level of expertise in, er.. anything at all really.. to start setting thoughts in stone. Still, if the twats at the IPA can have column space surely anyone can. Maybe that's the problem - I'm not sure that the principle of "if-they-talk-a-steaming-load-why-can't-I" is totally sound. Oh, and also there's the problem of today's ideas being the ones I'll  completely disagree with tomorrow. So, not a natural for diary writing, even in its interwebs form like this.
All of that is just by way of belatedly saying "Please excuse the snail's pace & assorted shite on the blog - I'm not sure what Normal Service is just yet."
To make it up to you, I now include a completely gratuitous picture of William Shatner fondling a rude & amusing object. I believe he's about to make it boldly go where no man has gone before.