Colin's Comment

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Well, I got the “Grudge” done on time! With deadline looming and the model only painted with the base colour I went to work on Tuesday without breakfast or bath and got to work! First I dry brushed on the lighter colours to bring out the texture and shape, glued on insignia and dials, painted on serial numbers and graffiti (the famous “Kilroy was here”). The base was already painted black, I slopped on the polyfilla, pressed aquarium pebbles into the wet polyfilla to make a road, painted the road and flocked the sides… I glued the letters and a parcel into the mailbox I made of card and glued to the side of the “grudge”… it would’ve gone a lot quicker except for the drying times, not so much of the acrylic paint but that of glue and polyfilla. To be honest, I wasn’t sure the glue would work on the pebbles when I attached the Grunge model to the base so I used too much glue really… most of this is new too me! I’m disappointed with the sten gun strapped to the side, I now realise it’s far too big and I wish I had time to redo it but the opening was coming up fast!

The Grudge Show opening was last Friday and as I suspected mine was the least “artistic” interpretation, although one Grudge titled “Meat” had very nice rust affects painted on! Heck, I ain’t no art wank, I’m a wargamer and a miniaturist! There were some nice pieces, one arrived rigged to explode with a mound of firecrackers inside but was “disarmed” before anyone could blow off a finger! A tall man in an Ikea coat rambling in mock Swedish (I swore at him in Swedish and he didn’t react at all. “Jigger“ if you must know, Swedish for “bullshit“) gave out boxes to the artists including a cheque (imagine being paid to do art!), a NY subway token , and a coupon for a t-shirt! Very generous!

While waiting for the various bits of Grudge to dry I finished the art on a new mini-comic, “Bookworm”. I’ve got a mini ready for inking, “The Littlest Gunne”, a charming children’s story about field artillery. “Self-Indulgent #15” and “Shitman” are printed, “Longest Undefended Border” ready to print, “Bookworm” ready to paste up. Along with my annual 9-11 comic it looks like 6 new mini-comics at The Word Under the Street in late September and I just registered for the Broken Pencils Canzine West ‘06 in October!

Right now I’m working on “The Nine O’Clock Gun”, the history of a Vancouver institution for the Fall issue of the Vancouver Review Magazine. Since 1898 a 12 PDR smoothbore gun made in 1816 has been firing a blank powder charge from Brockton point in Stanley park. Orginially it was to allow ships to set their timepieces, important for safety when predicting the tides. Now it’s just cool. I can hear it from my home in Mount Pleasant while I‘m working, it reminds me to listen to Ideas on CBC radio.

On Sunday I went to Arron, the proprieator of the alternative comics community centre also known as R/X Comics, birthday party at Robin Thompson’s (of Champions of Hell Fame) house, which was a lot of fun. I was pleased to unexpectedly run into a couple of my Seattle comics peeps (that’s what the kids say, right?) David Lasky and Scott there! Dave inadvertently started an impassioned debate when he asked about the “Greatest Canadian” contest, Don King was a Tommy Douglas man while I was rooting for Lester B Pearson! We all could agree Don Cherry was a bad joke.

Uhhh… The freezer section of my fridge keeps leaking water, not all the time, but when it does it gets all over the place. Anyone have any suggestions?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Ooooh man… sorry I’ve been away, I’ve been busy lately! Those two mini-comics I was working on, “Self-Indulgent #15” and “Shitman” are done, printed, only awaiting to be cut, folded and stapled! I can’t do this right away, my downstairs neighbour goes berserk whenever I start stapling or using my guillotine, well, he goes berserk when I sweep the floor or do most anything, including typing on the computer! Actually, he’s been quiet for months now, I just don’t want to tempt fate! While I was copying the mini-comics at the UBC Staples I also reduced a third mini-comic, “A Short History of the Longest Undefended Border”, about all the times that Canada has been invaded from the U.S. which is more often then you might think. Interestingly, it isn’t always the U.S. government that launches these invasions but U.S. citizens attacking Canada against the wishes of their own government! Then I went home and wrote another mini-comic, “The Littlest Gunne”, which I’m still working on the pencils and I’m almost finished the inks for “Bookworm”, about my life and literacy! Waaah! I’m on fire!

I’m also working on my Grudge, a 3-D card model for Jim Ramsey. Jim builds card models for the movies when he’s not blowing glass and he made up a bunch of these “Grudges”, a fictional 3 wheeled light truck, for various artists to decorate as they see fit. I got one. It’s pretty tricky, I haven’t worked in card before but I’m having fun seeing how much stuff I can glue on it. I’m making mine up to be a WW2 Canadian Army postal van in Italy around 1943, researched the insignia and everything! It’s fun and frustrating and I wish I had more time!

I’ve just been asked to do a one pager for the next “Vancouver Review” magazine (for whom I drew “Monster Versus The Pop Culture Nihilists” ) on the Nine O’clock Gun, a Vancouver institution! Since the 1880’s or so this 12pdr muzzle loaded left over from the Napoleonic wars has fired at nine PM so fish boats can synchronize their timepieces, important when your safety depends on anticipating the tide. I’ve done some research on the web already, I should get to work on it soon…

But how can I find the time, being such a social butterfly and all! Thursday was the James Kolchalka interview, Friday I went to a sale in Richmond in the morning (I am now officially really broke!) and went to my Trumpeter’s Wargames club in the evening, Saturday was the launch for the new “Cinema Sewer” magazine at R/X Comics (I illustrated a two pager on censorship in Cincinnati) followed by our monthly cartoonists jam at the Jolly Alderman!

Now I must decompress. Being a loner most of the time I find that if I go out and get social able for a few days in a row I get quite edgy & irritable. I need to withdraw and have some quiet time, work time, recover and calm down. Cat time. Time to paint figures, time to make flags for the Royal regiments of the siege of Quebec in 1759, labels for the militia’s of New France and there’s Brian’s Hungarian line troops to paint!

I’m not sure, but sometimes I wonder if my idea of being relaxed is different than other people. At times when I think I’m being laid back I’ve been told I was “intense”… am I ever really relaxed, can I ever really relax, particularly in public? I can only say I’m better than I was, that’s why I sympathise with social misfits I meet at parties, yearning and needing, begging for acceptance! That slightly hysterical air of jolly desperation. That was me, still is in a way but I think I hide it better these days. Well, better get back to work…

Oh, my favourite Soul Coughing song, “Screenwriter's Blues” on my CD of Ruby Vroom has just come on. I love this song!

“It is 5 AM, and you are listening to Los Angeles”

Friday, August 11, 2006

Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.....Oh yes, Victoria, capital of British Columbia located on Vancouver Island... a nice place to visit, small, major industries government and tourism... hangs on tightly to it's Britishness. It's also had some of the best and worst con's I've ever been too...

What is it about Victoria?

When I first considered doing mini-comics there was this guy from Victoria who worked at Island Fantasy but was selling all kinds of interesting stuff from his home, I bought the "John Cleese" issue of "Help!" from him. He also sold me the first mini-comic I'd ever seen, the infamous "Penguins in Bondage"! He told me he was setting up his own small press publishing house and he'd like me to do something for it. I said sure, at the time I was broke and unsure of myself so I figured what the hell! He invited me to visit him in Victoria to do comics and I took him seriously. When I arrived at his place he seemed surprised to see me, as was his mum! I'd planned to stay for a week of heavy comics drawing but we essentially did nothing and his mom asked me to leave after a couple days. I left him the original art for my first mini-comic, "The Granville Street Gallery" with him to publish. Month's passed with no mini-comic, no word. For a couple of years Victoria's Big Brother's & Big Sisters put on these huge cons at the Empress Hotel which I attended. These were great cons with a guest list a mile long, Sim, Aragones, Chaykin, etc. I tracked down my "publisher" at the convention who gave me a long story about why he hadn't done anything yet, which being a trusting sort I accepted. I then went to Island Fantasy and was flipping through the box of underground comics when I discovered my original artwork for "The Granville Street Gallery" in a bag with a price tag of $10. I took it with me back to the con, naturally without paying, confronted my "publisher" in the middle of the dealers room and told him pretty much what I thought about him in a loud clear voice, the gist of which I would never have anything to do with him again. later he came to apologise for the "accident" but I was no longer quite so trusting...

Back in my small press mini-comics days in the mid-80's I was booked at a con in Victoria being put on by Island Fantasy, a very good comicshop there. Since if I took the ferry on the same day from Vancouver I would've missed half the convention I called the owner of Island Fantasy a week before to ask him to find me a place to crash the night before the con. He said no problem and as I'd crashed with one of his employees on a previous trip I figured we were all set. I'd been dealing with Island Fantasy for years, they even bought advertising on one of my mini-comics, they knew me there. So I arrive in Victoria fresh off the bus from the ferry, walk down to Island Fantasy and the owner looked at me like I was a bad smell and he had no idea what I was doing here. I'd been there for a comics festival outdoors, in the wind and rain! Assuming he'd simply forgotten his promise I kept waiting for him to pick up the phone and make some quick arrangements, but he didn't. He just ignored me. He kicked me out of his store at closing, but he did relieve me my backpack full of mini-comics so I wouldn't have to lug it around. Out of sheer stubbornness I decided to spend the night on the streets of Victoria in the middle of November (while Victoria is in Canada it remains relatively mild, rarely would you see snow. There was, however, a steady drizzle of rain.) and do the con the next day. So I would find a quiet spot out of the way, sit there shivering and trying to read and saw how long I could stand it before moving on. At one point out of desperation I called Ken Steacy, the only person I knew there that I could find in the phonebook, for a place to stay but he turned me down. Don't blame him, I was a stranger really, I'd only met him at cons a couple of times. So I wandered about, luckily I stumbled upon a 24 hour diner (at a time when they were rare, particularly in sleepy Victoria) and spent hours slowly eating my breakfast, drinking much hot tea and getting warmed up. When I left the diner the con was still hours away so I went to the hotel where it was being held and sat in their almost empty dining room drinking much hot tea for several hours. So, with a feeling of weary triumph and defiance I was there to greet the man who'd kicked out onto the streets to get my bag and set up my table. The con itself was rather blurry, I remember getting some odd looks as I was fairly punchy by that time. One of the people I talked too was the Island Fantasy employee with whom I'd stayed before who told me he would've been happy to put me up if he'd known I needed a place to crash. After the con I caught the first ferry home, I nearly missed my bus as I fell asleep on the ferry. I never dealt with Island Fantasy again, they went under some years later. The owner moved away and to this day I have no idea what I had done or why I was treated so shabbily...

More recently I went to a con in Victoria which was the worst I'd ever been too. It was a comic Sci-Fi con that spent money lavishly on everything except advertising! They flew in guests from the states, some famous make up artist from Dawn of the Dead or something. I had a hotel room all to myself, which is good, because anyone who's done a con with me knows I snore something terrible. They were also charging attendees over $20 A DAY to get in and then you had to pay extra to get into some of the programming... it was a fiasco, we were supposed to be at our tables all day with the occasional meal break and on Saturday we were required to be at our tables for twelve hours! But there was nobody there! The exhibitors easily outnumbered the paying attendees and you could go over an hour without speaking to anyone. Bored out of my skull I just stared at the local small press cartoonists who had the table across from me staring back, drawing jam comics, making fun of the con security dressed like Klingons and doing a cheer if I managed to sell a single comic. Looking at the program I was surprised to discover I was scheduled to give a lecture on porn comics, although I did a couple issues of Incubus I'm not really an expert. I was told they put it in there without consulting me to draw a crowd. Fortunately nobody was showing up for the lectures anyway so I skipped mine. I got a hundred dollars spending money, I toured the book stores of Victoria and feasted on the wrap up party which had an air of surrealism about it, pretending like the con we just had wasn't a total failure and making plans for next year.... which actually took place. I wasn't invited, but my contacts in Victoria who went said it was worse than last time!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Today it rained for the first time in weeks… I’m so happy!

I went in to UBC to meet Robin at the radio station to pre-record the Inkstuds interview with Tony Millionaire, Robin’s busy on Thursday…ah, the magic of radio! First I went to Staples to photocopy reduce those two mini-comics I was telling you about. I love the look of the pages after reduction, the copier is so forgiving of all my little mistakes! The big ones, not so much… As per my usual habit I arrived at the station way too early, I sat down to have my lunch in one of the offices (the Green Room was still wet with white paint, how drab) and I started talking to this nice young woman who was redesigning the stations web site. Turns out she’s a zinester! When I told her I’d been doing small press since 1985 she told me that was the year she’d been born! Ouch! I know I’m too old to be doing this small press stuff but cheez… of course she’d never heard of me (or Tony Millionaire for that matter) so I reminisced on the “good old days of small press comics” sounding like grandpa Simpson: “Well back in my day photocopiers were steam driven and the paper (we called it "paper"but it was actaully parchment) came in gigantic rolls a Welsh yardly wide, you had to feed the ink in by hand with a glass tube and the image disappeared from the paper in a fortnight unless the page was lacquered…“ Well, not really. Mind you she knew enough of her history to identify punk rock as a major influence on the early small press movement. I asked her why do zines rather than a web site and she told me she loved putting together something hand made, something real! There’s hope for the younger generation yet! I knew computers were a passing fad! I told her about Word On the Street (the annual cross-Canada book and magazine fair that happens at the main branch of the Vancouver Library in September), she said she was going to look at getting a table.

Oh, The interview! It went well, I admit I was a little worried at the beginning when Mr.Millionaire told us he was hung over! After a slow start things picked up, and I certainly picked up on his passion for old comic strips, ships and architecture! I wasn’t sure how he would take questions about his drinking but he was open about it. I was even a little paraniod that he might be miffed that I, as a teatotaller, was interviewing him. Robin was eager to point out my straight edge ways, but it didn’t seem to phase Mr.Millionaire. It just proves you don’t have to be a drinker to enjoy and respect Mr.Millionaire’s work, which is extraordinaire!

After the recording I went to my bank machine to discover I’m nearly broke! Arrrgh! Money! I need a job or a to sell some art or something! Eh, like that‘s going to happen… I went to the Buy-Low for groceries and all the cash registers were down, some sort of computer malfunction. Rather than stand in line I sat in a corner reading some commie rag I picked up on the bus (the Marxist-Leninist interpretation of American Imperialistic war atrocities in Iraq… the problem was it that most of it was true… ) until things cleared up. At home I sat on my porch drinking tea, reading , keeping the rain company… don’t worry, I have overhead cover. At one point I put my book on post-World War 2 conflicts down (it gets really depressing when you get to Africa) and just watched the rain, the sent of wet soil in my nostrils and the sound of falling rain on trees… beautiful…

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Oh my poor eyes… I need to scrape the money together to update my optical prescription. Don’t have much money right now…. Was up until the wee hours last night working on a couple of mini-comics for the Word Under the Street in late September, my annual chance to appear in front of my adoring public! It’s always good to have new “product” on the table at a public event, I usually have 3-4 new mini’s including the annual 9-11 comic that I begin writing on the ist anniversary of September 11th. It’s me venting my spleen and trying to understand the fallout from 9-11 and the chaos of our Wars of Religion of the 21st Centaury. This year should be a dozy. So much to talk about, such fury and folly. And no clear way out…

The comics I’m working on right now are somewhat lighter in tone, the first is Self-Indulgent #15, a cop show parody starring Ole Osaka, a crusty Swedish-Japanese-Canadian police detective on the greatest crime committed in Vancouver in decades… the murder of three trees. The other is Shitman, the Man Made of Shit. The title says it all, really… if you can’t beat’em, join’em. Rather than be uptight and whining about a flood of infantile comics I’ve decided to jump into the deep end! I must admit, it’s fun…

It’s nice to do the odd mini-comic now and again, it does take me away from working my graphic novel but I need the break. The graphic novel is going to take years, mini-comics are a way to take a break and do something quick and dirty, very dirty in the case of Shitman! I’m not sure I’ll do any more, I’m thinking of doing a mini about the “Great Undefended Border’, all about the times the United States and it’s citizens have threatened to “liberate” Canada. It’s happened more times than you might think. I’ve been taking a spiral sketchbook with me when I watch TV with pre-penciled layouts mini-comic size, so I’ve actually been spending much of my TV time writing mini-comics. When I’m happy with the pages I rip them out of the sketchbook, take them to the drawing table, letter and ink the pages with brush tipped markers. Okay, they do look a little rough but I’m embracing the fact that I am such a clunky inker, it doesn’t bother me, I don‘t mind being loose as long as its legible. Who knows what might emerge from that mind of mine? Hee hee hee…

I’ll be helping to pre-record an interview Tony Millionaire on Tuesday for broadcast on Thursday! I have a great deal of admiration for Mr.Millionaire’s work, its so lovely… so much in such a small space, although as a teatotaller I admit I find the themes of booze and suicide in Maakies rather disturbing!