Archive for February, 2015

Photoshoot by the L.A. River, September 2014

19 February 2015
Our family at the Los Angeles River, September 2014, photo by Matt Grashaw

Our family at the Los Angeles River, September 2014, photo by Matt Grashaw

I never got around to posting these excellent photos we took last year – September 30, 2014. Carrie used them for our holiday cars last December. The photographer is Matt Grashaw, who we met on a Glendale bakery walk hosted by Walk Bike Glendale. He is great, and highly recommended. (We just did another shoot with him, and I’ll post some more photos soon.)

MG2014A

September 2014

MG2014B

September 2014

More pictures after the jump.  (more…)

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More Crossed Plus 100 References and Some Questions

15 February 2015

In my spare time, I’ve been enjoying annotating some of Alan Moore’s comics. Alan Moore writes great stuff, with lots of references to pop culture, literature, other comics, etc.

People actually publish books (and, more often these days, create websites), that are basically companion volumes, pointing out all of the references he has crammed into his most highly referential series including The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Top Ten, and Watchmen.

Below are two examples of the latest references I’ve been tracking down for Crossed Plus One Hundred (CPOH), a new comics series written by Alan Moore and drawn by Gabriel Andrade. Crossed are basically depraved zombies. Not my favorite genre, but in Moore and Andrade’s hands, it works. CPOH is a look at what a post-apocalyptic future might look like after a hundred years from now. See this earlier post for three more CPOH references.

There are a series of CPOH variant cover images called “future tense.” Each image is a homage to a science fiction book. Below is Gabriel Andrade’s future tense cover for CPOH4, and the book cover it references A Canticle For Leibowitz.

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Crossed Plus One Hundred No.4 future tense cover, art by Gabriel Andrade (left) and its source 1950s sci-fi novel A Canticle For Leibowitz

And here’s the future tense cover from CPOH5 and the 1950s book cover it references, Tiger! Tiger! (aka The Stars My Destination.)

Crossed Plus One Hundred No.5 future tense cover, art by Gabriel Andrade (left) and its source 1950s sci-fi novel Tiger! Tiger!

Crossed Plus One Hundred No.5 future tense cover, art by Gabriel Andrade (left) and its source 1950s sci-fi novel Tiger! Tiger!

Even after scouring the internet, reading, and re-reading each issue, there are still quite a few references I can’t figure out. At the time of this writing, there are only two (of six) issues released (plus future covers at Avatar Press.) These references may be made clearer as other issues come out… and there will probably be a whole raft of new references I am looking to track down as new issues hit the shelves.

Readers – take a look a the list below and see if you can help me figure these out. (more…)

Richard Thompson’s Lovely 1952 Vincent Black Lightning

13 February 2015
Richard Thompson Rumor and Sigh album cover via Wikipedia

Richard Thompson Rumor and Sigh album cover via Wikipedia

I don’t usual post popular musical stuff at this blog, but my wife and I were driving (yes, driving) last week, and a Richard Thompson song (I Feel So Good) came on the radio, I think KCRW. We both started talking about Richard Thompson, who she’s seen live, and how much we liked his 1991 album “Rumor and Sigh.”

Especially the song 1952 Vincent Black Lightning. (Video below)

So, this being the 21st century, I found a recording of it on youtube. It brought tears to my eyes to listen.

I am a bicyclist… with little to no affinity for motorcycles… but this song still really appeals – love, tragedy, a sweet humanly-strained vocal, arranged very simply, and plenty of clever rhymes including this, slightly awkward, slightly wonderful one:

that’s a fine motorbike
a girl could feel special on any such like

I like that the policeman ultimately looks out for the dying outlaw, too – in that the police sergeant contacts his wife when he’s dying.  (more…)

Comics Vocabulary: Page-Turn Reveal

6 February 2015
The set-up for a page-turn reveal. Crossed Plus One Hundred No.2 Page 3, panel 5 detail. Written by Alan Moore, drawn by Gabriel Andrade

The set-up for a page-turn reveal: Cautious Optimism Kriswyczki sees “something” that readers don’t see until we turn the page. The full reveal is shown below. Click on any image to enlarge. Crossed Plus One Hundred No.2 Page 3, panel 5 detail. Written by Alan Moore, drawn by Gabriel Andrade

(Spoiler Note: very minor Crossed Plus One Hundred spoiler after the jump)

I enjoy exploring the story-telling vocabularies that are unique to comics. Many of these are explored in Scott McCloud‘s comic Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art and his follow-up books, also Will Eisner‘s book Comics and Sequential Art. Those books are excellent, and look at broader sweeping subjects like time; I can get into seemingly trivial panel-by-panel detail, though.

Earlier I’ve written about comics multi-panel pans (also called a polyptich or super-panel – which I compiled a hundred year index of examples), fixed-camera sequences, how covers work, and even how Art Spiegelman plays tricks with comics vocabulary.

Lately I’ve been geeking out annotating Alan Moore comics: recently Splash Brannigan and underway now Crossed Plus One Hundred. In the first two issues of CPOH, Moore has been using a clever trick that plays with the action of turning the page.

I am going to call this comics vocabulary a “Page-Turn Reveal.”

How a page-turn reveal works: At the bottom right of the first page, there’s some hint of what’s coming. Generally some character sees something that the reader doesn’t see yet. Then the reader turns the page and sees what the character has already seen. For a full-on page turn reveal, the first page is an odd page, so the bottom right panel precedes a page-turn. Often the second (even) page is a larger panel, or even a full page panel or a 2-page spread.

Note that these reveals are a three-dimensional experience a little bit difficult to convey clearly via the two-dimensional computer screen blog. I guess I could film turning the actual page to really tell this story better… but I’ll do the best I can here.

These page-turn reveals seem unique to comics. In other page-turning media, say novels (non-graphic – just text), the pagination is such that the author doesn’t really know where the page turn will occur. The exception to this is chapter-to-chapter transitions, which are sometimes page-turn reveals.

In some ways, maybe page-turn reveals are slightly analogous to a cliffhanger to-be-continued ending in any episodic media: comic books, comic strips, serialized literature, TV, radio, probably others. But it’s a somewhat low-stakes version of a cliffhanger-episode-ending, because the reveal comes just a page later; the comics reader doesn’t have to wait for the next episode. They’re slightly reminiscent of the way a TV show might do something suspenseful just before an advertising break, in order to keep the audience tuned in, then reveals something after the break.

Though these page-turn reveals have probably been around a while, I suspect that they’ve been fairly sparse. One big reason for this is commercial. The comics of my 1970s youth had plenty of advertisement pages. In many cases, comics artists and writers probably couldn’t count on a given page-turn to not be rearranged by re-pagination in a case where a publisher decided to make some change to the way the ads were inserted.

I suspect that the interspersed ads also inhibited 2-page layouts that span the central page fold. Though those are also somewhat limited by printing technology that couldn’t assure that the left and right images would line up precisely. The exception to this would be the fold in the very middle of the issue.

The exceptions to these historic pagination uncertainties are the first three pages. Page one of an issue is traditionally a full-page single-panel splash page. Pages 2 and 3 typically did not include ads. So, occasionally, earlier comics creators used page 1-3 for a page-turn reveal.

The artist who comes to mind who exploits the page-turn from page one to two is Jack Kirby(more…)