Every year, Steve Bissette takes his Drawing class to the Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS) to sit in a classroom and draw owls, falcons, and vultures (and one turtle). I was really taken with the turkey vulture.
Maybe it was just because I was listening to Tom Waits’ Bone Machine, but I couldn’t stop thinking about scavengers when I got home. They don’t seem to garner the sense of awe that eagles get, but I’m glad someone is there to clean up everyone’s messes.
The Fable Project is the first time in Cartooning Studio that CCS students are free to draw a comic however they wish. The assignment uses a handful of fables as springboards, but how the story is told is up to the student.
I ended up going with the Tortoise and the Hare. And because I’m a dorky overachiever, I also did a screen printed cover (also, I want to get good at screen printing, because I like it lots and lots). The emphasis of this fable was showing fast and slow speeds. This is what I came up with…
Many of the initial assignments at The Center for Cartoon Studies are all about reducing cartooning to its bare essentials so that students can focus on the important inner workings and guts of comics. We all come here with our own styles and approaches to comics making, but I really like being forced outside my comfort zone. I mean, if I wanted to draw the way I always draw, I could have stayed at home, right?
The Ed Emberley assignment, removes the problem of drawing from the cartooning process by simplifying how students draw.
Whew! After an intense couple of weeks of non-stop drawing, I’m back online and ready for some updates. To start, let’s get some god damn diary comics up! I’ve been trying to get these things posted every Tuesday. Technically, it is still Tuesday as I write this, so we’re still on schedule.
I was sick with the CCS Plague 2010 a couple of weeks ago, though I didn’t have it as bad as some. The worst part about it was realizing that standard Canadian remedies aren’t necessarily sitting on the shelf at the local corner store.
For my American friends who may be unfamiliar with Buckley’s Mixture. It’s a cough syrup that has been marketed with the slogan “It tastes awful, and it works” since the 1970s. It tastes a little like pine needles, mint, and gasoline, but it’s really not as bad as it sounds. And it really works. Oh how it works. It scares a cough away. I think you can actually get it in the States, but only at certain drug stores.
Just saying, if anyone is looking for a Christmas present for me…
The story in this week’s diary comic is becoming increasingly true as more and more of my time is spent working on assignments. Faculty, alumni, and second-year students refer to the first semester at CCS as cartoonist boot camp, and they’re not kidding when they say this. Every week I think the workload couldn’t possibly get any heavier, but…
This ain’t your grandkid’s Facebook. The Center for Cartoon Studies Facebook is one of the first major projects undertaken by new students each year. The idea is simple: everyone creates a bio that can be reproduced on a photocopier, and a self-portrait in the form of a screen print. Then everything is bound together to make a book of memories and friendship that students will cherish into old age when they are impoverished and alone from a lifetime of underappreciated cartooning.
I volunteered to be on the design team, along with Bill Bedard, Melanie Gillman, Sean Knickerbocker, and Katie Moody. After much nerdy discussion, we decided to work with an arcade fighting game theme for this year’s Facebook. So, Street Fighter II is what I’m trying to say, I guess.
On the third week of classes, Steve Bissette took us to his poet friend Peter Money’s property, which looks up at Mount Ascutney. Peter encouraged us to inform our own writing with details of our surroundings. As CCS students suddenly living in small town Vermont, it made a lot of sense to investigate our new backdrop.
I enjoyed the outing for a number of reasons, but the silence and feeling of solitude was what really stayed with me. The only parameter for the diary comic this week was to include Mount Ascutney in some way.
More insanity from my Cartooning Studio class. Each student in the class was assigned a collection of comic strips by an established cartoonist, and by the next week we had to turn in a series of autobiographical strips that mimic the style and working methods of the assigned cartoonist.
When a copy of Calvin & Hobbes: Revenge of the Baby-Sat was plopped down on my desk, my first thought was “All right! I love Calvin and Hobbes!” But when it came time to actually draw the strip, I quickly realized how difficult this assignment would be. Not only is Watterson’s strip so loved by everyone (especially at CCS), but the characters are so connected to the strip that it seemed impossible not to include them.
After much soul searching, I decided to have me appear as an incidental character in a kind of fan-fic version of the strip. You know, rather than having the comic be about me making a teleporter out of a cardboard box with the help of my stuffed ocelot.
This ends up being kind of weird because Calvin almost never directly interacts with other boys his age (Moe doesn’t count because he’s just a bully). There is something really off about this, but at least the Sunday strip gives me room to philosophize my self-doubt.
We covered gags cartoons in Cartooning Studio a couple of weeks ago, and the homework assignment asked for three different kinds of gags:
1) Gags about White River Junction – I found these to be the most difficult. WRJ is a funny town, but to convey everything in a single panel in a way that will make sense to someone who has never been here, and still be funny, is damn near impossible (for me anyway). Unfortunately, these cartoons ended up being more like in-jokes, and so they are explained below.
There is a group of moderately creepy people in WRJ that convene in various public places. Most CCSers refer to them as The Lawnchair Brigade.
This week: a terrible discovery about my favourite drawing material …
Incidentally, I contacted Speedball. They told me that while their ink does contain shellac, it does not contain any other animal products. The black is oil based … which, if it’s petroleum, is probably causing just as much suffering somewhere in the world. Still, it helps to contact companies when you have vegan-related queries because then the issue is on their radar. Good companies want happy customers!
If anyone knows of a totally vegan india ink, let me know!