Finally a page that feels like what I always wanted to do: a kind of documentary in comics. Sometimes I use the original images themselves, culled from long out of print magazines from the Fifties. Other times I draw the images with my own hand. These quotations/citations of other artists don’t just help illustrate my theoretical points but also help me explore the ways in which their style/sentiments still influence my artistic vision. If you’ve been reading long enough you should be able to recognize my style. That being said, I feel my own style evolving here. Maybe it has something to do with my decision to dump the linear panel borders and draw them myself. Maybe it’s the thought I put into composing the page itself. It’s an eclectic page with some panels I inked digitally and others with pen and brush (can you tell which is which?). But certainly a lot of it is conversing through drawing with great artists like Joe Kubert and Harvey Kurtzman.
Anybody who’s been following Intense World for a while has probably noticed I’ve taken a hiatus for a few months this summer. I spent the time working on painting–some examples of which I’ll be posting here soon. As “research” for this story I steeped myself in war comics from my childhood and tried my best to gain an understanding of how particular artists–especially Joe Kubert–were able to fascinate me. So I whiled away the past few months copying their work, trying to get inside their heads and make sense of the expressiveness of their style. Somewhere along the line, I feel my own style began to increasingly emerge. At the same time, I found myself, especially as I drew the slain Japanese soldiers here, becoming emotionally overwhelmed with sadness and disgust for warfare. Unfortunately I’ve taken to drawing stories about the most horrific human activity and you can’t do that for a long period of time without it taking a toll on you. For various reasons then, I’ve distanced myself from this story for a couple months. Now I’m finally recharged, focused, and ready to continue.
I’m not sure what these stories I’m posting here add up to–as an artist you spend a great deal of time waiting for your work to somehow validate all the hopes you have for yourself. In the beginning of the summer I was impatient to be seen, to be read, to be understood. I wrote to a bunch of cartoonists I admired, all of whom ignored me. I thought about submitting the stories to left-wing sites but most of them don’t do comics, especially not a subjective, hybrid memoir-history continuity strip like this that is overtly political without being a topical political cartoon. If anybody can think of a place where that peculiar creature fits in other than this very site, you let me know. In the meantime I’m going to keep on working with the themes and styles that have always haunted me.
After my last allegorical story I’m back to the same territory I visited with The Underground Men–an exploration of the symbiotic relationship between war and masculinity. I’m calling this story “War Is Kind” from the Stephen Crane poem. I see most of my stories as investigations. Political crimes have been committed and we allow them to happen–from Iraq to Afghanistan, Gaza to the Ukraine. What is it that convinces people to fight and kill total strangers? How do you learn to obey without question? This story begins to answer that question for me in my particular moment of history.
I mean what I say on the first page. It is a true story. The truth resides on many levels of my experience. Sometimes things happen to you that somehow signify meaning, allegorize the concrete, and connect your limited frame of reference to a larger field.
One thing I enjoyed about doing this story was focusing on the beautiful. In my art I tend to focus on the truthful, which can often be ugly. But beauty doesn’t have to be deceptive or shallow–as you learn again and again by turning your eyes from the digital world to the natural world.
To those singing in the dark, keep singing.
Is there any good news about drones? This must-read article reveals just how dangerous these things outside of war zones. The Post reports that some of the major issues include:
- A limited ability to detect and avoid trouble.
- Pilot error.
- Persistent mechanical defects.
- Unreliable communications links.
But don’t worry, Frank Pace of General Atomics (the leading drone manufacturer) assures us that: ““We’ve never reported a loss of life,” he said, “so we’re doing pretty good.” Cause when a death-dealing weapons manufacturer assures me his product is safe, I am always convinced.
Bill Gates is ruining public education. Diane Ravitch writes:
“[A]t a time when many schools have fiscal problems and are laying off teachers, nurses, and counselors, and eliminating arts programs, the nation’s schools will be forced to spend billions of dollars on Common Core materials, testing, hardware, and software.
Microsoft, Pearson, and other corporations and entrepreneurs will reap the rewards of this new marketplace. Our nation’s children will not.”
I am sick of Gates and other billionaires like the Walton family dictating how and what I teach, how I am to be evaluated, and what subjects my students should or shouldn’t learn. We should take their money out of our schools. And if you think we don’t have any money coming from the government, perhaps we could cut that “defense” budget just a little bit.