Click to enlarge. Commission rates here.
Art Spiegelman talks about creating this bygone fad, though unfortunately I don't see painter John Pound mentioned.
Funniest fact: Maus was due out at about the same time. His editor begged him not to admit to the GPK connection, lest Maus be dubbed "Garbage Pail Jews."
America’s most famous and successful painter passed away Friday, reportedly peacefully in his sleep, unexpectedly. He was the same age as me, 54, and we had been roommates for a year while we both attended Art Center College of Design in the late seventies.
I can’t honestly give a warm tribute to a dear chum, because Thom and I never clicked.
While he had tremendous strengths, and a certain crazy charm, he was vexing in a lot of ways, too. He later described this time as being his darkest, just before his rebirth in Christ, though he didn’t seem gloomy.
On the contrary, he was a boisterous, cocky bohemian (beret and all), who made sure you understood how brilliant he was before the end of your first conversation!
Here's a classic Thom anecdote. Soon after moving in, he bought the then-fashionable illustrator’s tool, an airbrush. He was going to blow away everyone who’d ever used one (he later coined the term “blowawaymanship,”). Drew Struzan, Charlie White, Peter Lloyd, look out!
Thom did a caricature of comedian Jonathan Winters, and started airbrushing over it. But the tool was hard to handle. It spattered. He overworked the painting. It was chalky and crude. He gave up in disgust. As I recall, he put aside the airbrush until he was doing backgrounds, a few years later, for the Bakshi/Frazetta film Fire and Ice, where it served well for mists and moonglow.
But that confidence, a deep trait, served him well. Thom was daring in everything he did. He cut a swath through the coeds of Art Center, just as he had at Berkeley. Then, when he was making cash delivering pizzas weekends on his motorcycle, he demonstrated why pizza delivery men are a clichè in adult films. To a timid virgin like me, his tales of conquest (and comedic mishap, sometimes) were mythic.
But Thom never seemed much taken with girls who fell for him. It was the cliché of not caring to be in any club that would accept you as a member.
He did, however, put his old flame Nanette on a pedestal as high as Everest. She was then unavailable, involved with a fellow nursing student upstate. When that started to sour (when they fell off a horse they were riding, the guy falling on Nanette, breaking her leg, as I recall) – new hope filled the apartment. Thom took trips up to woo her, and eventually won his golden girl.
Nanette was a sweet young woman, and I hoped she knew what she was in for. Thom was a sun about which planets orbited. But they seem to have had many happy years together, up until the last few (they separated a couple of years ago), and raised four pretty daughters.
During that courtship, Thom did a memory painting of Nanette and himself on a moonlit walk. He had the insight, I remember, to make the shadows not very dark. Like Whistler’s nocturnes, the piece had very little contrast, and it really felt like moonlight. It was striking.
So was a lot of his landscape work (he never mastered the figure very well, I felt). His frontier scenes, in the manner of John Stobart, and his Bierstadt-influenced Yosemite paintings, were great. Anybody repelled by his shining, cute cottages should reserve final judgment until they’ve seen these. True, he mostly did paintings I think of as desserts with too many flavors of sherbet in them, because they sold. But the guy could paint.
If you want to see the Kinkade I knew, rent Thomas Kinkade’s Christmas Cottage including the DVD extras. Pay attention less to the too-sanitized movie (great cast, but a limp story) than a short feature starring “Ed Aknik.” It's Thom, goofing around as a character of his own creation, clearly having a ball, unafraid of looking silly.
The egotism, the occasionally-glimpsed mean streak, the shameless phony hype, the sharky business practices, the proclamations of piety, the platitude-filled books of inspiration, all irked me. So much seemed a cynical pose, contrived branding. And the ill-used moms and pops who were ruined by their Thomas Kinkade Signature Gallery experiences should’ve haunted his conscience.
I will say the guy was brave, dynamic, really knew how to have fun, and was interesting to be around. He did things. He had more fire in his belly than a volcano. He conceived a dream of being famous and rich, and worked hard as hell to achieve it. You have to give him that.
The photos of Thom, me and Jim Gurney were reference shots in 1980. Click to enlarge.
A great visionary, craftsman, professional and gentle soul -- you might be surprised how universally venerated Giraud is among comics artists. I never knew him, really, but bumped into him a few times when he was living in Los Angeles, such as the Creation con where he did me the sketch to the left.
The first time was at Disney. I'd heard he was storyboarding Tron -- I was working on less exhalted projects, mostly never made, at the same time (1980). I'd sometimes go up to the top floor where the Tron office was, hoping for a glimpse. One time it paid off. It was after hours, and I found him in the hall, poised in front of a vending machine, frozen. His hand was at his chin.
Giraud was a serious health-food devotee -- at a later point, I know, he ate only raw food. God knows what he chose, among that processed garbage. I was too shy to hang around or even introduce myself.
Later, Mike Richardson and Randy Stradley convinced him to contribute to Concrete Celebrates Earth Day, a one-shot we put out in 1990. He was in Portland for some reason, and they took him to the only restaurant where they knew they could get raw food: a sushi bar. They told him about Concrete ("Ah, yes, Golem!" he said) and showed him some comics. He did a doodle of Concrete on the chopsticks wrapper.
But here's the funny thing. As they chatted, he started to draw wiggly horns on Concrete's forehead. This appeared psychic to Mike and Randy; they knew issue seven, which they hadn't shown him, sees Concrete grow branching, body-wasting antlers, a metaphor for cancer.
Randy gave me that wrapper; if I find it in my files I'll post it.
In a bit of interconnection, that story was inspired by a concept drawing I saw in Tim Burton's office in 1980 at Disney. In Tim's conception, the Horned King, villain in The Black Cauldron, would have his horns grow larger , more twisted, and branching as he went increasingly mad.
They didn't use that (a lot of Tim's ideas were too edgy -- rather than the cauldron-born being simply ghoulish warriors, he drew amalgams of dead animals, chains, spiked weapons, and dead babies, presumably thrown into the cauldron and magically melded; Walt would've spun in his grave!).
But I used it. Never waste a good idea!
Now do yourself a favor and listen to Geof Darrow, who was close to Giraud, tell great stories about him at Heroes Convention 2011.
Unusually, it displays just one post at a time, so one must click through past posts rather than scrolling.
I like the reviewer's characterization of Peake's writing in the post linked here.
Charles Vess once told me the third book is a disappointment (I've not read that one) because of Peake's mental decline due to the illness that killed him. But the first two, no questions, are masterpieces.
This is not quite fantasy. Nothing strictly magical happens. But in the crumbling halls, secret passages, and forgotten rooms of Gormenghast, peculiar characters are endure surreal events (one is killed by owls; another becomes a feral child leaping from bough to bough in the surrounding forest; the Queen is trailed by a hundred white cats as she prowls the castle).
It has a satirical impulse, lampooning decrepit royal ritual, English education, and other mouldering institutions. But it's not exactly humorous .
The best term is probably poetically weird. It's the language that's special. So image-rich, with such sumptuous word-choice, that it's hard to read more than a few pages at a time. It's as filling as a creamy soup.
Imagine a Terry Gilliam movie written by Vladimir Nabokov and Tom Stoppard and you approach Peake's sensibilities.
(The BBC did film it as a miniseries, starring a young, scary Jonathan Rhys-Meyers. Not bad; could've used a hundred million more bucks, though.)
It's a one-of-a-kind literary experience.
Hair has always been CGI's toughest problem, but judging from this trailer, and our heroine's copper ringlets, they've got it licked. Incredible.
Also: I can find no mention on the web, but is Charles Vess involved with this?
If not, they had his books lying about with oft-cracked spines.
Note the use of cloud shadows, one of my favorite compositional tricks.