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Yisrael Medad: My Right Word

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There are times and incidents in everyone’s lives when the term coincidence can’t adequately describe an experience. Over the last month or so I’ve been searching the house and attic for a copy of a newspaper that published a drawing I’d done while in Lebanon in 1982. The drawing has to do with my experience with Syrian intelligence and military, that I want to include in a response (coming soon) to Tom Spurgeon’s coverage of the recent beating by Syrian authority thugs, and aftermath, of political cartoonist Ali Ferzat. The search has been to no avail and I’ve been resigned to the notion that I won’t have that art to use in the foreseeable future.

But last week I met by chance an old friend, Yisrael Medad, from the neighboring settlement Shilo, as I came out of the local supermarket. He was tending his grandchildren and we had a few moments to exchange some words. He asked if I was still drawing, we talked a little about comics, and then each went our way.

A few days later Yisrael posted a few words about me on his blog and included some scans of my early Israel art, one of which was the one I’ve been looking for this last month. I didn’t think to ask him if he had a copy of this issue, though he was one of the paper’s editors – and even though I should have, it turned out to be quite unnecessary. Something in the totality of the universe was apparently looking out for my need in this particular case, and wanted me to know that it didn’t need my intervention to get this scan.

I met Yisrael Medad around 1984 while living in the Jerusalem suburb settlement of Kfar Etzion (we both sported a much darker shade of gray then). He was associate editor of the English language newspaper, Counterpoint. I became an active contributor after its founder, Rachel Katzman (now Ginsburg, at Mishpacha Magazine) profiled me in one of the issues. I went on to produce a satire strip “Milk and Honey” while also drawing a series of covers. It was a time of much more involvement in the local political scene, long before it gave way to an active return to the comics arena in the early 2000’s. I’d however always intuitively tried to bridge the gap between the two worlds, and it’s now made easier with this recent article on Yisrael’s blog.

Yisrael Medad moved to Israel from the US with his wife in 1970. He’s served as a political aide to Knesset members and a government Minister; director of Israel’s Media Watch; guest columnist at the Jerusalem Post; and hosted a weekly show on Arutz 7 Radio. He’s been a lecturer at the Academy for National Studies and an op-ed contributor to various local journals. He’s currently associated with the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem. In short, Yisrael has nourished a strong presence in the public eye and is often called upon to be the English language spokesman representing the settlement bloc to foreign media.

Many thanks for the kind words in the blogpost, Yisrael, and likewise for having read my mind about needing a scan of that Syrian checkpoint drawing. Below are a few more images from that early Israel art era (click for larger).

Amritas

Gift of the Amritas

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Marc Miyake, is a Hawaiian linguist now based In New Jersey. His website, Amaravati: Abode of the Amritas, focuses on the extinct Tangut tongue, and through it offers insights into the written word that a simplified literal approach cannot often satisfy. Marc is also an avid comic book connoisseur and a talented artist in his own right, who doesn’t shy from laying a bridge between the study of linguistics and the visual comics medium.

I first discovered Marc on one of these bridges when he reviewed The New Comic Book of Life website and Neal Adams’ Growing Earth Theory at Amaravati.  Understandably, both these instances raised a lot of eyebrows in the comics periphery during their early days. Marc and I made some contact over the next few years, especially when writing about certain subjects, such as our shared understanding of the history and nature of Islam, among other issues.

A few yeas ago we connected on Facebook and have become the best of friends. It turns out that some of my earliest work at DC was also Marc’s first exposure to comics, which later drew him further into the culture. As is with his analysis of the subtleties of languages, and also with his keen socio-political orientation, Marc’s insight into the comics medium is always thought provoking in the depth it reaches for.  Of late, he’s been instrumental in getting Jim Shooter and myself together over the well known Rom the Robot cover incident.

A few days ago Marc posted a link to a birthday greeting, among many others on Facebook. The articles’s title, ME KEU NE TSIR E MY VI NY, is Tangut for Happy Birthday Michael Netzer. In it, he dissects the letters and their range of meanings to arrive at an uplifting metaphor of my name (above image) in the lost Tangut tongue: “Earthly king of the high eye”.

I often wonder about the earliest forms of communication when at the dawn of human intelligence, our ancestors scribbled simple shapes into the dust of the ground with a twig in order to share ideas with each other. It’s almost unfathomable how such beginnings have yielded the sophisticated and complicated scripts such as in the image above. It’s fascinating to consider how much linguistics have contributed to our ability to meld minds and exponentially multiply our abilities in individual and collective achievement. It’s nearly beyond measure how much we seem to take it all for granted. Marc is one of the few people who hasn’t lost that youthful wonder. He writes and talks about it every day, and the fruit of his mind is always sweet on the heart.

Many thanks good friend. Here’s Amritas in the modern Aramaic/Hebrew letters with the oldest ancient version below it.

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The Sidekick Foundation

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A New Friend to Creators in Need

Clifford Meth will announce at the New York Comic Con on Sunday that he’s founded The Sidekick Foundation and is scheduled to launch its first fundraising activity at the show.

The Sidekick Foundation is a new confederacy that seeks to generously aid comics creators in need of financial and medical assistance. Sidekick’s board of directors and advisors consists of established, respected comics professionals who have agreed to support the organization’s initiative which, in its first year, shall be to donate 90% of all generated proceeds directly to those in need.

Clifford’s been active in helping comics creators who’ve fallen into difficult times by raising community support and funds for their benefit. His efforts began with the late Dave Cockrum, and more recently focused on the departed Gene Colan. Both creators were able to finish the last segment of their lives considerably better off, mainly through grants from Marvel Comics that Clifford negotiated. In both cases he put his public relations savvy to work and convinced Marvel that it was in their best interest to help these seminal contributors to the Marvel ethos. He’s also been involved in numerous other such drives, particularly with William Messner-Loebs and some others not widely known of. He’s been of the more vociferous campaigners for the disparate plight of comics creators in the last decade.

Without getting into conditions that can leave creators in financial dire straits when calamity strikes, especially considering the wealth many have generated for major publishers, the need for this effort perhaps comes from knowing that the only the other organization dedicated to the same cause, Hero Initiative, has become somewhat top heavy and expends nearly 50% of its funds on administrative and management expenses. One of the concerns I’ve heard of late was whether the comics community can afford to support two such organization simultaneously. I find this perhaps a little over-protective because looking at the breadth of the comics community, there seems to be no shortage of generous contributions when a cause is deemed necessary. And with another effort in the mix, we might see a tendency for everyone to streamline their expenses in order to remain attractive as a charitable cause. Human nature and social dynamics would also suggest that the presence of another such body will mean more public awareness for needy cases, which is likely to also increase the scope of donations.

It should rather perhaps be seen as a step towards more efficient ways of providing relief for creators under mitigating conditions. Thinking of the hundreds of artists and writers who are not working in the field, any of whom could fall into distress at any moment, I’d think there’s room for not only two, but perhaps a few more such organizations in order to help level the playing field.

Sidekick’s Board of Advisors includes Neal Adams, Harlan Ellison, Joe Sinnott, Tom Palmer, Herb Trimpe, and Morris Berger (former president of IDT Entertainment and chairman of IDW Publishing).

A website is in the works for The Sidekick Foundation. In the meantime there’s a holding page with basic information and a contact link for perusal at the thesidekickfoundation.org domain.

 

 

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Jim Aparo and Wayne Boring

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Two additions to Portraits of the Creators Sketchbook. A new Jim Aparo drawing that I’ve had on my mind to do for a while. And…I wasn’t especially happy with the previous Wayne Boring drawing so I made another try. Both also additions to artists’ Wikipedia biographies (names link to larger images there).

Jim Aparo

Jim Aparo

Wayne Boring

Wayne Boring

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New Alan Weiss Portrait

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About six years ago, a portrait of Alan Weiss was the first produced for this series. I was never really happy with it because I didn’t have much reference back then, and was also unsure of how to approach the drawing. This new one seems to fit in better with Portraits of the Creators Sketchbook. A high-resolution version of it can be seen at Alan’s Wikipedia biograpahy.

Alan Weiss

Alan Weiss - Portraits of the Creators Sketchbook

Darryl Cunningham - Science Denial

Darryl Cunningham’s Science Denial

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Darryl Cunningham is a British Indie comics creator, considered the prolific producer of Psychiatric Tales. He’s recently produced a webcomic on Science Denial. In it, Darryl tries to draw a sharp line between science and most everything else, including religious dogma, mysticism and pseudo-science. Through the process, he takes a jab at many populist issues in support of mainstream scientific consensus, including global warming controversy and Growing Earth (formerly Expanding Earth) Theory, that’s returned to popular forums over the last decade, in large measure due to the efforts of another comics creator, Neal Adams.

To even suggest that Plate Tectonics fits “all observations made” about the Earth’s development is so… and I really hate to say this, but it is so ignorant of the history of Earth science, that it’s perhaps better said in a church instead of a presentation on science. Plate Tectonics cannot explain the near perfect fit of the Pacific landmasses on a smaller globe, nor does it fit the near incontrovertible evidence visible in how all the continents converge onto a smaller Earth to create a perfect whole shell. PT cannot begin to convince how such a perfect fit between South America and Africa is achieved on a smaller globe while leaving a notable discrepancy in the present sized Earth. Plate Tectonics doesn’t even tackle the problem of how dinosaurs could have moved so freely in a present sized Earth and gravity.

Darryll’s webcomic will likely have a nice following of science lovers who also only scratch the surface of populist theory… and it seems a shame that such a talented creator is taking this dogmatic and absolutist approach to such an important subject. The piece thus tends to demonstrate a lack of depth, understanding and independent thinking about science. It also places Darryl in a difficult position, considering his steadfast advocacy of the profession.

So I left a comment at his site that also only scratches the surface of his “science preaching”.

It’s a nicely done piece but not very objective, I’m afraid. It resonates of the same type of religious absolutism about science theory that have kept society and human curiosity in dark ages.

As a case in point, though cosmic background radiation can be assumed to indicate a beginning point to the universe, it can also indicate an emanation from the Aether that Fred Hoyle suggested was the source of continuous manufacture of matter in a growing universe. Science locked itself into Big Bang prematurely without remaining open to viable alternative probabilities.

Most discoveries since then, such as accelerated expansion, suggest Steady State to remain a viable option. But science won’t have it anymore. Even though science rejected the Aether, they went on to adopt other “invisible” constructs such as Dark Matter and Dark Energy when evidence suggested there must be something invisible to us that is acting on the universe.

Thus science has effectively re-adopted the Aether but applied new names to it in order to cover its tracks and shame. Mainstream science will never admit that DM and DE effectively serve the same functions as Aether. Science has become as self-dogmatic as the religious absolutism it rightly criticizes.

I enjoyed the look of this piece very much but I respect scientific curiosity too much in order to be wooed by the writing here. Science, like all other human constructs, is susceptible to bias and manipulation. It seems important that we remain aware of this in order to be as objective as humanly possible about our world.

I do hope that Darryl, who is a very talented storyteller, will find something here to think about, and try to learn a little more about sciences in order to curb the superficial and near religious zeal with which he presents it.

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Have Peace, Jack Adler

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Alan Kupperberg posted a photo tribute to Jack Adler yesterday on his Facebook page… and added a memorable thought in the caption:

When I went to work for Jack at NPP [DC Comics] in 1971, he became my first “professional” father.

That’s pretty much how I felt about Jack when I started work for DC in 1975, and not only in the professional sense. Jack Adler was a warm, spontaneous and caring fatherly figure to a lot of younger creators who depended on him to help make our work look good within the printing limitations of that time. He is said to have been the foremost authority on mechanical color separation techniques used in comics before the advent of digital color processing.

Jack Adler was a comics artist in a very prolific sense of the phrase. As early as the 1950’s, he began bridging the gap between full color scanned image printing and the flat mechanical separations used in comics. The covers he presided over in that era gave the feel of painted pulp covers, which was no small feat back then, considering the technical limitations. He acquired a thorough knowledge of the processes by which comics art was being handled by printers and dedicated himself to learning every aspect of it. But he didn’t simply settle for knowing this information as an asset for getting by a day’s work. Jack saw an opportunity to create a richer palette and look for comics. His contribution to the visual narrative during a time that flat color dominated much of the work, is more immense than most industry professionals can imagine.

  

When I landed at Continuity and started working for DC, I became part of a creed that contended with the cost effective constraints of getting better visual results for our work. Many of us at the studio would approach the art as if it’s meant to see print in full, true and glorious color, even though we often knew the disappointment of seeing an unfulfilled printed image. A strong memory from that time remains about Neal encouraging everyone to learn the pre-print processes as thoroughly as possible, and utilize that knowledge in preparing our work. It was all worth it, he’d say, because we have a friend and ally in Jack Adler, head of the production department at DC Comics.

Jack Adler - Portaits of the Creators Sketchbook

Mark Evanier posted yesterday about Jack passing away over the weekend at the age of 93, and adds a compelling biographical short. Daniel Best also posted a tribute that includes more words and art about Jack by Alan Kupperberg.

Have peace, Jack. The industry and its creators salute you for the care and dedication that’s helped make us and the comics become all the better.

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For Day, For Night

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We met online some years ago when Steven Bové became an enthusiastic supporter of this site complex. Upon hearing about my excursions into the Judea Desert areas, he sent me a package full of camping utilities, part of which I still use today. After returning from one of these outings, a box of his Comic Cartoonists Workbook publications had arrived and a few of the books have become a source of information and inspiration to a handful of aspiring young local comics creators. We finally met and spent a little time together at the New York 2007 Big Apple Convention. He’s been active on Facebook of late, nurturing a growing presence in the online comics community.

Steven has been working in and around the comics industry since the 1980’s, including contributions for major publishers DC, Marvel, Dark Horse, Archie and Eros Comix. He’s been an independent publisher of Battle Bug’s Brigade and The Comic Cartoonist’s Workbook, a primer for young aspiring comics artists. He produced the first rock musician/band profile comic strip, Rock Opera, serialized in a Connecticut newspaper. He’s been a graphic designer, storyboard artist, and instructor. He works today as Creative Director for an energy conservation utility company.

For Day, For Night is Steven’s most recent comics work, a compelling story delivered in a unique graphic format. An intriguing project that’s still awaiting a publication arrangement, which makes it difficult to review because it’s not clear when it’ll be available. But it is a powerful romance told in first-person narration, delivered in single-panel, horizontal page format. The art is striking and expressive, a sharp departure from his previous comics work, jumping head first into experimental black and white, charcoal-like vignette territory. The writing is candid, sensitive and sometimes brutal. It slides between an absolute sense of self-security and a feeling of the ground dropping beneath the author’s feet. A virtual emotional roller coaster through a hard hitting urban love story gone wrong.

It’s not an easy time for publisher speculation on such a project that’s not embedded in the comics mainstream. Here’s hoping For Day, For Night finds a home in the periphery and sees publication soon. It’s a worthy and charged story that fits well into an alternative niche, of the type that are becoming more common of late.

Darlie Brewster

Darlie Brewster

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Meet Darlie Brewster.

A gifted animator who’s supervised and produced a hefty amount of memorable Hollywood cartoons over the last 30 years. She’s considered one of the more talented and accomplished artists working the field today.

I’ve ran across Darlie back when Jeffrey Catherine Jones’ Facebook page was in its heyday, before her passing.  I don’t remember any exchanges between us but she seemed to leave a pleasant impression, though I hadn’t yet known the extent of her life and career.

Darlie recently added an insightful comment to Catherine’s tribute at this site. In responding to it, I looked around to perhaps better know to who I was responding. The search led from one thing to another and revealed a rather unique humanity and personality who’s overcome some of the more obtuse social obstacles in search for herself, and has managed to come out of it with full cheer and a level of forgiveness and tolerance that are rarely seen in such cases.

Darlie’s insight into the soul of Jeffrey Catherine Jones began to make sense upon discovering that she had a similar gender issue.

I could write volumes about that peaceful spot inside that she’s reached through her life journey. But I don’t think anything written by anyone else could have the impact she herself makes when hearing her speak. So here below, are a couple clips from her video blog, Darlie Goddess. Click the images that’ll open a new window and then run the clips, sit back and enjoy.

 

The somewhat mesmerizing quality and demeanor can perhaps be credited to Darlie’s sense of peace with herself and the changes she’s been through.

It seems not a small thing for a woman with her history to maintain such a cheer, free of anger and rebellion. Instead, we come to know a delightful, intelligent and soothing personality, brandishing what’s considered as somewhat radical views in more conservative circles that don’t seem to have a fraction of the tolerance and compassion she shows in these clips. Indeed, it’s this sense of self-security, that’s perhaps acquired by overcoming whatever guilt that would’ve been imposed on her as a religious child, that makes her life and career unique and uplifting.

Darlie’s extensive professional record as an animator can be glimpsed through her LinkedIn profile. Her animation reel and portfolio are at her main web site, TinyBun.com. Her main blog displaying new work is at TotalD.

Below is a small sampling of her work (click thrumbnails for larger images), followed by a clip discussing some of what she does, where you can also access her YouTube Channel.

        

 

Dylan Williams RIP

Have Peace Dylan Williams

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Dylan Williams was an Indie creator, publisher and the force behind Sparkplug Comic Books, a collective of alternative press talent that contributed volumes to the genre under the umbrella he provided. At 39, he lost the battle with cancer this weekend.  His own work sometimes offered thought provoking reflections of mainstream comics, but his broad palette extended far beyond.

Remembrances of Dylan are appearing across the comics web, echoing a big loss to the alternative comics scene. Tom Spurgeon has fielded most of them in a collective memory post and has written an in depth bio at The Comics Reporter. He also suggests some support for Sparkplug is appropriate, in light of financial uncertainty around Dylan’s medical expenses. Generally, it couldn’t hurt anyway, Sparkplug Comic Books carries an extensive line of books that reveal Dylan’s uncompromising support of the genre and its creators.

 

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