The cartoonist Lucy Knisley has very quickly risen to my attention in the past few months. I have a copy of her book, “French Milk,” though frankly her work on her LiveJournal has been some of the best regular entertainment I’ve come to count on. That she’s able to come up with such insightful, personal and funny stories on a regular basis, arranged and drawn in an old-school panel format with engaging, vivid illustrations, invokes the kind of bewildered amazement that makes me wonder how she can manage the drive to get it done without getting paid for the work, dismay that she doesn’t have a model to get paid for it, and feel guilty that I haven’t paid her for it.
Not being an artist myself, the sentiment is probably too focused on money. Except, well, money matters. For at least the past 500 years, artists either find an established, institutional means to be paid regularly for the effort they could spend in less creative fields, find sponsors and manage themselves as cottage industries doing other things besides art, or keep their day jobs.
Lucy knows this as well as anyone, and has cartooned on the subject at least once before, in reaction to more experienced cartoonists bemoaning the loss of the syndicated newspaper comic strip as a viable form of expression with a regular paycheck. Her reaction to them isn’t too far off from my reaction to her latest cartoon, about being asked by a stranger what she wants to be “when she grows up,” and the discouraging comments that follow her answer — a cartoonist.
At least, I think they’re similar reactions. I’m not a cartoonist, and can’t even remember pretending to be interested in drawing, even as a kid. But I did spend 10 years working in newspapers, and recently started another career in an entertainment field where it’s considered appropriate to discourage others who express interest in it. And I have lots of friends who are creative professionals, and read and have read lots of comic books and comic strips. So I think I might have some insight on the subject.
I wonder how many readers realize I borrowed the title of this and the previous post from an issue of “Transmetropolitan,” where Spider Jerusalem does a travelogue of The City and all the crazy hobos who lives there (actually issue 41, February 2001, if you want to look it up.) There is a reason, he concludes, for their bizarre perception of the world around them and the conclusions they draw.
I often wonder how crazy I sound, to readers as well as to myself, including my past and future selves. I get over it pretty quick, though, as I’d much rather sound crazy than boring.
I said there was another reason I don’t write so much here anymore. I may as well say what it is.
Talking about Wizard 101 and how it’s all kid-friendly and stuff. EXTREME CLOSEUPS.
You’ve come a long way, baby. I might update later when I actually watch it all the way through.
Board chair and all-around swell guy Bob Bates posted to one of the many hot-tempered threads on the IGDA forums that are either about the organization’s stance on employee labor standards or its lack of an executive director. There has also been a memo released on the subject, praising that the “Quality of Life Committee” has been made into a Special Interest Group, and in the thread, Bob outlines exactly what each member of the board is actually working on.
There has been much praise heaped on this very simple yet deft bit of communication, so I’m only too happy to give the same. Now if they can execute on the Web site revamp and boards that don’t suck, I’ll be amazed.
Edit: The board has a blog, too. Progress Happens.
My monthly bill before calling to cancel: $46.20
My May bill: $26.40
Oh look, here’s a mailer from AT&T U-Verse for a package deal with home phone service that I don’t really want. Decisions, decisions.
So, after reading the news this week about Time Warner Cable in Austin playing with the idea of enforcing bandwidth caps on their Internet service, and friends of mine feeling rather emphatic about it, I called customer service to cancel.
The guy who answered the phone asked why I wanted to cancel, and right away, he said Time Warner was not planning to impose bandwidth caps. But to keep me as a customer, would I accept a $10 discount on my service?
You can understand my surprise when he went on to say that AT&T had supposedly been making the plans to impose the caps instead. Was he looking at where my browser was pointed? I ended up telling him that the BusinessWeek article was a day old, yes it was online, you could put “Texas Time Warner Businessweek” into any search engine and find it, and here are some choice quotes including one from your CEO.
He insisted it wasn’t true, the caps were for business service only, yada yada.
I hadn’t wanted to cancel service right away, and knowing full well the guy could have been talking out his ass, I accepted the discount.
On word alone, and I don’t know the guy’s name.
I guess someone here knows how to do customer service, and it possibly isn’t me.
We’ll see what my bill’s like at the end of the month.
Edit: Scott’s got a new post about the matter, and several other prominent Austinites have weighed in, including mayoral candidate and City Councilman Brewster McCracken. Bottom line: “It is not good for Austin. It is bad for the principle of an open Internet. It undermines the public interest.”
From his blog, talking about the original Skrull Kill Krew:
The artist for the project was Steve Yeowell, a 2000 AD veteran who had worked with Grant on Zenith. The characters themselves, however, were designed by Brendan McCarthy at Grant’s urging (and after a lukewarm reception to Steve?s initial visualizations.) Throughout most of the process of producing the series, I mainly communicated with Mark [Millar] — not only were we largely on the same wavelength in terms of the sorts of comics we liked, but I had terrible timing when it came to getting in touch with Grant. Like clockwork, every time I called him, I later found out, he had immediately previously taken one consciousness-altering substance or another, and between that and Grant’s accent, and the not-always-wonderful international phone connection, it was virtually impossible for the two of us to understand one another.
Which if anyone hasn’t seen Morrison’s infamous speech at DisInfoCon about magic and being abducted by aliens and other bizarreness that only could come from his brain and his alone, should explain that well, he’s always been like that.
For whoever doesn’t know, Morrison and Millar are two of the most prominent mainstream superhero comic book writers in the business; Morrison mainly at DC, Millar mainly at Marvel.
I’ve been a fan of Sita Sings the Blues, the animated serial that gradually became a feature work by Nina Paley for quite a while now. I missed out last fall when it came to the Austin Film Festival, and have yet to see the finished, completed work, only the five segments that were released early during its production, not counting the trailer.
Given that it was made without any advance concern about legal propriety, full distribution is apparently a problem. “Sita” makes use of songs by Annette Hanshaw, a 1930s blues singer whose work is largely obscured now, but no one wants to rely on “fair use” if you start burning DVDs.
So, in true artist to-hell-with-the-system fashion, Paley’s decided to copyleft the whole business and raise the $50,000 necessary to get “Sita” out of “copyright jail.” After which, presumably, the DVDs can be “given away” to anyone who wants one.
You really should, too.
Jan. 6: Troubled magazine publisher Ziff-Davis sells video game-news Web site 1up.com to Hearst Communications-owned UGO.com, in the process declaring venerable game (print) magazine EGM will cease publishing.
Jan. 9: Hearst declares the Seattle Post-Intelligencer up for sale. If they can’t sell it in 60 days, they might gut the print staff and go digital-only.
I’m just happy to have a job, over here.