What Makes Nighthawks Important

It is unimportant that Nighthawks is based on a real place.

are you lonesome tonight?

Nighthawks by Edward Hopper

What is special about it, is that we know how what those people are feeling.

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Collages: Cloudy Eye, and Collage with 3 Men and a House Boat

Two more collages. One I enjoy, another not so much. Lets start with the lesser…

Cloudy Eye

Cloudy Eye

I wanted to do some pieces not using any comic book elements, so I started the one above using old maps on a black background. The blue-green orb that dominates the image was a map of the Eastern Mediterranean by the American Colony Photo Department (found on Library of Congress); The ‘iris’ at the middle is off the star chart of the Celestial Atlas of Flamsteed, featuring a crab, from 1795 (via the Public Domain Review); The horizontal purple strip is excerpted from a “Hotel Zone Map of NYC” found on the Digital Collection website of the New York Public Library. The vertical strip on the viewer left was taken from a photo by Harris & Ewing, from the Library of Congress website. Over the top of all that is a badly deteriorated 1934 map of Mission Santa Cruz CA, again found on the Library of Congress.

This piece reminds me of what we’d call, in college, Hotel Art, in that is seems to do nothing other than look pretty. I mean, that’s not bad thing, but there’s just something wishy-washy about it. I do like the black bit at the center, which to me looks like the Rolling Stones ‘zipper’ cover designed by Andy Warhol for the cover of “Sticky Fingers”.

Collage with 3 Men and House Boat

Collage with 3 Men and House Boat

“…3 Men and a House Boat” starts with “Map Plans for Investigation of Campaign Expenditures”, the photo by Harris & Ewing from the vertical strip of eyes in Cloudy Eye. This collage came out a lot more illustrative than I thought to work consciously, but I like what I’ve got.

A lot of it was remixed by directly manipulating the base picture in Gimp: flipping parts, colorizing, duplicating sections, and such to break down the identifiable consistency of the picture.

The three circles/planets: the one on the viewer left is a picture of dancers found on the Library of Congress, made by repeatedly rotating sections by keeping it shape intact. The center orb was made off the base image, repeating it, making it opaque, and pulling each level just a bit off register. The one on the right is a slightly recomposed picture, “A Pretty Residence Spot at Benicia Calif” by Frank Stumm, from the Library of Congress.

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Another Collage

schooling the bear by the beachside

Abstract Collage 2

A second collage in as many weeks. Still working in gimp, still using public domain images–for the most part. I wanted to step clear away from comics this time, so I used a pair of postcards for the start, both from the Loc.gov Prints and Photographs collection. One is a beach scene, the other is captioned as a Jewish Market. Mixed in those is an image of a school teacher cut from a photo, taken from the same site.

There’s also segments from a picture of Victor the Wrestling bear fighting a lucha libre performer. I can’t determine the origin of this image unfortunately, it seems to be everywhere online, so I’ll post it below for your interest. I believe I’ve altered and obscured it enough that it should be covered by Fair Use. My intent was to use it as abstract shape and contrast, not as a figurative element. Looking at it now, I think the black rope and translucent lower half are the more successful elements.

found online, origin unknown at this time.

found online, origin point unknown at this time.

I also blended in a photo I took at a county fair a few years ago. It’s a blurry and unfocused shot of dozens of Curious George stuffed animals hanging over a game.

Atop all that, I mixed in two already abstract patterns; patterns are a big motif for me, and my personal interpretation of their symbolism tends to be about obsessive thinking, focus, and ideas–but not always. One pattern is a picture of TV static, found on a free use site, and the other I excerpted from a book cover that I found at a thrift store. Again I believe I’ve changed it enough that it counts as transformative and wouldn’t infringe on the original book cover.

I’ve enjoying making this collage and the one before it, and am going to do more, to see where they go.

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A Collage

I was messing around, working to develop my GIMP skills, and created this collage today. Since I haven’t posted anything in a while, it can’t hurt to upload it…

(georgia o'keeffe's apartment)

abstract collage

There’s a handful of elements in here. I wasn’t tracking them as I made it, so let me see if I can remember everything:

-Image taken from “I’m A Cop” issue three, the story “Broadway Cop”. Pencils and inks by Bob Powell.
-Image taken from “Anarcho Dictator of Death” (1947). Pencils and inks by Al Carreno. Both of the above available on various free expired copyright comic archives.
-Photo of the Baltimore Social Security Office, take in 1965 by Henri Dauman. Found on the Library of Congress image catalog.
-The owl was found on the Internet Archive, in partnership with Flickr. It was tagged “games”, so was the spiral image.
-The white to black benday dot gradation was found on a public domain pictures site, labeled as such.
-The words were adapted from a quote by Georgia O’Keeffe, “I don’t very much enjoy looking at paintings in general. I know too much about them. I take them apart.

I think that’s everything. Like I said, this was really more of skill building piece. I’m using gimp a lot right now, and enjoying it, but there’s plenty I still don’t know how to do. I find the wand selecting tool to be very accurate (more so than the photoshop version) however, it is also less smooth, so the edges tend to have a very identifiable pixel boarder. I like wand, dodge/burn tools, but the clone tool doesn’t doesn’t have the fidelity I’m looking for. I’d like to try printing this, and others out, to see how they visually hold up as physical images.

Were I to go back into this piece, I probably would have added some color and modeling to the benday dots, just to get rid of their bright white nothing, and maybe done something to blend the [viewer] top left area into the rest of the image. I’m thinking of working in hard copy again. I haven’t for years, but when I did it helped me get strong results quick, and figure out my ideas quicker. Next week I’m going out of town and brining my film camera, it’ll give me a chance to catch some new visuals and see where those might come in next.

Incidentally, I haven’t abandoned my series of gif ‘trading cards’, but I want to work in some better/fresher technique/vocabulary, and quick pieces like this are a way to build to it.

Thanks for looking.

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David Malki, creator of WONDERMARK, contributed a page to issue 9 (V2) of The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl (if you’re not reading it, you really should be). In the post linked below, he details the process he used in creating the piece. Malki does a great job showing the work that he puts into creating a collage, and how invisible that labor can be. Computer technology has done a lot to make the creative process seem easy. Seeing the steps and care that a hard working artists puts into their pieces is important to show how much thought and practice making art takes.

David Malki process for Collage in Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 9

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The Legend of Tarzan (2016)

I’m not a Tarzan fan by any stretch (though I do love a lot of old pulp characters) and I haven’t seen the new film, but I have been curious how it’d be received by die hard fans, and invested critics studying it through a contemporary eye. Re-Pressed below is a post to one such review which is very much worth reading, and here too, is a link for a second, by another lifelong Burroughs fan.

We live in a world where it is likely a story that has been printed/published/posted even just once will never ever go away, stories now hundreds of years can’t ever be lost again. That’s wonderful, except sometimes those tales are fraught with historical trash–fun trash, well constructed trash, trash we can learn something from, but trash nonetheless. Storytelling and history make for complicated bedfellows, but together they’re capable of rebirthing ideas in a way that is important and necessary, allowing for the salvaging and growth of mythologies that may be valuable to understanding our past, present, and as a catalogue of that growth for the future.  ~JRC

“…In short, I am fully aware of the problematic nature of the Tarzan films and books. Let’s be clear:   Tarzan is not a racist trope.  It is THE racist trope, arguably the most specific …

Source: The Legend of Tarzan (2016)

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New Gif: Floating Head of Doom


collage gif by JRC

the Floating Head of Doom

This new piece is comprised of fewer images, and all together simpler than my earliest from this series. It is though, composed of some of the first images that spurred me to start this project. I’ve had ideas for this grimacing character, but just recently have thought that I might flip my own script. At this point, it is important to not let my ideas lock in and dictate what comes next, to just let them percolate and join up without too much force.

The central figure is the Floating Head of Doom, an image that’s cropped up in many different forms since I was a young kid. Here it is represented by a repurposed one-off character, the titular star of “Broadway Cop” illustrated by Bob Powell for “I’m A Cop” comics from 1954. Later, Powell helped create the Blackhawks, edited the satire magazine SICK for many years, and worked on the infamous Mars Attacks trading cards.

There’s a couple of great sites making comics with expired copyright available, digitalcomicsmuseum.com is my usual haunt, and comicbookplus.com is another. I’m a lifelong comic book reader and fan. Reusing comic art is a sensitive issue, and has been since Pop Art broke in the mid-1950s. It shouldn’t be done without attribution and credit.

The background image is a composite of two photos, “Joe’s Auto Graveyard (Pennsylvania)”, byWalker Evans found via the Getty Open Content Program. Unfortunately, I stupidly forgot to note what the other photo for the composition was, but I’m pretty certain I found it via the library of congress Print and Photograph collection. Sorry, I’ll keep looking and update if I find the original scan again. This is another lesson in not trusting your memory or your computer’s open tabs to always be there when needed.

This card will have a back to it, which I’ll probably work on next.
I’m also researching for another article in Atomic Elbow though, so I may be delayed in getting to it.

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