Saturday, October 16, 2010

10/16/10 - Kentucky featured in Underground Comic and Trade Paperback

The Commonwealth of Kentucky is not to often depicted in comics and if so it is only in passing or referenced with none too flattering associations. Having traveled and lived from one end of the US to the other has taught me that there are rednecks and cowboys all over (and hopefully not to pre-judge people or places). So I was happy to see Kentucky portrayed with a broader lens in a recent comic series, now available as a trade paperback: "Underground" written by Jeff Parker and drawn by Steve Lieber. Centered around two Kentucky State park rangers and the fictional Stillwater Cave this enthralling adventure story has several exciting sections that really capture the thrills and dangers inherent to cave exploration. It was also fun to find the local references that the authors embedded into the storyline through some obvious research or knowledge of the region.

I had met Steve back in 2000 at Orlando Florida's MegaCon. His then current work on DC's Hawkman and the independently produced Whiteout (recently released as a major motion picture) caught my attention and admiration.

A recent Facebook prompt lead me to visit Steve's profile - this all cascaded into renewing contact and getting caught up on Underground, his website (old and new cartoonists will want to check out the great Advice section) and another of his projects: "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Creating A Graphic Novel" - co-written with Nat Gertler.

This easy to read book covers areas that many other good texts on creating comics just don't address, namely: a simple but effective process for writing plots/scripts and tips on how to ensure good results as the artist visualizes the written script. This bridging of written word and drawn images really doesn't get explained adequately or often enough in most "how to" books - they tend to be focus on either the writers perspective or that of the artist.
To clarify this point I have excerpted from wikipedia's entry for "comics" in the section defining comics. Read below Will Eisner's (the man responsible for popularizing the terms "sequential art" and "graphic novel") informed opinion -  (also check out the variants by others: McCloud and Harvey):
In 1996, Will Eisner published Graphic Storytelling, in which he defined comics as "the printed arrangement of art and balloons in sequence, particularly in comic books."[42] Eisner's earlier, more influential definition from Comics and Sequential Art (1985) described the technique and structure of comics as sequential art, "the arrangement of pictures or images and words to narrate a story or dramatize an idea."[43]
This blending of word and picture - and this includes the unseen words from the writer that inspire the images created by the artist - is what makes comics unique! Nat and Steve really hit the target and fill this void of information - kudos to them for this service to all who want to learn the deceptively complex set of skills necessary for effective sequential narrative/cartooning.

Friday, October 08, 2010

10/08/10 - Artists Presenting at the World Equestrian Games

A big part of the World Equestrian Games are all the exhibitors set up there on the grounds of the horse park. A number of these are involved in equine art and I came across two that caught my eye.

Debbie Sampson describes herself as a Sports Artist, and her website will certainly attest to that. I met her the first week of the WEG while she was painting at a booth near the Equine Village.

She has as a special fondness for equine sports and was working on a close up of a horse in oils with a pallet knife as we talked. She also works with many professional sports franchises which can be somewhat involved because of licensing issues.

The work that I saw that day was colorful, visceral and a bit abstract - it was, for me, very reminiscent of LeRoy Neiman. After vising her website I saw a versatility in her rendering  (as this striking dressage study demonstrates). She resides in Florida but will often travel to Kentucky for our numerous racing and equine events. I look forward to her next visit and hope that we can chat more then.

A nearby booth promoting a horse registry was hosting a drawing to have your horse immortalized in an oil painting portrait. There was a sample image (shown at right) that was quite striking, which drew me in to learn more - I later discovered the artist was none other than Richard Hescox.

This name sounded very familiar and after talking with the gentlemen from the registry I realized this was a well known science fiction cover artist. I believe he even did a cover or two for Marvel Comics - for their magazine line: Savage Sword of Conan or maybe Kull, The Conqueror. He also has a fine art website where he promotes his equine and portrait art. I was disappointed when I realized Richard was not actually in attendance there at the WEG since I was hoping to meet him in person  - but it was a fun connection to make.

Although I did not visit or see the American Academy of Equine Art during my two recent visits I would be remiss not to mention them and their full time presence at the Kentucky Horse Park while discussing equine art.  I hope learn more about this organization and it's members in the near future.  This non-profit group describes themselves (from their website):
The American Academy of Equine Art, Inc. was established in 1980 by a group of ten distinguished artists, individually famed for their work on equine subjects. Their aim was to maintain a degree of excellence within the genre, and to promote the academic representation of the equine form in drawing, painting and sculpture. Loosely based on the Royal Academy of Arts in London, the AAEA serves to educate and encourage a broad awareness and appreciation of contemporary equine art as a specific and distinctively worthy segment of fine art in America.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

10/07/10 - World Equestrian Games and Spotlight on Lexington

We here in Lexington have been hearing about the World Equestrian Games or WEG for years now and I think many of us were tired of what seemed like a lot of hype before it even started! Well, as one those initial negative nellies I have to confess that I am now a convert and have been very impressed with Spotlight on Lexington (a 16-day festival of cultural performances, mostly musical in downtown Lexington) and the actual games themselves! Spotlight on Lexington performances are all free and open to the public! This is a great gift to the people of Lexington and I hope many in the area are recognizing the opportunity and taking in as many of these acts as possible. Thank you to the many sponsors who financed these fine performances!

I have attended the WEG twice now, both times with only a general admission pass ($25 at the gate). Even without attending the events I was very enthralled with what was available: specifically the numerous demonstrations at the Equine Village. If you are at all interested in the horse these presentations will be quite entertaining and uplifting. It is a joy to watch and be with people who are clearly doing something they love. Speaking of which, both of these ongoing (until Sunday 10/10/10) events are great opportunities for artists to draw, sketch and learn. Here you will be able to draw a wide spectrum of people and the many breeds and qualities of our equine friends. Two animals have made an immense impact on the development of human civilization: the dog and the horse. I find it quite touching that these noble animals seek our companionship, acceptance and dare I say, love.

The Kentucky Horse Park may very well be the premiere equine facility in all the world, something we Kentuckians can all have a little pride in. Don't be put off by fears of crowds or long lines - neither of these were an issue on the days I went (which were Tuesdays - the final weekend may be different).Take the LexTran shuttle and avoid the $20 parking fee at the park or ride share with a group of friends and split the cost. Just make sure and visit our state park during this once in a lifetime event! I would attend everyday if work and my fall allergies would allow!

Share your art! I encourage all my fellow artists to post a comment or send a link to online galleries of their sketches and drawings of the WEG or Spotlight events.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

10/05/10 - Post 24-Hour Comics Day event

Congratulation to all who participated in 2010 24-Hour Comics Day event here in Lexington and across the nation!

Brett Hatfield,  a first-time visitor to our August CCG meeting and a frequent cartoon contributor to The Kentucky Kernel has a great facebook gallery post about his local 24HCD experience at Collectibles, Etc.

See his photos at :

Brett, send a link when you post your comic! Jenny and Mike too!

Email or post a comment if anyone else out there has anything to share from this year's event!

PS: While researching the founder of  the 24-Hour Comics Dare, Scott McCloud, I found this interesting recent (2008) work of his. It is a 38-page online comic explaining the virtues of Google's Chrome browser. See a master at work, using the medium expertly to explain highly technical material in a clear and illuminating way.

Friday, October 01, 2010

10/01/10 - 2010 Lexington 24-Hour Comics Day event tomorrow!

Tomorrow, Saturday October 2nd,  is our 2nd time organizing a full blown 24-Hour Comics Day event here in Lexington! The kind folks at Collectibles, Etc. have stepped up to host the event for a second year as well! If you are interested in participating there are some spots left - but don't wait space is limited!

Sign up TODAY online here: 2010 Lexington 24-Hour Comic Day Participation Survey

If you are curious or just want to see the process:  the store opens at 11am on Saturday. There will be special sales and other fun stuff happening while the cartoonists are hard at work. Come out to cheer these folks on and save on your comics at the same time!

Challenge starts:
11 AM Saturday 10/02/10.
Challenge ends:
11 AM Sunday 10/03/10

Collectibles, Etc.
115 North Locust Hill Drive
Suite # 106
Lexington, KY 40509-1517
(859) 269-6633