Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Dreaming

    Dreams can be very curious things.

    A couple of days ago, I was sleeping fairly late in the morning. Suddenly, I heard a loud, single bark from a dog, as if our dog Kirby was in the hallway outside my bedroom, and I woke with a start.

    But I knew Kirby was not there, as he was, at that moment, in Maine. I had a few moments of disorientation until my sleep-befogged brain processed the situation, and I realized that I had dreamed that very realistic bark.

    Then today I was feeling anxious about an odd business venture I'd gotten involved in -- custom-mixed plastic zipper bags of cereal, which I was personally mailing out to my customers. The anxiety came from my realization that for the first batch of shipment, I had -- for some stupid reason -- added milk to the cereal in the zippered bags before I'd shipped them. My mind was imagining the disgusted reactions of customers who would be receiving plastic bags full of mushy cereal slop and sour milk…

    … and then I woke up.

    Curious. -- PL

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Bernie Wrightson, 1948-2017



    This morning I saw the sad news that the world of comics and illustration has lost one of the great ones -- Bernie Wrightson has passed away.

    Way back in the early to mid-1970's, I -- as a comic book geek and aspiring comic book creator -- had the good fortune to be hired by the late, great Norman Witty of Northampton, MA, to work in his used book and comic book store, Omega Books, and even go to a few comic conventions with him as well (my first experiences with such). I got my first original Jack Kirby page at one of these shows, a cool Vince Colletta-inked page from "The Mighty Thor", a piece I still have, and treasure.

    I learned a lot about comics and comic art from Norman during those years, and and although many details of my life back then are a bit fuzzy, one thing I remember very distinctly was his pointing out the artwork of Bernie Wrightson in one of the first issues of "Swamp Thing" from DC Comics, a book which was getting "hot" at that point in time among collectors, with the first issue being a real collectors' item, in large part because of the uniqueness and high quality of Wrightson's artwork. Norman directed my attention to a number of small panels on one page, expressing his opinion that these small panels were lovely pieces of storytelling art in and of themselves, showing more care and artistry in a few square inches than many other comic book artists would put into whole pages.

    And he was right!

    I was blown away by the care Bernie put into his drawing, and especially his inking, which was lush and precise. I became a big fan of his work, and followed it pretty avidly through most of my subsequent comics-buying years. I was even lucky enough to find (if I am remembering correctly, with the help of TMNT co-creator Kevin Eastman) and purchase a beautiful full-color piece of his work featuring my favorite dinosaur, Triceratops. It now hangs in my studio.

    As fans of his art know, Bernie went on to do a lot more amazing work. His illustrations for "Frankenstein" probably represent a high point in his career -- imaginative, amazingly detailed and almost superhumanly inked with a fluid precision which still boggles my mind.

    He will be missed. -- PL

    P.S. The illustration I chose for this post is my hand-drawn copy of one of Bernie Wrightson's wonderful drawings from his run on "Swamp Thing", one of a number of such pieces that I did on wood back in the 1970's. I would pick favorite artwork from comics and do my best to carefully reproduce them by hand in pencil, ink and color on 3/4 inch pine boards. Then, using the tools at the UMass wood shop, I would carefully cut out the figures with, typically, a combination of band saw and jigsaw, then cover the edges and back with black ink, finishing with several coats of protective polyurethane.

    This particular example, created circa 1975, was actually owned by the aforementioned Norman WItty, who was a great admirer of the work of Bernie Wrightson. I'm not sure if I sold it to him or gave it to him, but apparently he liked it enough to keep it in his collection until he passed away a few years ago.

    (The photo here comes from an eBay listing for the piece from 2014.)

Sunday, March 5, 2017

A matter of perspective

Enduring the bitter cold on a windy Maine beach in 16 degree weather yesterday, my friend John Dusenberry and I noticed an interesting phenomenon -- a stark, almost perfectly straight line of white etched across the distant shore rocks. It was immediately apparent that this was due to ice on the rocks, frozen during high tide.





 

Walking over to the rocks, that bold white line began to break apart, and as we moved to a position where we could look down on some of those rocks, the dramatic straight white line collapsed into a jumble of fragments.






It reminded us both of the importance of perspective -- things often look very different from another viewpoint. -- PL

Monday, August 8, 2016

Different Eyes



    I recently enjoyed a lengthy visit from John Dusenberry, a very dear friend from the old days, someone I'd met in high school in North Adams. I was showing him some of my recent pottery work, and pointed out one piece I wasn't really happy with -- a two-handled mug made in my last hand building class. If memory serves, this was a coil-built pot. Coil-building is not my favorite technique -- the results are never (at least from my hands) quite as elegant as I would like them to be. And this pot was my least-favorite piece from that class.

    This particular mug body was somewhat misshapen and ugly, so in a desperate attempt to make it a passable piece, I quickly made two handles and attached them to the mug body, offset on opposite sides. I told myself it could be a mug for "two-fisted coffee drinkers'. 








    Yeah, right.

    So I was showing John this piece of pottery, and he looked at it, turning it around in his hands as he examined it with his artist/designer's eye. Then he did something unexpected -- grasping the mug by one handle, he held it out for me to take, which I did, grabbing it by the other handle. 


     And with that simple gesture, John pointed out something about this piece which had completely eluded me up until that point: Having two handles on a mug nicely solves the problem of how you hand a mug filled with a hot beverage to someone else. Think about it -- if the mug is hot, how does the recipient take it in their hands? It's awkward at best, and typically, the move is for the giver to set the mug down on a flat surface and turn the handle toward the recipient.

    With two handles, that awkwardness disappears. The handover of the hot beverage is accomplished with no muss, fuss or burnt fingers.

    As I pondered this, it occurred to me that it could pave the way for what I started calling the "Love Mug" -- if you were with a person with whom you were intimate, you could easily use a mug of this configuration to SHARE a hot (or cold) beverage, passing it back and forth with ease and comfort.

    Don't get me wrong -- I am not at all saying I came up with something completely new. While I have not as yet spent any time on the Internet searching for mugs of this type, I strongly suspect that other people have stumbled upon this same idea.

    The point I'm trying to make is that sometimes a fresh perspective, especially one from a discerning individual, can make all the difference, and allow you to see possibilities you had never imagined. Sometimes different eyes are all it takes. -- PL

Thursday, April 28, 2016

IMPORTANT UPDATE!!! Re: chance to bid on TMNT #1 first printing at Artrageous benefit gala


Hey!

I got an update from my daughter Emily today regarding bidding on the first printing of TMNT #1 which I donated to the Umbrella Community Arts Center for their fundraising gala event called "Artgaeous". Here's what Em had to say about how to bid on this item:

"To have the first opportunity to bid on this piece of comic book history, you'll have to either actually be at Artrageous or buy a ticket to the event. (Tickets to the event can be purchased at http://theumbrellaarts.org/event/artrageous.) If you are unable to be there in person but are interested in bidding, you can purchase a ticket and send Emily your cell phone number. You will get a unique bidder link to join the auction and can bid along with the other gala attendees. However, if the book doesn't sell on the night of the gala, it will be offered on eBay or another online auction website. If you have any questions about the auction, you can contact Emily at emily@theumbrellaarts.org."

So that's pretty cool! By the way, this copy of TMNT #1 first printing has been graded by CGC as a 9.6. A photo of the "slabbed" book which Em just sent to me is at the top of this post. -- PL

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

ARTRAGEOUS! A chance to bid on a first printing of TMNT #1 on May 7, 2016!



     My daughter Emily works for a wonderful nonprofit arts organization in Concord, Massachusetts called The Umbrella Community Arts Center  (theumbrellaarts.org) and they are having their annual fundraising gala, Artrageous, on Saturday, May 7 at 40 Stow Street in Concord.

     There will be a silent art auction at the gala, featuring all kinds of cool things, including a lot of original artwork… and a mint condition first printing of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" #1 (the original Mirage Studios edition, published in 1984). This book has been graded by CGC at a 9.6, and I am donating this copy to the art auction from my small personal collection of TMNT comic books. All proceeds will go to The Umbrella.

     The starting bid on this rare comic book will be $5,000 (five thousand dollars), and I am also offering (if a buyer wants it) to personalize the book with my signature (and probably a small Turtle head sketch) inside the book or on its cover.

    
I got an update from my daughter Emily today regarding bidding on the first printing of TMNT #1 which I donated to the Umbrella Community Arts Center for their fundraising gala event called "Artgaeous". Here's what Em had to say about how to bid on this item:

"To have the first opportunity to bid on this piece of comic book history, you'll have to either actually be at Artrageous or buy a ticket to the event. (Tickets to the event can be purchased at http://theumbrellaarts.org/event/artrageous.) If you are unable to be there in person but are interested in bidding, you can purchase a ticket and send Emily your cell phone number. You will get a unique bidder link to join the auction and can bid along with the other gala attendees. However, if the book doesn't sell on the night of the gala, it will be offered on eBay or another online auction website. If you have any questions about the auction, you can contact Emily at emily@theumbrellaarts.org."

So that's pretty cool! By the way, this copy of TMNT #1 first printing has been graded by CGC as a 9.6. A photo of the "slabbed" book which Em just sent to me is at the top of this post. -- PL -- PL

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Not awkward, not weird, but definitely a "family photo". At least they got ONE thing right!

    Sometimes the Internet is just SO stupid. Or, to be more accurate and fair, it's the people who post certain things on the Internet…

    I heard from a friend today that she'd seen the following online at this URL (http://www.fizzdot.com/the-most-awkward-and-weird-family-photos-of-all-time/28/):





    … and she was wondering if she was mistaken in thinking that the guy in the photo was me. I replied and told her she was not wrong, and that this was in fact a photo taken back when the first live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie was being filmed in North Carolina. Fellow TMNT co-creator Kevin Eastman and I had been asked to pose for some publicity photos on one of the movie sets with the actor who played Leonardo, garbed in one of the incredible Jim Henson Studio-created Turtle suits.

    Following that session, I asked if it would be okay if I got a shot of me and my wife and infant daughter (who were also briefly visiting the movie set) posing with Leonardo, kind of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The actor inside the costume (who, if I am remembering correctly, was named Dave, and who told us that he too had recently become a father) was very gracious in agreeing to take the extra time to do this, although he was sweating uncomfortably inside that heavy foam-rubber suit in the sweltering North Carolina summer heat.

    I've always considered this photo to be a cool artifact of that time and experience. I'm glad we got the chance to pose for it, and I wish I knew the photographer's name so he or she could get the proper credit.

    So, for the dumbass who posted this as supposedly one of "The Most Awkward and Weird Family Photos of All Time", here's a fact-check for you:

    1.) We (the people in the photo) love the "Teenage Mutant NINJA Turtles". We understand that they are sometimes called by the more generic "Teenage Mutant HERO Turtles" title in certain other locations, and there's nothing wrong with that, but we've always preferred to think of them by the original title -- "Teenage Mutant NINJA Turtles".

    2.) We didn't hire a Turtle for a day to pose with our infant. See above for the real story, not your invented nonsense.

    3.) The baby is not a boy, she's a girl -- my daughter, Emily, now 27 -- who loves this photo (even if she cannot, obviously, remember being there when it was taken!). She also did not grow up to hate the Turtles.

    So there you go -- wrong, wrong, and wrong.

    It's a useful object lesson, I think -- context IS important. -- PL