Saturday, November 29, 2014

"A Calendar of the Gods"... again

       "Everything old is new again."
I was recently reminded that a project I worked on back in 1977 with my late brother Don -- "A Calendar of the Gods" (hereinafter referred to as CotG) -- which was originally intended to be used for the year 1978, has -- due to the cyclical nature of calendars -- now become useable again. 

Well… not NOW, exactly, but in a couple of years -- in 2017, to be precise. In going through some of my mother's stuff recently, my sister found and gave to me a small pile of the CotGs, still in their manila envelopes with the little logo patch rubber cemented to the outside of the envelopes. (Well, some of them -- due to their age -- had fallen off. I guess rubber cement is not intended to last that long.)

Given that they will shortly be able to used as calendars again, I'm thinking of offering them for sale via eBay. Counting the cover, each calendar contains thirteen drawings by me, with extra graphic designs by Don Laird.  He also researched the various gods and did the text pieces describing them.

This project was the first thing that Don and I did under the auspices of "Saurian Design", the graphic design business I began shortly after graduating from college. It never went anywhere, and -- sadly -- neither did the CotG. I think we sold a handful of them, and the rest of the print run -- which, if memory serves, numbered 150 copies, and was paid for by Don -- went into our respective closets or other appropriate storage areas.

I think there were about half a dozen with my mother's stuff, and if I'm remembering correctly, I think I may have a few dozen more in my files (also known as "boxes of stuff I've lugged with me through multiple moves in three different states"). For anyone interested in publications with rare early Peter Laird artwork, this might be worth a look. I will post again here if this plan sees fruition.

        Below are shots of two sample months, June and February. -- PL


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Sharon Sakai

Sharon and Stan Sakai at Comic-Con 2011 (photo via Fantagraphics)

Yesterday, the Internet delivered some very sad news -- Sharon Sakai, wife of Stan Sakai (creator of "Usagi Yojimbo") had passed away after a long and difficult illness.

I should make a caveat here -- I didn't really know Sharon, and in fact I'm somewhat embarrassed to say that I can't recall meeting her, though it is very likely that I did at some point, probably out at the San Diego Comicon, back when I used to go there, and my not remembering has more to do with a sixty year-old's spotty-in-places memory. And although I consider Stan a friend, and I would go so far to say a good one, he and I have not really spent a lot of time together, given that we live on different coasts.


… from what I can piece  together, both from what I know personally (mostly through my dealings with Stan) and everything which had been said online by people who DO know the Sakais, a few concepts seem quite clear:

-- Sharon was a great person, beloved by all who knew her, and

-- Stan is too, and

-- Stan, in these last couple of years when Sharon was struggling to deal with this awful illness, has shown himself to be the kind of person that the rest of us should aspire to be -- steadfast and loving in the most trying of circumstances. I am in awe.

My sincerest condolences to Stan and his family. -- PL

Here's a link to a piece at about Sharon's passing:

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Train song

I had decided -- while I was out and about doing errands today -- that it would be worthwhile to try to get my truck inspected, as the sticker was due to expire at the end of this month, which isn't far off (I only noticed this a few days ago). Fortunately, the Honda dealer on King Street wasn't too busy, and it was all done in about forty-five minutes.

While the process was happening, I decided to use the time to get a little exercise, and walked down the train tracks behind the dealership toward the center of town. I started walking by a long line of parked, rusty rail cars… and as I was walking past the third or fourth one, I heard this brief metallic low KLONK sound… followed shortly by another… and another… the wheels on the car next to me ever so SSSLLLLOWWWLLLLY started to turn, in tiny increments. I realized the train was starting up, gathering speed very slowly, as an unseen engine somewhere down the tracks ahead of me began pulling on this line of train cars. As they started to have tension put on their various connecting parts, there came a series of KLONKS and CLANKS and so forth, as large metal parts met, all echoing down the line of empty train cars. It was actually kind of beautiful... almost a piece of music. -- PL

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Review of "Snowpiercer"

Some months ago, I started to read of rumors about Chirs Evans -- up-and-coming star of the two "Captain America" movies of recent vintage -- possibly giving up acting. It seemed an odd thing, on the face of it -- he's a very talented young guy, getting famous, and seemingly on the cusp of true stardom.

But tonight I watched "Snowpiercer", a new movie starring Chris Evans, just released on Blu-Ray, and I think I may understand now why he might want to quit the biz… because if he takes on many more roles in junk like this, he just might not be able to deal with the embarrassment in the future. (John Hurt, Jamie Bell, Tilda Swinton and Ed Harris, also wasted in this movie, do nothing to enhance their reputations… but maybe they each needed to pay off some bills or something.)

"Snowpiercer" is ostensibly a post-apocalyptic science fiction tale about Earth in the not-too-distant future, when the release of some global warming-fighting chemical in the atmosphere has reduced the temperature of the planet to the point where (we are told) ALL LIFE HAS CEASED TO EXIST!!!

Now, that would make for a short movie, right? (Oh, if only…!)

What the text frame which sets up this scenario near the beginning of the movie ACTUALLY means is that all life except for a bunch of people (and, as we come to find out, somehow -- and it's never explained exactly how, and probably for good reason -- some cows and chickens and a whole aquarium full of exotic sea life) on a train has ceased to exist. This train has somehow been running non-stop for close to two decades, on non-maintained tracks with no resupply, through the icy, frozen wilderness which is all that is left of our world, occasionally running at high speed into solid ice barriers and smashing through them with no damage. (Yes, it's "Super Train".)

Chris Evans is the hero whose name I have already forgotten, even though I just finished watching the movie fifteen minutes ago. He's one of the ragtag bunch of losers in the tail section of the train, who are abused by the rich fat cats in the front part of the train and their stormtrooper-like flunkies… and as the movie begins, he's about to lead a rebellion and storm to the head of the train.

What follows is a violent and increasingly absurd -- and not in a good way -- series of battles as the tail-enders make their bloody way toward the head of the train. One gets the feeling that some grand social commentary is being attempted, but the filmmakers simply don't have the skill set with which to accomplish such a thing, and it gets lost amongst the increasingly ridiculous characters, dialogue, settings and action. There was exactly ONE moment which I thought was kind of clever and showed a glimmer of what might have been a really exciting action movie without all the stupid beyond suspension-of-disbelief setup -- a brief fight sequence as the train barrels through a dark tunnel. 

The rest of it is brain-grindingly inane and pointless. Please, if you don't want to have that horrible feeling of "I could have done so many other things with the one hundred and twenty-six minutes I just wasted on this nonsense!", steer clear of "Snowpiercer". -- PL