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Take a Trip to the Past

Welcome back. On the site today:

* A fond farewell to Joyce Farmer! Here’s Day 5. Thanks, Joyce!

* Wrapping up our week of Chester Brown we have Scott Grammel’s 1990 interview with the artist in its entirety! Compare and contrast! Let’s look back for a second on our Chester-ness. We have: Sean Rogers’ interview; R. Fiore’s meditation; Naomi Fry’s essay; and Ed Park’s notes. Spend the weekend with ‘em all!

Anyhow, by the time you read this I will have gone to the opening of Zap: Masters of Psychedelic Art, 1965-1974, curated by Gary Panter and Chris Byrne. Lucky for you went by the gallery on Wednesday to check in on it. Drawn from Glenn Bray’s collection, the show is what you think it is: a few dozen excellent examples of work from the Zap artists from the comic book itself and contemporaneous collections. There are full stories by Robert Williams, Gilbert Shelton, and R. Crumb, and enormous pages by S. Clay Wilson, Rick Griffin and Spain (two panoramic scenes by Spain are particularly striking), as well as a wonderful page by Moscoso — the first original of his from that period that I’ve ever seen. I gotta say, seeing a sequence of Williams pages in person made me remember what a phenomenal draftsman he is. The hot-rod honed precision rendering plus a phenomenal ability to work multiple figures on a single plane makes him look pretty damn great these days. Reproductions don’t really do justice the sheen of his pen line. Plus, the guy worked only slightly larger than reproduction-size. Jeezuz. Anyhow, it’s good to see these artifacts all gathered in one place. Some work better as “drawings” than others, but as a 360-degree view of that art, this is hard to beat. Plus, of course, I love that Panter, who has for the past few years been doing a sort of “my art history lineage” lecture, is curating this particular segment of his influence cloud. Seeing it through Gary’s eyes deepens the choices and the work itself.

Sayeth Gary on his blog:

The accompanying cover of ZAP comix number one which appeared in microscopic form as an item in the Electric Last Minute, the fold-out poster calendar that came free in every issue of EYE magazine back in the late  sixties, blew my mind. It was familiar and foreign– backward-looking AND forward-looking. The tiny cover, pictured, reminded me of old Popeye comics or of the Nutt Brothers by Gene Ahearn, the last of the really old-timey looking comics in the newspaper. It was a year or so before I got my hands on a Zap, which by the way is a trademarked logo and the rights are shared by the aforementioned Zap group of artists, and I wasn’t disappointed. There was a high level of skill, experimentation and a rabid interest in pushing the limits of allowed content and social critique. Some of the artists I had seen before: Rick Griffin’s work had appeared in surf mags; I looked forward to Robert William’s complex and disturbing, hence exciting, ads for Ed Roth monster shirts in various hot rod mags; Wonder Wart Hog I had seen in hot rod cartoons magazines and in his own short lived magazine; plus, I had been magnetically drawn to the funny greeting card racks in drug stores by the commercial illustrations of Robert Crumb. Something amazing had happened! A bunch of edgy cartoonists that I was already watching had grown their hair out, formed an experimental drawing club, teamed up with more insane drawers and moved to San Francisco to be hippie cartoonists and poster artists. WOW! That premise was exciting enough, but when I finally got my hands on an issue of Zap I was ecstatically pleased to see that the drawing was of such a high, controlled, inventive, diverse order and that the disparate approaches, experiments and stylizations were somehow successfully fused into soupy collaborative drawings, just… well, it was a lot to consider.

Well anyhow, I’ll post some pix from the opening and such next week, I suppose. Should be a hoot. The catalog, by the way, is a mammoth affair: 14″ x 16″, 48 pages, showcasing the artwork larger than it’s ever been printed, I supposed. [PLUG ALERT!] In about a week PictureBox will be exclusively carrying the thing. It’s a run of 1000, so you’ll wanna get ‘em while you can.

Now, onwards, to something else.

* Bleeding Cool gets a comment from Bill Sienkiewicz on a 2005 proposal for a Wonder Woman series he wanted to do with Frank Miller. As the world’s only human who prefers DK2 to the original, I would have liked to see that series. That reminds me, does anyone out there know if  Sienkiewicz, who at one point shared a studio with Stan Drake, worked on the latter’s Kelly Green series? Kelly Green! Overlooked graphic novel of ’80s.

* Heidi MacDonald went to see Steranko, Simonson and Quesada talk and has a report.

* Oh man, that is one bad-ass cover on the upcoming Marti book.

* This is a great little mystery over at Stripper’s Guide.

Have a great weekend.

 


4 Responses to Take a Trip to the Past

  1. Lou_Copeland says:

    Someone needs to do an in depth profile of Glenn Bray…

    and DK2 was the most fun comic series ever!

    • Dan Nadel says:

      Couldn't agree more, Lou. I think a pretty in depth profile is coming your way, happily enough. Not from us, but there's something rad in the works. Glenn is a truly amazing guy.

  2. vollsticks says:

    I'll buy a copy of that catalogue! And I'm with you on Robert Williams' drawings, Mr. Nadel–personally I prefer them infinitely over his paintings, his line-work is just phenomenal, as you said. In fact I actively despise most of his works on canvas…bleurgh!

  3. patford says:

    How funny is it that there are now comics fans stridently asserting:
    "My canon is smaller than your canon."

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