Swiss stereo card of the Three Caballeros.
Green Brain Comics is hands-down my favorite Michigan comic store. Katie and Dan Merritt are dedicated to expanding the audience for independent and alternative comics through their shop, and important comics organizations like CBLDF and Friends of Lulu. This fall they're hosting Snap! The Comic Arts Festival just up the street from their Dearborn shop. A small press and self-published showcase, this convention is welcome news to midwest comic fans. Mark Saturday, October 29th on your calendar. If you're not local and thinking of attending, be advised that Dearborn is an interesting and historic city, with affordable lodging and many delicious casual dining choices.
Every time a Michiganian comes up with a new comics event, it gives me a thrill. Detroit was home to one of the earliest comic book conventions, and definitely the first multimedia con, the Detroit Triple Fan Fair. The 1973 convention was my first, and i was hooked for life. Snap! is the latest installation of a proud tradition, and will showcase the creators of the future. Hope to see you there!
i love this! Preeminent Dr. Strange blogger Neilalien has shared his childhood comic book creation, Black Jack #1. It's fun to read on its own, but made more interesting by the inclusion of panels and story elements the young artist swiped. i drew my first comic around age 11 or 12, and yes, i still have it... somewhere. Eventually i'll uncover it in my studio, and maybe put some of it up... or not! But i'm glad Neilalien did!
Shout out to no one in particular, since i'm probably the last comics reader to see Defenders 1 - can't remember the last time i enjoyed a new Marvel miniseries this much! Giffen, DeMatteis, and Maguire would have a tough time actually 'desecrating' a book like the Defenders, but the delight is the updated, savvy approach combined with real fidelity to the giant size characters in the original team.
i won't do the page-by-page, because Neilalien did a great job here. Lucky for me my brain is like a sieve lately, and i forgot his comments while reading/laughing out loud at this book. Kevin Maguire's attention to detail in expressions and layouts gives new readers insight into characters, and adds depth for old Defenders hands. Umar's makeover is quite wonderful, and Dormammu hasn't looked this fine since Steve Ditko drew him. Each drawing of Doc and Namor is packed with energy and humor. Every talent seems to be working full tilt, and the colors by Chris Sotomayer and lettering by Dave Sharpe add so much shading and dimension to the storytelling. Team assembly over, on with the story - i can hardly wait!
As a pretty big Silver Surfer fan, i wasn't offended in the least by Doc's Surfer flashback. But then, the Silver Surfer has always seemed constructed from archetypal 60's hipster questing. The real joke is that he took this long to catch a wave. Oh, and in the wow-i'm-getting-old department: i actually remembered Giganto!
If you've lived half a century, you can remember a continuous parade of breeds that well meaning but ignorant people thought should be singled out for ostracism or oblivion. i've seen German Shepherd, Doberman, and Rottweiler scares and laws over the years, and when we're over the pit bull thing, people will single out another breed to blame. When a larger sized breed of dog, capable of inflicting more damage becomes popular, dog bites and fatal attacks by that breed rise accordingly.
Make no mistake, dog bites are on the rise, but pit bulls (which aren't a breed per se, but a category for any bully or part bully breeds when attack reports are filed) are not as much the problem as the desire of humans to own creatures they don't understand and are poorly equipped to care for. The tougher the neighborhood (or the dog owner), the more appealing having a big bad on the end of a leash becomes. Put aside for a moment those who starve, fight train, or otherwise abuse their dogs; too few decent people realize the commitment and responsibility canine custody entails. Folks who birth and raise children they don't love, control or teach create much more death and havoc in the world than dog owners, but we can't address that in the land of freedom. Teaching children, who are naturally attracted to animals, to fear or threaten dogs increases the danger.
Everywhere you go in this country, laws are already on the books to control dogs and their owners. The problem is, they largely work only after the fact, when someone has been hurt or killed, and a dog is destroyed. But singling out a breed will not make much of a difference in the 20 fatalities and less in the over 4 million bites reported annually. Another big 'protection' breed will just fill in the vacuum. Bull breeds have the equipment to be more efficient attackers than some others, but the only way to address this is on the human end.
i haven't had a dog in many years, and hope to take a pup or rescue dog when we move up north. i see dogs i want to take in all the time, but i know dogs need time, space, and training. i'm the queen of instant gratification, and if i can wait until i can make a good home... well, i lose patience with others who can't.
The only thing Sorry Again should be sorry about is that so few of their contributors know how to spell vicious. But then, considering the kind of company they keep, why should that surprise me?
Last week, it seemed life had taken on some kind of a theme. At first it was chocolate. i finished Mort Rosenblum's curious and charming Chocolate: A Bittersweet Saga of Dark and Light, went to Trader Joe's and replenished my supplies of 71%+ chocolates, and on Sunday we saw Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which was surprisingly good. Seeing all Tim Burton movies is one of my few rules, but that doesn't mean i was expecting a lot. Of course, Willy Wonka is about candy not really chocolate, and it's pretty easy to see the distinction in the chocolate world. Candy: undemanding, plentiful, sweet. Chocolate: challenging, scarce, druggy. Both good, but different.
But somewhere this week things switched back to the ongoing concerns of art... and crafts, and commerce, and what is or isn't any of those things, and why. Trying to collect and assemble the next round of jewelry, folk art and comic book pages to put on eBay to raise some cash, trying to figure out what i can produce myself that would be profitable on eBay without feeling like i'm selling my soul...same old shit. A flood of mediocre to bad lampwork has wrecked beaded jewelry sales, outsider art has turned into a sales pitch empty of all meaning, and i just can't get behind a fad like ACEOs. i can sell what i make, but on eBay, not so much.
Francine and i went to the Ann Arbor Art Fairs yesterday, held, as always, during some of Michigan's most miserable weather. A long time ago, and for many years, i went through the whole thing and at least looked into every booth. Now we map out the two or three must-see artists (like Valerie Hector, who is always an inspiration), and stop at anything new or familiar that looks interesting, but most of the stuff doesn't even slow us down. Going to the Art Fair is an excuse for visiting A2 that doesn't involve Zingerman's. The highlights of my visit were bubble tea and getting stickers and a nifty pencil case at Wizzywig. The dedication of the artists at the fair is undeniable, but so much was just polished art product, evoking little but some half-assed whimsy. It's working for some people, but i couldn't emulate it to save my life. Some kind of art, not mine.
It's hard to defend drawing a line between 'art' and 'craft', or art/not art, and people who do just seem too lazy to address why they don't like a work or artist. Why can't they say something is bad art, rather than denying something they can't even describe? At least that's an opinion. One time a guy picked a fight with me because, i swear to "Bob", he claimed the Ramones' music wasn't rock and roll. (Why i became the champion of the bar for the Ramones or punk is obscure to me, it's not like i was dressed for the part or something.) But that's always reminded me of the art fights in school and through the years in galleries and co-ops - is it art or craft/ illustrtation/ not art? If i make the thing, or perform the piece, or whatever, don't I get to say if it is or isn't art? Then you get to say it sucks or rules or whatever, according to your taste.
Which leads me to Nenslo's Art... Or Torture? post, which was the thing i needed to read today. Beginning with Spanish anarchists using modern art to torture fascists, it's a great essay on defining art and who gets to do it. Check it out at the link above or at Nenslopalooza, where there are also some bad blog examples even more rambling and incoherent than this one, thus enabling me to publish this post rather than erase it.
Via Boing Boing, which i usually get to before Wired News, has this story, lamely titled Mind May Affect Machines. The Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research. a scientific study of consciousness-rated phenomena, has been conducting tests of human ability to alter random effect generators. The resulting data is compelling, and controversial:
Using random event generators -- computers that spew random output -- they have participants focus their intent on controlling the machines' output. Out of several million trials, they've detected small but "statistically significant" signs that minds may be able to interact with machines. However, researchers are careful not to claim that minds cause an effect or that they know the nature of the communication.
One of the random effect generators, reminding me of my pachinko machine.
Here's where it gets really good:
There is very little that the researchers understand about the phenomenon, but they do know that results aren't affected by distance or time. Participants, for example, can have the same effect on a machine from outside the room or across the country. They can also have the same effect if they have the intention before the REG is turned on or even if they read a book or listen to music while the machine is running.
Though both male and female subjects can influence the machines, they tend to do so in different ways, and female/male partners exert more influence together than seperately!
The researchers are careful to point out that they have no idea what this means, and that the intentions of the subjects can only be seen as correlations, not causes of the output changes. But the study also includes remote perception communications between subjects, such as the view of Loch Ness shown at the top of this post, with the subject not at the location's impressions superimposed.
The Boing Boing post on 'global consciousness' from February of this year refers to the original PEAR research, but is actually an offshoot called The Global Consciousness Project , headed by Roger D. Nelson, operations Coordinator of PEAR. This project seems a little premature and flaky to me, but then again, to find any evidence of effects this subtle you must begin somewhere. The PEAR website addresses this issue:
Two decades of intense experimentation and complementary theoretical modeling leave little doubt that the anomalous physical phenomena appearing in these PEAR studies are significantly correlated with subjective human processes, akin to such ineffable experiences as joy, wonder, creativity, and love. Yet, contemporary scientific rigor leaves little room for subjective correlates in its mechanistic representation of reality.
It follows, therefore, that science as we know it either must exclude itself from study of such phenomena, even when they precipitate objectively observable physical effects, or broaden its methodology and conceptual vocabulary to embrace subjective experience in some systematic way.
i've been wondering my whole adult life if i might see research pointing to evidence of consciousness as a real player in the physical world, and it just might have arrived. Soon it may be proven that magick is real.