Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


We spent a few days in the internetless wilds of New Hampshire, where the only news is cable delivered. I heard about Vic Chesnutt's death from a good friend, the best way to hear about any death, I suppose. He outlined only the bare bone details, which seem to be all the details there are. All very sad.

I saw Vic perform 3 times. The first was in a teeny bar in Brooklyn (I went with the wife of the same friend who called with the news). Vic was by himself and king of all he surveyed. Heart and spleen going strong, open and venting. The second time was in the same bar, accompanied by a delightful band that had been cobbled together from local worthies (and his wife, Tina, on bass). Wonderful again. And the last time I saw him was just this past summer (I went with the friend who called with the news). Vic was alone again, the support act, convinced that no-one knew him. My friend encouraged me to request 'Kick My Ass' - I am deeply sorry that I did not.

I have been thinking a lot about him and everything he gave. What most stands out is his honesty and truthfulness and humour. I love his sly smile, which makes him look like a child or a poet. There are three songs in particular that have been on my mind the past few days. There is the amazing clarity of Speedracer, from his first album: 'I'm not a victim/I am intelligent/I am an atheist'. I can remember the first time I heard those words (rare for me). We named our second cat after the song 'Zippy Morocco'. LP cries every time she hears its exotic melody. And from the same 'Silver Lake' album, there is Vic's wonderful statement about being here, 'I say, yes', with the call and response chorus - 'Do you think it makes a difference? I say, Yes.'

He definitely made a difference. So sad that he is gone.

Monday, December 21, 2009

christmas comic

Happy Christmas everyone!

Click on the drawing for the finer details (like the text!).

Thursday, December 17, 2009

animatedly animating

I look as though I am trapped in a Hitchcockian nightmare of my own making, which is not really what I was going for. (Am I being chased?)

Right after I drew this I saw a music promo from Joann Sfar's Serge Gainsbourg biopic: Mr. Sfar is in the background of a lot of the shots animatedly animating. I watched with a lot of envy for the flowing freedom that he draws with and wondered how I can liven up my own drawings and get them off the page a wee bit. For me (and this ties back to the surprise and the delight that my drawing tries to anticipate) this is a question of practicing resurrection in everything. Amen and amen and amen. Drawing has to be at least a part of that practice, alongside my questions along the lines of, how then should we live?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

'you're very self-absorbed, jack'

I have been reading and loving Palestine by Joe Sacco. (I am not trying in any way to compare our drawing here - the way that I draw and think does not have any relation to Sacco's work - oh that it would.) Sacco is a necessary character within his journalism, who constantly reveals his own reactions (high and low minded) as part of the broader story. This is a great strength in his work. Looking at my own drawings here, I was embarrassed that I had moved from reflecting on activists in (at best) very difficult circumstances, to my own winter look in the space of just two panels. But I thought it would be a bit dishonest not to post this. And, continuing in the me vein, I like the way it looks and feels, in spite of any unhappiness about the overall effect.

Friday, December 11, 2009

the people have the power

The pictures are available on Facebook here. Hat tip to Andrew Sullivan, who also posted this great clip:

Sunday, December 6, 2009

the people have the power

My thoughts on this are a wee bit half-baked. But, in the interests of getting something out there, here goes:

After looking at Platon's Portraits of Power in the recent New Yorker I decided to try drawing all of the featured leaders. I have been itching for some sort of larger drawing exercise than the individual drawings that I usually do. I am not sure this scratches the itch but I enjoyed it, even though there are several drawings I am really unhappy with (all posted).

When I first saw the portfolio in the magazine, I had an immediate reaction. Seasonal magazine features like this (see also the 'Person of the Year' stories, which proliferate between now and Christmas) make me uncomfortable and immediately set me to thinking about the deserving billions who are never going to make the list. Drawing the group here, almost exclusively male, also seemed to be a good opportunity to humanize the politicians a wee bit and (given my somewhat idiosyncratic drawing style) put them on the same level as the rest of us, which is where they belong anyway. The captions were part of this attempt to humanize but I quickly ran out of ideas and hope that the drawings mostly speak for themselves.

There were two other things that came to mind throughout the process. David Dark (in at least one talk I heard and maybe in print) speaks about his realization, during the 2004 US presidential election, that George W. Bush and John Kerry were the two least free men in America, bound by the expectations of the American electorate (and the election process) to hold positions which would be completely unreasonable (and which they would not believe) in most other contexts. (Mr. Dark discusses the candidates statements on 'winning the war on terror' in this regard.) In a lot of ways I am sure that many of these leaders are not the free agents they might believe themselves to be. I think this is borne out to some degree in the second thing that came to mind, which was Michael Leunig's cartoon, available here.

A couple of quick thoughts came along after I finished these and was wondering what to write: How many of these politicians live up to the charge given in Psalm 72.4?; Do I agree with those who argue that in Romans 13: 1-7 Paul is being satirical?

Without further ado, the drawings: