Archive for March 9th, 2008

Fun Homes to Watch Out For

March 9th, 2008 by jason

Alison Bechdel spoke Thursday night at the University of Minnesota campus, and fortunately I found out early enough to attend, along with a nearly full auditorium of fans. Also, fortunately, I got to go with a good friend who had an awesome appreciation for her and her work. I’ve read Dykes to Watch Out For for years, while it was published in our various gay publications in Minneapolis. I don’t remember the last time it was running here, but I know that, sadly, it hasn’t run for a few years. More the pity us, who even hosted Alison for a few years in the ’80s. She spoke about how much she loved it here, working for Equal Time, and that she misses it, but that she’s very happy in Vermont. Again, the Twin Cities are that much poorer for her absence.

She started her presentation talking about her comic strip, which she’s worked on for over twenty years now. She spoke a bit about the evolution of the strip, and how when she started, it was part of an effort to change the world. That the characters weren’t part of the mainstream, and were never meant to be. Funny thing was, the mainstream changed around the characters. She talked about how gay books weren’t carried in mainstream bookstores, gay news wasn’t carried in the mainstream press, and gay characters weren’t shown realistically on television. Well, two out off three ain’t bad. She included a presentation featuring characters from the strip and how they’ve changed over the years. Projected onto a large screen, we got to see just how good her line art is. The detail that she puts in every strip amazes me. From her characters, each of whom is distinctive, to the objects and backgrounds, her panels are interesting but not cluttered. I particularly love the way she draws hair, swirling around like Van Gogh’s Starry Night. Seeing the art blown up with a hi-def projector spoils you for seeing it in any other way.

She followed this with readings from Fun Home, her graphic autobiography (as opposed to novel). I haven’t read the whole book yet, but I took the opportunity to buy a copy and get it signed. (Amazon Bookstore was there selling copies) Between the two readings, Alison showed us a video of her techniques for working on the book. She uses herself for most of the photo-reference for all of her characters, including her mother and father. Her technique starts with rough sketches, which she then places on a lightbox and uses tracing paper to get continuously more detailed, until her final inking. For Fun Home, she decided to change her normal technique of shading. In the strip, she uses crosshatching, but for the book, she took a last piece of tracing paper and used watered down ink to do her colouring. She scans in both images and combines them for the final pages.

She hosted a final Q&A at the end, where she fielded questions from her artistic influences (Norman Rockwell, Mad Magazine, Edward Gorey, and Herge) to why she left the Twin Cities (the oldest of reasons–for a girl) to how she’s getting by with the diminishing number of papers carrying gay strips (she’s still exploring that issue–but she does have a paypal button on her website). All in all, she was extremely well-spoken and entertaining. And I’m glad I read about the event in the City Pages before it was too late.

Mike’s New Header

March 9th, 2008 by Martin

Mike hasn’t even written any articles yet, but he made us this great header instead of sleeping last night. Yay Mike!

Buffy #12 made me laugh out loud

March 9th, 2008 by florence

Buffy Issue 12I’m not sure what I can say about Buffy #12. For those who are not initiated in the Buffyverse, you probably don’t know how well-developed and emotionally engaging the characters on that that show were, and how much there is to build on or lose in any follow-up effort. We fans can be a hungry band of wolves, always wanting more, but willing to turn and attack if characters are misused. There have been Buffy comics for years with decent writers living outside of canon, but Joss launched the latest title as a true extension of the show, Season 8, and everything counts.

For those who do know what I’m talking about, but haven’t read the comic, or at least this issue, yet, I don’t want to spoil a single moment! Suffice it to say that it all felt incredibly true, while opening up new doors. And it was really funny! I first became aware of Drew Goddard as a tv writer on Buffy, and he went on to write for Angel, Lost, Alias, and most recently the film Cloverfield. It is wonderful to see his return to Buffy via the latest comic arc. He is clearly a fan of the medium, and like Joss, knows how to use panel layout to add comic and dramatic timing to his words.

#12 begins a new 4 issue arc, and the current plan includes 50 issues total to represent a long Season 8 of the show. I can’t wait for more.