MoCCA 2007

communist zombies
Panel from Mome 8

MoCCA Art Festival is this weekend and I’ll be there. This year I have an actual schedule there. First I’ll be signing copies of Mome at the Fantagraphics table:

Saturday 12-1 with Jonathan Bennett and Kurt Wolfgang
Sunday 11-12 with Jonthan Bennett

Here’s the full Fantagraphics signing schedule.

Also on Sunday (12:55-1:50) I’ll be on a panel with some of my local cartoonist pals. The full panel schedule is here.

At other times I’ll be hanging out at the table (A50) I’m sharing with Alex Holden, Damien Jay, Melanie Lewis, Jon Lewis, Karen Snyder and Robyn Chapman. Stop by and say hi!

Kajko i Kokosz in the Uncanny Valley

kajko i kokosz 3D CGI

One of my favorite comics growing up was Kajko i Kokosz (I’ll have more about the comics and their creator Janusz Christa in my future ‘Comics in Poland’ posts). I just stumbled on a trailer (high def, youtube) for a CGI movie version of the comics. It looks like it’s relatively well made, with some pretty big stars used as voice talent. Unfortunately it suffers from the ‘uncanny valley’ effect.

uncanny valley chart

The uncanny valley effect describes the way positive emotional response to human-like robots (and other entities like zombies, cgi-humans etc.) turns into strong repulsion as their appearance gets closer to our own. The chart above illustrates the effect. This is something that plagues a lot of CGI movies like The Polar Express and Final Fantasy.

kajko 3D CGI evil

Generally the effect is referred to when looking at humans, but I think the effect can also be applied to originally 2 dimensional cartoon characters who become translated into the (virtual) reality of 3D through the magic of computers. Once they are translated into 3 dimensions, all of a sudden the characters have to acquire additional properties like motion, weight, etc. In 3D space they may have to be seen in angles never shown in the 2D space of comics. In Kajko i Kokosz the 3D models try to be extremely faithful to the comics characters, but end up looking very creepy, unnatural…

kajko 3D CGI evil

… and positively evil!

I haven’t actually seen the entire movie, so I’ll reserve judgment as to it’s quality. But if the trailer is anything to go by, the great characters that I (and other kids) grew up on, are not in this movie.

kajko i kokosz comics sequence

But what about the kids who will first see Kajko i Kokosz (or any other character) as a CGI puppets? Will they find the comics versions somehow creepy? Can the Uncanny Valley effect work in reverse? If we grow up surrounded by close approximations of ourselves, will we be shocked by our own mirror image?

Mome 8 Summer 2007

mome 8 panel karl marx

As I write this the new issue of Mome should either already be in stores, or will arrive shortly. It’s already available via Fantagraphics here. My story in this issue is nine pages long and is titled 10,000 Years. Unlike the story in the previous issue, this one is brand new and created explicitly for the anthology.

mome 8 cover

A lot of themes you may have seen in my Trans books have been sort smashed into a single dream like narrative. Zombies, Mars, Psychoanalysis, Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto, Advertising, Consumerism, the Future and the (im)possibility of utopia, they’re all in there one way or another.

Comics in Poland

projekt czlowiek

I stumbled on an interesting post about Polish comics and comics scene. It’s really just a brief overview of some of the current books found on the shelves of Polish comics stores.

kajko i kokosz cover

Actually I wasn’t even aware that Poland had any comic-book stores. When I lived there in communist 80’s the only way to get comics from newsstands with very erratic delivery schedules. Instead of going to Catholic school classes, I would always stalk the newsstand in hopes of getting my hands on the latest issues of Swiat Mlodych, or Fantastyka.

trans siberia panel

In the 90’s, when I’d visit Poland after my family had moved to the US, it always a chore to find a place that would have a decent selection of comics material. Albums and collections were rare in bookstores, and pamphlet comics would frequently sell out quickly at newsstands. Flea markets (especially the Gdansk flea market during the Jarmark festival) would often be the best places to find older and even recent material.

In the near future I hope to do a more detailed look back at the comics I read and collected when I lived in Poland in the 80’s.