Sweat Stains, Beer, And Cigarettes

Sweat Stains, Beer and Cigarettes

Some of my sketches from concerts are on display at the SSCA Gallery over the next few weeks. I’m in good company, surrounded by a stellar group of artists including Dan Wieken and Mr. Mike.

Check out the work and come to the closing party April 16th:

CLOSING NIGHT RECEPTION and PARTY on SATURDAY APRIL 16 (from 7-11 pm), featuring free live music by THE BLIND SHAKE, THE KNOTWELLS, and DJ’d by [kramerica industries].

More info here.

Blood Folke at Kitty Cat Club

blood folke by Tom Kaczynski

Dan Wieken‘s metal band, Blood Folke (pictured above), played at the Kitty Cat Klub in Minneapolis last night. Their epic folky doom-laden sound was the perfect antidote to the madness known as St. Patrick’s day.

The Night (pictured below) opened. I feel bad for opening bands I draw. The drawings I make of them tend be my warm ups… and result in a couple of awkward images.

The Night by Tom Kaczynski

A couple more drawings of the Kitty Cat Klub:

Kitty Cat Klub by Tom Kaczynski

Guttural Visions

Booke of Logos by Dan Wieken

Uncivilized Books presents a new pamphlet by Dan Wieken: Booke of Logos. The new book is a 24 page collection of new logos created for some of today’s best known celebrities (from Oprah to Maury Povich) and politicians (lets face it politicians are celebrities too). Think of it as a kind of psychic re-branding… the results are sometimes ridiculous, sometimes incomprehensible, but always spot on. The book will debut tonight at the Black Dog in St. Paul during the opening event for Guttural Visions: Extreme Metal, A Visual Interpretation. it will be available on the Uncivilized Books site a couple of days later. More info here.

Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival 2010

uncivilized books at brooklyn comics and graphics festival

I’ll be at the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival today, so if you’re in New York, stop by! Loads of new mini-comics debuting from my micro-publishing ‘venture’ Uncivilized Books:

DIARY by Gabrielle Bell

Diary is the follow up to Gabrielle Bell’s acclaimed L.A. Diary. This pamphlet continues Gabrielle’s autobiographical project with stories set in Minneapolis, New York and California. The star of the book is ‘Manifestation’, Gabrielle’s ‘adaptation’ of the notorious Scum Manifesto. Tom Kaczynski contributes a one-page introductory comic.

KLAGEN: A HORROR by Jon Lewis

KLAGEN: A HORROR briefly considers the movements and practices of the death cult which has silently infiltrated every level of society throughout our world. Drawn in dirty gray and black, it sheds no more light than is prudent and gives no false hope. One closes this small book feeling that although we live in God’s house, God has not been home for a long, long time.

TRANS-UTOPIA by me

The long awaited fourth part of the well received Trans series of books (which includes Trans-Alaska, Trans-Siberia and Trans-Atlantis). The cartoon journey through philosophy, pop-culture, politics and the occult arrives at its destination: Utopia…

Also available for the first time in New York:

THE PETRIFIED CATALOGUE by Dan Wieken

The Petrified Catalogue is a collection of macabre illustrations rendered in obsessive detail. It’s an imaginary bestiary depicting the remains of creatures excavated from remote prehistory and the depths of the unconscious.

All of the above will be available on the Uncivilized Books site a few days after the show.

SPX 2010

SPX is upon us again. I missed it last year, so I’m very excited to be there this weekend. Here’s what’s in store for the show:

On Saturday, Sept 11, from 5-6 p.m. I’ll be at the Fantagraphics table signing Mome’s and various mini-comics contraband. I’ll be signing alongside fellow Mome contributor Derek Van Gieson.

On Sunday I’ll be part of a panel titled Developing Iconographies. Here’s the brief from SPX programming:

Sunday, Sept 12, 2:30 | White Flint Amphitheater

Distinct from drawing as an art discipline with its own self-ratifying purpose, artists in comics create pictures as part of a visual language. Moderator Ken Parille will investigate the ways in which comics artists develop visual iconographies in individual works and throughout bodies of work. Cartoonists Eamon Espey, Kevin Huizenga, and Tom Kaczynski will participate in this discussion, illustrated with slides of the artists’ work.

The discussion should spirited, I hope all of you out there come and ask some problematic questions!

But what would SPX be without the comics. I’m happy to announce that my micro-publishing venture, Uncivilized Books, has once again teamed up with Gabrielle Bell to produce another mini-collection of her acclaimed diary comics:

Diary by Gabrielle Bell

The book includes her diaries set in Minneapolis, California & New York. The star of the book is Manifestation, Gabrielle’s ‘adaptation’ of the notorious Scum Manifesto. I also contributed a short comic-intro. We’ll have copies of L.A. Diary as well.

Another recent Uncivilized Books production will be on hand: The Petrified Catalogue by Dan Wieken. The book debuted at MIX last month, and this is the first time it’ll be available outside of Minneapolis/St. Paul.

the petrified catalogue by dan wieken

Last, but not least, I’ll have my usual assortment of comics along with Structures 1-11, a collection of architectural drawings that are part of my research for a future story:

strucutres 1-11 by tom kaczynski

We’ll be sharing a table with Julia Wertz, Jessie Reklaw, Andrice Arp, Jon Lewis & Karen Sneider. Stop by and say hello!

Minneapolis Indie eXpo

I’ll be at the Minneapolis Indie eXpo tomorrow (Saturday, August 21, 9-5). I’m camped out at table 50 with St. Paul artist Dan Wieken and a couple of out of town guests Jon Lewis and Karen Sneider.

the petrified catalogue by dan wieken

Uncivilized Books will debuting two new books during the show. First up is Dan Wieken’s The Petrified Catalogue (pictured above). Dan’s extremely detailed images of decayed and petrified remains of real and imaginary creatures has to be seen to be believed. Here are a few pictures that fail do justice to his drawings. This books needs to experienced in person:

the petrified catalogue by dan wieken

the petrified catalogue by dan wieken

The other book debuting is Structures 1-11. It’s a book of drawings (by me) of imaginary structures. Regulars on this blog may be familiar with some of the imagery. Just check out the ‘structure’ tags on this blog:

strucutres 1-11 by tom kaczynski

We’ll also have the usual Uncivilized catalogue, including Gabrielle Bell’s L.A. Diary.

In other MIX related news, I will have a 4 page Ransom Strange story in The Good Minnesotan #4:

ransom strange by tom kaczynski

and on top of that I’m moderating a panel on comics education. See the program for details.
See you at the Soapfactory!

Minneapolis Indie eXpo

Comics & Education: The Early Days

The date of MIX is approaching soon! I’m excited that Minneapolis has the potential to become the site of a regular indie comics convention. I understand that the table space went really fast, which is indicative of the demand for such an event. But, more on MIX in the future. I mention it only in passing because, during MIX, I’m moderating a panel on Comics Education . I’m pretty new to teaching (I taught my first class at MCAD this Spring), but the topic of comics and education is something that I’ve thought about a lot over the years. I’m going to post some notes over the next couple of weeks to in an attempt to clarify my ideas on the subject. Most of this will be US centric. I don’t know much about how/if comics are taught elsewhere. I also realize that some of this may include inaccuracies and generalizations. I hope to correct these over time. Anyone please feel free to chime in.

First, a little history. Comics or cartooning have been taught for a long time. Historically comics and cartooning schools were mostly designed as technical colleges that taught the skills necessary to get work in the fast paced commercial environment of newspapers, pulps, magazines and comic-books. Some key institutions that embodied that approach were:

  • The Art Instruction School was founded in 1914, and is famous for the ubiquitous Tippy the Turtle ads and Charles Schulz. It’s purely a correspondence school and was founded to (in their own words) “train illustrators for the growing printing industry.”
  • Cartoonists and Illustrators School was founded in 1947 by Burne Hogarth to educate returning WWII GI’s. It was originally known as The Manhattan Academy of Newspaper Art and eventually became The School of Visual Arts (in 1956). This is the only school on this list that transformed itself from a primarily technical art school, to a ‘proper’ art school as we understand them today.
  • The Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art was founded in 1976 by Joe Kubert. Their mission is stated as: “The school is dedicated to aspiring cartoonists who are dedicated to becoming professionals in cartooning, comic book, and the general field of commercial art.”

In all of these schools comics and illustration went hand in hand and on some level were interchangable. The focus was on representational drawing and painting, perspective, pen and ink, drafting, lettering etc. These were the exact skills a student needed to master to create camera ready artwork for commercial printing and publication. As such these institutions were tied to a cheap mass medium: print. Students were encouraged to specialize. The speed of publication required separate people to write, draw (penciller), ink (inker), letter and color a single story. Artists from that era created countless pages of comics for huge & small corporations (many of them unsigned) under strict deadlines, in an assembly line system. It’s a wonder that any great comics managed to be made despite the brutal, fast-paced system.

The commercial quality of the comics is why ‘real’ artist like Roy Lichtenstein could paint panels from a comic-book in a gesture similar to Andy Warhol’s later Campbell’s Soup Can. Comic-book art was generally seen (with some exceptions of course) as anonymous commercial junk for kids. Lichtenstein’s comic-book based paintings became an important defining moment (myth?) for the future of Comics Art in education and it’s relationship with Art and Art Schools. This is something I’ll tackle in the next post.

A partial timeline. Some of these items will not become significant for comics education until later:

1914. Art Instruction School Founded
1947. Cartoonists and Illustrators School founded
1958. Dynamic Anatomy by Burne Hogarth published
1961. “Look Mickey” painted by Roy Lichtenstein
1970. Dynamic Figure Drawing by Burne Hogarth published
1976. The Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art founded
1978. How To Draw Comics the Marvel Way by Stan Lee and others published

La Mano: Second Annual Report Report

pink teeth

The La Mano Second Annual Report: Several local artists & cartoonists joined forces with a few great local bands. The result was pretty great and a lot of fun. My favorite part of the evening was the performance by Arctic Universe. It was a minimalist performance. In the darkness of the concert space, among shimmering cold-approaching-absolute-zero wave industrial synth-pop, a three-walled structure was erected, slowly methodically, deliberately… a flawed and flimsy shelter to protect against the immeasureable immensity of an unfeeling arctic universe. I kept imagining the performance as if it was drawn by Yuichi Yokoyama… it seemed strangely appropriate, in the best posible way.

The event also saw the debut of a new book from my publishing ‘label’ Uncivilized Books: The Petrified Catalogue by Dan Wieken. The book is now available for sale on the UB site. I think it turned out pretty great (if I do say so myself) mostly due to Dan’s amazing, macabre and hyper detailed drawings. Check it out. I will do a more detailed write-up about it in my next post.

Here are some pics from the event, and a few concert sketches:

camden, tunnelerleft: Camden, right: Tunneler presents shop class

pink teeth
Pink Teeth

arctic universe
Arctic Universe

Twin Cities Zinefest 2010: Post Mortem

zinefest minneapolis tim sievert andy sturdevant
Zinefest Panelists, clockwise from top-left: Tim Sievert, Andy Sturdevant, Andy Sturdevant's leg and Ariel Pate

The 2010 Twin Cities Zinefest came together rather well. I’ve attended the festival since I moved back to the Twin Cities in 2007, and each year the show has gathered steam. This year the duration of Zinefest was scaled back from two days to one day. But, what the show lost in time, was made up it’s intensity. In previous years the two day show felt diffuse and under-attended. Shortening the time focused the show. It felt consistently busy and well attended. In previous years the two day format left a lot room for significant dead-time.

Another thing that struck me at the show was a kind of new vitality. Since the early 00’s the atmosphere at zinefests around the country felt depressed and melancholy. The rise of the internet sucked all the oxygen from the substantial zine ‘revolution’ of the 80’s & 90’s. Attending a zinefest sometimes felt like descending into a camp of nostalgic luddites (guilty as charged). But this year it seemed like there was a new spark. I didn’t detect too much pining for a lost golden age. Perhaps the internet is starting to lose it’s sheen of novelty? Maybe Prince is right…? The internet is starting to… simply be. It’s… something we’re becoming used to. Just because the internet IS, doesn’t mean that other things must cease to be. Also, I think our bodies are becoming tired of the computerized deprivation chamber. Is it a coincidence that the rapid rise of the Internet has been paralleled by the rise of New Urbanism with it’s corollaries of walking and biking? The rise of the virtual mirrored by the return of the repressed: the physical world. This… new physicality (?) seems to be the source of the zine resurgence. Whether this energy is a temporary localized phenomenon (a TAZ?), or whether this is something that can be sustained into the future I don’t know. Perhaps it was simply a good show.

The Zinefest day was capped off by a fun after-party at the Seward Cafe. The party started off with a panel headed by Andy Sturdevant (pictured above). I know a lot of good bands played, but I missed them all because I ended up talking too much in the garden behind the Cafe.

Favorite Zinefest object: Esoteric Bullshit: Cairns by King Mini (pictured below). It’a an 8 page, 3-color silkscreened booklet. The images of abandoned detritus will be familiar to fans of King Mini’s work, but I detected something new lurking in these drawings. As the booklet progresses the discarded objects become increasingly organized and ordered… into new structures… as if the trauma that created these assemblages was being overcome… the apocalypse followed by a renewal… an appropriate coda for the whole show. Update: This is now available via the Etsy shop.

king-mini-cairns

The Mind of Kevin Huizenga

Kevin Huizenga, image from Ganges 3

Er… maybe the title is an overstatement. In any case, Kevin Huizenga will be in Minneapolis to give a lecture at MCAD. For those who follow comics Kevin needs no introduction. For those of you who don’t know his work he’s easily one of the best and most interesting cartoonists working today. But don’t take my word for it, come see for yourself! Kevin will speak at MCAD during the student mini-comic Expo on Thursday (Mar. 24th) at 1:00 pm.

Details:
Thursday, March 25th.
1:00 pm
Auditorium 150, Main Building
Minneapolis College of Art and Design