It’s difficult to hype your own work. I should know, I started a whole publishing company just to avoid hyping my own work! But, it’s very gratifying to see your own work on any best of list. When the list written by a writer you admire, well that’s even better! Cartoon Dialectics Vol. 3 makes it on the Best of 2018 list at Your Chicken Enemy. Here’s what they have to say:
Cartoon Dialectics #3 looks like a humble, unobtrusive work– it’s packaged like a zine, printed in purple, black and white with an occasional splash of yellow on somewhat thick, matte paper. But what Tom Kaczynski and Clara Jetsmark provide between its covers is powerful, invigorating stuff, connecting the dots between our society’s retromania and the rise of neo-fascism, while also acknowledging how easy it is for anyone to fall prey to the dangerous allure of nostalgia.
Bold in its aesthetic and literal simplicity and paradoxically educational and surreal, Cartoon Dialectics #3 did a far better job investigating where we are now and why in its few pages than the entirety of the New York Times this year.
A big thank you goes to The Nib for commissioning the piece in the first place. Another big thank you goes to Clara Jetsmark who bravely agreed to draw it on a very tight deadline when I ended swamped with other work.
Here’s a short few page preview of this comic for those who haven’t seen it yet:
As we slide deeper into the quadrennial football madness I get seized with a major case of Nostalgia. I played football as kid in Poland, but pretty much stopped when I moved to the US. Now I rarely think about football… except during the World Cup every four years. Above is the only football related illustration I ever drew (I think?). It was for the beautifully designed Green Soccer Journal. It maybe the best looking sports publication ever! It was a pretty fun assignment. And now it can the perfect gift for a FIFA World Cup obsessed football fan! The only other time I referred to football in print was in this very old (1996) comic (reprinted in Cartoon Dialectics 2). Who are you rooting for?
I pilfered these videos from Graham Harman‘s blog. Graham is right, this is the best totalitarian pop song to emerge from an evil dictatorship.
I love both versions, but this second one opens up a Soviet sized nostalgia zone in my head. Even though I’ve never heard this song before, it contains all of the elements that I remember from my Communist childhood. The marching/military tempo, the upbeat/downbeat choral arrangements, it’s all there. All the notes this songs hits are familiar and mysterious at the same time.
It’s as if this material exists in a deep well somewhere in my soul; the building blocks jumbled up and suppressed deep within, only to occasionally manifest when I stumble on a YouTube memory. The best totalitarian pop song is already inside of me, aching to make itself known.
My dead Sony Ericsson T-610s soul taken by the Nokia 6300.
I don’t take very many pictures with my cellphone. But, occasionally it is the only tool available to record a moment in time. Usually the picture is forgotten as soon as it is taken. When my trusty Sony Ericsson T-610 died a few weeks ago I was compelled to take a look at the pictures I’ve taken with it during the five (!) years it served as my phone. Its camera wasn’t great and the pictures were very low resolution… on top of that, I’m not a great photographer. But the grainy, low-quality images have already acquired that warm and familiar sheen of nostalgia… the same kind of sheen that we experience listening to vinyl records or cassette tapes or playing old arcade style video games (Galaga!). A long time ago I posted a small set of pictures from the old phone when it was still new to me. Now I’ve added a bunch more to that Flickr set. Take a look.
My new phone (Nokia 6300) looks a lot like the T-610. I admit that I bought it mainly on the strength of that resemblance… but… I find its new interface a little too slick, its memory bigger than necessary, its photos are bigger but not better, etc., etc… already I’m missing the relative clunkiness of the old phone knowing full well I’ll have the same nostalgic feelings for the new one in five years time.
One of my favorite places in Minneapolis before I left for New York was Little Tijuana a little Tex-Mex place open until 3 am daily. The best part was always the paper table cloth and tons of crayons. A few months ago I decided to move back to Minneapolis. Now I can again experience the nearly forgotten pleasure of drunken crayon scribbling in the early hours of the morning. I know there are plenty other places out there that let diners doodle before a meal. For me, Little Tijuana is still the best.
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.
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.
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.
As I started to compile my notes on Trans-Siberia, I realized there was still a couple of things left unsaid about Trans-Alaksa. If you haven’t read the first batch of Trans-Alaska notes, you can catch up here.
Trans-Alaska was a very formless book. It was done without preparation and ‘straight to ink’, without any pencilled art. It’s title was a kind of last minute tribute to a series of dreams about Alaska that I had in the mid 90s. Those dreams inspired an attempt at a 24 hour comic. Instead of producing a 24 page comic in 24 hours, I made a 10 page comic in 6 hours.
That comic saw ‘publication’ in my last (semi) regular mini-comic Reduction #7. The story, titled ‘Slow’, was quickly forgotten. Recently, I re-read the story and I realized that ‘Slow’ was in effect the blueprint for the entire Trans series!
panel from Slow
For those of you interested, I’m posting the entire story here. Also, for those of you that still care about physical objects, a limited number of copies of Reduction #7 are available from me at robot26.com. It’s pretty embarassing stuff so don’t laugh! 😉
It’s pretty clear that a most of the ideas in the Trans books were already in ‘Slow,’ though in a very unformed fashion. It’s definitely stuff I was thinking about back then, but for one reason or another (working to pay the rent) I put that stuff on the back burner. Even some of the visuals are very similar. I guess I’m just a cheap copy of myself!