The Splendid Harvey Pekar

I have great admiration for Harvey Pekar, the underground comics writer  who created his autobiographical comics book series  ‘American Splendor’. Now that he is gone to the eternal land of comics “Splendor” all his admirers will  miss him very much.

Two of his quotes resume pretty well my own feelings about how to write and draw comics:

“I try and write the way things happen. I don’t try and fulfill people’s wishes.”
“I think comics have far more potential than a lot of people realize.” see more at iCelebZ.com

Source PEKAR.PROJECT, “Legendary Vienna”. A story about about Galitizianers Jews in Vienna.

Now in the era of the superhero comics I quote:

” we finally have – in American Splendor – a comic-book hero who is a lot easier to identify with than any X-Person, Hulk, Daredevil, Terminatrix or Governator. His name is Harvey Pekar, the autobiographical hero of the long-running comic book American Splendor.” see here on The Guardian 2003,

I easily identified myself with the sort of drawings representing his everyday characters , miserable with their ups and downs always stumbling on some inessential fact, fact that at that very moment is the most acute crisis in their life.

The artists who illustrated his written work  fall under the spell  of this sort of  being “compassionate and empathetic” as quoted from a statement by Paul Giamatti playing the starring  role of Harvey Pekar in the film ‘American Splendor”:

Harvey was one of the most compassionate and empathetic human beings I’ve ever met,’ ……’He had a huge brain and an even bigger soul. And he was hilarious. He was a great artist, a true American poet, and there is no one to replace him.’ “, see here on WEWS

Now Pekar never drew himself but depended on collaborations with artists:

He…”.. was incapable of “drawing a straight line”, according to a line in the film version of his story, he recruited his friend, underground comics artist Robert Crumb, to help create a comics series. Besides Crumb, other notable American Splendor illustrators include Alison Bechdel, Brian Bram, Chester Brown, Alan Moore, David Collier, Gary Dumm, Frank Stack, Drew Friedman, Dean Haspiel, Val Mayerik, Josh Neufeld, Spain Rodriguez, Joe Sacco, Gerry Shamray, Jim Woodring, Joe Zabel, Ed Piskor, and Greg Budgett. More recent issues have employed a new crop of artists, including Ty Templeton, Richard Corben, Hunt Emerson, Eddie Campbell, Gilbert Hernandez, Ho Che Anderson, and Rick Geary.” from the blog of Sid Harth .

Perhaps the following quote from the movie “American Splendor“, said by the real Harvey, shows his strength  when confronted with the vagaries of his everyday life:

“I felt more alone that week than any. Sometimes I’d feel a body lying next to me like an amputee feels a phantom limb. All I did was think about Jennie Gerhardt and Alice Quinn and all the decades of people I had known. The more I thought, the more I felt like crying. Life seemed so sweet and so sad, and so hard to let go of in the end. But hey, man, every day is a brand new deal, right? Just keep on working and something’s bound to turn up.” see more on IMDB….

…And the above motto, induced in the mind of his artists illustrators a particular visual atmosphere well reflected in their drawings, which I like very much.

Source: “Underground Comics

Run Bits Run

The Chat

A solution.

How to made a drawing happen. Well let the bits run. Play around. Alone. Anyway the bits run without your permission: you are a part of the running bits so you are running concurrently with all the possible drawings.

‘Run Bits Run’ is my variation on the movie’s  title ‘Run Lola Run’. Perhaps an odd choice for naming an article on  drawings made from common screen pixels. But from my point of view, considering pixels and photoshop layers as unseen  building blocks, my choice is  not so far from the three parallel stories making the movie’s overall story plot.

The movie tell us, I quote:

… Lola needs to get a-hold of 100,000 marks (the movie pre-dates the Euro by a couple of years) in 20 minutes in order to save her boyfriend, Manni, from near-certain death at the hands of the bad guys. What we receive is three alternative versions of those 20 minutes, event sequences starting out identically but diverging quickly into three different realities on the basis of Lola’s trifling encounter with a dog on a stair… more on Run Lola Run

From the film “Run Lola Run”.

So it seems that the overall plot is taking place in some sort of multiverse where the ‘same characters’ live parallel lives without interfering with each other. Only the audience of the movie, acting as an outside privileged observer, sees  and knows the whole truth.

The direct output.

Now, I wouldn’t abuse to much  the scientific term multiverse. I am only playing around.  ….. In his strict sense  multiverse is only a popular name  stemming from a interpretation of quantum mechanics by Hugh Everett so the term is not directly related to screen pixels. But if I consider  pixels as a visual substrate of  some sort of underlying or parallel drawing world, something analogous  to a stack of photoshop layers, where each layer has his own life, then the above drawing  made with black markers on paper and scanned into this article,  may well originate from the following bunch of (pseudo) random pixels….

The labyrinth.

….. A bunch of pixels evolving into my head  into other pixels configurations,  leading  to the picture below,  picture residing now implicitly in the above layer and explicitly in the picture layer below:

One way out.

And so , after some further experiments  with the underlying stack of layers living in the drawing space, I get the picture below:

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The escape from the labyrinth.

And finally, stopping somewhere  without obvious reason why here 0r there, I see the final picture as the whole thing, forgetting the other concurrent layers buried into the primordial bunch of pseudo random pixels

The final frontier.

This is perhaps a childish way of playing around with well know tools as layers and pixels. But it my also point to underground streams of visual forms whose surfacing into plain view my contribute new emotions and feelings..

….As the following pictures perhaps does:

Another solution.

The final solution: Scream Bits Scream.

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Four Invitations Into the Unknown

Invitation 1 for ” The Environment as a Witness” exhibition.

(in Hebrew “הסביבה כעדות”).

The four different invitations I issued for my coming up exhibition  ” The Environment as a Witness”, borrowed their title  from a preprint on quantum mechanics by the same name, with the secondary title:  “Selective Proliferation of Information and Emergence of Objectivity in a quantum Universe”. see here.

A  perhaps somewhat tricky quotation from  the abstract may convey the  flavor of the article and his resonance on the exhibition:

…”We study the role of the information deposited in the environment of an open quantum system in course of the decoherence process. Redundant spreading of information — the fact that some observables of the system can be independently “read-off” from many distinct fragments of the environment — is investigated as the key to effective objectivity, the essential ingredient of “classical reality”.”…

However, in plain English, the meaning is: how we the common humans, aka this article, agree together to see what seems to us the same objective reality made  from ‘ .. many distinct fragments of the environment “….

As someone whose trade is to making pictures from what he sees, this allover passing agreement on a reality based on an unseen quantum substrate is an intriguing mystery.

So, if I want to marry human mysteries with quantum mysteries in an art gallery,  for the human side of this marriage, a good story is  Night Watch (Russian: Ночной дозор, Nochnoy Dozor) a fantasy novel by Russian writer Sergei Lukyanenko:

…”The story revolves around a confrontation between two opposing supernatural groups (known as “Others”): the Night Watch, an organization dedicated to policing the actions of the Dark Others—and the Day Watch, which polices the actions of the Light Others.”..

Additional story details can draw a speculative parallel between the human  reality and the underlying quantum mysteries:

“In the story’s worldline there exists a magical realm beneath the surface of all things—referred to as the Twilight (or Gloom in other translations). The action in the novel centers on a group of people referred to as the Others—human beings who tapped into the Twilight and gained supernormal abilities. The Others were the humans (shamans, soothsayers, and wisemen) from long ago who figured out how to step into the Twilight. However, the Others are different from humans, they are born as Others. Humans are not able (at least in the first part of the tetralogy) to become Others.” .. see here.

The novel was made into a movie in 2004 by by the Kazakhstan-born film director Timur Bekmambetov, see here.

The movie was my visual source for the human side drawings I made in a pseudo comics style. The ‘performed  marriage’ on the invitation  is best seen in invitation 2 (below) where the left hand side is in pixelike form hinting to the quantum mysteries and the right hand side hint to the human mysteries.

Is it a happy marriage or not ? Where mysteries are involved who knows..

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Invitation 2 for ” The Environment as a Witness”.

Invitation 3 for ” The Environment as a Witness”.

Invitation 4 for ” The Environment as a Witness”,

N.B.

Israel. Tel Aviv. ‘The Kibbutz, Art Gallery’.  The exhibition is through May 14. Curated by Yael Keni. ‘

The Espresso Mode Improvisation

Sometimes a word or a picture triggers a memory deeply entrenched in your brain. The vimeo HD video ESPRESSO” has the evocative power of recreating flavors and mindsets  when drinking an espresso.

Here are a few pictures and drawings improvised  from ‘nowhere’..

Before drinking I look ….Click on the picture to see the video.

Colors and smells.. Click on the picture to enlarge.

She don’t like espresso it’s a bad romance… Click on the picture to hear and see Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance”.

After effect  espresso.. Click on the picture to enlarge.

Gold brown powder is beautiful..  Click on the picture to enlarge.

Fearful espresso.. Click on the picture to enlarge.

The quantum espresso men..

To finish,

To my great dismay, after finishing the pictures ‘decorated’ with the word “Expresso”, I found that the word  ‘Espresso‘ is perhaps more adequate. But being to lazy to rework the pictures , I found to my great relief that, I quote:

…”Many Latin based countries, such as France, Spain, and Portugal, use the Expresso form. In the United States and Canada, both espresso and expresso are used.  Italy uses the term espresso, substituting most x letters in Latin root words with s; x is not considered part of the standard Italian alphabet.”…see here.

So, coming myself  from Europe, I have the strong feeling that I may stick, unpunished, to the word Expresso.

Improvising an Art-Book as a Graphic Novel

To view the full image, please click on the picture

Improvising an art-book as a graphic novel is perhaps a crazy idea, but after viewing the video on Keith Jarret where he talks about  “The Art of Improvisation” ” and remembering what he says:  …” improvisation is to begin a musical piece from scratch with no antecedents to be based on”…(loosely quoted from the video clip), I took the same idea to comics drawing.

My no-antecedent and from scratch comics drawing only source was the Russian movie ” Night Watch” by director Timur Bekmambetov. I remember vaguely what the film was about. Perhaps the  theme, a mystical battle between the forces of evil and the forces of good in his modern Russian version was the trigger to chose “Night Watch”.

Well  I hadn’t the slightest idea from where to begin. So I began to screen the movie on my computer and each time I was impressed by a passage I stopped the screening and draw the scene, drawing finally  a sequence of 250 pictures pictures guided randomly by my visual feelings .

With my first drawing   I was confronted with the question in what style to draw? Looking  at the art of well know artist I admired their fine artwork. Magnificent examples are the drawings by Dave Gibbons for Alan Moore’s graphic novel “Watchmen“:

To view the full image, please click on the picture

But I am not a graphic arts artist so my skills to make  something like Dave Gibbons’s drawings for “Watchmen”,  where very doubtful. It was  obvious to me that my drawings should be closer to my personal instincts: disliking ‘beautiful drawings but also appreciate them, and finding the right touch to merge   beauty and ‘bad’ drawing.

Finally, this ‘graphic novel’ was not intended to act as a graphic novel but more as an experimental art book, where what I draw was done on the fly without much correcting.

Here is a sequence from chapter 2 . To view the full images, please click one each  pictures.

WatchA4-1FLAT

For those interested in technicalities. Perhaps a bizarre choice, but I draw directly into a hardcover book by Nobel winner physicist Richard Feynman called “Feynman Lectures on Gravitation”. My drawing tools where black markers with different point size. The markers bleed through each page. Taking tipp-ex as a substitute for white acrylic  I painted  on the unwanted black  marks.  After restoring the white color and letting some black or gray spots on each page,  the original book text on gravitation shimmering through the tippex fluid serve as a canvas to draw each new picture.

The Cover as a Promise

It is said that the Israelis and the Jews are the People of the Book, in reminiscence of the holy book known universally as the Hebrew Bible. Surprisingly the source of the name is from the Qur’an, see here. In modern Israel and the Jewish diaspora the People of the Book is an allusion to the individuals who read many books, not necessarily the Scriptures.

I am a member of the people who read a lot of books. When I buy a book my first look is at the cover. Covers of books hold for me a promise. They have the power to boost my imagination and curiosity and many times I buy a book because the cover design and art are enough to open my wallet. Not always a clever deed if the content does not fit into my expectation. My last resort to comfort myself for my foolishness is to argue that the cover by himself is worth the buy.

Anyway here below is a small  carpet made from covers of  books I’ve read:

Click on each cover picture to find more details about the book.

chabon013145224X.01._SY190_SCLZZZZZZZ_AXIOMATICCity of the endILLUSION-AUSTERCity of glass

DIASPORAA drifting lifeEMPEREUREonPat SteirChabon Yiddish

QuanticoOracle NigthLeebeus WOODS

For the readers who love cover art here are two links: ‘Cover Browser‘ and ‘ComicCovers‘.

And finally ‘to be in the mood’ here is the beautiful song by Tracy Chapman “The Promise”.

A Tribute to Art Spiegelman

Art-Spiegelman-comics-art-001

Art Spiegelman.

I am a great admirer of  of Art Spiegelman’s unusual work in comics and beyond. Today I pay him my personal tribute on the occasion of his new exhibition at the gallery Martel in Paris. Here are few of his  unpublished works, see more on ‘Pixelcreation’ in French.

01-art-spiegelman

09-art-spiegelman 08-art-spiegelman04-art-spiegelman

Click to enlarge.

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Here are two pages from the graphic book “Maus: A Survivor’s Tale” who sold  over a million copies. The book tells the horrors of the Holocaust in an unique way, see more here.

maus1

mause2

It is interesting to read the reviews by readers of  ‘Maus’,  members of the ‘LibraryThing‘ site:

…”This two-part graphic novel is a Holocaust autobiography featuring white mice as Jews, cats as Nazis, and wartime Europe as an enormous mousetrap. Using a deeply personal, reflective and rhythmic tone, the author peels off the layers of a cast of well-developed characters, centralizing around a Holocaust survivor and his son. The plot of this Pulitzer Prize winning narrative jumps between past and present with two storylines: one focusing on the Holocaust experience and one focusing on the father-son relationship. With its complex themes and unconventional format, Maus is a challenge to describe. Fiction, biography, autobiography and history, this work rises above genre to become an exceptionally unique work, an amazing story destined to become a classic. Despite being set in the Holocaust, what emerges from this comic-book masterpiece is a story of love, loyalty, and hope.”… Source: see here.

09-art-spiegelman

More comics drawings from the exposition at the gallery Martel.

page43-1001-full page43-1007-full page43-1019-full

Click to enlarge.

Fears and Delights of Coraline Secret Door

To open a door and looking inside an unknown room is always a dark thriller. But looking at a door inviting you to step trough a mysterious opening into the darkness of Rene Magritte’s “Unexpected Answer” painting will make your body shiver with excitement and fear in apprehension of some future adventure.

An unexpected answer

The story Coraline by Neil Gaiman,  adapted to the screen, is also about opening a door to look at the beyond into the unknown …

doors

Coraline went through the door.

Well everyone has his own doors to open with delight or with fear. Artist are a subspecies whose open doors may evoke  dreadful pictures like Goya’s Disasters of War etchings, see here, or Matisse’s painting Luxe, Calme, et Volupté, see here.

goya36Matisse, Luxe, calme et volupté

Click to enlarge.

shlomo

…I too opened my own (little) door into Coraline and Eon with the help of Coraline’s flowers and Eon’s heroes….( and with the help of Photoshop)

SegalineFLAT21-1

.coraline_flower1coraline_flower

Blueness flower and Segalit flower..

SegalineFLAT-1

Carla Bruni  (source) and the flowers from “Coraline” . Click to enlarge.

MirskyLanier

Mirsky and Lanier Coraline flowers.

DAKOTA FLAT1

In Greg Bear’s book “Eon” the leading characters are Patricia and Lanier. Here they encounter the flowers from Coraline’s garden. Click to enlarge…

OlmyPatricia

Olmy and Patricia Coraline flowers.

blue_1680x10501contrast121

…And so on and so on..

Drawing Mental Bodyguards

Yesterday I finished to read Greg Bear’s book “Eon“, a science fiction book.
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Most people consider science fiction as having nothing to do with what is called literature. A book like “Anna Karenina“, in contrast to “Eon”, is considered as true genius. Indeed Tolstoy is  a master of prose. His delving into the characters of his personages is powerful.The emotions the book arouse in his readers is long lasting. Many people truly identifies themselves with their beloved heroes.
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Eon is perhaps lacking the conventional emotional depth achieved by Tolstoy, but its real tour-de-force lies in his creating an unbelievable clever world view where future Tolstoys shall write their “Anna Karenina” living on the ‘Stone” (..the enigmatic migrating world, arriving into Earth’s  vicinity, from the future ) . This unbelievable fantastic construct has his own emotional emanation and can overwhelm readers inclined to, and understanding, the hard core scientific base Greg bear, the author, is using.
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For me Greg Bear’s “Eon” is a mental bodyguard (.. oxymoron?..) protecting me from the usual and comforting banality of everyday life.
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In some way building new worlds can be done with a pencil and a piece of paper. They my be interpreted as  mental storyboards intruding in our ‘official’ everyday life , becoming the stories  of intriguing  bodyguards living in our vicinity, just like the Stone from Eon.
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Here are a few drawings acting for me as mental bodyguards..
Aunt Sara
Aunt Sara

Aunt Sara as my mental bodyguard.

mental bodyguard in my room
mental bodyguard in my room
Imaginary bodyguards
Imaginary bodyguards

…I draw them out of nothing, out of nowhere, real mental bodyguards…

Porya
Porya

Porya as a mental bodyguard from my past…

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On a final note, my mental bodyguards have many affinities with what is called in Eon a Partial (= Partial: A computer simulation of part of a person’s personality, created in order to carry out a task not requiring the entire person. [Greg Bear, Eon, 1985]) see here.

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Arab Terrorism and Israeli Cartoons

There are many ways to laughing at ourselves. One of them is dark humor: if your life is in hell or if you feel miserable have a good laugh and perhaps you feel better.
 
The dark humor of  “Ahmed and Salim“, a South Park-style cartoon that makes fun of Palestinian terrorists, is supposed to mock terrorists without ridiculing Muslims, and may  provoke your uproarious burst of laughter, boosting  your blood stream to such a degree that your health will only benefit from it.
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The Israeli team Tom Trager and Or Paz create this provocative humoristic animated web series, describing the life of an Arab arch-terrorist and his two sons ‘Ahmed and Salim’.  Their web sitcom is becoming increasingly popular with surfers, while at same time stirring much controversy,  see here.
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 Well the United Arab Emirates officials have blocked the Israeli-based cartoon Ahmed and Salim from showing on YouTube in that country. Nothing new about that, see here. They blocks anything from Israel, a true Pavlov reflex.
 
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 Tania Tabar’s article “Israeli ‘South-Park’ style cartoon mocks Arabs” was published by Menassat, a Lebanese site. The verb ” to mock” is a trap of pejorative meanings. And indeed, the author in his indirect way, quickly take advantage of that , to show us that dark humor, despite being directed only against Arab terrorism, is synonym of global racism against all the Arabs in the world…Nothing new about that either, see here. I hope that  the learned author didn’t mean that all the Arabs are terrorists..?
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 But if we want to delve into carton dark humor, then the omnipresent Google search provides us with his statistical insight about the verb “to mock”.  The phrase “Cartoons mocks anyone” in Google’s search,  outputs,  that mocking Arab terrorism is not only their  privilege but that anyone mocks  anyone and anything… not a great surprise.
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 The first 20 entries, from1,050,000 entries in 0.29 seconds, upgraded our knowledge with titles like” Iranian TV Mocks U.S., Britain“, “Washington Post Cartoon Mocks Pentecostal Speaking in Tongues“, “ Crude Palestinian Cartoons Mock America“, “Christians AGAINST Cartoons“… to cite only a few, until the last unknown entry.
 
So the Israeli team’s contribution is only a drop in the sea of mocking cartoons. A Palestine blogger, Sameh Akram Habeeb, suffering from a mysterious blindness about what dark humor is declare  “These videos are dangerous and full of lies”…”I’ve never met someone like the cartoon character of Ahmed and Salim’s father. And of course, the authors never once mention the existence of thousands of Palestinian prisoners. “…see here.
 
To this can only be said that I too didn’t met such a real character. They live only in the realm of dark humor, made in Israel by Tom Trager and Or Paz. Only there you met them, ridiculous… or as they said.. ”  if you can take a good look at them without being afraid. Ahmed and Salim are just two nice naive kids who are just trying to make their terrorist father happy. ” see here.
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Their real counterpart, a relative small group of Palestinian terrorist live in our real live, hiding in their own natural darkness. To  perpetuate their terroristic goals they dond’ need any sense of humor. …, and as to the Palestinian prisoners: don’t do terrorism and there will be no need to imprison them, mister Habeeb.
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