Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Public Service Announcement

I heard earlier this year that a cover I did for a new edition of The Odyssey from W.W. Norton won a blue ribbon at the New York Book Fair (scroll down to "Quality Paperbacks") put on by the Bookbinder's Guild of New York last March. I think I'm supposed to notify the public about things like this. And so, voila.

For those readers who don't know Homer's odd little tale, the central image is of Odysseus under the gaze of Poseidon, who persecutes him for killing the god's son, the Cyclops (the monster in the upper right) after trying unsuccessfully to steal his sheep (under the lotus blossom, upper left). We've also got a cross dressing goddess of wisdom who likes to give Odysseus advice he can't really understand (Athena, bottom), Odysseus wife Penelope (top), one of her suitors (drinking our hero's wine in his absence), Hermes' feet, Odysseus dog, and one of his crew of impulsive sailors who's been turned into a cow by a witch who Odysseus promptly shacks up with for a few years immediately afterward. On the back of the book there is also a very small view of Ithaca. But you'll have to go find the book yourself for that one.

(as usual, click for a much nicer view)

Friday, June 5, 2009

Prosper the Turtle, Jumping from trains

In 1997 I had just finished art school and was moping around trying to figure out what to do with a suddenly ridiculous seeming degree in fine art. While I mulled it over and tried to think of profound things to make that might get me 'on the map' of the art world I'd been hearing about, I started drawing pictures of a turtle trying to get to his sister's birthday party. My little sister was turning five that year and I decided to occupy myself, in part, by making her a book. I worked on it bit by bit, and finished half of it in time for her birthday at the end of May. That summer I moved to San Francisco and continued mulling my career, my future, guerrilla installations in vacant lots, skateboarding, the intricate differences between pop punk and math rock...and continued with the story about the turtle, anticipating Ella's sixth birthday the next year. I was still making ever more halfhearted versions of the work I'd been doing in school, grand installations using nails and cut up magazines, I was applying for shows, and eventually grad school, but as I sat at my desk in between all this, drawing a turtle having adventures, I could hear a little voice in the back of my head saying " This is what I want to do. This is fun. This makes sense." It took me another year or two, for that voice to move fully into the light, but doing this one single picture book, for an audience of one, was the most important piece of the puzzle that lead me to where I am now: drawing pictures and telling stories for a living (more or less), and adamant that if the work's not fun, it's not worth doing.

Now it's twelve years later. In a few hours I am getting on a plane to go see my little sister graduate from high school...close her eyes, grit her teeth and jump off a train into a new life. If I can manage it I will try to post some collaborative comics she and I did together when she was very young, though I don't know if she'll let me. But whatever happens, this entry is to say Good Luck Ella, Congratulations, and thanks for coming along and giving me the idea.

(The work was all black and white, much later I played around with coloring it, but never finished. Click on the image to read it.)