Category Archives: 1. Art

On Being Back At The Drawing Table

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Before I’d left for Korea (this was years ago, folks) I swore off drawing. The business had slowly broken my heart, gutted me over the course of years, none of which had stopped me from being prolific as only a true diagnosed obsessive can be right up to the moment I burned out. It was madness. The last few times I tried to draw shortly before swearing it off, I would sit down and battle blocks the size of watermelons, not our watermelons, the ones you find if you climb the beanstalk and visit the giant’s garden, that’s how BIG my blocks were. Yet it got worse than that, by the bitter end, whenever I sat down to draw I would experience such pain in my neck that more than once I sat at my drawing table and cried. It wasn’t what most people think, I hadn’t “quit,” no, drawing quit me shortly after the industry shoved me out. I was actually told by an art director at Wizards Of the Coast that it had come down from on high, by committee mind you, that my work–and notice I’m quoting here–wasn’t… wait for it… “badass enough.” Dear God, really, how could I work in a climate where that was the prevailing mentality anyhow? Damn those prevailing dumbassterly winds! Yes, folks, my work was disliked and my art directors were encouraged not to work with me because my work wasn’t badass enough. Similarly while working for Image (Jim Lee’s Wildstorm) I was told the guys in the office were laughing at my inks because my inks looked like old DC inking. Uh, sure, that’s an insult… being compared to the fucking masters of the industry! Yes, folks, I was officially surrounded by idiots.

For two years I couldn’t draw, didn’t want to draw, and had no interest whatsoever in thinking about or even missing drawing. I started drinking and learning to play guitar and sing songs by Sarah and Maybelle Carter instead. Hard times.

Then, quite suddenly, I felt compelled to draw, it was a force. Out of nowhere, after two years I wanted nothing more than to sketch in a sketchbook, something I had NEVER been able to relax enough to do before. I had cancer, but didn’t know it. It seems the disease was trying to tell me something, and that thing was… “You are an artist.” I had surgery and radiation treatments, but It seems that when they removed the tumor they removed my newfound desire to draw as well. To this day I do not understand any of this terribly well.

Many years later I got the horrible news that my mentor and friend Jeffrey Catherine Jones had died–and just as I had been trying to reconnect with her. It hit me far harder than I could have expected. It compelled me to draw my ass off. That was the turning point for me, the death of Jeffrey Jones, I knew at that point that I would draw, in some fashion, for the rest of my life, even if I ran hot and cold on it. Not only had her death convinced me to draw, it inspired me to tell the story of our long distance friendship, but mostly it told of my strong emotional reactions to that friendship. It was an inward journey spilling out onto the page. I accomplished over fifty pages, told the whole story and had started working on even more autobiographical comics to flesh out what would have been a new graphic novel, then I felt my heart break again.

There was no way, absolutely no way I wanted to step back into that grinder, into the juvenile lowbrow biz that is comics. The very thought of sending out such a meaningful project and such a statement of liberation to have it meaninglessly judged, picked at and rejected killed the project dead. I could not go through the submission and rejection process again. There was no way publisher after publisher was going to send me lame post-its with flippant apologies explaining why they rejected the project. No, no one was going to have that power over me again. Once was enough. The project died. It now sits in a pile of art in storage at SAW, unfinished, unpublished, dusty and done.

But, I kept drawing here and there, a few more comic pages on this, a few doodles, some hard work, some fun work, and here and there a job or two would pop up. I was drawing again, but not like before. I was no longer drawing as I once had: like my life depended on it, I was drawing because I was good at it and it was now easier and more fun than before. But nothing, and I mean nothing, gets me to the drawing table like money. Sell-out, huh? Well, what if my dream, my life dream since childhood was NOT to make pretentious gallery art, but to make a living as a comic artist? MAKE A LIVING! That was my dream, to get paid to draw. So, if that was my dream, and if I pursued that dream doggedly, how is it a sell-out to live for and accomplish that dream? Besides, I always say that the only difference between an illustrator and a “fine artist” is that illustrators are smart enough to find a buyer before they make the work. And I also like to remind people that all of Rembrandt’s portraits were not “fine art,” they were commissioned illustrations, ditto the Last Supper and the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Yet none of this stops this pretentious asses in the art world from co-opting the work of these great illustrators while shaming other illustrators.

But now, here I am at last, not merely teaching drawing, but drawing my butt off. Thanks to Tom Hart from SAW, I am now deep in two rather sizable projects with very real deadlines! I mean, DAMN, that’s what “getting back” looks like. I’m back, working for clients, getting paid, suffering under deadlines, just like I always wanted, and I have to draw a lot in order to get all this done.

Project 1: is work for a DARPA commissioned project, a graphic novel adapting Greek Myth to be used to help soldiers with PTSD. It’s a great project, good pay, and what could possibly be more fun than illustrating Greek mythology? I’ve been watching “Jason and the Argonauts” over and over… what torture!

Project 2: is an “animated” info graphic for UF. We are explaining a complicated and dry series of facts about an essential and important program at UF, and we sold them on the idea of making it entertaining. The angle Tom and I pitched and are working on is that we will be telling a cartoon version of the dry information through the visuals. We are doing a Tom & Jerry like version of the information underneath the narration. Our characters will all be robots. Hell yes! I’m drawing Greek myth and cartoon robots! Frankly, Ive never had better work, so far as fun subject matter goes. Not only am I back and drawing my butt off, but I’m working on two of the most fun projects I’ve ever been commissioned to do.

A person is not different from their nature, and is obliged to act in conformity with it: paraphrased from the Bhagavad Gita

So, what does it feel like to be back at it? Simply put, it feels great. I feel a lot more complete as a person. A hole in my life has, quite unexpectedly, been filled. Funny, but though I enjoy drawing just to draw, just for fun, it’s nowhere near as deeply satisfying as when I’m getting paid for it. It feels good to have something to do with my once ample free time. It feels good because I am doing my duty, which is one of the dictates in the Bhgavad Ghita, that one should do their duty and not the duty of another. It feels good to do my duty, and it is my duty to be an illustrator.

“Following one’s nature is the only way to work out one’s karma.” Lord Krishna

Oh, there are struggles along the way, all week I’ve been upset with my Odysseus pages because they aren’t as good as Wally Wood’s art, or Milt Caniff’s art, or Alex Toth’s art, or Al Williamson’s art, or Hal Foster’s art. My standards have always been punishingly high. And contrariwise, I have been upset that the pages aren’t loose enough and that I have fallen back into the safety net of how I used to draw rather than forging bold new territories for myself… all of this, of course, I expect myself to master on a deadline! And then with the robots I’m a little upset because the backgrounds don’t all look like Maurice Noble designed them. Hmm… maybe I should cut myself a little slack here. And my students think I’m hard on them… wimps!

All said and done, what really matters is that I am an illustrator and I am illustrating.

I’m good at it, it’s fun, and… in the words of one of the great sages: “What’s wrong with that? I’d like to know, ’cause here I go again…”

Today

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Today I am sitting in my purple chair, feet propped up on my coffee table, watching it pour down rain. My palm tree (and I do mean “MY” palm tree) is waving in the wind, pelted with rain, the fronds dripping. In the background I am listening to the lovely soundtrack to “Sirens,” a film about artist and eroticist Norman Lindsay, a man I could and have learned a lot from. Norman was quite sure of himself, and I doubt he ever gave second thought to his unconventional ways, even in the face of a judgmental and conventional culture. Therein lies the rub, huh? The second guessing that goes on in my head is never in my own voice, it is in the voice of my mother, the culture as it is, it is the voicing of the expectations of others. These thoughts are impurities that dilute my vision, little demons that work to root out my dreams from the inside, pollutants that, if left unattended, can infect me from deep down inside. It doesn’t seem Norman Lindsay allowed such impurities or pollutants to knock him astray from his course. Sadly, I have often been knocked astray, blown too far by far from Ithaca.

Art by Norman Lindsay

Art by Norman Lindsay

Abandon, purity of vision, sensuality, hedonism, liberation. Norman Lindsay, Brigitte Bardot, the Marquis de Sade, Rose O’Neill, Harry Nilsson, all saints and skewers of the standard moral compass, all rockers of boats. People like them cause trouble and get into trouble, or so it is believed. What they really do is choose to live as they please, choose to follow dangerous muses, choose to see their vision through, they choose to tell the truth about themselves before a world of people who have never bothered to look deep enough to see if there are deeper truths in them. They are people who chose to live their lives and damn the consequences, but there were consequences, there are always consequences. As it turns out, it would seem most of the trouble caused by them is rather caused in reaction to them. They muddy the waters, splash, make waves, without ever once meaning to shock or annoy. They do all this simply by having the courage to be honest about their true nature, they do all this merely by liberating themselves from the bondage of their times, they do this by transcending and by renouncing. They do this by dreaming their own dreams and daring to live them.

I believe in dreams and dreaming, and I believe in following dreams, perhaps to a fall and a fault. I’ve had a checklist of dreams, and it seems I have pursued them at the expense of all else. I have certainly pursued my dreams, my vision for my life, at the expense of security and stability, at the expense of acceptance, and most definitely under the threat of consequences, consequences which rain down and drip from my limbs like the rainwater dripping from the fronds.

I dreamt of being a comic book artist… check.
I dreamt of swimming with a dolphin… check.
I dreamt of SCUBA diving… check.
I dreamt of visiting the Philippines… check.
I dreamt of making erotic comics… check.
I dreamt of being a barefoot girl… check.
I dreamt of living a life of hedonism and sensuality… check.
I dreamt of being an exhibitionistic woman… check.
I dreamt of meeting my many heroes… check.
I dreamt of traveling and working Medieval Faires… check.
I dreamt of living in a place with palm trees… check.
I dreamt of running away to be a carnie… check.
I dreamt of being a musician… check.
I dreamt of publishing topless photos… check. http://barefootjustine.com/pics/barefoot-justine-4/

(Barefoot) Justine Mara Andersen, photo by Haley Stracher

(Barefoot) Justine Mara Andersen, photo by Haley Stracher

nilsson“It’s an artists prerogative to be indulgent to himself, he owes it to everyone else to be indulgent to himself, and if it’s at the cost of what he thinks is what the public might think it might result in, that’s tough luck.”
Harry Nilsson

I, we (my heroes), we are like sin-eaters, we do these things so others won’t have to. We take the leaps of faith, live the dreams, make dangerous decisions so that everyone else can sit back and watch, can shake their heads and cluck as we deal with the storm of dire consequences… or for many… they sit and wish with all their might that they had the courage to live their own dreams, to see their visions through and state their true opinions. I talk to these people all the time, and I encourage them to do it, to rise up from the mire of expectations and just go for it! But they don’t, they slide back down in their chairs and bring their favorite habits back up on the internet. I feel sorry for them, but I envy them, too, after all, it’s a lot easier to just shove ‘em down, those contrary opinions, those scary visions, those disruptive dreams… isn’t it?

Paul460x276“We can do what we want,
We can live as we choose.
You see there’s no guarantee,
We got nothing to lose.”
Paul McCartney

One thing I’ve learned… we’ve definitely got nothing to lose if we follow our dreams, state our unpopular opinions, our follow our unconventional visions for our lives through, not in this culture of disparity… the deck is stacked, my friends, and it is stacked in THEIR favor, in favor of the 1%. You’ve got nothing to lose, there’s no security, no retirement… just more time on their fucking treadmill. Besides, really, what good are unfulfilled dreams? What good is a life unchallenged? What good is it being accepted by THIS time and this culture? That, my friends is nothing at all. This time and this culture is shit. It’s full of shit art, shit music, shit news, shit TV, shit-gray movies, shitty derivative ideas, shitty cell phones, shitty texting, shitty products, shitty rules and shittier rulers. Shit.

But it still hurts, the consequences still seem as dire as ever. The real question is not, and ne’er should be, “why do I do the things I do?” nor, “why do I make the decisions I make?” no, the questions is, was, will be, and always damn well should have been and should be… why do I worry? Why do I suffer over the consequences? Why do I long to be accepted? Why do I have second thoughts?

That’s the real rub… why do I have second thoughts?

I don’t have an answer, but the rain has moved on, nothing left of it but the gentle pitter patter of the last few drops on the metal roof above, and the winds and the gray left in the wake of the storm. It’s the gray, isn’t it, that’s what these people do, the dreamers, create gray in a world that prefers black and white. They show that there are no books or leaders with one-size-fits-all answers, they show us that for many of us, the answers come from within, not from without.

Perhaps I, too, succumb to black and white thinking, but it’s my black and white, it’s the clarity I have found from the inside out rather than from turning the outside in. The only clarity in my life comes from the inside, it comes from me, never from the logic of the world, never from a club or organization, laws or leaders, and especially not from fashionable cultural norms. My opinions are contrarian to say the least, but contrary to what, I ask? I’ll tell you what, contrary to this shit culture. My vision has led me at times through the dark forest, my dreams have led me down some dangerous paths. But in the end, I have to say, it’s all been worth it.

But sometimes… still, I can’t sleep. I wonder how many nights Norman Lindsay stayed up, fearing, worrying, second-guessing. My guess… not many, Justine, not many.

Sigh…

(This just in… I just saw an otter run across our backyard! Hell yeah!)

New Photo Gallery Announcement

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Hey group,

I’m delighted to say that Haley Stracher keeps taking lovely and amazing shots of me. I am THRILLED! Call me vain if you like, but I have waited FOREVER to have pictures like these taken of me… I am going to enjoy it!

I have created a new gallery under “Photos,” called “Barefoot Justine 3,” or you can find them here: http://barefootjustine.com/pics/barefoot-justine-3/

Below you will find my 3 favorite pics from that gallery as a preview…

(Barefoot) Justine Mara Andersen "street fashion 6" (pic. Haley Stracher)

(Barefoot) Justine Mara Andersen “street fashion 6″ (pic. Haley Stracher)

(Barefoot) Justine Mara Andersen feet at work

(Barefoot) Justine Mara Andersen subbing

(Barefoot) Justine Mara Andersen "street fashion 11" (pic. Haley Stracher)

(Barefoot) Justine Mara Andersen “street fashion 11″ (pic. Haley Stracher)

See more from Haley here: wix.com/haleys728/1

Sabbatical Over!

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I have cleaned off my workspace, recovered my drawing table (that Joe Courter made) from storage, have turned the TV towards my workspace, because…

As of today I am a working artist again.

My long, terribly terribly long, sabbatical is over.

And wouldn’t you know it… after years of nothing… two jobs at the same time… and one of them with with an impossible deadline.

Oh yes, it’s good to be back!

(And in this moment I must be grateful to Lord Ganesh… for this is the outcome I had hoped for when I had my artwork blessed in the Temple before I left Ohio.)

Dan Adkins & Another Lesson On Mortality

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08adkinsphotoDan Adkins: March 15, 1937 – May 8, 2013

Here’s the thing, I hadn’t known until today that Dan Adkins, one of my mentors, had died. Stick with me, there’s a lot to this, so let me lay this on you slowly.

Lately you may have noticed a certain pattern in many of my posts; posts written prior to this latest loss. I have been thinking a lot about mortality and old friends. I’ve been thinking a lot about my own mortality and the death of many people I have known. Death is not something I generally like to focus on, but lately it’s been rising in my consciousness, I think I was supposed to have been paying attention. The universe, the Gods, have a way of sending us messages if we are smart enough to see them for what they are rather than taking the easy way out and using science as an excuse to ignore such things and foolishly dismiss them as superstition.

Just last night I was getting impatient with a friend who I love very much, but who has a rotten habit of living in a seemingly perpetual state of “one of these days” thinking, not that I’m unfamiliar with that. My grandfather was the king of “one of these days,” or, “I’ll get around to it.” Of course, now, he’s dead. I wonder, with no comic intention, how much he never got around to. I wonder that a lot, and not just about him, but about my friend, other friends, and myself.

I had been pressing my friend to come and see me here, and though I am generally highly emotional, for some reason this particular need to have him here has been pressing heavily on me, far heavier than is logical. Last night, after speaking with him and getting ready for bed I had a panic attack about it, and I realized in an inspired burst of clarity exactly why my emotional reaction is so strong in reaction to his “one of these days” stance–and that of others and myself.

People die. I will die. And it could happen at any given moment. The intimacy with which I understand mortality is something that only comes with facing your own… and that of many others.

Read over my prior blogs, and you will find plenty on that 6 month period when I had not only been diagnosed and treated for cancer, but nearly drowned in Thailand. I had faced my own mortality in a very hard way twice in 6 months. Add to this the gruesomely personal experience I had with my ex-father-in-law’s death, the suicide of my childhood friend Andy, the hanging I witnessed in my backyard, Tom and Leela’s loss, the loss of one of my jamming buddies Joe, the loss of George (who died of the same cancer as myself), the loss of Scott from the Folkatorium, the loss of Phil to obesity, the loss of my grandfather, of Jeffrey Catherine Jones… and so many more. Keep in mind the risk I am under of bloodclot, stroke and cancer… and I think you can see that I have looked into the eyes of death one-on-one.

One of the losses that I feel that lacks the most closure was with Jeffrey Catherine Jones, yes, THE Jeff Jones! I have written an entire unpublished graphic novel about that loss. Catherine was one of my dearest mentors. A few years back I decided to reconnect with her, and I tried, oh how I tried, but nothing much came of it. Then, in the midst of my final efforts to get back in touch with her, to find her, she died! She died before I could say goodbye, she died with our friendship unresolved. This has haunted me for some time.

About a year or so ago I started realizing a certain urgency in all this, and I began reconnecting with people, especially people who were as important to me as Jeffrey Catherine Jones. I reconnected with Frank Thorne, and he said to me over the phone, after I had vanished for almost a decade, “We were really close once.” That hurt, to know that he had missed me in my absence. It also hurt that I was not able to make out how dear Frank felt about me now. He seemed a little upset with some of the changes I have gone through. I simply do not know where we stand now.

Shortly after that I decided to reconnect with another of the great artists who helped form me, who offered support, criticism and encouragement, the great Jim Steranko. Fortunately that conversation went well. Jim was clear in his gracious acceptance of me. He suggested with some urgency that I reconnect with Dan Adkins. I took Jim seriously, did some digging, and found my old rolodex and address book, but could not find Dan’s number anywhere. I wanted to call Dan. Dan, after all, was the end of the line, was as close to Wally Wood as my lineage got. Dan taught P. Craig Russell and Val Mayerik, and Dan learned from Wally, and I learned from Dan, Craig, and Val. But I could not find Dan’s number. I took it for granted that he would be there. Like a fool I figured that “one of these days” I would call Jim and get Dan’s number.

146536dan_adkins_conanIt’s far too late.

I just learned today that while I was one-of-thes-days-ing… Dan died.

Just like Jeffrey Catherine Jones, Dan died, and I never had the chance to reconnect and say goodbye.

And this is entirely my fault. Entirely. And that is a bitter pill to swallow. I’m not sure I ever will swallow it, it will just sit there bitter in the back of my throat. I’ll have to choke on it, forgive myself, and live with the fact that I blew it. I alone blew it.

I met Dan thanks to Val Mayerik. Val took me to Dan’s studio in Reading Pennsylvania many many years ago, decades ago. I had heard a lot about Dan, all of it eccentric, weird, and wholly loveable. A few of the Adkins stories had become legends among his circle, stories that were confirmed in the first hour of our meeting.

I can’t pretend to have known Dan well, but I knew him well enough to love him. Funny thing was, you didn’t have to know Dan well to know way too much information about him. One of the very best stories about him involved a detailed recounting of the way he almost died masturbating. Yeah, you read that right. Everyone I knew knew the story, recounted it, and recounted it in Dan’s voice. He was entirely too easy to imitate. When I went to meet Dan in his wonderland of a little attic studio, he poured over my work and within in a hour of meeting him he said, “Eh… your work reminds me of Vaughn Bode. You like Vaughn Bode? You know how Vaughn Bode died?” I nodded, of course I loved Bode, of course I knew how he died (who didn’t? though Frank Thorne insists the legend of how Bode died is entirely false and the truth is actually somewhat more unpleasant… which is hard to believe considering how unpleasant the legend is). “I almost died like that, you wanna hear about it?” Dan asked. Well, of course I wanted to hear about it. I had heard the story second-hand and had repeated it verbatim myself, but the chance to hear it from the man himself, from the Master, was far too grand to pass up, so I didn’t let on that I knew the story and nodded eagerly. And let Dan tell the story in his own words. As far as I can recall… it went like this…

14adkinsphotoThe first bit of information is to know that however it was that Bode died, it involved masturbation or sex. Dan’s story involved… well… wait for it, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. Dan started by telling me that his wife Jeanette (pictured at top and to the left, stunning woman) didn’t approve of pornography, so Dan had pornography on slides that he would view with a slide projector as the slides were easy to hide from her. Dan was in the bathroom sitting on the edge of the tub projecting his porn on the door. At some point in the middle of these… er…uh… proceedings he smelled something burning! In the midst of his… uhm… passion(?) he realized that it was the electrical chord burning. He, pants around his waist, reached down to unplug it, but the part where the chord attached to the plug had melted and when he grabbed it the volt-n-jolt blasted him back into the tub… pants down around his ankles. As he laid akimbo in his tub, pants down around his ankles, he thought, “I coulda died like Vaughn Bode.”

Of course I had many other adventures with Dan, he was possessed of a natural vaudevillian humor that was one part sarcasm, one part exhaustion, one part insight, and one part a shameless knowledge of what was funny. I recall him picking at his food in a dreadful “country cooking” restaurant in a mall, the concerned waiter (flamboyantly gay, and with a runny nose) had become terribly concerned about Dan and his uneaten but incessantly picked at meal. About the fourth time the overly-concerned waiter came over to ask him if he wanted to order something else, an exhausted and depressed Dan just said to him, “Tell you what, I’ll write a book and let you know how it all turned out.” The mystified waiter sniffled twice, turned, and left Dan Adkins alone to pick at his food all he wanted.

Dan was very much a fifties rock sorta guy. Check out those great pics of him in his T-shirt and fabulous hair! And Dan wasn’t just an ordinary rock fan, but a passionate one. He had a wide variety of tastes, and from a wide variety of decades, but he liked his stuff straightforward. God bless him for it, too!

tumblr_m5f3zvvpMe1r93mfqo1_500Dan was one of the classic inkers, as straightforward and classic an artist as the musicians he loved! Dan knew his way around the brush, and his drawing style was simple and spot-on. Not a lot of flash but twelve tons of substance! Dan was an amazing person to show work to. Dan was an amazing person to learn from, and generous, so generous that it brings tears to my eyes. I should have contacted him before he died. He was down, Jim told me his wife had died. Dan deserved better from me.

When I was deep into life as an inker, Dan sent me a couple brushes. Of course I had gone out to see him several times in his studio, but we also corresponded by phone and mail. The brushes Dan sent me were immaculately mounted on cardboard in a side-by-side comparison complete with instructions in perfect and stylish cartoonist handwriting. He was teaching me how to singe the extra hairs from the end of a brush with a lighter. The brushes he sent me, two brand new Winsor Newton Seris 7 #2 brushes, were examples for me to use. One brush had not been treated with a lighter, the other had, and he sent me the two so I could use both of them and understand the difference.

Every time I went to see Dan I walked away with an original or two. Add to this that when he worked for DC Comics on their Olympics-related tie-ins, Dan mailed me a couple lovely drawings, my favorite was of Wonder Woman in a pool swimming laps competitively. It was one helluva a delightful little illustration. Wow… this is hard to write about.

Dan, of course, stepped up to the plate and inked a drawing of my favorite character, Mara, a character of my own creation. If I recall the story correctly Dan had liked the pencils and asked if he could ink it. Of course, of course Dan could ink it.

And now that he’s gone I am filled with regrets, with a total lack of closure, and sense of shame and guilt that will stick. Oh, it will heal, but it will leave a scar, just like the scar left when Jeff Jones died, just like the scar left when the great French director Jean Rollin died without my ever doing the comic that I had agreed to do for him. And I am left feeling a little too ashamed to call Jim Steranko. I have some explaining to do, don’t I, Jim? Your friend, your dear friend deserved better than a “one of these days” from me.

I hope this is the last time I have to live with these sorts of regrets. I hope this is the last time I take anyone for granted and assume that they will be there when it’s convenient for me, and I hope that some of my readers will learn that lesson from me rather than having to learn it the hard way.

People die. One of these days… often before you are ready for it, they will die, and people need to truly understand this.

One of these days, one of these days.

Salmon Falls (Harry Nilsson)

Each drop of rain falls a million times its own length
To crash upon this floor, and with its pain cause life to start anew
Each second fights its way magically through your entire life
Like a salmon traveling upstream to its final destination
And with his goal in sight, life ends – to start anew
Each man lives far beyond his span
And writhes the life of all mankind
And not until his kind has passed will he…
And not until he dies
Each second of your life conclude
And not until it crashes against the Earth
Will a drop of rain have fallen
Not until all men are dead
Will you die
And life will start anew
And you will have traveled a million times your own time
And magically
And magically
Salmon falls

Magically

Shawn’s Poem About Me… Justine!

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Sweet Justine
by Shawn Allen (shawnallen50.wordpress.com)

Oh my sweet Justine,
always chasing a dream
and trying to put it to paper.
Hey, barefoot Justine,
these streets can be hot and mean.
Oh, sweet Justine.

Sitting alone in the park,
trying to leave just a mark
on the virgin-white page,
to escape from the cage,
and the dogs as they angrily bark.
Don’t they know you can see in the dark?

And the stupid ones point, and they laugh.
Can’t see the whole, just one half
of the things that you are.
Always chasing that star,
and you go where there isn’t a path
and you’ve laid down that dark, heavy staff.

Oh my sweet Justine,
tell me, what’s it all mean?
Don’t you know that they won’t understand?
Hey, barefoot Justine,
kick up your heels, girl, and dance.
Oh, sweet Justine.

And when they close their doors to you,
it’s because you’re already inside.
It’s just envy, you see -
the Justine they won‘t be.
The divine fool they once knew,
that dream they long ago slew,
the truth from which they still hide.

So just smile when they whistle and jeer,
ignore them, turn a deaf ear.
You know what is real,
and the things they can’t feel -
they’re so worried about looking queer.
You are always much more than you appear.

Oh my sweet Justine,
just keep on living the dream
and show them that it can be real.
Hey, barefoot Justine,
just keep on living the dream.
Oh, sweet Justine.

1-20-2014

(I hadn’t known that this poem by Shawn had been written about me until Joe Blue Sky alerted me to it. I found it quite moving, and was tickled to read it. Shawn is one of our mutual friends from Akron.)

Lunch With Margaret & the Invisibles!

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So, I went out today with Margaret Tolbert for lunch… poor as could be, she had to both drive and pay. Sitting in the Indian restaurant with her she handed me her lovely hardback book “Aquiferious,” to look at, and I became madly envious. Imagine… a hardback book with your art in it! HARDBACK! It seemed like a delightful and pride-worthy glory.

We discussed projects and possibilities over chai, that beautiful heavy thick book to my right on the table. After lunch she drove us out to see the sandhill cranes, then on home we went. As I got out of the car she gifted me the lovely hardbound book–that I had so privately envied.

Approaching my room I noticed a box, a heavy little wholly unexpected box, waiting for me.

Puzzled, I took it into my room, having absolutely no idea why I was sent this box. I was expecting nothing. I opened it, and of all the ironies, there in the box were three copies of a brand new hardback (HARDBACK!) collection of the Invisibles from Vertigo at DC Comics! There I was, in hardback on the very day I was so envious of Margaret’s victorious harbound beauty.

Funny how life works in such cosmic symmetries.

Now I’m thinking, screw the hardback books… I want a big fat royalty check!

I guess some people are just never quite content.

(By the way, hardback books or not, I’m still poor and in need of prescriptions, so if anyone out there wants an autographed copy of the book, I have two to spare at cover price of $30.)

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Lost Animation

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hqdefaultI may have just seen the most beautiful animation sequence I have ever seen in my life, and I say that without hyperbole. The elegance, dignity and grace of the animation nearly brought tears to my eyes. The sequence was animated (no doubt by a team led by) Josh Meador. His name may be familiar, he was a Disney veteran, one hell of an effects animator. You know… Josh is the guy who put all those delightful sparkles around everything. Anyhow, like them or not, he did a fantastic job. Additionally you can see Josh Meador in the Disney short “4 Artists Paint One Tree.” It was a little art documentary in which four Disney artists go out and paint the same tree. Actually, I wasn’t that excited about Meador’s painting on that outing, but everything else I’ve seen him do has been masterful, and this bit of animation is his masterpiece.

It was filmed for Disney’s “20.000 Leagues Under the Sea,” but never used. The scene depicts life in the ocean depths, and includes some breathtaking passages. It is all too short, but packs a visual wallop. I suppose you could find it on Youtube, but that just won’t do it justice. I have the 2 DVD set from Video Rodeo now, so when I’m done with it, you can find it there. It’s tragic that such a masterpiece of animation has been relegated to the status of a nearly forgotten and lost bonus feature… but am I ever grateful it has been saved and shared.

If you love animation… you have to see this piece.

(No link posted because I know this post will outlive it on Youtube, the video will not doubt be pulled and uploaded in endless circles)