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the various and sundry creations of sylvus tarn


cropToday's item features flowers, and, more tangentially, flowing water, so this cute animation, via bb, seems apropos.

Or you can check out a little embroidered, beaded pouch. Enjoy.


cropI am still hiding from the news, so here's another cute link about ‘modern’ book covers from the 70s, cleverly animated via a discussion about the changing mores of abortion amongst evangelicals, and how the procedure was uncontroversial in the 70s amongst them (though of course Catholics objected...mostly to distinguish themselves from the protestants back in the 1800s, afaict).

Man oh man, those covers took me back. That sort of design was ubiquitous, four decades ago, sort of the serious version of Peter Max posters & album covers—but still flat swathes of colour and flat, graphic design.

Today's item is also a blast from the past, if not as distant a past. And I'm working my way towards the present. Really.


Well, here's a review—not a terrifically thorough one—of Jeff Smith's Bone. (Not least because I waited awhile after reading the book to write the ‘review’.) But that's all right, because courtesy of Alas, a Blog here's a much more gifted comics critiquer's collection of multi-panel pans by decade; looks like there's tons of other interesting stuff in the archives, too. (There's an argument about whether comics suffered from using so many filmic techniques, as opposed to taking advantage of other, more page-specific techniques...this is not precisely that discussion, but there's definitely some pointers for adapting the approach for the careful reader.)

And I get this thing kicked out. Now I gotta go make some art...


cropRiffing off last Friday's post about Moebius, here's a link about recolouring moebius —that incidentally sucks, because, as the author notes, it screws up Moebius’ line. Well, actually, I'd say it screws up Moebius’ pattern and shape on the page: Moebius’ style, like that in Peter Max's early work, emphasizes swathes of flat, intense rainbow hues for which delicate, curvilinear black linework sharply delineated intricate, graphic patterns. What that linework did not do was push one part of the page in front of the other, which the new colouring, in an effort to add dimensionality back on the page (much to the work's detriment) attempts.

Peter Max posters were ubiquitous during my childhood, and, like Alphonse Mucha (whom I suspect was an influence on both Max and Moebius) was a huge influence on me, and no doubt part of the reason Moebius’ similar style immediately appealed. (So far, no-one's drawn the obvious parallels between Max & Moebius, but it would be interesting to see which inspired the other, or whether they came out of the larger psychedelic movement dominating popular music album art (itself an important cultural influence) at the time.

And speaking of psychedelic, here's some mushrooms, though I doubt they're the trippy type.


cropLast in my summary of fantastic stories (at least for this last* week) is Moebius’ Edena, which while it certainly isn't fugly—definitely the opposite, in fact—certainly qualifies for Friday frustrating.

Jean Giraud, better known as Moebius, has a fantastic sense of space, effortlessly using 1, 2 and 3 point perspective and the complex, messy worn backgrounds that according to others influenced such classics as Bladerunner, Star Wars, and Ghost in the Shell. His line is nice, his anatomy excellent, with a grasp and use of color is stunning: I particularly liked the way he integrated text by colouring speech balloons either matching or co-ordinating with the background, which tended, because of the simplified method he chose for this book, to be expanses of colour: faded, graduated colour; contrasting pure, saturated reds and acid greens; turquoise and the like. The man is not afraid of rich hues!

Now, if only the story matched the art...!

This is a good opportunity for me to bring up that observation so beloved by writers: the dialogue with the reader, the writing between the lines, the blank half to be filled in by the reader is half the story. I already alluded to one tor review, a nice overview, by a fan who really loves the work; but Gabrielle Bellot's observations on Edena are particularly interesting to me because our criticisms align nearly perfectly:

Stel and Atana often seem to embody gender stereotypes, for instance....At parts of the narrative, Atana indeed becomes a prototypical damsel in distress, captured by a villain and pursued by the heroic Stel...

Bellot further notes that although they start the story cycle relatively sexless, hairless excepting their eyebrows, wearing identical (excepting for colour) skullcaps, and with equally shapeless clothing that effectively conceals their (lack of sexual) differentiation. However, as they traverse Edena, eating, for the first time, natural food (apples, naturally) their physiology, no longer suppressed by “hormonode” effectively

become gender archetypes, the Adam and Eve of a new world...their newfound bodies correspond to their gender identities; ironically, it's as if they transition into being cisgender.”

For Bellot, who is trans, the characters’ “greater sense of joy in their new bodies” in contrast to “confused memories of gender-neutrality” with which they start out in the story “adds a subtle queer context I loved.” I, on the other hand, deeply appreciated the gender neutrality: like trans characters, gender-neutral characters are not exactly thick on the ground, and I really appreciated these. I resented the subtle sexist bias that permeates the story from the get go.

Frex, Skel's nose and face wobbles all over the place, distorted as needed to move the narrative around, whereas Atlan[a]’s features are portrayed in a delicate (nostril only) way, or, in the story arc that irritated me the most, as a stereotypical, super-slender, well-endowed blonde with full lips—the artist submerged his own style in favour of this—for lack of a better term—playmate style depiction. Ugh. Then there's the fact that Stel's name stays the same, but Atan (whose name is stenciled across the back of hir jacket) becomes—or returns to being—Atana. Wut, wait? What kind of horrible government suppressed their memories of their sexual past? Ok, never mind. But why couldn't we have had Stela and Atana, who become Stel and Atana, hmmm? But the fact that the female character had to have a traditionally western feminine-ending name grated.

I could go on and on, (the nose people's fixation on Atan's ‘bumps’ isn't fooling anyone—it's sexist) but the absolute worst is when, released from the damping effects of the hormone they get in their ship food, Stel's lusts ‘awaken’ and he demands sex of Atan, whose cries and attempts to escape do not deter him; she has to bash him into unconsciousness with a rock. Good on her for defending herself! Oh wait, a few pages later, she's now fallen in love with him and now wants to have sex. Did they ever, before? (It's implied that they're at least familiar with sex hormones, because they talk about developing armpit hair. Which makes Stel's crime even more heinous, he should've known better.) Why does she change her mind? I don't know. Because the author decided it was time for her to, I guess. It certainly wasn't because of any interaction between them, and her motives, not depicted, are utterly opaque.

Had I discovered this book when it was first published—in the 80s—I too probably would've been willing to forgive its sexist flaws because of its sheer gorgeousness and what would have been to me, its uniqueness (I hadn't seen much if any European comics, with the possible exception of Asterix, which broad humour did not appeal). Of course, few libraries carried many comics back then, and this admittedly gorgeous edition didn't exist (and if it had, I couldn't’ve have afforded it...) Thus, it's not only which reader, but which reader when that can determine how well a work resonates.

*This was supposed to go up last Friday, but I didn't get it done in time, which is also why this week's group of posts started with mushrooms...

And given Moebius’ emphasis on colour, I guess this post co-ordinates (or tones, as they say in the UK) since these objects are all about colour.


cropwhile working on these web pages earlier this week (i.e. the bit about Gilgamesh set to music) this link of Armenian music popped up. I could swear the first song was in that Peter Gabriel album of source music for Passion... (hmm, because it is, evidently. Anyway, a lovely hour of duduk music if you like haunting, minor/augmented/diminished-key traditional music (which I do, obviously). I thought that music from Passion was Middle Eastern, but didn't realize that, duh, Armenia was was in the Middle East. (The fact that they're next to the Ottoman Empire shoulda been a clue...)

Anyway, yay, lovely.

And in keeping with my aspirations to tidy my studio—something that did actually occur as recently as 2015—here's a post from the archives: I wanted to post it because it does (tangentially) relate to tomorrow's post.