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Woman's headI was digging through a box of still-not-unpacked art supplies, and I found that pocket-sized Winsor-Newton watercolor sketchbook I was so into a couple years back. Flipping through it, I found this doodle, which I apparently hadn’t bothered to scan. I probably drew it while still living in Jersey City.


This page, on the other hand, is from my hand•book sketchbook that I generally carry around with me nowadays. Both these were drawn at Prospect Perk, one of the very many coffee shops to be found in Brooklyn’s North Slope. The woman in the coat was done a few weeks ago; the ink drawing of the seated man a few days ago.

Big image cut to preserve your precious Friends-page layout )
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I’ve been drawing again. Wow, I’m so rusty. I still don't really have a good place to set up my scanner, so it took my a while to get around to scanning this stuff.

First up, a sketch I took at the Chile Pepper Festival at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden a couple weeks back. I sat in the pavilion at the Japanese pond and sketched the spirit gateway:
Spirit gate

Yesterday I stopped off at Bryant Park and sketched one of the Art Nouveau-style streetlamps:
This one's pretty tall, so it's cut )
That lightly-sketched area in the background? This intersection, from a different angle. I missed the serious action, but I did get to see them knock some windows out.

MoCCA

Jun. 24th, 2007 11:54 pm
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This was a very purchase-light MoCCA for me. I’ve spent the past few weeks sorting through books, packing some, throwing away others, and I can’t look at books now without thinking about the fact that I don’t have space enough for the one’s I’ve already got. And worse for floppies and minis, which I can’t just stick on a shelf.

So my self-imposed limit this years was: No floppies or minis, only books with actual spines. I only bought six or seven, and left them over at the Brooklyn apartment, since why bring them to Jersey City only to box them up and bring them to Brooklyn in three days. So, this year’s MoCCA haul:

Books:

  • Sordid City Blues, by Charles Schneeflock Snow, who I also got to chat with.
  • Abraxas and the Earthman, by Rick Veitch, an SF treatment of Moby Dick, which ran in Epic umpteen years ago.
  • Scott Bateman’s Secret Sketchbook of Shame, by Scott Bateman and shame. I think it’s been a few years since I’ve seen Scott.
  • Deogratias: A Tale of Rwanda, by JP Stassen.
  • And two or three other books, which I’ve already forgotten. This here’s a placeholder, and I’ll go back and fill it in at some point when the books and I are in the same state.

I missed out on getting a copy of I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets, the Fletcher Hanks collection (about which Coop said “looking at those panels is like eating a whole bag of Cheetos made of heroin.”). It sold out on Saturday.

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My New York age is 20

This New York age puts you-generally speaking-into the young category. That's what you were hoping for, right? Run and tell your friends. Then get drunk (as usual). Then sleep it off. Then pop an Adderall. Then come back and consider experimenting with a more mature type of New York life (just once in a while). Have you ever been to the Village Vanguard or the Living Theatre? Eaten at Elaine's? Taken a date to Michael Feinstein? Before you laugh, check 'em out and see what old-school NYC experiences you can add to the new.

What's your New York age? Take the Time Out New York quiz and find out!

(Beware, the quiz is a tedious seven pages long!)

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New subway display
Originally uploaded by Avram Grumer.

I've decided to start using flickr and taking more photos, what with having this handy pocket-sized digital camera and all.

I think you can see all of my photos here. Just a few so far; most of it's fake Nintendo DS game covers.

Took this one today, on the N train. New, all-electronic displays, which ought to solve the problem of a train getting re-routed and having a useless track display.


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[livejournal.com profile] cthulhia was in town, so we met for brunch and robot lobsters.

Hug MugBrunch was gonna be at Viselka’s, till I noticed that right across the street was a Max Brenner’s! A chocolate-themed restaurant! Who could pass that up? I’d been meaning to go ever since I first noticed their Union Square location opening up, but hadn’t gotten around to it. So, inside for breakfasts, and even the eggs come with a side of bread and little dishes of butter and spreadable chocolate. And of course, astonishingly delicious hot chocolate for drinking, served in miniature toilet bowls. They’re called “hug mugs”, handleless mugs that you’re supposed to cup with both hands, but jeez, look at the thing! Cthulhia wanted me to write “R Mutt” on mine with a Sharpie.

Then it was off to the Cooper-Hewitt for the Design Life Now exhibit. This was a bit overwhelming — so much stuff! Inkjet-printed silks, electronic slow glass, political cartoons, interactive light-piping floor tiles, and of course the robot lobster. Which I was a bit disappointed by, since it was just sitting still in a case, with a video playing to show it moving.

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Last night I went to four different comic shops to get the two new Paul Grist books that shipped this week: Jack Staff vol 3 and Kane vol 6. Cosmic on 23rd had sold out of Jack Staff and never got Kane, but they did have All-Star Superman #6. I went down to St Marks Comics, which had Kane, but they’d also sold out of Jack Staff. Then I remembered that I’d walked right past Forbidden Planet on 13th without checking it, so I walked back, and they’d sold out too. World, I’m happy that Jack Staff is selling well, but could y’all hold back a bit till I get my copy? I walked back down to the NYU Starbucks to rest my feet and read Kane, and then walked up to Jim Hanley’s on 33rd, and they had Jack Staff. Yay! Total distance walked: about four miles.

Today I just walked from the WTC PATH station to Pearl Paint (to pick up a half-pan of Winsor Newton rose doré), and back (3/4 mile each way). And to and forth from home to the Grove St station, which (Google Earth tells me) is almost half a mile each way, so that means I walked five miles yesterday, and 2.5 today, which is why my feet hurt.

And I’ve somehow lost nine pounds since November.

Anyway, Volume 6 is probably my least favorite Kane volume of the series so far. What started out as a straight cop drama (which occasional comic relief) is being invaded by superhero tropes — a military super-solider suit, a blind assassin, etc. And a lot of the issue is given over to repeating Kane’s past history as revealed in other volumes. We get a couple of scenes of Oscar Darke interacting with other crime bosses, but one of them is tangled up with the stupid implausible super-suit plot.

The Jack Staff book is much better. As a superhero book, it’s unabashedly full of goofy and melodramatic superhero elements, and they’re fun as hell. How can you not love a criminal genius named Brain Head? Not to mention the WW2 German supervillain Kapitan Krieg. And all the other usual Jack Staff supporting cast — Tom Tom the Robot Man; the Q Division; the Freedom Fighters; Becky Burdock, Vampire Reporter; Detective Inspector Maveryk; the Claw; and best of all, an appearance by Morlan the Mystic (who is clearly based on Alan Moore). As with the earlier Jack Staff books, the various storylines are presented in little pieces, three or four pages at a time, making it a bit of work to keep up with, but also giving the reader very much the feel of reading a whole line of books from a small comic publisher, with little crossovers and meta-plots.

And both books are full of Grist’s top-notch page layouts.

Xmas cheer

Dec. 26th, 2006 01:48 am
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woman's headI like to think of today as Xmas, the birthday of Professor X, savior of the mutants. My power: Adult lactase production.

Which I got to indulge at the party at the Nielsen Haydens’ place. I am stuffed with tasty food and drink, and still dazzled by the Beyond the Fringe DVD [livejournal.com profile] baldanders brought, and getting sleepy, so here’s a scan of a sketch from Sunday.
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TolitaWent to the Met today. I should be doing this more often, but last time I sketched at the Met was just over three years ago. Last time I used just a fineline Pigma Micron and paid a pittance to get in; this time I paid the full recommended donation and used grayscale Pitt brush markers.

These here are in reverse-chronological order — I drew Sekhmet first, and the Ecuadorian tolita figure last. I think I got better as the day progressed.


Three more behind cut )
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I was in a Chipotle today — pause here to allow for mockery from [livejournal.com profile] immlass — OK, done? So, I was in this Chipotle, and they’re playing music on the sound system, and I hear that familiar “doo da-doo da-doo doo-da-doo” and I realize that they’re playing “Walk on the Wild Side”. Actually, a Spanish-language cover of “Walk on the Wild Side”. But here’s the thing: If you were to travel back in time fifty years and tell Ray Kroc that one day that restaurants owned by the corporation he was founding would one day be entertaining their customers with a song about a transvestite who gives blow jobs to support a drug habit, what do you think his reaction would be?

Melorn headIt’s been a while since I’ve posted about art supplies, hasn’t it? I stopped in at the Dick Blick art store on Bond St to see if they had the new Copic Multiliners in stock, the ones with the aluminum bodies (they didn’t, only the old ones with the hideous speckled plastic casing), and I noticed some new sketchbooks.

Designed by Artist Hardware, Inc; manufactured distributed by Global Art Materials, Inc, and labeled as the hand•book journal co line, it’s as if they’re intended to be hard to google for, but here: a page on the Artist Hardware site, and another on the Dick Blick catalog site. These are obviously designed to compete with Moleskine sketchbooks, and they do that very well. They have almost the same form factors (just thicker), plus a square book. They’ve got the bookmark (orange instead of gray), and the elastic band to keep the cover closed (but slightly tighter), and a pocket in the back (clear plastic instead of manilla cardstock — less stylish, but probably more durable). The paper’s a slightly brighter white, and they’re 128 pages, rather than the 80 of a Moleskine sketchbook or the 60 of Moleskine’s watercolor books, but most important — the paper takes watercolor well. Moleskine’s sketch paper has a slick surface that resists ink and wash, and I’ve read that the watercolor paper isn’t much better.

Here, a color test:
color swatches

I dabbed both books with a bit of Winsor Newton Winsor Red watercolor (artist’s quality) on a water brush. My first dab was a bit thin, since I didn’t pick up much color from the pan; that’s the thin wash on the hand•book. The second dab has more color on it. See how the paint breaks up on the Moleskine paper?

Furthermore, the hand•book journals list for the same price or less than Moleskines, despite having more pages.
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So the plan for today was to get up early, work out, do laundry, fix up my résumé, do some shopping in Manhattan, loaf around at the NYU Starbucks sketching till around 6:30, catch the Scott McCloud lecture from 7 to 9, then head uptown to the SFFWA reception.

The actual practice was: Slept late, skipped the gym, did laundry, fought with MS Word, wasted time reading blogs, did some shopping in Manhattan, couldn’t find the lecture hall, saw the McCloud clan crossing the street and followed then figuring they’d know where the lecture hall was, discovered they didn’t know either, found it using Vindigo (still the most useful app on my Palm), enjoyed the lecture, hung around after and went with the amorphous dinner group (to the Apple Restaurant & Bar — warning, Flash site with music) which finished up around 11:30, came home. In addition to seeing [livejournal.com profile] goraina, who I seem to run into at every NYC comics-related event, I also saw [livejournal.com profile] marionv, and chatted over dinner with Gary Tyrrell of Fleen.

McCloud’s presentation is great. Some of the material is covered in Making Comics, but there’s plenty that isn’t, like his life story condensed down to 150 pictures. I jotted down a couple of pages of notes. The guy next to me was taking his notes down in comics form with a red Sharpie. And the woman next to him had been doing some Sharpie sketching before the presentation. Just imagine if the whole audience had been taking notes with Sharpies! The fumes could have provided that swiveling-through-the-third-dimension aspect McCloud was talking about.
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small headshot with glassesYesterday I went into Manhattan to pick up a ticket for Scott McCloud’s presentation on Monday night. (Tickets are free; details here.) I expect lots of the NYC comics crowd to show up — the name before mine on the tickets list was Ryan North, of Dinosaur Comics fame, and on my way out I ran into Raina Telgemeier, of Smile and the comics version of The Baby-Sitter’s Club.

Then I plopped down in a comfy chair at the NYU Starbucks near Washington Square Park (the only Starbucks I know of that still has big, comfy chairs), and sketched:

More sketches )

Grrr! While getting up to get my sketchbook out of my bag, my weight on the floor was enough to jiggle the top shelf of my bookshelf free, spilling heavy books down onto the platform where I keep my laptop. The heaviest stuff fell behind the computer, but I did dent the hinge. Doesn’t seem to have done any functional damage, at least not that I’ve been able to tell. Yet. I’m moving the books down to shelves near the floor.

Wiiiii!

Nov. 16th, 2006 11:41 pm
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The Nintendo store in Rockefeller Center has some Wiis set up for people to try out. They’re all running the sports disk, which has several different games on it — I saw golf, and I think baseball, and tennis, which is what I played a game of.

Oh, this is so cool! The Wii controller, as some of you may not have yet heard, is cordless, and shaped like a TV remote. It has buttons on it, but for the tennis game you don’t use those for gameplay, just setup. For actually playing, you just swing the thing like a tennis racquet. Since I was playing standing up, I actually moved my body around to set up forehand and backhand swings. It was a full-body videogame experience!

The Wii goes on sale Sunday, but go try it out now for free.

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Seen on Broadway and 20-something Street, a few weeks ago:

scary dummy
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Y’know how the writers at The Onion sometimes seem to be just going through the motions? And sometimes the headline is funny, but the article itself isn’t worth reading? Well, the latest issue has one of those pieces that’s great all the way through: “Five Years Later: NYC Unveils 9/11 Memorial Hole”:

“Let this circle of flowers — brief, beautiful, and too soon gone — symbolize the respect we have shown for the memories of those innocents who lost their lives on that sorrowful morning by creating this great hole,” said the Reverend Charles Bourne of Lower Manhattan’s Trinity Chapel as the flowers sank into the brown, debris-strewn runoff at the bottom of the cavity. “I firmly believe, as does every person here, that this deep, empty hole has come to stand not only for the New York City of today, but also for the transformation of the entire United States since Sept. 11, 2001.”
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My name is sticky. It sticks in people’s heads, and they come up to me at conventions and stuff and say “Oh, yeah, you’re Avram Grumer” when I have no idea of who they are, so I’m at a permanent social disadvantage.

How sticky is my name? Yesterday I went to Midtown Comics for Scott McCloud’s signing of his new book, Making Comics. Now, I’d never met McCloud before. We’ve had no social interaction out of a couple of letters I wrote to him twenty years back when he was doing Zot!. And it’s not like I’ve ever done anything in the world of comics that might draw attention to my name. But when I told him to make it out to Avram — “You’re not Avram Grumer, by any chance, are you?”

The book is fantastic, by the way. I’m about halfway through. The sections on facial expressions and body language are probably the best I’ve ever seen. It’s a better book than Understanding Comics was, though probably of use to fewer people.

Today was the book’s launch party at Rocketship, a cool new comics shop in Brooklyn. I’d never been, but now I wish I lived in Brooklyn again. It’s not large, but the selection is good, and it’s brightly-lit and the walls are decorated with original pages by some local comickers. It looks like the sort of place that doesn’t make you ashamed to be a comics fan. And, unlike any other comics shop I’ve ever seen Rocketship gives first priority to the books — the trades and hardcovers, collections and graphic novels. The nasty pamphlets, rather than being given a massive spread of wall-space, are dismissed to below-waist-level shelving (with a few small wall or standing racks). Oh, and there are minicomics by the cash register.

I saw [livejournal.com profile] goraina there, and a friend of [livejournal.com profile] ladymondegreen’s (“Wait, I know you, Avram, right...?”), and got to chat with both Scott and Ivy McCloud, who are both super-nice and smart and funny, so yeah, go see them when they swing around to your state. (That’s Sep 14 and 16 for you Cambridge, MA people, and Sep 26 for Boston.)
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I know some of you know this, but it may be news to most: Scott McCloud has a new books out, Making Comics, and he and his family are promoting it with a 50-state tour, starting in NYC. He gave a Q&A session at SVA today, which I opted not to go to. (See [livejournal.com profile] mccloudtour for updates about the tour.)

Tomorrow (Friday) he’ll be signing at Midtown Comics just south of Times Square from 5-7pm. It’s a few blocks from my office, so I’ll head up when I get out of work at 6. Anyone else going?

Saturday he’ll be at Rocketship in Brooklyn for an 8pm release party. I’ve never been to Rocketship, so I may go there too.
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It’s happening faster than I’d thought:

Up to 114!
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woman at StarbucksI’m in the middle of a big, important project at work, the sort of thing where I’ve been cleared to work overtime. Looks so far like that won’t be necessary. See, my Big Trick at work, the one thing I can do better than anybody else, is what we call “draping” — using this obscure program that straddles the gap between 2D and 3D and lets us map patterns onto flat photos so as to make them follow the apparent curved surfaces. There are a couple of other guys who can use the software, but I’ve logged at least one order of magnitude more time than they have, so I’m just vastly more experienced with it. The current project involves a shitload of draping.

Fortunately, at some point we ponied up a few grand for the SDK version of the software, which lets us automate it. So one of the programmers got this running, and the upshot is that while somebody still needs to do the skillful end of the job, the mindless repetitive part can now be handled by a computer, the way things oughta be. What I feared would be a day or two of tedious donkey work turned into a couple of hours of me typing two commands and then doing other things for five minutes while they executed.

Inspired by this, I’ve finally installed cygwin, and on Monday I’ll give GTK+ and the GIMP a try, and I’ll see if I can’t automate the rest of the donkey work.

Anyway, turns out there’s no Games Club tonight, so I walked down to Union Square, parked my butt in Starbucks for a while, read some more of my current read (Karel Čapek’s The Absolute at Large, because Nick Tosches’s King of the Jews had become unbearably tedious), did a bit of sketching, fed my notebook fetish (and my fantasies of getting shit done) by picking up a Miquelrius gridded notebook at Barnes & Noble, then hit Virgin and picked up four CDs for $10 a pop.

More art below the cut )
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So, if I went and saw An Inconvenient Truth, but I left my air conditioner running while I was out, is that a net gain or loss for the environment?

That was the day, pretty much. Walked about Manhattan a bit, sat in a Starbucks and did a bit of sketching (came up with a new design for a character that I might eventually wind up including in the webcomics that I’ve been not doing for three years now), met [livejournal.com profile] bugsybanana for the movie, then we had dinner at Congee Village, and had a view of the fireworks as we walked down Allen Street.

The movie’s really good. Gore’s smooth, confident in his material, and funny, totally blowing away the media’s invented “wooden robot” stereotype from 2000. The scientific errors are so few and so minor that the oil industry’s shills have been reduced to nitpicking his word choices or lying about the content of Gore’s presentation.

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