Category: ARTS

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Visual Trope: the Alien Encounter

On this snowbound Solstice weekend in New England, I happened to be reading reviews of The Day The Earth Stood Still remake, and pondering the ways in which humans have envisioned our first contact with alien life forms. Without going too heavily into the subject, I pondered the range of human-alien frission typically presented in SF, from the over-hyped assumption of instant warfare, or the however improbable love at first site, to the more nuanced anthropological approaches of Chad Oliver and the intensely portrayed psychological gestalts of Theodore Sturgeon. At that point Sturgeon’s amazing story To Marry Medusa (aka _The Cosmic Rape_) popped into my mind, and in particular the lush red cover image for the 1968 paperback by Paul Lehr. This image, so typical of Lehr (with a mountainous half-organic construction looming in the center, while miniscule beings flit around it like so many fleas,) represents the contact between human and alien minds in the realm of abstraction and metaphor. In that sense it fascinates more than the familiar image of some athletic dork with a ray gun zapping the tentacles off of a bug-eyed wierdo.

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How to envision Lem?

An interesting problem: illustrate a cover for the fiction of Stanislaw Lem. How would you do it? Here is a nice little gallery of rarely seen Lem covers, collected by one of the very best tribu

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Burnt By the Sun, Screaming Into the Ether

Went to the opening of an exhibit called Arts of Subversion, Nonconformist Art from the Soviet Union, which is a very nicely curated show that explores the lives of artists under the opressive fist o

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Halloween Demon With a Sweet Tooth

Our first halloween in the new apartment passed quietly, with our household demon getting into the spirit of things by gritting a mini-Butterfinger bar in his pointy teeth. It sure is nice to be in A

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Your Brain Is On the Menu

Yes, it is that time again… no, not Presidential Election Day! World Zombie Day, when hordes of shambling, bloody-mouthed fiends stagger through the streets to find you and eat your brain. What

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Finders keepers

Agree or disagree, it’s still a fun list of the 50 things you really must have in your comic book collection.

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Whatever Happened to Beantown Zinetown?

It crawled off to wheeze in the Art Institute of Boston annex behind Kenmore Square, under the beer-breath shadow of Fenway Park. Although I still preferred the big ratty room full of zines at MassArt, where Beantown Zinetown used to live, it’s still nice to know that zine makers have a place to gather and set up their wares. This year’s Boston Zine Fair was split up on three floors of the Institute, which also had it’s advantages since there were smaller clusters of tables where visitors could converse with zinemakers. On the other hand, the sparse attendance makes for some sort of awkard transitions when someone else walks into the room. In the MassArt space it was easier to sort of wander around aimlessly and go back to a table when a conversation came to it’s natural conclusion. Even so, there were some people who really couldn’t be overlooked at this year’s event. In particular I’m glad to have met the artist Dan Nolan, who has a new graphic novel called Business Casual Stag Devil Death Boy. Nolan is doing an all-out marketing blitz for this comic, which is printed on glossy paper in full color (looks like 5 color process). When I saw the printing job on his novel I said: “man you are plunging directly into bankruptcy… in the most flamboyant fashion possible!” Nolan replied, “You know I thought that nothing could be worse financially than being a painter, until I discovered publishing my own comics.” What really amused me was that Nolan was standing there in his own Death Boy t-shirt under a bathrobe. In front of him was a peanut butter sandwich on a plate with a single bite taken out of it. Right in next to the sandwich was a single proof copy of the novel. And right behind the artist was the original oil painting that became the basis of his Death Boy novel. His entire look was amusingly surrealistic. Worth checking out his stuff.

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Troubletown Turns Twenty

Only by chance did I notice that Lloyd Dangle, cartoonist and creator of Troubletown, is currently tramping across America on a 20th Anniversary Book Tour, celebrating two decades of ceaseless trouble! How can it be that most people know Dangle only because of his Airborne packages, and not for his amazing comics?