Friday, October 29, 2010

Ink to me only with thine eyes

Another piece of SF proposal art, this one is my conception of the Great Orrery, a communications device ca. 100,000 AD. The Vacillators scattered around it are part of the same system. The novella is a 1910 work by J.H. Rosny Aîné, a fine work by a sadly neglected author.

The Vacillators have an air of Moebius to them, this sort of mechanical biomorph is an old motif with him and one which I suspect is ultimately descended from the Lions of Delos.

My last posting was a bit of a cranky rant against the growing trend of artistic amnesia, a trend which not reduces the resources available to both artists and audience but also lowers the visual bar, so to speak, and increases the rate at which visual rubbish can be substituted for visual substance, a process driven solely by commercial calculations.

What we have here is really an artistic version of Gresham's Law, bad art drives out good and the only remedy is providing a genuine education to young people to inoculate them as early as possible. The tastes of youth are a great influence upon adult consumption, which is why such vast sums of money are spent upon destroying young people's sense of taste and judgement.

In any case, cross hatching seems to be a dwindling art form, at least until Photoshop comes up with a filter to do it. Until then I will continue with my inky blobs and squiggles and crochets and I encourage you to do the same.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ink the Bismarck!

I seem to be getting a lot of hits these days from other artists and I get the feeling that many of them are students or relatively new to the biz. One reason I did my Snark the way I did was that I was hoping to energize young people to lay aside their iPhones and toss away their iNsouciance long enough to take a look at what the old fogeys call Kulture.

The internet is brimming with sugary eye-candy but without at least a foundation in Kulture, you will be hard-pressed to find much of use and more importantly, your tastes will subtly influenced towards the fashionable, the flashy, the cheap-to-produce and worst of all, the pre-commodified.

In short, eat your vegetables and visit a museum, young inksters! And get the heck off my lawn. And wash off those tattoos before you sit down to supper.

The life of a freelance illustrator is a constant scramble to finish one thing whilst simultaneously preparing new projects to propose to publishers. This artwork is part of such a proposal still in the pipeline, a French SF novel from the turn of the last century, translated & illustrated by myself.

In this case, the style I chose for this proposed book was a deliberate homage to the great French SF illustrators of the 60s and 70s, artists like Bilal and Moebius whose work was such a formative influence on me when I was a squirt. Their inking style was a direct descendant of the classical European line techniques which stretched all the way back to Albrecht Dürer's graphic work, work in which he codified and clarified cross-hatching for all time. From Dürer to Moebius is an unbroken line, a glorious tradition embellished by such masters of the pen (and etching needle) as Holbein, Rembrandt, Tiepolo and many more worthy of careful study.

In short, the more historical baggage your style carries, the stronger its muscles will become and eventually it might even set off on some unexpected and very fruitful excursions of its own!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

All the Snark that’s fit to print

A pretty drawing perhaps, but we need Facts! Enough of this inky procrastination, it’s time to get to the bottom of all this burning, sprouting, smoking, trumpeting, inky mess! This is your chance, dear reader, to make Snarkian history …

What is the meaning of the Hunting of the Snark?
Life is an existential boojum
God exists, QED
Thinly disguised psychological portrait of Lewis Carroll
Allegorical search for happiness
Tuberculosis, Tichbourne Claimant, etc.
Cryptosemiotic message from the Carrollian Multiverse
The meaning is the meaning
42 free polls

Elsewhere on The Hunting of the Snark …
What is it men in SNARK do require? The lineaments of Alimentary Desire

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Snark from U.N.C.L.E.

Naming a child after its uncle is a bit of linguistic economy often practised by the same sort of people who give their children Roman numerals as a sort of appendage to their family names : alphanumeric folks such as Henry VII or Malcolm X.

Drawing an uncle is an entirely different matter, one simply shuts one’s eyes, grips one’s pen tightly and hopes for the best. In this case, the uncle turned out to have entirely no resemblance to the uncle of the author of these verses, Lewis Carroll, AKA the Rev. C.L. Dodgson, whose uncle’s death at the end of a rusty nail provides fascinating reading for whomever cares to follow the link below.

Elsewhere on The Hunting of the Snark …
Family & Kinship Patterns of 19th-Century British Yahoos: Avuncular Boojumery?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Brideshead Resnarked

Children who play with ships and all those other whats-its who go down to the sea in ships always come to a sticky end. It matters not if a Snark or something even less wholesome awaits them at the end, they’re all doomed, doomed to being reduced to a concoction of india ink and paper all squiggled upon by a middle-aged illustrator bent upon that very same paper!

Middle age, my fellow Snarkistas, is very much a skipping of forty years and then a bit of a pratfall when one lands upon the deck of one’s Snark-Hunting ship to find it exactly as one left it, so long ago, the exact same Carrollian ship of fools adrift in a sea of ink.

Whenever I’m asked what do I think is the meaning of the Hunting of the Snark — the 134-year old Holy Grail of Carrollian research — I simply reply : proceed without further remark.

Elsewhere on The Hunting of the Snark …
My object all sublime, I shall achieve in time, to make the boojums fit the crime

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Stop me before I snark again

It’s all the rage to blame one’s parents for one’s own little problems; many literary critics think this to be a modern phenomenon but it’s a habit dating back to the Old Testament at least (so we can blame our ancestors for this one, at least).

Pinning the blame for present misfortunes upon past misfortunes will, if left unchecked, lead to the dreaded Infinite Regression, that annihilating Boojum of all Western philosophical thought.

Of course, in this instance, Lewis Carroll is having his little joke with us, for by taking on an assumed identity, the Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson had essentially negated his parents (in the most genteel manner) and thus absolved them of all blame for whatever it was that Lewis Carroll was about.

Or the Rev. Dodgson could have just skipped all that and admitted that he, and he alone was entirely responsible for his own problems in life and thus made the entire foundation of all narrative art softly and suddenly vanish away.

Elsewhere on The Hunting of the Snark …
Having placed in my mouth sufficient boojum for three minutes’ chewing

Monday, October 11, 2010

Cool Hand Snark

The Baker is vamping again, trying to hog that meager scrap of limelight which is all this production of Lewis Carroll’s Hunting of the Snark can afford for now.

He’s taken it into his head to do what we in the inking business call a Full Grünewald, this man called Ho, while the Boots, the Barrister and the Bellman assume suitably indolent poses of slack-jawed amazement at this clumsy reference to the otherwise self-effacing Baker's self-sacrificial destiny.

The idea of referring to various famous bits of artwork throughout my version of the Snark was a clever plan on my part. It allows me to avoid coming up with an excessively tiresome number of ideas and also allows any grad students skulking off-stage to grasp upon a easy thesis subject which could afford them years of cheap lukewarm stipends in the company of various beery-eyed coeds, to wit: that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.

Extra! The Fall 2011 meeting of the Lewis Carroll Society of North America will be in at the New York Institute of Technology this year and a great line-up of speakers is planned. Oleg Lipchenko will be discussing his own Snark project, and Edward Giuliano, Jenny Woolf and Adam Gopnik will be giving various talks on Carroll. The latter two will be doing book signings and in addition, I am pleased to say that I will also be there to sign copies of my own Snark, available there at a members' discount. Details here

Elsewhere on The Hunting of the Snark …
Ecce pistor!

Friday, October 8, 2010

A Snarkimental Education

Yet another visual conundrum to grace these hapless pages of The Hunting of the Snark by the safely dead Lewis Carroll. I say safely for I cannot know how Carroll would have taken this particular bit of sketchy jobbery and like all illustrators, I am a bit of an inky rascal who prefers to avoid outraged authors.

The duenna on the right is a generic optical illusion found in all the better sorts of psychology textbooks, the sort of textbooks which prefer not to delve too deeply into why a grown man feels the need to be pelted with salad and ice whilst clutching a giant muffin.

Such mysteries form the very bedrock of Human Stupidity and as such, are best left to the experts in such matters, psychologists, behavioral scientists, theologians and philosophers, all of whom concur in answering the question thus: because!

More Snark Cinematic News! It appears that another animated version of the Snark is in the works, produced by Saranne Bensusan and 3rd Story Productions. It appears to be a stop-motion production in the UK, more info here.

Elsewhere on The Hunting of the Snark …
On le nomme aussi BOUJUM par erreur

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Life’s a Joke and All Things Show It, I Thought So Once and This SNARK Shows It!

There’s a pun of sorts lurking about somewhere in this inky mess although I am well aware that certain of my readers don’t go in for that sort of thing at all.

Puns are proof positive that the words which we employ are ready to betray us at the first opportunity, and visual puns are doubleplus-proof-positive of the illusory nature of Things As They Are. Let’s face it, most everything we say and see is just a fib and it is this which drives pun-o-phobes nuts, they like a bit of order in their chaos.

But we Snark Hunters are made of sterner stuff! It is we, and we alone, who have the unmitigated semiotic gall to stand up in the midst of the stuffed-shirt cocktail party of Reality, our hair awry, our curry-soaked ties undone, our bloodshot eyes rolling madly, and proclaim loudly to our hostess that the Baker’s Tale has a point after all, the point being that it entails a waist of time.

Elsewhere on The Hunting of the Snark …
Look on my snark, ye mighty, and despair!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Persecution and Assassination of the Baker as Performed by the Inmates of the Hunting of the Snark Under the Direction of Lewis Carroll

This stanzel of The Hunting of the Snark would make anyone faint away, the way it leers at us with its inky visage of squiggly lines and blobby crochets, all of ‘em denoting a sound and fury signifying nothing, nothing at all!

Why does this artist feel it necessary to illustrate an otherwise ordinary bit of verse about the dangers of fainting on the job with this overly baroque reference to the Rake’s Progress of William Hogarth?

Is he making some futile, pseudo-erudite stab at a bit of ironic postmodern reference to a long-dead fellow illustrator, a useless pastime when one considers that no one reads comic books for that sort of thing anymore?

Or has he gone mad? Has the cheap brand of india ink which he surreptitiously imbibes when no one’s looking rotted out his last synapses, synapses already nibbled down to a nub by Stravinsky's rakish earworm?

Or is he, like the Baker, simply overwhelmed by the horror of it all, by that creepy Mistuh-Kurtz-he-dead malaise which so pervades Lewis Carroll’s Snark and the modern world?

Questions, questions everywhere, they’re the bane of all thinking folk … just look at the pretty picture and admire my off-hand reference to Mister Hogarth’s Line of Beauty.

Elsewhere on The Hunting of the Snark …
Old Snarks for sale, old Snarks, prim Snarks, silly and grim Snarks for sale