As too few people have had to hear me talk about, I got to work with a bunch of wonderful kids in South Africa last summer. One of the sites where we did comics journalism workshops was the Center (whoops, I meant Centre) Of Sciences And Technology (COSAT), a pretty stunning magnet school started and run more-or-less single handedly by one awesome woman.
To get the youths exposed to digital illustration software and tablet usage (they were really pumped about learning how to do digital graphics, I blame Pixar) I asked them to draw me a picture of Nelson/Madiba/Tata Mandela. It was less an effort to have them embrace portraiture and explore national identity, and more a reflection of the fact that there’s lots and lots of Mandela stuff around schools in South Africa.
Here are two drawings from my students, Nolebulele and Yonela.
Their signatures are the best part.
She was a little embarrassed hers came out looking so much like Obama.
Here’s a photo of the two artists holding some of my dumb art.
Here’s mine. Obv. sucks big time in comparison.
This instructional comic is the result of a semester I spent as an adjuct instructor at New College of Florida in 2011. Students’ needs and questions shaped the nature of this piece, which was printed and distributed at the L.A. Comics and Zine Festival and the Eagle Rock Mini Comics Festival in 2012.
Closing time. One last call for alcohol.
Residents of California might be hearing that from their bartenders a little later than usual, if a bill currently being discussed in the state senate is passed. Proposed by Senator Leno in February, SB-635 would extend the legal sale of alcohol at bars to 4 a.m.
Bars are big business in this state. Lots of the nation’s most profitable gin joints are in Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego. Here’s a map that breaks that down:
For more info, here’s the story in video form:
Here’s some cool info my peers and I collected. We contacted different online publications and asked them how important social media skills were when looking at job candidates. Here are the results:
As excited and deeply personally and emotionally and creatively committed as I am to building the immersive and lucratively toy-able fictional universe of “FlowState,” this project is definitely not in danger of being completed any time too soon.
But, I and the rest of GPlay’s creative staff have produced scores of sketches and plot points. Such as this super saiyan freestyle showdown between Vince (our hero) and a cybernetic self-aware AI by the name of “TOR,” that I would like to share with you now:
Updated artwork to come, just keeping you in the loop.
See you Byters in the FlowState.
I’ve been doing some event coverage for Neon Tommy. Generally, these are easier to crank out in a hurry than broad-issue based stories, so I can keep relatively close to the ASAP deadlines of digital journalism. As brother Ryan Ray calls it, “service journalism.”
In this post: some photos of Despot, Killer Mike, Mr. Muthafuckin eXquire and El-P snapped at a show last week. I took these with the intention of folding them into a concert review, but ye Gods were determined otherwise. Due to preexisting conditions, by the time a review could have been posted on the news site it was really no longer news.
Thus, this. Included are my notes, punched into my iPod at the show. By my count some 300 people turned out, predominantly males. If this was an article for Neon Tommy I would probably include some discussion of who these rappers are, what Company Flow is, etc. But in this context, I’m comfortable assuming we all know what New York City is.
Killer Mike grips the mike and holds his ground like a statue from the shoulders down. He dances not unlike a Cee Lo bobble head.
“I just want to thank California for the amazing weed,” he says.”Shout out to my girl Shane. I dedicate this song to her — it’s called southern fried.”
“I want you all to be happy, smoke weed, have healthcare.”
After raging on Obama for a minute, he pulls out his Lighter to toast “Burn.”
“It’s going to be 1992 all over again,” he says. Next, he gets to his Grammy-awarded verse from Outkast’s track “The Whole World.”
Next song dedicated to “dads, uncles and mentors,” kids who never had dads. “I cry” he said, “every night I do that song.”
“Giving you this album has been the greatest moment of my life,” he says of his freshest release, “R.A.P. Music.”
El-P takes the stage and the crowd is inhaled by a fog machine’s cloud.
1) “Request Denied”
2) “The Full Retard”
3) “Works Every Time” ft. Dave Spooner Smith on trombone.
El-P says Zola Jesus is in attendance at tonight’s show. She looks like a Melrose Place version of Yolandi Visser, standing 5 foot nothing in the audience with fluffy blond locks.
4) Drones Over BKLYN
5) “Oh Hail No” ft. Mr. Muthafuckin eXquire
6) “Tougher Colder Killer” ft. Killer Mike and Despot
“LA is the number one market of people who buy my shit,” El-P says at this point. “Not new York. L.A. [...] I’ve been coming here since 1992 with Company Flow.”
7) “Sign Here” ft. Miles Olvey on keyboard.
Good Meters/Booker T. and the M.G.’s style organ solo.
8) “For My Upstairs Neighbor (Mum’s the Word)”
9) “Stay down” ft. Nick Diamonds of Islands
10) “$4 Vic/FTL”
Post-show thoughts: Perhaps this kind of music thrives in a state of flux. Icons of a particular sort, including el-p, appear to be sprinting constantly for real credibility.
Hardcore El-P fans littered amongst the vastly-male crowd of 300 some attendees were not taken by surprise at the caliber of his performance. Rather, the chunky red-head’s song and dance elicited excitement by leveraging the passion for his catalog that has accumulated in the hearts and minds of his fans over the course of two decades of mixtapes and memories.
He, who is in the midst of an attempt to confirm his continuing status as a culturally significant hot-firespitter by releasing the dense and wrought “cancer for cure,” strolled and spoke with a prepared consistency.
Similarly, Killer Mike’s posture and penchant for long-form a cappella verse was becoming of an anointed clansman of canonized hip hop. His performance persona is akin to also-Grammy-winner Rhymefest. As with El-P, his freshest release can be heard as a kind of reality check, presciently vigilant of popular music fans’ ADHD regarding dusty, static, has-been superstars. ‘The emperor does and will continue to wear clothes,’ say tracks tracks like “The Full Retard.” ‘And for the moment, tags on his swag read: outfit features lots of Mishka swag.’
Where the efforts of more nominally substantive folks, e.g. Despot and Exquire, will eventually lead remains to be determined in real time. Their long-term prominence amongst New York’s current hive of rap fanatics is hardly locked-down at this point. To suggest that the import of Despot’s sometimes-niche, sometimes flat material is being eclipsed by the slobbered-on vulgarity of Mr. Mutherfucking would be premature, pending a mature evaluation of tracks yet to come. Despot has, at times, touched off the same “white guy keeps it real” nerve that keeps El-P’s supporters stuck on the wagon. Alternatively, Mr. Muthafuckin eXquire is blasting off on the same riotous methodology that propelled the Odd Future kids to prominence in a booze-and-pills-addled heartbeat – his trial necessitates the distribution of a bulkier catalog. But he stands to reap hugely. Since ODB, there’s been no doubt about mainstream listeners’ industry-rattling voracity for rambunctious NYC hypemasters.
My mom ripped out a chunk of the Pioneer Press a few weeks ago and gave it to me — it said their new NewsToon program (“think animated editorial cartoons,” they said) was open to submissions, and they’d be posting a pick come June 15.
Animated cartoons aren’t necessarily my bag, baby. My hesitation to dive into this artform probably stems from the fact that my first and greatest work, a stop-motion piece depicting Bill Clinton wiping out on rollerblades, was lost forever due to a flaw in the camera’s alignment. I was in a summer school program after 5th grade when that happened, and I believe I cried.
But that’s all water under the bridge now. I whipped up a toon in Flash, and wouldn’t you know it they picked it for the site! Here it is:
It’s about Derek Boogaard, an MN NHL player who died in 2011. Thanks to recently released info, it has come to light that his expiration was result of extensive prescription drug abuse. That’s why I drew him getting smushed by a gigantic pill, because I’m clever, tactful, and decent with regards to sensitive political and personal issues.
I mentioned to Richard Chin, spear-header of the NewsToon program, that I heard a lot of talk about news groups using ‘new’-media graphics like cartoons and animations, but have been yet to see much action. In that regard, I was psyched to see his project.
He said that if the NewsToons initiative is going to take off, they were going to need more submissions. I’ll have keep an eye on how this idea evolves… what will be will be. And what doesn’t make money will probably get deleted off the newspaper’s site.
I wonder how many blog updates start with the words “big news’? I bet it’s a lot. But nevertheless…
Two cool things I get to be associated with dropped on the internet recently. First, the new digital issue of the Oyster Kiln has been released. A selection from my co-produced comic “This Bytes” made the cut. I like the folks who made it so much I even drew an image for them to use as the cover, which they didn’t use, for reasons that are obvious if you look at Natalie Catasus’ facsimile is saying. Here it is:
I’m really proud of it, regardless. But what I’m even more proud of is my friend Peter’s contribution, “Awake.” I think it’s at least one of the best short stories ever written, and the inspiration for the drawing above. You can read the whole thing here, but here’s the selection that floors me:
“For as long as I can remember, I’ve been overstimulated and underwhelmed. But in these moments I feel balance.”
There’s really funny parts too, though, like this:
“I lean in closer to the microphone. I like salmon sashimi, I said.”
In other news, I’m officially feeling a lot more like a real journalist since my first piece got published by Neon Tommy, a review of a Stone’s Throw DJ set. Since I’m a staff writer for the USC Digital News parlour, it follows that some more stuff by myself should appear on the site in the near future.
That about all the big news I can handle for now. See ya later, friends, loved ones, and occasional web-surfers in Singapore and Italy that somehow trickle their way onto my blog.
My friend Mel sends me bunches of wisdom via text.
Don’t forget, Mel is a canary melon not a lemon. Though I see how you could make that mistake.