Ben’s Garfield

For Independence Day, we have a new President, once more painted in black and white by Ben. James Garfield’s Presidency was short (shot in 1881, four months into his term, he lingered on for another two months before succumbing to infection), but he left a considerable mark on American culture: his death inspired a section of Sarah Vowell’s book Assassination Vacation as well as The Fatal Bullet, a fine graphic novel account by Rick Geary, New York stage actor Julius Garfinkle took his name to become the Hollywood star John Garfield, and perhaps most importantly, cartoonist Jim Davis also gave his name to the lasagna-loving cartoon cat beloved by millions. Would Garfield mean as much to us if he had been named Fillmore or Van Buren- or Heathcliff?

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Ben’s Presidents

My twelve year old son Ben began an ambitious painting project three years ago in a school art class; when the teacher gave him a choice of several pictures to copy, Ben picked a portrait of George Washington, which he copied in black and white. This is the result- pretty accomplished for a nine year old, even if it’s not quite an accurate likeness.

 
Ben\'s George Washington

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I’m In A Jam

Image from Awakening #0
Image from Awakening #0

l recently got a package of comics in the mail, the collected works of Steve Peters. My favorite of the batch is Chemistry, an autobiographical tale of lost love cleverly told in backwards chronology. like the movie Memento. Of particular interest will be the jam comic Rabbit Hell, collected in Awakening Comics #0.  Yes, that’s my self-portrait yawning in church next to the Tick and Felix the Cat. Also appearing in this story are Shroom and an early version of Mugg from Welcome To The Zone. Other contributors to this eight-page opus include Pete Bagge, Dan Clowes, Evan Dorkin, Kevin Eastman, Howard Cruse and Sergio Aragones. Apparently it was drawn at the 1993 San Diego Comics Convention, but I have no memory of drawing it. One of the pages I contributed to is viewable here.

Primoz Remembered

Libby Shapiro Brooklyn, NY introduced me to the photographer Primoz Kotnik. She responds to Wednesday’s post about him:

“Oh it’s great to see this David!!! What a great picture and what cool stories. I didn’t know about the bathtub- ooooeeeeeee-

I will send this on to friends here and in Germany who also knew and loved Primoz. It’s been years since he died and yet it really feels like he is not far away.

I miss him, he was a real great pal and uniquely faboo at cooking up fun stuff! As well as being such an amazing photographer. Continue reading Primoz Remembered

Fired Up!

And by the way, dont come back.

During my days as a struggling illustrator in New York I did a lot of odd jobs to make ends meet, including drawing caricatures at parties, running a carousel at a street fair, and even a bit of modeling. Never a glamorous GQ cover boy , I was more of a character type, and the high point of my modeling career was probably appearing as ”Randall Schwab, Jr.” in the ”O.C. and Stiggs” special issue of the National Lampoon (O.C. and Stiggs were two slacker teen characters who appeared in the magazine, and Schwab, Jr. was their nerd nemesis, eventually played by Jon Cryer when Robert Altman brought the characters to the screen).

Fired - sideways

My favorite modeling job, however, has to be this photo illustration from 1991 for a column by Anka Radakovitch in Details about getting fired. The photographer, a very creative Yugoslav named Primoz Kotnik, achieved the effect of me flying out the door by setting the whole composition up sideways- the door was mounted on the floor, the model playing the boss was lying on the floor kicking up into the air, and I was jumping up and down on a concealed trampoline, trying to stay in sync with the papers that were being tossed into the air. Turning the picture sideways should make it clearer.

I did another photo shoot for Primoz later in which I was pushed down 6th Avenue in a bathtub on wheels, like Peter Tork in the opening to The Monkees. Unfortunately, Primoz died not long after that. The story I heard is that he was out on a blind date when the van he was driving was struck by another vehicle. Both Primoz and his date were killed.

Break a Leg

Last Monday l took the kids for an outing with another family to Oaks Park, the local roller rink I used to skate at back when I was a teenager. l hadn’t been skating in years,and I figured  it was about time for the  kids to learn- Rebecca is already pretty good on ice skates. My accident happened when I decided  to take a break from circling  the  rink and get a drink. Decelerating as I went from the wood rink to the carpeted outer area, I heard a pop and stumbled- I thought somehow the shoe had broken until an Oaks employee pointed out my broken shin and asked if I wanted someone to call 911(Please disregard any rumors you may have heard that my broken leg resulted from a rinkside run-in with Tonya Harding).. Eve has done research and tells me this injury happens to a lot of guys like  me- that  is,  middle-aged hotdogs with an old man’s brittle bones- though  it  usually results from something more macho like a football tackle or a motorcycle crash. At least my downfall didn’t happen to  cheesy organ music- the rink has switched to nonstop oldies.

l was taken by ambulance to Legacy Emanuel, where I received excellent care, had surgery the next day and got home the day before Thanksgiving. I had hoped to get some comics drawn during my  hospital stay but I was on heavy medication and mostly took naps.This was all I could manage:

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Palming It

Stipple illustration with my faithful Palm Zire 71
An illustration from my faithful Palm Zire 71

I just uploaded eight of my Palm Pilot comics to my page at Comics Lifestyle. This is a series of little autobiographical and dream strips I drew between 2004 and 2006 using the Notepad application on a Palm Zire 71. I still have the device, and in fact I am scribbling this paragraph on it in the Memo Pad application, but eventually I quit drawing the strips because the software’s limitations were wearing on me- the 1×3 window limits the number of frames to no more than three. and  the combination of the application’s low resolution with the device’s clumsy stylus makes it difficult to get either fine detail or legible lettering.

What the software is best at is stipple, and I did do some decent drawings in it given the limitations. John Weeks was displaying the strips on his site for a while, and a techie friend managed to get them to display on his cell phone, and told me they looked really good there, making me feel very 21st Century. Still, I have never really warmed up to drawing using a computer or any electronic device.

The bulk of my artwork is created on paper using fossil technology like ink and brushes- which I then scan into Photoshop and beam worldwide.