WIRED Covers Magical Realism in Bolivia

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If you’re a geek like me, you probably know WIRED as a nerd magazine with its printed magazine of electronics and gadgets. They’re more than that, I realize. They recently published a short article on magical realism art by Thomas Rousset and Rapaël Verona in Bolivia, referencing the late Gabriel Garcia Marquez (One Hundred Years of Solitude).

Check it out at WIRED.

We Were All Lost Things: Shaun Tan’s The Lost Thing Book Review

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In Shaun Tan’s The Lost Thing, the first image in the book is a tram with working folks all dressed in the same browns. Flip to the next page, and a boy from that tram begins his story. I find him and his hobby peculiar. This boy, surrounded by rusty pipes, concrete skyscrapers, nonsensical ads, and suburbs of the same houses, collects bottle-tops, pieces of metal with brand names. As a kid, industrial jungles usually go unnoticed—until you see something out of the corner of your eye that doesn’t quite fit.

The Lost Thing is about a boy finding a lost thing—there’s no other way to describe it except as a giant red kettle with suction-less tentacles. He helps the thing find a home in the concrete world he lives in. Though the boy’s world is a painted surrealistic place of exactness, The Lost Thing and the lost thing represent the world that we live in today.

In reality, we are encouraged to be the same. The housing associations say that everyone’s lawns must be cut within five inches. Schools give the same reading lists they gave their students ten years ago. Bosses tell workers they’re doing good work when everyone’s doing the same work in Tokyo, Cancun, and Dallas. Even what we read, watch, and consume are part of a branding network run by the same corporations urging people to buy into sameness, whether it’s the New Adult genre, untalented hiphopsters, or the latest i-something.

The Lost Thing reminds us that we were all kids once. We didn’t worry about what was cool or “in”. We had strange hobbies, and we wanted to adopt anything with four legs. We also felt alienated at times. For kids feeling alienated, the signs were as easy to spot as the arrows in Tan’s story. If adults followed it, they’d reach the home of the problem. Tan is good at picking up the parts kids can understand when seeing alienation—a big red thing among complacent humans, squiggly arrows, and dreamlike creatures—and Tan is even better at hiding the parts for adults that say, “We’ve got a kid inside of us. When did we stop being ourselves and start sweeping things under the bureaucratic rug?”

Just like the bottle-tops the boy collects, adults forget that everyone and everything belongs somewhere. It seems strange, but similar to the boy, we don’t notice those lost things anymore, or maybe we’ve just stopped noticing them, what with us being too busy doing other “important” stuff in our industrial jungles.

How great is Shaun Tan’s The Lost Thing? It inspired the 2002 sophomore album of Syney band, Lo-Tel. It was also adapted into a play by the Jigsaw Theatre Company in Australia and won an Oscar for the Best Short Animated Film in 2011.

Hard-Hitting Comics in a Different Way: The Comics Workbook Magazine #4 Review

cwm_bannerI have two loves in this world—writing and art—or three, if comics weren’t art already. When I find books and magazines and blogs that combine my loves something punches me in the kidney and says, “Hey, pay attention.” The Comics Workbook Magazine, a new e-zine for aspiring comic creators, makes a punching bag out of my organs. “You’re paying attention, right?”

Just like a haymaker, the fourth issue of the Comics Workbook Magazine comes out of nowhere and gives readers a unique take on art in editorials. This May issue featured essays by L. Nichols, Sarah Lautman, and Barthelemy Schwatz, an interview with Alex Degen, and comic strips by Andrea Bjurst, Krystal DiFronzo, Ines Estrada, and Emma Louthan.

I found Graham Sigurdson’s interview with AREACC artist Alex Degen the most interesting. Degen’s thoughts on silent comics ought to be given to all comic artists who want to improve their visual narratives. His statement—“[…] even if I didn’t fully understand the text the pictures would fill out the context”—should be a code for all artists as, “Your audience will understand the pictures, so make the pictures talk”. Degen’s success and Sigurdson’s eye for capturing the Mighty Star artist in his element will rub any reader the right way.

After Degen’s interview, there are comic strips that give the eyes a time out. Bjurst’s’ “I Have Purpose!” comic strip is minimal as if she traded Edvard Munch’s mixed-media screamer with a penciled one. “True Lies” by Estrada followed by DiFronzo and Louthan’s comics make good gut-busters, at least, compared to the serious editorials in the later part of the magazine. These comics balance the entire magazine without losing a bead of sweat.

This magazine may deliver some clean punches to the body, but veterans know how to parry them with clear eyes. Any type of art magazine, even if it is a literary medium, is an educational art piece. Artists read art. Editorials reinforce the visuals. They work together, and when they don’t, it’s going to be noticed—and not in a good way. The Comics Workbook Magazine shows that art and literature are arm-length apart. In every essay, only one or two images break up the text, and the penciled comic strips look unprofessional flushed against each other. All writings should spar again—they need another revision. Some of my pet peeves in literature include long-winded openers, all-capitalized words, and obvious self-promotions, all of which are in this magazine. Still, I can’t get angry, or I risk forfeiting nuggets of wisdom. This magazine is a beginner mimicking the likes of The Greatest.

Aside from the swings that refuse to land, the Comics Workbook Magazine is a good resource for aspiring comic book artists who write their own stuff. The writers and artists in this magazine created a small yet provoking magazine that can only come from people who are just like me—attentive lovers of writing and art—minus the inflamed organs.

The Comics Workbook Magazine is available on The Copacetic Comics Company website for $2.00.