Archive for the ‘fashion’ Category

Being an Attractive Superheroine Isn’t Easy

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Last week, NBC held its upfronts, presentations where the network debuts their fall slate of programming to advertisers, and the rest of the world peeks in to find out what new delights/horrors television has in store for them come the new season. Completely surprising no one was the fact that David E. Kelley’s Wonder Woman, starring Adrianne Palicki, was not on the schedule, mostly because reports of its demise had been flying fast and furious the week before that.

NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt said that they felt Wonder Woman wasn’t the right “fit” for their lineup, which is an interesting choice of words when you consider all the online hubbub surrounding her costume, which downplayed her patriotic (American) side and was ridiculously shiny and uncoordinated. The costume was later tweaked, but that didn’t stop people from tittering at unflattering photos of Adrienne Palicki in action.

Wonder Woman may not be saving the day now, but Empowered still came to her rescue after those photos were released, following up her comments on the script with new commentary about the trials and travails of being an attractive costumed heroine, as well as which female cast member of Friday Night Lights was hotter: Adrienne Palicki or Minka Kelly?

(via Bleeding Cool)

Silkscreen Stalkings

Friday, October 8th, 2010

Small press comics (or “comix”) are all about the DIY philosophy and aesthetic; so is the process of screen printing, which people use to make their own posters, postcards, and t-shirts. So a comic about screen printing? It was only a matter of time.

Do -It-Yourself Screenprinting is a collection of mini-comics and other ephemera by John Issacson, advertising itself on the cover as “How to turn your home into a t-shirt factory.” That tagline is mildly misleading as it only applies to the first chapter of the book, which was originally the first issue in a series of three. The other installments include an autobiographical tale of John selling his wares on Telegraph Avenue (Berkeley, CA), John getting a job at a professional screen printer so he can print his own t-shirts on better equipment (this section does explain the equipment and the process), and a bonus chapter about printing on paper. Each chapter is separated by a one-page interview with a fellow screen printer, though sometimes these feel like filler, especially if you’re not too familiar with the process of screen printing—a very likely outcome if you’ve picked up this book in the first place.

The book is a bit confused in that manner; what audience is it really intended for anyway? Usually, a comic instruction manual would be something intended for a beginner, walking them through the process and making it as simple as possible so they don’t get confused. While the book does take you through the process, it glosses over bits that a beginner might need to know (like, what exactly is a silkscreen and where do you buy the equipment to make one) and probably could explain other bits better (how to create a design for screen printing). Issacson does say that “this comic is not intended as a single source of information about silkscreening.” He refers readers to the instruction booklets included with the photo emulsion kit (and other equipment), as well as including a “recommended reading” section, but then how exactly does Do-It-Yourself Screenprinting work with those texts? Do we even need this book?

While it might be lacking as an instruction manual at times, as a casual read it’s not bad. The second and third chapters are more story-based than instructional, though the third chapter, “Do-It-Together Screenprinting: Dream Job or Nightmare Job?” does explain the process of printing on professional equipment. It too can be confusing, probably bearing out that it’s easier to learn by doing than just reading about it.

I enjoyed the second chapter for what it was, an inside look at the difficulties of being a street vendor in San Francisco, especially when selling your own wares. Now I’ll feel guilty next time I tell someone, “I’ll come back later.” Because the book is entirely is accurate about shoppers in this aspect: we usually don’t.

Screen printing is something I’ve been interested in trying for some time, but while I was hoping to learn something from this book and get started on my new hobby, I now feel a bit intimidated.

Do-It-Yourself Screenprinting: An Instructional Graphic Novel
by John Isaacson
published by Microcosm Publishing (Bloomington, 2007)
ISBN 978-0-9770557-4-6

A Fall Romance

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

Every season has its own style and fashion, and you can always count on New York Magazine to tell you what’s hip and hot in the “Capital of the World” in quarterly issues that lay out the latest and greatest in apparel and accessories. Perhaps their usual photos of models all dressed up or accessories laid out on neutral backgrounds grew tiresome, because for the Fall ’08 issue they decided to try something a bit different, hiring Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca to create a little comic that showed off the season’s styles.

The story is a short romance tale that gets a little strange; it’s entirely possible to read the entire thing without even realizing its true purpose. But that purpose is there nonetheless, with each featured item and its price listed below each page of the comic, labeled according to the panel they appear in.

The purpose of the comic calls to mind the Perry Ellis campaign from a few years back, but as the title indicates, the twist is something else entirely.

Dispatches from Tokyo

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

Living in a foreign country can be overwhelming, especially if you don’t speak the language. You might miss out on a lot, especially if you’re only there for a short period of time. Which might be why, back in 2006, German artist Dirk Schwieger proposed the following to his readers while living in Tokyo: send him suggestions for places to go, people to meet, or just interesting topics to investigate, and he will go out and do it. No questions asked, and he doesn’t have to like it. Then he chronicled each “assignment” in the form of a webcomic on his blog.

In 2008 these comics were collected into a book, Moresukine: Uploaded Weekly From Tokyo. The name “Moresukine” comes from the Japanese method of pronouncing “Moleskine,” the brand of notebook the original comics were created in, which the printed book sought to emulate in its design. The book is the size and cut of a Moleskine notebook, and if not for the illustration on the blue band wrapped around the cover, it could easily be mistaken for one.

The book consists of a brief introduction and story, followed by the stories of each assignment, from fashion to fugu. He covers topics as diverse as the Studio Ghibli Museum, love hotels, and Japanese slang. Each story is short but sweet; few overstay their welcome, while some, like the entry on religion, might not be long enough. He plays with the passage of time on a few assignments; the rooftop roller coaster entry tells the story of riding the roller coaster while simultaneously recounting the events leading up to that ride. The gender entry is actually a fold-out page; a series of random, yet interconnected thoughts are spread across a sheet two pages wide and two pages tall. It can be confusing, but greatly satisfying once all the pieces fall into place.

As all of the main Moresukine strips have previously appeared on the web, Schwieger attempts to sweeten the pot by offering bonus material in the published book.  The last section consists of a series of strips created by other artists, chronicling their responses to a challenge issued by Schweiger: talk to a Japanese person and write a strip about it. The selection of artists is mostly European, with a few from Canada and the United States. Some of the choices are rather… interesting, including Steve Havelka of Pokey the Penguin! and Ryan North of Dinosaur Comics. These two are not what you think of when you talk about “artistic” or “worldly” comics, but they produce interesting and entertaining results nonetheless. My favorite was the story by Monsieur le Chien, who took the time out to draw a strip chronicling not only his search for and encounter with a Japanese person, but also his previous thoughts on the Japanese (and also stereotypes of Frenchmen driving through the countryside in a Citroen Chevaux 2).

Moresukine is a quick read that can be confusing at times, but it provides an interesting and non-judgmental look at the culture of Japan through the eyes of a foreigner, all while not being afraid to experiment with the layout of a traditional comic.

Moresukine: Uploaded Weekly From Tokyo
written and illustrated by Dirk Schwieger
published by NBM Publishing (New York, 2008)
ISBN 978-1-56163-537-5

The Clothes, the Lifestyle, the… Comics

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

Advertising comics for the most part, tend to be pretty aggressive about the products they push. Whether it’s prominent placement of the product within the storyline, to straight-up name dropping, they don’t tend toward subtlety. A few years ago sportswear brand Perry Ellis hired agency Margeotes Fertitta Powell to do a $15 million campaign that went exactly that route—a series of comics about modern men living and working in the city, albeit well-dressed men. Two batches of comics were produced, the first illustrated by independent comics creator Adrian Tomine (author of Optic Nerve), and the second by illustrator Matthew Woodson.

The comics originally appeared as print ads in a variety of publications, including GQ, Cargo, and Esquire, as well as being posted on PerryEllis.com. The comics are no longer available at the official website, though Woodson has made his batch available to the public as part of his online portfolio.

gURL Power

Monday, October 6th, 2008

Back in June, during the MoCCA Art Festival, I picked up a small mini-comic for $1 titled “How to Get That Amazing Rock Star Hair” by Kiki Jones. Little did I know that it was originally created for gURL.com. The site itself is some lifestyle guide for teenage girls, but let’s take a look at the comics themselves.

How to Get That Amazing Rock Star Hair (That You’ve Always Wanted) is what it appears to be—a primer on how to make your hair a little more flamboyant by coloring it unnatural colors. It gives you the basics on bleaching and coloring, but always reminding the reader to seek assistance when needed, ever mindful of the fact that the site is read by teenage girls with potentially litigious parents. But despite the limitation of page size, the comic does a good job of explaining the process and making it a little less scary.

Many of the other comics on the site are your standard, quirky teen drama, but here and there are the occasional advice or instructional comics. Kiki Jones also presents A Crash Course in Coffee, which explains exactly what “espressos” and “lattes” are with simple diagrams; Bites, in which she talks about getting piercings in her lower lip; and Pop Rocks: My Anti-Drug, which is about what it’s like to be a person who doesn’t drink, smoke, or do drugs.

Though most of the comics are pretty light and fluffy, it should be noted that the lead comic on the site is Why Does It Hurt When I Pee? (about urinary tract infections). Hmm, you learn something new every day.