Monday, July 29, 2013

A snark for Mr. Biswas

The late, great Strother Martin (probably one of the Heiddeger Martins from Heidelberg, back in the old country) once noted, in a similar situation involving some other dunderheads messing about with the law, phenomenology and life’s problems in general, that what we have here is a failure to communicate.

But how to illustrate such a situation without in turn failing to communicate one’s own self? How can we avoid the relentless, downward spiral of miscommunication, and distrust which so plagues modern youth?

Such logical intricacies were a sort of busman’s holiday for a certain class of Hindu (and Buddhist) philosophers and sages of yore whose otherwise innocuous turbans concealed brains possessed with a fiendish capacity for splitting hairs. The very antithesis of the plain-talking Strother Martin, these learned gentlemen delighted in concocting the metaphysical equivalent of the blazing hot curries on which they subsisted; arguments possessed of such piquancy that they were often disguised as bland, easy-to-swallow parables lest they frighten the kiddies or scare the livestock.

The most famous of such parables describes the misguided attempt by a group of blind brahmins to describe what an elephant is like through touch alone. One brahmin, grasping the trunk, thinks the elephant is rope-like, the other hugs a leg and finds the elephant to be tree-like, and so on until you, the befuddled reader trapped in your occidental web of illusion, get the point and purchase another round of curry for the house.

Needless to say, this illusion business (better known as maya in the finer sort of new — and old — deli) is further compounded by this artist with the addition of a really top-knotch epistemological corker: the multivalent confusion generated by having everyone concerned being the same person.

In such a case, when observer and observed are one and the same, one can truly say that anything anyone might have to say about anything will be best classified as everyone speaking at once and hence no one knowing what is said (pauses to wipe forehead with a tea-dampened dosa). Or as a certain neologizing German thinkwallah might have put it, what we have here is a failure to überselbstzeichnungangstgemachen.

Stay tuned, tolerant reader, for next week’s exciting, hijacked episode of Lewis Carroll’s Hunting of the Snark … or something like that …

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Trumpeter and the Snark

If you’ve been assiduously following our nonsensical res publica, The Hunting of the Snark, you might have noticed that there has been a steady accumulation of visual details as the story progresses. Such a gradual amplification of things is what the critics call fritter-my-wig or even what-you-may-call-um and believe me, it’s all the rage in the right sort of literary circles.

However, we ‘umble visual artists, (fixated as always on more alimentary matters) call such an accumulation of visual tchotchkes "chicken fat". The late, great Will Elder coined the term whilst inking a drowned fly into a late night rendering of Harvey Kurtzman’s matzoh-ball soup as a practical joke. After a bit of the usual overheated vaudeville cross-talk-cum-haberule®-brandishing and some soft-shoeing with the Pro-White on Elder’s part, the moniker stuck and generations of artists have been ladling the chicken fat (or even schmalz if it’s germane to the proceedings) into their more soup-like drawings ever since.

All of which is a very convoluted and uselessly byzantine way of saying that you should keep a close eye on the progression of our Snark Hunt for it’s growing ever richer in unsaturated animal lipids such as chicken fat and Martin Heidegger. Naturally, one wonders what Lewis Carroll would have made of all our messing about with his otherwise perfectly normal recipe for a bowl of soup … would he have smacked his lips appreciatively at the our addition of the accurately-besmocked and bestyed pigherder Witnesses demonstrating the swineless vacuity of this comic operetta of a legal farce? Would he have slurped greedily at the tasty bits of the timeless humour of Mister Piggy’s magnum opus hoisted aloft before the proceedings like some sort of philosophical pearls before swine?

Or would Mister Carroll have paused in mid-luncheon, his spoon poised at his lips, and angrily demanded this artist to explain post haste what this other bird, this nonchicken and perhaps even swan-like bird masquerading as a legal bagpipe is doing in our collation of a Snark Hunt?

Alas, for Mr. Carroll and his delicate Victorian sense and sensibilities! This unexpectedly swannish creature is probably the grotesque and unexpected consequence of this artist using second-grade-fresh chicken fat in his cheapster drawings, a fly-by-night chicken fat cunningly adulterated with etymological preservatives of unknown provenance.

Yes, dear reader, this sudden outbreak of swans and bagpipes is no accident, on the contrary, it is a Significant Detail! Curiously, the word "sound", deriving as it does from the Old English word "swan," (properly, the sounding bird) seems to provide a perfect excuse for this artist to wreak further havoc on the entire chicken fat paradigm and perhaps even clear the way for a future swan-fat thing-um-a-jig. Or something along these metaphorically miscegenated lines of reasoning which so bedevil this production of the Snark

Without error or flaw indeed, eh?

Monday, July 15, 2013

The only good Heidegger is a dead Heidegger

Melodramatic courtroom scenes are the crack cocaine of modern cinema and television; the average viewer must have a regular dose at certain intervals or they will soon lose interest in whatever televisual dog’s-breakfast is being served ‘em by the sweaty-palmed, hysterically gibbering minions of Hollywood or Bollywood or whatever-wood they happen to find themselves lost in quasi-Dantesque peril.

However, our watchword for today is — eschew the obvious! Pester me not for your cheap thrills of courtroom antics leavened by lurid, torn-from-the-headlines social issues! You shall have none of that here and I do not care if you lapse into oddly compelling convulsions. Instead, you shall have a wholesome bit of this week’s episode of Lewis Carroll’s Snark Hunt, in which we find the Barrister heaving onto his hind legs before an English judge and jury, all for the benefit of a porcine defendant of no fixed address. There are no lurid social issues being mooted about in this courtroom, just the sweaty business of Man vs. Swine with a pinch of Desertion to lend it all an air of forensic veracity,

Good lord, I hear you mutter, everyone looks like everyone else, what’s going on here? Fret not, dear reader, you are not hallucinating nor is this artist suffering from idiopathic monofacia, in fact this is a prime example of what legal experts call habeas corpus (or more correctly, habeo corpus, for the benefit of congenitally officious readers).
In fact, we have here the body and the face of the Barrister, AKA Martin Heidegger, multiplied ten-fold so that he can simultaneously play all the necessary roles of this Carrollian nightmare of a courtroom drama. In doing so, not only do we cut down on unnecessary expenditures of our favorite brand of second-grade-fresh, reheated cafeteria-style india ink but we can also avoid the bothersome necessity of accurately drawing the many different faces of a full complement of judge, jury, defendant, spectators and string section.

Good lord, I hear you mutter, string section? Why yes, a string section and I think they are playing something rather jolly, a spritely tune which could even serve as an overture to the impending legal machinations of Messers Heidegger, Heidegger, Heidegger and Heidegger (gesundheit). It sounds rather like a bit of Gilbert and Sullivan and the hypernaturally eagle-eyed reader will have already noted the bit of foolscap in the Barrister’s hand upon which we can observe that hark, the hour of ten is sounding!

Cryptically sound advice indeed, for it might serve as both an indicator of the numerical quantity of Heideggers facially cluttering the landscape and more to the point, perhaps even the opening verses of Gilbert and Sullivan’s forensic benchwarmer, Trial By Jury.

The well-oiled Carrollian will sigh appreciatively at all this, knowing as they do that Carroll once harbored designs of collaborating with Sir Arthur Seymour Sullivan. These designs were crushed by something or the other, such was (and is) the topsy-turvy world of the crushing theater.

It is only now, over 130 years later, that the reader can judge for himself what such a collaboration might have looked like as he peruses our artistic reconstruction of a Carroll and Sullivan collaboration. I suggest that with glass in eye, you observe in a melodiously crosshatched manner that Heideggers with anxious fears are abounding, breathing hope and fear — for to-day in this arena, summoned by a stern subpoena, the Snark shortly will appear.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Draw, memory!

I'm still on my semi-Snark-hiatus … like MacArthur, my Hunting of the Snark GN shall return (remember, kids, never fight a land-Snark in Asia) … and in the meantime, here's something from the files:

The Art of the Fugue, which appeared in Fantagraphic's Prime Cuts in 1987. I guess those were my salad days, at least Gary Groth must have thought so. This was my first comix in print so please be gentle with her, she's a delicate, colicky thing, not at all like a Snark GN.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Twentieth Century Fox, Nineteenth Century Crow

The semi-hiatus continues … I'll resume posting art from my Snark GN next week … as soon as I finish "vacationing" whilst digging out a septic pit for my mum, fixing the invisible fencing, cleaning the gutters, trimming the goats' hooves and of course, getting a healthy dose of maternal advice on every possible subject. Meanwhile, for the kiddies, here's  …

 The Fox and the Crow 

There was once a Crow who flew to the most fancy restaurant in town and ordered the most expensive dish on the menu. While he was waiting for his food, he saw a badly dressed Fox staring at him from the window.

The Crow told the waiter to invite the poor beast inside. He probably thought that letting the Fox watch him eat his dinner would make the food taste even better — that’s the sort of Crow he was, I’m afraid. 

As soon as the Fox sat down, the Crow began eating his Chicken Marengo, the speciality of the restaurant. “Do you even know what’s in that dish you are eating?” asked the Fox. The Crow did not answer; he kept his beak shut. He did not stop chewing. He suspected a trap. 

“You’re eating a bird,” announced the Fox, “a big, dumb bird just like you. How does that make you feel?” The Crow opened his beak in horror at hearing this and some of his Chicken Marengo fell on the floor. The hungry Fox gobbled it up and ran out the door.

“That ignorant Crow!” said the Fox. “He doesn’t even know that Chicken Marengo is made from marengos, not chickens.” He was so pleased at his own cleverness in getting a free meal that he forgot to look both ways when crossing the street. A farmer on his way to the market with a wagon full of fresh marengos ran over the Fox.

The Crow paid for the Fox’s funeral. He even bought colour-coordinated, monogrammed silk handkerchiefs for all the other foxes to blow their noses with during the funeral. Luckily for the Crow, one fox blew his nose so hard that his brain malfunctioned and he let slip the truth: the Fox had not died in the marengo accident, he had only damaged his tail. He was recovering at home with his mother, who had forbidden him to eat dinner with strange crows ever again. 

Moral: Don’t listen to people who talk with their mouths full unless you want to eat crow afterwards.