Monday, 15 June 2009

The Da Vinci Cor!

Well it seems as if even Leonardo Da Vinci was up to salacious scribbles on the side. A nude version of the Mona Lisa has just been rediscovered after being hidden behind wooden panelling for a century. Well, not technically the exact Mona Lisa, but experts are pointing out the strong similarities in the painting's composition, technique and style. Possibly painted by Leonardo, or one of his students, it does give extra validity to erotic art, particularly at a point in time when governments seem intent on cracking down on erotic painting and drawings. But of course, this is over 100 years old so that instantly "legitimises" it doesn't it?! Everyone knows that any erotic art created in the last year can't have any "artistic merit" now can it? ;-)

Full story here.

"Wake up" - Rage Against the Machine

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Things Wot I Have Learnt

On the cusp of my 40th birthday I’m in a reflective mood. One thing that’s struck me is as I get older is how my tastes have changed. I now enjoy—and in fact prefer—various pleasures my younger self would be repulsed at. I’ve gone from a lager, white wine and Southern-Comfort-and-lemonade drinker, and milk chocolate eater to a bitter, red wine and Jack-Daniels-and-coke and dark chocolate eater.

The same is true of my comics reading of late. In my younger days I was all about superheroes and what the latest titles were and who was creating the new hot thing at the time. While working in Comic Showcase in the late Eighties/early Nineties I remember all these collectors, like Frank Mottler, coming in to look at the latest EC Comics collections, classic Underground Comix, or the stock of Silver Age titles. In my impetuous youth I had no interest in these musty old comics. They seemed dry, boring and old hat. Ah, how wrong I was! Nowadays, I can really appreciate true classics of this period and the geniuses of Harvey Kurtzman, Johnny Craig, Jack Davis and the like. Their skill and draftsmanship puts a lot of modern comic artists to shame. 

Of course friends like Brad Brooks knew this all along and had been trying to get me to read this stuff for decades, but I’ve always been a stubborn and slow learner!

So imagine my delight when the very generous and lovely Peter Maresca of Sunday Press presented me with a copy of Volume 2 of the collection of Winsor McCay’s Little Nemo in Slumberland Sunday pages at the New York Comic Con in February. I’d met Peter in Angouleme just the month before, and he has some fascinating and wonderful material he’s be gathering from turn-of-the-19th-Century newspapers. Now, the Little Nemo collection is the same size and the original newspaper so it stands at almost 1 1/3 feet wide by 1 3/4 feet tall. Basically, the size of a small toddler! My internal, dismissive younger self almost turned the book offer down for fear of not getting it onto the plane, but I’m so glad I didn’t. I thoroughly recommend anyone with even an vague interest in comics pick this up and see the work that has influenced thousands of comic artists ever since. Nothing exists in a vacuum and this was one of the key progenitors of everything from Underground Comix to Rob Liefield. Most obviously it inspired two erotic comics, Little Nympho in Slumberland by Brian Bolland and Little Ego by Vittorio Giardino. To read the original Little Nemo pages in the new Sunday Press collection at the same size as they were originally printed is a real treat and each one demands intense, and delightful, scrutiny. A pleasure, like red wine, my youth would have turned it’s nose up at.

I’ve learnt a few things (not much, granted) over the last four decades that I wish my younger self had known, so for all you young men out there, I shall now dispense this “wisdom”:

1. Girls don’t think it’s big or clever to see how many pints you can down before throwing up. Projectile vomiting will never endear you to the opposite sex.

2. Real men don’t start needless fights in pubs on a Friday or Saturday night. Real men know how to diffuse a potentially violent situation through negotiation, humour or by simply walking away.

3. Listen to women. They know more than you.

4. The world doesn’t owe you a living! Get off your arse and make something of yourself! If you spent the same amount of energy whinging about how unfair life is, and put that into actually achieving something, you could do so much!

5. Everything in moderation!

6. Don’t eat processed/junk food and exercise regularly.

7. If you want to be successful with the opposite sex, maintain high levels of personal hygiene.

8. Stop before acting on impulse. Remember that everything you do has a consequence either for yourself or those around you. Stop, think and listen.

9. Respect yourself and other people. Oh, and respect is something you EARN, you don't get it automatically.

10. Don’t wear Lynx deodorant. Ever.

Funnily enough, I think this was the same information my Dad tried to impart to me when I was a sullen teenager. Plus ├ža change!

I think this cartoon by Tom Gauld that appeared in The Guardian sums it all up perfectly:

"Wake up" - Rage Against the Machine