Ruh-Roh! Scooby Apocalypse!

Panel selection from Scooby-Doo Apocalypse #4. Illustrated by Howard Porter with colors by Hi-Fi. Screencap via the author.

Panel selection from Scooby-Doo Apocalypse #4. Illustrated by Howard Porter with colors by Hi-Fi. Screencap via the author.

The big news in comics this week is the leak that Disney Channel star Zendaya may be cast as the role of Spider-Man’s long-time love interest, Mary Jane Watson, in an upcoming reboot. And, in the most pathetic corners of Twitter, comic nerds are crying out because “Mary Jane can’t be black.” This is the worst of what comic/nerd/fandom culture can be, and anytime some “controversy” like this crops up, it makes one want to drop their trade paperbacks, shelve their video game systems, and run for the hills. For all the work that Marvel’s doing to amp up its diversity and push toward inclusion, there’s still, culturally, in a big-picture sense, a very long way to go. But it has to start at the top, and casting Zendaya in this role is another good, smart, bold step in the right direction.

As for this week in comic books, the best are strangely about horror, possession, apocalyptic stories…and Scooby-Doo.

Cover for Scooby Apocalypse #4. Cover illustrated by Jim Lee with Alex Sinclair. Photo courtesy DC Comics.

Cover for Scooby Apocalypse #4. Cover illustrated by Jim Lee with Alex Sinclair. Photo courtesy DC Comics.

How’s this for a premise? Scooby-Doo, Shaggy, Velma, Daphne, and Fred all live in the near-future where a plague of nanobots have turned humans into bloodthirsty creatures inspired by classic movie monsters. In this verison of Scooby-Doo, Scoob can talk because he’s a cybernetically enhanced “Smart Dog,” Daphne and Fred are kickass documentarians that can handle huge rifles, Velma’s a super-scientist, and Shaggy has a twirly moustache. This issue sees the crew learning to work together as they’re chased from point to point. Dialogue heavy, this comic should please fans of Scooby-Doo and The Walking Dead.

Oh, I must have these. Why yes, I love Scoobert. Sparrow and Crowe: The Demoniac of Los Angeles #1, Broken Moon: Legends of the Deep #1, B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth #144 (from the pages of Hellboy) are also covered at The Creators Project, and they all look grand!

Beauty of Horsehair.

Kestrel sent some more photos of her work, and they are just stunning. When I saw the first photo, all I had was “Oh, Wow.” Beautiful indeed. It’s been many years since I kept horses, but if I still did, I’d definitely have one of these made. Click for full size!

3

Sometimes when I am working hair it strikes me as so beautiful I have to stop and take a photo. People don’t realize the beauty or the character of horsehair because they don’t see it the way I do. 25-strand double flat braid in horsehair. It looks like there are 4 different colors but the hair is from only 2 horses. At the roots where the hair emerges, it is generally darker (or in the case of white hair, really really white), and out in the brush of the tail where the sun shines on it and it can be stained by plants, it can be lighter, or, in the case of white hair it can actually be darker!

4

The finished bracelet from the top, where you can see the section I photographed above on the left of the photo, and it’s also easier to see the slightly darker white from the brush of the tail.

5

The other side of the bracelet. For the owner of these horses, this will be a cherished memento of two friends.

© Kestrel, all rights reserved.

How Freedom Shaped Ukrainian Art.

Silencing The Cacophony, 2015, Yulia Pinkusevich. Acrylic, spray paint, oil, vinyl, marker on linen. 69 x 161 inches. Photos courtesy of the artist.

Silencing The Cacophony, 2015, Yulia Pinkusevich. Acrylic, spray paint, oil, vinyl, marker on linen. 69 x 161 inches. Photos courtesy of the artist. (Click for full size, this is stunning.)

With Reality Check, exhibition curator and SAIC lecturer Adrienne Kochman seeks to explore the effect a quarter century of Ukrainian independence has had on artists both from the country and its wider diaspora. On display at the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art (in Chicago’s Ukrainian Village, of course) in celebration of the 25th anniversary of Ukrainian independence, the works, including sculptures, paintings, and installations, demonstrate the dramatic impact of the nation’s sovereignty on the work of both its native born and émigré artist communities.

The immigrants who fled the Soviet Union were for the most part prohibited from returning to their home country. In their new homes, many were raised in communities that “worked very actively to keep Ukrainian culture and tradition alive,” Kochman says. “Including language, schooling, music, a lot of really cultural endeavors. Because those were the aspects of Ukrainian culture that were Sovietized and Russified, were forcibly changed.”

Communication with Ukraine was tightly policed; this, in combination with the vibrant but insular Ukrainian communities the immigrants raised in, created for artists a strong sense of place for a place they had never been.

“They had certain ideas about what is was like in Ukraine,” Kochman, whose mother was a Cold War Ukrainian immigrant, says. “Virtually immediately, [they] went to Ukraine once independence was declared, and wanted to witness it themselves. They were interested in different aspects of Ukrainian culture and what has changed, and maybe what was retained. It really was a reality check, which is why I named the exhibition the way I did, because you are testing your belief system. You are trying to ascertain, is it accurate? Has it changed? How do I reconnect to this culture that I’m very attached to, that kind of feels like home, but you never stepped on the land, because you couldn’t?”

Bear (T)hugs, 2015, Lydia Bodnar-Balahutrak. Felted bear, 5 painted wooden nesting dolls. 10 x 14 x 6 inches.

Bear (T)hugs, 2015, Lydia Bodnar-Balahutrak. Felted bear, 5 painted wooden nesting dolls. 10 x 14 x 6 inches.

Émigré artists created works related to what they found when their idea of Ukraine met the real thing, incorporating traditional aspects of Ukrainian culture and addressing the impact of Russia and the Soviet Union. Cleveland-born Lydia Bodnar-Balahutrak’s Bear (T)hugs features a plush bear—symbol of Russia—holding nesting dolls of Putin, Stalin, Lenin, Rasputin, and vermin, while her In The Nests series use animals to explore socio-political and economic themes, for example a baby bird being fed a Russian coin. New Jersey native Natalka Husar’s paintings of Ukrainian men dressing like Russian gangsters calls to question identity, both culturally, politically, and as it pertains to masculine gender roles.

The opening of borders and communication worked both ways, however. “The artists from Ukraine were interested in branching out into styles or developments that were developing in the West, and have gone with that in their careers,” Kochman says.

[…]

The 25th anniversary of Ukrainian Independence is a tense one; Reality Check is opening in a world wherein a great swath of the country have been invaded, and the dormant sabres of the Cold War are beginning to rattle again. Signs in the windows of the Ukrainian businesses around the UIMA, blue and yellow and declaring a stand for a united and free country, are a reminder of how fragile the freedom that inspired Reality Check can be; the art itself, a reminder of how important it is.

Full story and more artworks at The Creators Project. I really wish I could see these works in person, they are all amazing, beautiful pieces that tell an eloquent story.

Breaking Up Boredom.

Having a large area to fill can get very tedious and boring. You can always go the distraction route, by putting a movie on or playing an audio book. Audio books don’t work for me, I find them annoying. Movies are fine, but they either need to be ones you have seen 5,000 times and pretty much know by heart, or a bad movie that won’t engage your attention much. A good movie you don’t know or know well will slow you way down. If I do movies, I do the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes movies. They basically provide background distraction, and are a good way to time yourself, as each movie is around 80 minutes. There are other little things you can do, even if you are working to a pattern. If there’s a large area, break it up with various shapes. By the time you’re done, you’ll have a nice, subtle pattern, which is especially nice in large areas done in one colour. You can also take a couple of seconds to randomly doodle, which gives you a goal (one doodle covered, two doodles covered, etc.) and can make the stitching area seem less formidable.

Current Hours: 1,029. Skeins Used: 149. Click for full size.

WorkWorkWork66

WorkWorkWork66a

© C. Ford, all rights reserved.

The Good of the Hive.

Wow! I so love this, I love everything about it, because it breaks my heart to see people being so callous about bees, even here in farm country. Bees are vital, and we should all be working for healthy bees and a healthy environment.

1

2

3

4

In an effort to raise awareness about the plight of the humble honey bee, New York-based artist Matt Willey founded the Good of the Hive Initiative, an ambitious project to personally paint 50,000 bees in murals around the world. The number itself isn’t arbitrary, it takes about that many bees to sustain a healthy beehive. So far Willey has completed 7 murals including a large piece at the Burt’s Bees headquarters, and he keeps meticulous notes about the number of bees in each piece which he shares on his website.

For more info you can read an interview with the artist at the Center for Humans and Nature website, and follow his progress on Instagram.

Via Colossal Art.

Looking at Police Brutality.

Police Cross Line 3, 2015.

Police Cross Line 3, 2015.

In works such as Nick Cave’s Soundsuits or David Hammons’ Untitled (Rock Head), material evokes the metaphorical and mythological meanings of the black body. Recently, some artists have chosen to symbolically explore its heft and value by emphasizing elevating materiality over the modernist privileging of form. In the artist Dáreece J. Walker’s Black is the giant exhibition of painting, sculpture and text, for instance, the artist’s use of cardboard examines the weight of the black body politic in the age of the Black Lives Matter movement.

[…]

“It’s about a conversation,” says Walker to The Creators Project. “A conversation about how myself and other black Americans that I’ve spoken with feel devalued or not considered in the overall societal structures.” He explains, “There’s a lot of stigma and media bias toward people with dark skin and particularly here in the United States there’s been a lot of police brutality.”

“The reason I used the medium cardboard is because the associations it has with being easily replaceable or disposable. It’s a sentiment that I feel that started to spread through the media representations of black men. It seemed that, through the coverage, black lives didn’t matter as much.”

The Saint, 2015.

The Saint, 2015.

The exhibition includes two wooden sculptures, The Martyr and The Saint, that speak to the portrayal and discrediting of black victims of police brutality in the media. The abstract works allude to the media coverage branding Trayvon Martin a “thug,” as well as the selection of imagery of black victims of police shootings that inspired the black Twitter hashtag #IfTheyGunnedMeDown. A poem entitled “If They Gun Me Down” by Daniel J. Watts, a Walker collaborator and Hamilton star, presented alongside Walker’s objects, aims to capture the bleakness of the representation of black life by the media, even in death:

If they gunned me down

would the media paint a picture

of a poet

or would I be politically portrayed as a perilous person with potential to be a paraphernalia pushing pistol popping pilferer?

If they gunned me down, would you be shown the hopeless romantic mama’s boy who writes about how his grandmother taught him how to blow kisses or would you be presented with a production still of the anti-violent “This is how we shoot back” as I brandished a metaphor into the camera?

If they gunned me down

will the photos in which I hold some sort of stone cold pose as I throw two fingers into the air be recognized as peace when they land on judgmental eyes or will they be both misconstrued and inappropriately affiliated with gang culture

by the media vultures that will surely circle my dead carcass ready to feed without taking me or my deeds into consideration?

Full Story at The Creators Project.

Carpet Bombing

Detail of Jim Ricks’ Carpet Bombing. All images courtesy of the artist.

Detail of Jim Ricks’ Carpet Bombing. All images courtesy of the artist.

Carpets made in Afghanistan have a history of representing the imagery of war, but a recent work by artist Jim Ricks gives a conceptual perspective to this tradition. Carpet Bombing is a giant, handmade rug that depicts a “Drone Survival Guide” created by Amsterdam-based designer Ruben Pater. Pater’s diagram is a one-page illustration of various drone aircrafts, which references similar guides that were used to identify aircrafts in past wars. Ricks traveled to Afghanistan, where the drones on Pater’s survival guide are in use, to have a rug made by Kabul-based Haji Naseer and Sons Carpet Makers.

Carpet Bombing on display at Rue Red in Dublin. Photo: Andrew Hetherington.

Carpet Bombing on display at Rue Red in Dublin. Photo: Andrew Hetherington.

There’s more to Carpet Bombing than the illustration of a poignant pun, as Ricks tells The Creators Project, “I think there is a tendency to ‘read’ the carpet like a poster and stop there. What I think is important about the piece is that not only is the graphic appropriated, it is always shown horizontal and flat in the gallery, as a carpet should be, thus reversing the observer from drone back to human again, and that it can be sat or walked on, activating the work in the way that is in keeping with the Persian carpet as a social space.”

The Creators Project has the full story.

Marvel Fan-Fiction and Scottish Indies.

Cover for All-New, All-Different Avengers Annual #1. Illustrated by Alex Ross. Photo courtesy of Marvel Comics.

Cover for All-New, All-Different Avengers Annual #1. Illustrated by Alex Ross. Photo courtesy of Marvel Comics.

‘Annual’ releases exist in a strange place in the comic world. Created as a way to tell a different story in a series without interrupting the main plotline or numbering, some see annuals as a marketing gimmick. But, as evidenced by All-New, All-Different Avengers Annual #1, they can be a bold chance to think outside the box. This issue sees everyone’s favorite teen from Jersey City, Ms. Marvel, logging onto her favorite fan-fiction website to write some stories about her fellow heroes. Once logged on, she sees that other people have written stories about her and her friends, and she’s shocked but compelled to read on. The rest of this comic, then, are those fan-fiction stories of Marvel heroes. Layered, and with plenty of goofiness and a variety of styles, this annual does exactly what it should: it tells weird stories the regular comics certainly couldn’t.

[Read more…]

Depicting Hysteria.

NSFW.

1

Alexandra Levasseur.

The second annual 4%ers exhibition is at the Athen B. Gallery in Oakland. The group show of female artists explores the origins of hysteria and the artistic expressions that have come to represent it. First conceived in San Francisco at the FFDG gallery, the show has since then changed locations to host a new set of artists with what it calls a “slightly wilder premise,” according to the gallery.

[…]

The gallery explains that the term, “hysteria,” was coined by an ancient Greek physician named Hippocrates, who used the word to explain ailments and afflictions thought exclusive to the female body. Hippocrates believed the uterus was the constitutional source of female woes, “often expressed as a restless, wandering womb, creating disorder within the body and distress in the woman experiencing it,” writes the gallery. Hysteria was understood as a nervous disorder and diagnosed on physical indicators: “gestures, motions, gaits, and non verbal utterances.” Without any legitimate grounds in medicine, the expression and mitigation of its symptoms often came in the form of artistic practices, such as painting. Although the diagnosis is no longer considered valid in formal medicine, the artists in the 4%ers show believe the concept of hysteria has impacted “the way women are supposed to act, look, and express themselves, physically, sexually, and artistically.” Now, they seek to reclaim the word through their own artistic expression.

[Read more…]