Based in Bellingham, WA, the Alternative Library is something every creative community should strive to have.
“The interaction with machines made our daily life easier, faster and more efficient. Despite the rapid growth of technology, machines could not yet replace a simple smile, but now we have Face-o-mat.
(above image by Faesthetic #13 contributor Karn Piana)
“Celebrate with us the gathering of creative powers from around the globe to mark the passage from nothing to something and from thinking into doing. Savour this moment of transformation. Leave your fingerprint and see the shared moon grow as others reach out too. Let’s show the world that together our marks matter. Creativity defies boundaries. Ideas, wind, and air no one can stop.”
You ever have a time as a kid, where you and a bunch of friends, are messing around and joking a whole lot, and there’s a teacher or a parent there, and everyone’s having a good time? And then one of the dudes gets out of hand, and says something that’s just so messed, like “HAHA YEAH, THATS WHY THE HOLOCAUST IS FUNNY!” and everyone stops, looks, and the teacher is like “Ok, thats enough guys. Get back to work.”
That’s how i feel about JL8.
I’m not against fan art, and the first reaction people will have to me hating on this, will be “BUT DIDN’T YOU DRAW A BATMAN COMIC TOO?!” Yes, yes i did, and you know about me mostly because I DID fan art. I still DO fan art. Because our industry is so broken, that regardless of how good an artist you are, if you don’t get down on your knees and worship at the altar of geek consumerism, you can’t get noticed.
Every. single. blog. Spends way more time covering established properties than any creator owned works, and that’s not really an issue to me. That’s business. People get hits on shit thats familiar. So even though I had drawn over a hundred pages of creator owned comics, it was only until I did some lego superhero stuff that anyone looked my way. Comics like the Oatmeal, they know all about making easily digestible, shareable content, regardless of whether it’s good or bad or drawn well. But at least it’s original.
There’s a mutual understanding between major publishers and the creators and the fan base, that you’re gonna make a little side money for yourself, maybe make a bit of a name too, but somehow we all understand, that we are only borrowing what’s not ours, and if they took them back, we can’t whine and complain, we graciously give them back and go on with our lives. Many fans ultimately become the creators, and so fan culture is a major part of comics culture. But what happens when a dude like Rob Granito comes around, takes some drawing you did of some character, and redraws it and sells it like its his? We hate him. How dare he! But a dude like Yale Stewart, nobody says a thing.
There’s a line, and he crossed it. People have told me, that the story is good. What if, for instance, tomorrow, I thought “I could do Cold Heat better than Santoro, I’m gonna start writing my own Cold Heat comics.” At conventions, my whole table was “COLD HEAT – A ULISES FARINAS fan COMIC” and everyone told Santoro “But it’s a good story” One page, one time, fan art of the work, would be flattering, basing your entire career on someone else’s work, is theft.
We can not be advocates of copyright reform, of creator rights, of better standards in our comics, if we can’t agree what is a fair use of taking existing works and remixing them in our culture, and what is just deceiving the consumer into directing money into your pocket that should go to the original owners. If his storytelling is so good, his art is obviously drawn well, then he should have the balls to let them stand on their own. It’s not just a crutch, the dude has amputated his own legs and replaced them with stolen parts.
I find it disgusting to see an artist who’s got no spine, basically draw DC Precious Moments as his entire career. I would love if DC could somehow purchase it, but it’d basically justify any person who bootlegs their properties. Just do it long enough and successful enough, and you can steal your way into their good graces.
So many times, you’ll hear comics conversations about how Stan Lee stole from Jack Kirby, how this artist is being screwed over by this publisher. And I myself, I steal comics and movies from multi-billion dollar companies. Sometimes you’re Jean Val Jean and you just stole a loaf of bread, other times you’re an asshole. Its partly the fault of DC, for not recognizing that a product like this they should already be making. But at the end of the day, here goes a talented artist, who may also be a talented writer, who isn’t a david to a goliath, he’s the lice in both their hair.
It makes things weird for us, who are at cons doing this legally grey artwork to survive, and it’s weird for companies like DC, who if they go after him will have another PR nightmare just cause a dude didn’t know when to stop. I draw a lot less fan art as i used to, mostly cause it served its purpose, and now I try my damndest to sell my original ideas to publishers.
JL8 makes it seem like it might just be more worthwhile, to be a parasite than a scavenger.
As an afterthought, a counterpoint, an artist who does lots of fan art, but I respect, would be Corey Lewis. That’s how you do fan art:
“Where do you get your ideas?” is a question any motherfucker who’s made anything, has been asked. And you never hear them confess, “Shit, i stole that from somewhere” But when you see trends come and go, styles being bitten and everything looking the same, why don’t we ask “Where did the ideas go?” And they went down the human centipede of people making work based on all the shit they’ve swallowed their whole lives. The entire value system of art is a stock market emperor with no clothes, and no one can admit that the only reason we like anything is because someone told us to.
High art, low art, pulp and indie, all the indications of taste we use to say what is good and what is bad, its just an artificial system. People don’t go out and just enjoy an 80′s action movie on its own merits, they gotta get it repackaged and sold them as Drive or Deathproof. People can’t admit they enjoyed Michael Bay’s Transformers, they gotta get it sold to them as Guillermo Del Toro’s rain-fest Pacific Rim. But it’s bullshit, we determine what has value, not according to our interests, but according to consensus. And when you really wanna admit you like something that has not been agreed on for you beforehand, you gotta call it ‘guilty pleasure’ ‘irony’ and ‘so bad its good’
The taste makers have drank the kool-aid of increasingly anonymous corporate created art, where Banksy is some kind of pioneer, but the dude is a globe trotting british boy just like every other british boy leaving their marks on colonies a century before. When the taggers are still considered savages. And this is where the ideas went, because we’ve lost all critical thinking, lost all sense of scale and awe and wonder. So the only way we know what’s beautiful is by the amount of retweets, reblogs and buzzfeeds its fed.
It’s no way to be an artist. I don’t see any value in art, i see value in hard work. I love the shitty movies, i love Vin Diesel and the Rock, i love seeing cult classics that ended up cult classics by quirks of fate and not by stylistic design. Because when you see a low budget movie, with shitty dialogue and terrible fx, you know it only got to your screen after some hard ass work. You got Super 8 trying to be the next Goonies, forgetting that Goonies felt natural, felt like us, and this movie feels like Haley Joe Osment as A.I wanting to be a real boy. There’s no craft in it, no work, just J.J.Abrams as a creative automaton that puts on the appearance of love so that you’ll love him.
And all that shit i just wrote, was just to get here: Work. There’s three things i hear every time i go home to see my parents. Work hard, move forward, and sacrifice. Discipline, Momentum, and Loss. The Three forward facing walls of the Idea Box. “Where do you get your ideas?” From putting the work in. When you’re working, and you gotta keep moving, you don’t got time to care about other people’s work, other people’s success, other people’s bullshit. You lose something every day. You lose life, you fall out of touch, you lose energy. Death and Taxes, but death is taxes. You try to budget your time, save some for yourself, but when you’re held accountable, death does the math and you always come up short. You can go to comic cons, and see the same motherfuckers selling the same indie comic shit they were selling for years. Oh, this time around it got an ignatz, but what the fuck is a golden brick when you ain’t got gold, just bricks? If every cartoonist out there, did a proper accounting of their work, of their value, 3/4 of the tables at small press fests would be left empty. When you realize you’re hungry cause you’re pressing a stapler instead of a george forman grill, you’ll skip the con and its hundred dollar tables and hotels and gas.
But what is a cartoonist taught of value? You got kramers ergot filled with chicken scratch and half your friends will say “That’s comics too!” You got comics teachers who have spent all their years to become cartoonists and ended up teachers, and teaching someone else how to get to their mid-stage pokemon evolution is the best they’ll do. No one who’s a squirtle, should learn how to become blastoise from a wartortle. The best teachers didn’t fall short and settle for teaching, they aimed high at teaching and became charizards of that shit. For every art comix cartoonist that praises Schulz, Herriman, Herge and McCay, ain’t none of them ever stop their baby doodling to actually accept that there’s value in a beautiful drawing. And i mean beautiful in that straight-up, nice-to-look-at, conventional way. We aren’t taught value, and so we aren’t taught that to make something valuable, it must be rare, and to make something rare, takes time, patience and skill. Takes work.
Our comics heroes went to war, our comics community goes to conventions. When they came back, they made some of the most beautiful enduring works of art in the last century. When we come back, we have a heavy bag of comics, given away for free, the price waived if you’re so kind enough to trade. But who would give away a sandwich when they were hungry? You don’t get to complain about comics being hard, if the only way you can be doing comics is by living on easy street. Life is hard, but its really difficult to believe it when a cartoonist says it, over chilled whiskey in a hotel room on the weekend. I live a life of luxury, of first world convenience, and the only way i honor my parents, is if i have the option of drawing comics for a living, i’m gonna treat it like i’m a god damn farmer. Work the land, reap what i sow, draw blood from a stone.
There was a time when Toledo, Ohio (home of Faesthetic) was a hot bed of zine publishing. While now long gone, Clamor magazine was at the forefront of the publishing revolution. Filled with aggressive & forward thinking politics, it defined a generation’s belief system and helped many of us find our political voices. To this day, I credit Clamor with motivating me to publish Faesthetic on a regular basis. Clamor impacted many people’s lives. Hell, they were one of the first magazines to publish my illustrations.
Archives of the entire Clamor library are available for free online here. Now the publishers are back, and looking to make the entire archive more user friendly and searchable, and they need your help. Please consider supporting making Clamor more accessible for the next generation of zine publishers and political extremists.