Archive for April, 2008

Apr 27 2008

Life drawing with tech

Published by under sketchbook,tools & tech

Today, instead of going to aikido, I went to CCAE’s open figure drawing. This is something I do a couple of times a year. It’s a fairly robust group, often drawing a crowd of more than 20 artists. The models are hit or miss, but you get 4 hours for $11, which is a pretty good deal.

This was the first time I’ve brought my tablet PC to a life drawing session. Overall, it worked quite well — though as I suspected, it made me very conspicuous (which in this context is not something I like).

I also brought traditional materials like ink, charcoal, and gouache, and the first few pieces here are traditional. The rest are digital.





ccae042708-4b.jpg ccae042708-5.jpg

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Apr 27 2008


Published by under sketchbook

Yesterday I went to NEFFA and had a splendid day dancing, drawing, and lounging about outdoors.

NEFFA sketch 1 - pen, gouache

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Apr 24 2008

Spring painting

Published by under sketchbook

I hope to do lots of these, because I love drawing and painting outdoors!

Gouache painting of Watertown neighborhood

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Apr 18 2008

Roswell for the completist

Published by under sketchbook,travel

In case anyone wanted more Roswell, and just for kicks, here are some sketches I did while driving around:

Sketches of the area around Roswell, NM

And in the Anderson museum (including notes on interesting folks to look up):

Anderson museum sketches 1 Anderson museum sketches 2 Anderson museum sketches 3

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Apr 17 2008

Guardian sculptures

Published by under sketchbook

The Peabody-Essex is a gorgeous little museum.

Sculptures from the Peabody Essex collection - ink sketch

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Apr 16 2008


Published by under reviews

Spark Notes / Sterling Publishing just put out the first three titles in their series of Shakespeare graphic novels. They have nicely designed covers, a catchy series title (“No Fear Shakespeare“), and they weigh in at a hefty 200+ pages each. They look like they’re doing a lot of things right, so I was keen to check them out.

The books only give art credits, they don’t mention who wrote the text. I must assume that it’s the collective work of the Spark Notes editors, and so they get the majority of my criticism. I started with Romeo and Juliet, but I put it down after about 20 minutes, because I couldn’t read any more. They’ve simplified the language of the play, but not in a way that makes it read more smoothly. Instead it feels stilted and clumsy. R&J is in my opinion one of the most beautiful pieces of writing the world has ever seen, and it has been butchered. I should note that I’m certainly not the target market for these books, and kids might enjoy them more — but stilted language doesn’t appeal to kids much either, in my experience.

The art has a friendly feel to it, and the artist either went to Verona or looked at a lot of reference, because various parts of the city are recognizable. The layouts are clear and easy to follow. But the drawing seems a bit clumsy to me, and I don’t like the “acting” of the characters. Some of the jokes come off well, and some fall flat. The characters are often drawn with odd little triangles on the sides of their noses.

I put down R&J and started on Macbeth. I started out liking the art better, and somehow the heavier mood made the butchery of Willy’s words bother me less; but I still gagged on passages like “Wait! You incomplete speakers, tell me more.” I have to say that even though I like the artistic style, I soon found the actors are a bit too one-note with their always-desperate eyes, and some of the layouts and narrative choices make me think it’s drawn by someone fairly new to the medium.

Finally, Hamlet. This was my favorite, and I finished it. The acting is more dynamic, the drawing is more confident, and I guess I started to get used to the language because it didn’t bother me quite as much (though again, I still tripped on certain awkward passages). Some of the visual symbolism was a bit simplistic, but overall it’s a good effort.

For comparison, I would say that this series slightly edges out the Manga Shakespeare series artistically, but that Manga Shakespeare is a somewhat better read. Note that I didn’t finish any of those either, because the style was just too tacky for me. I also just found out about a series of classic adaptations published in the UK that you can get in three different text versions with the same art — original, plain prose, and abbreviated/contemporary. This is something I would have liked to do with King Lear, except that I think it’s commercial suicide to actually print a book that way (especially in color, which these are). Anyway, I don’t particularly like the art I saw on their website, but the text adaptation appears to be pretty good. I’ve ordered a short-text version of Macbeth to check out.

By the way, I apologize if I’ve hurt the feelings of any of the artists involved (because if they’re anything like me, Google will have instantly pointed them to this review). I’m probably not the target audience for these books anyway, being a hyper-critical long-time reader of Shakespeare as well as a competitor. I have a great deal of respect for the professional work ethic required to produce books of this length, and I expect all of these artists to have bright and lucrative futures ahead of them. I also think Shakespeare sets the bar very, very high.

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Apr 16 2008

’tis the season…

Published by under sketchbook

For wandering around Harvard yard.

Harvard’s Memorial Hall - panecil sketch

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Apr 15 2008


Published by under Uncategorized

I was hoping for an Eisner nod this year.

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Apr 05 2008

Great press for Merchant!

Published by under press,reviews,shakespeare

I got some really nice advance press for The Merchant of Venice (which comes out May 15th). First and most impressive, a starred review in Kirkus! This is basically the perfect review, as it starts out “Of late, there have been many unsuccessful attempts to adapt Shakespeare into the graphic-novel format; Hinds’s beautiful new offering now sets the standard that all others will strive to meet.” How about that???

I also got a more mixed, but still basically positive, review in Booklist; and I was interviewed in Ingram’s twice-yearly graphic novel supplement (Ingram is the largest book wholesaler in the US).

This bodes well :-)

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Apr 05 2008

In the Land of UFOs

Published by under appearances,Uncategorized

Or, My Author Visit to Roswell…

I’m writing most of this on the plane flight back from Roswell, NM, where I spent 3 full days doing author visits at the New Mexico Military Institute, the Sierra Middle School, and the Sidney Gutierrez Middle School. It was a good trip, although it was *definitely* hard work rather than fun.

The flight to Roswell took most of the day. My first flight left Boston at 2:20pm and I didn’t arrive until 10pm Mountain Time (midnight Eastern). I did manage to get a bit of work done on the way (books 7-8 of the Odyssey script, plus a couple of pages of layout).

My guest suite at NMMI was very spacious and comfortable. I’m not sure I would recommend the accommodations, though, because there’s a wake-up bugle at 6am and another (calling the cadets to drill?) a short while later. Also the water was the hardest I’ve ever encountered. It was almost impossible to get my soap to lather.

NMMI has students ranging from 7th grade to Junior College, and I worked with a lot of them. I did my standard comic workshop at least 6 times, my show&tell presentation in standard, short and long variations, and tried out several new demos and exercises. Every group had a different mix of artistic, rowdy, disciplined, sleepy, cooperative, and bored kids. Some of groups mixed 7th graders with seniors or Freshmen with JC’ers. The shot below is of my presentation open to all cadets and the public after school on Wednesday evening. The turnout was modest, and the cadets can be a bit of a tough audience, but it went reasonably well. Introducing me is the teacher who arranged the whole thing, Liz Boese.

presentation at NMMI

Here’s me presenting at the Gutierrez Middle School:

Gutierrez Middle school presentation

My basic workshop involves creative reinterpretation of a certain childhood nursery rhyme, and I do it along with the students:

yet another shot of my work on the whiteboard another shot of my work on the whiteboard

shot of my work on the whiteboard

Each day involved about 5 hours of work, and the rest of the time I was mostly resting, checking email, eating Mexican food, and sightseeing in Roswell. I went first to the alien museum, which is 100% amateur. There’s actually some pretty interesting information about the various major UFO incidents, but it’s all presented as plain ol’ text on a wall plus a few black and white photos of the persons involved. They have various photos people have taken of UFOs, a few explanations of hoaxes, and some small dioramas of saucer crashes. Probably the coolest thing there was the alien autopsy diorama donated by a filmmaker who did a movie about Area 51 — for the movie they built a very realistic life-size rubber alien and an autopsy set. This now occupies a large glass case near the end of the museum. I couldn’t even find much in the way of good postcards in the gift shop, though I did buy a spiffy Roswell alien t-shirt.

I also went to the Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art, which is a very cool little place. They do year-long artist residencies there, so it’s filled with the work the residents have done over the years. Mostly representational, mostly quite good. I noted a bunch of names to look up later.

On the last day Liz took me for a drive out to the mountains, where it’s prettier than in town. Some of the parts of the river valley (what they call a river is more of a stream) actually reminded me of VT. The terrain around the highway looked like a lot of the reference I stared at endlessly for the Cars game. The mountains are cool though — literally as well as figuratively.

landscape on the outskirts of Roswell

hills about an hour outside of Roswell

mountains around Capitan

When I landed in Roswell it was nighttime (and cloudy), so i didn’t get to see much. On takeoff I was treated to an excellent view of miles and miles of barren desert, and then an interesting agricultural area. The fields are all circular, because apparently they irrigate them with a rotating pipe-arm sort of thing. After that, we came to a cool raised shelf in the land, similar to what I imagine the continental shelf looks like under the ocean. Oh, now we’re going over more circular fields. It looks like a polka-dot blanket (in reddish-brown, green, and burgundy). Well, time to crank out some more layouts. Signing off from the skies over New Mexico….

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