This week I was going to write a summer TV wrap up as I’ve done in the past but I don’t think I’ve been watching many new summer TV shows. It’s weird. I’ve seen a few new shows but I’ve also been re-watching some old ones. There are some shows that are evergreen with me and I re-watch them every few years. Or at least I throw an episode on every now and again. I haven’t had one on in a while but The Rockford Files falls into that category. When new TV gets dull I like to throw on an old Jim Rockford episode on and revisit the 1970s. Columbo was also a show like that. I used to have Columbo on as I drew or painted all through the 1990s when it ran on A&E (back when I used to watch commercial TV). I haven’t seen any of Columbo in a while but someday I might. Cheers and Friends are another couple of TV shows that I might throw on an episode of if I’m feeling a little nostalgic and want to escape for twenty four minutes or so. I’ve watched a few episodes of each this summer. But not a ton of them.
A couple of the new TV shows I watched were Netflix ones. I saw the hot TV show of the summer, Stranger Things, and enjoyed it. It was all over the media, both social and regular, being praised and lauded and I have to agree it was good. A lot was made of its 1980s nostalgia but I wasn’t too into that. I liked it because it was a well told tale. It didn’t really matter to me that it took place in the 1980s. If you somehow missed it give it a look.
The second TV show was The Get Down. This one was also a period piece that took place in the 1970s in the Bronx. It was all about young people getting involved in the beginnings of hip hop music. I also like this one but maybe not as much as Stranger Things. There seemed to be a lot of padding in the middle of The Get Down but the first and last episodes were excellent. There was a lot of good music in it too plus the climatic musical scene was spot on. Even if you skip the middle four episodes give the first and last ones a look.
Rizzoli and Isles finished up its seven seasons on the air with a final season that was as solid as the others. It was never my favorite show and probably one I won’t ever revisit but it was a solid police procedural with some of the character’s personal lives thrown in. You got a crime every week, a solve every week, some comedic banter, and some family stuff to work out. It was pleasant enough.
I don’t know what category to put Mr. Robot in but it was back for a second season. I enjoyed the first season but now instead of our gang of hackers trying to take down a giant corporation they’re trying to deal with the aftermath. There are always a lot of questions that go along with this show and tons of mystery surround the plot in general. This second season was even weirder than the first with a strange reveal in the middle of the season. It’s a good strangeness though. I never get the felling that the writers are lost and don’t know where they’re going as I have with many other “What the heck is going on here?” type of shows.
One of the few new half hour comedies that I watched this summer was Angie Tribeca. It’s a goofy show in the tradition of Airplane or Police Squad and is filled with all sorts of puns, sight gags, and silliness. It’s a show that you have to watch with your full attention or you will miss all sorts of things as they fly by so fast in rapid succession. The final episode was especially good with it’s seemingly endless amount of nonsensical Scooby-Doo unmaskings of about ten characters in a row.
I watched six out of the ten episodes of Outcast this summer. It’s a show that’s based on a comic book that I read. The story is about a reverend and a twenty-something guy trying to fight, or at least get a handle on, some sort of demon possession thing that’s going on in their town. It’s pretty well done. I liked it better than Preacher which is another comic book adaptation that I watched a little of but didn’t like. Why haven’t I watched the final four episodes you ask? Good question. I’m not sure but I think it’s because much like The Walking Dead, which is a good show, since I already read the comic (both Outcast and The Walking Dead) I don’t seem to care to watch the show. It has nothing to do with the show being good or bad but has more to do with me liking comics better than TV. I’m already getting the story in my comic so the TV show doesn’t offer me as much as a TV show where I’m not reading the comic.
The Strain in another TV show based on a comic but I haven’t read the comic. I like the show but it only started at the end of the summer. I don’t know why that is because season two ran last summer. It’s not quite a summer show and not quite a fall show this year but I thought I’d mention it. It’s a solid vampire horror show.
So what were my summer rerun shows? The first one is an hour drama/action show. Burn Notice. It started in 2007 and ended in 2013 so I haven’t seen an episode of it in three years. I haven’t seen the early episodes in longer than that so it’s almost a whole new show to me. I didn’t watch all of it so I’ll have to catch up with it again when new shows slow down again.
I also re-watched some half hour comedies. There are a couple of short lived comedies that I like to revisit every now and again. Two of them have Whitney Cummings and Chris Delia in them. Both Whitney (2011-2013) and Undateable (2014-2016 It really just ended last January?) were on my play list this summer. I like both comedies. The rest of the world might not have taken to them but I did. There are not even eighty episodes between them so I like to spread them out and not binge on them. I didn’t even finish all the episodes so I have some to look forward to. I also occasionally threw in some early episodes of New Girl and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. They both hold up well.
So there is my summer TV wrap up. Some new stuff and some repeats. What did you watch?
I’m back from the comic shop this week and I got ten new comics.
Check them all out here:
Today I decided to dip into a book of my old paintings, pull one out, and write about it. My book of old paintings is just a binder that I keep some small paintings in. The paintings are in sleeves with three binder holes in the side. The sleeves are really meant for photographs. The date on the painting is October 21, 2002. By that time I had switched to digital photography and didn’t have a lot of use for my old photo sleeves. This painting is an odd size for me at four by twelve inches but that was the size of the panoramic prints made for APS film of the 1990s. So I obviously made some paintings to fit the sleeves I had lying around. The name I gave this painting is “Create Me”.
First off I want to say that I like this size. I had forgotten that I worked at this size. I don’t often work this narrow and tall so it’s a good change of pace. Not to mention that the proportion suits figure drawings pretty well. The two to three ratio I often work at doesn’t always offer me the chance to stretch out a figure like this. And stretch her I did. Despite her large head her body is slightly elongated. Especially as we move from her midsection down to her thigh. It makes a nice swooping gesture.
I also have to say that the color holds up really well. It’s painted with gouache on 300 pound cold press watercolor paper and the paint is opaque and full of color. Those are are couple of the things I always liked about gouache. It’s a watercolor but with white in it so it’s not transparent like a regular watercolor. When I first started using gouache in the mid 1990s I was using a set of gouache pans. Those are the ones we are familiar with form school where the pans are in little circular plastic cups that are dampened with water and a paint brush. But after that I moved into tubes of gouache that were of a really high quality and were loaded with colorful pigment. I’m pretty sure most of this painting was done with those tubes. The paint looks brighter and more dense than my pan set.
You can really see the origin of my “Painted Lady” series in this piece. It is pretty much a Painted Lady but on a smaller scale. I don’t quite go into the detail with the body decoration as I do with the Painted Lady ones but the theme is similar. I like how I have one of her breasts as orange and the other as yellow. I don’t think that’s something I’ve done with the Painted Ladies. It looks like I have static pieces on her upper body. The ameba that floats on her chest, the lines on her face, and the lines on her arms give way to the more sweeping shapes of her lower body. There are large sweeping curves and spirals on her legs. This accelerates my eye down her body as I look.
As is often the case with my art the woman in the painting is looking out at us as hard as we’re looking at her. She’s really staring. The eyes are pretty simple too. There is no color to them and other than that they’re simple outlines with the round part all darkened in. I just this moment noticed that she has two green lines for eyebrows. That’s a subtlety that slipped by me. Looks like I used the same green that I used in the border.
I remember that green now. Over the years at different points in time I’ve had certain favorite colors that I liked to use over and over. I think that green is Winsor Newton Permanent Green Light Designers Gouache. I bet that’s one they still make but I’m not sure. I’d often buy off-brand paint when I saw it in the store because I liked to try new things but sometimes I’d discover a great new color but then never be able to find it again. I can’t remember the brand but I had a brown color called Cassel Earth that was my favorite brown but then I never found it again. Of course that was back in the pre-internet days. I’m sure I could find everything now. That is unless the stop making a color. That happens. My favorite orange acrylic isn’t made anymore.
Overall I think I worked out the colors well in this piece. The yellow and orange of the figure compliment each other well but then they both fight a little bit with the bright blue outline around the orange. This makes the color vibrate a little. The yellow of the body and the green of the border are also fighting with each other to become the most dominant to the eye. I think the green might win except for the yellow tick marks around the edges that knock the green back a bit. It’s an interesting balance. I think the thin black outline around the body helps maintain that balance.
The neutral colors in this painting also help to maintain the color balance. The most obvious of the neutrals is the brown color in the background. It sits there like an anchor in the background as the blue and purple lines kind of squiggle on its surface. It gives the bright yellow a place to settle into.
The second almost-neutral is the blue greens in the hair. It’s a fairly vibrant color but compared to the yellows and oranges it’s tame. It sits in its space in the middle ground without fighting for attention. I would usually not consider a blue green to be neutral but here it seems to work as one. It doesn’t take sides with either the yellow or the green.
Fourteen years ago. That’s how long it’s been since I painted this painting. Interesting to pull it out and take a look. And time sure does fly.
I’m back from the comic shop this week and I got four new comics.
Check them all out here:
Time can really slip past a person can’t it? That question came to mind this past Saturday as I decided that I wanted to reread some Cerebus. Cereus is a comic book by Dave Sim that ran from December 1977 to March 2004. It told Cerebus’s story for three hundred issues which were also collected in large paperback editions. I came to Cerebus late. It was a comic that I had always meant to start reading but never quite did. I finally started to read it in the late 1980s when Cerebus bi-weekly was published reprinting the very first issues of the series. I bought the first forty two issues of it as well as tracking down some other back issues where I could. Then I just kind of fell off of it since I didn’t have all the connecting issues. It wasn’t until the mid 1990s that I bought all the collected editions that I was missing and decided to buy the collected editions as they came out. That’s how I read Cerebus up until 2001 and issue 266. Then I decided to read the monthly issues because I wanted to be there first for when it ended.
I haven’t reread any of the Cerebus issues since the series ended in 2004. That was twelve years ago. That’s a long time. But Dave Sim has a YouTube channel now where he gives people updates of his plans to preserve Cerebus and get all the books back into print. For the last three weeks he’s been telling us about the origins of one of the characters called Jaka. She’s Cerebus’s one true love who doesn’t love him back. She’s also the title character in Cerebus volume five which is named “Jaka’s Story”. These videos made me want to read “Jaka’s Story” again so I pulled it off the shelf. The printing I have came out in 1996 which is when I last read it. Twenty years ago. There is that time thing again.
Upon reading “Jaka’s Story” I was surprised by two things. First that I remembered almost nothing about the story and second that I think I liked it a lot more now than I did twenty years ago. Obviously I liked it back then since I kept buying it but I don’t remember it having as emotional an impact on me as it did with this reading. I hardly ever read all day or read a lot of the same comic series in a row but I read all four hundred plus pages of this one over a Friday night and Saturday morning. Then I read the next two volumes “Melmoth” and “Flight” (both smaller two hundred page volumes) on that same Saturday. I was hooked and couldn’t stop. Cerebus is good stuff.
All three volumes are different from each other. Sim does a good job at summing up “Jaka’s Story” in his intro but I’ll sum it up even shorter. It’s about the everyday life moments of a married couple, Jaka and Rick, as they go about their business. Plus there are a few other characters going about their business too. Cerebus is barely in this volume but his presence is often there. At the end the story turns political as our characters get caught up in things bigger than themselves.
On a side note I’d like to point out how brilliant Sim’s lettering is in this volume. The art in Cerebus by Sims and his art partner Gerhard is always good but lettering rarely gets mentioned. There is a character near the end of the story that is based on Margaret Thatcher. Normally I don’t like dialogue written phonetically or in a accent but in this case the lettering made it work. Sim would vary the size and spacing of the letter by how Thatcher was speaking. Long rolling sounds were lettered wide and high sharp sounds were tall. It all flowed so naturally that I could hear the real Margaret Thatcher’s voice in my head. Some of the best lettering ever in a comic.
The next volume that I read, “Melmoth”, was about a character that was in “Jaka’s Story”. The character was based on Oscar Wilde. Sim often based characters on real life people. Cerebus was in this volume more than in the last volume but the story was mostly about the death of Oscar Wilde. It was quite poignant because he was heathy and full of life in “Jaka’s Story” but now he was slowly wasting away. The Cerebus part of the story was also about him wasting away but he eventually became his own agent again and took action. That was not something Oscar Wilde was capable of anymore and that made it even sadder by comparison.
“Flight” the third volume that I read was different than the first two. It had a lot more of Cerebus in it and a lot more mysticism. Did I not mention Cerebus is an anthropomorphic aardvark in a world made up of humans? It’s a fantasy world of rival big cities who all have different gods and religions that are real and affect the world. Cerebus is a major player with some gods but he really never knows what’s going on. In this volume there is a lot of explaining what’s going on in the world but Cerebus doesn’t always care. He just wants Jaka and to be happy.
So there you go. Twenty years latter I re-read comics I had no memory of. Or at least I had forgotten all of the details. I hadn’t forgotten how good Sim and Gerhard’s artwork was though. In a rather unusual arrangement for comics Sim does all the figure work and Gerhard handles the backgrounds. To call them backgrounds is a bit of a disservice though because Gerhard really creates environments. They are richly illustrated and meticulously drawn. Sometimes the environment Cerebus is in can be 80 percent of the page and becomes the real star. It’s quite a collaboration. So go check out some Cerebus if you never have or re-read it if you haven’t in a while.