I’ve achieved, or suffered — a question of interpretation, there —, a nice diversity in work taken on this year. This will be the year that stands for the failure of the several previous years’ efforts to channel myself in a single field by jumping aboard the old new green economy. Or the apparent failure of those efforts, let’s say. I don’t think it amounts to failure entirely.
For the present post, I’m going to keep things easy and look back at a project from spring. Last year, I helped a friend with one of his air-sealing & insulation jobs on a house outside Washington, D.C.; I was there to cut the access holes where his crew went into attic spaces to work, and to patch up the holes with drywall afterward. While we were there for that job, the owner asked about having a closet built into one of the attic spaces we were accessing. So I went back in spring and did that. It was a nice little project with a bunch of parts — sort of a micro-remodel. And a real functional improvement to the home to boot. In a hundred-year-old house, too! Call me crazy, but I like old-house work.
Went to Mass today. It’s some years now since my Rome-ward shift, and though I can say that it’s proven a substantial thing, I’m still very much in process of finding my way. I don’t go to church every week. I would like to, but I don’t. Sometimes there are good excuses, sometimes not. I’m not especially ashamed of not making it to church regularly, in any event. The long period of my adult life in which regular church-going was a sort of primary virtue is past, possibly for good.
As I understand Christianity, it conceives of the world as wholly oriented to the call of God via the resurrection of Jesus. Christians say that God not only creates and rules over, he also redeems and restores. That he redeems and restores the world assumes first, of course, the fallenness and (therefore) the freedom within it of human beings, who are the weirdest, least obviously integrated piece of an otherwise evidently comprehensive and systematic, generative and entropic material order of God’s making. Human beings don’t introduce corruption and fallenness on their own, but in their freedom they take part in introducing it, and they’re susceptible to it by nature: susceptible, subject to its structural effects and to dealing constantly with its meaning.
I did something unusual this past weekend — unusual for me, that is: I went away for the holiday weekend. A thoroughly conventional getaway, something my adult life’s mostly been without. The place was a lake-side property owned by my girlfriend’s family; it’s where they go during the summers to relax and catch up with each other. On this Labor-Day occasion, I got invited along. It was lovely.
Mignola’s graphic style in the H.B. and BPRD books evolves quite a bit in the titles’ first few years. That’s a common enough observation, and nothing specially to do with Mignola as an artist or a writer, for that matter. (Take, e.g., my cartooning idol Richard Thompson: the way he drew Cul de Sac — already at the height of his career as a cartoonist and illustrator, his style well established — underwent a similar period of refinement and simplification after it began in the Post Sunday magazine, and then again after he took it to syndication as a daily.) I’m interested in talking more, sometime, about the evolution of Mignola’s graphic approach in relation to his evolving approach to the stories, but for the moment, let’s just look at an isolated aspect or two of the change, in very brief terms.
The last two posts here cracked open the door, just a bit, to some discussion of visual stereotyping and race. I didn’t have any definite plan to open that door further, but it’s interesting stuff, to say the least, and a good way to go for a wider historical field on the subject of graphics and human figure. So let’s just push it open and encounter the dangers within as we may.
I may not draw a lot these days, but it’s no real exaggeration to say I think about drawing all the time. What I think about — or have in back of mind at least — particularly is the problem of representing human form, not so much in the sense of portrayal and its possibilities, but in the sense of iconography, visual language, linear phraseology. It’s what makes comics and cartooning so compelling for me, I believe, in spite of my general feeling of disappointment with the medium’s evolution.
I’ve been reading Grant Morrison’s gushy-trippy memoirish, Supergods, lately — since about a week after learning of it by way of this post in Darrell’s series meandering among the pagans, currently in progress. (Go take a look.) I mention in a comment there that I hadn’t heard of the book. Actually, I had no idea who Morrison was before reading that post. That tells you something about extent of my appreciation of comic book culture.