Tuesday, December 20, 2011

In Defense of Pop Art: Then & Now.

There has been a splatter of opinions about Pop Art in the blogosphere lately. It was set in motion by a thoughtful piece by Scott Edelman regarding the trompe l'oeil paintings by Sharon Moody.  I'd never heard of her before last weekend but I am very impressed with her extreme photo realism. Although my own tastes tend towards primitive, minimalistic, and conceptual art work, I've always had a soft spot for Chuck Close since I saw my first giant painting face-to-face in 1972 when he was a big-effin-deal in NYC gallery system. (His medical challenges changed his work and it's even more amazing now).

I understand the hows and whys of the comic art community's current complaints.
I do.
I don't agree but I do get it.

I also believe there is another side particularly when it comes to Roy Lichtenstein.

These pop art/Roy Lichtenstein dust-ups happen every few years-particularly since the advent of the Deconstructing Roy Lichtenstein website. In 1989 in the midst of a contemporary controversy in the letter column of Comics Buyer's Guide I wrote a letter to the editors, Don & Maggie Thompson, in defense of Lichtenstein. To my amazement then (and even now) they decided to run it as an article.
I got paid for it.
I believe I signed a back-of-the-check work-made-for-hire release for it so it belongs to them--not me.

I include links to old photocopies of the article for purely historical reasons. You can read my two page piece by following these links: page 1 and page 2. It's shown without permission.

As I explain in the piece, Lichtenstein stopped doing comic book paintings in 1965. That was 24 years before I wrote the piece in 1989. 22 years have passed since.
A lot of water under the bridge.
My bridge anyway.

I still believe all the things I said.
Most of the questions I asked I believe are still valid and mostly unanswered.

My favorite Lichtenstein works are still the mirrors and brushstrokes.
I'm really not trying to change any one's mind--my mind is set and most likely, so is yours.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

SPECIAL OFFER: Larry Marder Personalized Hardcovers for CBLDF!

Wahoolazuma! CBLDF President Larry Marder contributes this signed hardcover edition of his most peculiar comics experience Beanworld! Captivating readers from grade school to grad school, Beanworld is a peculiar fantasy that operates under its own rules and laws. Series creator Larry Marder says, "Beanworld is about the affinity of life. It's like A Bug's Life meets Mutts, as told by Dr. Seuss and Joseph Campbell." Meet Mr. Spook, Professor Garbanzo, Beanish, and the Chow Sol'jer Army as they experience adventures that prove, whether friends or adversaries, we all ultimately depend on each other for survival. Beanworld reflects deep truths about our world, including themes of ecology, advertising, culture, and art, making the experiences of these fanciful creatures feel as true, funny, moving, and relatable as anything in our own reality.

Personalization requests due by December 5!

Here’s How The Personalization Works:
When you place your order with the CBLDF for these holiday premiums, you can have each of the offered books personalized to one or two names, and the artist will sign and personalize the book on a high quality CBLDF-branded bookplate. When you place your order in the comments section, please include the personalization request, such as: For Carl & Nancy, or For Will, or To The Groppers! Sorry – artists will not be able to provide sketches or other messages.


This Larry Marder/Beanworld thing is part of a much larger CBLDF Spirit of Giving drive.
The Will & Ann Eisner Family Foundation will make a contribution to the CBLDF for every donation and membership placed during this campaign!

Be a hero this holiday by giving the most unique gifts that make a real difference when you support the CBLDF with the Spirit of Giving!


Monday, November 28, 2011

Larry Marder's DEJA VIEW!

First I told myself  "I'll finish Here There and get 'em done."
Next I pushed it back to until I get all the coloring and new pages for Beanworld 3.5 in the can.
Then I thought I could go the distance and get Something More finished first.
Wasn't gonna happen.

What am I talking about?
I had 'em.
My cloudy eyes weren't going to carry me through to the end.

I was told almost 8 years ago that I'd need to have my cataracts taken care of within five years.
I held out as long as I could.
It was okay to lose my night vision.
I even could handle the "cloudy look" of people's faces and not being able to see virtually anything or anyone in large gatherings and public places. After all I could still draw all day and night.
And then--I couldn't.

I knew by the end of San Diego Comic-Con that I couldn't get by any longer.
It was time for me to face the facts.
My eyes were in need of repair.

Now, I'm a total wuss when it comes to my eyes.
An eyelash caught in my eye or a bit of grit under the eyelid and I'm not a happy camper.
Never could wear contacts and never once considered having Lasik surgery either.

So the idea of having the lenses in my eyeballs, y'know the ones I was issued upon birth, being taken out and swapped for something man-made quite frankly gave me the heebie-jeebies.

Everyone told me: Don't worry about it.
It's a cakewalk.

Well, it was.
Easy as pie.

Out came my old clouded up natural lenses and in went my super duper 21st century lens implants and the world became new. Like Dorothy opening the door onto Munchkinland kind of mind boggling new.

All those Marvel Comics title adjectives.

So now I can see distances never dreamed of before.
I'm experiencing colors in ways I haven't in years and years.

I've worn glasses since about the time the USSR put Sputnik in orbit.
All my life I've pretty much always been the most near-sighted person anyone-I-know knows.
No longer being myopic is downright bizarre.
I don't need to wear glasses anymore to see things super clearly across very long distances.

This is weird because prescription lenses for extreme nearsightedness greatly reduces the size of everything that is looked at through those lenses. For all my adult life, the things I see have appeared much smaller than they actually are. All of a sudden everything around me is huge. This is taking some getting used to.

Things up close are a different matter.
I need reading glasses to, well, read.
And draw.

Since my ocular implants I've been experimenting with different magnifications at various close distances.
Plus my eyes are still healing and adjusting and changing every day .
And I'm on quite the regimen of eye drops.

It's only going on two weeks and it takes anywhere from a month or three for everything to settle in.
My brain is processing huge amounts of sensory input every moment of every day.
Plus my body has a lifetime of habits that are no longer functional.
There is no need to hunch over a book or drawing anymore.
But my body still wants to do it even though my eyes need to be at a different distance to see correctly.
I'm constantly discovering all the new distances and postures that will make seeing-sense from now on.
Particularly on the Cintiq.
The pic above is my first attempt to draw on it.
I think it looks like I drew it.
Hope so anyway.
I'm still not over how much larger everything appears on screen--particularly the desktop icons and the Photoshop palettes.
I wasn't expecting that.

Anyway, that's where I've been and what I'm doing after my cryptic post a few weeks ago,
Every day I learn something new about how to see.

My motto as voiced by Beanish above is:
One day at a time.
One step at a time.

Book Four?
Ready or not, here I come!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

I'll be off the grid for a bit....

...due to some ocular upgrading..
Be back before ya know it!.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Another Tantalizing Tuesday Teaser!

No, I'm not going to tell you WHAT's going on.
Or WHO that Bean might be.
Or WHY he's (or she) there.
But I can tell you WHAT this drawing is.

It's a layout for a big moment on the cusp of change
in Beanworld Book Four: Something More!

WHEN will it be published?
Not sure yet but I'm getting there, slowly but surely,

Friday, November 4, 2011

Goofy Service Doodles from the Beanworld Archives!

I've written before about the scribbles I've done on the job that I call "Goofy Service Doodles." In fact, there were at least two ashcan collections of them. One of my goals for next year's convention season is to recollect them with lots of previously unseen stuff.

I found this one today.

Gee, it's almost 20 years old. It's from my days at Marketing Director at Moondog's Comicland in Chicago, IL. From the looks of it we were at a meeting working on 1992 plans. And the stuff the Goofy Service Jerk said was true: at Moondog's we really did have the finest store managers in the comic book business. Some have their own stores nowadays and some I've lost track of but we all shared some mighty heady times.

I don't know what we thought was going to happen in retail in '92. I think we'd heard the rumblings of the immanent Image Comics revolution brewing on the west coast. I certainly didn't know on that date how much the Image Comics declaration of independence was going to change the entire comic book business and just how much I was going to get swept up into it myself.

In our world, you never really know what is going to happen next.
But something always does.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Larry Marder's Do-It-Yourself Halloween Costume For Procrastinators!

I've been thinking a lot lately about the old Do-It-Yourself Beanworld contests.
We'll talk about that later but in the meanwhile, once again, it's time for me to share
The Larry Marders Do-It-Yourself Halloween Costume For Procrastinators!

It's a simple, yet effective costume for people in need of a last minute awesome costume.
I'm not quite sure how many times I've concocted this particular two-phase costume over the years but it's been several times a decade. Because I've moved around so much and drifted in and out of social circles, both personal and professional, over the years, there has always been a fertile new audience for my subtle yet powerful one trick-pony of a costume.

A little bit of History:

It started at Hartford Art School of the University of Hartford.
The Art School had the reputation the best Halloween Bacchanal on campus.
It was legendary really.

This epicness (as some might say nowadays) was based on two things:

First, the quality of the costuming from art students from 1969-1972.

The second was some sort of punch that was mixed up with god-knows-what in it but I'm quite certain its main ingredient was pure grain alcohol This punch had a campus wide notoriety somewhat akin to Four Loko today.

I discovered right away in art school that when it comes to masquerades (and what is now known as cosplay) that I stink.

People always ask me how come I never try to make some sort of Beanworld costume.
Cuz I'm not creative enough in that way.
Personally I have absolutely no idea how one might do that.
But I do like minimal costumes.
And this is mine.

Frame from "Ducks Yas Yas" (c) Robert Crumb

Truthfully I'm not quite sure where the idea came from.
Over the years, I've settled on it being influenced by a frame of a Robert Crumb comic called "Ducks Yas Yas."
I really liked the guy with the third eye.
Decided to do one myself.
Minimal but memorable.
And give it a little bit of sequential art punch line.

Stage Directions for
Larry Marder's World Famous
Third Eye Halloween Costume.

Part One.
Affix third eye to your forehead.
Go to the party.
Take the ribbing that is inevitable for having such a lame costume.
"Hey you're a creative guy. That's the best you can do?"
Sheepish smiles and a lot of shrugging are the proper responses.

Part Two.
Let the festivities settle in.
Wait until everyone has seen everyone else's costume.
Then wait more until the fun-seekers are getting appropriately loose (inebriated, medicated, whatever one's poison is).
Wait further still until folks are starting to shed various pieces of their burdensome, uncomfortable costumes and falling out of character and starting to look more and more bleary eyed

Then you strike!

Go to the bathroom and affix Third Eye #2.
Start circulating.
Say nothing.

It generally takes a while but at some point someone will notice that you have switched eyes. There will be a moment of recognition/comprehension as to the absurdity of what you have done.

They will giggle.
They will laugh.
Depending on what some have been up to they might guffaw.

Like Beanworld itself, it's deceptively simple bit of theater but full of meaning.
It works.
It wll be a hit.

Try it sometime.
You have my permission to download my drawings, print 'em out, cut 'em out and use mine.
Or make your own!

The greatest Halloween anthem of all time by the Shaggs!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Treasure, Venture, and those Crazy Trade-Ins!

Long ago, when I was a fan and handing out free copies of the amateur Beanworld maxi-comic--one of my biggest fears was that the person I handed it to would put it in his or her bag and then totally forget about it from that point forward.

Over the years, I've tried really hard to not be "that" creator. My track record is pretty good. Amidst the hustle and bustle of a convention floor, I do my best to make sure that something someone gave me doesn't get lost or scrunched up. But truth is, sometimes I forget where I stashed stuff for safe keeping and it ends up, well, misplaced.

That's what the above stuff in my hand is.
I found it today, misplaced but not forgotten, hidden between several cardboards in my convention bag. They were hand delivered by Shayne Olson, the kids' dad. Regular readers of this blog may recall that I've posted about Treasure and Venture Olsen before: here and here.

Inside the envelope was the letter below from Treasure, age 7 (at the time).

And also delivered were two great drawings by Treasure's little brother, Venture, age 5 (at the time), showcasing his own characters based on his love and appreciation of Beanworld.

Tricky Beans

Moon Beans

That night, after all the convention hoop-la died down, I penciled the following:


They were hand delivered back to the kids by their dad.
Thanks again Olsen family


And as I head out to NYCC, this is a good moment to review the "rules" for:
Crazy Larry's Trade-Ins!
Trade-in one of your homemade Beanworld drawings
for a genuine Marder-drawn, signed original sketch of the same character!
Offer open to kids of all ages!

THE DETAILS: Only one trade-in per person allowed.
If your drawing contains more than one character,
you must decide which single character you'd like as your trade-in sketch.
After the drawing exchange you agree that I can post your sketch in the Leguminous Fan Art Gallery.
And it would be nice if I could get a snapshot of you and your art too!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Larry Marder's NYCC11 Schedule!

I snapped this blurry iPhone photo before packing these treasures in my suitcase:
fleece Beanworld Action Figures, original art drawings in hand colored frames, limited edition prints!

Yes, I will be at New York Comic Con this weekend.
But not as a guest with a table.
I'll be a free floating attendee.

I'll be walking around & talking to fellow creators and business colleagues.
I'll have some of the things you see above in my bag, and if you ask to see them, and you are so inclined, they can be yours.

I will have have two scheduled signing events--all will feature world famous FREE Beanworld Action Figures and more leguminous-type stuff!

Crazy trade-ins?
You bet, catch me at any time!

Booth 1158
noon to 2 pm

Dark Horse Comics
Booth 1238
10 am
There will be free TFAW sketch cards galore at DH signing!

And whatever you do--don't forget THIS!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Babies & Beans are things that make you go "Awwww!"

Hi Larry,
It's taken us several weeks to get organized following Comic-con, but my husband and I wanted to send a note to thank you for the wonderful sketch on the onesie you drew at the con!
Attached is a photo of Robin reveling in her inner bean.
Thanks so much!
Lesley Mathieson-Stratton

As I've written about in the past, I love drawing on cotton fabric. One of these days I will post about why that is but I am still looking for the right pictures from my past.

Knowing this, the Mathieson-Stratton family came to my table and asked me if I'd mind taking a crack at little Robin's "onesie."  I was glad to. You can see the result for yorself!

As the photos above and below illustrate: sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words!

Jenn Manley Lee, creator of Dicebox ,and daughter, Taran Jack, at Stumptown Comics Fest 2011.
This photo was snapped literally within seconds after she took possession of her very own Bean doll--quite literally as big as her head.

It's amazing to me how the younger the human being, the more immediately the child's brain plugs directly into Beanworld--or does the Beanworld zap into the kid's brain?
Does it even matter?
All I know is that it happen.
It happens all the time.
Many, many witnesses to the fact.

And now a shameless plug: By The Lake Fleece Beanworld Action Figures will make excellent Holiday gifts for that special Beanworld fan in your life.
Supplies are limited.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

It's Time For A Tantalizing Tuesday Teaser!

My digital Cintiq scribbles for a sequence in Larry Marder's Beanworld Book Four: Something More!
I often work this way....come up with a snapshot moment that interests me and then scribble the dialogue, or in this case, thought balloons, as fast as I can. Penmanship doesn't count--legibility only has to be for me).

Professor Garbanzo is frustrated, as she has often been in the past, that she doesn't understand what any of the old tools she found in her Fix-IT Shop during her Secret Origin found on page 324 of of Beanwold Book Two: A Gift Comes! 
The SLAM, by the way, is made by the door of Professor Garbanzo's Fix-It Shop leading to a very fast scene transition. Proffy is in for quite a surprise!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Hither, Thither, & In A Dither!

 Will and family.
(His mom is Jenni Holm--writer of Babymouse)

Since last spring, due to a gigantic whirlpool of all sorts of things,
I fell completely behind on a big part of my blogging responsibilities.
This has been keeping me awake at night.

So to remedy this, for the next few posts,
I'll be catching up on a lot of loose ends
that started accumulating after Wondercon.

First up is art from Will, Maddox, Sydney, and Riley.
Trading drawings with fans is the best part of my job--it really is.

Thanks to everyone for their patience.
I truly appreciate it!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Today IS Tuesday--So Here's A Tantalizing Teaser!

The above will be in Beanworld Book Four: Something More and will appear a bit before this.
No, it's not scheduled yet but I'm told the color volume we so fondly call Book 3.5 aka Tales of the Beanworld will be on Dark Horse's schedule for June.

Friday, September 9, 2011

It Came From The Beanworld Archives!

"Romance atop the World's Finest"
Color markers & pencils on dime-store bond paper

With all the razz-a-ma-tazz and hoopty-doo going on with DC Comics nowadays, I thought I'd pull this oldie-but-still-goodie tributre out of the Beanworld Archives. I never get tired of drawing leguminous homages to Superman and Batman. Honestly, it's hard for me to believe that this drawing is 27 years old. And how "psychic" was I drawing "Superman" with that high collar, hmmm?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Hey Kids. It's the return of the Beanworld Tuesday Tantalizing Teaser!

I told'ja there is gonna to be a whole lot of rain & the Boom'r Band
in the next hardcover original graphic novel, Something More, aka Larry Marder's Beanword: Book Four
Here's a peek at both.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Happy Birthday, Jack Kirby!

The King influenced everyone,
including me.

Happy Birthday to you.
We feel your influence every day.

Don't think we would exist
if you had not shown the way.

Larry Marder
& the Beanworld

Monday, August 15, 2011

“What are the ten comics works you consider your favorites, the best, or the most significant?”

Today I recieved and email from Rob Martin of The Hooded Utilitarian. I can't quite claim that I totally forgot about this survey but I think it is fair to say I sent in my list on May and didn't think much about it again.

The survey question was: “What are the ten comics works you consider your favorites, the best, or the most significant?” The official tabulations that include my votes are published here The order I wrote down has been altered to reflect the greater survey methodology blah blah blah.

Below is how I listed 'em on my actual "ballot."

Superman #162
Superman Red and Superman Blue

This comic came out in 1963. I was 12 years old. 1963 was one of the all time best years in the history of the emerging Marvel Comics. On the cover this issue of Superman was billed as the "Greatest Imaginary Story of All Time!" And for me it was.

I'm not sure that I've ever read it except for that one time, probably at camp. But it has stuck with me ever since. It was sappy, overly Utopian and had a wonderful cornball triple wedding ending.

Superman Red/Superman Blue
served up a heaping helping of happiness. It tied up all the loose ends of my childhood comic reading and I suspect that this issue was my jumping off point for DC. Long after it ceased to satisfy me anymore, I was finally able to let go of the Mort Weisinger lines of "kid stuff." I wouldn't give DC the time of day again until the start of the next decade.

Grieving Lincoln
Editorial cartoon by Bill Mauldin
Chicago Sun-Times
November 22, 1963

The way the legend goes, Bill Mauldin heard the news that President Kennedy had been assassinated and went right to his drawing board and this is what came out. I believe it.

November 22, 1963 was everything that everyone has ever written about it and more. There are so many movies and TV shows about that day and even Mad Men used it as an opportunity for a season cliffhanger.

I was at school in the 7th grade. Messengers started coming into the classroom and either whisper or hand notes to our teachers. Our teachers started crying. I had never seen a teacher cry before. We were whisked off to the auditorium for an assembly and the principal tried to explain the inexplicable to a bunch of children. He cried too. The Principal, who everyone was scared to death of, was crying. I'm not sure if I truly understood the gravity of the moment beyond the fact that adults were weeping. That was scary enough. Something disappeared that day. Some kind of childhood's end.

I don't remember very much after that. Went home. Plopped myself down in front of the TV watching with the rest of the shocked nation. I really didn't know what to think until the next morning when the paper came. Bill Mauldin's Grieving Lincoln said it all, on so many resonating levels, in one incredible snapshot. I saved that newspaper. That means I still own the first printing of this cartoon.

The Fourth World series
Jack Kirby
DC Comics

I stopped reading Marvel Comics sometime during my senior year of high school. I don't remember officially quiting or anything. I believe I had better and more urgent things to spend my money on. And I was also starting to discover underground comics. And they satisfied my comics itch in a way that Marvel wasn't able to anymore.

Then in the summer of 1970, while I was doing a stint as a camp counselor, a kid in my cabin had copy of Jimmy Olsen and it was drawn by Jack Kirby. Huh? Jack "King" Kirby was drawing and writing possibly the most lame DC title of all time?

I read it. I was hooked. I read both DC and Marvel comics from then until around 1988 or so.
Jimmy Olsen, New Gods, Forever People, and Mister Miracle were one seamless epic that lasted for 2 years before DC freaked out and pulled the plug. The ideas were huge. The artwork powerful. The dialogue not so much. So what? It was Kirby unleashed. Kirby's Fourth World is work that I spend a lot of time with when to when feel myself wandering off course and needing a tune-up.

Zap Comix stories of Robert Crumb.

The discovery R Crumb, serious sex, and LSD happened so simultaneously and are so entangled in my psyche that I can't really try to unravel it all. The proverbial doors of perception both opened and shut. I was never quite the same after the winter-spring of 1969. Perfect frame of mind to be leaving the comforts of home and starting art school. Crumb's work remains to this day an energy source to plug into when I recognize I need a recharging.

Jeff Smith

Jeff is probably the best all-round cartoonist of my generation.
He has influenced me in so many ways on a personal, artistic, and business level.
I'm proud to call him my friend.

Nick Fury Agent of S.H.E.I.L.D.
Jim Sterenko
Marvel Comics

Sterenko's body of work is pretty small.
But it was published when I was 16 & 17 and it blew my mind. Sterenko took Kack Kirby's essentials swirled in other stuff like the language of film, surrealism pop art and op art effects. His layouts were different than anything being done by anyone else. I learned a lot about design from Sterenko. (In college I sent in my money for Sterenko's History of the Comics #3 and I'm still waiting for its delivery. I don't tink it's coming.)

Stan Lee & Jack Kirby
Marvel Comics

For most of my teens, my favorite Marvel series were Fantastic Four, Thor, and Captain America. As time has passed, I think Thor surges forward the most in memory as the others fade. Which has absolutely nothing to do with the work itself but everything to do with me.
The pure power of Kirbyness and Kirbyisms are so strong in Thor. In was the fertile soil from which Fourth World sprang not so long later. Celestials too. As a teen I loved the back up Tales of Asgard adventures of young Thor and Loki.

Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith
Marvel Comics

Conan was my gateway book into Robert E. Howard's prose, Sword & Sorcery and fantasy as genres, and another way to look at pen and ink in the black & white magazines. Reading issue #4 "The Tower of the Elephant" was one of those critical moments when I recognized that I didn't know half as much about comics as I thought I did.

Fantastic Four
Stan Lee & Jack Kirby
Marvel Comics

My favorite memory of any part of the series is when Dr Doom stole the Silver Surfer's powers.
The image of Surfer laying in the hay in the stable (I think that's what it was) reverberates in my head to this day. Quite simply The World's Greatest Comic Magazine, right?

Up Front
Bill Mauldin
Military editorial cartoons featuring Willie and Joe
Stars & Stripes

There was a first edition copy of Up Front (and two of Back Home) in my parent's library as I was growing up. My mother knew how much I paid attention to Mauldin's editorial cartoons in the Sun-Times every day and at some point put Up Front in my hands and suggested I read it. The Mauldin books, and the editorial cartooning books of Herblock and John Fischetti, all moved upstairs into my library and have followed me wherever I've lived ever since. I read Up Front over and over and over. I can't begin to tell you how happy I am that all of this work is back in print at Fantagraphics.

(Also, I've never hidden the fact the name that my own characters "ChSol'jers" is an homage to the way Willie and Joe refereed to themselves as "so'jers.")

When I sent in the above, I added this caveat:

This is my list today. It might have been a different list if I compiled it yesterday or tomorrow, Do I think this is the list of the best comics ever?
Not really.
But this is the list of some of the things that stuck with me, influenced me, and made me whatever sort of cartoonist I am today.

The day I jotted these down was May 22nd.
Keep all that in mind as you read this post.


Monday, August 8, 2011

Happy 50th Birthday Fantastic Four!

According to Mark Evanier, today is the 50th anniversary of the first issue of Fantastic Four appearing in the newsstands. And as fas as I'm concerned, if Mark says it's so: it's so.

I thought I'd celebrate the day by drawing the above.

When an earlier version first appeared on the cover of Tales of the Beanworld #19 twenty years ago in 1991, I asked my then-editor at Eclipse Comics, catherine yronwode, if she thought Marvel Comics might object to it being on the cover of my book.

She laughed and said something like "Larry these isn't a soul in Marvel's editorial offices that can even see that it's a parody of the Fantastic Four, let alone object to it!" Which I found out to be true.

I'm pretty sure it isn't true today!

Anyway, regardless of what happened over the last 50 years with Marvel Comics, Stan Lee, and Jack Kirby, good and bad, today is a day to celebrate all of the good things the FF brought into my life through the adventures of Reed, Sue, Johnny & Ben.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Almost Original Art of the Larry Marder TFAW Cards!

8" x 10" black & white drawing in 11' x 14" hand decorated frame.

For the third year in a row, I answered the call from Things From Another World aka TFAW to participate in their CBLDF Auction Fundraiser. It's a lot of fun and for a good cause.

But, me being me, I like to take a simple idea and make it even more fun!

Check out these accounts of what I did with my 500 TFAW cards in years past: 2009 and 2o10.

In a nutshell, I submit artwork that is "incomplete."
TFAW turns it into a card and gives me a boatload to use however I like.
I use these cards all year 'round everywhere I go--show appearances, signings, and other things in between.

A "finished" TFAW card is something more than a signing card but also something less than an original drawing.

At my Dark Horse Comics signing at Comic-Con on Sunday, the PR & marketing gang on site-at the moment figured out a great way to use TFAW cards to their full potential.

Under the guidance of Melissa Richardson, Amy Huey, and an incredibly enthusiastic intern who I was introduced to as (I think) Noel, who was out braving the traffic in the aisles hawking and handing out TFAW cards to the passing hordes. He artfully convinced them to stand in a very long rope line to get their sketch card from someone who most of them had never heard of.

I, of course, failed to take any pictures, but I could see the folks in line, looking at their cards, wondering what was going to happen to it when finally they reached me.

The table was elevated so the little kids could barely see over it as they handed me their card.

I'd take a good look at each individual by making solid eye contact for a second or two and right then and there I'd sketch the additions to the card that I felt like this stranger might appreciate the most.

I got a lot of smiles. so I think my batting average was pretty good. I drew on so many cards that my hand hurt afterwards and that hardly ever happens to me. I can usually sketch all day long.

I'm very appreciative that the DH crew assigned to oversee my signing understood me and the Beanworld so well and was able to make something so memorable for all involved happen on the spur of the moment.

I often get asked,"I wasn't at Comic-Con--how can I score myself a TFAW card?"
At all other cons I generally I have my trusty CBLDF can on the table and for a let-your-conscience-be-your-guide donation to the Fund you can walk away with your very own "Almost Original Piece of Art." Same with signings on behalf of CBLDF. Only at Dark Horse signings can you get one for free!

It's a grand tradition that TFAW started!
You can take a gander at the TFAW cards I drew and made their way home with me starting here.

And, hey, if you have a personalized TFAW card of your own that you'd like to see added the galleries--send a scan along to me at larrymarder (at) gmail (dot) com.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The last artist on earth to join deviantart.com?

The last artist on earth to join deviantart.com?
That would be me.

Because I was do impressed with deviant art.com's under-reported sponsorship of Artist's Alley at this year's San Diego Comic-Con, I decided to join and give it a go.

"Created for a mini comic to benefit Comic Book Legal Defense Fund in honor of Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman. The project never left the launching pad and I've been wondering what to do with this seemingly out-of-continuty Beanworld illustration ever since. It seemed like a good piece for my first upload onto deviantart.com"

I pretty much feel like I'm the last cartoonist on the planet to sign up there.as there are already a zillion artists on the site but there seem to be a gazillion more eyeballs poking around on it.

How it will differ from other spots online that show my art--I dunno.

We'll all find out together, I reckon.


Sunday, July 31, 2011

How I create a Beanworld page in color!

AKA the 2011 Comic-Con Demo that wasn't.

At the 11th hours, a few days before Comic-Con, I was asked if I'd give a demo in Artist's Alley about the way I work. For whatever reasons, the demo never happened, and I don't mind, 'cuz I was busy enough at it was.

But as long as I did a little prep work, I figure I might as well show you all what I would have don last week if I'd done it.

It's all over on Flick'r and you can see it here.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

San Diego Comic-Con 2011

The better a creator does at a convention;
the worse you are doing in the outside world.

That was just a random thought I blurted out at a Dead-Dog Party some time in the late '80s during my Nexus Of All Comic Book Reality days. I think it was Denis Kitchen that started calling it Marder's Axiom. Those of us that came up as part of the Indie/Alt Surge of the time made a lot of money selling our books at the big cons. We'd have fans come up to us and ask us what we'd published in the last year and they'd scoop it all up. A standard comment was "I love your stuff but my local comic shop doesn't carry it." That led to my observation that a wildly successful convention appearance means we are not doing so well the rest of the year in Direct Sales.

On more than a few occasions, a creator who had gone from self-publishing to being picked-up by a publisher with good marketing and distribution found him/herself not selling many books at a convention. There is a moment of freak-out that something is wrong with his/her career. (It still happens--I ran into one at this show) Nothing is wrong with the career. Far, far from it. Fans don't have to buy their books from you anymore. They can get them from their local comic shop or online. It's a great thing when that happens. It's just weird until you get used to it.

For me, that's the beauty of my relationship with Dark Horse. My books are out there!

Nothing pleases me more than signing a Beanworld hardcover that a fan bought from someone other than me.

When I do sell a book off of my table it tends to be a Book One--someone who has heard of Beanworld and wants to give it a shot. Or a Book Three. Someone who read Beanworld years ago, has all the old comics, and wants to start up again with the new stuff. Show-in-and-show-out the book I sell the least of is Book Two. And that makes perfect sense to me.

So was Comic-Con 2011 the wildest, craziest, most frantic for Beanworld Comic-Con in all my years of tabling since 1985?
No. There are some really frantic years in stiff competition for that. Still, it was a great convention for me, just the same.

In all my years of con attendance, I saw the least of the floor. If a display wasn't directly in the path between DD-17 in Artist's Alley and Dark Horse or CBLDF--I didn't even get a glimpse of it. So all my first-person observations were limited. But I sure heard an awful lot from all sorts of fans, creators, and publishers.

All the italic comments below are my own and from Twitter.

The surreal photo above was swiped from Kathy Li's Flick'r Photostream.
Do yourself an enormous favor and check out the full scope of her work. amazing

MY 2011 COMIC-CON REPORT: Nervous whistling past the graveyard but with a thumbs-hooked-in-your-belt swagger

I have no special insight into the present State of the Industry. Everyone who knows me recognizes when it comes to the Business of the Artform of Comic Books--I'm an optimistic realist. I genuinely believe that right now is the real Golden Age of comic books. There are more folks doing amazing work in a wider array of genres, styles, and formats then ever before. Creatively the sky is still the limit. But realistically, the 2011 consumer has fewer dollars to spare for the work we do. Assuming the fans still have jobs (and clearly many didn't or were under-employed) they have to pay more for food and gasoline and rent/mortgage, etc etc. A few publishers are riding a wave of extreme optimism and they deserve to. Their recent track records are stellar as far as finding talent and promoting interesting titles--both creator owned and licensed.

But general sales overall continue to be trending downwards (with a boomlet here and there) and the retail base continues to have aches and pains (and sometimes gaping wounds). All of the front-of-the-catalog publishers believe they have the right combination of product, sales, and marketing ideas that will turn things around. I hope they do. My main impression is that everyone thinks that the industry will improve soon because....well...it has to. In public there is swaggering optimism.

In private? Not so much. In private many people talk about positioning for a game, or a toy, or a movie, or a TV show deal. And they hope for the best in the comic marketplace. Not all these games, toys, movies, and TV shows will actually get made. Some will. And those are the grand success stories that major media focusses on.

For better or for worse, I'm actually rather proud to report that the situation for Beanworld is the same as in 1985. Everyone thinks it could be something in some other platform but no one still seems to be clever enough to figure out what that can be. It's too damn hard a pitch. (It's easier to read than it is to explain) Still being ahead of my time 25+ years later is rather cool.

TWITTER: I really liked having iPad & be able to show off all the color pages of Beanworld 3.5 to inquisitive members of the Leguminati.

The above is page 21 from the all color 64 page hardcover book, Beanworld 3.5
Its been is turned into Dark Horse and is waiting its turn to get in cue in editorial and production. As soon as it has a projected ship-date, you will be the first to know.

It looks great on the iPad and so it is only a matter of time until Beanworld will be available digitally. But, still not yet. Not quite. No hurry.

TWITTER: Reading Twitter feed I realize how many people I hoped to talk to I never even got a glimpse of. But hey that's Comic-Con.

It's the first time ever that I didn't talk to (or even see) Fae Desmond, David Glanzer, or Maggie Thompson--folks who I have always had at least one decent chat with every year. The only former Image Comics colleague I saw was Rob Liefeld--and that was only for a few moments. Once again, if it weren't for the Dead Dog Party--I wouldn't have had a chance to talk to Denis Kitchen, Jimmy Palmiotti, Chip Mosher, Shannon Wheeler, Diana Schutz, Batton Lash, and many more.

I didn't even get to dine at Filippi's Pizza Grotto--not even once--that's never happened before--some years I ate there almost every night.

TWITTER: Deviant Art sponsorship of SDCC Artist Alley incredible gesture & under-reported. Those of us in AA for decades know how appreciated it was

The good folks at deviantart.com sponsored Artist's Alley. For the very first time we had cushy chairs and carpeting. They put up giant TV screens broadcasting our work continuously for the entire run of the show. You can see my contributions here. Their heroic efforts on behalf of the sometimes forgotten little guys in Artist's Alley was under-reported in the comic book press and blogs but deviantart.com deserves real kudos for their sponsorship of the art community.

TWITTER: Good, bad, or indifferent: there is NOTHING quite like San Diego Comic-Con

That about sums it all up for me!