Channel the entity "Jeff Parker" from beyond the Ether

Sunday, February 29, 2004


I don't know what it means either, but that's what the folks at the Yukon Tavern on Milwaukie currently have in giant letters on their marquee. All I can think of is how mortified this Paul fellow will be when he sees that very private/public message to him. He'll probably start drinking at a bar that doesn't broadcast his misery to all of Southeast Portland.


Saturday, February 28, 2004

Seattle! Sunday! 

Tomorrow I'll be in Washington for the Emerald City Comicon, so if you're in the area please come by. This will be my first trip to Seattle, since I wasn't magically pulled to the city by the Grunge scene in the early 90's like so many of my peers. Generation X, if anyone still bothers to call us that. You know us, we're the ones who killed the comics industry by making it keep its focus on us instead of trying to appeal to kids as future readers.

Where did that rant come from? Anyway, I'll be in Seattle this Sunday trying to convince the next generation to pick up a copy of The Interman. There might even be a show report crammed right into this very blog! See you when I get back.


Thursday, February 26, 2004


"Hate Mail", the short story I wrote and drew for Vampirella Comics Magazine#3 is in comics shops and some newsstands now. Go pick it up, I'm proud of it. I did more gray tonal work than I have in the past, which seemed appropriate for Vampi. As a kid I sat on the magazine shelf in my dad's store devouring the Warren magazines, which had Jose Gonzales drawing one amazing story after another. Years later I noticed that he was drawing Vampirella super-realistic, obviously using models, and with all the male characters he would indulge his cartoony whims. I guess everyone was too busy looking at the bikini-clad vampire to notice the discrepancies. It makes them even more fun to look at now.

The story concerns a horror-show hostess who has angered a witches coven with her late night show. The witches have been sending a monster man out to terrorize her, and now she won't go back on air. Vampirella wants her to go on to lure the creature back out, but "Spellinore" is too scared. So our hero has to host the show herself to bait the witches, and provide criticism of monster movies in the meantime.

If you can find it, I did a variant cover for this issue. I've created a Workshop section at my website that will begin by showing how I worked on the cover, if I ever have time to finish my site overhaul. The cover on the one I picked up today is by Phil Noto, so it's worth having just for that. I'm going to go out on a limb and assume the other variant covers involve current model Kitana Baker standing provocatively in the costume. I'm no psychic or anything, despite the Ouija board up at the top of the page, but that's my gut feeling. Enjoy!


Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Moss, Ghosts, and Comics 

This past weekend I was in the warm, Spanish moss-covered town of Savannah, Georgia, home to one of the premiere art schools in the country. The Savannah College of Art and Design held it's yearly Artists' Forum, and I was one of the visiting lecturers. Even though I'd rather talk about comics storytelling than almost anything, I thought it might be more useful to the students if I covered other areas such as storyboarding and how to publish your own book. I'll happily share this information with you too, if you fly me somewhere nice and feed me fatty foods all weekend like SCAD did.

Some of the first friends I made in the comics industry were there, artist/writer Mark Schultz and his wife Denise. Mark is going to be teaching at SCAD for ten weeks this year, so those kids are in for a treat. Old pals from back in North Carolina were also guests: Scott Hampton, George Pratt and Tommy Lee Edwards. Tommy dressed better than everyone else, George suckered us with tall tales, and Scott showed us some butt-kicking art from his new horror anthology Spookhouse, coming out from IDW. Apparently, I was the inspiration for that name, though my suggestion was that it be "Scott Hampton's Spookhouse" with a little picture of Scott in the corner ala the old Boris Karloff comics from Charlton. Or was it Gold Key? Speaking of painters, the formidable Mark Chiarello was also a guest, speaking to the kids as an editor as well as creator. For those who wonder when he's going to be in print again, he's doing more painted cards honoring the old Negro Leagues of baseball, so that's coming up before long.

Jill and I got in some quality time with Linda Medley, one of the best cartoonists working today. You've read Castle Waiting, right? And I got to meet yet another art hero of mine, David Mazzuchelli. Though he's been in the role of teacher most recently, he's also working in comics again, producing a large graphic novel that we'll get to see in a year or two. There'll be more cool two-color stories as in Rubber Blanket, which is something I'd like to take a stab at as well. SCAD also brought back some of their talented alumni, Chris Brunner and Nick Dragotta. Nick is working on an adaptation of John Henry that everyone was abuzz about but I never got to see. Cover artist Jon Foster was also new to me, but now I'll track down everything he's done.

I didn't get out of the classroom much, but Saturday afternoon Bob Pendarvis took a group of us out to to the famous Bonaventure Cemetery, which you might remember John Cusack visiting in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. There I saw the creepy grave of Gracie--which has a lifesize statue of the little girl from a century earlier. Of course this sidetrip was prompted by lots of ghost stories at dinner the night before. It's hard not to tell them there, Savannah just looks like the most haunted place on the planet. Some of the stories told I'd go as far to call outright lies, but these are artists full of rich food, and that's what happens. My favorite was one Linda told of taking a picture of Mike Mignola sitting on Francis, a large shrouded angel tombstone. When her polaroid developed, there were two cloudy trails encircling Mike and the statue. Solve that one, Hellboy!

I particularly enjoyed watching artists I've respected for years making goofy faces at my daughter to entertain her. Allie liked the presence of horses all over town, it was the first time she'd seen any close up. Sweet tea was in full effect everywhere, just in case you didn't know you were in the South. The Sequential Art school is loaded with promising students who are way ahead of the game simply by not making excuses during portfolio review. They asked good questions, and I hope I gave good answers. You'll be seeing a number of them in your comics in coming years. Thanks to department Chair John Lowe for bringing us all out!


Thursday, February 19, 2004

Lecturing in the Garden of Good and Evil 

I'm heading to Savannah, Georgia this weekend to be part of the yearly Artists' Forum at SCAD, the College of Art and Design. I'll be talking to students for a couple of days about my work and what awaits them in the professional world, and then I think I sit on a panel with the other guests so we can all argue about comics. The guest list is impressive, and I'll be mentioning them when I get back. Maybe sooner if I get behind a terminal and can remember my password to Mystifying Oracle. I haven't made an entry from the road yet, hmmmm.

It's been a while since I've spoken before a class, though I used to do it all the time. I taught Freshman English back in grad school, and there I was trying to make people learn how to write. Now I have a lot less time in which to help students figure out how to stay afloat by drawing pictures-- oh, I miss college.

I'm looking forward to seeing Savannah again, it's a beautiful town that makes you feel like you're really in the South (and brother, you are!). It has that pulp mill smell unfortunately, which everyone swears you get used to. Like New Orleans, homogenization hasn't made Savannah another of the endless copy cities across the country. And it's a long plane flight, so I better knock off and get ready. More about this soon...


Tuesday, February 17, 2004

...and that high-speed theme song was called "Yakity Sax", by the way... 

Picking back up that thread of Chitty Chitty and the Toymaker, I actually saw Benny Hill in person once. Around '90 or '91 I was in Florida for Spring Break with my pals Chuck and Tim, bumbling around Daytona. Plenty of wacky antics everywhere and that cursed C + C Music Factory song blaring out of van-sized speakers all over the beach. We saw an outdoor arena where something was being filmed and walked over to that, to find out it was the Hawaiian Tropic competion, a kind of Miss Universe event that doesn't bother with extraneous talents nor care how the contestants would better the world. The panel of judges was introduced, and one was the white-haired Hill-- in many ways, the most appropriate choice for a judge. Later I saw him walking around the patio of a hotel, and I wish I'd said hi. I could have told him how much the kids in my sixth grade classes enjoyed slapping each other on the heads as he always did to Little Jackie on his show. Hill died the next year.

Speaking of those beauty contests and the supermodels that come from them (except for the serious ones, who've already dropped out of school at 16)... someone always does the nice thing of asking what they'd have been if not a model, as if they ever had a whole option. It seems like the most common answer is always "Marine Biologist."

At that point I always wish the interviewer would ask "Really? Would your focus be on rehabilitating coral reefs? Or making strides in Kelp Farming? Plankton growth? Study Starfish regeneration?" But no, the issue is never pressed because you're not supposed to make beautiful people look bad, and everybody knows the answer would be "I want to play with Dolphins, like at Seaworld!" That's what they think marine biologists do, work in a really cool giant aquarium and swim with dolphins all day. Then head home to their cool condos, which will be on the intra-coastal waterway so they can jetski to and from work. Or if the jetski breaks down, they can check out a dolphin for the night and ride it home. That's what they think. Maybe this notion of marine biology was created by shows on Discovery Channel and of course, SeaWorld itself, and I admit I thought the same things as a child. Of course, I thought there'd be more danger involved, because I'd seen The Day of the Dolphin starring George C. Scott. So there's always danger that the government might swipe your dolphins and use them to put bombs on the bottom of boats, you gotta keep on top of that. Interesting fact: Buck Henry was the writer of that movie. I don't know how to tie all that together except to note that Buck and Benny both worked in comedy.


Friday, February 13, 2004

Parker Beats the Devil 

For the past week I've been on the couch up in my office trying to keep contagion from the rest of the house. I had a sneaky recurring sinus infection that finally made a nice home for this heavyweight flu that's going around. While fading in and out of consciousness, I read the book so many friends have recommended-- Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gold.
Carter has a lot of the kind of research I like and makes fun connections between events of the early 20th century. It felt very similar to Michael Chabon's Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, which came out at the same time, if I recall. It makes sense that the authors are pals, Gold had a short story in the McSweeney's Thrilling Tales anthology that Chabon edited.
I just changed some content here, because I realized I was spoiling plot! Sorry.

Yesterday as I finished the book, I finally went to the doctor and got antibiotics to take out the infection, and with that gone, I should be able to use my rope-a-dope tactics on the flu. It speaks well of Carter that I made it all the way through.


Tuesday, February 10, 2004

No Crackitus Potts, I Expect You to DIE! 

Continuing that Gert Frobe musing from a few days ago... as a kid I loved Chitty Chitty Bang Bang above most movies. It must have surprised Bond fans that Ian Fleming wrote a children's movie, and even better they actually cast Q and Goldfinger in it. Desmond Llewelyn played a character called Coggins, and Gert Frobe did a nice comic turn as Baron Bomburst. Flemings forcefully winking character names work fine here, but I think calling the leading lady "Truly Scrumptious" was probably a little too Bond. It wasn't slipped in subtly either, they devote a whole musical number to the name.

CCBB, as the hip kids call it, had high production values and good songs-- I liked "Hushabye Mountain" and "The Old Bamboo" in particular. There's a good bit after Dick Van Dyke sings Hushabye Mountain to the homeless kids in the cave. Right after the soothing moment is done, someone reminds Van Dyke that his little song doesn't change the fact that they're all still living in that cave.

What I didn't remember from childhood was that the whole story was all BS that inventor Potts was telling his kids to amuse them on a picnic. This became clear when I bought the DVD. The movie is pretty long, so I'm thinking maybe CBS edited out those framing sequences. Or maybe I just tuned them out. The important thing to retain from all this is that Benny Hill was in the movie as the Toymaker. And Roald Dahl worked on the screenplay.


Code is Addicting 

See, now I've screwed up, talking about the blog itself, and now my Google ads above are for webhosting and adding comments. I've got to ramble on fun topics and get those ads for sleds back.
BIG THANKS to Corey Thomas for chiming in with some html help (he is a web designer, after all). Per his suggestions I've started wrapping my css code in tables, and things are getting more solid. Though I can't figure out how to handle the actual blogging column you're looking at now. What's really ridiculous is to look at this site in Netscape 4-- with each post the text gets progressively bigger until you can only see two letters on the page!
I've also returned to the cheery grays that I began with since everybody complained about my changes. Thanks everybody. But I'm keeping the sidebar on the left! You can't make me put it back on the right! And I'm going to lose that goofy picture of me and replace it with a different goofy picture of me!
Again, thanks for responding to my pleas for help. Dan: I'm not going to add Commenting until Spring sometime, so there. And now I better talk about anything other than html before I lose everyone...


Monday, February 09, 2004

Does Not Compute... Getting Dark Now...Love Kirk... 

If you tried to check in this weekend, you probably saw a bunch of style-sheet tags and NO CONTENT. That's what I get for trying to tweak this blog, gussy it up a little and make it load faster for you lot. I break my back over a hot keyboard, and do you ever post comments? NO. And don't give me that "but you haven't set the blog up for comments yet" excuse, I'm tired of that one.
Interestingly, I managed to accidentally design a Killing Page, that would instantly crash any IE Browser. Essentially it somehow gave the browser conflicting commands, just as Captain Kirk would to any robot or computer he wanted to fry the mind of. I trashed that code so it could never again harm us.
I was finally forced to switch to one of Blogger's house templates, and begin again the process of beating it into something more subtle. I'm not through by a long shot, so expect tiny changes in the page every few days. We all know you don't read the posts, you just check to see how many pixels wide I made a border on a given day.
If you're a CSS brainiac with lots of good advice, feel free to click that SummonParker link and give me what-for.
Next post: actual content.


Friday, February 06, 2004

Now, This Is Just Pathetic 

"Dear_ _Citibank _Members_,

This_ E-mail was se-nt by the_ Citi_Bank servers to
veerify _your_ E_MAIL addres_.
You mustt cpoemlte this pcseors by clicking on_the link
_below_ and enntering in the smal _window_ your citi_bank
Atm/Debit full_card_nummber and CARD PIN that _you use in Atm machine.
This is done for-your precottion -A- becourse some_of_our
memebrs no longer have acescs to their email adreessds
and we must verify it. "

Whew, that was a close one! How did those quick-witted confidence men manage to emulate CITI's notification style so thoroughly? I almost got taken!!!


Thursday, February 05, 2004

Diamonds Are For-Zzzzzzzzzzz 

Some of the best movie music ever done was for the James Bond series, especially in the 60's and early 70's. I have a hard time listening to it though. For half my childhood, my Dad would put on one of the soundtrack albums at bedtime, so I'd invariably fall asleep to Man With the Golden Gun or Thunderball, or any number of scores that conjure to mind naked women silhouettes dancing on guns from the title sequences. Years later when the Turner stations made a habit of showing 007 movies when Jaws wasn't on, I found I was completely programmed. If I was sitting down when the music started, even if I wasn't paying attention to the television, I'd find myself suddenly waking up five hours later, confused and listening to a blaring infomercial (in the good old days when tv just ran out of content at 1 pm, I'd have awakened to white noise and snow static). Shirley Bassey doesn't send many people to the Land of Nod, but I respond well to conditioning.
It just now occurs to me how odd the Goldfinger theme is, probably because Bassey didn't know what the movie was about when she wrote it, or just disregarded the story in that jazzy manner big-piped singers often do. She keeps referring to Auric Goldfinger (oh that Ian Fleming and his naming) as some kind of Casanova figure, and the whole song is essentially a warning for women to beware his charms. And then you look at stocky, buzzcut Gert Frobe as the character. Similarly, Tom Jones makes "Thunderball" sound like it might be a character in the movie. To be fair, he didn't write the music to that.

"Explooode... like THUNDERBALL!!!"


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