Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Seth's 42nd birthday

Forty-two sounds old, doesn't it?
I thought that for this birthday I would talk about some ways that Seth has helped me with my own artwork. If there are readers who would like to do the same, please let me know; I'll be glad to donate a day or two (or more!) to others who have learned from him.  I know that there are art teachers who have used his work to teach various lessons: perspective for one...  What other things have teachers used his pages to teach their students?

When I was first trying to illustrate books, and just doing some preliminary pages--this was maybe 17 or 18 years ago, before Seth had gotten recognition for his own work--he looked at what I had done and said, "You could put some things in the picture in front of your characters, so the people are not always in the foreground."
Seth illustration for a Cicada story

The image from Cicada is a powerful example of this sort of illustration.  The single person in the picture is in the middle ground doing something fairly innocuous: knocking on the door of a cabin.  The axe stuck into the meandering-rooted tree stump in the foreground as well as the bare trees and huge moon in the background give an ominous feel to an illustration for a story that has a twist at the end.

I haven't learned to do it in such a powerful way as Seth could do, but I have tried to put his advice into some of my work, for example, in this illustration for a story about a girl who is looking for some lost ducks.

Vicki illustration for story "Quack and Daisy"
Another thing I learned from Seth is that no one is responsible for the shape of the illustration except the artist.  He simply said, "You are the master of your page."  That means to me, if something doesn't fit, it's not because there is too much that you have to include; it's because you need to rethink how it all should go together.  If the parts don't cohere, there is another way to use them.  Seth seemed to be able to put disparate parts together in a way that made an image beautiful, dramatic, clear, and dynamic.  This is one of my favorite images of Seth's, for just that reason: disparate parts put together to tell the story clearly and in beautiful form.   
Seth illustration from Vertigo Pop Tokyo, issue 1 page 24
From my own work I can only say that there are some times when the picture just doesn't work, either because it doesn't include the same information as the story does, because it is in a horizontal format and what is needed is vertical, or sometimes just because it is dull.  
Below is one of the pictures I struggled with.  The one on top is the first try, and the one on the bottom is the final.  There were two inbetween.  You have to be willing to toss what doesn't work, even when it has some good parts.  More that I learned from Seth.

Monday, February 10, 2014

When an artist pours his or her whole self into their artwork, it becomes something alive.  That living entity draws people.  The people who look close are rewarded with a relationship. I had a very wise art professor in college who said that you have to live with a work of art; you only come to know it when you live with it.  Then it brings you into its own circle, and you become richer because of it.

The people who are fans of Seth's art are those who have seen the life that is in it, and want that life in their lives.
Occasionally someone wants to give back.
J(ay) has been someone who has over the years given back in many ways to Seth's memory and Seth's family. Regular readers of this blog will remember other sketchcards commissioned by J(ay) and sent to me for Floweringnose day.  Above is this year's crop of cards, a particularly fine selection, I think.

In order to give back to the memory of someone like Seth, one has to find some form that is both generous, quirky, and is part of one's own artistic scheme.  In this commissioning, J(ay) has hit on the perfect combination.  I suspect that J(ay) traded his own sketchcards for each of these, so they are all done by different artists, with their own take on the Flowering Nose. Then J(ay) sent them all on to me.  Generous, quirky, and his own oeuvre.
A beautiful tribute.  Thank you J(ay).

Sunday, February 2, 2014

A new review of Seth's Big in Japan artwork

Click here for the link to the review.

How glorious to know that Seth's work is not disappearing, but still giving the careful viewer a thrill that is visceral.  It's too bad that comic books are so small.  For someone reading only for the plot, the visual details that tell the inside of the story are easy to miss.  In Seth's work, no details were arbitrary: every piece of wall decoration, every nuance of positioning has been considered and has meaning.  It has meaning for the story, and it works visually (though occasionally there are details he inserted just to amuse himself).  In the panel above, for example, the room is made of body parts.  The floor is a series of hands, the wall is eyeballs and teeth and tongues.
The reviewer, Greg Burgas, is one of those careful viewers who notices everything.

I am glad that people like him are out there, looking carefully at comic books, and pointing out to the rest of us the fine points that make Seth's work so much more than just nice pictures to go with a weird story.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Flowering Nose Day 2014

On Falling

A couple of small delights from Seth's oeuvre.
The above page from Happydale is interesting and maybe a bit foreboding, because the person they are talking about in the top panel is a picture of Seth himself, falling (on rollerblades) down the library steps. When Seth was in college he was an expert skater.   I have a photo of him on skates with a LOT of air underneath him. He used to jump over cars and the like.  He always wore knee and elbow pads, and since he didn't like to be hurt, he was always careful, no matter how high he jumped.   But he did do a lot of jumping, and maybe he learned to fall, and did like it.  Falling may have represented freedom to him.

And speaking of falling, below is page 9 from Seth's only Spiderman story.  In the story some knuckleheads are playing at being like Spiderman; they seem to be looking for the stupidest possible way to die.  This page shows one of them, whose safety rope has broken, being rescued in mid-fall by Spiderman himself.  The subject matter notwithstanding, it's an incredibly beautiful page, with the action at the top of the building at the top of the page, the middle at the middle of the page, and what is happening below at the bottom of the page.

On this Flowering Nose Day, let us use our energies to fall in love with each other and with all that is good, to encourage each other, and to do kindness with reckless abandon.  

Saturday, September 21, 2013

A BRAND NEW (to me) drawing of Seth's

Look at this!

Intrepid watcher for Seth Stuff, Jason Gerstein, sent me this image of a picture he found for sale the other day, a convention drawing done somewhere between 2003 & 2005.  (The seller dated it c.2003, but it looks to me more as though it was done during his monster phase, which would have been while he was drawing Big in Japan: 2005.)  A very Sethish monster, with mouths and heads in the wrong places, but turning his cluster of heads around to let you know how much he loves you.  And flowered skin besides...

I thought I had seen everything Seth had done. Finding something new makes me realize there is probably more out there, in people's folders, drawers, and closets. That's nice to know.  

Monday, July 22, 2013

Seth's birthday

I was looking through a box of Seth's work the other day, and found some items I had forgotten about.  So I thought that for his birthday it might be nice to post a couple of images that are "new".  So below are a couple of pictures I scanned in from the work that has never been seen publicly.
This was no doubt done in the 90's when he was first living in Japan

experimenting with paint
The upper, black and white drawing was probably meant as part of his work in Japan for his English classes, though I think he never actually put it to use.
I am guessing that the bottom one was when he was trying his hand at watercolors, or maybe gouache.  He was always interested in gaining some proficiency at color, but color is a long road, and Seth generally had other things on his mind that took precedence.

The last image is not new, but always welcome.  Happy Seth's birthday.

Friday, June 28, 2013

The Man with 1000 Noses sampler

I got a letter the other day from a fan who was looking for Seth's sampler book, which we made several years ago, but had run out of.  I kept saying I would make more, but there were always other things ahead of that on my To Do list.  But because this person wrote and asked, I did it: I made a few more copies.  So now this little book is available, just in time for Comic Con.

If you are interested in a copy, you can send $10 (which includes shipping within the US) by PayPal to seth@floweringnose.com and I'll send you one.