After class this evening all the students went out back to the parking lot for a pizza and apple cider pressing party.

That is - we ate pizza and pressed apples!
Pizza juice... shudder.

The kid in this pic is Phineas, the son of the Director. He's the same age as my Lilah.

The apple cider was amazing! We couldn't fill up our containers though until the whole car load of apples was pressed.

My cold has gotten so bad and I was feeling a little fever-y, so I left my jugs with my neighbor and came back to the apartment.

I always seem to get sick when I get stressed. Seems kind of like a no-brainer, but I don't have the strongest immune system on a good day, so with the huge assignment, the looming court hearing, missing class - and some other stuff... let's add SICK to the list. sigh. Last night I stayed up too late trying to get the Walt Kelly assignment done, then lay awake, shivering and thinking too much. I finally got up and took some Nyquill (I hate taking any meds) - but that was a BAD idea. It did stop the shivers and help me fall asleep... but I couldn't wake up and slept through the Scanning Lab at 9:30. Luckily it was optional, but I still felt bad.

I was in a Sudafed stupor for class, but I think I still got some good stuff out of it. There was a Visiting Artist as well as the continuation of proto-comic history.

Mark Arsenault and our teacher, Steve Bissette, had worked together on a ton of anthologies and other projects at Tundra Press. Tundra was started by Kevin Eastman of the Eastman and Laird - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fame. We heard some interesting gossip about friendships gone bad when two joe-shmoes suddenly get a buttload of money and can do anything they want with it. Which explains how Laird ended up with Mirage Studios and Eastman, with Tundra.

Mark was an art director with Tundra and got to be part of the "braintrust meetings" that Eastman organized as his way to give back to the comics community. Now Mark works for Alternative Comics. The presentation didn't engage me as much as other visiting artists... partly because of the Nyquil and Sudafed, I'm sure, but also because our teacher really dominated the talk. When Mark did get to make a comment, it often felt like he and Steve were reminiscing and we were eavesdropping and didn't know the references. One thing that did stick in my brain - Mark went to SVA - the School of Visual Arts - in NYC in 1987 or so. I was there in 1989. That's cool. And I like to meet people my age who are doing interesting things.

There wasn't a lot of time to delve into comics history after that, but we covered Dime Novels, Big Little Books, Penny Dreadfuls, and the interesting connection between comics and stage. "Sweeney Todd" was so popular in print - it went directly to stage.

Interesting too - Mary Byfield was a popular female illustrator - "The Midnight Assassination" was illustrated with engravings. And, at this time, she signed her works with "Mary" not "M." because there was no prejudice against female illustrators yet.

And then we got an intro to Winsor McCay. His series (signed "Silas"), "Dream of the Rarebit Fiend," were bizarre and intriguing - and you can see how they led to Little Nemo in Slumberland. "Rarebit" is like cheese fondue on toast (so we were told) and is a very heavy, bad snack to have before bed. All the strips were about the idiots who ate it, went to bed, and the horrible dreams they had!

© Winsor McCay

He was the first cartoonist to explore the realities of the cartoon space - i.e.: borders, viewpoint... for example, he did a piece exploring the fear of being buried alive... from the buried person's viewpoint (who was not dead) as viewed through the glass faceplate on his coffin. This scene was copied in a European movie called "Vampyr" and in many other stories and formats.

Now... I'll show you my homework that I am working on for Wednesday's class (The class I am missing to go to court for a custody... thing. I am SURE that had NO influence on my homework. Wink, wink).

My assigned artist is Walt Kelly (Pogo) and I had to draw 3 autobiographical strips - one about a funny thing that happened to me, one about a tragedy that happened to me, and one of my own choosing. I combined two of them into one "Sunday" strip (three tiers as compared to a weekly strip of only one tier).

I'll show you the sketches first - they are in non-photo blue which, ironically enough, doesn't photograph well!

And here are the finished pieces...

I had already used myself as the Albert the alligator character (below), so I kept it for this one too. You can probably figure out who the bear is? I created hime from a bunch of different Pogo characters and I made up his dialog lettering based on a typewriter look.

For the one above, I drew a "title" to spoof the "Pogo" title. I turned my daughter into a girl-Pogo. And I created a lettering style for her voice. This really DID happen, but the Alligator mom person is not really my personality. After all, I HELPED Lilah write the new song. She put it on her blog too. I'm trying to decide if I should add cross-hatching. Some of the Pogo strips had it, others were just line work. And I'm going to add a row of "fa la la las" under the title section (in that weird blank space).

The last part of that assignment is to copy out an entire page of Tale of Two Cities.... in Walt Kelly's lettering style!! Haven't done that yet.

Last thing! Totally unrelated to anything, but I got this cool plant-thing and noticed the fantastic barcode on the back! Isn't this wonderful?