I came home from class today, plopped onto the sofa and was promptly pinned down by Minou. I think she missed me.

On Friday, we had an interesting workshop with an artist, Kristina Carroll (her work is amazing!) from Strathmore paper company. [KristinaCarrollArt.com] She explained how papers were made and what that meant for our artwork - what materials worked well with different types of papers - and then we got to test them all out with tons of different art supplies! The basic gist of it was - when using inks and Micron type pens - use a very smooth bristol. For wet media, use watercolor paper or mixed-media paper. The higher quality - professional papers (i.e.: the 500 series) are lovely and fabulous... BUT... not very forgiving. They don't erase well because they suck onto the pigments and pencil lead and don't give them up easily. Good to know.

This morning, we had a very useful Lab Workshop. The school has some great equipment to make our own comic books, so we were led through the process. We were shown, then each of us was tested to make sure we "got it".

We learned to use the formerly scary super-copiers, the creasing machine, the long arm stapler, the saddle stitch set up and the powerful Cutter machine...

...to make this cute little mini-comic about a girl and her goldfish.

After lunch, we had a guest speaker, Alec Longstreth [www.Alec-Longstreth.com] who was a fellow at the school and still teaches, but just moved to Santa Fe. He gave us copies of some of his comics - I got him to sign mine!

He is crazy-passionate about Carl Barks. We were ashamed to admit... "Carl who?"

Carl Barks was responsible for drawing the Donald Duck comics for Disney for 25 years. What was so unusual was that he had no interference from his editors. He wrote, drew, inked, and lettered everything (unheard of!) and the stories are actually fantastic!

He even affected Manga - the "big eyes" of Manga characters were based on Donald's big eyes. And many other modern works stole from him - the recent animated "Duck Tales" were taken directly from Carl Barks' art and stories (with no pay to him or his family!) Spielberg's scene in Indiana Jones where the boulder rolls down inside the cave - was a tribute to Carl Barks - taken directly from one of his Donald Duck stories...  He drew more than 6,000 comics and Fantagraphics recently reprinted the originals in an enormous collection. After class, I sat and read through one of the first - who knew Donald Duck would be so exciting?

Next - we had a lecture on the history of printing. My notes seemed kind of useless, without pictures, but then I got permission to take some photos for you of the original plates that Steve Bissette had brought to show us!

There were so many different kinds. A separate plate was made for each color (Yellow, Cyan, Magenta, and Black) - and they were thrown out after printing was complete. (What a waste!)

Metal plates gave excellent detail and lasted through many runs, but were heavy and expensive.

Here's a metal plate on the left, and a quick print that our teacher made from it, on the right.

They were eventually replaced by plastic which was cheaper, flexible, and detailed too - but could wear down during use, causing blurry edges. This is a printing plate from Richie Rich, with the actual comic on the right. The plate had the image in reverse (like a giant rubber stamp) and usually multiple pages were fit on one plate.

When the teacher got to "mimeograph" machines - I started to feel old (in comparison to the other students). I actually remember them being used when I was in grade school!

I loved the purple ink on our worksheets.

It is amazing how printing has changed over time and made personal expression possible. It used to be that the one with the press was the only one with an opinion. No, we all can have an opinion.

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