November 19, 2012 by Margreet de Heer
Last weekend, my father took me to a concert. I’m not a particular concert-goer, but this was special: it was the performance of Canto Ostinato, a piano piece that has been the soundtrack of my life since I was about thirteen years old. Only later I learned it is a great example of fundamentalist minimalistic music, tonal and harmonious. It was written in the late 1970s by Dutch composer Simeon ten Holt and you can click here if you want to read more about him and the many facets of this fantastic piece.
But the best thing is just to listen it.
It has been performed in numerous settings and with various instruments, of which the four-piano version is one of the most impressive and entrancing. Here’s a great rendition, with images of symmetries in Dutch landscapes as an added bonus:
The version my dad and I saw was for two pianos. We sat in first row, so the sound was really close and enveloping. Plus, I got a good view of the subtle footwork of one of the pianists, Polo de Haas. I brought a small leather notebook and drew this:
I find this music evokes a lot of imagery for me – mostly abstract but also natural – like the rhythm of breathing, or breaking waves.
So I drew this:
Then I realized I had drawn this before, and a lot better.
In 2006, on a holiday in Ireland, I found the CD of Canto Ostinato in the house I was staying in, and I listened to it in one long session and drew and drank port the whole time, trying to capture every shift in the music. It became a very long illustration. The picture beneath is part of it. If you click on it, you get the full version. Best viewed with the music from the video above playing in the background.
By the way, the translation of Canto Ostinato is ‘stubborn song’. Isn’t that great?
November 16, 2012 by Stefan Blitz
As we head into the Holiday season, we’re proud to announce that we’ve sold out of our initial run of Stan Mack’s Taxes, The Tea Party and Those Those Revolting Rebels and are running low of Margreet de Here’s Psychology: A Discovery in Comics and Hirohiko Araki’s Rohan at the Louvre (which means if you want to give/receive either of those titles, I suggest placing an order soon)
Our latest title, Abelard by Renaud Dillies and Regis Hautier also belongs on your Holiday gift list.
Publisher’s Weekly has listed the book on their Graphic Novel Gift Guide and reviewed the title, saying, “What eventually reveals itself amid the cute animals and dry humor is a poignant tale echoing the plight of early European immigrants, who abandoned everything they knew in search of a better life and nurtured hope even in the worst of situations.”
November 14, 2012 by Stefan Blitz
With such a wide variety of titles, we’re pretty fortunate to get a pretty amazing cross section of reviewers.
Here are a few kind words about several of our titles:
Philosophy: A Discovery in Comics
“Margreet, with help from her husband/colorist Yiri, does exactly what I’d hoped she’d do. I got an overview of philosophy with difficult concepts explained in a variety of ways. I got an introduction to the basics that left me with a desire to learn more. I love a book where, just when I think, “I need an example to understand that,” I turn the page and Yiri is telling Margreet, “It’s getting a bit abstract now…Can you give a concrete example here?” And she does.”
“In short, colorful, humorously self-reflective chapters, de Heer takes us on a tour of the biggest questions and the most famous names of philosophy, ending with the personal philosophies of some surprisingly interesting people rarely thought of as philosophers. The characters and arguments of philosophy come brilliantly to life through a series of quirky, memorable conversations.”
– Teacher Librarian
“It might seem odd to think of Wilde’s classic tale of the statue that loved his city and the swallow that loved the statue as a tale of horror. But there’s something profoundly horrific in the way the statue can only give the precious and finite parts of his body to save the city he loves. Russell’s illustrations slip delicately between the terrific pain the prince sees and the fragile joy the bird helps him deliver.”
– Teacher Librarian
November 14, 2012 by Steve Weiner
As the graphic novel form took off in the 1990s, one of the first places it landed was public libraries. The respectability of MAUS as well as the initial buzz generated by the publicity generated by DARK KNIGHT & WATCHMEN raised the visibility of the comics medium. Lots of people in the library were more curious than biased against comics, so they started small graphic novel collections, steeled themselves, & waited for the complaints.
Complaints did occasionally come their way, but mostly librarians saw that they’d stumbled onto something. Patrons, particularly boys, loved comics. These books were read, borrowed, & stolen. The word was out—libraries were not dead places, they were even a bit hip.
Even better, books were coming out like UNDERSTANDING COMICS, STRANGERS IN PARADISE, & ELFQUEST, more in line with library collection policies. As librarians learned how to best collect comics they had to read them, making them become fans or at least educated skeptics.
There were barriers aside from content that made collecting graphic novels difficult. Vendors who sold to libraries didn’t carry them, &, for the most part, they weren’t reviewed (librarians generally bought books after they were reviewed) so librarians began holding conferences about graphic novels in an effort to educate each other & work out problems collecting comics. Throughout the 90s these issues were thoroughly examined, but the real breakthrough occurred when publishers saw the benefits of libraries collecting graphic novels. Initially, the big publishers saw libraries as competition, that one library sale negated multiple individual sales. However, over time the publishers saw public library collections as a way to promote the changing comics field, & a partnership was formed between the comics industry public libraries. Interestingly enough, throughout most of the 1990s, the two most popular graphic novels in public libraries were MAUS & UNDERSTANDING COMICS.
For more information about the history of the graphic novel, read my book, Faster than a Speeding Bullet: the Rise of the Graphic Novel, available now.
November 13, 2012 by Margreet de Heer
What is creativity? Where does it come from? Is it something you have inside, or something you can tap in to?
I personally lean towards the latter. My most creative moments are when I’m in the bath tub, where I get the distinct sensation of “windows” opening in my mind, through which ideas are flowing…
Still Haven’t Read TAXES, THE TEA PARTY AND THOSE REVOLTING REBELS? Here’s Some Reviews To Convince You To Read It Right Now…
November 12, 2012 by Stefan Blitz
“A history of the nation’s birth that gets exactly the treatment it needs: irreverent admiration for the pluck of visionaries, rueful honesty about the founding ideas that still shape our reality.”
– Teacher Librarian
“Accessible, thought -provoking , and highly discussable, this version of how the United States became independent of the British Crown may well inspire readers to see the relevant aspects of studying history as well as reading nonfiction comics.”
– School Library Journal
“An accurate but irreverent retelling of the American Revolution and the events that led up to it. Mack’s colonists talk like real people—with attitude—which helps bring the facts of history down to earth in a way modern readers can relate to.”
– School Library Journal
And finally, a rather conservative look at the book, which is certainly provocative, albeit not particularly accurate.
“Rather than an honest attempt at history, it comes off as a pro-liberal statement, where government corrupts those in charge, and that regular people are easily manipulated.”
November 11, 2012 by stan mack
Abigail was on track but a woman before her time. If she could have only looked forward to today’s record number of women elected to Congress…
November 9, 2012 by NBM
Now we’re told we won’t have worlking phone lines and possibly internet until December 4!
So much for being back up as we thought a couple days ago.
Why? Because our lines are out of a central office that was one of the worst hit by flooding and so is undergoing extensive repairs.
What that means, folks, is, don’t call us! All you get is a busy signal or some weird message about us not in existence. They can’t even forward our calls or put on a message!
To reach us, you need to e-mail us. We’re managing through wifi and jerry-rigging to get online and get most of our work done there.
So, sorry, no phone calls! Just e-mail.
Orders: we will be processing credit cards orders starting today through Square. Orders accumulated from when the storm hit through yesterday have been processed and our warehouse is sending them out..
Wish us luck.
November 6, 2012 by stan mack
Luckily, today’s Republicans—superior people in their own minds—weren’t the majority at the Constitutional Convention.
November 6, 2012 by stan mack
Today’s Republicans may not look like these three characters, but their song is the same.