What Anthony said

25. November 2005

This is going to annoy some of my “liberventionist” friends, but I’ve just run across the best explanation I’ve seen of why the anti-war position is the only one consistent with libertarian principles.

“Warmongering is the health of statism.” Anthony Gregory is angling to be the next Randolph Bourne, perhaps.

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Why I love my job

20. November 2005

If you’ll take a look at the main Big Head Press Website, you’ll see the news that we have signed comic-book legend Mike Baron, co-creator of Nexus, and of The Badger, and writer for numerous DC and Marvel books, on to do a project helping us launch our spiffy new website next year.

At this point, we also have a second project from Mike in the pipeline, and we’ll talk about that one when we finish signing all the contracts with Mike and his artist for that project.

Working with Mike is a real thrill for me and brings part of my cartooning career full-circle.

I had gone through college with the ambition of becoming an editorial cartoonist — short version of a long story is it didn’t work out. So I was back at the University of Texas studying “formal” art and looking for a direction to take my talents and dreams.

Whilst browsing through one of the campus bookstores, at the magazine rack I found something that may well have changed my life at that point, at least almost as much as discovering Ayn Rand and then other libertarian theorists. “It” was a comic-book unlike any I’d seen.

It’s difficult for me to relate exactly what was so special about this little pamphlet. The main character dressed in black-and-blue spandex, had superpowers, and lived in a technologically advanced future. “Nexus,” a.k.a. Horatio Hellpop, was an assassin of mass murderers, driven by an unknown, telepathic alien force which gave him nightmares in which his targets were identified, their crimes revealed, and their locations described.

Well, interesting, but not the most ground-breaking set-up we’ve heard, even 20 or so years ago.

But there was something in the way the energy in the art and the lyricism of the writing came together which made Nexus the coolest comic-book I’d ever read.

However, the life-changing aspect of this book, which I didn’t really pick up on until I’d seen the second issue, was that unlike every other comic-book fantasy I’d seen, this story was not a corporate-owned, work-for-hire commodity, but something personal created by two guys with a shared vision, and most importantly, owned by them.

The creators, not some board room full of suits, decided the path of the story and the fate of its characters. And if the story and characters proved popular, the creators would share in the financial rewards, and could not just be shuffled out the door whenever some editor decided he wanted to use different “talent.”

I had loved super-hero comics as a youngster but as I learned of the practices in that business I had turned away from even considering it. I can create a business logo or advertising graphic and send it away to its buyer, thinking little of it again. The money is good. But I feel differently, much more personally and possessively, about the graphic stories I create; and the pay in the comics business, for creators, has always been very poor, with cartoonists getting paid fees as freelancers, getting no health benefits, and usually not having anything saved for retirement.

But a new model was being created in this business. Mike Baron was only one of many vanguards of this revolution, but he was my window to it. And my idea of what was possible for me to do and achieve as a cartoonist was forever transformed.

As I got older I lost interest in “super-spandex” stories and characters, and lately my favorite graphic stories are written by people like Joe Sacco and Warren Ellis and Carla Speed McNeil and Alex Robinson, all of them telling very different kinds of stories. But I will always have a fondness for Nexus, and The Badger, and an appreciation for the role Mike Baron played in shaping my professional life.

And now I’m working with the guy! And going over to his house for dinner! Trading stories about our dogs! Arguing politics! My Inner Fanboy is completely blissed out.

And soemwhere down the road I fully hope and intend to create something new and wonderful with Mike, as an artist illuminating his writing.

Life is good.

Oh yeah, here’s the front cover art for The Architect, painted by Andie Tong:
The Architect cover art

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I’m a baaaaaad boy

19. November 2005

Bre’r Frank complained to me the other day that I haven’t posted here much lately, and taking a quick look I realize that by Crom, it’s been more than three weeks! So much for my original 3-times-a-week commitment.

So I’ll recap what’s been going on the past three weeks and resolve to do better going forward:

The biggest news is that Big Head Press has signed with a BIG NAME COMIC-BOOK WRITER to produce not just one, but two new graphic novels! In the next day or two I will post a press release revealing who this BNCBW is, and what the project’s about.

I will drop a hint, though — this writer currently lives in northern Colorado. And he has been finding quite a few talented young artists in the area. So with any luck we’ll be having a goodly number of offerings written by BNCBW and drawn by these artists. Stay tuned!

The big news for me personally was that my parents recently celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary. Bre’r Frank, the under-achiever, put together a spiffy invitation, organized a sumptuous dinner party at the Houston Yacht Club, and hired a photographer to take nice pictures of the family. My job was to write a speech honoring our parents and their 50 years of wedded bliss, then show up and give it.

Well, since Frank lives about 200 miles from Houston and I live 1200 miles from Houston, it was a fair division of labor. And since I hate being treated like a citizen of East Germany and therefore won’t fly on commercial airlines, and it’s cheaper to drive four people the distance than to fly them, I packed my family into the Biesermobile and we did the road-trip thing.

I love road trips, but my wife hates them. Son The Elder falls asleep 10 minutes after you put him in a car and Son The Younger stays awake while chattering constantly. So all in all it was a fun journey.

And since I’m going to start a new graphic novel with settings ranging from Austin, Texas to Roswell, New Mexico, and I really hate seeing movies supposedly set in Texas that really look like southestern California, I decided that on the return trip I’d drive the approximate route the heroes in Roswell, Texas will take, and take reference photos with my Halfassed-Pieceofshit digital camera.

Most of the photos came out pretty well, so we will have some Verisimilitude regarding the settings portrayed in R,T, dammit.

Even if it did take us nearly a whole extra day to drive home. Oh, the sacrifices my family makes for my art.

There were two cool things, though. My kids got to see the famous town of Roswell, and spent an hour or so touring one of the two “UFO research centers.” This one was pretty good, laying out what is publicly known about the alleged flying-saucer crash on July 3, 1947. It had a mock-up of a dissection room with one of the dead aliens, and a big wall-map of the world on which reported UFO sightings, landings, and abductions are designated with little light-pins which light up when you press various buttons on the rail in front of the map.

The other cool thing was driving up through central New Mexico that evening. The sun had set early, and a full moon was out, and we were cruising up a 2-lane highway towards Las Vegas, NM, which would be our last overnight stop on the journey. I found a nifty FM radio station calling itself “Radio Free Santa Fe” which played a lot of trippy songs from the late 70s to serenade us as we rolled north. About as magical an experience as you can get without chemical enhancement.

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