5 Years of Award-Winning Comics

Graphic Short Story Prize

For your weekend perusing pleasure, The Guardian has this nice survey of five years of the (take a deep breath) Observer/Cape/Comica Graphic Short Story Prize.  On their Guardian-hosted website you can also read this year’s winner and runner-up as well as other short comics and comics reviews, opinion, and journalism.  Pretty nifty for a look at the English comics scene.

Cherokee Valkyrie

Wrapping up National Native American Heritage Month by finally including a Comics post on the theme!

I’ve been thinking that Native Americans are probably the most over-represented ethnic minority in mainstream American superhero comics.  I guess the associations people have with American Indians and different kinds of mysticism and magic make them an attractive source of inspiration for fantasy worlds…

(at left: Danielle Moonstar, Cherokee member of the New Mutants.  Image by Bob McCleod, Copyright Marvel Comics.)

On the one hand, maybe these characters were sort of exoticizing, but on the other, there’s now a well-rounded, diverse range of native characters for creators to work with, certainly more so than for other minority groups…

Danielle Moonstar‘s probably one of my favorite of these characters, leaning as I do towards the X-Men side of things.  Sure, she uses a bow and arrow, is shown as hot-tempered, maybe sorta stereotypical attributes, but she also became an honest-to-gosh Valkyrie, so I think it evens out.

Moonstar was a founding member of the New Mutants, a high-profile Marvel character since the early ’80s, and most recently the leader of the newest New Mutants, despite losing her own powers.  Just an all-around BAMF.  Look out for her in Marvel’s forthcoming Fearless Defenders.

BTW, the Moonstar links go to a character biography on UncannyXMen.net, an exhaustive fansite for all your Marvel Mutant needs.

Tamaki in Reverse

Jillian Tamaki Half-LifeAll Images Copyright Jillian Tamaki

Jillian Tamaki recently put up a four-page comic originally done for Nobrow Magazine, and you can read a few other short comics on her portfolio.  I especially enjoyed Domestic Men of Mystery, musing on the distance of her friends’ fathers.

She also has a periodic webcomic, SuperMutant Magic Academy, about teens with attitudes enrolled in a Hogwarts-like school for gifted students.

SMMA sample

However, my first exposure to Jillian was Skim, written by her sister, Mariko Tamaki.  Here’s the New York Times review from 2008.  It’s much darker, though with it’s share of humor, dealing as it does with high school, suicide, body image, sexuality, student-teacher romance…  All lovingly, lushly illustrated by Jillian Tamaki though.

Skim book cover, by Mariko & Jillian Tamaki

Song to the (Full) Moon

It’s a full moon tonight, so what better way to celebrate than with “Měsíčku na nebi hlubokém” (that’s “Song to the Moon” for you non-Czech-speakers) from Dvořák‘s 1901 opera Rusalka.

Pretty sweet design, right?  That’s celebrated soprano Lucia Popp rocking the head-to-toe scaly look there; I don’t  envy having to wear that or having to learn to pronounce Czech : P  The world of Slavic opera, from Russia, Poland, Czech Republic, etc., is a pretty distinct, foreign world to me still, though I have enjoyed Janáček and Rimsky-Korsakov in the past and want to learn more…

I was admiring the moon yesterday, so take a break from your screens to look skyward tonight friends.

Don John Silver

I’m trying to keep on top of the Met Opera‘s live stream schedule, so here’s another one for y’all:  Don Giovanni live, tonight at 7:25pm!

Starowieyski Don Giovanni posterImage by Franciszek Starowieyski

Somehow this is the first time I’ve featured Mozart here, and that’s a little crazy…  Anyway, tune in here tonight at 7:25pm for some live opera!  Also, this is my second Polish poster illustrator, that’s an interesting world of graphic design that I’m increasingly curious about…

And don’t forget!  You can hear Ralph Vaughan WilliamsThe Pilgrim’s Progress on BBC Radio 3 until Saturday too!

Countertenor Heartthrob

OMG.  My opera crush, countertenor Iestyn Davies, answers five questions on Opera News‘ Take 5 video series.  I’m obviously not his sole admirer as this spotlight article in Details calls him a “heartthrob to both sexes”, aw yeah.

Here is just a small sample from his world premiere recording of Nicola Porpora‘s cantatas for HRH Frederick, Prince of WalesSwoon

Alt Azn Comix

So I went to this pair of exhibits at the Museum of Chinese in America with some comics friends recently, and I recommend it.

MOCA Comics exhibitsImage by Gene Luen Yang

There are two shows, one on depictions of Asians in American postwar comics and one on contemporary Asian-American indie cartoonists.  I’d seen the first one before, and it’s okay, but I was disappointed in the lack of original art…   Luckily, the second show delivers on that end.  I also enjoyed seeing a historical lens being applied to the central group of friends and artists in the 1990s Bay Area, seeing how their network formed, expanded, and overlapped with other artists.

MOCA is free on Thursday evenings and also has its permanent exhibit on the history of Chinese immigrants to the US, for your non-comics-loving friends.  Directions & Hours here.  (Also, my friends said the bathrooms were really swanky, FYI…)

Coding to the Classics

I’ve been coding for a school project these past few days, and opera is ideal listening for just such an occasion, seeing as it lasts so long!

Cherubini Medea title page

In addition to listening to BBC’s Pilgrim’s Progress (blogged about here, and online until Saturday), I’ve also made use of Opera Today‘s collection of full live opera performances.  Today it was Cherubini‘s 1797 opera Médée, in a 1961 La Scala performance starring Maria Callas.

Cherubini’s Medea, streaming performance from Opera Today

Callas as Medea

(You’ll notice the opera was called Médée but this performance is called Medea, as it’s sung in an Italian translation.)

The top image links to Harvard‘s Loeb Music Library collection of digitized scores and libretti.  A very neat resource if you’re looking for free sheet music (here’s another one)!

Octopus Pie Returns!

Octopus Pie returns

After a hiatus to work on some other projects*, Meredith Gran‘s webcomic Octopus Pie returns today!  I’ve blogged about it earlier, and it’s a personal favorite, so glad to have it back…

Marceline and the Scream Queens no1Images by Meredith Gran

*Speaking of her other venture, it was Boom Studio‘s Adventure Time tie-in comic, Marceline and the Scream Queens!  These Adventure Time tie-ins have featured some serious webcomic talent, so it’s interesting to see webcomic creators gather so strongly around one set of projects (or be courted by these projects, whichever way it may be).

Left2Right / Right2Left

I recently got linked to Israeli cartoonist and illustrator Asaf Hanuka‘s blog because of this succinct demonstration of the Israel-Hamas conflict, out of Tel Aviv I believe.

Asaf Hanuka, Realist Comics, 90 SecondsCopyright Asaf Hanuka

Going back in his archives though, I found another comic that eerily foreshadowed the current situation, and interesting and well-done as it was, the big thing I noticed was how he handled the English-Hebrew translation:

Asaf Hanuka, The Realist, The Existential Threat and UsCopyright Asaf Hanuka

Which one did he draw first?  I guess he just reflected it in Photoshop or something later, right?  Does he have to consider the fact that it’ll be read in both directions when planning and drawing somehow?  The linguistics major in me is intrigued

T. Hanuka, New Yorker illustrationCopyright Tomer Hanuka

I feel like any mention of Asaf should go hand-in-hand with his brother, Tomer Hanuka; they’re both great cartoonists and illustrators, and Tomer‘s illustration process blog is a fascinating resource for wannabe illustrators.