Costumes & Horror on Halloween

Girls with Slingshots Halloween costume comic

Girls with Slingshots by Danielle Corsetto

Halloween is usually a fun opportunity for webcartoonists to dress their recurring characters up, but I haven’t seen a whole lot of that yet among the comics I normally read!  Where’s the holiday spirit, guys?

That being said, Girls with Slingshots by Danielle Corsetto is a reliable source of Halloween themed story lines and this year it’s built around a librarian-organized, kids’-book-character-themed costume party!  Lots of great costumes so far, but I thought the comics-themed couple costume at left was especially appropriate for us…

Aside from Halloween story lines, here are two seasonally appropriate comics.

Little Ghost is a cute monster mash story by Kate Leth, and its the first ongoing fictional storyline she’s serialized on her own website, though she also has several new monthly print comic projects out, including the new, ultra-Halloweeny Edward Scissorhands comic from IDW!

Little Ghost by Kate Leth

Little Ghost by Kate Leth

Also, Abby Howard, who I learned about through the Strip Search webcomic reality show and her hilarious comics at Junior Scientist Power Hour, is a big fan of horror as evidenced by her other webcomic, The Last Halloween!  I believe it was launched about a year ago after a successful Kickstarter…  At any rate, I started reading it, but it was  way too scary for me!  So that means it should be appropriate for anyone over, like, age 10 😛

The Last Halloween by Abby Howard

The Last Halloween by Abby Howard

Even Abby’s latest autobio JS Power Hour comic is Halloween themed, about the big farm home she moved into as a kid and the mysteriously threatening happenings that followed…

Alright, hope you all enjoy these alternately cute and horrifying comics on this spoOoOoky Halloween!  Anyone dressing up as a comic character?

SebaSM Comics Digest, Week of Oct. 27th

autorando-00059In honor of Halloween tomorrow, today’s SebaSM Comic flashes back to last year, when I narrowly avoided a big costume-related misunderstanding…

Also, inspired by the Halloween-themed release of a porn called “Less than Twenty Feet Away“, I present one of my earlier comics inspired by proximity-based dating apps…  Pretty sure they stole that concept from me…  At any rate, spOoOoOoky stuff!

autorando-00012_0

In this week’s other new comic, I cover the exciting adult responsibility of getting groceries!

autorando-00058Another thrilling week at SebaSM Comics, so head on over to read the latest installments!

UPDATE: Sorry for the broken links guys!  Should be working now…

Muslims in America, Italians in Russia

In catching up on some NY Times arts coverage this weekend I found two Bizarro-Twins-appropriate articles I thought I’d merge into one…

Chronologically first, Italian mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli has a new album of baroque operatic arias called St. Petersburg.  Not a city we associate with baroque opera, but as Bartoli’s latest musicological excavation effort points out, as was the case all over Europe, the Russian court was home to several Italian composers patronized by emperors and empresses, alongside other artists from across Europe.  The pieces they composed basically followed Italianate opera conventions, though they were occasionally performed in Russian, but all 11 tracks on the CD are world premiere recordings so it’s certainly a rare set of materials.

 

Bartoli herself went to the Mariinsky Theater archives to peruse these scores, which were sort of hidden especially during Soviet times to suppress the history of Russia looking to Western Europe, a binary that’s relevant to this day.  I’d certainly like to know a bit more about those archival adventures!  (NYT article)

The other story I wanted to share was a conversation between three Muslim-American artists on how being Muslim, and depicting Muslim characters, influences their work.  The trio included Ayad Akhtar, creator of the Pulitzer-winning play Disgraced, currently on Broadway, Sundance award winning filmmaker Musa Syeed, and of special interest to us, writer G. Willow Wilson, creator of Marvel’s best-selling Ms. Marvel comic, of which the first trade paperback came out earlier this month!  It’s an interesting conversation in its own right, and Wilson talks to how the themes of assimilation and representation pop up in Kamala Khan’s own hero’s journey. (NYT article)

Ms. Marvel by Adrian Alphona, Copyright Marvel Comics

Ms. Marvel by Adrian Alphona, Copyright Marvel Comics

Apparently the new Ms. Marvel, a Pakistani-American teenager from Jersey City whose own comic debuted in February of this year, is now Marvel’s top-selling female character, and that’s with competition from titles like Black Widow, Storm, She-Hulk, Elektra, and even her inspiration, Captain Marvel!  Not bad kid, not bad…

Mozart once, Martinů bis

My 2014/15 opera season officially started last week when I came into some tickets for productions at the Met and Gotham Chamber Opera.  I saw the Metropolitan Opera‘s season-opening new production of Mozart’s Nozze di Figaro as well as Gotham Chamber Opera‘s season-opener, a double bill by Czech composer Bohuslav Martinů.

Le Nozze di Figaro at the Metropolitan Opera, 2014

Photo by Ken Howard for the Metropolitan Opera Archives

I’m usually pretty conservative about when a new production is necessary… If it ain’t broke, why fix it?  But that aside, I did quite like this production.  Maybe the set doesn’t translate to photos that well, but it’s, like, a set of hollow, deco/moorish-style towers on a rotating base?  And I thought they did some neat things suggesting hectic movement between chambers as it rotated, so ok, I’m down with it.

All around, a good performance and cast (you can never go too wrong at the Met!).  What caught my attention though was something Richard Eyre said in the director’s notes about how Le Nozze is a rare instance of an opera with sex as subject matter.

Which sort of brings us to the Martinů double bill at Gotham Chamber Opera!  Unexpected repertory, great young performers, and delightfully funky productions, as we’ve come to expect from GCO by now…

Martinu's Alexandre Bis performed by Gotham Chamber Opera

Photo by Richard Termine for Gotham Chamber Opera

Bohuslav Martinů, born in 1890 in what is now the Czech Republic, left for Paris in 1923 where he became a bit more experimental, taking inspiration from jazz and Stravinsky.  His operas of this time are often absurd, if not outright surreal, including 1937’s Alexandre Bis, the opening opera in GCO’s double bill.

Martinu in Paris, 1937

Martinů in Paris, 1937, from the Bohuslav Martinů Institute database

The story of Alexandre Bis (literally “Alexander Twice”) was itself inspired by Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte with a husband disguising himself to test his wife’s fidelity.  She recognizes him immediately, but is aroused by the makeover and/or roleplay, and thus begins a sexual awakening.

Surrealist Paris must have been a sexually revolutionary place, since I’d consider Francis Poulenc’s Les Mamelles des Tirésias a kindred spirit to Alexandre Bis…  In this opera, more about gender than sex per se, a woman gets rid of her breasts to become a man, leaving her husband to have children by himself.  Consider also that Alban Berg’s darker (and more Teutonic) Lulu premiered the year Martinů completed Alexandre Bis.

Of course, Mozart beat all these Johnny come Lately’s to the punch with his 1786 opera about philandering aristocrats.  But not even Mozart was the first to put sex front and center in his operas.  That distinction might just go to  Francesco Cavalli who started writing operas in the 1640s.  Consider La Calisto, in which Jupiter seduces a chaste nymph by disguising himself as the goddess Diana.

At any rate, I guess this was all just an excuse to talk about sexy operas!  What can I say, I like to create thematic groupings of operas…  Ultimately, it was a great opening week for the 2014/15 season, covering the most classic of classics alongside the most obscure thing you could think of and I just love having that range here in New York…

Here’s a compilation video from a 2009 performance of Alexandre Bis by the Czech Theater Biel Solothurn as part of some kind of televised opera competition apparently?  Man, Europe is classy.

SebaSM Comics Digest, Week of Oct. 20th

SebaSM Comics #56

While I was gone from this blog, I launched my own webcomic at comics.sebasm.com!  It updates twice a week, on Tuesday & Thursday, but I thought I’d create a handy little digest of each week’s updates for you fine WordPress folks!

autorando-00057SebaSM Comics is mostly autobio comic strips with occasional fictional gag strips and by now there are over 50 strips (including a stretch of daily updates during a trip to London), so keep hitting that Random button!

Also, to give WordPress something not seen anywhere else(!), here is a screenshot of one of the discarded facial expressions for today’s comic:

SebaSMComics-HeartoftheMatter-faceI guess that’s kind of how my face looks when I say “sooooo…”, but also it looks like I’m puckering up for a kiss…  A little too lifelike for my otherwise rough style, haha…

Panter & Kalman in New York

Two comics-ish events today and tomorrow featuring two interdisciplinary art, comics, & illustration luminaries.

At tonight’s New York Comics & Picture-Story Symposium the underground-influenced painter, illustrator, and cartoonist Gary Panter will…  Actually, I’m not really sure what he’ll be doing, so here’s the official NYCPSS description of tonight’s 7pm event at Parsons The New School, 2 West 13th Street:

Gary Panter attempts to invoke the unfolding lotus of the 1960s by thumbing through an old magazine missing pages – LOOK, Jan 9, 1968.

LOOK magazine, January 9, 1968

LOOK magazine, January 9, 1968, subject of Gary Panter’s talk(?) tonight

If you want something a little more structured, idiosyncratic illustrated book creator Maira Kalman will be at the New York Public Library for Books at Noon in light of her latest releases, Ah-Hah to Zig-Zag and My Favorite Things, both of which were inspired by items in the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum‘s collections.

My Favorite Things by Maira Kalman

My Favorite Things by Maira Kalman

And in conclusion:  Hello again faithful readers!  Sorry for abandoning the blog!  Not sure if anyone noticed, but since I haven’t been thinking of comics & opera any less since my last update (all the way in June!) I figured I’d try to revive this hobby blog!

Since we last spoke, I’ve launched my own little webcomic at SebaSM Comics!  It updates twice a week with mostly autobio-ish gag comics, so I’ll be sure to plug those here too 😀

Ok, see you around!