Irish Songs and Secret, in Cartoon Form

This Sunday are the Oscars, and the nominees for animated feature film feature three pretty big American releases (How to Train your Dragon 2, The Boxtrolls, and Big Hero 6) and two more exotic releases, including the latest Studio Ghibli release.  Besides Japan, the other foreign country represented is, perhaps surprisingly, Ireland!

Song of the Sea was created by Paul Young and Tomm Moore, and it takes on the Irish myth of the selkie, seals who shed their seal skins to become women and take human husbands… or something like that…  The Oscars’ page on the film has some more footage, and it really is stunning!

The selkie is a pretty folk tale, but of course my favorite interpretation is John Allison’s!  Selkies figured into a 2012 Bad Machinery case, and I just love those meddling mystery-solving kids!  Click on the image below to read The Case of the Fire Inside from the beginning!

Bad Machinery: The Case of the Fire Inside, copyright John Allison

Bad Machinery: The Case of the Fire Inside, copyright John Allison

Tomm Moore is also the creator of the similarly-Irish-themed and similarly-gorgeously-animated 2009 feature film The Secret of Kells, this one about the classic monastic illustrated manuscript, The Book of Kells.

More Opera at Lincoln Center

Today a new partnership was announced between the New York Philharmonic and its host campus, Lincoln Center, to pool resources and produce fully staged operas, starting with George Benjamin‘s 2012 Written on Skin in August of this year, weirdly coinciding with the Mostly Mozart Festival

Written on Skin was incredibly well-received after its premier at the 2012 Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, with a subsequent production at the Royal Opera House, which resulted in a new commission for the 2018 season for the team of Benjamin and Martin Crimp

This new initiative builds on Philharmonic Music Director Alan Gilbert’s success with innovatively semi-staged operas at the Philharmonic in collaboration with production team Giants Are Small, starting with György Ligeti‘s Grand Macabre in 2010:

This clip Barbara Hanngian features at the NY Phil production of Le Grand Macabre, and of course Hannigan created the role of Agnes in Benjamin’s Written on Skin too, so nice coincidence there…

 

Christmas Caroling

Photo by Lynn Lane

Photo by Lynn Lane

It was just a few weeks ago that I first discussed the young British composer Iain Bell here, specifically his first foray into opera with last year’s dark adaptation of the 18th century moralistic painting cycle The Harlot’s Progress, but the 2014/2015 cultural calendar has brought the premiere of his second opera.  He’s moved one century forward in British art, but the new opera’s source material shares a lot in common with last year’s…

Bell and the Houston Grand Opera have adapted Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, apparently emphasizing the eerie ghost elements over the more conventional yuletide cheer…  In another unusual turn, it’s a monodrama for a single tenor, inspired by the one-man version of the story Dickens himself used to perform in Victorian England.

Keeping with the forward march through British literature, Iain Bell’s website already lists his next operatic commission, for the Welsh National Opera, this time adapting an epic poem of the 20th century.  In Parenthesis, by David Jones, was about World War I and culminates in the Battle of the Somme; WNO’s 2016 premiere performance will mark the occasion of that battle’s centennial.

At any rate, I’m hoping Bell keeps up the pattern and makes his next opera about some 21st century British work of literature…  Any suggestions?

You Meddling Kids!

I’ve written about Manchester-based cartoonist John Allison before: he’s made several webcomic series set in the mystery-filled north English town of Tackleford since 1998, and the most recent series is Bad Machinery, launched in 2009.  I may like this series best of all as it fulfills my love of mystery-solving kids!

Bad Machinery: The Case of the Fire Inside, copyright John Allison

Bad Machinery: The Case of the Fire Inside, copyright John Allison

Sadly, Allison recently said that he’s retiring Bad Machinery, if not the beloved characters themselves:

I don’t want to stop telling stories with these characters, but I’m not sure I can do much more with them without returning to the drawing board. There’s definitely more to come from Charlotte, Shauna and the rest of them, but you might not see much of them for a little while. (source)

In the meantime, he has plenty of characters and stories to build on in the shared universe that is Tackleford for regular updates until he figures out their next incarnation; currently, he’s returned to the Bobbins heading that started his webcomic career off back in 1998.  As for Bad Machinery, there are eight full cases available online, and Oni Press is also releasing them in print form, two down and six to go!

While I wait for the junior detectives of Tackleford to make their come back, I do have another pair of meddling kids to tide me over:

That’s right, Alex Hirsch‘s Gravity Falls from Disney Animation!  Starring twins Mabel and Dipper Pines and their paranormal adventures in the mystery-filled town of Gravity Falls, Oregon…  It has a really enchanting setting and great animation, but compared to Bad Machinery it maybe has a more cynical, detached sense of humor?  Which doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy it!  But maybe Bad Machinery is more satisfying on more levels…

And of course, in deference to the grandaddy of all mystery solving kids shows, here’s Mabel Pine’s Scooby Doo impersonation:

Comic Making Potpourri

I’m a sucker for advice from webcartoonists, and promoting your product isn’t something you hear much about, but John Allison of Scary go Round / Bad Machinery fame recently weighed in on the matter briefly;

The best way to get your work popular is to do good work, do a lot of it, and win people over with the force of your lovely personality. If your comics are no good, it doesn’t matter what you do. (source)

That’s sort of the main takeaway from all creative types, including, if you’ll allow this very tenuous segue,  Sarah See Andersen, an illustration student posting hilarious autobio Doodle Time comics on Tumblr on the side…

Even more tenuously related, I also enjoyed this Comics Journal interview with cartoonist Simon Hanselmann where he had some interesting things to say about the local Melbourne comics & zine scene and breaking onto the international stage, especially with this bit about Tumblr, his primary platform.

With the internet everything is linked up now. Tumblr is just a big zine faire that never shuts down. (source)

From Life Zone, by Simon Hanselmann

From Life Zone, Copyright Simon Hanselmann

Enjoying his Tumblr, which is a sorta scarily life-like depiction of quarter-life crisis suburban anomie…  With a talking owl…

Also gotta shout out to Allison’s current Bad Machinery storyline, which is hurting my head with all the time travel and butterfly-stepping involved…  Waiting to see how all the time tampering turns out for our kid detectives…  Also Lottie’s reaction to microfilm machines is basically how I felt when I first used one over the summer:

John Allison's Bad Machinery webcomic, The Case of the Forked Road

Copyright John Allison

A Trained Librarian in Training

Sarah McIntyre Trained Librarian poster

Copyright Sarah McIntyre

This weekend I launched my more professional site, with my library school resume and art portfolio, and I’ll be blogging there too, on library stuff but also on comics, of course.  I’ll probably reblog the more relevant posts here, but if you’re interested in library & information science and want to give me a job, consider checking me out there too!

A Trained Librarian in Training.

via My New Blog!

Comics Contest ‘cross the Pond

Graphic Short Story Prize 2013

My connections in London passed along news of this Graphic Short Story Prize competition run by the Jonathan Cape graphic novel imprint of Viking Books, London’s Comica fest, and the Observer to find home-grown UK cartoonists.  The prize for the winning 4 page story is 1,000 pounds & your story reprinted in the Observer.  Take note English readers, the deadline is September 27th.  Full submission guidelines here.

You can read, and download, 2012’s winning entry, “But I Can’t” by Corban Wilkin, on the Prize‘s site.

But I Cant, copyright Corban Wilkin