Pistol Pete

(no subject)

Admiring the Grand Theft Auto V character portraits on Lafayette yesterday.

Top: Aby Wolf
Bottom: Dessa w/ Aby Wolf

Went to my first concert in...years? It was fantastic to get back into live music. It's difficult for me to do because of my anxiety disorder but I didn't have any issues. There's a matter of the meds, obviously. I'm glad that the medicine is doing its job.

Aby Wolf is really fantastic, give her a listen. Dessa too.

These are the 1931 newspaper comics that I was referring to before. They're so full and lush and rich in detail when you see them up close and in person.

As I said, the missing element in newspaper comics since 1950 has always been physical space! Just the space to tell the story. Look at those examples above: still four panels. But so full of life and energy and motion and...everything.

The small publishers tent and the zine tent at the New York Art Book Fair. I met Nick Gazin and Edie Fake in there.

Everything is cool, people.


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Pistol Pete

Blood of a thousand.

It’s the week after the week after SPX so it’s time for me to get back to my everyday self and composure. First order of business is working on my storyboard for my next comic. Second order of business is drawing said comic. Third order of business is working on the storyboard for the next comic after that. And so on and so on.

Comics is a weird art form because its practitioners are always just barely hanging on. Last night, I saw some vintage newspaper pages from 1931. They had “Bringing Up Father” and “Us Kids” and whatnot. A lot of comics that I hadn’t heard of but were popular enough in their day. After all, newspapers were the Big Leagues. Actually, in 1931, newspapers were the Only League. Comic books would not be invented until 1933 with “Famous Funnies.” And even that was only a reprint of newspaper strips. Comic books with original stories didn’t even take off as an idea until 1938.

The most important difference between newspaper comic strips in the early twentieth century and newspaper comics after Charles Schulz introduced “Peanuts” is the physical size. The size that strips were printed was large enough to stretch most of the width of a newspaper page. Each panel had space for characters, their dialogue, background environments and even negative space. A reader could really feel absorbed in those little worlds.

Sadly, newspaper cartoonists failed to fight against the gradual erosion of space allotted to them. While today’s newspaper strips have their value, a current cartoonist is simply unable to draw with the sort of detail that their ancestors could. There isn’t the space.

Comics lost the border wars.


Today’s struggle for me is paper. I’m fairly accustomed to my brand, dimensions and format. Problem is: my paper is becoming difficult to buy. As with all things in comics, I blame Tokyopop for this. The paper that I use is A4 “manga format” paper with guidelines. Since Tokyopop’s horrific business practices shattered and collapsed the USA market for “manga style comics” (OEL: Original English Language), demand for comics supplies has apparently declined. I used to walk into an art supply store and buy comics tools. Now I’ve got to spend more money and time ordering said equipment online. Maybe it’s time to switch to the digital drawing program called Manga Studio? That’s not likely. As much as I enjoy the program, I don’t feel that it fully allows me to replicate my pen and ink drawings. It’s good, not perfect for me. This is all your fault, Tokyopop.


Lay loose.

I’m trying to unlearn the hurriedness of my early twenties. I drew comics at a fantastic pace, years ago. Now I draw no comics at all. My mind became acclimated to a short term reward for drawing: sit down to draw, stand up with a completed drawing or page. Learning to accept that progress can be made in increments is easier said than done. I’ve been trying to teach this to myself for years now, to no avail. I get less work completed because I’m trying too hard to get a lot of work completed instead of remaining focused and doing modest amounts of work, slowly.

Slow and steady earns a new comic.

Cartoonists never feel as though they are working hard enough.

One thing I wish to experiment with is the idea of ~not~ bringing my comic pages with me to my day job. Just my notebook for storyboards. Write comics in short breaks of the working day and save the final page work for the weekends. Just remove the pressure of carrying those pages with me, alleviate the pressure of trying to “Get Stuff Done, Always.”

Cartoonists feel guilty when they are not drawing comics. Even when they are doing important tasks, cartoonists feel guilt for every moment spent away from the drafting table. Woe is we.


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Pistol Pete

Show and Tell: interdependent storytelling.

Somebody made a comment which fundamentally misunderstands Si Spurrier’s essay about “telling, not showing.” But since I don’t want to beat the person up in public, I’ll discuss this matter all circumspect.

It isn’t “cheating” to let the text tell a bit of the story. It isn’t “breaking a rule.” Perhaps if one reads shonen and seinen manga exclusively, one might expect every single detail of a comic narrative to be (literally) drawn out. That’s a fine preference. I would recommend, however, not claiming this as a universal writing standard for comics.

What Si Spurrier is talking about in his essay is a little give-and-take. Driving the narrative in turns. Artist drives, writer drives, the narrative vehicle arrives at its destination all the same. It is what Scott McCloud called “interdependent” storytelling. It’s not “cheating,” it’s passing the mic.

There’s more than one way to skin a narrative. Sometimes it pays off tremendously to leave elements to the imagination of the audience, or to pass the driving responsibilities to one’s creative partner.

The isolated, floating text idea that Si Spurrier mentions? That goes back to at least Alex Toth. You think you know how to tell a comics story better than Alex Toth knew? You don’t.

Another idea here is structuring narrative information on a scale of importance. Some concepts are not as important as others. The part of a story when a person begins an aside and stops short, dismissing it with a “Long story.” It points to the idea that some information, while interesting, is not as relevant or pertinent as other information. Meanwhile, it also hints at a world much deeper and richer than the simple world of the primary narrative at hand. It’s a narrative slight-of-hand. It’s the mirrored wall inside of a retail space. It expands the world of the story without actually increasing the space of that world, or increasing the size of the story. If played well, it can be the catalyst of future stories as well. Or the matter can just hang in the air as the perpetual fuel for readers’ imaginations.

"Show don’t tell" isn’t a "rule," it’s a guideline. Thinking that storytelling is this rigid will only make a person a rigid reader. Loosen up.


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Pistol Pete

I used to come here every night.

~a coffeeshop story~

"[Name Redacted] closes in an hour!" Before this year I have never heard a closing announcement a full hour before closing time at an establishment but that is how this cafe operates now. It's unbelievably unwelcoming for a business whose reason for existing is to provide people a place to relax. Don't get too comfortable.

This place used to be open until 11:30pm every night. Sometime last year, they began cutting their hours short on various nights. At first it was random. Then it became codified. Now the cafe closes at 9pm on most nights. Now there are no late-night cafes in the area. Now I suppose a person cannot go out late nights anymore.

The saddest thing is that the customers are fading from this establishment. This cafe used to be packed most nights. Over a year of inconsistent operating hours has gradually eroded people's willingness to patronize the business. Why pack up your books and notebooks to visit a cafe when it was closed the last two times you attempted to visit? Especially if it has closed at times not indicated by the posted schedule? Patrons eventually ceased relying on this business.

Currently the cafe hours are not even posted in the window anymore.

This place is dying slowly. I drew some of my favorite comics in this cafe. I went on one of my best dates in this place. Now the establishment trains its employees to encourage customers to depart as soon as possible. Now the hours aren't even pretending to be anything but arbitrary.

What are you supposed to do when an establishment doesn't want to keep on existing but you as a customer still require its services? What are you supposed to think?

I miss what this place used to be. I wish that somebody would open a better place. Preferably next door to this one.


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Pistol Pete

Bulldoze the ivory tower

My hair is often knotted up because I keep pulling at it and twisting it. This is just another exhibition of living with constant anxiety.

I'm working on comics but mostly it's drawing two lines and erasing one and a half lines. I don't even make progress in the long run, just run in place for a while.

One thing that sucks is trying to make something that I care about making. What I like reading is not always what I would care to generate.

Another thing that sucks is the ongoing sense of being interested in the wrong things. I had my brain rewired years ago by my introduction to the alternative/underground comics world until I convinced myself that certain things were "low" and "wrong" while other things were "high" and "good art."

As it turns out, all of those people were dead wrong, every last one of them. Wrong. Incorrect. Bad opinion.

The truth is, the concept of "good art" is one that weighs in favor of the values that were established by the same exclusionary culture that sets "The Catcher In The Rye" as a "great book." Even down in the "low arts," culture favors the "universal" "coming of age" stories such as "the here's journey" and things of that nature.

At my emotional core, none of that truly appealed to me on a gut level. Even if a lot of truly good works of art (not The Catcher In The Rye) come from that mode of thought. My gut feelings have always been elsewhere and it has been a difficult process letting go of the deeply ingrained sense that my feelings are "wrong" or "lesser."

I don't really hate The Catcher In The Rye, it's just a perfect work of art to exemplify what I am not. The book itself is fine, it's okay. It's just that what I'm about is better. Not a matter of opinion, it's a fact: the stuff that I enjoy is more important than The Catcher In The Rye. The reason is: because I get something out of those other things.

Maybe we as a people can call for the decline of testosterone-driven anger as being synonymous with "literary merit." Maybe male angst isn't the be-all, end-all of art, literature, culture or anything. Maybe Holden Caulfield is just a stupid, frustrated teenager and maybe JD Salinger is just one perspective of the world, no better than any other.

Nah, chill: I don't care about being egalitarian, I'm going back to my above point: I don't care for the narrow-minded, self-centered, egocentric type of Great Protagonist art and literature that typifies "high art/great literature."

I can read that stuff, I've read Hemingway, Bukowski, Palahnuik Daniel Clowes, Robert Crumb... I'm just tired of men writing with their dicks.

I get so bored of female characters who are more prop than character, more plot device than acting agent. I get so bored of aggressive maleness. And aggression isn't necessarily "male" but there is something peculiar in the way the art/literary world is constructed so that men, especially heterosexual white men, seem to turn out on top of things and everyone else turns out less critically respected, except when they are walking in the paths which comfort those heterosexual white male values.

Why do "important" stories lack endings? Why is "gazes into the distance" considered an acceptable ending to a story? Why is it important for a female character to be "beautiful?" Why are so many "artsy" films about a male protagonist's heart being "broken" by some "beautiful woman?" Why do female characters die? I mean, they die like dying is cool.

Don't women have anything better to do than look pretty and then die? Don't women have goals other than inspiring men?

Don't black people have anything better to do than speak in amusing phraseology and then lend sage advice to white people? And then die?

Don't the people who are in charge of what books are considered "great" ever get completely bored with themselves? Don't the people who are in charge of "fine art" ever want to see something truly interesting? Don't the people who are in charge of what comic books are considered "intelligent" ever get sick of themselves?

And speaking of novels and art and film and comics, how do these people have sex? If the works that they make and celebrate are any indication, most of these people are awful, terrible, atrocious, despicable and useless at sexual fucking.

I haven't watched a lot of movies, I'm not a film expert but almost every movie that I've seen that bills itself on its "brave" or "moving" or "relevant" sexual scenes has been total trash. It's like people are afraid of sex. Real sex. Happy sex. Consensual sex. It's as if "sex" only matters if it is a big joke or if someone is miserable or if it is shrouded in shame and secrecy. Here's a hint: it your actors don't "do" sex scenes, don't cast them. Here's a hint, if a woman character isn't enjoying herself in the scene (or attempting to), don't write it as a "sex" scene. Here's a hint, if the sex scene only exists to further a plot point, it's probably crap.

If you need a sex scene to tie directly into the machinations of an intricate story plot point, your characters aren't having "sex," they're just playing some spy game, it isn't sex like real people have in real life, it provides us readers/viewers no insight into the normal lived experiences of actual people.

And while I'm at it, let me tell you a thing:

Stop writing that thing where a white woman character has sex with a black or brown man to show the depths of how much psychological turmoil she has in her life. Black and brown people aren't a symbol of "hitting rock bottom," you racists.


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Pistol Pete

Scapbooking until eternity

Comic book team:

Brian Michael Bendis

Writes the story.

Stuart Immonen
Wade Von Grawbadger
Marte Gracia
Cory Petit

Pencils & inks & colors & letters

The All-New X-Men:

Pretty cool stuff, I enjoy this stuff. The immediate establishment of "New Mutants," Eva and Christopher as characters with backstories is my favorite part of this comic series. We meet these two earlier, in the immediate aftermath of their mutant power manifestations. Both of these characters just had their normal lives taken away in the blink of an eye. I'm enjoying their reactions.

This New Mutant, Benjamin is a more reluctant signee to the X-Men. I expect to find conflict between him and the other two. I expect this will be somewhat interesting.


The emergence of Jean Grey in All-New X-Men is pretty good because Jean Grey has classically been depicted as "the girl": mostly passive, pleasant and mostly void of a discernible personality. In this iteration, she is daring, forceful and a galvanizing leader.

She's also seen more than any person has any right to see. She's seen her own death(s).


Anyway, I'm a cartoonist but I've neglected my duties. It's been a long time, I shouldn't have left you without some comics to step to.

Came up with these vegetable houses a while ago and snuggled up to the idea. It's kind of cutesy, kind of Smurfy but I enjoy those sorts of things. Plus it gives stronger context for Little Garden world.

These drawings were made with regular pens but I feel this responsibility to build up my digital drawing skills. Space in a New York City apartment is limited and I live in a space half the size of a New York City apartment.

Hard to rid myself of my instinctive attachment to objects. Experiences are better than ownership. That's why I prefer the library to the bookstore these days. It isn't about money, it's about freedom from attachment. "The things that you own end up owning you." However, I cannot seem to force myself into taking the most important step in the process. The guy who said that quote rigged his apartment to explode. Can't quite get myself to the stage of disposing of these possessions. My things are bound to me, but I am bound to them.

It doesn't help that public resources are so poor. Libraries have less than a bare-bones collection of useful books and the internet is frankly a total disappointment.

One day, I'll figure it out.


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Pistol Pete

The Fall Of Comics 2012

At the cafe listening to an off-duty barista talk to the on-duty one. This girl kills me, she's a funny person to listen to. I wish I could be her best friend!!


While I haven't read Hellboy in a while, I really love the character. I have an obsessive wish that he was still a part of BPRD because I love BPRD and I like when characters are in groups with structures and values. My fantasy is the reverse of the American Dream of rugged individualism. In life I am a rugged individual by default, so I have a need to fantasize about group acceptance.


There's a comic guy named Jesse Lonergan and I'm super jealous of that guy, he has completely cornered the market on cartoon characters dancing that bum!



Speaking of dancing, my favorite Kate Beaton comic of them all:


This is a cartoon of a series that I wanted to do. Well I did do the series but it was much shorter-lived than Little Garden.

I feel that I might come back to this woman sometime soon. I feel that often, but I feel like I may finally have the mental tools to approach this material soon.


Here is a page from the most recent New York City Comics Jam. The order is Cheese Hasselberger, myself (Darryl Ayo) and Dave McKenna. The strip is making fun of our pals Kevin Colden and Miss Lasko-Gross for the crime of not showing up.


Sketching in isometric perspective.


Hugo Pratt with Corto Maltese.


Liz Suburbia did a drawing for Sylvan Migdal's comic "Curvy."


Me, taping music off of the radio.



Twelve years since this, my first real comic. LET'S GO!


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Pistol Pete

Ayo vs Ayn Rand

Ayn Rand is a monster and a cancer on this society. Only the callous, only the cruel and sadistic believe in her views. She is a true barbarian, a true savage.

Ayn Rand doesn't represent capitalism. She represents destruction. Destruction of the people who capitalists NEED: the consumers, the workers, the small timers.

Let me cure you of your conservative views: if those people have no money, no jobs, no protection--those people will rob you. They will literally put a gun in your face. I've seen it happen: a man approaches in the night. He asks if I know about any jobs. Any kind of job. I tell him that I do not. He pulls out a gun.

Most of you Ayn Rand supporters are not close to the streets like regular people are. Like New Yorkers are. Most of you are insulated from seeing the sadness and pain in a man's eyes when he feels even the most tentative idea of hope slipping away.

Make no mistake, conservatives: these people will kill you. And they don't wake up wanting to but the physical pain of hunger and the psychological toll of failure is not a thing that leads to rational thought. You will never know this strangest of human interactions. When a crushed and defeated man turns to violence because there is no legitimate path ahead of him to survival (never mind "success").

This failure on a systemic level. This is failure that betrays every level of society: the robber, the robbery victim, the real estate in the neighborhood when the victim moves away, the police force who investigate, the city council and mayor who look at rising crime statistics, the people of the same demographic of the robber, any incidental witnesses who also decide to move away, the neighbors who are priced out of the neighborhood when increased police patrols accelerate gentrification of the area...

Listen to me well, conservatives: you don't know what you're talking about. You're not in the world like we are.


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Pistol Pete

College was a fairly interesting time.

At R.I.T. (Rochester Institute of Technology) if you were an upperclassman and you lived in the dorms, you usually had a little gang. You couldn’t help it. Freshmen didn’t have full debit accounts and upperclassmen did. At the end of an academic quarter, you’d have money left over and it would go to waste and hell no, are you letting money evaporate. So you’d grab every freshman in sight and ask if they wanted something from the Whore.

The Corner Store is the name of a small informal grocery store in the tunnels under the dorms. It was like a corner store except that it was physically underground and not on a corner. But it was that kind of place. It sold packaged food, cereal, ramen, ice cream pints, Sobe drinks, Pepsi (Coca-Cola was not sold anywhere on our campus), snacks and cookies. And all for the taking if an upperclassman had a lot of debit left in his or her account.

Some time before I ever got there (1999-2003), The Corner Store was renamed The Corner Whore and then just “The Whore.” For no real reason, let’s be honest. Teenagers. I wouldn’t be surprised if they still called it that. College freshmen and sophomores are teenagers. It wouldn’t be uncommon to hear someone holler down the hallways of the dorms: “W H O R E!”

This meant that upperclassmen were going to procure their ramen and Pepsis and snacks. This could also mean free food if you were a freshman. When I waved a bunch of first-year kids to the register (yeah, you can buy that, no problem) it felt like a full circle. When I was a freshman it was the same way. I was one of those kids clutching some tasty snack as one of the sophomores insisted “yeah whatever you want, I got plenty of debit.”

It felt great to help someone out and like I said: that money was going to vanish into thin air if it wasn’t spent. The Corner Store was the best place to get rid of a lot of it.

Some of those freshmen are still my friends today.

At RIT, you might develop a small posse. A group of underclassmen that you could rely on. In my Junior year, I had a car. It was difficult to leave campus so if you wanted to go anywhere you needed to have a car or know somebody willing to drive you to the place. Giving people food and transportation is a bit like being a caretaker. But it is good to have companions and it is good for them to have food and fresh air. By the time that I completely left dorm life and college life, I was actually able to just round people up. I had myself a handful of henchmen. If only I had thought of some crimes, I would have been all set.


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Pistol Pete

Hanna-Barbera Studios

Quick way to simultaneously inspire and depress is to remind oneself of how the popular arts used to function.

Here are some images from http://tonytoons.tumblr.com illustrating the people and atmosphere of 1950s-1960s Hanna-Barbera studios. I tried to find a similar photographic resource for images of Marvel Comics' world-famous Bullpen of the 1960s but so far I am unsuccessful.

In the image above, we see Tony Benedict and Joe Barbera discussing the storyboards. This is my personal favorite part of the creative process for my comics but I don't know if storyboards are considered vital among comic book makers.

I like being able to break a comic down to its cellular components and work on its shape and pace and style after an initial conception phase. That is the stage in comics where my mind is at its most active.

This man created Jonny Quest. Doug Wildey.

It's so inspiring to me to look at these people creating cartoons in offices rather than hunched over in decrepit urban apartment homes, in a corner listening to a clock radio with Cup O' Noodles wedged between their legs. People casually went to work at a place and in this place those people had the tools and space to work comfortably.

Sue Sommers, identified on Tony's blog only as "painter." We see that she appears to be painting the lush backgrounds that were common in animation back in the days.

Personally I wish that mainstream comic books would employ background artists. Much like Gerhard of the comic book Cerebus had the duty of crafting a world for Dave Sim's figures to dance upon and throughout, I am of the opinion that this sort of artist is sorely needed in today's comic book creation cycle. Particularly now that computers allow for so much layering and editing, it seems like it would help Marvel and DC comics achieve that veracity that they strive for.

Tony Benedict again, this time taking a break to enjoy some literature and learn about the news of the day. A cosmopolitan and studious lot, these animators.

As I look at these photos (this one is actually Tony working at Disney) I feel a link between their workspaces and my day job office. I work in a large cubicle bullpen. These cubicles fit four workspaces, though my cubicle seats three. The fourth space is occupied by one of our printers.

Apart from the fact that I don't like my job, the workspace is highly comfortable. There is ample desktop space, there are personal and public filing drawers. There is room to walk and room to lean back and stretch. Truly, every sedentary job should be similar to this. The walls are low so that you can see your peers by standing up but they are high enough that you can concentrate when you sit down. Also, you can pin papers to the cubicle walls. I would love to draw comics in my office. All we would need are those tabletop drafting boards and we would be set.

Finally, two unidentified animation artists. This pumps me up like you wouldn't believe. Just cranking out cartoons without fame, without glory, just coming to work and getting stuff done.

In comic books, there is a bit of local celebrity that goes with the craft and the business. Somehow I think that there is a good amount to be said for simply grinding out work and getting paid for it.

Obviously I can't know if these people were happy or if they are happy (or alive). I am projecting onto them a longing for a sort of professional-class/working-class determination to simply do a job and do it well.

Anyway, have a nice day,


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