Sunday, November 15, 2015

BODIES!

Photo: John Beaman
"BODIES" THE C.A.B. PANEL

Sunday November 8 was the second day of the Comic Arts Brooklyn festival. Day one was the marketplace and day two was panel day. Karen Green was invited to curate day two by Desert Island Comics' Gabe Fowler, producer and chief of the whole event. Karen, in turn, invited me to moderate a panel called "Bodies."

What a dream job! The artists were Andrea Tsurumi, Jennifer Hayden, and Michael DeForge, three unique artists who incorporate themes of physicality and the body into their comics in distinctive ways and with distinctively separate visual and narrative styles.

Research was a dream!* There was too much to talk about. To get as much in as possible I decided to divide a PowerPoint slideshow into body-themed categories that all three artists share. There were plenty!

Here's the (shared) list with only a few of many example images...


ANATOMIZED BODIES
Michael DeForge describes "Spotting Deer" in a style reminiscent of the
Naturalists and their diaries and anatomical tomes.

THE SEXUAL BODY
If you think this is Sexy, you should see what can be done with the other days of 2014!

TRANSFORMATIVE BODIES
Young Jennifer Hayden fantasizes about the breasts that would transform
her and her life, if she only had them. In The Story of My Tits.

THE AGING BODY
A young Peter Parker's dream of witnessing his Aunt and Dr. Octopus having sex.
A head 1/3 the size of his body infantalizes Parker and the wrinkles 
and sweat on the bodies of the Aunt and the Dr. age them. 

Andrea Tsurumi really knows how to "render" fat in the elderly!

THE BODY IN MEDICAL NARRATIVE
Jennifer Hayden and her husband look at prosthetic breasts to 
determine what size her post-mastectomy new breasts will be.

We made it through a discussion of the shared BODY themes, but to be honest, I was so excited to be sitting on stage with these three, that I'm not going to try and paraphrase what the artists said. I don't want to misrepresent them. If the video becomes available, I'll let you know. 

BUT WAIT! THERE'S MORE!
I also prepped three categories in which an individual artist was clearly the doyen. We had such a good conversation that we didn't make it this far. I thought I'd share these, and my perceptions of these artists' works in each...

Andrea Tsurumi: THE EXUBERANT BODY

In this way, I feel that Andrea's rendering of physicality is the most traditional of these three. She often represents the body in motion or stillness to communicate emotional narratives. Posture, movement, and expression bring humans and inanimate objects to exuberant, animated life in her work. In Andrea's worlds pastries go to war with gruesome results, and the Liberty Bell, sauerkraut, and rubbing alcohol get sexy!

Michael Deforge: BODY HORROR/BODY DELIGHT


When you read a review of Michael's work the term "body horror" will inevitably be used to describe the tone of his comics. Michael shares his awareness of the body through his anatomized drawings, attention to physical and structural minutia, and transmogrification of sex and body functions. But one (wo)man's horror is another (wo)man's delight. 

Jennifer Hayden: SACRED/SPIRITUAL/ENERGETIC BODIES


The Story Of My Tits is Jennifer's autobiography of her life in relationship to her breasts (and much more! But I'm focusing on the body, remember.) Aging, sexual maturation, and patient narratives are themes that many cartoonists use in graphic memoirs about their bodies. Jennifer combines these themes with her perceptions of the body as a vessel of life force and her rituals for celebrating the breasts she loses to cancer. Her story is very touching.

I'm simultaneously thrilled and bummed that we didn't to these topics during the panel, but on the other hand there just wasn't room for everything. Jennifer, Michael, and Andrea are not just talented artists, their smart AND articulate. Thanks to them and Karen for making this my BEST PANEL, EVER!


*To be read in the same lilting tone as an actress in "The Lady Eve" who says to Henry Fonda, "The fish was a poem!"

3 comments:

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  2. I'd have cut off my fingers to see this panel! Is a video posted anywhere yet?

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    1. Hey Kate! I know they taped it but haven't heard if it's posted somewhere. Let me look into that!

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