Animals for Animals

November 30th, 2009

Every year I try to make a Christmas donation to my favorite charity – Heifer International, a wonderful organization that purchases animals (from bees to buffalo)as well as veterinary care and training  for impoverished families the world over.  (Read more on their site.)

This year it’s a bit harder for me to donate than usual, since I’ve made the transition to being a self-supporting artist.  Many of the friends with whom I used to go in on an animal purchase are in the same financial situation.

It seemed to me that this was an opportunity – for me to make things, for you to purchase something lasting, and for a family in the larger world to benefit from it!  For the month of December, I will be creating and then selling watercolor paintings of animals (as often as I can manage!).  When I finish, I’ll count up what’s been raised and then buy the most animal possible!

My offering today:  an enemy of many of the animals Heifer sponsors, a fox!  Little does he realize that his dastardly deeds will ultimately be doing good.

A Fox for a Heifer

This craft fellow is on sale at Etsy for $40.  It is a lovely little painting, and I will guarantee arrival by mail to any part of the world in time for Christmas, and that it will be packaged fancy-like.

Family Man – new site, new chapter, new page.

November 24th, 2009

Page 161 preview!

Chapter 3 of Family Man has begun!

…and there’s a new website!

Change your links, everybody!  Family Man now lives on one single website, and that’s http://www.lutherlevy.com.  It’ll update there every week, and all the notes and extra features you have come to love (or merely tolerate) live there with it, along with many new bells and whistles and an all-over shinyness.

And a new chapter is off and running, with yet more exciting bunny imagery.  Sorry, bunnies of the world; it’s nothing personal.

Happy Thanksgiving to all those of you in the U.S. of A!  Now go play.

Wednesday Fan Art: SPQR Blues

November 18th, 2009

Finishing the website and putting together a book pitch have delayed me for another week.  But that’s okay, because it gives me the opportunity to make some long overdue fan-art for the best ever webcomic set in Ancient Rome: SPQR Blues by Klio!

SPQR Blues

Yessir, that’s Vesuvius in the background.  The volcano is to SPQR Blues what werewolves are to Family Man:  you never know when it’s going to kick in.

SPQR Blues, beyond being a great ensemble soap opera, is also one of those rare works of historical fiction that make the time and place it depicts feel both cozily familiar…and completely foreign.

Klio’s delicate and conservative linework can be consumed in large doses with no dangerous side effects, and the obstacles and heartbreaks of daily life in a complicated society make for very tasty reading as well.

There’s an immense archive available for your reading pleasure, so shoo!  Go read!

Monday Afternoon Poem: Nostalgia

November 16th, 2009

Memories

Nostalgia.

Remember the 1340’s? We were doing a dance called the Catapult.
You always wore brown, the color craze of the decade,
and I was draped in one of those capes that were popular,
the ones with unicorns and pomegranates in needlework.
Everyone would pause for beer and onions in the afternoon,
and at night we would play a game called “Find the Cow.”
Everything was hand-lettered then, not like today.

Where has the summer of 1572 gone? Brocade and sonnet
marathons were the rage. We used to dress up in the flags
of rival baronies and conquer one another in cold rooms of stone.
Out on the dance floor we were all doing the Struggle
while your sister practiced the Daphne all alone in her room.
We borrowed the jargon of farriers for our slang.
These days language seems transparent, a badly broken code.

The 1790’s will never come again. Childhood was big.
People would take walks to the very tops of hills
and write down what they saw in their journals without speaking.
Our collars were high and our hats were extremely soft.
We would surprise each other with alphabets made of twigs.
It was a wonderful time to be alive, or even dead.

I am very fond of the period between 1815 and 1821.
Europe trembled while we sat still for our portraits.
And I would love to return to 1901 if only for a moment,
time enough to wind up a music box and do a few dance steps,
or shoot me back to 1922 or 1941, or at least let me
recapture the serenity of last month when we picked
berries and glided through afternoons in a canoe.

Even this morning would be an improvement over the present.
I was in the garden then, surrounded by the hum of bees
and the Latin names of flowers, watching the early light
flash off the slanted windows of the greenhouse
and silver the limbs on the rows of dark hemlocks.

As usual, I was thinking about the moments of the past,
letting my memory rush over them like water
rushing over the stones on the bottom of a stream.
I was even thinking a little about the future, that place
where people are doing a dance we cannot imagine,
a dance whose name we can only guess.

Billy Collins
photograph by (Eric)

Wednesday Fan Art

November 10th, 2009

Soon we’ll back to regular updates and I’ll roll out the new website, but in the meantime, here’s our third week of art devoted to some of my favorite comics online.  This week we move away from longform narrative comics and head for strip land, with Arthur (duck) and Flaco (lizard) from Dave Kellett’s Sheldon.

Sheldon

There are many strips online that I enjoy deeply, but Sheldon is the only one that makes me feel like I’m a little kid again, pressing my nose with delight against the daily newsprint funnies while I wolf down a bowl of Rice Chex before school.  Calvin & Hobbes was a strip at the time which, even if I didn’t get every joke, was so exuberant that I loved every panel.  I think 9 year-old me would’ve felt the same way about Sheldon.

As it is, 26 year-old me happily returns to Sheldon every day, snerking at the obscure “grown-up” or pop culture jokes and quietly enjoying the sheer silliness of it all.

Dave Kellett is also a bonafide funnybook scholar and a stand-up fella.  Bless the internet for bringing him to us in this day and age!

Monday Morning Poem: Annie Stayed.

November 9th, 2009

My maternal grandfather died a couple of years ago.

We were very fond of each other – he took me to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (a full day and a half drive) from 7th grade through my high school graduation, a gift of immeasurable impact.  He was a bright, curious, caring, and endlessly enthusiastic man. He reacted with genuine joy whenever his didactic little granddaughter held forth on erudite topics.  I still remember his delight upon hearing me tear apart the production of Romeo and Juliet that was one of the first productions we saw together at OSF.

I didn’t ask for anything of his after he passed away; my mother knowingly brought me a few things that meant a lot, but all in all my memories were the most vivid token of our relationship.  Recently, however, his last wife sent my mother a number of his old files.  Including one entire manila folder full of every letter and picture and document I had ever sent him, or that my parents had sent him relating to me.

So I’ve rediscovered verything from short stories I wrote in second grade to novellas I wrote in middle school to graduation notices and e-mails and silly cards.  I haven’t quite had the strength to go through all of it yet, but one thing I did find:  the poem below.  I remember this odd, apocalyptic little poem quite well but had no record of it myself, so knowing that he had it all along is very touching.

And, now that he’s gone, the poem – being as its topic is a girl with a fondness for the departed – takes on a sweet poignance.

Anyway. Here it is.
Laundry day

Annie stayed.

Annie McSalva stood that day
but no one was there to enjoy her stay
only the ghosts had not gone away

Annie remained for the ghosts.

Annie McSalva walked down the streets
her feet tapping sidewalk to various beats
She looked in the theatres, all empty seats

Annie played Hamlet for ghosts.

Annie McSalva read all the books
out loud, in the library, and none gave sharp looks
the ghosts listened well in their crannies and nooks

Annie read on for the ghosts.

Annie McSalva swam in the pond
that led to the gutters and sewers beyond
but nobody stayed to drink that which was fond

to Annie, who swam with the ghosts.

Annie McSalva lay in the sun
and thought that the world had only begun
but the ghosts whispered back that it almost was done

Annie survived with the ghosts.

photo by Nocturnal Bob

Second printing!

November 5th, 2009

Hey hey hey, guess what I got sixteen boxes of in the mail today?  If you guessed it was sixteen boxes of the second printing of Bite Me!, then you win!

As an extra “thank you” to everybody who ordered while the book was reprinting, trusting all the while that I was not going to run off to Cabo with their hard-earned $15, I’m including a nifty print I whipped up just for the occasion.  I promised “Claire and Lucien bein’ silly”, and lo, hopefully this qualifies:

Thanks for ordering!

Oh, those crazy kids.  Two peas in a pod, really.  A dead, bloodsucking pod.

It will be a delightful 6×10.5 inches so I can slip it into your book order all handy-like.  If I have any left over, I’ll put the extras online next week for those who might be interested.

Wednesday Fan Art

November 3rd, 2009

Another week, another drawing of somebody else’s character!  Continuing with the unintentional theme of “naked green ladies”, this week it’s Angora from The Meek, by Der-shing Helmer.

Sadly I drew this sucker on Bristol, and had to use my four remaining Colerase pencils – or else I would’ve watercolored again.

The Meek.

I’ve been gawking at The Meek since shortly after it started up, so it was a pleasant surprise to turn up at APE and see actual print copies of the first chunk!

The Meek is one of the few comics that manages to be densely, lushly illustrated… and lively.  Too often an artist will lavish all their time on the coloring or the stylish character design…and forget to inject life through gesture and interaction or, you know, writing.  The result is eye candy that I get bored with about ten pages in.

But Der-shing has been knocking it out of the park for several dozen pages now.  I can’t wait to see where she’s going and how these delightful, elastic characters are going to smack into each other.

Also?  I adore how she draws Angora’s boobs.

Monday Morning Poem: Buffalo Bill

November 2nd, 2009

a pale horse

Buffalo Bill’s
defunct
who used to
ride a watersmooth-silver
stallion
and break onetwothreefourfive pigeons justlikethat
Jesus
he was a handsome man
and what I want to know is
how do you like your blue-eyed boy
Mister Death

ee cummings
illustration by bone_doll

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