Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Bimbo Reflections & Literary Crap in Comics... sorta...

Here's a painting by Gustav Klimt's entitled Danaë. 

It's a stunning painting (his, not mine!) and I wanted to pay tribute to it, as I did many other famous works in my My Inner Bimbo comic. So here's a painting I did from the same composition, based on Klimt's. 

I painted the fictional Betsy (based loosely on my wife) into this piece, bases it on Klimt's Danaë, trying not to be slavishly imitative, yet bringing something new and whimsical to it. But something seemed missing. I didn't want to imitate it too closely, which i feel I did. The reason I shied away from this version is that it just seemed at odds with the Betsy character in the comic. 
So i did this hand-drawn one instead... with an 'apology' to Klimt, just a wink to anyone who'd say, "Hey, he's ripping off...!" 

This one feels warmer to me, more of a comic book version. (I guess I should have kept the kitty cat in the lower left corner too.)
Trouble with using literary reference in comics is seeming smug or showing off your English-lit degree (which I don't have; I'm totally self taught and suffer for it). I've no academic experience. But this also means I'm an "amateur" in the truest sense—"for the love" of it. I don't see any shame in cracking a book and enjoy the history of art. But some comic fans seem resistant to anything that smacks of contemporary art. 
At the same time I myself fear seeming pretentious about it, but I figure it's worthy risking 'pretension' if you're going to reach past an adolescent superhero vocabulary, as Justin Green's Binky Brown did at the birth of the underground comics. Or years later later Spiegelman did with MausThere would be no Inner Bimbo or Maxx if I hadn't happened across them. Both of those works were the first to mix historical context with autobiographical comics, and in my humble opinion, doing that was as pivotal for comics as Manet's Lunch was for the Salon and fine art. Both Binky and Maus changed not only how I think about the comics medium itself, but about my own life. Could just be me or where I was at when I read them, but wanted to pay tribute to them. 
So what's all this to do with anything art-related? Well, history is aside, I still feel with all the flaws (and WAY too much computer fudging and experimenting), the story itself in Bimbo is something I am most proud of. The deliberate, at-odds-with-itself in how i drew it. (Josh and Leigh only urged me on further.) For anyone who hasn't the masochistic desire to wade through the tomb of pages themselves... 

...you CAN boil the whole Inner Bimbo comic down to these brief excepts: 'perceived inequities' 

In Lo's muddled mind, he claims his porn fantasy of subjugation is balancing out an 'inequity' of women holding such power over him. But the Bimbo, who slips from her innocent role, shows her growing impatience with his faulty argument by correcting Lo that it's not an inequity, but only his perception that women hold the cards. She then tells him off, that she or anyone has more power than him justifies him looking at smut to solve what's basically an inner problem. Then she jumps into his pants gleefully, possibly undermining her point—or rather, HIS, since he's talking to himself here. 
'Course, sometimes erotica-porn doesn't always mean misogyny. Sometimes a fantasy is just that. Fun. Frivolous. Defendable. Regressive. I didn't want the bimbo to make a social point about  porn overall, or the sex industry in particular—that's another story, and a social dilemma. This is a personal story. 
And buried in the middle of this dense pile of panels, this, which may over-explain the case but at least it's boiled down two panels: 

Note Lo starts explaining, and the bimbo finishes his point, hinting at self-integration. Now this isn't the ONLY point of the story. But it is some resolution to Lo's bimbo-ish refusal to grow up. It's not a sex addiction story, it's an avoidance story. We all escape into some "fix": In and of themselves, these aren't good or bad. But anything in excess CAN be a handy excuse. 
Another classic painting I paid tribute (or tried to) to was Edward Mante's Lunch on the GrassIf you've taken art classes, it's a pivotal painting that helped open the door for impressionism. 

i used the bimbo (really Lo) viewing the painting in an art class and and having an 'ah ha!' moment. It seems a woman staring back at him, making him self-conscious, is the perfect opiate for a guy who's working his ass off to remain so estranged from his own feminine side. Hey that takes a lot of work—trust me, i know!   : ) 
Here's the original 'Manet awakening' layout for it that I did 8 years ago, very crude, just thumbnails I did in crude marker. 

Years later: the finished comic page... probably a little too overworked, but it's interesting to see how ideas... gestate... warp, bubble up, then get spewed out on the other side into printed comics. 

And lastly, in the comic Lo gets his wedding ring cut off by a jeweler because he gains weight and it starts digging into his finger... 

...so in case you ever wondered if that ever happened or not... here's your proof: