Towards the Stage VIII: A Reminiscence, a cry for help

Posted in Comics Pages, performance, romance, Sound with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 17 May, 18 by cantocomics

The lights have been turned off, my dear reader. The stage has been swept free of seeds and violently destroyed vegetables, the properties struck and the actors are long since departed.

All photos except for the last one by Renee Rosensteel

It has now been roughly a month since the last performance of Büer’s Kiss at the New Hazlett Theater, and I have to say that I am still reeling.

The show turned out so different, so much better than I ever could have imagined. The actors and technicians worked their tails off, the audiences were receptive or at least polite, and the theater staff were gracious and most effusive with their assistance.

All photos except for the last one and the ones of FOR SALE ORIGINALS by Renee Rosensteel

The public reception of our little pantomime has been overwhelmingly positive: nothing but positive vibes and interest in the show and the strange fusion of art forms that we presented. David Bernabo, local musician, documentarian, and all-round Nice Man, posted a positive review of the piece as a part of his Recital project, which you can read here, among other places, which has served as a pretty decent resource.

All photos except for the obviously amateur ones at the bottom by Renee Rosensteel

Additionally, if you would like to see some of the show I’ve been writing about all these months, cliquez icí, svp.

I’ve not been idle since we last spoke, dear reader, oh no. Having lost my day job in the lead-up to the performance, I have been working hard on a variety of projects: one, the launch of cantocomics.com, a real and proper website with like pages and stuff; two, preparation for touring Büer’s Kiss (which, hey, chum, do you work in the Theatre? Holler at me (cantocomics at Gmail)); three, arranging a small performance and installation at the Urban Arts Space in Columbus (SATURDAY!!); four, grant closeout stuff, which is its own immense undertaking; and five, wedding preparations (see below).

Now, I find myself facing down the next step in the year’s travails: getting married to my beloved Sophie!!

Those of you who are married will know what a huge project marriage is, and what an expensive proposition the Big Day happens to be. For this reason, as well as the fact of my unemployment mentioned above, Sophie and I are running an art sale in attempt to alleviate some of the expenses accrued in these preparations.

There are over 200 reasonably priced pieces of original art on sale, both from my ouevre and my beloved’s, and I hope at least one of them will be enticing enough for you to purchase from us.

These pages from The Black Dog and the Hole at the Heart of the World measure 9×12″ and are handsomely matted on black matboard, ideal for framing.

ANY AND ALL OF THOSE CAN BE YOURS, MY GOOD CHAP, AND NONE OF THEM ARE OVER $100 IN PRICE

I will attempt to update you on wedding progress as it unfolds, my lovely, but as you know, my time management skills are not the greatest and weddings are HARD AF.

Photo by Renee Rosensteel!

Ryan, ever in character.

Meantime, please do watch that preview on the YouTube, read David’s review, and please, if you’ve ever enjoyed my comics output, consider buying some of my or Sophie’s original pages! It’ll help us a lot.

Thank you for having come on this journey with me, dear reader, and I hope you will accompany me on the road ahead.

Until next time, my friend.

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Towards the Stage VII

Posted in Uncategorized on 12 April, 18 by cantocomics

I’ll try to keep this relatively brief, dear reader, as I am quite worn out and you seem to be in much the same state.

Tonight was the final dress rehearsal of our Project, the comics/performance hybrid Büer’s Kiss. And I must tell you, o second-best beloved, that this show feels pretty good. Even though I’ve not seen what most of it looks like from the audience’s perspective, I think this is going to be a unique experience for all attending. Positive? Probably not. Those familiar with the Antonowicz oeuvre will likely recognise that I don’t tell stories to make you feel good.

The cover of the print companion to the show has a rotting face on it, fer Satan’s sake

But the process of making this work, the collaboration and back-and-forth between your humble narrator and the team– Joanna Becker, Ryan Haggerty, Antonio Colaruotolo, Heidi Nagle, and Zach Brown, to name the principles– has been exhilarating. I really couldn’t have gotten this far without the help of these very talented and beautiful kids.

Exempla gratia: we have four Foley stations, as seen below:

#GQ

In which Ryan models one of his signature poses

These would likely have been arranged in a straight line along the front of the screen, lit from above without fanfare, had I been muddling through this on my own. Then Ryan (above) suggested that he and Joanna physically act out a particular sequence, which a.) Took me aback for a moment (“But…you still have your legs…”) and b.) Completely restructured the nature of the piece. Now there are multiple scenes that have a physical component, combined with the projections on the screen behind us and the voice acting and live Foley and the intricate dance of switching between stations, the smashing of assorted fruits and vegetables, dumping of water all over the damn place, etc, and I don’t think I’ve seen anything like it.

Gallagher for president

The aftermath of a successful rehearsal.

All of which is to say that you should probably get your tickets, dear reader, and join us tomorrow night at 8pm.

That’s all for now. More soon.

Towards the Stage VI: I Forgot to Mention…

Posted in Uncategorized on 13 March, 18 by cantocomics

…In Towards the Stage V that I was, by some truly wacked alignment of celestial bodies, selected to receive an additional grant for Büer’s Kiss by none other than the Heinz Endowments! A Small Arts Initiative grant, in particular. I had announced this on Twitter already, but it deserves discussion here.

This is obviously a huge deal, not in the least because the additional monies more than triple my initial budget, but also because of the tremendous esteem afforded by the awarding of said.

Apropos of nothing.

The largest part of this money is going to paying the actors and technicians who are helping me realize this project, a bit more to paying my recently hired assistant Mathew New (you’ll click that link and buy his comics if you know what’s good for you, dear reader), a decent print run of the first half which will be given away with ticket purchase to attendees of the New Hazlett performances , etc., etc.

I feel I’ve mentioned it before, but it bears repeating here: if you’re a comics creator with a modicum of social skills and the wherewithall to write an application, APPLY FOR A DAMN GRANT. YOU PROBABLY DESERVE IT.

I’m dead serious, dear reader, and I want you to put down your pen and get to the home page of your local arts organization. Grants are actually *free money* to do your work, and if you live in a decent sized city, they can probably help not only your career but also your process.

😗

One of the grosser panels. I felt a third picture was necessary.

Because of the inestimable assistance I’ve received even at this far remove from my funders, I’ve been able to get a respectable 76 out 110 pages of Büer’s Kiss done in less than 6 months, largely due to the fact that I wrote money to pay myself and so “buy time” away from my day job, a practice I also encourage you to apply and adapt to your own dealings.

You can email me or tweet at me, and I will be happy to look over your application or help you to do one (for a modest fee).

The show is now less than a month away and let me tell you, my friend, I am HERE FOR IT.

Next time, I’ll talk about our second rehearsal and how that reinvigorated me.

Toward the Stage V: Progress Update

Posted in Uncategorized on 21 February, 18 by cantocomics

Hello again, hypothermic reader. You look a little chilly. Where’s that very fetching shawl you were sporting those many months ago?

Since last we spoke, my darling, I have been hard at work doing “the business,” as it were. The script has expanded, contracted, and expanded again to come to rest at a comfortable 110 pages, all of which are pencilled, 59 of which are inked. Which leaves me with 51 more pages to finish. My deadline is now 5 March, which looms very threateningly in the future.

The Author, panicking.

Mercifully, I’m not going anywhere for a while and have no obligations aside from the day job and marriage stuff for a bit. November was spent in a large part on the road visiting friends in Baltimore and Soph’s family out in LA (see below), which cut severely into drawing time. December was spent in a medium to large state of panic, January much the same. I’m taking the last week of this month (February) off from my day job so as to finish what I can.

When the Author attempts to calm himself, he imagines this vista with a slack-key Hawaiian guitar soundtrack. (Note: this is the Santa Monica Pier, which the Author visited with his Beloved around Thanksgiving).

Disheartening though the experience of trying to do 110 12-panel pages of comics while holding down a full-time job, tabling at conventions, and doing Human Family Stuff may have been, I’ve learned much about my process and become considerably faster on the proverbial draw. Imagine your favorite cartoonist whipping through pages of pencils at around 2.5h each and pages of inks at ~3h. When I return to Turmring after this production debuts in April I should be able to rock the motherfucker out with uncanny speed.

Speaking of the production, things are progressing more or less smoothly. We’re set to begin rehearsals on 11 March. I won’t have the entirety of the book inked by opening night, but considering that the audience will each receive a handsome perfect-bound copy of the first 55 pages of the book with the price of admission, I think I may just be able to forgive myself.

From a scene in the latter part of the first half. The lettering reading “snuggles” may or may not make it into the final product.

We’re looking at probably around 80m total run time, with a 15-20m Q+A after the curtains fall. I am grappling with the idea of simply doing the first half of the book–up to the point that the free print edition stops–rather than showing unfinished work. My main concern here is that the first half may not be quite long enough to fill the amount of time that I’m required to fill. What do you think, dear reader?

Towards the Stage IV: Büer’s Kiss Preview

Posted in büer's kiss, Comics Pages with tags , , , on 25 October, 17 by cantocomics

Here are the first seven pages of comics that will be adapted into the live performance of Büer’s Kiss. As of this writing, I am 13 pages into inks and forty-four pages into pencils: progress is being made!!

I produced around 100 copies of a minicomic version of these pages that I gave away at Cartoon Crossroads Columbus and, afterwards, hand-to-hand to people at the Ace Hotel where I work. So if you got one of those physical copies in your mitts, count yourself lucky!

BK001_LTR_PASTABK002_LTR_PASTABK003_LTR_PASTABK004_LTR_PASTABK005_LTR_PASTABK006_PASTABK007_LTR_PASTA

I will be posting a video version of these pages in the not-too-distant future, a future in which a man can combine still images with an audio file without paying through the nose for it on a PC, but that’s then.

Rejected Vows, pt 1: Voltron

Posted in As if you cared, Diary, not comics, romance with tags , , , on 8 September, 17 by cantocomics

My younger brother Eric did me the great honor last month of not only choosing me as his best man, but having me officiate his wedding ceremony. I’m proud of the kid.

That’s him on the left there, next to his patient and lovely bride.

The hardest part about this was writing an Officiant’s speech that gave the occasion its proper respect. Not that I don’t respect my brother, but yo, it’s hard to be serious when you and the groom have been laughing at each other’s farts for 25 years.

I went through two drafts before I got to one that we we’re both happy with.

Here’s one of them: 

Dearly beloved, affectionately acquainted, and total strangers with whom I hope to exchange names in the near future, I bid you welcome.


We are gathered here today, sheltered from blinding Texan sun, to celebrate the union of my little brother Eric and my soon to be little sister Shannon.

How came we here, friends? What wild-ass string of unforeseeable events brought us to this pass, where these two unthinkably attractive young people, one with eyes of winter crystal, the other with the cascading locks of Ceres framing her comely visage are about to forge themselves into one mighty weapon of matrimony?


I’ve had the great privilege of knowing Eric his whole life, from tiny baby to Young Bobby Hill to the strong, willful, intelligent and often hilarious young man you see before you today. I am honored to have had the opportunity to see him grow, to share in his joys and sorrows, to see him metamorphose from lowly caterpillar to razor-winged murder moth.


A large factor in Eric’s maturation over the past few years has been, in fact, the bride herself. I haven’t had the opportunity to get to know this beauty as well as I have my brother, but seeing the effect of her patience, good humor, generosity, and kindness have had on him I have no doubt she must love him deeply and passionately. I anticipate getting to better know this goddess of compassion, whose smile is the light in my brother’s eyes, and watching the two of them grow together over the decades to come.


The bond of marriage is one of great power, my dear friends. These two will in a short while possess a strength far greater than that which either of them have separately. Like Voltron or the Megazord, they will combine into a force to be reckoned with.


But with great power, as Uncle Ben once said, comes great responsibility. The road ahead will not be without bumps or windings. In order to maintain the bond we assist in forging today, these two must work together–moving as one through thick metaphorical jungle, soaring through storm-tossed metaphorical skies, blasting through the metaphorical voids of metaphorical deep space. They must shore each other up against the unceasing onslaughts of the enemy–who must surely also be a metaphor, because how could anyone have ire against these two beauties?


My dear and patient bride and groom, please now profess your devotion and make your vows to one another, so that we will know the strength with which you cleave together.


(They would have said their vows here)


Eric, do you take Shannon as your copilot, in sickness and in health, to wind the starship of your love through asteroid fields, to have and to hold, to share in the plunder of successful campaigns, until the heat death at the end of the universe?


Shannon, do you take Eric as your sidekick, for richer or poorer, to stare down evil, to clench the mighty fist of Justice and plunge it through the gankity-ass grill of crime, forever and ever, until death do you part?


By the power of Grayskull, I now pronounce you Husband and Wife. You may kiss the bride.

I was okay with this one, but the bride and groom were not. Understandably, I think. Weddings are, like, important or whatever.

I have another draft of the same speech as an extended nautical metaphor if you’re interested in reading it. But that’s a matter for another post.

Towards the Stage III: “Why?”

Posted in Uncategorized on 21 August, 17 by cantocomics

Yeah, but how? And more importantly, why? Why this story as opposed to any of the others you’ve written?”

Ah, hello again, hypothetical reader. I missed you. How have you been?

I’ve been wanting to write this story for a while now.  I had the idea for it after reading The Sick Rose, a collection of Victorian medical paintings accompanied by some rather over-designed essays, put out by the Wellcome Collection. There’s some seriously grotesque images in there which inspired your morbid  narrator to investigate further into the history of leprosy and the treatment of lepers by society (short version: not good).

Above: leprous hands, referenced from a medical text that I seem to have misplaced.

Because Hansen’s Disease/leprosy is a very visual disease (lesions, bone deformations, weakened immune systems resulting in the loss of one’s extremeties, costumes issued by the church in the middle ages, etc.), is only partially curable even today (intense antibiotic regimens are usually the prescribed treatment, but sometimes these don’t take and they won’t fix the attending nerve damage) and the historical stigma surrounding the disease, I feel like it was the right choice.

Above: Henriette, one of our principles.

The leper colony is a society of outcasts, essentially a waiting room for the hereafter. Those condemned to live their lives behind its walls are, again, historically, condemned to what St. John Chrysostom called “a living death.”  There’s evidence to suggest that many of these colonies were self-governed through a primitive democratic process, overseen by committees of monks, and largely independent of their surroundings. 

What with our government’s traitorous actions regarding healthcare (and basically everything else over the course of the last eight months), the rise of superstition over actual science (viz., antivaxxers; Gwenyth Paltrow’s GOOP;  preference given to the use of “alternative medicines;” rampant, unchecked corruption on the part of pharmaceutical companies; Martin Shkreli; and crystal enemas*), and the now apparently publicly government approved persection of minorities and women, if there was ever a time for a historically inspired graphic novel performance about leprosy, exclusion, community, and judgement, it is now.

Above: character sketches for Felicia, the protagonist of Büer’s Kiss.

(If I have been not academically rigorous in the preceding paragraphs, or anywhere else on this blog, please keep in mind that a.) I’m writing this on my phone and b.) I’m not a real historian.)
*Pick which one of these you think is made up
P.S.: I recorded a video with the New Hazlett folks that you can view here