Wayne Thiebaud likes it, so you should too

March 19th, 2018

“Chris Wisnia mixes a crime cluttered comic world with the unfathomable high-financed art world where Van Gogh, Lucien Freud, Velasquez, Monet, Bacon, Hopper and dozens of other noteables, play, joust, shoot and torture each other in graphic clarity that shocks, entertains and surpises us with an original comic epic. – Wayne Thiebaud”

I was fortunate to take two classes from Wayne Thiebaud when I got my degree in art from U.C. Davis. He taught how great works of art create a story within them. Who is this person in the portrait? Where is this place and what is happening there? If we slow down and let the images absorb us, they create so much in their stillness, inside our heads. It causes us to see the world differently, through the eyes of that artist.
After we’ve looked at a Van Gogh painting, we begin to see those swirls when we look in the sky. When we reach for fruit on a table, Cezanne’s compositions and colors superimpose themselves on our reality. But our own perspective also changes the art’s meaning; we infuse and constantly redefine it with our own experience.

Inserting famous art into a comic book format juxtaposes the well-known, static images – usually viewed in galleries, in isolation, frozen – into new contexts in which to view them, embedding fresh stories into the images, as well as re-interpreting them to serve new roles in telling these new stories. As John Berger showed in his “Ways of Seeing,” if a Rothko is ten feet tall on a museum wall, you will read it differently than if it is two inches tall on your bathroom mirror next to a can of deodorant. Or as Hitchcock points out, if you film an old man smiling, followed by an image of a cute toddler, it “reads” differently than the smile followed by a woman in the bath. The selection and ordering causes the traditional art to become fresh and contain new meanings, constantly reinvented by new lenses through which to experience them.

Brush with Peril is a two part (roughly 225 pages per part), espionage-style graphic novel in which the characters and settings are famous museum masterworks turned into masked spies and villains. High brow art meets low brow pop culture – a round peg forced into the square hole of Mexican standoffs, fist fights, and car chases. The juxtapositions create a dialogue about the meanings and status of art, and our perceptions of it as a culture.

I am now serializing “Brush with Peril” at my Patreon site, available to anyone willing to become a patron at the $1 level.

The story? [Spoiler?]

In book one, Special Agent Ian Anger of the Global Agency of Protection learns that someone is killing American Realist Sculptors. He travels to France, seeking a vacationing artist whom he suspects may be in danger. Traveling by train, Anger is surrounded by Daumier’s passengers and beset by villainous Van Gogh thugs whom he defeats in an edgy and tense strategy game of “Name the Bean.” Following clues to Morisot’s parks, he learns that a team of deadly Rousseau footballers committed the murder. The heated battle ashore of the Monet lily pads leads him to a flurry of Degas karate-kicking ballerinas trying to help the footballers escape from a Toulouse-Lautrec theatre. We learn that a politician is trying to hire these artists, and when they refuse, he snuffs them out in a rage. Plans thwarted, this politician stoops to asking one last artist for this deadly commission: a former child prodigy realist sculptor, Shiele, who has since progressed to more abstract, academic theories, but who agrees to create something extraordinary on his own terms.

LAS VEGAS SHOOTING BENEFIT ANTHOLOGY

March 12th, 2018

I’m thrilled and honored to announce that I’ve been invited to contribute to “Where We Live” (Image Comics), a benefit anthology of fictional stories and eye-witness accounts, as told by an all-star lineup of the top talent working in comics.

I wrote, penciled and lettered a four-page story, and industry luminary Bill Sienkiewicz is inking it.  Here’s a not-yet-lettered or colored panel by Bill and I:

Other contributors (and there are 140 + of the biggest names in the industry) include writers Brian Michael Bendis, Ivan Brandon, Kurt Busiek, Amy Chu, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Neil Gaiman, Kieron Gillen, Mike Mignola, Mark Millar, Greg Pak, James Robinson, Gail Simone, Brandon Graham, Rob Williams, Brandon Graham, and artists Rafael Albuquerque, Mike Allred, Paul Azaceta, Cliff Chiang, Geof Darrow, Tess Fowler, Brian Haberlin, Phil Hester, Joelle Jones, Ariela Kristantina, Jeff Lemire, Jamie McKelvie, Michael Avon Oeming, Sean Phillips, Darick Robertson, Javier Pulido, and JH Williams III.

All the creators have graciously volunteered their time and talent to help bring some sense to this senseless act and, in the process, raise money for the survivors and their families. The book will include a variety of perspectives with key themes exploring gun violence, common sense gun control, value of a compassionate society, mental health stigmatization, aftermath of tragedy and how individuals and communities persevere, and an appreciation of Las Vegas as a vibrant community. WHERE WE LIVE also features stories from local writers and artists as they relate their personal experiences and reactions to this tragedy. One hundred percent of the proceeds for the WHERE WE LIVE anthology will be donated to an existing GoFundMe campaign for the survivors in Las Vegas.

The book ships to stores May 30.   Go to your local shop and give them order number: Mar180600

Read a riveting and moving essay about the book’s genesis by Las Vegas resident and anthology curator J.H. Williams III

See a list of the 140 + contributing creators

See Image Comics’ solicitation for this month’s Diamond Ordering Catalogue

Twitter account

“Brush with Peril” Francis Bacon covers

March 6th, 2018

 

 

 

Here’s my son and I with Francis Bacon’s Figure With Meat (1954). It belongs to the The Art Institute of Chicago, IL, but it was on display at the Getty Museum when I traveled to Los Angeles in September 2016.

As I write this, I think this is the only Pope painting by Francis Bacon that I’ve ever seen face-to-face. I LOVE his pope paintings, and was totally struck by them when I first learned about them during my college education.

Learning about art like this was a large part of what got me going on my (arguably) “latest” project, “Brush with Peril,” my upcoming espionage-style graphic novel in which the characters and settings are famous museum masterworks turned into masked spies and villains.  High brow art meets low brow pop culture – a round peg forced into the square hold of Mexican standoffs, fist fights, and car chases.  The juxtapositions create a dialogue about the meanings and status of art, and our perceptions of it as a culture.

The first concept of this project – combining famous art and adventure – developed around 2005, but the SPY idea hit me in 2009, and that’s when I immediately jumped in and began the project in earnest.

Here are two “first issue” covers – they’re actually the same image, with one zoomed in tighter on the face.  I drew it/them in 2014.  Initially, I had designed a different cover image, but I was never crazy about it.  I drew this/these after conceiving a “close up on a face from a famous painting” cover theme. Colors by Gerry Chow.

These covers are after a detail of Francis Bacon , Study After Velásquez’s Portrait Of Pope Innocent X (1953), Des Moines Art Center, Iowa.

Please visit my Patreon page to check out more of my spy comic, Brush with Peril, and other projects.

Sorry for the delay, fans!

March 6th, 2018

Wow, fans!  We popped over here and realized… our last post was August 2014!  And THEN we realized there are still 600 of you who are checking in over here every month, even though we haven’t given you anything new to enjoy!

Our humblest apologies!  We’ve been BUSY…  But “no posts” is going to change, fans!

The plan is to start getting more involved on social media – specifically, Facebook and Twitter.  (Pop over and you can see we’ve already started, as we speak!  So we’ll definitely want to be best friends there!)

 

 

But, why – you must wonder – are we, the notoriously reclusive introverts, taking these “social” steps?  In the hopes that we might fool everyone into thinking we’re “cool,” and that you might “dig” us enough to leisurely pop over to our newly re-vamped Patreon.com/ChrisWisnia and check out all the comics and comics-related hoo-ha Chris been posting there every week!  It’s basically a return to “Tabloia Weekly Magazine,” in Patreon form!

What is “Tabloia”???!  It’s a combination of “tabloid” and “paranoia.” It can encompass any of my tabloid loves: sensationalism, off-beat humor, comics, 1940’s film noir and horror films, The X-Files and Twilight Zone, 1980’s professional wrestling, Ray Harryhausen, masked vigilantes, violence, shocks, gossip, tabloid pseudo-science, conspiracy theories, sci-fi robots, James Bond style intrigue, and more.

This re-vamped  Patreon.com/ChrisWisnia already contains tons of published AND never-before-published “Doris Danger” Giant Monster Adventures.

Then we’ll expand it with tons of classic features, and surprise unpublished additions to them, such as “The Lump,” “Dr. DeBunko: Debunker of the Supernatural,” and the Spider Twins masked vigilantes of Crude Bay CA.  And THEN we’ll introduce new, not-yet-published features, like “Brush with Peril,” where modern art meets James Bond style spy intrigue, and clips of our upcoming documentary, “Diary of a Struggling Comics Artist,” in which we interviewed TONS of the biggest names in the comics industry.

Not interested in Patreon.com/ChrisWisnia ??  That’s ok too!  Hopefully you’ll enjoy plenty of free glimpses … right HERE… of all Chris’s comics, features, and general insights into his brain!

 

 

Please check in periodically and enjoy… and share… starting right NOW!

Rob Oder,
Editor-in-Chief
Tabloia Weekly Magazine

Kirby Style Giant Monster Siting, parking garage, Davis CA

August 5th, 2014

Fans, if you FEAR going into parking garages to park, then you’ll FEAR this one even more!  Chris Wisnia has just completed a Kirby-style GIANT MONSTER MURAL for the F Street Parking Garage in Davis CA, depicting the TERRORS of commuting over the Davis overpass!

Here’s the concept sketch:

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Friday night, we projected the image and traced it with chalk.  Saturday morning we were ready to begin:

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The wall was a lot wider than the composition, so we chose moved the text around to better use all the space.

By the end of Saturday, we had completed the borders and text, and only needed to draw in the monster and bridge:

 

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Sunday, we knocked it out:

Extra-special thanks to my best friends, John Natsoulas for asking me to do it, Kerry Rowland-Avrech for spending two solid days painting it with me, and Gerry Chow!

Stephen Bissette and Scott Shaw like my GIANT MONSTERS!

August 5th, 2014

 

 Look at these very kind words on Facebook about “DORIS DANGER” and “S IS FOR SPANKO” by two of my best friends: 

Post by Stephen Bissette.

Post by Scott Shaw.

Tabloia Mailer #54789-a: GIANT MONSTER ALPHABET BOOK debuts at COMIC-CON!

July 21st, 2014

Wow, fans, this is our first mailer since September 2012!

Let’s peruse this installment’s FABULOUS CONTENTS:

1. “S IS FOR SPANKO: A Frightening and Realistic GIANT MONSTER Alphabet Book!”
2. TEN YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF DORIS DANGER’S GIANT MONSTER COMICS!
3. COMIC-CON 2014 SIGNING SCHEDULE!
4. So easy to UNSUBSCRIBE!

Let’s get started, shall we?

 

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“S IS FOR SPANKO: A Frightening and Realistic GIANT MONSTER Alphabet Book!”

Twenty six letters of sheer, alphabet-learning TERROR!  Can even YOU endure such alphabet-learning strain?  A FULL COLOR, 8 ½” x11” hardcover by Chris Wisnia, edited and colored by Jef Bambas, with alphabet poem by Elizabeth Wisnia!

The book makes its shocking debut at COMIC-CON this week!  More details below!  But for those who can’t make it (and those who can)…

SEE the horrifying cover, learn more about the book, and READ a few fear-inducing sample pages, at our official “Tabloia” website:

www.tabloia.com/alphabet.shtml

Then pop over to Amazon (where you CAN’T see the cover OR read sample pages), to pick up copies for all your friends who are overdue in learning their alphabet: www.amazon.com

It’s the perfect gift for children going into pre-school or kindergarten, or for full-grown imbeciles!

 

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TEN YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF DORIS DANGER’S GIANT MONSTER COMICS!

Can you believe it??! Ten years ago, at San Diego’s Comic-Con, Chris Wisnia debuted his first comic, “Tabloia Weekly Magazine #572,” featuring Doris Danger Giant Monster Adventures!  So to celebrate…

1. We’re gonna sign and sell you our brand new GIANT MONSTER ALPHABET BOOK!

2. We’ve stored a garage full of unsold JUNK for ten years, so we’re gonna try and convince you to buy some old stuff for a cheap price!

2. AND… for you EXTRA-SPECIAL, EXTRA-DEDICATED FANS, who are “in the know” with a complicated secret code phrase … we’re gonna give you a cheaply made FREE THING that you’ll probably toss in the garbage the moment you’re out of our sight!  Stop by the booth (times listed below) and whisper… “PSSST!  I wanna become a secret, card-carrying member of the MLA!”  (You extra-special, extra-dedicated fans know what we’re talking about!  The rest of you are free to ask at the show!)

 

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COMIC-CON 2014 SIGNING SCHEDULE!

Chris will be signing at SLG’s booth 1815:
Thurs 10:00am-1:00pm, 4:00pm-5:30pm
Fri, Sat 10:00am-11:30am, 4:00pm-5:30pm
Sun 10am-11:30am

Stop by and wish us a happy ten-year anniversary!

 

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UNSUBSCRIBE!  So easy, just reply to this humble email with the header, “You ARE the greatest – BUT…”

 

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Thanks for reading, fans!  We hope to see or hear from some of you!
Rob Oder
Editor-in-Chief
Tabloia Weekly Magazine
www.tabloia.com

Nerdvana Podcast: Kirby’s Atlas Monsters, and Doris Danger!

May 29th, 2014

Chuck Serface and gang visited with me a bit at SLG’S Art Boutiki on Free Comic Book Day, for his Nerdvana podcast!  Here’s their episode description:

Show #97: Episode 27: Free Comic Book Day at SLG, Part 3 (conclusion): What did we buy during the break? Chris Wisnia shares his homage to the Atlas Age of comics, recent loses in Hollywood, Star Wars VII discussion, official cast announced, character rumors, lack of feminine lead characters in SW, then…a major technical glitch warped us back to the studio at the House of Val to wrap things up.

Music Credits: Intro: “Derezzed” from the Tron Legacy Soundtrack by Daft Punk & Quote from The Big Bang Theory. Closing: “Stand Up” from the Kick-Ass Soundtrack by Prodigy.

Listen: http://www.nerdvanapodcast.com/Episodes/Nerdvana-S02E27c.mp3

Introducing… DANNY VAZQUEZ, Comic Artist Extraordinaire!

May 15th, 2014

To raise funds for my son’s elementary school, I donated to teach a comics-making class for our school auction.  Here is one of my students, Danny Vazquez, who impressed me so with his eagerness to learn, his attentiveness, and great attitude.  Whenever I spoke, I could tell he was really listening, and he was the quickest to complete a project after our class.  Here is the comic page he created (Congratulations, Danny!):

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Click on image to view larger!

Goodbye, Al Feldstein

May 9th, 2014

Thought I’d write a little about my opportunities to spend some time with and get to know the legendary Al Feldstein, who created tales from the Crypt and edited Mad Magazine for thirty years. 

By 2006, I’d self-published a number of comics, and loaded them with pin-ups of any of my favorite artists that I could find, who were willing.  Al Feldstein was a name I’d wanted to add to that list, but couldn’t hunt him down.

I’d found a website listing his “representative,” if you wanted to commission Al for an oil-painted recreation of an EC cover. The website showed samples of Al’s non-comics landscape oils.  I sent an email inquiring about other commissions and was told Al was only doing oil paints now, which ran thousands of dollars.

Elizabeth and I were travelling to a few distant comic conventions a year, and I saw that Al and George Tuska were listed to appear at 2006’s Megacon in Orlando.  I became very excited.

I never found George.  It turned out he was having trouble with his foot and didn’t make it to the show.  I believe Al was the first stop I hit.  He was very friendly and sociable.  I showed him the work I was doing, the monster stories Dick Ayers had inked, and all the dozens of pin-ups I’d managed to acquire.  I asked if I could convince him to do one for me, and he said, No, no, he doesn’t do that kind of work any more.  He only does oil paintings now.  So I left it at that, and we kept visiting.  And then after a while he asked, So what do you pay these other artists for these drawings?  And I told him, it varies, but I always want make sure I’m giving them a price that they feel is fair for their time and talent and name.  And we kept visiting, and after a while, Al said, I just haven’t done inks like that in such a long time.  So I told him I would be up for anything.  Just a quick little pencil sketch or whatever.  Oh, I’d just want like a quick pencil sketch?  That’s right.  And we visited some more.  So then finally as I was getting ready to leave he said, So you want a drawing of a monster?  Just a sketch?  And he named a price which I found terribly affordable.  The only problem was that I had to hunt down someone with a piece of paper I could have.

Hanging out at Al’s table with Howard Chaykin.

Al gave me this pencil sketch: 

I took it back to my table and showed Elizabeth, and I kind of hesitantly said to her, “You know, if he’s willing to do this, and since the price is less than I expected, I kind of feel like I should go ask him if he’d do another for me.”  And she gave me her assent, so I went looking for another piece of paper.

We popped back over at the end of the show, and he hadn’t finished the second one.  But we invited him to join us for dinner.

The next day he gave me this sketch:

I loved that these sketches look just like his old covers.  But in this one, I gave him a hard time that it didn’t have a giant monster, and somehow that led to me getting one more sketch.  While I was working at my table, Elizabeth went and got it for me.  She said, “Oh, honey, I think you’re going to like this one”:

When I went back to thank Al, he said, “You know what we used to call those aliens?  B.E.M.s.  Bug-eyed monsters.

I kept in touch with Al by email.  He put me on his mailer, and I was surprised to find he’d sometimes send out eight or a dozen of these emails a week!

My son, Oscar, meets Al Feldstein at San Diego Comic-Con in 2008: