Gladman’s “Bombshell” is really just a bomb

book cover - bombshell This book, John Gladman's Bombshell: The Pin-Up Art of John Gladman, came in the mail yesterday. I was supposed to be doing a piece on it for another publication, but that fell through, and having seen the book, I'm kind of glad it did. I get what the photographer is trying to do: he edits his photos in such a way as to make them look like vintage Vargas or Elvgren pinups. However, he flat-out fails most of the time. The images Vargas and Elvgren produced were stunningly rich with depth, and the focus was on the women themselves. Gladman's photgraphy renders many of the women two-dimensional, and when he utilizes digital backgrounds, the quality of photography on the women is ruined by the chintziness of what surrounds them, be it pixelated waves or cheap magazine cover mock-ups. [caption id="attachment_18698" align="aligncenter" width="599"]Courtesy Schiffer Publishing Courtesy Schiffer Publishing[/caption] Maybe we'd have a better idea as viewers / readers if we had a glimpse at Gladman's process. Aside from a brief introduction at the outset, however, all that's in Bombshell is imagery. One gets the hint that there might be some sort of organization, but it's not like the book has any sort of flow. Were that the images were one to a page, in order to really look at the women and get a sense of what the photographer was going for, but sometimes, there are two images shrunk down and placed on one page. There's no real organization to Bombshell, either. The western images aren't near one another, nor do we have images of weather with one another. It seems rather haphazard and disjointed. Perhaps the most frustrating thing is that the women seem to have no agency. It looks that way because nowhere in the book is a listing of the models and where they're from, or why they chose to have this photos taken. Those names would've been nice to have so that your reviewer might've been able to contact the woman in the Native headdress and buckskin fringe swimsuit to see how problematic her costume was. As a viewer, it's difficult not to assume problematic intentions, as the vast majority of women in this book are white. There are three women of color, and one of Asian descent. That's it. We understand that past portrayals of women of color rendered them overly-sexualized objects of the male gaze, but as these pinup photos are usually meant to be women taking control and portraying themselves as strong and confident, we would have liked to have seen at least one woman of color getting a two-page spread. Frankly, this book creates more problems and issues than we know what to do with. Given the large number of pinup photographers working these days, one assumes Schiffer could've found a woman working in the field who protrays more than just the standard "white lady looking astonished" imagery. It's just unfortunate they didn't. See more images from Bombshell at Schiffer's website.

Celebrity Art Party with Sean Thornton

Celebrity Art Party is a semi-occurring feature, wherein the artists we enjoy interpret their favorite song. This installment features Sean Thornton, from whom my wife and I bought a print from at C2E2 several years ago (the VERY excellent Latveria tourism print), and whose art I've been a fan of ever since. Check out his take on this epically proggy track from the Decemberists. Sean Thornton - The Decemberists 'The Crane Wife' WEB Song title: "The Crane Wife (1, 2 and 3)" Artist: The Decemberists Version of song (live, album, remix, etc.): The Crane Wife album [embed][/embed] Why this song? It reminds me of the amazing person that I am lucky to be married to. When did you first hear it? Shortly after the album release. How does music such as this inspire you in your work? Storytelling ballads are excellent for transporting my mind into a different world, filling it with vast amounts of imagery. Imagery that I am able to pull ideas from directly or inspiration for other pieces. The Decemberists are masters in using ballads to tell stories in their music. How has this song changed for you since you first heard it? Not much, really. It has always reminded me of my wife and our strong connection. What upcoming projects do you have? Unfortunately, not much at this time. I'm working on new pieces to showcase at the Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo (C2E2) this year. Sean Thornton dreams of high-flying superheroes, retro-stylized rocket ships and the perfectly brewed coffee. Every now-and-then he actually finds time to draw and even has had some success getting his art published. You can see his work in the anthology comic Josh Howard presents: Sasquatch from Viper Comics, gaming books such as Traveller: Merchant Prince, Rune Quest: Empires and Rune Quest: Coliseum from Mongoose Publishing and most recently, Once Upon a Time Machine from Dark Horse Comics. He is currently working on various series of comic and popculture-inspired fan art posters along with some original pieces. Once he has enough compiled for a book he plans on doing just that -- making an art book. You can find his work at Deviant Art and his Etsy store, as well as on Facebook. Follow him on Twitter @seanwthornton.

Celebrity Art Party with Travis Falligant

Celebrity Art Party is a semi-occurring feature, wherein the artists we enjoy interpret their favorite song. This installment features Travis Falligant, whom we've become a big fan of on Instagram, mainly because of his excellent style and subject matter that ranges from horror movies to The Golden Girls. You probably saw his "Scooby-Doo Lost Mysteries" all over the web last summer. If we could afford it, we'd buy everything Fallgant put up in his shop. As it is, we had him talk about his favorite song for Celebrity Art Party, and it's a heartfelt tale of a first crush. Travis Falligant - Foreigner 'I Want to Know What Love Is' web Song title: I Want To Know What Love Is Artist: Foreigner Version of song (live, album, remix, etc.): Agent Provocateur album [embed][/embed] Why this song? I have to clarify: this is not a favorite song. It’s a song that holds a strong memory for me. When did you first hear it? I had heard it before but the moment this song made an impression on me was in the car on the radio. I was 8 years old and was riding in the car home from the grocery store. My mom had bought the Official Movie Magazine of Dune for me. I was in the back seat and flipping through the pages and looking at images of actor Kyle Maclachlan. "I Want To Know What Love Is" came on the radio and I remember closing the magazine and staring at him on the cover and hearing the music and getting that feeling in the pit of my stomach, the butterflies. It was the feeling of getting my first crush on someone else and it was overPOWERING. I felt like I was becoming an adult at that very moment, hearing Foreigner belt out that '80s power ballad. How does music such as this inspire you in your work? I think it’s the era in which I heard this song (the 80’s) that really inspires my work. Music from the '80s (my childhood) influences my work just as much as film, art, pop culture does from that era. It was a time of comfort and inspiration for me. Being that age and being surrounded by so much great pop culture: it was a good time to be alive. It’s the optimism of that time period. As a kid growing up in the '80s, I was exposed to bright color palettes, uptempo catchy pop songs, and unforgettable corporate mascots and merchandising (toys, film tie-ins). When I create, I tend to draw from nostalgic, warm memories. I like to refer back to that simpler time not only in my personal life but also in my work. How has this song changed for you since you first heard it? It hasn’t changed for me. EVERY TIME I hear this song though, I am transported back to my 8 year-old self, dangling my legs off the car seat in the back of my mom's car and flipping through that movie magazine. What upcoming projects do you have? I am working on some new IBTrav art for sale (stickers, tee designs and movie poster prints) and am gearing up for the month of October and my next "31 Days Of Halloween" sketch series. I almost might do a return to "The Lost Mysteries" series to celebrate the upcoming Halloween holiday. Stay tuned! Travis Falligant's work can be found at his website, which contains links to his Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages, as well as his online store.

Celebrity Art Party with Amy Abshier Reyes

Celebrity Art Party is a semi-occurring feature, wherein the artists we enjoy interpret their favorite song. This installment features Amy Abshier-Reyes, whom we'd never met before being introduced at a Spoon show a few months back, but quickly discovered her to be a fantastic and interesting person. Abshier-Reyes' work is a collection of haunting portraits, and her piece for Celebrity Art Party is no different. Amy Abshier-Reyes - Joy Division 'Ceremony' web Song title: "Ceremony" Artist: Joy Division/New Order Version of song (live, album, remix, etc.): I really love the New Order 12" version, originally released in 1981 on Factory Records. [embed][/embed] Why this song? This has been one of my favorite songs since I was in my teens. It's always struck a chord with me, pun intended. When did you first hear it? I must have been 14 or 15; I honestly don't remember. I think it crept into my subconscious and just sort of simmered there until I was ready for it. How does music such as this inspire you in your work? There's always music in my studio, in my car, in my home, in the back of my mind... It can alter my mood, letting me settle down into a receptive, creative zone. I'm not a musician, but music is one of my oldest loves. It's a huge part of my life and I listen to so many different kinds. Everything from shoegaze to bossa nova to punk to old country to new wave to psychedelic to electronica ... I could go on and on. How has this song changed for you since you first heard it? I don't know that it has; I still feel the same emotions and sensations that I remember having listening to it as a kid. I sometimes joke that this better get played at my funeral, or someone's gonna be in trouble. What upcoming projects do you have? I'm always working on new pieces. I love painting eyes, so I paint a lot of single eye portraits, almost like the miniature lovers' eye portraits that were popular in Georgian times. I generally have work available to view at the Blue Gallery in Kansas City. You can find more information about Amy Abshier-Reyes at her Facebook page or buy things from her via Etsy.

Celebrity Art Party with Jon Hunter

Celebrity Art Party is a semi-occurring feature, wherein the artists we enjoy interpret their favorite song. This installment features one of our favorite artists, and a long-ago former co-worker of mine, Jon Hunter. Hunter's long been a supporter of the punk scene, be it around the Kansas City and Lawrence areas, or in Madison, where he now resides. He's also the first artist to explain the process behind his piece, so check that out at the end. Jon Hunter - The Lawrence Arms 'The Ramblin' Boys of Pleasure' WEB Song title: "The Ramblin' Boys of Pleasure" Artist: The Lawrence Arms Version of song (live, album, remix, etc.): from The Greatest Story Ever Told (2003) [embed][/embed] Why this song? The Lawrence Arms have always been a favorite band of mine and "The Ramblin' Boys" is definitely my favorite song of theirs. The lyrics of the song just seem to strike a chord with me (no music pun intended, or is it?) every time I hear it. When did you first hear it? The first time I heard it was around the time that particular album came out so I was around 18-19 at the time. A bit of an impressionable lad at the time. How does music such as this inspire you in your work? I'd have to say that all music impacts my work, no matter the genre. Sometimes I like to use something that's a bit out there to get into a different headspace or using something heavy with rhythm to set a groove to how I work. Stuff specifically like this song helps me get into the headspace of trying to take an honest approach to what I'm working on and introduce a level of emotion. Often in my personal work I try to work around themes of imperfections and sometimes emotionally charged pieces and a song like this really helps get me there. One thing to note is that I work both in physical in digital mediums. Music like this is more impacting of my non-digital work (usually pencil, ink, watercolor type work). How has this song changed for you since you first heard it? These days, I suppose it now carries a bit of a nostalgia factor to it. Taking me back to seeing the Lawrence Arms live or old friends that share a love of the tune. I definitely look at some of the lyrics a bit differently now as well due to experiences in my own life and how I relate to them. What upcoming projects do you have? Currently, I just finished showing work along side many fantastic artists at the Yellow Rose Gallery here in Madison, WI for the month of May. In the last year, I've started Drink & Draw events here, done flyer design for various local establishments, did the cover art for the Horror & Hope EP by The Havok on Polaris (Lawrence, KS), and began participating in the Art Nest events at The Cardinal Bar in Madison. At the moment, I am talking with a few local comedians about projects and doing flyer design for specific events. A friend in Lawrence is also talking with me about participating in an upcoming music/art show in mid-July. My biggest project right now is just trying to get my work out there more. Also, just a little on the illustration: I chose to go off the lyrical content of the song, focusing on the a few lines from the beginning such as:
"A million times a day I try to fail or fail to try" "I used to hear a lot... like the slow dull burn/ Of paper and tobacco and the bad breath smoke singin'/ Hey man, lemme tell you a joke./ Well what's attached to a leash that it made itself?/ The punchline is the way that you've been fuckin' yourself." "There's proof painted on the roof and I hate it"
Basically, I chose to create few haggard ramblers and use alcohol as representation of failing and truth (thus the signs). Weird, pretentious art stuff I'm sure but figured I'd toss in somewhat of an explanation for the piece. That art thing in Lawrence Jon was talking about is called CLASS // OF \\ ASTRA, which takes place at the Bottleneck on Saturday, July 18. You can find a bunch of information on it here. You can find Jon Hunter's work at both his website and Facebook page.

Celebrity Art Party with Jim Mahfood

Celebrity Art Party is a semi-occurring feature, wherein the artists we enjoy interpret their favorite song. This installment features one of our favorite artists, Jim Mahfood (aka Food One), who will descend upon Lawrence this weekend for a variety of activities surrounding The Free State Festival. Mahfood's work has paired him with everyone from Colt 45 to Ziggy Marley. Given his deep involvement with music, we're proud to have him for this series. Jim Mahfood - Beastie Boys 'B-Boy Bouillabaisse' web Artist: Beastie Boys Song: "B-Boy Bouillabaisse" Version of song (live, album, remix, etc.): Paul's Boutique LP [embed][/embed] Why this song? There's no way I have an all-time "favorite song." I've been collecting/obsessing over music since I was 10 yrs old, so to narrow it down to just one would be impossible. But this track comes pretty close. It was masterminded by MCA (rip), the Dust Brothers, and Matt Dike. With a line-up like that you can't go wrong. The song is a ridiculous, over the top hip hop/funk medley masterpiece, composed of 8 different shorter songs. It's over 12 minutes long. It represents the absolute pinnacle in music sampling. Nothing done since even comes close. When did you first hear it? 1990. How does music such as this inspire you in your work? It reminds me that anything is possible, the sky is the limit, and to do whatever you want as an artist. Take it out as far as you can, be completely bugged out and funky. Have a sense of humor. How has this song changed for you since you first heard it? I have a much better understanding and deeper appreciation for the samples and the pop culture references the older I get. When I was younger I sort of didn't know what they were talking about, I just thought it was an ill track. What upcoming projects do you have? Miami Vice: Remix comic book series from Lion Forge/IDW (four issues out so far, issue 5 drops on July 1!). Howard the Human comic book from Marvel Comics (written by Skottie Young!) drops on August 5! And we just finished the live action Grrl Scouts Pilot for New Form Digital which everyone can check out here: [embed][/embed] Jim Mahfood will be in Lawrence all this weekend. He appears at Astrokitty Comics from 5-7:00pm on Saturday, June 27. On Sunday, June 28, at 2:00pm, he'll be part of a panel with Greg Smallwood and Jai Nitz, talking about "All Ages, All Inclusive Comics." Details on attending that can be found here. He'll perform a live art jam for the closing ceremonies and film awards portion of the Free State Festival at the Lawrence Arts Center on Sunday at 5:30pm, and you can find details about there here. For more information, follow Jim Mahfood on Twitter @JimMahfood, or hit up his website.

Celebrity Art Party with Doug Cole

Celebrity Art Party is a semi-occurring feature, wherein the artists we enjoy interpret their favorite song. This installment features Doug Cole. Cole is singer and guitarist for Kansas City's own Death Valley Wolfriders, as well as the writer and artist for the comic Mortimer & The Dethwulfs, which appears monthly in American Roots Magazine, as well as in comic book form at Wolfrider gigs. A musician who writes a comic about a band -- of course we are happy to have him for this (very) occasional series. Doug Cole - KISS 'Detroit Rock City' web Song title: "Detroit Rock City" Artist: KISS Version of song (live, album, remix, etc.): Regular album version from Destroyer [embed][/embed] Why this song? My 'favorite song' changes daily, so I chose a song that is extremely influential to me. This song and band have had a major impact on me ever since the first time I discovered them. When did you first hear it? My exact age at the time is difficult to pinpoint, but I feel that I was about 7 years old, which was 3 years after the album containing this song was released. I have an cousin who is a few years older than me, and he had some records and a player in his basement. I was at his house one day, going through his records, and I came across KISS' Destroyer. The album cover itself instantly blew me away. I dropped the needle on it, and as soon as the guitar kicked in on "Detroit Rock City," I was hooked. The lead guitar lines haunted me for weeks. To this day, it remains one of my favorite pieces of music. How does music such as this inspire you in your work? The way that KISS mixed that kind of comic book imagery with badass rock & roll is a perfect combination of my two favorite worlds. It's like having your favorite superheroes playing in your favorite band. That kind of music and imagery really shaped my world, and have a tremendous effect on both the kind of music that I play, and the way that I draw. Ace Frehley, and his guitar work in that song, is the reason that I picked up a guitar in the first place. I love rock & roll music, and I love looking at cartoon/comic book images. KISS gives me both in one package. How has this song changed for you since you first heard it? Musically, it still has the same effect on me. Whenever I hear it, (and any other KISS record, for that matter), the volume goes to 11, and I'm right back to where I was the first time I heard it. The biggest difference is now knowing the personalities and history behind the makeup and the music, and so some of the magic is lost. But, despite all of my comrades who just don't understand the attraction to this band, they will forever remain my favorite, and the most influential, band in my life. What upcoming projects do you have? Death Valley Wolfriders are always hitting it hard, playing locally and regionally as often as we are able. We just released the album Play For Blood in February, and are currently writing material for the follow up. The Mortimer & The Dethwulfs comic is an ongoing project that will hopefully continue to develop into bigger & badder things. You can find more information about Mortimer and the Dethwulfs at the comic's Facebook page and hear music from the Death Valley Wolfriders on Bandcamp.

“VHS Video Cover Art” both a nostalgic trip & celebration of under-appreciated artists

vhs - cover art I'm not the biggest fan of Tom 'The Dude Designs' Hodge's work on posters – the bubbly, neon '80s stuff has always felt far too busy to me. He's basically the antithesis to Drew Struzan. Struzan's work is clean, uncluttered, and offers up just enough to stir your interest, whereas I've always felt that Hodge's art tries to fit the entire plot to the movie within a one-sheet's 27x40 dimensions. That said: the work from which Hodge draws his inspiration shows that the artist has deep taste. His new book for Schiffer Publishing, VHS Video Cover Art, is a treasure trove of astounding and astonishing VHS cover art from the '80s and early '90s. These painted covers are what drew so many of us into the stranger sections of the video store as kids. As so many documentarians have pointed out, VHS covers needed something to make them stand out, and those covers were a prime way of maximizing their appeal on the video store shelf. VHS - BlackRoses What makes this book interesting is that it's a collection of VHS art from UK releases, meaning that while some of the titles might be familiar to Americans, the covers are totally different. There's a lot of work by the likes of Graham Humphreys, whose work is bonkers in terms of quality and detail, and only stands to be the stick by which all of the other art is measured. Given that so many of these VHS cassettes had artwork with bad perspective, strange homages to movies to which they weren't at all related, and just perplexing choices overall (for instance, I cannot believe that so many sex comedies featured nudity on the covers), this is the sort of book over which you can repeatedly pore. Given that these aren't just the covers, but the entire VHS box, in addition to admiring the art, you can admire the way some copywriter sums up a film in just a short paragraph. Some are dead on the money, while others are out-and-out lies – a lesson many of us learned the hard way. It's great that all this text is included, because otherwise, you'd just be staring at images with little to no context for them, aside from Justin Ishmael's introduction and Hodge's opening reminisces. A big hand must go to Hodge for the way in which the book is organized. While the titles are arranged alphabetically, it's done so under a series of categories, making VHS Video Cover Art the coffee table equivalent of a trip back in time. You want to wander the horror section? Let's try and choose between The Evil Dead and Annihilator. Also, you start to notice certain trends. There are quite a few images which look an awful lot like other films. I know that Enforcer II isn't related to Cobra at all – nor does the star look anything like Sly Stallone – but damned if you wouldn't have rented the film if you liked Cobra. Similar things occur when you have facing pages showing the career trajectory of stars. Linda Blair in both Savage Streets and Savage Island? Obviously, she's found a trend. In the end, this is a wonderful collection, showcasing these VHS boxes just as one would have found them in the UK video shops during their heyday. For the connoisseur, there's a lot into which you can delve, recollecting over your youth. For the novice, there are quite a few films of which you've likely never heard, and a definite starting point for obscurities over which to obsess and search. Samples of some of VHS Video Cover Art's images, including the Black Roses cover pictured about, can be found at the book's website. You can also read an excellently in-depth interview with Graham Humphreys over at Film On Paper, which goes into great detail about his video cover art, as well as the rest of his career. VHS Video Cover Art isn't out until May 28, but you can pre-order it from Amazon by clicking here.

Celebrity Art Party with Krysztof Nemeth

Celebrity Art Party is a semi-occurring feature, wherein the artists we enjoy interpret their favorite song. This installment features Krysztof Nemeth. Anyone else think it's weird that both installments of Celebrity Art Party have been by people in bands? I find that odd. Anyhow, Nemeth is guitarist for the noir rockers the Latenight Callers, as well as a very excellent pinup artist in his own right, so it was natural that he was one of the people we reached out to for this (very) occasional series. Krysztof Nemeth - The Cure 'A Forest' web Song title: "A Forest" Artist: The Cure Version of song (live, album, remix, etc.): Regular album version from Seventeen Seconds [embed][/embed] Why this song? It's sort of the perfect late night driving song... When did you first hear it? 14, probably ... as a budding young goth kid in Southern California. How does music such as this inspire you in your work? As far as my artwork, The Cure is great to have playing in the background while I'm drawing. As far as my music, it was instrumental in helping me become the musician I am, today. How has this song changed for you since you first heard it? As a song to listen to, it still holds up! I play this song live in Magnfuckingnificent, KC's The Cure cover band ... so it's only changed in as much as what I can now contribute to it as a live song. I suppose that means that I can give it a regular go out in public where others can appreciate it as well! What upcoming projects do you have? I continue to explore the world of pin-up art as the definition continues to evolve, and I continue to explore the world of dark storytelling in my full-time band The Latenight Callers. You can find out more information on Nemeth's artwork at the Pin-Up Art of Krysztof Nemeth, and on the music he makes via the Latenight Callers' Facebook page..

Celebrity Art Party with Rob Gillaspie

Celebrity Art Party is a semi-occurring feature, wherein the artists we enjoy interpret their favorite song. The first-ever installment features the one and only Rob Gillaspie, aka Scary Manilow. Gillaspie has fronted innumerable Lawrence bands: the Donkey Show, the Spook Lights, Pale Hearts, and Witch Jail, amongst others. He's also a writer, director, actor, and artist. He's a cat with many interests and many talents, which is why we were really curious as to what he'd select to interpret for Celebrity Art Party. Rob Gillaspie - Roy Orbison 'Crying' web Song title: "Crying" Artist: Roy Orbison Version of song (live, album, remix, etc.): Any version, but there's a live clip of him performing it in '67, not long after his wife Claudette was killed, that ESPECIALLY brings on the titular waterworks. [embed][/embed] When did you first hear it? I first heard it when I was realllly little -- maybe 5 or 6? -- at my grandfather's house. he had a bunch of country albums from the 50's and 60's. Most of them drove me nuts, but there was some definite overlap into early rock and croony stuff that struck a chord with me back then. CRYING was the first song I ever heard that made me actually, physically sad when I heard it. And I LOVED it, I wanted to hear his voice everywhere. I honestly thought it was a woman singing when I first heard him, ha ha ha. How does music such as this inspire you in your work? I've always had a tremendous camp sensibility that I've tried to incorporate into my work. Even when I was a teenage punk, screaming in shitty hardcore bands, I'd do shit like come on stage in a dress, or write songs about old romance comics... As I've gotten older and more savvy with my influences, I've found myself embracing the roots of that camp sensibility more and more. Old soap operas, lots of tragic, overwrought vocal groups. Roy was definitely a large factor in shaping that for me. How has this song changed for you since you first heard it? When I first heard "Crying," I was aware that it was coming from a place that I wasn't acquainted with yet, that crybaby side that everyone indulges in when they hit their early teens. Now I'm an old fart that appreciates it more in the context of the time it was written, where it fits in my own personal tapestry of influences, and what an iconoclast Roy was. A guy like him would NEVER have made it in today's market. He'd be getting beer cans thrown at him on the Replay patio or something. What upcoming projects do you have? A little of everything. My wife Emily and I have a surf-punk band called Witch Jail that will hopefully be ready to play again soon. We're also working on a recording-only project called Frankie Razer & the Wristcutters, which will be more 60's teen-tragedy and mopey lounge tunes than you can wring a hanky at. We're working on a series of shorts called Teen Troubles that are adapted from the pages of old Charlton heartbreak comics. I'm writing a detective novel about wig addiction and psychic cats. Something about a dumpster diver in love with a killer slime he finds in an old Walkman. Something else that I don't even want to talk about because I'm worried I won't ever finish it. I'm the busiest guy in KC right now, and nobody knows my name! In addition to all the stuff listed above, Gillapsie can be found by the lucky as faux-Lux Interior in the Cramps tribute band, Stay Sick.