Friday, July 31, 2009


your phone cares about you! from

Saul Bass: The Man with the Golden Arm Redux

Following up on Mark's suggestion in the earlier post, here is a "transcription" of Bass's titles into comics form, based on screen caps.

I cheated a bit with panels 13 and 14, because there are only 13 "stable" states in the title sequence, and 13 panels do not fit nicely into a grid. So I assigned the stable states to panels 1-12 and 15, and for 13 and 14 I used "in-betweens. " Still, I think it works nicely. A longer strip could be done using many more of the in-betweens.

Edit: now that I look at it, it kind of reminds me of the I-Ching. Just look at that eighth (and central, though not consciously intended as such) panel.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Abstract 8 series 2 remix

Abstract 8 remix. A friend of mine was really interested to see how the series 2 abstracts would look like with the panels rearranged in a more 'traditional' comics form.

Original below

Abstract 8

Saul Bass: The Man with the Golden Arm

Designer Saul Bass's wonderful abstract Film Titles for the movie The Man with the Golden Arm. The film was based on the book by Nelson Algren, still one of the greatest, yet most underappreciated American authors. Abstract Comics avant la lettre?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Contributors' copies!!

I got my shipment today. Anyone else get theirs? What do you think?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Please welcome new blog contributor Nina Roos!

I have mentioned and praised Nina's work in several previous posts. Nina has been introducing sequentiality into her abstract work for a while now (the earliest example I can find on her site is from October 2008) and, if I dare say so, discovering our blog seems to have brought new impetus to this trend in her work, which has yielded beautiful results in the last few months. Now Nina, who lives in Holland, tells me she is working toward gathering her sequential pieces into a comic-book, which I, for one, can hardly wait to see. If I had know of her work earlier, she would definitely have been included in the anthology. Nina's work will be featured, along with that of anthology contributors, in the exhibition "Silent Pictures" at the James Gallery, CUNY.


this is a comic from lumakick #1. i think i drew it in the summer of 2002, which is a little while ago. i titled it strand at the time but would probably call it something else now

Monday, July 27, 2009

Gavin the Grasshopper enjoys abstract comics

I was reading "Monkey Business" by Wallace Edwards to my son tonight, when I noticed something interesting on this page:

Look at one of the comics on the bottom left. Here is a detail, turned 90 degrees for your viewing enjoyment:

This is clearly a grasshopper with good taste--after all, right next to that abstract comic is an issue of "Waw," no doubt edited by Ant Spiegelman.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

In case anyone is interested...

... in what some of us have to say about art, rather than the art we make, our very own Geoff Grogan has a long post on art history and comics' place within it on the new blog started by him and Kevin Mutch, and I have found myself responding to it at length. It's about modernism and postmodernism and radical critique and all that fun stuff... and yes, a bit about abstract comics too.

a Massive Journey

I have been working recently on a large digital piece which is like a journey through a tremendous fantastical landscape. Below is an experiment with adding time/narrative into it--perhaps I will also try for color as a way to signal progression.


A bunch more variations on this piece are on my site Urban.Aesthete, but they are more in the design/digital painting vein.

Friday, July 24, 2009

speechless speakeasy

( i'm curious,
do y'all think this comic is abstract or beanworld? )

Thursday, July 23, 2009

odds & ends

comics on tv: on Australian television, there is a recent trend to use speech balloons & thought bubbles, in many ads & promotional clips. is this happening in other places?

Lynn Alexander's pieces at would work as abstract comics for some people. a few of them remind me a little of Andrei's backyard abstracts, & some by Marc Van Elburg which look like house plans with other bits superimposed.

Kris Bather wrote a marvelous review of my book noology, & is able to read it as an abstract comic!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


This was one of the earliest abstract comics I made that had some kind of narrative flow to it. It got some laughs too which I was really happy about when I was concerned that abstract comics could all end up being too formal. 

I made it in 2004, right after Andrei first mentioned the idea of editing an abstract comics anthology. I have a good feeling something like that just might happen someday...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Anthology is out!!!!

Well, maybe not in stores yet, but if you go to the San Diego Comic Con, you can buy yourself a copy!

BTW--this means contributors' copies are on their way! Unless you never sent me your address, or didn't update it if you moved recently. So, if that last sentence applies to you, contact me asap.

Abstract comics by G#ROM

I've been browsing through the webcomics site Grandpapier, and I just found the comic/series "384" by someone called G#ROM. The pages are all filled with dozens of tiny panels. Some of them are fragmented representational imagery, but the sheer volume of them starts to bleed out any real meaning, creating an abstract pattern. Some of the pages (2 and 4) are more purely abstract comics (page 4 is rather reminiscent of some of Andrei's work).

The same artist's "Recadrage" (reframing) is also an abstract comic, which has a wonderful physical/material presence to it.

Friday, July 17, 2009

20-page PDF preview at the Fantagraphics Shop


And, umm, you can also buy the book from there too!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

"Unravelling Bolero"--the art of Anne Adams

Unravelling Bolero, 1994--a bar-by-bar representation of Ravel's Bolero

Anne Adams was a Canadian biologist-turned-artist who died in 2007. Her best-known piece, the "Bolero" above, I think fits well into our recent discussion of visual representations of graphic rhythms. It seems that her interest in this approach may actually have been awakened by the early stages of the brain disease that ultimately killed her. Here is how her case is described in New Scientist:

When Adams completed Unravelling Boléro in 1994, her brain was starting to be affected by a neurodegenerative condition called primary progressive aphasia. It later robbed Adams of speech, and eventually took her life.

In its early stages, however, the condition seemed to unleash a flowering of neural development in a brain area that integrated information from different senses. In part,
Unravelling Boléro may be a beautiful symptom of a terrible disease.

Here is how Unravelling Bolero is described in a piece in The New York Times:

Dr. Adams, who was also drawn to themes of repetition, painted one upright rectangular figure for each bar of “Bolero.” The figures are arranged in an orderly manner like the music, countered by a zigzag winding scheme, Dr. Miller said. The transformation of sound to visual form is clear and structured. Height corresponds to volume, shape to note quality and color to pitch. The colors remain unified until the surprise key change in bar 326 that is marked with a run of orange and pink figures that herald the conclusion.

Here's one more piece by her:

Migraine, 1998

Apparently, according to these articles, Ravel himself suffered of the same disease.

More information, and a gallery of more works, here.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Stop me before I tinker with it any further!

Underwhirl, final version (for now):

edited to add details, just because I like them:

Kurt Schwitters' Ursonate by Jack Ox

(Installation shot of the Fourth Movement of the Ursonate, photographed at the Contemporary Art Center in New Orleans, 2004.)

This is from a painted interpretation of Kurt Schwitters' sound poem The Ursonate (written 1922-32.)

The paintings were made in 1993 by Jack Ox for each of the sounds used in the poem, then chopped up to fit in the visual time that the sound should take. 

Click on this link for more images and information:

This link was sent to me by the amazing Jeff Benham (who is a contributor to my Snow Stories anthology.) His friend Kristen Loree has performed the sound poem while showing projections of the paintings. 

(and yes, Andrei, I do remember your talking Yam Seal comic "For Kurt Schwitters".)

A Kent Williams page from "Blood: A Tale"

This is the original art, pre-lettering. We often don't notice how much abstraction there is even in narrative comics--where it's made acceptable by an overlay of words:

Monday, July 13, 2009

book cover by Michael Cope

here's the cover of Michael's novel Spiral of Fire (Africasouth, 1987), painted by the author.

apparently, this is the only thing he's done in this particular style.

he's an author, poet, painter, karate instructor, jewellery maker & Father.

the painted graphic music scores at are also close to the realm of abstract comics.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Ditko's Abstract Comics

I saw this great post over at Blog Flume about the beautiful abstractions in Steve Ditko's comics. These panels are just begging to be remixed into a full abstract comic! (HT: Paul Hornschemeier)


Continuing the preceding...

And... the vocal version:

Thanks, Mike!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

After Whirlover

Drawn over the previous (which, as you'll remember, was itself drawn from Mike's "Whirlover"):

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Whirlover in 8 strokes

A free tracing of Mike's drawing. For each panel I did not lift up the pen.


This one I made last summer while sitting next to a cat who was fascinated by my quick, swirly brush moves and when I was done, turned over on her back, stretched, then curled up on top of my lap. I thought at the time, and still believe, that if we can find a way to market abstract comics to cats, we will have a very big hit. 

Monday, July 6, 2009

Graphic Novel Reporter write-up

I had missed this one--we're on the Graphic Novel Reporter's "hottest graphic novels for Summer 2009" list (nonfiction division):

Their brief write-up is pretty nice, too, and super blurb-worthy:

The first thing you'll notice is the awesome
cover by Jacob Covey. Then you'll wonder if
this is an art book, a book about comics, or
something else. It's something else.

Abstract Comics breaks the art of comics
storytelling down to its most basic unit, the
panel, and from there creates a visual
experience unlike any other. Pioneers of
the form are joined by some of the greats
from decades past and the present for a
magical, wonderful trip. Found art, drawn
art, whatever it happens to be,
Comics sheds new light on the prospect of
sequential art.

Updates: Action Yes, Growing Diaspora, etc.

I've been down with the flu for a while, so I've been rather remiss in posting here. But I'm better now, thanks!

First of all, I wanted to remind everybody of something that Tim already posted: the new issue of Action Yes has an extensive Abstract Comics session, including an article by Tim and a preview of the anthology. (They reprinted my definition of abstract comics from the introduction to the anthology as a prelude to the preview because Tim's definition, as outlined in his article, is somewhat wider than the one I used to put the anthology together).

They also feature two pieces by me, specifically formatted for the net. First, a click-through version of "Alcoholalia," my 2004 remix of a Maakies strip:

(Cover to the original 2004 mini shown)

and second, a panel-by-panel version of one of the pages from "24 x 24":

As to Growing Diaspora (TM) news, Tyler Stafford has posted some more abstract comics at his blog recently:

Robukka, one of our readers, has posted a comment recently reminding us that he has a great number of abstract strips based on music on his stripgenerator page:

and again, Nina Roos's new pieces are definitely worth seeing, but I'm not going to abuse her generosity by posting another one of her images here.

Other than that (and let me hear you say, "way to bury the lead, Molotiu!"), according to Fanta the street date for the anthology will be the 2nd or 3rd week of August.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

steel pole bath tub

i've always loved this strip,
it's from a comicbook
which came as an insert with
steel pole bath tub's
1990 album, "Lurch"
this comic drawn by

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Au hasard

I just found these on my hard drive--I had made them a while ago, when Alexey posted a link to that site that introduces random glitches into your jpegs.

Rube Goldberg vs. Ockham's Razor

In response to the Michael Farrell post below, here's a PDF of a minicomic I made a few months ago. Of particular interest is the last story, "Rube Golberg vs. Occam's Razor," where I rely on rhythm (the definition most post-McCloud formalists seem to agree upon is that comics are essentially rhythm engines) and words alone (and, I guess, the phenomenological data encoded in just drawing the letters and panel borders and such) to build the narrative. This is, maybe, the opposite of "abstract comics," but its aims are similar: exploring minimalism and formalism, structuring temporal space, trying to figure out where the line is between form and content, picture and word in this weird, composite medium. Hope you like it! Thanks to Mr. David Lasky's "The Raven" for inspiration!