The Corner of Some Foreign Field

Yeah, wow. The updates, they were going along well for some time, weren't they? And then — it's November and last post was our anniversary and hey look a comic I lettered is posted to read for free:

I've collaborated with writer Martin Hayes on a few comics now, I always enjoy working with him; his Gentlemen Ghouls with artist Alfie Gallagher was one of my favoritest lettering projects ever. When they approached me with a weird folk horror short, I didn't even think twice.

It's beautiful, subtle, haunting. For reals, it was as I was wrapping up and searched the opening caption to make sure the spelling was right that I learned the backstory, which only makes it all better.


14th: Network Hardware

Tuesday's internet upgrade went … not exactly according to plan. The (no-going-back) switch was flipped, and the modem we were told would work didn't.



Talking With Mr. Fleming

I was partnered with teacher Tyler Fleming a few years back when I volunteered in Citizen Schools' "citizen teacher" program. I just did the one semester, teaching comics making as part of the extended learning day, but it's safe to say that working with him was pretty much my teacher training.

Tyler was enthusiastic, inspiring, committed to helping students realize their potential — and as he's continued his teaching career, has only become moreso. At his Movement Hive, he's documenting his experiences and talking with others about theirs, teaching and learning. We'd got back in touch recently, as Tyler's starting a new job and designing a new curriculum for what sounds like a phys ed class like no other, and he invited me on his podcast.

Our conversation's posted here, both audio-only and video, about 45 minutes long. We talked about the power of storytelling and narrative, teaching something physical in an increasingly digital world, the importance of process, and more. Tyler's got a great take on education, happy we got to reconnect.


Drawing the Opera

Um, wow, over a week ago on a beautiful Thursday evening, we went to the dress rehearsal for Vanessa at Santa Fe Opera. Of course, one simply must tailgate.

Members of 7000 BC were invited to draw the performance as a part of their "opera meets art" initiative. Was in the back of my head, but luckily Jeff remembered in time for the last rehearsal and arranged it all. Turned out to be a great choice — Vanessa is generally described as being heavily influenced by Seven Gothic Tales, but this production was more film noir-influenced. A minimal set, limited color palette, evocative lighting design made it really visual.

We had great seats, space to spread out. Rehearsal made an even more relaxed, casual atmosphere. The setting itself, of course, is just amazing.

Jeff was there, ran into an Albuquerque-based artist he knew, and Israel joined us with a giant drawing pad. Even I filled a few pages with gesture drawings and notes.

Turned out be an amazing way to experience the opera. In, say, the same way that taking notes at a lecture focuses your attention, I think I wound up concentrating more on the performance. Hopefully again next season.


At the Feeder

The hummingbird feeder sat empty too long, so filled it up last Sunday. By Tuesday, it was empty — that's about 1 cup of nectar. Filled it up again.

For most of Wednesday, this ruby-throated was trying to trying to chase everyone else off.

Stupid auto-focus.


Spies; More Baseball

Went on the Spy Tour of Santa Fe, part of the Los Alamos ScienceFest (warning: autoplaying video).

It was just a short stroll — and that was kind of one of the points that the tour leader, Ellen Bradbury Reid, wanted to make — all the intrigue happened in the space of just a few blocks. All walking distance, because nobody involved really had access to a car, and they were all from out of town so had to meet at obvious landmarks.

Stopped a few of the key locations, heard some stories about how the spies — there were only three of them at the Manhattan Project, all spying for the Russians — worked their way into espionage, met with handlers, and were caught. KGB, FBI, military intelligence, spies and their handlers were all in Santa Fe and La Fonda was at the center of it all — and pretty much all of them wanted their pictures taken with the statue of Archbishop Lamy

There's some historical photos at the New Mexican article about the tour.


Back to Fort Marcy Ballpark in the evening for another Fuego game with some friends. There were a few tense moments, where it seemed the Fuego were coming back to close the lead in the final innings, but it wasn't nearly the excitement – or the happy ending — of our previous outing. A lovely evening outside, though, a good time.


Oh, and hung out with the designer of the NASA "worm" logo, NBD

Design Corps, the local organization of professional creatives, hosted Bruce Blackburn for one of its Coffee Talks. I know Bruce as the owner of Cheyenne's brother, but he recently got some publicity when a reprint of the classic NASA Standards Manual he worked on was a Kickstarter. Oh, yeah, I backed it.

The Corps' founders are neighbors of his, I'd brought up the idea of him talking, but it was really just a matter of time. So last Wednesday, about a dozen of us sat around with coffee and pastries to hear stories about how this landmark piece of visual communications came about. It was awesome.

So much of it was a product of its time, from the visual aesthetic to the new thinking about government communications. But at the same time, it's clear that a lot about the design business never changes. He was an entertaining speaker, full of sharp observations and commentary.

Yes, it's entirely possible that afterwards I went up to him like a fanboy to get my book signed.

Bram's On About Comics Again

I got to offer some thoughts on comics as a prelude to this Santa Fe Reporter article on local (and formerly local) creators.

Great to be drawn by the enormously talented Turner; I'd just received the images of that tintype photo shoot when Alex requested a reference photo. Next thing I know, there I am in fencing gear on the cover.



Pat's been doing some intensive experiments with tintype and was looking for more subjects to build his portfolio. He had some time open this morning before I went to fencing.

Pat was using strobes, so I had a comparatively short exposure. A few years back, Monica had the opportunity to have a tintype done by Will Wilson, it was the more traditional long exposure, probably around 30 seconds.

(Right is left, left is right; could've flipped these scans, but seemed most appropriate to leave them.)


Santa Fe Fuego

Finally went to see a Santa Fe Fuego game — it was state government employee appreciation night, which more than anything just gave us a date to remember that we wanted to go to a Fuego game.

Brought our sandwiches to the historic Fort Marcy Ballpark, found one of Monica's co-workers and settled in. A bit cloudy, a few raindrops spat on us, but meant it was a beautiful temperate night. Ideal for sitting and watching.

It was a great time. Small, small field meant that, oh maybe 25% of the solid hits were home runs. Granted, can't think of the last pro game I watched, but feel there was a lot more stealing, a lot more bases because of pitches into the dirt, and more (attempted) bunts. Things were moving. It was exciting. The last of three nights against the Trinidad Triggers and the Fuego had lost the first two. But going into the 5th, they were up something like 16-5. Which you'd think would mean an easy end to the evening.

Nope. 'Round about 10:15, it was the top of the 9th. The Triggers were up to 15. With two men on base and two outs, the count went to full … and the batter walked. The next batter went to a full count, too. Edge of the seat waiting to see that last strike called.

Our ticket numbers were 59 and 60. It was tough to believe there were that many people in the stands. But they were vocal, loyal. They knew names, they shouted encouragement, they chanted, they passed a hat when the Fuego hit a home run; we might not want to mention, but they jeered the ump (who … I mean … seriously, that was a ball?).

Yeah. A good summer night, unplugged. Our team won.

Further reading:

  • A Pecos League pitcher's story of the 2014 season at New Mexico Magazine.

  • How the Fuego came to Santa Fe from The Santa Fe Reporter.

  • 6.04.2016

    Lynda Barry at The Lensic

    Last Tuesday, we got to see cartoonist Lynda Barry speak at The Lensic, part of the ongoing free lecture series presented by Santa Fe Institute.

    Turns out, the now-president of SFI was the one who hired her to teach at Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery; her book Syllabus comes from her experiences there, and I drew heavily on it when I was designing my advanced comics-making class.

    She spoke for about 90 minutes, energetic and funny even after a day leading a workshop at SFI. She's doing some big thinking about image and creativity, her presentation covered some of the things she covered in Syllabus and ranged even further before concluding with a party trick. Inspiring and insightful.


    The Lowriders of Summer

    Friday was the big public opening of Con CariƱo at the New Mexico Museum of Art, an exhibit Monica's been working on that's part of "Lowrider Summer," which also encompasses the New Mexico History Museum.

    The highlight — for me, at least — was an appearance by Rose B. Simpson's Maria, which I first heard about at her Creative Mornings talk a couple weeks back. One of my former students had work at the Strangers Collective opening, so I missed her arrival. But:

    So. Sweet.

    And today was the big Lowrider Day on the Plaza (so declared by the mayor). Biked downtown to catch the end of the procession — and speaking of the mayor, right there:

    Walked around as they circled and found their parking, some showing off their hydraulics in the last corner.

    Spent the rest of the afternoon, walking around, checking the cars. As well as the bikes at Museum of Art.

    Stuck around for a few minutes of the hopping before having to head back. Had to prep the final print files for a comic I've been lettering and designing for the past few months.

    One of these two is my favorite, I think.


    Andy Returns, With the Feltuses

    Andy and Liz were back through town with the girls, at the end of a trip through the southwest. Arrived Wednesday after Bandelier and Los Alamos, we hung out at home* and caught up.

    Thursday was breakfast downtown, a little walking around the Plaza to point out the highlights, and then off to Tent Rocks. Probably the busiest I've seen it — vacation on out East, though ours was weeks ago — had it pretty crowded on the way up, though most of it seemed to be a local school trip. Nice at the top (above) and on the way back down. Leisurely pace has us out for about two-and-a-half hours. The good folks at La Choza were able to accommodate Josie's new sopapilla obsession, with the both the stuffed and side variety. Soaked out the aches at Ten Thousand Waves.

    Friday, late start and early lunch including more sopapillas, then The House of Eternal Return.

    Long (long-) time readers might remember Santa Fe art collective Meow Wolf's project, The Due Return. This new permanent installation, in an old bowling alley and now anchoring a new arts district is kind of a conceptual sequel, in that it's a narrative that unfolds through exploration and interpretation. I know a few of the writers on it, was following some of it coming together, but didn't know it would premier to such attention. I'd heard good things from the right people, knew enough to set the stage so we had some fun not describing it to the kids, and just going.

    And it was a great time. For everyone I think, and in unexpected ways. There's a kinetic fun to just climbing and exploring and poking around (literally and figuratively). But there's a (heartbreaking) storyline in there, told through everything from video to newspapers, ephemera and, even the setting**. I found myself having more fun exploring than piecing together, but got what I thought was going on, only to hear different interpretations over dinner. Clearly will reward repeated visits.

    A few, I was trying to get everyone experiencing it (Josie's calling the phone number that recurred throughout as part of the story), but much better photos of the installation itself in that Times article.

    * From the next night, but Wednesday they were still getting be buddies.
    ** That's the encyclopedia set we had when I was growing up. Still looking for the accompanying folklore/mythology collections.


    Hopefully, This Was It

    Dog's had a rough winter (no SHWs), muscle strain and infection. And since the beginning of January, something about her front left leg that had her limping. Thought it was another strain, then a cracked toenail; latest vet visit had the doctor spend an hour rooting around to remove that little piece of quartz or glass from her toe, so hoping that was it all along.


    Back To School

    Well, in two days. But some big preparations, the first time I'll be teaching an advanced class.


    Bram Talks Comics, As If He Ever Stops

    Got to speak with Albuquerque's alt-newsweekly The Alibi about 7000 BC, but it moved on to my thoughts about what makes comics unique, and some of my favorite stuff going on in the medium today.


    January 3, 2003

    Steffen sent an email today with this photo from his and Emi's wedding in Oaxaca, today in 2003:


    The View From This Year's New Year's

    As usual, it was an evening in, by the fire, snacky dinner, reading.

    One more, because Dog Pictures!