Thursday, August 28, 2014

Sex, Lies & Digital Proofs

The image of The Madame that made the cover of Intimacy 101.  Photo Copyright 2014 by RES.



My wife didn’t see the cover of my 2013 prose collection of erotica, Intimacy 101: Rooms & Suites, until it was at the printer.  There was, to my mind, at least one good reason for that: the cover was a photo of her.

For the first two of the three years I wrote The Onlooker for the Nation newspaper in Barbados, she read every column before it went to my editor.  She was the only person to read the entire manuscript of my novel And Sometimes They Fly before I submitted it to my publisher, DC Books.  My wife hasn’t read everything I’ve written before it’s released to (or unleashed on) the world.  Since we’ve been together, she’s actually read a rather select percentage of my work.  A manager by training, “not a writer or anything like that,” she’d say, her artistic judgement is nonetheless very reliable.

I’d be a fool not to run the cover by her.  But I was unsure of her reaction.

My photo, her image

The cover is a photo I took of her at our front door, maybe circa 1998.  It’s late morning, and we’d just gotten out of bed.  She’s still wearing the black negligee I had bought her for a birthday or anniversary, and she’s tying up her hair before going out to the laundry room to put in a load of clothes.  There’s something about the light and her posture that makes her limbs look longer than they actually are; she’s a neat 5’2”. 

My camera happened to be nearby, a Kodak 35mm with basic zoom.  I took the shot, and, surprisingly, she didn’t complain: about her hair or dress or being ambushed in this way.

We were not long into our marriage then.  Years of comfort with your partner, however, can make a person unexpectedly self-conscious.  I thought my wife might veto my choice of the old photo as cover art for Intimacy 101.

“You didn’t ask me my permission,” she said, mock serious, when I finally showed her the digital proofs of the cover.

“It’s my photo,” I said.

“Eh-eh.  But it’s my picture,” she said before moving from the screen to clean the bathrooms.

Lucky man

When Barbadian filmmaker Russell Watson visited our house two years ago in October, he saw the photo.  He was over to interview me for a series of shorts on local writers he was producing for the National Cultural Foundation’s 2012 National Independence Festival of Creative Arts (NIFCA).  The cover photo rests quietly in the family room, in no fancy frame, on top one of my filing cabinets.  He was looking for a good place to shoot and asked to see—marched, actually, right intothat room. 

He stopped when the photo caught his eye, held it up.  “The Mrs,” I explained.  “I took it.  Many, many years ago.”

He nodded.  I realize now I don’t know what caught his eye, the light, the woman, what she was wearing.  But he said, “Lucky man,” and I nodded. 

There’s probably another reason I didn’t share with my wife my desire to use this photo of her as the cover for Intimacy 101, and this reason carried over even into my dealings with the book’s designer: as sexual as we are, most folks aren’t so comfortable with overt references to the erotic, much less to their own eroticism.

The nature of the thing

When I met with my book designer, Carissa Lee of Cleeative Design, to discuss the specs and content for the book, I told her, “There are certain stories, because they’re dealing with relationships, that are more graphic than others.  But you’re an adult.  You’ll get over it.”

I should mention Carissa is a former student of mine.  I taught her Research Methods at Barbados Community College in the Division of Fine Arts.  I oversaw the writing of her final-year illustrated research paper.  A talented graphic designer, she clearly had a natural understanding of book design.  She was my first choice for the job, if available.

All this Carissa knew—not really the exact nature of the thing, which I should have been more frank about.  Nor did I know, despite her reserve, that she was rather religious.  When finished the proofs, she wrote me in an email: “I do not feel comfortable with certain topics including witchcraft and immoral sexual behaviour and working on jobs that include this would go against what I believe as a Christian.  I had failed to get sufficient info on Intimacy 101 before agreeing to do it but I had already agreed and therefore kept my word.” 

Right thought, right action

The time for reticence on my part was clearly over.  “I respect your position,” I wrote back.  “Mind you, you should probably know that I am also a Christian—baptized, confirmed and married in the same little church in LaSalle, St Lawrence Anglican, which I still attend when back home in Canada—and I have a different view of what goes against the grain spiritually.

“Much—probably almost all—of my own writing, be it fiction or non-fiction, has had to do with family, relationships and notions of right thought and right action…issues dealing very much with the morality of our lives from, I must say, a decidedly Christian perspective.”

Carissa’s reply was heartening.   She’d not misread the spirit of my sentiments, always a possibility when sex, religion, art, or politics is involved: “I appreciate your comments and it is quite possible that with time and more experience I may view it from a different perspective.  At this point, however, I feel comfortable with the decision I have made and I thank you for your understanding.” 

After that, we got on with it.  Carissa proofread copy as well as worked on the graphics, and insisted she personally deal with the printer when readying the final proof for press “to ensure the job is done to your satisfaction.”  She was professional from start to finish, not that I’d actually expected anything less from her. 

Despite the ugliness in our world, there’s still plenty of room for Beauty and Truth.  I like to think both may be found in the particular spaces I explore.  As a writer, as an artist myself, I don’t pass judgement on others, no matter how uncompromising my critique of or curiosity about society.  My vocation, as I’ve embraced it, is to tell it like it is and like it ain’t.  To describe life as it is and life as it ought to be.  From cover to cover, and with grateful creative assist, Intimacy 101 along with my other work attempts to do this. 

  
   RES

· Robert is the critically acclaimed author of the NBM Amerotica titles Attractive Forces, Stray Moonbeams and Great Moves.  His other books include the novel And Sometimes They Fly; the story collections The Tree of Youth and Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall; and the memoir Sand for Snow: A Caribbean-Canadian Chronicle.

Intimacy 101: Rooms & Suites is available from the following bookstores: The Book Place (E: bookpl96@gmail.com); Days Books (daysbookstore.com); and UWI Bookshop (uwibookshop.com).





Thursday, July 31, 2014

Curtis Attacks — Page 26!

My apologies... Haven't posted in quite a while. Here is a look at page 26 from my upcoming graphic novel Peanut Butter Vol. 8

As usual, anyone interested in obtaining any of my original art check here at Naughty Bids. More to cum soon!
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Urban Jointz. The Home of The Diary of Molly Fredrickson:  Peanut Butter by Cornnell ClarkeErotic Art Top 100Jab Comics

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

From San Diego with love!


Now here's one satisfied She Hulk customer!!!
She just picked up a volume of Barbarian Chicks at our booth and visibly couldn't wait to uh... dig in.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Finally! Page 25!!!

Peanut Butter Vol. 8 p. 25
"White Girl Likes it ROUGH!" ~ Curtis 'Curly' Ríos

Here is a look at the complete page 25. Getting closer and closer to finishing Peanut Butter Vol. 8. I'm hoping to have some original art for the book available at this years San Diego Comic Con (we'll see). 

Anyway, overall a pretty good page although, there are some elements of which I'm not completely satisfied. One in particular is Molly Fredrickson's look. She looks awkward at times specifically in panel two but also overall. Hopefully I'll have the time to touch her up before publication. We'll see...

Don't forget to check out page 24. That will bring this page into context and hopefully help you to realize what's really going on here.

Additionally, for those of you interested in purchasing my original works of art, check here at Naughty Bids to do so. 

More to cum soon!

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Urban Jointz. The Home of The Diary of Molly Fredrickson:  Peanut Butter by Cornnell ClarkeErotic Art Top 100Jab Comics

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Rihanna: A Comic Proposal

                                                                            
                         

Just living her life: Rihanna in a sheer dress at the 2014 CFDA Fashion Awards at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center on June 2 in New York City.  Top Photo Copyright 2014 by Richie Buxo/Splash News.  Bottom Photo Copyright 2014 by [REX].   

Dear Rihanna,
May I call you RiRi?
I read something you said recently that got me to thinking again.  It was in the Quotes for Today section of the Sunday, June 8, edition of The Barbados Advocate.  The paper quoted you as saying, “I don’t do things for the response or for the controversy.  I just live my life.”  They listed you as a “Barbadian singer.”  Oh, but you’re so much more, even to their readership, than you let on, aren’t you?
To the point, then: I want to do your life.  But not just any life.  I want to do you in words and pictures.  I want to do a comic about you, RiRi.  But not just any comic.  I think this bio-epic should be told in some genre.  It should, naturally, be an erotic graphic novel.
Don’t scoff—or, more likely, steups your teeth.  Hear a fellow artist out.
I have been thinking for a while that your life needs a good biographical treatment.  Truthfully, I know a couple other Barbadian writers, keen and skilled, who’ve been thinking the same thing.  They’d fictionalize your life.  They’d write about you in verse.  I was the “serious” one; I wanted to write a “proper” prose non-fiction work.  A study of your rise to fame from humble island-girl beginnings, of your career, stellar popularity, and songs.  It’d be a literary book but, because of the topic, also a commercial book.
Then I read your 2011 Esquire interview (November issue), and I started to question the medium most fit to render your true likeness.  
The magazine voted you The Sexiest Woman Alive that year.  You were only 23.  The cover photo was an exclusive by Russell James, a moist-looking, moody shot of you in nothing but stiff, seaweed-like strands of Edenic vegetation.  And those much talked about tattoos.  Your painted nails were claws, your hazel eyes were feline.  Yes, the effects worked: you looked like a dangerous sex kitten.  On the cover.
Ross McCammon, who had clearly done his research on Barbados and you, wrote the feature.  At some point, he inevitably asked you about your concerts’ raciness.  Your reaction had the man flummoxed.  He had just seen you waiving your tail in your audience’s faces; he couldn’t believe what you were confessing to him.  This is how he tells it (the italics are, of course, yours):
The conversation turns to sex.  (Because it’s actually the most obvious subject in the world.)
At the end of a concert, I don’t feel like I’ve been this sexy thing.  Really, I don’t even think about it.
What?
Unless it’s a song that really calls for it, like “Skin” or “S&M,” or when I cover “Darling Nikki.”  There’s a section that’s called “Sex” in the show, which is the obvious section for sexuality.
There aren’t sexuality sections.  The whole show is sex.
The whole show is in sections.
No, I’m saying—
I know what you’re saying.
I’m refuting what you’re saying.
But what I’m saying is—
I saw the show.
What I’m saying is, that’s the only part that’s deliberate, you know?
Huh?
Yeah!
Huh.
Like, really?  Honestly, even if it comes across sexual—it has to be a part of my subconscious thought.  It’s never deliberate in the rest of the show.  I don’t even really…I could see “What’s My Name?”—the dancing is pretty sexy.  “Rude Boy.”  But I don’t know.  I guess people find different things sexy.
Huh.
I’m na├»ve; have been most of my life, I’ve come to realize, especially when it comes to relationships.  You may have been putting one over on Mr McCammon.  But the Advocate quote reminded me of your words from that Esquire interview.  Even if you were protesting too much, you had convinced me in that interview without even trying: the graphic novel, the erotic graphic novel, might succeed where all other media had failed to capture your sex appeal.
The why was fairly obvious: the provocative, the erotic, which is what so many have sought to comprehend about you, is really about subterfuge.  Put more crassly: it’s not the sex kittens who purr loudest when stroked behind closed doors…or on stage.  Nope.  It’s those who aren’t even trying to meow.  Those who, like you, are just going about their business, living their lives.
And what could be more life affirming than the erotic?
I don’t want to overstate my case, but a few selling points:
1)There are facets of your life a comic could show your fans that a film or book or play could not, because none of these would have the language to do so.
2)Graphic novels are very much the medium of the moment, yet they’ve been around for decades.  They also happen to be very much the medium of your generation, who gorge themselves on all things manga, anime, Marvel, DC, and Image.  In many ways, this is how that generation has already ingested the bits of your life in that digital stew called social media.  Its members already read, speak and dream of you in comics!
3)Celebrity graphic novels, erotic or not, are seldom done these days.  Erotic or not, there would be straight-to-movie potential—
I’ll say no more.
You may not do things for a public response, I get that.  That would be exhausting and not very savvy.  You’re a Bajan woman; I know you ain’t ’bout wasting energy or brain power.  But—and I could be wrong—I suspect all your music career, maybe all your life, long before you signed the contract that would distill, like sugar cane into a fine rum, Robyn Rihanna Fenty into Rihanna, you’ve been looking, yearning to make a statement worthy of a response, one that says something real about who you are, as an individual and as an artist.  A comic may be the way to do it.  The title of each chapter could be a title from one of your songs (Top 40 or not).  
Think about it, RiRi.  And let me know.
Nuff respect,
RES
· Robert is the critically acclaimed author of the NBM Amerotica titles Attractive Forces, Stray Moonbeams and Great Moves.  His other books include the novel And Sometimes They Fly; the story collections Intimacy 101: Rooms & Suites, The Tree of Youth and Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall; and the memoir Sand for Snow: A Caribbean-Canadian Chronicle.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Hi!

Here´s a copy of the illustration of Zoia used for cover of Sixth album of "Barbarian Chicks and demons". Uncensored version, watercolour.



You can see more samples of my work in "Erich Hartmann Comix", at Facebook.

Best,
Hartmann