Secret Meeting Notes @ Urban Xchange

during our secret meeting we discussed…
  1. agreed that this Friday will be best to attend Buddy Holly play at TLT. some will be gathering to eat before the show, others will be meeting up at TLT right before the show.  Agreed that we will all wear fez.
  2. New pledge Michael ( )  has paid his $70 dollar membership fee. We have assigned him a size 7 fez from the box of props for him to attend the TLT show.  Be prepared for official initiation ceremony next OPEN SWIM. In the meantime please check out his website… the dude is like Leonardo da Vinci. Amazing.
  3. Elliot reaffirmed his idea of tacoma needing a CARTOONIST LAUREATE to compliment the POET LAUREATE program. Idea still needs development. How will Cartoonist Laureate interact with the community?
  4. talked of taking over all COMICS on creating tacoma’s first online-bottom up-anarchy-newspaper comics page in Tacoma as most of us already produce (semi)weekly strips.  RR will follow up with Kevin to see the best way to go about this…  could be as easy as collecting a bunch of RSS feeds together and the cartoonist adding a keyword tag like ‘tacoma’ to their respective blog/webcomic whathaveyou.  Need to check with Mark Monlux though to get his thoughts how he feels about this. My personal thoughts are in an age when traditional newspapers are shrinking their comics pages, this could be a big F.U. to the universe–which makes me happy.
  5. [ANONYMOUS TACOMA ACTIVIST] stopped in to share feelings that Tacoma is really hurting for an alternative/underground publication zine that young people would be interested in. Something with lots of comics and a place where alternative music venues can share events.  Perhaps side 2 of CLAW zine?  [ANONYMOUS] expressed that local biz get zip in return for expensive ads in [TITLE(s) REDACTED]…   shared a flier that Sean Alexander (previously of helm gallery) put together where he illustrated all advertising.  Maybe biz could pay cartoonists to illustrate ad in zine…?  Who knows exact details..  But  [ANONYMOUS] wanted to bring to our attention as creative creator types developing a publication that there is a niche market right here in Tacoma that is dying to be tapped into.  to recap:  young people with money aren’t reading local publications because all lame.  Biz owners don’t want to buy ads in publications that young people with money aren’t going to read.  ???
  6. report on back room of Urban Xchange as meeting place for CLAW:  owner is super nice, back  room sexy but hot, fez gets sweaty. unsatisfactory table space for drawing.   Next steps?  Check status of Mandolin?  Stowe: Check with Comic Book Ink,  tables in back might be good for open swim.  Anyone check comments here?
    looks like a member of the pythian knights lodge invited us to have meetings at pythian temple downtown.  Maybe somebody can follow up with him?
  7. Talk of end of the year CLAW awards dinner. Naturally we would need to consume food that had claws..the lobster for example.  We all painted visuals of such an evening with the wacom stylus of the imagination.

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A Conversation with Derek M Ballard, Eros Cartoon Master


We came across the works of Derek M Ballard on a flickr stream an age ago. Possibly some of the most provocative erotic/underground zine work we’ve ever seen.  According to his myspace page his heroes are listed ” SHE-RA, HE-MAN, THUNDARR, JAYCE AND THE WHEELED WARRIORS…y’know, motherf**kers who don’t put up with bullshit.” The CLAW was lucky enough to catch up with Mr. Ballard for this brief and haunting interview.  Enjoy!

CLAW: Describe your methods of art production?  Do you use a wacom tablet directly in Photoshop? Or do you sketch then pen+ink first?

DMB: Usually, I have no idea what I’m trying to do. I start out by just drawing lots of random shapes with pencil. From there I can assemble the shapes into different things on my light table, and trace them onto vellum for inking. Once I’m done, I scan the images into Photoshop, clean up, and color.
I’ve never actually used a wacom before. It’s funny, a lot of people think I do. I wouldn’t even know how to begin.


CLAW: One of the striking things about your work is your I would describe as cubist-exaggerated characters & environments… is this style tied to any philosophical agenda?  Is there a better way to describe your signature cartooning style? (I think your art is ultra-awesome)

DMB: As a teenager I was a big fan of Thomas Hart Benton, Egon Schiele, and Max Beckmann. I was really into German expressionism in film, too. So, that stuff probably shows up a lot in my work.

As far as a philosophical agenda, I would rather not go into it too much and sound pretentious. I like to leave things open for each person’s own interpretation. I will say there’s a lot sub-level of stuff going on, lots of layers, and an intentional calculated placement of subjects, but I’m sure doesn’t come through for anyone but myself.


CLAW: A colleague once told me that the worst clients were church groups and tv stations. Tell our readers about your experiences with the adult entertainment publications…  Is this a niche market worth pursuing?

DMB: Working with adult publications was just about the best job ever. SCREW in particular was an amazing mag. I’m always surprised you don’t hear it mentioned more often. Fantagraphic’s EROS line paid well, too.  Unfortunately, the internet killed the demand for printed masturbation material and ads for hookers.

It’s good work if you can get it. I think Hustler Humor might still publish, and they have decent page rates.
I was fortunate enough to catch the last bit of the cartoonist’s gravy train for the better part of the last century that was porno mags. Life goes on I guess.


CLAW: Tell us about your zine projects.  Do you find zines to be the best choice to communicate with cult followers?

DMB: The dirty, DIY small press stuff is way more fulfilling to me. Plus, it’s really satisfying to put out work on a regular basis. Mini-comics and zines are the best option I have right now to serialize my work.
I enjoy everything about zines and mini-comics anyway. That’s where my interests lie. They just feel more real, more exciting, and more fun.


You can find all the coolest drawing in zines, and I LOVE drawing. If you look at all the zines I’ve been in you can see that they’re full of people who really enjoy it as well.
Nobody’s paying anyway, so why not do the cool stuff?
I’m just sayin’.


CLAW: Any other advice you’d like to share with our members and other aspiring cartoonists?

Be happy.
Work a lot.
Do your own thing.
Make good decisions.
Use your time wisely.
Use your time wisely.
Use your time wisely.
Use your time wisely.
Be radical always.

CLAW: Citizens! The adventure doesn’t have to stop here. Keep up to speed with Mr. Ballard’s adventures via Myspace and Flickr


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A Conversation with Underground Cartoonist Tim Kreider


Tim Kreider* was born and educated in Baltimore, Maryland. His cartoon, The Pain – When Will It End?, has run in the Baltimore City Paper since 1997 and has also appeared in the Jackson Planet Weekly, The New York Press, The Stranger, and Philadelphia Weekly. Fantagraphics Books has published two collections of his cartoons, The Pain–When Will It End? (2004) and Why Do They Kill Me? (2005), and he was included in Ted Rall’s anthology Attitude 2: The New Subversive Alternative Cartoonists (2004). His essays have appeared in The New York Times, Film Quarterly, The Comics Journal, Jump Cut, and Lip.  He divides his time between New York City and an undisclosed location on the Chesapeake Bay. *official bio text

C.L.A.W.  was intensely pleased to sit down with Tim Kreider to talk with  him about his glorious craft.

C.L.A.W. How do you make your cartoons? Do you pencil then ink/scan or do you draw them into photoshop with a wacom tablet?

T.K. I draw with pens on pieces of paper and then scan them in at unnecessarily high resolution. Wacom tablets are very handy for jiffying up mistakes in Photoshop, but I imagine it would be about as easy to draw a fine, controlled, expressive line with one as with a wood-burner or a garden hose.


C.L.A.W. Have any of your cartoons been censored and does it hurt your feelings?

T.K. I can only think of two times that the City Paper refused to run cartoons of mine. One was the “New Design for the World Trade Center,” which I sent them the week after 9/11. This was actually an uncharacteristically affirmative, boosterish cartoon for me, and not that dissimilar to the photoshopped image of the rebuilt WTC giving the world the finger that circulated on the internet around that time. But the publisher’s feeling–not my editor’s–was that any representation of the World Trade Centers at that time would be inappropriate. His actual words, which I have not forgotten, were that it “would jeopardize our standing in the community.” I was like, Jeez Louise. Nevertheless they ran the same cartoon a week later, after everyone had started to return to sanity. I wasn’t pleased at the time, but I can’t say I was all that hurt or indignant, either. I had more important things on my mind and it was a very weird week–people reacted in all kinds of strange ways and I’m sure everyone was trying to do what what felt right at the time, whether it was volunteering for the Red Cross in Manhattan or censoring cartoons or hiding at airbases in Louisiana.
The other cartoon was “Me, the Freeloadin’ Negro,” which I sent them a week after some other cartoon, which wasn’t actually about race, had inadvertently caused outrage in the letters pages among some African-American readers. Again, the issue was mostly timing.
Come to think of it they never ran “Graveyard Shift at the Pussy Juice Factory,” either, but this is a drawing I would expect no respectable publication ever to run anywhere in the civilized world.


C.L.A.W. Does having an enemies list on your website increase loyalty of your fan base?

T.K. You would have to ask the fans. I don’t think anyone’s reading my cartoons week after week for fear of ending up on my bad side, if that’s what you’re getting at. In truth it’s been a long time since I’ve even looked at the Enemies List–doubtless it’s in need of updating. It did my vindictive heart a lot of good to create it years ago, but now that I am middle-aged  I’m trying to become a less rancorous person before I end up a bitter little old man and I think, from time to time, of eliminating it. I would advise everybody to make up an enemies list for fun and then tear it up.

tim4C.L.A.W. How do you know when a cartoon is a hit?  What are the indicators?

T.K. My only real indication is the number and enthusiasm of emails and letters I receive in response. Of course it’s possible this is an indicator not of a cartoon’s popularity but of its provocativeness. Some of them just provide more fodder for discussion than others. Webmaster Dave keeps a list of the all-time most popular cartoons but I myself don’t know how to measure this. It’s sometimes a mystery to me why people like the cartoons they do–the same way, I’m sure, it’s a mystery to a comedian when one of his lines becomes a national catch-phrase. The most popular of my cartoons don’t necessarily correlate to the ones I think are the best. Sometimes, I’m sure, people like them because of superficial or random reasons. As with any kind of art, all you can do is throw it out there and hope it’ll resonate with somebody.


C.L.A.W. What are elements that you look for in a provocative freethinking cartoon/comic?

T.K. I’m not sure whether you’re talking about my own comics or other people’s, but perhaps my answer is the same in either case. I don’t usually try to reverse-engineer a cartoon that’ll illustrate an abstract idea or argument when I draw; I just try to think up funny things. Similarly, I don’t have any criteria for cartoons that I seek out or like; all I want is not to be bored. I have to confess I don’t have much interest in comics per se and don’t read that many of them. Obviously I like cartoons that are intelligent, artful, and preferably hilarious. I think the best political cartoonists from the last dismal eight years have been Steve Bell and Ruben Bolling. (But bear in mind that I haven’t read two Doonesburys in a row since the Vietnam War ended and I never even bother to look at any daily newspaper editorial cartoons, so it’s not like I know what I’m talking about.) The only one of my colleagues’ work I check in on on a weekly basis is Emily Flake. I would say that Emily and I share what you might call a Baltimorean sensibility (a city where she and I have both spent significant parts of our lives): a certain preoccupation with the sordid and the unwise–with drunkenness, ill-advised sex, poor work habits–and what Frederic Raphael, in speaking of Stanley Kubrick, described as “an amused pessimism at the notion that people are capable of change.”  [not 100% certain of the accuracy of this quote]

C.L.A.W. Thanks Mr. Kreider, god bless!

T.K. You are welcome; we will see.

Extra  Credit Reading – That’s Not Funny: Rage, Laughter, and Political Cartooning After 9/11

Mr. Kreider’s book Why Do They Kill Me? can be purchased locally through Fantagraphics Books.

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