Thursday, May 31, 2012

Continued work in progress --

two months ago i blogged about a painting i had begun and since that time i've continued working on it on odds days off or when time allows. hopefully the summer will afford me greater opportunities to work on my art. to date i have three paintings uncompleted. i would like to see at least two finished before the end of august.

"Buddha Glam" work in progress

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A weekend away

Steven, Joseph, and Troia 2012
my partner and i were recently able to get away for a long weekend on an impromptu trip to provincetown, massachusetts with our dog, troia. as the school semester wraps up for me and holla plugs away as an advertising exec. we both needed a change of scenery. with a forty-five minute bike ride and twenty minute hike through the dunes outside town, we found the perfect secluded spot on a quiet beach away from the usual tourist traps. it was incredible and just what we needed. holla and i also made new friends as we do on every trip and it made the weekend all the more worthwhile.

I am happiest on a beach under a warm sun. 


A fascinating piece from my favorite Provincetown art center, the Bowersock Art Gallery.

My dog loves love, you can just see it in her eyes.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The many phases of Aquaman

Aquaman by Alan Davis, 2004

i could have titled this the many "faces" of aquaman, but rather i chose "phases" because with each new look for the protector of earth's oceans came a new purpose. i have been a long-time aquaman fan since i started reading my father's tattered copies of Adventure Comics from the seventies. something about a hero who could control sea life and explore such a vast undersea world always appealed to me. unfortunately i never completely stuck through each incarnation of arthur curry. while i enjoyed the '89 mini-series by keith giffen, robert loren flemming, and curt swan, for the most part, it wasn't until '94 i started following aquaman's adventures regularly. up till then aquaman had been crowned king of poseidonis (the capital city of sunken atlantis), lost his crown, branded a traitor, cleared his name and became king again, but gave up the throne, and became ambassador of atlantis. all the while aquaman continued to be atlantis' hero and savior. aquaman also endured the loss of his infant son and abandonment of his mentally ill wife (who was the reason he abdicated his role as leader to the justice league). possibly the most startling change to the hero came with a new look and aggressive attitude when he lost his hand and replaced it with a cybernetic harpoon.

Aquaman by Martin Egeland, 1995
each new writer and artist seemed to take aquaman in a new direction or motivation and soon it seemed the sea king's history would continue to grow more and more convoluted. was aquaman a superhero steeped in science fiction or a king immersed in mythology? what writer peter david did in the mid-nineties series was wade through this history and reconstruct it in a clearer fashion. but not by retelling stories, rather building off of them and filling in gaps and holes that made it richer and more clear. david and writers after him reaffirmed aquaman's role as king of atlantis and superhero in the surface world. unfortunately aquaman would loose this again be given a new role in his life. after his apparent death and later resurrection (or something) thanks to his justice league teammates, arthur wound up being labeled a traitor to atlantis for a second time, and aquaman found himself an agent of the lady of the lake, from king arthur lore. oh and the harpoon was replaced with a magical hand of water.


flash forward to now, the slate has been wiped clean for aquaman and all of the other heroes of the dc universe.

thankfully writer geoff johns, with artists ivan reis and joe prado, have returned aquaman to a level of greatness he may not have seen since the '40s when he was first created or '60s when his cartoon was popular on airwaves across the country.  no longer is aquaman the adoptive son of a dolphin (did i forget to mention that?), but again the son of an atlantean queen and lighthouse keeper. arthur is looking for his place in both the surface and underwater worlds. aquaman has two hands and proudly wields a golden trident against any enemy foolish to face him and his army of aquatic aids. i'm also pleased that his long-time wife, mera, is no longer crazy and a stalwart supporter as his partner against crime. oh and the villains are cool, as in serious threats to aquaman's domain. johns is rebuilding, from the ground up, the history of aquaman and atlantis by using bits and pieces of past continuity as a foundation, much like peter david did in the mid-nineties. one can only hope this progression continues and the past does not completely  repeat itself. aquaman can be both superhero, husband, king, average joe, and environmental activist, but it takes the right creative and editorial team to get it right. as of the date of this posting, so far so good.

Aquaman is published monthly from DC Comics.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Saying goodbye to donna summer

Donna Summer, 1948-2012
i couldn't believe how difficult the news of icon donna summer's death took me when it was announced yesterday. i felt as though i had lost an old friend who i hadn't spoken to in awhile. just a few weeks ago i had spent an entire saturday listening to my donna summer record collection that my mother had bestowed upon me some years ago. i have every original record, even the unnoticed (to me) classics from the late eighties and Mistaken Identity from '91. a fond memory i have of my seven year old self is relentlessly begging my mom to put on the 7" I Feel Love record so we could dance around the house singing at the top of our lungs. the power of summer's voice, song writing, and theatrical performing is unparallelled.  throughout the day i found myself attempting to pull myself together, at times failing completely. few people will ever really understand the magic of donna summer and that will forever confound me. i was, however, pleased that my friend, blogger, and fellow music aficionado, quentin harrison, wrote a touching eulogy to summers. as did world famous singer jody watley who wrote on her facebook wall,

Not simply "Disco" Donna Summer also ruled "Pop" Music radio and charts. Her double albums were/are unparalleled...concept albums, few did them better male or female in any genre - her releases for me were events. I couldn't wait to see the cover art, read the liner notes and listen to the music, much of which she helped write. I've been reflective today, will do a blog post to celebrate the fierceness that was and will always be Donna Summer.

in fact many, many artists like, mary j. blige, duran duran, bananarama, kylie minogue, kelly rowland, david guetta, chaka khan, and robyn, have been sharing their memories of donna summer and how she inspired their own music. my sincerest hope is that donna summer is smiling down from heaven feeling the love that we all share for her. 

read the QH Blend's blog, Donna Summer: Black Gypsy Extraordinaire

Friday, May 11, 2012

Album review: "Ultra Violet", Bananarama

since realizing it's the 30th anniversary of girl group, bananarama, i've been relentlessly playing my collection of 'nana albums. each one with its own set of memories of days from my youth. Ultra Violet is no different and by far holds some of the more interesting stories of my life, but those best kept to myself and the friends involved.

i actually came across Ultra Violet by accident in Montreal, years after it was released in 1996. i would later find out that this record produced three singles, every shade of blue, take me to your heart, and i found love. a few of the songs are dated, conceived from the eurodance sound that was sweeping through popular music of the mid-90s. nonetheless these are good songs. rather, i find it frustrating that both keren woodward and sara dallin of bananarama are not more recognized as strong song writers. bananarama is credited with writing all twelve songs on the album. take me to your heart, take me away, and maybe the next time are especially poignant (and at some moments, sexy) ballads that balance out the heavy dance theme of Ultra Violet. songs like system and you've really got something hold well today, but my favorite is, don't stop me now, an empowering anthem made especially for the dance floor in the same vein as gloria gaynor's, i will survive, and cher's, believe. Ultra Violet is an absolutely enjoyable album with a further step from bananarama's pop roots and competent move into the world of dance.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

I'm voting for Barack Obama!

UPDATE: May 9, 2012 President Obama became the first President of the United States to say he was for same-sex marriage. A historical event and a victory for GLBT activists. Obama had my vote before this, but it's secured indefinitely and hopefully more by thousands of fellow Americans.

New music

i'm always looking out for new music, even old music that i may not have heard or taken long enough notice when i was younger. here are a few random songs i have running regularly on any playlist.

let it go - dragonette, 2012

forever - medina, 2012

only your love - bananarama, 1990

hold you tight - tara kemp, 1991

payphone - maroon 5 ft wiz khalifa, 2012

do ya - vesta williams, 1991

somebody that i used to know - gotye ft kimbra, 2011

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

My favorite Avengers lineup

The 2nd comic book I ever bought with my hard earned allowance. I was eight.

With the new marvel entertainment film The Avengers about to be released this weekend, i can't help but admit my excitement. truth be known, while i have been collecting comic books for over twenty years, most of which i used reading the avengers comic books, the movie doesn't star one of my favorite lineup of superheroes. you see every few months the team would change and it became an event among fans. it started with my dad and his generation in the sixties and continues today. a friend and i were talking about our favorite members of the team and various events -- basically reliving my childhood as i remember where i was when i first read key moments of avengers history. we also talked about our favorite lineups. looking back, my favorite lineup always had my favorite avenger, the she-hulk, cousin to the world famous, incredible hulk.

regardless if she-hulk appears in the new movie or not, i'm pleased that filmmakers are finally catching up with comic books. when i was young, comic books were okay, but by no means "cool". i was one of the very few in my neighborhood who enjoyed getting lost in the marvel or dc universes. what's more, my dad was able to share something of his childhood with me, and our weekly visit to the comic book store was our regular bonding time. now as an artist i find this medium has had a direct influence on my work, as well as the lessons that i teach to my students. now i'm "cool" among my students because i know everything about the avengers, spider-man, the x-men, etc. what i'm grateful for is that i'm able to turn my love of superheroes into worthwhile projects that help keep students interested in reading, writing, drawing, and more. 

She-Hulk joins the Avengers for the 1st time! She would be a regular member throughout the '80s, known for her strength, beauty, and sense of humor. 

Interior panel: She-Hulk trumps the bad guy! 

Random comic book panel of the month

Wonder Woman #294, Gene Colan, 1982