New Disquietude podcast episode: music by Lesley Flanigan, Dave Seidel, KMRU, Celia Hollander, and John Hooper; interview with Flanigan; commentary; short essay on reading waveforms. • Disquiet.com F.A.Q.Key Tags: #saw2for33third, #field-recording, #classical, #juntoElsewhere: Twitter, SoundCloud, Instagram

Listening to art. Playing with audio. Sounding out technology. Composing in code. Rewinding the soundscape.

tag: comics

Personal Aesthetic Forensics

The labor of Labor Day

The physical and emotional labor of Labor Day. Typical Gen X housecleaning: replacing old long boxes with new ones, and neglecting to whittle whatsoever.

I was streaming videos of Mountain Man as I performed aesthetic forensics on my teens, 20s, and 30s. I generally listen to very little music with vocals, and yet I listen to Mountain Man all the time. Their harmonies kill me, and today’s activity, packed as it is with nostalgia, aligned with their music tonally.

I am a nut for anything by Tim Sale, Eddie Campbell, and Guy Davis. Challengers of the Unknown is one of my favorite formally playful superhero series. (And yes, “formally playful” is one of my favorite oxymorons.)

One more round, as I pack up the sixth of today’s long boxes: minis from Ellen Linder, Jason Shiga, and the late Dylan Williams.

I edited comics for a decade, and dipped into it a few more times in more recent years, and revisiting this material really brought me back to that work, which I always found incredibly rewarding.

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Peers and Friends Remember Justin Green

In The Comics Journal

John Kelly at The Comics Journal put together a great memorial to comics artist Justin Green, whose work I edited in Tower Records’ Pulse! magazine for many years.

Bookended with pieces by Carol Tyler, Justin’s wife, at the start and, at the end, Catlin Wulferdingen and Julia Green, his daughters, there are entries by Bill Griffith, Denis Kitchen, Kim Deitch, Robert Armstrong, Dan Clowes, Jim, Woodring, Ron Turner, Patrick Rosenkranz, Shary Flenniken, Drew Friedman, Dan Nadel, Paul Karasik, Seth, Mark Newgarden, Glenn Bray, Kayla E., Joe Matt, Glenn Head, Monte Beauchamp, George Hansen, Bruce Chrislip, Jon B. Cooke, Bruce Simon, James Romberger, Steve Powers, John Kinhart, Everett Rand, Robert Beerbohm, and John Paul.

Here is mine:

Justin Green lived in Sacramento when I did, in the early 1990s. As I write this, it’s been barely a month since he died. I still grieve for my friend who taught me about art and life, emphasis on the “and.” A folder filled with remnants of our collaboration provides some solace.

I’d moved from Brooklyn to California’s capital city in 1989, a year out of college, to take a job as an editor at Pulse!, Tower Records’ print magazine. After two years, I suggested to my fellow editors that we experiment with comics in the magazine. The first two artists I signed up were local. Having never edited comics before, I looked for people whom I could work with in person. This was late 1991. Email was rare, cell phones even more so. We spoke by landline, sent faxes, wrote letters, and met in midtown Sacramento cafes like Greta’s and the Weatherstone. The first of these artists was Adrian Tomine, who I knew lived in town because his mailing address appeared in his self-published Optic Nerve, one of numerous minicomics I was buying at the time. The second was Justin Green.

I was aware of Justin’s comics from the magazine Raw, the 1991 issue of which listed Sacramento as his location. I tracked him down, and thus began the longest-running comic that Pulse! published, for upwards of a decade. It’s comically—forgive the common pun—absurd that the first two artists I published in Pulse! were so talented, given that I actively, at the beginning, limited myself to locals. It’s also cosmically—pushing the pun further—intriguing that one of them had, decades earlier, produced an ur-text of autobiographical comics, and the other was among the youngest artists pursuing that line of creative activity. Arrangements were formalized at the end of 1991, and their initial Pulse! comics appeared in the first issues of 1992. Justin’s presence in the magazine no doubt helped as I built our roster of contributors, who in time came to include his wife, Carol Tyler.

There are a lot of things I could share about working with Justin at such length and regularity. I could talk about his love for glass ink nibs. Or about how he aggressively remade any scripts supplied by writers other than himself (I wrote a few), always for the better. Or about his painstaking use of multiple drafts to refine stories. Or about how the strips’ seemingly most surreal grace notes were often there from the first sketch (whimsy as linchpin). Or about how telling it was, to me, that this elder statesman of underground comics was always open to editorial input, while some far younger artists (not Adrian) flinched and bristled at editing, needing to be sensitively coaxed.

The thing I think is important to share in the context of The Comics Journal is how central financial matters were to Justin’s comics. He was, in the truest sense, a working artist. His art (in Pulse!, other commissions, sign painting) was defined by his need to make a living. It’s understood how Justin’s autobiographical work was informed by his religious upbringing. It’s just as important to understand how, in adulthood, practical matters determined and shaped his self-expression. One marvel among many of Justin’s comics is just how much of himself he brought to what was, always, the next job.

John included four piece of ephemera I shared with him, including two rough drafts and a two-page letter Justin sent me. Here’s one of the rough drafts:

Read the full collection of Green tributes here:

https://www.tcj.com/remembering-justin-green/

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Justin Green: First Contact

The start of a long collaboration

My old friend Justin Green died late last month. Obituaries have been appearing that begin to plumb the depths of his work, life, and influence: nytimes.com, chicagotribune.com, tcj.com, cbr.com, dailycartoonist.com. As I mentioned when the news broke of his passing, I was fortunate to live in the same town as him, Sacramento, California, in the early 1990s, which led to me editing a ton of comics that he produced for the pages of Tower Records’ Pulse! magazine. After I began to process the news of his death, I looked through an old file of documents from that period of time, and I found this copy I’d made of a letter I sent to him following our first phone conversation. Eventually he would decide to, rather than create a serial, produce a sequence of richly idiosyncratic and lovingly rendered biographies and anecdotes from musical history, which the publisher Last Gasp later collected in the book Musical Legends. The letter is from mid-November 1991. His first strip of many would appear in the March issue of Pulse! the following year.

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RIP, Justin Green (1945-2022)

A truly great American comics artist, and a dear friend

When we’re young, if we’re fortunate, terms like “heavy heart” and “heartbroken” are just that: language on the page, perhaps language overheard. As we age, those words take on meaning through experience. It is in that sense that I note the death of Justin Green, a great American comics creator, and also an old friend of mine.

Justin was one of the earliest comics memoirists, best known for his 1972 Binky Brown and the Holy Virgin Mary. I met him 20 years later, when I was a few years out of college. I’d moved to Sacramento, California, in 1989 to help edit the music magazine published by Tower Records, called Pulse!, and after a few years, I started to introduce comics that I edited. The first comic was by Adrian Tomine, still in high school at the time. His piece ran in the February 1992 issue of Pulse! It was the start of a monthly three-year collaboration that bridged him starting college at Berkeley.

The next issue, in March 1992, Justin Green debuted the first of what would end up being a decade straight of comics in the magazine. His first piece was about when Benny Goodman met Charlie Christian. He’d proceed over the years to tell stories about everybody from Leadbelly to Elvis Presley to Buddy Holly to Mezz Mezzrow. Like his friends and fellow cartoonists R. Crumb and Bob Armstrong, Justin favored old American music. This meant comics about John Philip Sousa, and Stephen Foster, and Fats Waller. Occasionally I could nudge him out of his comfort zone, especially when I wrote a piece for him, like the one I did about Philip Glass still driving a taxi cab after the premiere of Einstein on the Beach, or the one I did about an imaginary retirement home for old corporate mascots, as a means to tell a concise, not very serious story about the history of the 8-track cassette tape. These were later collected in a book, Musical Legends, published by Last Gasp. I left Pulse! in 1996, but continued to write and edit freelance for Tower. At some point after I left for San Francisco, where I still live, the talented editor Bill Forman began to also work with Justin on his comics. I continued to edit the Flipside comics that appeared on the last page of every issue. (These started with Peter Kuper in 1993 and ended with Jeff LeVine in 2002, the final issue of the magazine, for which I wrote the cover story, which was an interview with Missy Elliott. I’ve posted a semi-complete index of them.)

Like Adrian, Justin lived in Sacramento, which is where Tower was based. Technically Tower was in West Sacramento, but the original store was in Sacramento, and that’s where I lived. I first contacted both Justin and Adrian because they were local. This was before email was a norm, and back when fax machines were still a daily tool at the office. I wanted to work with local cartoonists, in order for us to be able to meet in person and go over the illustrations and shape the stories. I’d noticed Adrian lived in town because I saw his address in his self-published zine, Optic Nerve.

As for Justin, realizing he lived in town was a huge surprise. I had recently purchased the latest issue of Raw magazine. In each issue, on the table of contents, Raw listed the location of the various contributors. It was usually New York City, Paris, London — maybe Berkeley and Barcelona. And there in that issue, volume 2, number 3, was “Justin Green, Sacramento” — directly above Gary Panter, below whom was a collaboration between Alan Moore and Mark Beyer.

I first had coffee with Adrian at a local cafe, and I had no idea he was as young as he was until we met. (He later told me he mistakenly had thought I was wearing my Slayer t-shirt ironically.) I first visited Justin, who lived with his wife, the incredible comics artist Carol Tyler, and their then young daughter, Julia, at their home. I remember walking around back, where the house was protected by a discarded Colonel Sanders statue. Justin was as surprised at how young I was as I had been when I met Adrian. He talked me through his process, and then we began to discuss the sort of work he would do.

I’m very sad as I write this, and while memories are flooding back, they’re also straining against a lot of emotions. At this stage, I want to pause the reminiscence, or at least try to. His death is still very fresh — I just learned today when Carol announced it on Facebook — and the 30 years since I met him have collapsed on themselves in a way that is confusing and surprising to me. One thing I recalled today was that originally, Justin didn’t intend to do biographical sketches each month. His original idea was to tell the story of a fictional blues musician. We roughed out some concepts, but ended up going in another direction. We never revisted that fictional blues musician, and I haven’t thought of that character — still inchoate after all these years — in the longest time. It’s like he’s still there, half-formed in my imagination. It’s uncanny.

I miss Justin terribly. The last time we were in touch was in November of last year. I’m working on a project that might have enabled me to visit him in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he’d moved awhile back. He reported that he was in poor health, as well as having “the standard woes of a septuagenarian regarding energy levels, sore feet, occasional bouts of rage that verge on Tourette’s symptoms” — the latter something anyone who’s read Binky Brown would appreciate. He also sent me a recording of a song he was working on. Justin was concerned he just didn’t have the project in him, but still, he wrote, “If it’s really really really important to you that I sign on, I’ll give it a go.” I could tell this was not a good idea to push for, and I let him know I appreciated it. And that was the last we corresponded.

There’s much more I want to recount about what I learned from Justin, professionally and personally, and I want to share some examples of his comics. That will have to wait. I’m wiped out. I was young when we met, and now I’m older than he was then, a warp of time that my mind can’t quite make sense of. For many years I had a piece of paper on which he had written something that summed up his work ethic. It said, in as many words, that if you’re in your 20s you should be pulling one all-nighter a week. I don’t pull all-nighters anymore, but there’s still a lot of Justin in me, and I cherish every ounce of it.

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This Week in Sound: Reduce Distracting Bodily Noises

A lightly annotated clipping service

These sound-studies highlights of the week are lightly adapted from the April 25, 2022, issue of the free Disquiet.com weekly email newsletter This Week in Sound (tinyletter.com/disquiet).

As always, if you find sonic news of interest, please share it with me, and (except with the most widespread of news items) I’ll credit you should I mention it here.

A story about the bullying of a cheerleader through the use of deep fakes expands into a cautionary discussion about voice privacy, ranging from cloned voices confirming million-dollar transfers, to the radio host’s voice being used to say read the script automatically. ➔ wbur.org

A 19-year study with 31,387 yields concerns about the correlation of noise pollution and mental health: “The study provides strong evidence of a negative mental health effect of perceived residential noise, and the results have implications for healthy home design and urban planning.” The research was undertaken in Australia. ➔ ajpmonline.org

We’re generally programmed, thanks to evolution, to be inured to the noises we ourselves produce, but Sennheiser apparently thinks it has one-upped Mother Nature with its new wireless earbuds: “the open ear adapters will help reduce distracting bodily noises such as footsteps or your heartbeat while still allowing you to hear the ambient sound of your surroundings.” ➔ whathifi.com

“The device is constantly listening to the sound of your voice, aiming to make you aware of ‘uuh’ fill words.” This is a gadget called “Mind the ‘Uuh,'” developed by by Benedikt Groß, Maik Groß and Thibault Durand. ➔ creativeapplications.net

The world’s first “bioplastic” vinyl record format has been introduced.clashmusic.com (via Nathan Moody)

A voice actor known for her screams (in Free Guy, Paranormal Activity, and Scream) on the less-than-inherently-safe nature of the gig: “We are like stunt people, doing the hard stuff that could be damaging to an actor’s voice or is out of their range.” ➔ theguardian.com (via Saga Söderback)

Religious leaders in India aren’t the only ones being hit by noise compliance crackdowns. In Noida, 17 DJs were addressed by police action. The regulations date to 1986: “The Act has defined ambient acceptable noise levels, silence zones, restrictions on the use of loudspeakers, horns, sound-emitting construction equipment, and bursting of crackers.” ➔ indianexpress.com

Sound Studies Review: An International Peer-Reviewed Music Journal is a new academic journal, edited by Mark A. Pottinger and Luca Lévi Sala of Manhattan College, and due to be published twice each year. “The main mission of the journal is to publish critical and engaging work at the intersection between musicology, music theory, audio technology, acoustical research, and media studies.” ➔ manhattan.edu

How about a script for an open source music machine that “does one thing — emitting a tone with a pitch that represents the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere”? ➔ duncangeere.com

“Privacy advocates say voice prints collected by smart home tools like Alexa and Google Nest could be used in police investigations with impunity unless biometric identifiers can be governed in at least the same way as other forms of evidence.” An update from Ireland. ➔ biometricupdate.com

Google’s Android mobile OS has been removing apps that record phone calls, focused on apps that use the accessibility settings as a work-around. ➔ gizmodo.com

And since you’ve made it this far in a lengthy issue, your reward is an index of 1,200 sound effects from Don Martin’s Mad Magazine comics, ranging from “AAAGH! EEEEEOOOW ACK! UGH UGH MMP AGH! AEEK!” (“Removal of a Deep Rooted Tooth”) through “SPLAZOOSH” (“Woman Pouring Water on Fire”) through “ZZZZZZZZZZZ” (“Three Girls Sleeping”). In a Hilobrow.com article on the archive, Peggy Nelson investigates and praises its “early internet” construction. ➔ madcoversite.com, hilobrow.com (Thanks, Peggy!)

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