Coming soon to the Bay Area

Heads up, California peeps! July 20 I’m hosting a screening of Sita Sings the Blues to benefit the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Cartoon Art Museum.

Date:
Time: 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Address: Delancey Screening room
600 The Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA 94107


The next day, July 21, I’m returning to Santa Cruz for a screening of Sita at the Nickelodeon!

Special Screening and Q & A with Writer/Director Nina Paley
July 21st 7pm @ The Nickelodeon
210 Lincoln St.
Santa Cruz, CA (map)

Meanwhile the Cartoon Art Museum is having an exhibit of my work, Before Sita Sang the Blues: Spotlight on Nina Paley.

This retrospective will feature a selection of Paley’s syndicated comic strips,  illustrations, and a series of prints, paintings and behind-the-scenes materials from Sita.

See old gems like this:

I’ll be hanging around until early August. So if anyone in the Bay Area wants to hire me for speaking, now’s the time to save big!

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Mimi & Eunice return!

Check out this comic and more on mimiandeunice.com!

And they’re embeddable now! Thanks to Mike Caprio for rebuilding the site from scratch. Looking for a specific strip? See thumbnails of the complete archives all at once, or larger strips on the feed page. All comics at mimiandeunice.com link to gigantic high-res PNGs which you can reprint and publish without permission! CopyLEFT, baby.

My Official Fight Song

I’ve been digging through my old original comics archives, selecting artwork for upcoming exhibits at the San Francisco Cartoon Art Museum and the Betty Boop Festival in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. This old gem, while not one of my best, has extra sentimental value. “George the Monster,” who featured in early Nina’s Adventures strips, is my longtime friend Ian Akin. Remarkably, we’ve stayed friends almost 22 years. In fact Ian is visiting me in New York right now! I’d forgotten all about this song he wrote for me when I was fighting some battle or other in my 20′s. Upon rediscovering it, I found it’s just as cheering as I fight some battle or other in my 40′s.

Although the comic says ©, it’s now copyLeft like all my old comics. CC-BY-SA.

Mimi & Eunice

Many years ago, I thought “Mimi & Eunice” would be a great name for a comic strip. Recently I’ve been needing to do some drawing just to keep my head from exploding, so this week I figured, why not Mimi & Eunice?

As far as I can tell, Mimi & Eunice are two middle-aged children/baby psychos/heterosexual lesbians. That’s all I can surmise so far. Mimi&Eunice_01I didn’t put my name on these comics, but I did tag them with the URL mimiandeunice.com. (Unfortunately that site is a mess right now. Webmaster Ian installed the comicpress theme in wordpress, but it’s squishing the strips horizontally unless I make them really tiny. Also, even though it lets me bulk upload media, it doesn’t let me bulk post.

Mimi&Eunice_02So I’m just posting a bunch of them here, for now. If anyone out there makes great comics web sites and wants to make one Mimi & Eunice, please get in touch!)

Mimi&Eunice_03Other than getting mimiandeunice.com functional and pretty, I need to decide which license to release them under, or whether to use a license at all. So far copyleft, as embodied in the Creative Commons Share Alike license,  has served my work very well. But maybe I should go for Public Domain instead?Mimi&Eunice_04

If I use a license, it’ll be one of the 3 Free licenses Creative Commons offers:

CC-BY-SA (copyleft)

CC-BY (attribution)

CC-0 (Public Domain)

Mimi&Eunice_06

The advantage of copyleft is it ensures the work stays Free. Any derivatives must be released under the same terms, so no one can lock it up. It prevents abusive exploitation; no one can monopolize it. The drawback is that keeps it from being used in some projects that use more restrictive licenses. As nasty as restrictive licenses are, they’re still very common, and many worthy projects use them. You can still use a copyleft work within a larger copyrighted work as “Fair Use,” but few are willing to take that risk.

Mimi&Eunice_07

CC-BY (attribution) is compatible with both copyleft and copyright projects, which could conceivably allow the works to spread further. But it still relies on the threat of legal force to ensure attribution. As I wrote recently, attribution has limits that the law might not recognize. Also, I’m intrigued by avoiding legal enforcement as much as possible, and relying on social mores and  community ethics to ensure attribution. In fact I already do this with Sita Sings the Blues, but if I want to sue someone for plagiarism or improper attribution, I can. Is that threat really necessary?

Mimi&Eunice_08

Sometimes I think CC-0 (Public Domain) is the most spiritually advanced license. No legal claim to attribution. No legal claim to anything. To put a work in the Public Domain is to totally let it go. That is a turn-on.

Mimi&Eunice_09

Unfortunately many useful Public Domain works are snatched right out of the Public Domain via copyrighted “derivative works”. Take the comic above. If you changed the background color on panel 3 from reddish-gray to lime green, you could say you’ve made a new work and copyright the result. I don’t mind modifications like changing colors, in fact I encourage them; but I abhor monopolies, and the thought of someone then locking up the work in this way is troubling. Certainly the source would remain in the Public Domain. But if someone else modified the source in a similar way, being likewise inspired to change the color of panel 3 to lime green, they could be sued by the jackass that copyrighted his lime-green-panel-3′ed version.

Mimi&Eunice_10

Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland is in the Public Domain, and technically you can still build on it. But if your “derivative work” too closely resembles Disney’s, they will sue your ass. The laws don’t recognize parallel evolution, nor do the tiny shriveled minds of the corporate executives who wrote them. Thus, although the exact text of Carroll’s original Alice in Wonderland is PD, it’s no longer “free” to build on thanks to corporate monopolies on derivative works.

Mimi&Eunice_11

Much as I want to let go entirely, I fear that could be socially irresponsible. Which also why using no license at all is not really an option. In our world, everything is copyrighted, whether it displays the © symbol or not, whether it’s registered or not, whether it’s attributed or not.  Everything is “owned” by someone. Therefore unless something is very clearly marked as Free, it is assumed to be Owned. No license at all would make it impossible for would-be re-users to determine whether the work is legally safe to use.

Mimi&Eunice_12

A friend pointed out that the State gets into everything. Just because I don’t invoke repressive copy restrictions directly, doesn’t mean they don’t affect my work indirectly. Copyright affects everything, whether it’s copyrighted or not. Art is born free, but is everywhere in chains.

Mimi&Eunice_14

Another friend pointed out that my desire to “let go” is still desire. Choosing  CC-o/Public Domain to experience the thrill of “selflessness” may actually be more selfish than choosing strong copyleft.

Mimi&Eunice_15

I want my art to stay free. How to achieve that under our current copyright regime, is quite a dilemma.

Continue reading Mimi & Eunice

The Hots return – and need your help

Remember this comic strip Stephen Hersh and I did for King Features Syndicate in 2002 – 2003?sunhannahwrongcolorsm.jpg

Well, we’re releasing ALL of them to EVERYONE under a Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike license!

But this project needs your help. I’ve assembled all the strips I could find and put them in two giant zipped folders (one for B&W dailies, one for color Sundays), which I uploaded here on archive.org. But someone – anyone – now needs to convert the TIFF files to PNG and upload them one at a time to Wikimedia Commons, where they can be read, shared, and enjoyed by everyone.

Feel free to come up with a better file naming protocol than the examples here. In order to convert the Sunday color files to PNG, they must first be mode-changed from CMYK to RGB.

dishrack640.png

The Black-and-white files should be converted from bitmap to greyscale before saving as PNG and uploading. We also need descriptions and welcome any other relevant data anyone wants to add.

UPDATE: Holly Duthie has done all the color mode and file conversions!  The new PNG files are here:

http://www.archive.org/details/HotsDailies.GS.PNGs.zip (dailies)
http://www.archive.org/details/HotsSundays.GS.PNGs.zip (Sundays in B&W)
http://www.archive.org/details/HotsSundays.RGB.PNGs.zip
(Sundays in full color)

Thanks Holly!

Now we just need others to download the PNGs from archive.org, and upload them one at a time to wikimedia.org, with any relevant data.

Thank you for sharing!

I’ll be speaking Wednesday February 11 @TOC


O'Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing Conference 2009

The Open-Source Coffee Table Book: Publishing Pop Culture in the Digital Age

Nina Paley (Nina Paley Productions, LLC)
5:25pm Wednesday, 02/11/2009
Keynote

Location: Broadway North (6th Floor)

New York Marriott Marquis Times Square
1535 Broadway

Official blurb:

Why should techies have all the fun? The few publishers to embrace open content focus primarily on technical books. But an increasing number of artists and pop culture creators are seeking alternatives to copy restricting their works. What works for Cory Doctorow’s science fiction can also work for graphic novels, art and coffee table books. Unfortunately, publishers that historically specialize in popular culture – many of which are subsidiaries of the same media conglomerates pushing DRM and extending copyright enforcement – are unwilling to pursue the open-source model. Will existing open-source publishers expand into pop culture to exploit this niche? Will new publishers emerge to serve both pop culture markets and artists?

 

I’m making a power point (excuse me, keynote) presentation and everything.

James Kochalka’s “Sita”

kolchakasita.jpg

Like this isn’t the coolest thing ever: Sita’s first “derivative work”! There she is, in an American Elf comic by James Kochalka! Seeing this comic was a “really so amazing” huge honor for me, and I’m looking forward to seeing more “derivative works” in the future.

The Nina’s Adventures Copyleft Project

ninasadventurespanel.jpg

It’s time to copyleft ALL of my old Nina’s Adventures comics! But the thought of digging through all those old drawings, re-scanning them, cleaning them up in Photoshop and uploading them to archive.org, is more than I can bear. That’s why I’m looking for (a) smart, trustworthy, dedicated volunteer(s) in New York to do it for me. You will need:

  1. a high-resolution tabloid-sized flatbed scanner or a quality book scanner
  2. time
  3. Photoshop (or similar graphics editor) skillz
  4. a decent web connection
  5. an excellent reputation and/or references

You will get:

  1. my gratitude
  2. other peoples’ gratitude
  3. a good story to impress your friends
  4. college credit if you can arrange it

You’ll be handling 14″ x 11″ rare, original, one-of-a-kind Nina’s Adventures drawings, in various stages of decay. Some are turning yellow; some have faded ink; some have corrections and edits pasted on, the glue of which has ceased to adhere so now bits are falling off; some were drawn on “fade-out blue” graph paper which must be edited out of scans.

Once these puppies are scanned and uploaded, they’ll be free for anyone to copy and use. Publish them anywhere! Make buttons and t-shirts! Make that coffee-table book I’ve always wanted! Make derivative works! As long as you attribute the source to me, and license the derivative works under the same share-alike license, you can do whatever you want. But we have to get these scanned and uploaded first, or the revolution will never come.

“But Nina, how will you make money?” Hopefully by selling originals. The more freely the images circulate, the more valuable the originals will become. To this end, I could use another volunteer to help build a web site cataloging all the original strips, both available and sold. It would be nice to allow owners to add their contact information, and otherwise track the locations of all the originals as they go out into the world. Maybe you could manage online auctions or something. And shipping…boy do I need help with shipping.

Potential volunteers please comment below or send an email to nina underscore paley at yahoo dot com. Thank you!

not ALL problems can be solved by eating babies!

wonderellababies.jpg

As an audience member, I too feel obligated to pass on bits of culture I like. So today I’m fulfilling my civic duty by sharing with you Wonderella. Enjoy.

Comics! Animation! Post-Modern Literalist Irony!

Pipe Wrench Fight!
Hat tip to Ian.

Links for Lunch

An ongoing feature in which I recommend the work and websites of people who buy me lunch. Today’s entry: Joan Hilty!

joanhilty.jpg

Joan Hilty‘s been in comics since the bad old days when I worked in the field. Sexism, stupidity, superheroes on steroids – she’s seen it all. But unlike me, Joan’s not a quitter. Not only is she still doing her own comics, she’s also an editor at DC. Over falafel, babaganush, hummus, and homemade pita at Gazala Place, we agreed that alternative comics have improved dramatically in the past two decades, while newspaper strips have somehow slid further into decline (overall – there are always exceptions). Joan and I have run in similar circles for years, and were both recently – but separately – reunited with our mutual friend Roz. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to meet her!

Would YOU like to be featured in Eats for Endorsement? Then buy me dinner. My email address is at the bottom of the middle column, the one with the pictures linking to my movies and cartoons and stuff.

“Depression Is Fun” Blowganza!*

depressionisfun.jpg

Update: all 10 copies are now sold or spoken for.

When I recently visited San Francisco, my best friend Ian picked up the last of my boxes stored at the old apartment I once shared with my ex-husband. Riffling through the contents I discovered a treasure-trove of still shrink-wrapped copies of my first book, Depression Is Fun. This has been out-of-print almost since its publication in 1992. But now I have 10 copies here in New York, and they’re on sale for $25 postpaid (and signed, if you want) each. These puppies are going for $30, $50, and – holy crap! – almost $90 online as “collectibles.” As always, my email address is at the bottom of the middle column, the one with the pictures linking to my movies and cartoons and stuff.

*”Blowganza” coined by Anne Altman

Links for Lunch

An ongoing feature in which I recommend the work and websites of people who buy me lunch. Today’s entry: Stephen Hersh!

stephenhersh.JPG

This is kind of late, as I last lunched with my old pal Stephen Hersh back in July. And Stephen doesn’t have his own web site, so finding related links was a challenge. But what a brilliant guy he is! Stephen wrote and drew Bliss, one of my favorite comic strips ever. We both left Universal Press Syndicate around the same time, after which the late, great Jay Kennedy of King Features recruited us to co-create The Hots. Steve wrote, I drew, and after a year I retired to pursue Sita Sings the Blues. Here’s an old King Features press release about a series of Hots Passover strips we did. And that’s it for Stephen Hersh links. You’re more likely to find his work on TeeVee: he writes commercials for Chunky Soup and V-8, among others. Anyway, our lunch was delicious – look at that tasty thali from Saravanaas he’s eating. Let’s do lunch again soon, and get web sites, people!

Would YOU like to be featured in Links for Lunch? Then buy me lunch. My email address is at the bottom of the middle column, the one with the pictures linking to my movies and cartoons and stuff.