This is a LONG post with lots of photos, so start after the fold. Continue reading Fall 2018 North American Festival Tour wrap-up
This is a LONG post with lots of photos, so start after the fold. Continue reading Fall 2018 North American Festival Tour wrap-up
A friend of mine told me she’s dating a guy who works in trains, and among other things can actually drive a train. Naturally I wanted to show her the Casey Jones comic I made for Grateful Dead Comix in 1991, but I couldn’t find it anywhere online. I couldn’t even find it on my own hard drives – apparently I’d never even scanned it. Probably because everyone who worked on Grateful Dead Comix did it as work-for-hire. Well I don’t play that no more, so here for your (and my friend’s) edification and enjoyment are all 8 pages of Casey Jones. The Dead will have to censor this themselves, since I’m not doing it for them.
I recently dug up, scanned and restored this cartoon I drew in 1984 for the Uni High yearbook. It makes me nostalgic not for school (for which I still carry much resentment*) but for the glorious escape drawing provided those years. There were no art classes at Uni while I was there, for which I am eternally grateful. While my liberal friends are mostly “arts education” boosters, I owe my survival to Art staying beyond the reach of school, teachers, and institutionalization. School ruined math, literature, physical exercise, social interactions, and pretty much everything else that could be beautiful – thank doG it didn’t ruin drawing too.
*Dropping out of the University of Illinois at the end of my Sophomore year was the first Great Decision I ever made. My second Great Decision was freeing Sita Sings the Blues and dropping out of Copyright. I’ve only made two Great Decisions in my life, but they’re plenty. Dayenu.
With all the false copyright claims happening on Youtube, I’m lately asking myself why I use it at all. I guess the main reason is the Network Effect: Youtube is the most popular video host, so that’s where most people go to find videos. If my vids aren’t on Youtube, there’s a chance they won’t be found.
But I’m not sure that’s a good enough reason, in light of all the Content ID abuse. Thanks to Brewster’s comment yesterday, I’m embedding archive.org video below. If this works, it’ll be an ideal alternative.
Another alternative to Youtube is Vimeo. I’ve had problems with Vimeo’s speed, and have embedded videos fail to load. But maybe those problems will resolve.
A bonus feature of both of these: they don’t seem to use Flash (which my current Chrome browser doesn’t support anyway).
If anyone needs to download Sita Sings the Blues or copy Mimi & Eunice or anything from any of my web sites, including this blog, do it now because they’re all going dark for 24 hours in protest of SOPA/PIPA and the lobbyists and bought politicians who wrote them and will write the next stupid bills attempting to break the internet even after SOPA and PIPA “die” only to be resurrected zombie-like under new stupid acronyms.
Although I’ll truly miss Wikipedia while it’s down tomorrow, maybe I’ll use the time to get some actual animation done instead of just “research.”
You know what should be really easy to find online? Good quality, Public Domain vintage illustrations. You know, things like this:
I found this on Flickr, where someone claims full copyright on it. That’s copyfraud, but understandable because Flickr’s default license is full copyright (all the more reason to ignore copyright notices!). But copyfraud is not the main problem. The main problem is that images like this are painfully difficult to find online, especially at high resolutions (and this image is only available at medium resolution – up to 604 pixels high, which is barely usable for most purposes but higher than much of what you find online).
The images are out there – and with zillions of antique books being scanned, their vintage illustrations are being scanned right along with them. But the images are buried in the text, and often the scan quality is poor. Images should be scanned at high quality, and tagged for searchability.
Are archives ignoring the value of images?
Take the American Memory archive of the Library of Congress. Lots and lots of historical documents here, but no way for me to find an image of, say, a horse.
Most book–scanning projects focus on texts, not illustrations. Many interesting and useful illustrations are buried within these scans, uncatalogued and inaccessible. Scan quality is set for text, not illustrations, so even if one can find a choice illustration buried within, its quality is usually too low to use.
Archive.org is great (I love you, archive.org!) but does not have an image archive. Still images are not among their “Media Types” (which consist of Moving Images, Texts, Audio, Software, and Education). So I went spelunking through their texts, starting with “American Libraries,” and searched for something easy: “horse.” Surely I could find a nice usable etching of a horse in there somewhere. I eventually found “The Harness Horse” by Sir Walter Gilbey, from 1898.
Clearly something is messed up here. Was it just that page? Alas, no:
The scans have some flaws that PDFs and Photoshop can’t cope with:
These images are not useable, which is a pity because they are very nice illustrations. And they seem to be among the higher quality scans, which again isn’t saying much.
Let me add that it’s great these books are being scanned at all! That’s definitely better than losing them entirely. But as an artist, it saddens me that we’re neglecting this wealth of visual art. I’d like to see our rich visual history properly archived. Our bias favoring text over pictures is especially ironic considering how much more efficiently information is communicated to humans through images; “A picture is worth a thousand words,” or more. That’s why I’m a cartoonist, after all.
I was able to extract one clean image from the book, on page 48:
Unfortunately I can’t use this illustration for my purposes, but maybe someone else can. I’ve already gone through the trouble of finding it in a text, extracting it, and rotating it. If only there were some image archive I could upload it to at high resolution, so someone else could use it. I could tag it, to make it easier to find. I could include all kinds of useful metadata, like what book it was from and when it was published; but even if that was too bothersome, I could at least include tags like “horse,” “rider” and “engraving.” Wouldn’t it be nice if such an archive existed? Wikimedia Commons is close, although I dread uploading things there after having all my open-licensed comics deleted by an overzealous editor. But maybe they’re our best hope.
Continuing my searches on archive.org, I found this ostensibly Public Domain, vintage horse book with line illustrations. Unfortunately this is controlled by Google Books. It’s “free” to read online in Google’s reader, which doesn’t allow any image export. It also doesn’t allow me to zoom in.
All those illustrations, trapped at low resolution, unusable (even if they were tagged/catalogued, which they aren’t). This is our “Public Domain.” Who exactly is benefitting from having these 18th Century illustrations inaccessible to today’s artists?
Then there’s Dover Books. I loved Dover books growing up – they introduced me to the idea of the Public Domain. Dover reproduces vintage illustrations in books for artists and designers. Their paper books were reasonably priced, and you could use the illustrations for anything, without restriction. Browsing was free, so I would flip through the pages in the book store, and if it had what I needed, I’d buy it.
Dover is still selling books, but the prices are now relatively high, few are carried in bookstores, and they prohibit browsing online. You have to shell out $15 to find out if what you need is in the book, and how could you know? They seem to be clinging to an outdated copyright model, and rather than selling things of added value, they are simply blocking access to existing Public Domain works, in order to collect a toll.
What else has kept a good public archive of Public Domain images from existing? Some artists and archivists do make high quality scans of vintage illustrations – and keep them to themselves. I guess we could call this “image hoarding.” I assume the reasoning is, “I went through all the trouble to scan it, why should I share? Others can pay me if they want a copy.” Also there’s the “finders, keepers” reasoning: “anyone else is free to find the same illustration in another antique book, but I found this one, so it’s mine.” And so these images remain inaccessible, not part of any public archive.
Wikimedia Commons is the best public image archive I know of right now. A bit of searching led me to their “Engravings of Horses” category, which yielded some nice images. Unfortunately, many of these are not available at sufficiently high resolutions.
The maximum size of this image is 800 × 608 pixels, which limits its use. Limited image sizes and limited selection have been the biggest obstacles to my relying more on Wikimedia Commons; but it can get better. Maybe it will. It would be nice if something became the public vintage image archive I and so many other artists need.
When people copy songs and movies, they don’t change the authors’ names. Plagiarism is something else: it’s lying. If Copyright has anything to do with plagiarism, it’s that it makes it easier to plagiarize (because works and their provenance aren’t public and are therefore easier to obscure and lie about) and increases incentive to do so (because copying with attribution is as illegal as copying without, and including attribution makes the infringement more conspicuous). American Copyright law does not protect attribution to begin with; it is concerned only with “ownership,” not authorship. Many artists sign their attributions away with the “rights” they sell, which is why it can be difficult to know which artists contributed to corporate works.
I chose Beethoven to illustrate how copyright has nothing to do with preventing plagiarism. All Beethoven’s work is in the Public Domain. Legally, you can take Ludwig van Beethoven’s songs, Jane Austen‘s novels, or Eadweard Muybridge‘s photographs and put any name you want on them. Go ahead! You’re at no risk of legal action. Your reputation may suffer, however, and you definitely won’t be fooling anyone. If anyone has doubts, they can use that same copy machine – the Internet – to sort out who authored what. Lying is very difficult in a public, transparent system. A good analog to this is public encryption keys: their security comes from their publicity.
The song says “always give credit where credit is due,” but in many cases credit is NOT due. For example, how many credits should be at the end of this film? I devoted about two and a half seconds to these credits:
But I could have credited far more. In fact, the credits could take longer than the movie. Here are some more credits:
What about sound effects? Were it not for duration constraints, this would be in the movie:
Every single sound effect in the cartoon was made by someone. Should I credit each one? Crash-wobble by (Name of Foley Artist Here). Cartoon zip-run by (Name of Other Foley Artist Here). And so on: dozens of sound effects were used in the cartoon, and each one had an author. What about the little noises Mimi & Eunice make? Not only could the recording engineer be credited, but the voice actor as well (as far as I know, these were both Greg Sextro).
I included a few seconds of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony at the end, which I didn’t credit in the movie. Should I have? Why or why not?
I could credit the characters:
I could be more detailed in crediting myself:
And the funder!
I didn’t even make a card for the Minute Memes logo. Should that be in there?
The ass drawing also came from Wikimedia Commons, where it’s credited to Pearson Scott Foresman. But who actually drew it? I have no idea. I doubt that Pearson Scott Foresman could even legally claim the copyright on it to “donate” to Wikimedia in the first place, but there they are, getting credit for it instead of an artist. That’s because copyright is only concerned with “ownership,” not authorship.
Then there’s the software I used, good old pre-Adobe Macromedia Flash. Should I credit the software? What about the programmers who contributed to the software?
Mimi and Eunice themselves were “inspired” by many historical cartoons. Early Disney and Fleischer animations, the “rubber hose” style, Peanuts, this recent cartoon, and countless other sources I don’t even know the names of – but would be compelled to find out, if credit were in fact due. Is it?
And so on. It is possible to attribute ad absurdum. So where is credit due? It’s complicated, the rules are changing, and standards are determined organically by communities, not laws. I had to edit the song for brevity, but I kind of wish I hadn’t excised this line:
Attribution is a way to help your neighbor. You share not only the work, but information about the work that helps them pursue their own research and maybe find more works to enjoy. How much one is expected to help their neighbor is determined by (often unspoken) community standards. People who don’t help their neighbors tend to be disliked. And those who go out of their way to deceive and defraud their neighbors – i.e. plagiarists – are hated and shunned. Plagiarism doesn’t affect works – works don’t have feelings, and what is done to one copy has no effect on other copies. Plagiarism affects communities, and it is consideration for such that determines where attribution is appropriate.
At least that’s the best I can come up with right now. Attribution is actually a very complicated concept; if you have more ideas about it, please share.
Several people have asked if they can use “the Mimi & Eunice font” for translations. It happens I don’t use a font – I actually hand-letter these suckers, trying to be messy. Apparently I haven’t succeeded, because even my messy hand-lettering looks a lot like my cleaner lettering from the late 1990’s, which I do have a font of. It’s called “Nina,” and I made it with Fontographer on my very first Mac – in fact it was my first Mac project ever. At long last I’m sharing it freely with everyone:
It’s a zipped file containing 3 versions: light, medium, and bold. Light and bold are probably sufficient; you can dispense with the medium for most uses. The format is old Mac “suitcase” (.suit) and may need to be converted into other, newer font formats. If you convert it, please upload your conversions back to archive.org (or send them to me to upload on the same page) so they can be shared too. Here’s an example of a Mimi & Eunice translated into Brazilian Portugese by Rafael Monteiro:
cross-posted from mimiandeunice.com
I’ve wanted to share this uncut interview file for a long time now. The main reason I’ve held back is I wanted Aseem, Bhavana and Manish to listen to the whole thing and be comfortable with having it out in the world. As far as I know, none of them did listen to the whole thing. Still, Manish was worried that it might attract more negative attention from batshit fundamentalists. So, I held on to it…. Now Manish is gone and all we have left are our memories (mine is extremely fallible), and recordings like this one. At his memorial yesterday Chris Dillon played an excerpt, and said it was like having a new conversation with Manish. The batshit fundamentalists are batshit no matter what; whether we speak or are silent, they will hate. I don’t want fear of them to deprive anyone of a conversation with Manish. Plus, as you can hear, Manish was quite a respectful and thoughtful Hindu – moreso than the few clips in SSTB may have revealed. So here you go, World:
Our first Minute Meme, Copying Is Not Theft, continues its steady spread online. The two versions currently most shared are QuestionCopyright.org’s “official” version, which we unfortunately named “best” instead of “official” (“best” implying a value judgement) and the arrangement by Willbe which uses my original wavery vocals (hence my unfortunate value judgement – the official/”best” version has vocals by professional Connie Champagne, which save me the embarrassment of hearing my own voice).
On the Willbe version youtube page, I found a pretty good suggestion in the comments: a Copy Bunny Progress bar. That was easy enough to make; here’s a truncated version in GIF format:
I also uploaded all the original .fla files to archive.org, so you can remix and modify to your heart’s content.
Remember this comic strip Stephen Hersh and I did for King Features Syndicate in 2002 – 2003?
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
Feel free to come up with a better file naming protocol than the examples here.
UPDATE: Holly Duthie has done all the color mode and file conversions! The new PNG files are here:
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!
That’s right, The Stork, Fetch!, Fertco, Pandorama, The Wit and Wisdom of Cancer, and Lexi are all where they belong – at archive.org! Feel free to copy and share.
Yes, she will be animated. Free Culture: on the cutting edge of awesome.
They need $7,000 to scan, prep, and upload my entire comics oeuvre, including Nina’s Adventures and Fluff. Under a Creative Commons Share Alike license, of course, so everyone can see, share, use, and build on them.