Copying Is Not Theft – Best!

At last, our “official” version of Copying Is Not Theft, with a fab new arrangement by Nik Phelps!


Amazing, Fantastic Books

I’m dazzled by too much brilliance today. First, there’s Graham Rawle’s masterpiece Woman’s World.

51xEA4aPkiL._SL210_It is so good. The whole thing is “written” in collaged snippets of old British women’s magazines. On top of that, the story is moving, suspenseful, and engaging from start to finish, as well as funny, deep and clever. For something that could stand on its own for being technically singular and “meta,” it packs an enormous emotional wallop.

It’s a sad comment on society that this book isn’t more widely famous. Still, I’m grateful just to have read it.

Rawle also has a blog where you can see his latest creations, including the weekly “Bright Ideas“.

Sanjay Patel's RamayanaNo sooner had I finished Woman’s World than I started Sanjay Patel‘s breathtakingly beautiful Ramayana: Divine Loophole. Sanjay and I joined the same Mutual Admiration Society a few years ago, before Sita was even finished. We independently developed graphic 2-D stylings of the Ramayana; his are more intricate and angular, while mine are more rounded and outlined. There’s been a wee bit of confusion among friends and Sita fans which I’d like to put to rest: I love this book, it’s not “edging in” on Sita’s “territory,” and y’all should admire a copy for yourselves. Besides, there is no Sita print book available, and if there were it wouldn’t be this good.

Its publisher, Chronicle Books, has conventionally stingy ideas about sharing images online; Michael Sporn had to scan his review copy himself. Fortunately, Sanjay has more images on his web site. Even if every image were available digitally, they wouldn’t compete with the physical beauty of the printed object. The production values of this thing are extraordinary. You want to touch it and smell it. Every page is printed crisply and perfectly, with color bleeding off each knife-sharp edge. It’s everything a graphic book should be, offering a sensual, immersive experience. Like one reviewer wrote, “I want to physically jump into this book.” It’s a container worthy of its content, restricted or not.

Me at Kripalu April 16-18

Wanna spend a fun weekend with me improvising drawn stories on index cards at a renowned yoga retreat? I sure do!

Nina Paley’s Visual Storytelling Workshop @Kripalu
Friday April 16 – Sunday April 18, 2010
(with a screening of Sita Sings the Blues on the 16th)
Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health (in the Berkshires of Western MA)

Register here! Caveat: it costs money.

Me looking kinda yoga-y. I haven't done real yoga in years, unless art counts.

Me looking kinda yoga-y. I haven't done real yoga in years, unless art counts. But I'm looking forward to doing it again! In the Berkshires of Western MA!

All Creative Work Is Derivative

Flooding with Love for the Kid

Sita Sings the Blues isn’t the only feature film made by one person in a small Manhattan apartment. Zachary Oberzan‘s Flooding With Love For the Kid was made in an even smaller apartment (220 square feet) and far lower budget ($95.51). (This budget doesn’t include any copyright clearances of course – don’t tell First Blood author David Morrell.)

It suspenseful and watchable from beginning to end. It has life and soul. It’s interactive – the audience knows they’re looking through the film’s surface when they engage with the story. I laughed a lot, but it’s not a comedy.

Zack did a post-screening Q and A, and sounded uncannily like myself (“I didn’t choose the book; the book chose me”). Like Sita, Flooding With Love was not storyboarded or carefully planned; it relied on the source text for structure. The contrasts between the films are notable too: Sita is a “feminine” story, from a woman’s point of view, made almost entirely by one woman; Flooding With Love is a masculine, one-man action story. If you miss all the battle scenes I omitted from Sita, all the warrior issues and male bonding that take up most Ramayana texts, you may find satisfaction in Flooding With Love. There are many other reasons to watch it; it’s a singular achievement, I can almost guarantee you’ve never seen anything like it before.

Hopefully it will screen again soon. It’s not yet available online, but it should be.

The Cult of Originality

Creation of Adam

A lil’ illustrated essay by Nina Paley – keep reading

Continue reading The Cult of Originality

Bill Cheswick’s New Way to See Movies

Bill Cheswick prints entire films – I’m talkin’ every single frame of the film – on giant rolls of paper. Because Sita is open licensed, he was able to make cool new art with it without my permission, but he gave me this 30-foot-long print anyway!


From Cheswick’s site:

Of course, I would like to try this on many other movies. The problem is one of copyright violation. While some argue this is fair use, it is clearly debatable, and I am not trying to blaze new legal ground here.

I’m glad Sita’s open license removes that obstacle. I wouldn’t want to be left out of this party!


Sita_Cheswick 2

Evelien Lohbeck

More of this artist’s really cool short films here. Via Ken Shan.

I <3 Dan Bull

Via Techdirt:


Singing ‘n’ Signing

This is cool.

More examples: TMI?

OK my peeps, your feedback on the preceding post has been excellent. Here are 3 more images to compare and contrast:

talking heads no flowers.flaWhat’s happening here? Do we even need to put it into words?

talking heads 2

How about this? Does the addition of the flowers help, or hurt, or just make it different?

MemesInHistorySame idea, different rendering. This one has still more information – which might be confusing the point. It’s cuter, but it might be Too Much Information. Or maybe it’s Just Enough.

What do you think? The more I understand how you “read” these images, the better I’ll be able to “write” them. Big thanks to you.

How much hand?

I’m working on a new project – a book, or comic book, or illustrated book, or graphic something about free culture/free content. I’ll probably use a mix of styles and techniques, since that’s how I roll. But I’m trying to figure out the dominant one.  And the question is: hand drawing with ink on paper, or drawing directly into the ‘pooter using a vector drawing program (Flash)? Behold two approaches saying basically the same thing:


How Memes Reproduce

The image above was “drawn” with the Cintiq, directly into Flash. I like it because it keeps the focus on the idea and not on the humans.


Same idea, different technique. It’s much “warmer” and friendlier. But it draws you into the humans, more than the meme they’re sharing. Drawing humans like this, they each need genders, clothes, and other identifiers which are mostly irrelevant to the point I’m trying to make. On the other hand, warmer drawings may attract more viewers, which is desirable, and may be sufficient for the idea anyway.

What do you think?

Update: per Richard O’Connor’s suggestion, a hybrid:


The problem with this is that the meme looks sterile, while the people look warm and alive. I’m trying to express that it’s the memes that are alive; that we humans are just their humble servants.


Weezer gets it right

Content is Free, Containers are not; the commerce in mass art is all in the packaging. Hats off to band Weezer for devising the most brilliant CD packaging ever:

It would be even better without the copy restrictions on the content, but they seem to comprehend that those are irrelevant to making money. It’s all in the packaging, people.

Copying n’est pas Theft

Because I’m in France:

Merci, Daphne!

Quote of the Day

“The Internet means there’s no one to kill your dream. You can just do it. You don’t have to persuade anyone or get credentialed or even think about what others think of your idea.”

Pamela Jones