Archive for November, 2014

more dimensions

November 20th, 2014

UHaul woman dance 1
In 1995 the website Planet Out hired me to design a bunch of avatars that people could use in a chatroom. The technology back then was pretty primitive…I never actually saw the functioning chatroom. I didn’t personally get online until 1996, and by then whatever they were doing had already become obsolete.

So I never got to see my little characters in action, which was really disappointing. I put a ton of work into them. The assignment was complex: create 5 male and 5 female characters, then create  multiple poses of each character. (And multiple racial versions of each one.) The characters were: Goatee Boy and Pierced Girl (young hipster types), Mr. Downtown and Execudyke (corporate types), Lipstick and J.Crew (a femme and a rather prissy man), Gym Queen and Girljock, and Bear and UHaul Woman (slightly older types). I had to draw each avatar standing in a neutral pose, happy,  angry, flirting, etc….the idea was, when you wanted to have your avatar express an emotion, you’d click a button and there would be a brief animation—they’d move from neutral into a laugh, e.g. I didn’t even have a scanner in those days, and no Photoshop. So I was just winging it, trying to imagine these little animated movements.

So as I said, I never got to see them in action. Then the other day I ran across the huge packet of all the drawings and got inspired to scan them and try making some of them into GIFs. Almost 20 years later, technology has come along with another interesting way to recycle these lost images. I’ll paste a bunch of them in here…some work better than others. But it’s so very amazing to me to see how the rapid succession of two still drawings creates movement and life.


Dykes Diorama

November 19th, 2014

Look at this amazing diorama of Madwimmin Books created by artist Judith Abraham. It’s part of an exhibit at A.P.E. Gallery in Northampton called The Diorama Show. It’s up until December 7th. I’m hoping to get down and see it up close. I’m not quite sure what the scale is, but it looks quite small. See all the miniature books, and the tiny vibrator in the glass display case?



Judith, a.k.a. Iris Bloom, describes her piece like this. “This diorama is based on the underground comic Dykes To Watch Out For by Alison Bechdel which chronicles the cultural history of lesbian feminism in the 80’s and 90’s. It is also a reflection of my personal history. It has been fun to re-imagine this history through the characters of DTWOF in a women’s bookstore where so much of it took place.”

Although the bookstore in my comic strip was based to some extent on the late lamented Amazon Bookstore in Minneapolis, it was also very similar to many other women’s bookstores that used to exist. Like Womanfyre Books, in Northampton itself, where I lived briefly in the 1980s. It’s moving to see that historical space recreated, and it’s very cool  to see my own two-dimensional universe given three-dimensional form. There’s something haunting about seeing the light and shadow falling on real objects. I imagine that seeing it in person will be even more intense. Here’s one more view:


Also, the idea of a diorama reminded me of this scene from Invasion of the Dykes to Watch Out For, circa 2005. Clarice has taken Raffi and Stella to the natural history museum, and there’s a special exhibit on endangered species. There’s a panda diorama, and then in this panel, two more dioramas:

endangered species close-up