Sunday, June 29, 2014

Dorian Lafferre and #CCAD COMICS

"I was really, really into vampires as a kid," offers Dorian Lafferre by way of explaining his response when I asked him about his earliest memory of creating art.  The drawing in question, done when he was in kindergarten, depicted a scene of  Dracula standing next to a piano played by a  pair of floating severed hands. 
It was, presumably, Dorian's interest in drawing, not vampires, that led him to attend the Columbus College of Art and Design. "I saw a lot of the work coming from students at CCAD and was impressed," he says. "At that point I figured that if I were ever crazy enough to drop tens of thousands of dollars on a college, CCAD would be the one. After high school I failed a few classes in community college while working full-time in a grocery store, and eventually decided to pursue a career in drawing at the one college I ever wanted to attend."
He has not regretted that choice and offered high praise for his alma mater, "CCAD has some extremely supportive and skilled faculty and alumni. I got the pleasure of studying directly under incredible artists that I look up to to this day, like Adam Osgood, Brian Ewing, Tam Peterson, CF Payne, Christopher Canyon, and so many more. My love for storytelling was cultivated by the excellent liberal arts professors, especially Robert Loss, Leslie Jenike, and Jessica Hey. From the very beginning, I expected to gain a lot of experience and knowledge in storytelling through art - and I wasn’t disappointed."
Dorian is a native and life long resident of Columbus, where, he says, "...if all goes well, I’ll live...until I die. It’s the perfect medium between bustling big city and cheap small town - and the arts scene is growing like crazy! Also, we have great food trucks."
A career in art wasn't exactly his first choice, however.  As he told me, "During high school, I was pretty disenchanted with any career choice other than becoming a rock star."  It's not hard to see where that ambition came from: "My dad is a guitarist, still playing gigs around Columbus, and he encouraged my growth as a musician and supplied an array of instruments throughout my life."
Both his parents, who split while Dorian was a baby, have, in his words, "... have been super supportive of my creative life in every way....My mom started collecting my drawings since I was in kindergarten, and she gave both financial and moral support as I attended CCAD."
Graduating from CCAD in the class of 2014, it hasn't taken Dorian long to make his mark on the local comics scene. #CCAD Comics is 60 page digital anthology of comics by students, faculty and alumni of the school. A print edition is in the works. "I’m working on it right now," he says. "I’m running into a couple issues with the print file not fitting the printer’s standards, but after working that out and approving a proof copy, it will be available as a nice big color paperback. Individual contributors will be selling copies, and I’m looking into making a big premier at SPACE 2015 and seeing if some stores in the Columbus area will stock a few copies." 
 I asked Dorian to explain the genesis of the project, as well as the criteria he used in deciding which stories to include in the book. "#CCADComics came out of the staggering realization that immensely talented comics creators came out of CCAD, yet there had been no formal recognition of any kind recognizing that talent. Several efforts have been made to celebrate comics, notably the MIX symposium directed by Robert Loss and the Crafting Your Hustle event held by Laurenn McCubbin. But when it came to collecting the comics work by students, either in a book or in a gallery setting, there was nothing. I had heard some stories of the director of exhibitions having a weird bias against comics and illustration, and all the pro-comics faculty and staff were super busy with other projects, so instead of waiting for permission I decided to make an anthology and self-publish it. DIY or die!
"Knowing I would need help, I asked my fellow comics creators Andrew Peña, Hannah Ploechl, Mike Laughead, and Colleen Clark to co-edit and spread the word. Without their help, I definitely would have ripped my own head off out of sheer stress! Submissions were open to all CCAD students, past and present (Peña made an especially awesome call-for-submissions poster). After collecting nearly 30 submissions, we read them all and picked the 21 strongest works (in our collective opinion) to include in the final book.
"Any and all submissions 10 pages in length or less were accepted, regardless of content or theme. I just asked people to not submit anything overtly pornographic or exploitative, and everyone seemed to understand that and respect it. There’s some harsh language and minor cartoon violence in the final book, but nothing too extreme."
I then asked if he had any plans for future editions of #CCAD Comics, and he told me, "My mind is already dancing around future anthology possibilities, but I want to open up future projects to the countless non-CCAD artists I have the pleasure of knowing. My hope is that some other CCAD student will carry the torch and make the next CCAD comics happen - so if you’re reading this and you’re interested, let’s talk!"
As to other future plans, such as whether he intends to pursue a career in comics or perhaps some other area of art, he's not so sure, "Honestly, I don’t know! I grew up reading Spawn and Bone and Dragon Ball manga, and my love for the visual arts was rekindled by Watchmen and Asterios Polyp and Love & Rockets. Comics have been a big presence in my life and a giant influence on my aesthetic sensibilities, and I think the medium is capable of telling an infinite number of compelling stories. At the same time, I would love to create album artwork or merchandise for bands I love, and I’ve been enjoying the animation work I’ve been doing with Rad Fortress lately. I’m too scatterbrained to stick with just one thing!
"After observing the strenuous lives of some moderately successful freelance and entrepreneurial illustrators, I realized that I enjoy life far more when I’m not worried about where my next paycheck is going to come from. I enjoy my day job, and while I plan on taking some odd art jobs and commissions here and there, the life of a full-time freelancer just isn’t for me. That said, I just graduated college a month ago, so who knows what the future holds?
"You can see some of the crazy stuff Rad Fortress is working on here:"
Dorian is also a contributor to the recently released Weinland Park Storybook Project.  Of his involvement in that project, he says, "Jean Pitman, head of the youth programs at the Wexner Center, had been involved with several community service projects in the Weinland Park area over the years and collected stories from the neighborhood’s residents. As further service to the community, she got a ton of local comics creators to illustrate these stories for a beautiful limited-release book available only to contributors and Weinland Park residents. The stories range from solemn to humorous, from both young and old members of the community.
"I was put in contact with Jean through my portfolio instructor at CCAD, and she had me illustrate two one-page stories from a couple teenage residents of Weinland Park. Jean’s enthusiasm and hard work unified the local comics community, and gave a voice to a marginalized neighborhood that had seen a wealth of untold stories. To top it all off, I’m now in a book with Julian Dassai, Michael Neno, Lora Innes, Sandy Plunkett, and other comics geniuses, and all of our work is in the permanent collection of the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum. This is, by far, the coolest creative project I have ever been a part of!
"You can read the whole book and get more info here: "
I'd like to thank Dorian for taking the time to answer my questions.  More information about #CCAD Comics can be found at

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Cartoon Carnival at Wild Goose Creative Throughout June

photo by Max Ink
One of Columbus, Ohio's most revered native sons meets the current generation of Central Ohio cartoonists, figuratively, of course, throughout the month of June as the walls of Wild Goose Creative on Summit Street play host to the Cartoon Carnival, an exhibit co-presented by the Thurber House in co-operation with local cartoonists' group Sunday Comix. The show features reproductions of classic Thurber cartoons displayed along side modern day re-interpretations of same by Thurber's twenty-first century spiritual successors.
The event commemorates the Thurber House's thirtieth year of operation.  The official press release quotes Katie Poole, who co-ordinated the event for the Thurber House, as saying,"We are really excited to collaborate with these two wonderful organizations. It’s a great opportunity to showcase Thurber’s cartoons in both their original form and through the eyes of local artists; something that we haven’t done before.”
In an informal (though no one said it was off the record) conversation with me on Friday night, Sunday Comix founder Max Ink stated, while admitting he hadn't actually done the research to back up this claim, that he believes this may be the first time that the Thurber estate has permitted an exhibit of Thurber's work in Columbus outside the confines of the Thurber House.
The Cartoon Carnival runs through June 30.  A Gallery Night artists' reception will be held on Thursday, June 19 at 6 p.m.  This event is free and open to all who wish to attend.  Wild Goose Creative is located at 2491 Summit Street. 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

CAPA Movie Series Kicks Off 2014 With Superman: The Movie

Prior to 1978, live action adaptations of super-hero comics where relegated to the realms of Saturday morning serials and, later, television.  By the nature of such outlets,  these efforts were low budget affairs with special effects that were crude even by the standards of the times, and were for the most part aimed at an audience consisting mainly of children.  The one exception, the 1966 Batman film, isn't much of an exception at all, as it was based on the wildly popular TV show, and was even more of a broad comedy than the series itself.  There is 1951's Superman and the Mole Men, however ,despite its getting a theatrical release, that film is essentially the pilot for the Adventures of Superman TV series.
Superman: The Movie was the first big budget, feature length super-hero film with state of the art special effects aimed at a more general audience that made at least an attempt to treat its subject matter seriously.  The production was a bit of a gamble at the time, but it paid off.  Without the success of Superman, and to a lesser extent its three sequels, it is doubtful that we would have had the spate of super-hero blockbusters that have become a staple of the summer movie season over the past decade and a half. 
What, you may well be asking yourself, am I doing writing about a nearly forty year old film on a blog ostensibly about comics in Columbus, Ohio?  Well, my friend, here in Columbus we love our old movies.  One of our most cherished summer traditions is the CAPA Summer Movie Series.  Each June through August, a variety of classic films are screened in the beautiful, historic Ohio Theater in the heart of Downtown Columbus.  It just so happens that this year's series kicks off this coming weekend with a showing of Superman: The Movie
The series has an especially strong line-up this year.  Superman is followed up by the 1982 screwball comedy My Favorite Year, starring Peter O'Toole and Mark Linn Baker, better known as "Cousin Larry" on ABC's Perfect Strangers, on Wednesday, June 11, and the Humphrey Bogart film noir classic The Maltese Falcon on the following Friday and Saturday. 
Other highlights include legendary child star Shirley Temple in The Little Princess, the Lucille Ball/Desi Arnez comedy The Long, Long Trailer, Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, two James Bond films (The Spy Who Loved Me and You Only Live Twice), a trio of Alfred Hitchcock thrillers (North By Northwest, The Lady Vanishes and Dial M For Murder), the first remake of A Star Is Born starring Judy Garland, and a double feature of Christopher Guest directed "mockumentaries" (Waiting for Guffman and Best In Show).
Show times for Superman: The Movie at the Ohio Theater are Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 and 7:30 p.m.  Tickets are $4.00 ($3.50 for Seniors) and you can buy a strip of ten tickets, good for any show all summer, for $25.00.