In part we create and admire artworks with diverse ways of seeing and diverse attitudes toward the subjects. Jean Shepherd’s drawings will remain treasures for his admirers, and worthwhile objects for detailed scrutiny. During that newspaper interview noted earlier, regarding his special ways of observing the world, promoting his own artistic priorities, he was quoted as saying that, “Artists miss the point by spending time on people’s faces,” adding that, “Faces haven’t changed in years! A telephone reflects 20th century man much more than his face does.” That may be true, but human forms and faces have been a prime focus of artists throughout history for good reasons—unchanged over the millennia, faces and figures tell us who we are as individuals, they are subtle and complex, and they provide a good gauge of the skill and sensitivity of the artist depicting them. For all his ability as an observer and all his aptitude as a visual artist, maybe Shepherd lacked the particular skill or empathy required. (And maybe he disparaged depictions of people because he recognized his own deficiency.) Whatever the rationale, it seems rather odd—and enigmatic.
From what’s available to see, he sketched only a couple of people, and those without much detail. For the most part he didn’t do faces. Rather odd and seemingly contradictory for a humorist—observer of the human condition— who in words so skillfully depicted the human comedy, but maybe it fit within the parameters of his idiosyncratic and self-contained world. After all, everyone doesn’t bring the same appetite or skill to the table or to the sketchbook.
To repeat from Part 1: Many additional drawings can be seen on www.flicklives.com
under “Achievements. Line Drawings.”
To end with another repeat:
“Guernica Colorization Kit” Augmentation Annex
Previously I described my “Guernica Colorization Kit” as a vehicle for commentating negatively on the colorization of movies, and positively on Picasso’s rationale for painting “Guernica” in black, white, and grays.
While pondering my enthusiasm for graphic novels, I encountered in my Facebook inbox (5/8/2016), “Zippy the Pinhead” comic strip creator Bill Griffith’s* newly posted strip. The middle panel shows Zippy in a typically innocent-but-absurdly-realistic mode:
I recognize that “Guernica” is, indeed, a sort of gruesome comic-strip-like image. I knew that Picasso had made, in connection with the large mural, numerous smaller works, and I note that Picasso did an etching–a two page, 18-panel one related to “Guernica.” It’s titled “The Dream and Lie of Franco,” and might be considered a mini, wordless “graphic novel.” Knowing that Franco was the fascist leader who fought against the Republic in the Spanish Civil War, it’s obvious which image represents Franco. But the poem Picasso wrote to accompany the etchings, for me, fails to elucidate its meaning. (Maybe I don’t have a sufficiently surrealistic mind.) I quote a translation of the opening portion of Picasso’s page-long, single-sentence-epic:
fandango of shivering owls souse of swords of evil-omened polyps scouring brush of hairs from priests’ tonsures standing naked in the middle of the frying pan—placed upon the ice cream cone of cod
fish fried in the scabs of his lead-ox heart—his mouth full of the cinch-bug jelly of his words…
There you have it, the whole kit and its caboodle.
(One can see that a couple of the panels in the
second sheet echo parts of “Guernica”):
Picasso’s graphic novel!
* Many will recognize Bill Griffith as the creator of the Zippy comic strip tribute to Jean Shepherd that appeared January 9, 2000 (reproduced in my EYF!).