Curse of the Black Sun

During spring in Denmark, at approximately one half an hour before sunset, flocks of more than a million European starlings (sturnus vulgaris) gather from all corners to join in the incredible formations shown above. This phenomenon is called Black Sun (in Denmark), and can be witnessed in early spring throughout the marshlands of western Denmark, from March through to the middle of April. The starlings migrate from the south and spend the day in the meadows gathering food, sleeping in the reeds during the night. The best place to view this amazing aerial dance is in the place called "T√łndermarsken," where these pictures were taken (on April 5 from 19.30 to 20.30 local time).

-from Earth Science Pic of the Day

Click the image for a desktop sized pic.

If you'd like to read more about starlings, my book CURSES will be out in October.


Record Covers


Update: sent in by Dan Z.
Update 2:
Thanks to the commenter who mentions Plastic Ono (1970).
Can't believe I forgot about that one. They aren't standing, though.

update 3 (2018)


The Wonderful World

From The Wonderful World : The Adventure of the Earth We Live On. by James Fisher. Art Editor FHK Henrion. (1954, Hanover).

No artists listed in my copy, but it's missing some pages. I overlapped Man's and Nature's Worlds (fourth image above) in Photoshop.

UPDATE 8/8/08:
Here's the cover.


Bewildered Self-Promotion

I feel unsure about being too self-promotional with this blog. I haven't figured out what to do with this thing yet. Post links to things I think are interesting? Post new work? Post reviews, articles, short things? All of the above, I guess.

So there's an interview with me over at "Comic Foundry," which is one of those
pan-comics enthusiast web-magazines. They describe themselves as the magazine that "checks fandom at the door and instead brings a respect for the industry and the readers." Fandom I don't mind if the writing's good. Caleb Crain makes a good case for the need for more fandom in serious criticism in the new n+1 (And Ray Davis makes good points here). Why "respect for the industry" is a positive thing for critics or journalists, especially in comics, I'm not sure. "Respect for readers" is at least something.

I feel something like Lucille 2 vertigo whenever I look at these sorts of sites, or comics blogs where peopl
e give short reviews of everything they "picked up." You get Green Lantern next to Buddha next to Crickets next to Young Avengers.

I'm not going to link to the interview because it's not supposed to even be there. I got pretty fed up with the guy during the interview "process," and finally I told him I no longer was interested in participating, and that I withdrew permission to use my words, but they put it up anyway. Why did I get fed up with the guy? Here's some questions that you won't find in the interview, because I didn't respond to them:
"I confess to some dissatisfaction with the next two stories, the Glenn and Wendy story with the "Ten Little Indians" adaptation, and the adaptation of The Beatles' "She's Leaving Home." With the first, the adaptation seemed to be filler to add some zest to what was a perfectly fine little exchange with the couple. With the second, I think that most who know the song would recognize what you're doing as soon as the couple speaks, and once recognized, there's little of lasting interest in the exercise aside from the Glenn and Wendy stuff afterwards. What were you trying to do with these, and do you feel satisfied with them?"

"I found the missing kids story terrific until Glenn and Wendy showed up, which threw me right out of it, despite me enjoying them every other time. It just felt like they didn’t belong in the same story. If you want to discuss why you felt the need to bring them in, I’d be interested."

"I also found Or Else #4 the most disappointing thing I’ve read from you. I’m perfectly willing to admit I just didn’t get what it was supposed to be about and I’d like to know; all I noticed were connections made to trivial things."
And there were more questions like those. It's not evident in what they posted because a lot of the questions have been edited or re-stated. Eventually I told him to forget about the whole thing. He then apologized for his "bluntness." "I didn't even consider that you might not have any interest in my personal feelings about your work" he wrote. Really I would be thrilled with any opinions of my work--negative, positive, blunt, or whatever--if they were also insightful, or even interesting. It wasn't because his questions were challenging my choices or even sometimes negative, but because I got impatient with his feeling that I have to defend myself against his own "dissatisfactions" and "disappointments" and ad hominem criticism, such as that I write a certain way "just to keep myself interested" or that something was "filler to add some zest" or that perhaps I padded out "Time Travelling" because I had extra space to fill. Also, he often gave away the plot of my stories in his questions! (He fixed that after I pointed it out.)

Part of me is just grateful that anyone is interested in my work enough to interview me, but still I'm sorry to see that they posted the interview, which I'm afraid is pretty dull due to my not being very interested (or is it "interesting"?). I've got nothing personal against the interviewer--he seemed like a decent enough guy.

In other news, Ganges #1
got itself reviewed in the New York Times Book Review. It's by John Hodgman and also addresses itself to Mome, Late Bloomer, and La Perdida. I've tried to stop reading any reviews after this nightmare review of Or Else #4 by someone curiously named "mattymatt" at the even more curiously named "SFist" blog.
"If you put your copy of Lost in Translation, your Death Cab for Cutie albums, and your hoodie collection into a comicbookization machine, this would the daydreamy, meandering, doe-eyed result."
How did he know! That is exactly what I did. I guess he didn't read the second half of the book, the slow-zooming, emotive soul pop vibe, nuevo-retro professorial result of my copy of Ken Burns' The Civil War, my Billy Ocean albums, and my corduroy blazer collection? Anyways, Hodgman says some kind things about Ganges and even made me see things in the stories I hadn't seen before.

Here's a video of Mr. Hodgman promoting his own book "The Areas of My Expertise" (which has a nicely designed cover) on "The Daily Show." And here's the video of Billy Ocean's "Loverboy."


New Nephew

Many congratulations and much love to my sister and brother-in-law on the birth of their new son, Jay Lewis Vander Molen.

Advanced Symbols

More from the CCS booklet. James Sturm came up with all of these (except the duck) and sent me a sketch, which I followed pretty closely.

This makes me think of a comic by Dash Shaw where he gets roccoco with cartoon symbols (though he follows Mort Walker's gross "plewd" vocabulary which unfortunately many people take seriously) which I mentioned to James, but he hadn't seen Shaw's comic before.

Odd Building

I got a request for a drawing of "an odd building, some foliage, a person and a mystery object." I forgot to scan the real drawing before it got mailed--this is a preliminary "study." I guess the building isn't very odd, is it. That sky is Peter Bagge style.