Tag Archives: poetry

Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven”

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Will I be doing any more hand lettering in the immediate future? Quoth the raven, “Not tonight.”

This is Halloween! This is Halloween! Halloween! Halloween! La la la!

Pretty often, the Halloween design is the bulletin board I’m most looking forward to. This one definitely was. I knew I wanted a raven, so I knew I had to do Edgar Allen Poe. The sticking point there was picking the right stanza; the poem is a lot longer than I remembered. I guess it could have worked with just “Quoth the raven ‘Nevermore’,” but where’s the fun in that? You don’t get very much poetry in 4 words.

Then again, cutting 170 paper leaves with terrible plastic scissors was nothing compared to the 4 straight hours I spent inking this bad boy. The raven himself was fairly simple. I sketched him out on Monday, cut and pasted him Tuesday (lost a lot of time because the Girl had hours of math homework to get to), fixed him up a bit more on Wednesday and blocked out the letters (in true Halloween horror fashion, I lost a lot of time on Wednesday because the school had a freaking hard lockdown because there was an active shooter across the street; The Man says it was an accidental discharge but tell that to 400 crying children who have just spend the last hour hiding quietly under their desks in a dark classroom), sketched out the lettering on Thursday (lost more time because the Girl had conferences at a different school in the suburbs and also some jerkface kid had pulled out 30 or 40 staples and tried to peel the raven off), and then strapped myself into my iPod and went at it with a handful of permanent markers on Friday.

It was 4 hours straight with no more than a few minutes break here and there to stretch. Made a lot of mistakes toward the end. It is what it is. I don’t have a name for that font; it’s just something that came up when I Googled “fun Victorian fonts for kids” and started clicking.

Sadly, the kids are on autumn break, which is a thing here. I always wanted an autumn break was I was a kid, and was always told to shut up about it, that I didn’t need a break because school just started. Kids today are lucky with their autumn breaks and their regular early dismissal days. But not so lucky with their active shooter hard lockdowns. Anyway, good thing their break had already started and the teachers just had grading day, because there’s no way I would have finished this if I also had to deal with children.

Anyway, you can read the complete poem here, and you should if you haven’t.

Seriously, my hand hurts. Happy Halloween.

 

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“Youth” by Langston Hughes

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Seems like an appropriate message for today’s youth.

I chose “Youth” by Langston Hughes as the theme for this bulletin board, as it seems like a timeless poem, about feelings that keep coming around, and also because it feels hopeful. It suggests a sense of agency on the part of the reader, with the poet clearing the way. You have power! Into the future you go! Good stuff.

I wanted to change the board for September but I didn’t want to go too crazy time-wise, because soon it will be October and this year’s Halloween design is going to slay. Cutting all the letters took about 2 hours, and glueing them another 3 and the feet took about 3 more. So really I didn’t save any time.

Poetry Is in the Air

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Always searching for words to explain.

This is my friend Patricia Jabbeh Wesley, the Liberian-American poet, in the first panel. We went to graduate school together. She came to America as a refugee, one of a million people displaced by a war that killed 200,000. There were only like 2 million people in Liberia before the troubles. She knows something about how bad the world can get.

Most of my poet friends seem to write Facebook statuses that are also poetry, and when I saw this update, it felt like it had the same rhythm of some of my 4-panel comics, so I asked her if I could adapt it and she kindly said yes. I love the line, “If you ain’t start writing poetry this year, you might never.”

If you’re unfamiliar, panel 3 is Harry Carey, a popular sportscaster whose catchphrase was “holy cow,” and panel 4 is an iconic picture of activists Gloria Steinham and Dorothy Pitman Hughes illustrating solidarity.

Happy as Kings Bulletin Board

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Presumably, successful kings of prosperous countries who are beloved by their people and enjoy a reign free from war or internecine conflict.

Look what I made while I was almost too depressed to stand up! Except for the placement of the attribution it’s almost perfect. Good thing the “ALL” is in caps. It sort of mitigates some of the bitter sentiment here. We should all be happy. There’s plenty of stuff for everyone. I’m sure of that.

The quote–or poem, rather, as this is a poem in its entirety–comes from Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses. I didn’t remember it from my childhood, but came across it in my copy of the book, which the Girl was reading for her English class poetry unit. That’s the whole sentiment. My copy of the book belonged to my mother as a child. She wrote her name and address on the frontispiece when she was a little girl. So that’s wholly sentimental.

The black letters are based on the Minya Nouvelle Regular typewriter-style font. The other letters are, of course, of my own devising. The chalkboard letters were created by hand-tearing each letter rather than cutting.

This piece took about 4 days, working an average of 2 1/2 hours a day. I hope it doesn’t blow away like the last one did.

How and Why by Robert Graves

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How and Why by Robert Graves

This is sort of a repeat, in the sense that I’ve posted the image before, but sort of not, due to the way I started blogging, which was to create 6 months’ worth of posts in a week. It always seems so sad when someone’s just started something like a blog and you go there and barely find any content. So I decided to backdate the entries to make it look like I had been blogging for 6 months before I started publicizing new posts in any way. Consequently, there’s some wonderful content that’s been viewed by about 6 people.

I love this piece; it’s always been my intention to clean it up in Photoshop and, if I can get permission from the estate of Robert Graves, to sell prints. The original hangs beside my desk and has for years, and yet only now I’m noticing a missing apostrophe. There’s a few higgledy-piggledy lines. Ink used to make me more nervous than it does now. It’s weird that the text isn’t straight even though this was all penciled out before inking, and I used a ruler and everything.

My hand is getting better; next week comics will return. Originally I wanted to post a picture of some kids wearing QvD merch today, but apparently it’s not a good time to get permission from the family so I’m waiting to see if I can’t get a photograph of some different kids in my clothes. Otherwise I’ll share another of my favorite Trickster’s Hat projects.

Night with Robert Frost: Autumn Bulletin Board

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I’ve also been acquainted with the night. 

People seem pretty eager to jump into the spirit of October this year, and my last bulletin board was looking kind of shabby, and I’m just completely focused at this moment, so I took 3 days this week (just under 6 hours total) to put up my October bulletin board, which is always my favorite one of the year.

I was thinking bats, because it’s practically the only trope I haven’t hit in the many years I’ve been doing this. Then I looked for a poem, and found “Acquainted with the Night” by Robert Frost. You can read it in the link; I was working in the rain, so the lighting was terrible when I took this photo. But you get the gist. I decorated the calaveras with Sharpies; everyone in Tucson loves calaveras and I could envision them amidst the candles and piles of marigolds, although I wish I had more time to work on them, maybe make a couple more.

The poem is also in Sharpie. It’s not my best lettering; I’ve kind of been doing a lot of lettering lately and my hand just wasn’t in the game and I was feeling really rushed. The school is having a 60th anniversary party on Sunday and there’s more work to finish up the comic book: resizing the cover and editing the blog posts down to 400 words a piece.

When I wrote those words, it didn’t occur to me that they would exist off the internet. Hard copies seem to change everything.

Black Cat Bulletin Board

A cat is watching

A cat is watching

Happy October! My funny little black cat, who has been the subject of at least two other blog posts, gets her chance to shine in the spotlight, or rather, glower in the shadows. I knew I wanted to do a black cat bulletin board this year, and I was trying to figure out how that would look on a black background. At the same time, after searching for relevant text, I found this Rainer Maria Rilke poem:

"Black Cat" by Rainer Maria Rilke

“Black Cat” by Rainer Maria Rilke

Ah, “invisible.” That was the key. I went in yesterday and blocked out the poem, then inked it with a silver metallic Sharpie, which died halfway though, so I had to run out to the nearest Walgreen’s and buy their last silver Sharpie, but even so, the text didn’t take that long. Maybe an hour. I went back in today to put it together. I had some big ideas about making the eyes sparkle with the gold and bronze Sharpies, but it didn’t look as great as I thought it would, and the bronze Sharpie was dying, even though it was new in the package. Anyway, yellow is more striking.

My kitty is fierce.

My kitty is fierce.

I used black construction paper for the ears, nose and mouth (the background is black butcher paper, so it’s a subtle difference) and the whiskers are the silver Sharpie again. Very minimalist, which took a lot less time than usual, but I did spend quite a while on the eyes.