Saturday, May 22, 2010


The only person The Leopard can think of whose name should always be written in caps is the brilliant cartoonist JACK "KING" KIRBY,  creator and co-creator of some of the greatest characters ever conceived.  From his drawing board, the soft spoken Kirby dreamt up massive worlds of gods and monsters with such intense proliferation that they literally burst from the comic book pages. Captain America, Fantastic Four, Spider-man, The X-Men, The Hulk, Iron Man, Black Panther, Thor, The Avengers, Kamandi, Mr. Miracle - the list is truly endless. 

There would be no Marvel Comics without Jack.  Unlike his extroverted one-time colleague Stan Lee, Kirby at first never sought recognition. He saw himself as a working stiff doing his job. But as the characters he had a hand in creating grew more and more popular and others were becoming millionaires as a result, Kirby finally began to more fully appreciate his own phenomenal gifts.
Alas, too late.

But those in the know are aware of the true genius behind all those incredible characters: KING KIRBY.

Look Into My Eyes

The Leopard showed up at the Museum of Modern Art last week to catch up on what's new and happening, but it ended up feeling more like a wedding: Something old, something new, something borrowed; something blue.
I was prompted to drop by because of the ads I'd seen circulating around the city advertising a major exhibit of the photography of the great Henri Cartier-Bresson.  On my way to that exhibit though, there was a also a sizable show of Picasso lithographs & etchings which I hungrily devoured.
In stark contrast to that exhibit was the performance artist Marina Abramovic. You may have heard about her. She's the one who sits motionless in silence swathed in some kind of cloak sitting in a chair at the center of a large room. There's another chair facing hers, and visitors are invited to sit opposite the artist. The purpose, one presumes, is to make some kind of connection.
This is Ms. Abramovic's art.

The Leopard, as always, had his handy-dandy sketch book at the ready. I quickly scrawled a sketch of this striking-looking woman. I would have liked to have participated in the performance, but apparently folks have to wait as long as a full day to get face to face with this controversial artist.

Some people, I guess, have real time to burn.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Great Frazetta (1928 - 2010)

The Leopard has many artistic heroes: John Singer Sargent, Picasso, Hopper, Wyeth, Basquiat and many, many others, but I'd be lying if I didn't admit that chief among them is the brilliant painter Frank Frazetta. Frank began his career as a comic book artist, then as assistant to the great cartoonist Al Capp on Li'l Abner and as an illustrator of science fiction and fantasy paperback book covers for characters like Tarzan and most famously, Robert E. Howard's Conan The Barbarian. Frank's beautiful covers were so successful in the marketplace that he eventually would come to create the covers first, and then writers were assigned to come up with the novels!

From a very young age - around fifteen, I appreciated his wonderful color palette,  the amazing power and movement of his images and the sexiness of his figures, especially the thick, fleshy allure of his women.

Frank was not exactly politically correct. His depiction of blacks and Asians were mostly derogatory and his women were there for the sexual pleasure of the muscular heroes and the fanboys like myself who bought every magazine, calendar and book where his images were reproduced.   But Frank was a product of his time, having grown up in Brooklyn in the late twenties a child prodigy who was also a scrappy neighborhood kid who played backlot baseball and was good enough to be once considered by the majors.

Frazetta's work to me was so remarkably advanced that I knew even as a child I would never come close to matching his talent.  But he became the measurement with which I compared all others. and despite an army of imitators over the years, I have yet to see his match in fantasy art.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Bathroom Etiquette

The Leopard thinks you can learn alot about a person by the way they handle themselves in a public bathroom. Case in point: do they wash their hands? Do they "primp" in front of mirror? Do they flush? It can really change your opinion of someone you thought you knew.

The men's restrooms in an office where I once worked was actually very well kept up by the custodial staff. So I really felt for them when I saw how inconsiderate some people could be.

It was common, for example, to see a toilet unflushed and splashed with urine. I had to have a brief mental battle with myself just to sit on one, no matter how meticulously I'd attempted to clean it first. I had a whole ritual: flush several times, wipe off with paper towels, wash hands profusely; lay sheets of toilet paper on seat; cringe.

I don't know who these people are that are so slovenly. I'd thought I left them all behind in the fifth grade.
One day, I was speaking with a colleague who was using a stall as I washed my hands. After he was done, he came over to me near the sink where I was standing. We spoke for a few more moments. Then, he left. I had this queasy feeling when I realized he hadn't washed his hands. This was a gentleman that I have always liked and respected. Obviously, it will be tough not to think twice the next time he puts his hand out for me to shake it.
Another time I entered a toilet after a co-worker I knew left , and he had stuffed so much toilet paper in the bowl that when I attempted to flush it, I caused a small flood.

By the way, rumor had it the main bathroom in the office is a great place to catch some Z's during the day. Snores coming from a stall were regularly reported.

The Leopard is no Felix Unger. I've been known to leave dirty laundry on the floor a little too long, or to go to bed leaving the dishes in the sink, but I never would have imagined the world held so many Oscar Madisons.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Black clad childhood hero

The Leopard has always loved Batman. The first drawings I ever did were of him.  There was something about him,  mysterious and wonderful. Even in the silly TV show from the 6o's he had this quality. It's that shiny black cape, the dark scowl, the mask.

One of the fondest memories I have are when I was about 8 or 9 years old taking the Staten Island Ferry with my father. In the ferry station, they would have these enormous newsstands, and there was always a Superman or Batman comic book or two. I'd always pick Batman, of course. For some reason his image always appealed to me. I related to him somehow. Maybe it was his outsider status. I just thought there was just something beautiful about him.

It's still with me, even to this day.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Not My Bag

The Leopard is usually not one to enter contests.

I've almost never won one of any significance, and even if I know all the odds are against me and the tiniest chance of winning is quadrillion to one, I hate to lose. I can't stop thinking about how great it would be to, say, win $300,000,000 in the New York State Lottery, even though there's more chance someone would accidentally leave a bag with the same amount on my doorstep after robbing a bank.

Recently, the world famous Strand bookstore in NYC ("18 Miles Of Books") had a Strand totebag design contest. First prize was to get your artwork on a canvas bag that will probably be seen by thousands of New Yorkers, gift certificates for hundreds of dollars worth of books, and an invitation to spend the day at the offices of New Yorker magazine with art director Francoise Mouly--an aspiring illustrator's dream. It was also judged by Art Spiegelman and Adrian Tomine--two of the most respected cartoonists/illustrators in the business.

The Leopard entered the contest, which received over 800 entries from all over the world. But again, I allowed myself to think, "Could I possibly win?". It could have really changed my life and I couldn't help but feel mildly disappointed when I didn't. I told myself over and over, "I will not enter any more stupid contests!" While thinking deep down inside, "Of course I will."

Can't wait til next year for the 2nd annual Strand totebag design Contest.