Gnomen at six.

Today is the day that I mark as the one when I first joined the furry fandom and thus it’s the day I celebrate the arrival of Gnomen, my first fully conceived animal surrogate. A birthday of sorts. A naming day. Somebody is six years old.

Gnomen is something very distinct from the other ways that animals have cropped up in my work, even though I’ve used images of monsters and beasts for years. There was so much rabbit imagery in my work in the 90’s that in most people’s minds I became “The Bunny Guy”. Even today much of my drawing language stems from being a child absorbed by cartoons, comics and animation. I wanted to exist in the frames of a Bob Clampett cartoon as much as I wanted my work to hang on the walls of a museum, if not more so. Animation cells remain magic objects for me, especially ones that show weird bits of a sequence that you wouldn’t think to look at otherwise. I’ve thought alot about how the rebroadcasting of classic studio cartoons on TV in the sixties was a generation’s conduit to the legacy of disreputable American entertainment: burlesque, vaudeville and minstrelsy. Bugs Bunny cracks wise in a voice that includes immigrants, genderblurred and the dispossessed, even as he traffics in blatant  stereotypes.

Much of my earlier work was speaking through that imagery, using it to point to discourses of race and queerness. Furry seems to me to be about something very different. It is a kind of working, of identity formation that has more to do with embodiment, than it has to do with pure imagery. Gnomen is a character who has adventures that Nayland can’t. They undergo transformations and troubles and at the same time they embody my own sense of hybridity and mutability. Gnomen is a kind of working that rarely finds a place in galleries these days, but weirdly enough has landed on the cover of a magazine.

Owning my relationship to this fandom has brought some important things into my life, and I think this year is going to be about doing more of that. Here’s a picture I drew to celebrate Gnomen’s presence in my life. If you want to see me drawing it, I put this video up on youtube.


Two 3D Movies in two days! Last night a bunch of us went to see Coraline on the Upper West side. Given that it was the first night, an early evening show, and a big family neighborhood, the screening was surprisingly devoid of child fueled outbursts. There was one young lady behind us who was a little talkative, but really nothing too distressing.

And the film itself? I admit to being unable to do much evaluation because I am the target audience: I love animation, love stop motion animation, have been pretty impressed with Henry Selick’s other films, even Monkeybone, and love 3D photography. I was really pleased that there was no attempt to turn the story into a musical, that it made no attempt to be hip, that it was willing to be moody. So none to the current tricks that Movies employ to make sure that viewers are safely maneuvered from point to point with their lack of curiosity intact. There was even a subtle dig at digital culture (Coraline’s parents are “virtual” gardeners who spend their time behind computer screens and don’t like to get their hands dirty with real plants and mud).

So it’s got all the stuff I love, and none of the stuff I hate. If you’re like me, you’ll enjoy it, but I know I’m a niche market.

And I’m almost sorry that I saw it in 3D, because I know I’ll buy it when I can and I’m sure I’ll miss the added dimension. It took me back to when I used to sit at home as a kid and pore over my Viewmaster reels for hours, back when they were made by people building actual sets and photographing them. Between those and my family’s Stereoscope, entire afternoons would be lost as I lifted the viewer to my eyes over and over watching a world spring into depth from flat pieces of paper.