Hi there. My name is Steven Stwalley and I’m the cartoonist who draws the strip about the special chicken… you can also check out old comics & other stuff by me (some very old) at stwallskull.com. I’ve decided to start posting stuff here about whatever I feel like at the time as well… to keep the focus on the comics, though, I’m just going to rant about whatever is interesting me on a particular day under the main comic, keeping the comics at the top of the page.
I’m also a member of a group called The International Cartoonist Conspiracy (and I maintain the website for the group). We’ve been around for a few years… we started in Minneapolis in December 2002, and now we have cells of members with varying degrees of activity in San Francisco, Sacramento, Chicago, Montreal, Calgary/Edmonton, Milwaukee, Lancaster, PA and Rice, MN. If you’re a cartoonist, you’ll probably want to check the group out… Membership is open to all cartoonists regardless of gender, race, age, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, attractiveness, wit, or talent. Only the desire to produce comics is necessary.
The Minneapolis and San Francisco cells both meet twice a month, and a number of the other cells seem to be meeting once a month. Any cartoonist can start their own cell as well… the info for doing so can be found in the Conspiracy faq here. At the meetings, generally we draw jam comics, collaborative comics where a cartoonist will draw a panel and pass it to another cartoonist to continue it. Many of these jams (as well as some other comics) can be found in the Conspiracy gallery. I also serialize some of the recent cell jams in the Conspiracy blog.
I’ll be talking a lot about the Conspiracy on this blog, particularly since I will be reprinting much of the stuff I post on the Conspiracy blog here.
THE TRADEMARK DILUTION REVISION ACT
An article on the wonderful blog Boing Boing today pointed out that corporate-owned legislators in Washington are currently trying to pass a horrendous piece of legislation called “The Trademark Dilution Revision Act” to further erode the first amendment. If passed this legislation would make it so using corporate owned trademarks (Like taglines, packaging, logos, etc.) from being used in any artwork. Read the linked article above for the gory details. Here are some quotes from it:
The Act contains certain anti-speech aspects which will directly affect illustrators, photographers and others.
It will serve to eliminate the current protection for non-commercial speech currently contained in the Lanham Act. It will prevent businesses (artists)and consumers from invoking famous trademarks to explain or illustrate their discussion of public issues.
For example, using the phrase “Where’s the Beef” could be actionable. Although you might use it in a non-commercial way, the (very) famous Wendy’s slogan when used to comment might not be protected by the fair use exception.
That said, there are a couple cartoonists (Kieron Dwyer and Stu Helm, aka King VelVeeeda) who have already been successfully sued in recent years for just this sort of thing (both were defended by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund)… so in a sense this sort of thing is already in effect.
How can Mad Magazine and Wacky Packages survive in such an environment? Even Superman satires will be illegal! Write your congressbastard… or senatorbastard, I guess! Write somebody, for pete’s sake. Specifically the above article suggests writing to Senator Arlen Specter, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, 711 Hart Building, Washington, DC 20510 to voice your opposition to this bill.
CLASSIC CARTOONS ONLINE
I love classic cartoons…
The Internet Archive, which has long been an amazing treasure trove of public domain movies, music and texts recently put up a bunch of amazing classic cartoons… including some of my all time favorites. LOTS of great Max Fleicher Studios stuff. Make sure not to miss these if you haven’t seen them before.
A number of years ago I did a homage to classic-style cartoons called Take Me Away From the River starring Mort the Corpse… it is viewable at that link if you’re interested. Mostly inspired by the Fleischer Brothers’ stuff, but done in wildly inappropriate 3d.
LOOMPANICS GOING OUT OF BUSINESS
Alas… probably the most mind-bending publisher and retailer of books the world has ever known, Loompanics Unlimited, is going out of business. I doubt any publisher in the history of the first amendment of the constitution has done as much to boldly push it into uncomfortable territory. Before they go away, they are offering 50% off of their entire stock… I never scored a copy of If We Can Keep A Severed Head Alive and now it’s out of print! Dammit! Oh, this is a sad day…
“Q: Why is your Catalog dedicated to the Second Law of Thermodynamics?
The Second Law of Thermodynamics is the tendency towards universal entropy – in short, over time, chaos will prevail. “Things fall apart, the center cannot hold…” (Yeats). Within society, Loompanics favors more entropy, i.e., less government laws and other social restrictions – increased anarchy. Within our own bodies, Loompanics favors less entropy, i.e., less degeneration and death. So the Second Law of Thermodynamics is at once a friend indeed, and a worthy adversary. America needs to loosen up.” – Mike Hoy, Loompanics propietor
Read a comic strip written by Mike Hoy and drawn by Bob Crabbe about the going out of business business here.