Friday, April 6, 2012

Dim Sum Friday

I love you guys. I've just been a bit busier in real life, and a bit lazier in virtual life, than usual. Today's a catch-all of little nuggets that landed on my table the past several days. Digital dim sum.

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I caught a documentary on PBS last night that I thought was terrific, and especially worthwhile for anyone pursuing a creative dream. It's "Being Elmo" about Muppeteer Kevin Clash, who brought the (in)famous little red furball to life, and I'm not ashamed to admit my eyeballs moistened a couple of times.

And I don't even particularly like Elmo.

Luckily, that's not a prerequisite for appreciating this film about a kid from Baltimore who grew up driven to do one thing: puppetry. So driven that in the throes of creative inspiration he cut up his Dad's jacket to build a puppet, and so lucky he had parents whose only criticism was "next time, ask first." He performed in local television while in high school, worked for Captain Kangaroo while still a teen, was mentored by Jim Henson's head designer Kermit (!) Love as a young man, and built a career that at last led to him working with his hero Henson and creating one of the most beloved Muppet personalities.

What I found most affecting is that Clash comes off as a kind and gentle man who's unusually passionate about his job, deeply appreciates his opportunities, and is eager to pay them forward. There's a bit I loved late in the film in which Clash welcomes a starstruck young puppeteer into his studio and gives the kid a tour exactly as we saw Kermit Love do for him 30 years ago (which for reasons unexplained had also been filmed). You just know that once in a while Clash must stand on the Sesame Street set, look around, and get a little chill. I like that about him.

I wish we'd been shown more of his adult life away from the screen--there are hints that being so dedicated to his career hurt his home life, including references to an ex-wife who's only mentioned in passing--but that's a quibble. It was enough for me to see an apparently nice guy finish first. I couldn't change the channel.

* * *

"Being Elmo" also stunned me when it mentioned that Jim Henson was only 53 years old when he died in 1990. Fifty-three! I couldn't believe it. He accomplished so much.

Oh. I'm turning 52 later this month. Yeah. Got my attention.

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Nominations for the 2012 Eisner Awards, generally considered the highest honor in comics, were announced a few days ago. I set out to draft a little blog post about them, looked over the list, and realized I had almost nothing to say. The vast majority I haven't read. I haven't even seen any of the nominees in my very own webcomics category, though I'll remedy that soon.

Two conclusions: I'm evidently totally out of it; and the comics industry has gotten so big and diverse I don't know if one person could (or would want to) keep up with all of it.

I must note that my publisher Abrams received five nominations, which is a big number for a company whose publishing portfolio includes a lot more than comics. By way of comparison, comic book titans DC and Marvel both got 11 nominations. These guys at Abrams, guided by the keen eye of Editor Charlie, do quality work.

In any event, congratulations to all the nominees. Good luck finding a hotel room in San Diego.

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Finally, we've seen this type of video before, but this one really made me laugh: a young lady very confused about the nature of reality after having her wisdom teeth pulled, as recorded by her Mom. She must be on some pretty awesome meds. When my daughters had their wisdom toothectomies, all they did was sleep it off.

Hope you enjoyed that, and that everyone who celebrates Easter and/or Passover has a good one. I'm not sure if that includes wizards.


Namowal (Jennifer Bourne) said...

The tooth video reminds me of this cartoon: The Party
I especially like the timing at the part where the kid pesters her mom in line at the Jack in the Box.

Brian Fies said...

Very cute story, and good cartooning. Thanks for that!

patricia said...

Oh that was priceless, Brian. Thanks for sharing. That's what everyone needs to get by in life – a light sabre and snack-time.

Namowal (Jennifer Bourne) said...

Glad you liked it. Allie Brosh is the cartoonist (I don't know her personally). Some people might see her pics out of context and think "Cartoonist? She can't draw!"
Yet she tells great stories with her words/pictures. People who do that are (in my opinion) wonderful cartoonists.