Illustration Goes Live!

Neil Numberman and my bucket of worms in the dressing room at Dixon Place Theater.
Neil Numberman and my worms in the dressing room at Dixon Place Theater.

Saturday morning I took the Bieber bus to New York City carrying my bucket of worms. The Dixon Place Theater on the Lower East Side was locked when I arrived. A man walked up and asked, “Are you a performer?” I had to think for a New York minute, “Yes!”

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Neil, Bob and Catherine Porter at Carousel for Kids.

Bob Sikoryak and Neil Numberman invited me to join a half-dozen other cartoonist/illustrators for a performance of Carousel For Kids. Bob and Neil certainly are performers.

Cover © R Sikoryak 2015
ITunes Terms & Conditions Cover © R Sikoryak 2015

Bob has been getting a lot of well-deserved press for his webcomic adaptation of the ITunes Terms and Conditions. NPR featured the project last week. He manages the formalist trick of illustrating the unreadable, and on top of that, he mimics styles of cartoon masters from Jim Steranko to Ernie Bushmiller. I’ve tried something like it (stylistic homage) with nowhere near the amazing results of Sikoryak. He’s also printed the iTunes Terms as a zine. Makes a great gift for the MacAddict in your life.

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Homage to R. Crumb, ITunes Terms & C © 2015. R Sikoryak

Carousel Cartoon Slide Shows & Picture Performances

Since 1997, Bob Sikoryak has been presenting Carousel at one place or another. Back in the day, they used Kodak Carousel projectors, hence the name. I told Bob I thought the current show had a nouveau vaudeville feel. He says he’s presenting visual storytelling inspired by old-time radio variety shows. Over the years  many remarkable artists have participated in Carousels. Everyone from John Porcellino to James SturmRaina Telegemeier to Kaz. Check the full roster here.

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Giant Worm © 2015 by Neil Numberman at Carousel.

For the most recent show Neil Numberman created epic cartoon panels to be projected behind the cast. There was a crazed catfish and an Abominable Snowman. Neil even added a monstrous mad worm as a transition to lead into my We Dig Worms! worm race.

Example of Neil Numberman's work for Highlights.
Example of Neil Numberman’s art for Highlights.

Carousel tickets cost $8 for kids, about the price of a movie in Manhattan, and a fraction of the price of a Broadway show. I was impressed by the kids in the audience. There was plenty of audience participation. When the show ended and the lights came up, one little girl, perhaps 5 years old, asked her dad, “Is this the end, or the middle?” Clearly, this wasn’t her first experience with live theater, she knew about intermission!

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Cowboy Neil and Spaceman Bob

Stand Up : Build an Audience

In my illustration classes, I find myself imploring students to say something, anything, about their work. One said, ‘I don’t think it’s fair to ask for class participation if we do the work.’ As Prof. Martin Lemelman used to say to his illustration students, “It’s like pulling teeth! If I wanted this, I would have gone to dental school!” My students know they need a digital presence. Sure, but they need a physical presence, too! As print media contracts, digital media disrupts, artists must create new venues, new outlets for their visions. Carousel For Kids demonstrates that illustrators can build an audience if they are true visionaries.

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A number of the recent Carousel artists contributed to Fable Comics.

Here are links to the other artists who shared the stage this week. Gregory Benton, Ruben Bolling, Chris Duffy, John Kerschbaum, Catherine Porter. All these energetic artists are worth knowing. The Carousel is a moveable feast, but it will happen again at Dixon Place. To find out when the next Carousel happens go to Sikoryak’s site or friend him on Facebook. May the Carousel continue for many more revolutions!

-Kevin McCloskey

Note: I had to change the look, the theme, of this blog. The old theme didn’t work on phone screens. Unresponsive! Now older posts may look wonky, but if I learned anything from the Carousel, it is this: The show must go on!

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