Week 4, tiny panels filled with people

Two Men Contemplating the Moon

Two Men Contemplating the Moon, Caspar David Friedrich, ca. 1825-1830

There’s still a tiny bit of time to snag a print copy of “The Sleep Consultant.” I’ll close orders later today (Sunday) and send them all out tomorrow (Monday). You won’t ever be able to order this one on its own again; it might be available as part of a compendium—something like, X dollars for a bundle of six previous offerings—but I’m not sure about that, so don’t count on it!

Tonight, a lunar eclipse will be visible throughout the Western Hemisphere. How great is this PDF from NASA?

NASA eclipse tracker graphic

Like a lot of technical documents, it’s almost outsider art—so plain and practical, so undesigned, it becomes totally beautiful.

This week,

  • A novella sprint continues. It began in mid-December; I'll finish by the end of February. In the U.S. book market, novellas are notoriously awkward, but some of my favorite books of all time are the kind you read in one sitting. The market won't ever change if writers and readers don't push it a little. Let's push!
  • On Wednesday in San Francisco, at the Booksmith's bar (!) on Haight Street, I'll interview An Xiao Mina, who knows more and better about global internet culture than anyone else, full stop. She is a wonder, truly, and her new book Memes to Movements is essential. If you are SF-proximate, come out and join us.

This is Irene Posch’s embroidered computer, its calculations conducted through gold thread:

The embroidered computer

The Embroidered Computer, Irene Posch, 2018

The first computers were repurposed Jacquard looms. Before punch cards encoded computer programs, they encoded weaving patterns. The history of computers is the history of sewing. Never forget!

Is there such a thing as “writing for translation”? There sure is!

Writing for translation

@MangaMogura on Twitter

In his newsletter, Warren Ellis notes that the comic book artist George Perez has retired.

Perez is, for me, the Perfect Penciler, the same way Ursula K. Le Guin is the Perfect Writer: not because they’re the best and you don’t ever need to read anyone else, but because, while others have style, Perez and Le Guin demonstrate a kind of mastery that reaches beyond style. Lines and sentences become a kind of crystal you’re seeing through, straight into the fictional reality on the other side.

Perez penciled DC’s great cosmic crossover series Crisis on Infinite Earths, intended to make sense of the bizarre jumble of contradictory stories and timelines that had piled up in the ’60s and ’70s. This series required him to draw All The Superheroes, and he did so with virtuosic skill; some of his compositions are Bruegel-esque:

That's... a lot... of superheroes

Crisis on Infinite Earths #5, 1985

Following Crisis on Infinite Earths, DC laid out its newly rationalized timeline in a strange, lovely series that read like an illustrated encyclopedia entry. Again, we consider the clarity of Perez’s line; there’s something about his art that just feels naturally canonical, so of course he drew The History of the DC Universe, too:

What a weird comic book

The History of the DC Universe #1, 1986

And finally, I don’t know why I remember this so well, but: in a very old Booster Gold comic, the writer and artist Dan Jurgens shows us a comic book artist who’s excited to draw just one superhero instead of fourteen. Even then, I understood this as a wink to George Perez. “No more tiny panels filled with people…”

The comic book creators

Booster Gold #4, 1986; I pulled this one off my own shelf

Go look at the moon!


January 2019, Berkeley

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