The Jackson/Flint/Everywhere Water Crisis by Jaz Malone

I grew up in Detroit, Michigan. As many people know, Detroit has a water problem - there's too much lead in it. Flint, located close to Detroit, has even more lead in the water. And slowly, we are all discovering that these issues flow throughout many cities and towns in the country. 

I have family in Jackson, Mississippi. Unbeknownst to me until recently, Jackson is one of the places where the water problems persist. One of the people working to get the word out about this was a woman I'd had the pleasure of working with on the Comics For Choice anthology: Dr. Cynthia Greenlee. She asked if I wanted to get the old band back together, with the help of ReWire News, and naturally, I said yes.

I am endlessly proud of this project. Immense thanks to Laurie Bertram Roberts who, along with her children, provided her voice and experience as the background to this comic. Her family, and many, many others, are still dealing with the water crisis around the United States. Thanks to Marc and Cynthia at ReWire for letting me flex my creativity, and for bringing light to this issue. There are so many problems that need solutions, but I truly believe if we all put our heads together, we can tackle this thing.

Here's a page I love. You can read the rest of it over on ReWire.news.

WaterCrisis_Final-08.jpg

The Ogre & The Mermaid by Jaz Malone

For about 3 years after college, I worked on a short film. It was directed by Chris Magee (of Dreaming Thomas), who wanted to tackle a more traditional style of animation. I spent many hours drawing in-betweens by hand - in pencil - and more hours helping color for a few shots. The coloring mostly went to interns, since that was a full-time gig in itself.

The Ogre & The Mermaid wrapped at 10 minutes, and I moved on to other projects. But surprise, surprise! Chris sent it out to a bunch of festivals, and a few of them really enjoyed the work.

WINNER - BEST ANIMATION @ MOSCOW SHORTS - March 2018 - BLACK LAURELS (FEATHERS).png

Our first recognition came this past March, for the Moscow Shorts International Short Film Festival. Best Animation of the Month! 

And just recently: 

Official Selection black.png

We made the official selection of the Filmstrip International Film Festival in Romania.

This is super cool. I'm really proud of the work I did on this film. Here's hoping more festivals pick it up. 

If you'd like to see stills, "making of," etc, check out the The Ogre & The Mermaid blog.

I Updated My Reel. by Jaz Malone

I took a long break from doing After Effects projects last year. I was still teaching, and I did one or two commissions, but I had to re-evaluate what I was doing and why.

I dislike the style of motion graphics in which I forced myself to work for several years. I had a habit of focusing on what I thought clients wanted to see, versus creating pieces I was interested in. The result was bland, dry work with very little progress over time. Since my reset last year, I've been able to take the time to figure out what I'd like to see from myself. It's a slow process, but I love seeing something cool in a film or short, and trying to decipher how it was done. 

My animated work is back to base level, but it's a base level I am excited to reach beyond. Anyway, here's some base level stuff that will one day be a lot cooler, because I'm actually interested these days.

Residency & Semester Wrap-up by Jaz Malone

I did a super fun (/sarcasm) thing this semester, where I worked 6 days a week. I do not recommend it if you enjoy sleeping and eating regular meals. I do recommend it if you are OK letting go of those things a bit in order to accomplish some artistic goals. I'm sure there's a happy medium, but I'll find it later, along with my sanity. 

I recently wrapped up this session of Adult Drawing at University City Arts League, ended one and started a new session of Advanced Drawing for kids in the same space, completed my Art Futures residency with The Philadelphia Museum of Art, finished teaching this semester at Moore College of Art & Design, tabled at the Lawrenceville High School Comic Con, and along with the rest of Girl Crime Organization, held a show at Tattooed Mom and wrapped up our pop-up gallery on South Street. I was also featured as a caricature of myself in Craig Campbell's "How To Draw A Black Lady." Thanks, Craig!

Whew!

I can't expend an entire post on each thing - I'm exhausted just thinking about that - but a Jim Halpert-style run-down is in order. I'll try to summarize this as well as possible: 

ART FUTURES RESIDENCY

 Left: A drawing from one of my Adult Drawing students at UCAL.  Right: My Art Futures class and I, their comic presentation, and one of them receiving an award on behalf of her workshop group.

Left: A drawing from one of my Adult Drawing students at UCAL.

Right: My Art Futures class and I, their comic presentation, and one of them receiving an award on behalf of her workshop group.

Art Futures is an artists-in-residence program sponsored by The Philadelphia Museum of Art. It gives Philadelphia students the opportunity to learn from local artists in their own schools, and to create a project to be exhibited in a public space. I worked with Little Flower High School this semester; using pieces from the PMA collection as inspiration, the students made comics centered on social issues close to their hearts. The work they produced was beyond anything I could have imagined, and I am so grateful to have had the privilege of speaking to them about how to build comics from the ground up, representing their own stories, and free speech and censorship in comics and graphic novels.

UNIVERSITY CITY ARTS LEAGUE

 Left: The students created Nancy Chunn-inspired news responses on the local paper.  Right: I drew some of the students during class. They're fun to put down on paper.

Left: The students created Nancy Chunn-inspired news responses on the local paper.

Right: I drew some of the students during class. They're fun to put down on paper.

In addition to the kids' Advanced Drawing class (which usually ends up in a lengthy discussion on politics or morality - 10 year olds are serious these days!), I also teach the Adult Drawing class at UCAL. It's a ton of fun, and I love when people who've never picked up a pencil in their lives learn to understand line, shape, and contour. I assume it's akin to parents watching their child learn to walk. The world suddenly becomes bigger. That probably sounds pretentious. I don't care.

GIRL CRIME ORGANIZATION

 Left: The poster for GCO's show a Tattooed Mom, designed by  Mechanical Pencil Girl .  Right: GCO's flyer for our pop-up on South St, designed by  Tia Gutss .

Left: The poster for GCO's show a Tattooed Mom, designed by Mechanical Pencil Girl.

Right: GCO's flyer for our pop-up on South St, designed by Tia Gutss.

 Process pics of my "Birdman" piece (5'x3'), and closing down the gallery.

Process pics of my "Birdman" piece (5'x3'), and closing down the gallery.

The responses to GCO shows are always fascinating. I'm grateful for the many people that took a look around the gallery to absorb what we were doing, whether their responses were positive, negative, or anything in-between. We're not here strictly to appease, and conversations are what keep art alive. However, I'm uncomfortable mix of curious and dissatisfied at the unbelievably large amount of people who, after stepping one foot in the door, immediately asked how they could cash in on it. The conversations often went as such:

Human: "Hey! What is this?"

GCO member: "It's a pop-up art gallery. There's about 8 of us working as a collective. Take a look around, see what we do."

H: "Cool. How do I get my stuff in here? I make [insert random thing here]."

GCO: "...Why don't you take a look around first, and then we'll talk about your stuff."

H: "No, yea, I will. But, like, can I sell my stuff here?"

GCO: "..."

9 times out of 10, a visitor in the above situation would take convincing to actually look at our work, and even then, it was only as a cursory glance before deciding it was too hard to convince us to sell their work out of our space without even showing us said work. And 9 times out of 10, once we looked up the contact info they left, their styles weren't a good fit.

Regardless, I loved working with the artists in Girl Crime Organization. They're an incredibly talented and interesting group with whom to create and exhibit work, and while our styles are vastly different, we all come in with respect and the ability to critique each other's pieces to help us all grow. We're like Megazord, but with a cute skirt and an Art History degree. The pop-up was a fun experiment, and the show at TMom's was a nice departure from our usual schedule. Thanks TMom! 

MOORE COLLEGE OF ART & DESIGN

There's not much to say here, except I friggen love teaching After Effects. It's a monster program that brings me so much joy, and my students this semester were the absolute best! They make me laugh, they make me think, and sometimes they confuse me, but I'm cool with that as long as they're learning.

LAWRENCEVILLE COMIC CON

 Left: Our setup. Three artists tabled this and last year:  Jessie Musto  and  Aremo Massa .  Right: Aremo teaches students how to create their own mini-comics.

Left: Our setup. Three artists tabled this and last year: Jessie Musto and Aremo Massa.

Right: Aremo teaches students how to create their own mini-comics.

Lawrenceville is a wonderful space to table a small con. The students and staff are always respectful, helpful, and interested in the arts. The school does a lot to bring these kids fun activities, and I'm always happy to be a part of that.

ALL THE REST OF THE STUFF!

 A portrait commission for a friend. Thank you, lovelies, for letting me paint you for your anniversary!

A portrait commission for a friend. Thank you, lovelies, for letting me paint you for your anniversary!

 Left: A carrot cut into a flower, given to me by a coworker on a very long day. It was delicious.  Right:  How To Draw A Black Lady by Craig Campbell  for Hyperallergic, in which I have a cameo!

Left: A carrot cut into a flower, given to me by a coworker on a very long day. It was delicious.

Right: How To Draw A Black Lady by Craig Campbell for Hyperallergic, in which I have a cameo!

 That one day I thought I looked cute VS how my cat felt about it. It's cool, Qat. You don't have to love me. I love me. Most days, anyway. So there.

That one day I thought I looked cute VS how my cat felt about it. It's cool, Qat. You don't have to love me. I love me. Most days, anyway. So there.

I'm hoping the next 4 1/2 months won't be quite as stressful, but will produce just as much joy. Let's find out!

Crime On South by Jaz Malone

For a couple years now, I've been part of a no-holds-barred art collective called Girl Crime Organization. It was put together by MPG (NSFW), with a focus on removing any and all restrictions on artwork made. Because of this, the shows are always 18+ - sometimes 21+, if we show at a bar - and we usually show work that doesn't fit in a more traditional gallery space.

 Setting up

Setting up

A couple of weeks ago, we secured an old storefront on South Street, Philadelphia. Occupying such a public space has been a fun experience, if a little awkward sometimes. The front wall is one giant window, so anything we do in there is visible. On the other hand, ANYTHING we do in there is visible. The possibilities for work produced are endless.

 I started working on another large piece.

I started working on another large piece.

 Enjoying the first night of setup

Enjoying the first night of setup

We're hoping to fill up the entire space as time goes on. You can follow the madness on Instagram, either on the main collective's account (@girlcrimeorganization), or any of our individual feeds. If you're in Philly, stop by 410 South Street and say hi sometime. We pop in an out when we can. Hours are spastic, like our lives.

I've Already Been Published Twice This Month by Jaz Malone

That statement feels weird coming out of my mouth. I've been published twice this month, making 4 times this year. 4 times, ever. It's only December 7th.

It's been an odd year. After coming back to the States, I wasn't sure what to do. I felt like I was back at square one; somehow, that helped. I needed to reset my brain, and living in a place with different rules and schedules really did that. I still have a lot of mental and physical clutter to get rid of, and I've had a few stumbling blocks in production, but overall, I'm tentatively happy with the direction I'm going. I decided to shift gears and focus more on comics, and while it's stressful, it's proving a rewarding change.

  Comics For Choice , the anthology I took part in earlier this year

Comics For Choice, the anthology I took part in earlier this year

On another note, I started a project called Sequential Philly. It's an online index of the people in the Philly area who work in comics. So far, there are a few interviews up, as well as the beginning of the index. It's a much larger undertaking than I thought it would be, but it's my baby, and I'm happy to see it grow as much as it has in such a short time. If you'd like to be added to the index, email sequentialphilly@gmail.com. Please include a link to your work, and an image you'd like to use as your icon.

The Not-Huffington Post by Jaz Malone

"Make good art." Neil Gaiman's quote, spoken at The University of The Arts 2012 commencement, makes the rounds on my social media feed every so often. It's a great speech. The part passed around most often is the bit near the end:

"Sometimes life is hard. Things go wrong, in life, and in love, and in business, and in friendship, and in health, and in all the other ways that life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do. Make good art.

I’m serious. Husband runs off with a politician? Make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by mutated boa constrictor? Make good art. IRS on your trail? Make good art. Cat exploded? Make good art. Someone on the Internet thinks what you’re doing is stupid or evil or it’s all been done before? Make good art. Probably things will work out somehow, and eventually time will take the sting away, but that doesn’t matter. Do what only you can do best. Make good art. Make it on the bad days. Make it on the good days, too. And fifthly, while you are at it, make your art. Do the stuff that only you can do."

I sometimes feel the need to write a detailed response, but that's my ego trying to take over. His speech stands on its own without think-pieces and opinion articles (although Gav of Zen Pencils had an amazing interpretation, because Gav of Zen Pencils is himself amazing). But, it did pop into my head again today. So here's my ego-driven response, chiseled down to a palatable two paragraphs, far more for me to tell myself than to say to anyone else - because who am I to have think-pieces?

I try to surround myself with people who make good art. I don't mean hyper-realistic art, or multi-million dollar art, although that can be good. I mean art that comes from love, and from effort. Art that the artist made because the artist wanted to make it. I try to remind myself that while nothing lasts, these things make an impact.

And even that word, "impact," makes people shrivel. They think they have to change the world if they are to change anything, and so, at the pressure, do nothing at all. There's something else that gets passed around artistic circles, though it began in the U.S. Navy: K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple, Stupid. Small ripples turn into big ones. Make one piece of good art. Then make another one. And then another. Repeat until you are physically and mentally unable to, and then try again. It doesn't matter if someone on the other side of the world never sees it. Make good art, because good art needs to be made. What you think is "good" will never be universal. That, too, is perfectly OK. Make it, anyway.

With all that said, here's a dumb thing I made to practice vfx, in which The Kraken threatens a beach. Buddy was a good sport about it.

Saint Nik by Jaz Malone

Traditionally, saints are people we may or may not have met, that have blessed the world with their presence. They are positive, negative, or anything in between, and they have specific personality traits that make them the face of a particular state of being. 

With this in mind, I realized a while ago that I have a few saints on my social media feeds. They are not necessarily of the highest morals, and they don't guide me in any particular direction, but they present distinct qualities that have become synonymous with their names in my head. Some are continuously salty toward everyone and everything; some are cuddly; some are heartbreakers. The list, and its possibilities for paintings, is endless.

Nik Hampshire, whose painting I completed first as a test run (above), was completely on board with me canonizing him (thanks, Nik!). He's a Philly-area model, known for his lush beard, large gauges, and tattooed body. Most people I follow online are visual artists or musicians; but Nik? Nik is just pretty to look at. He knows it, and so does everyone else. And so, he became a saint: a person with specific traits that bless my feed every day.

When they're done, I'll upload the whole set. There are a lot of saintly characters in my life.

Through The Trees by Jaz Malone

Continuing my creep factor, I made some motion edits to another found photo. This one is from the...early 2000s, I think? Someone took a lovely walk, took a photo to remember it, and then discarded said photo.

Comics For Choice by Jaz Malone

I'm excited to announce the launch of a comics anthology I took part in a few months ago! Comics For Choice is a collaboration of many artists and writers, featuring stories about women and abortion. For my submission, I worked with a doctor and writer on the story of Dr. Dorothy Lavinia Brown, a Tennessee surgeon and legislator who, even before Roe V. Wade, pushed for safe, legal abortion in her state. She cared for women who had sought out unsafe methods of termination, and realized a need for change.

The Indiegogo campaign to print all the books is now live. If you can spare a couple bucks for a copy, that would be amazing. If not, share the campaign!

 

<3

Mad House Cover by Jaz Malone

Mad House is a Philadelphia-based literary magazine that features local poets, writers, and artists. Including the cover, I've got a few pieces in the upcoming issue. It's my first publication, which is pretty cool.

 The cover for the upcoming issue

The cover for the upcoming issue

I'm all about that local love, and it feels great to be featured alongside so many hard workers. The release party starts at 7pm on May 31st at Tattooed Mom. A lot of people put a lot of work into this mag. Come out and show some love!

Born To Leave The House, At Least by Jaz Malone

A friend of mine convinced me, over several conversations, to watch Yuri!!! On Ice. I hadn't watched any new anime in a very long time. I'd been disappointed with a lot of recent shows; maybe it's my bad luck in picking the worst, or maybe I compare so many shows to Cowboy Bebop that it's difficult to enjoy anything (See You Space Cowboy...). Regardless, although the thought of an ice skating anime sounded cute, I did not truly believe I would enjoy it.

Like many other people who binged the entire 12 episodes in one or two sittings, I now believe I can conquer the universe. Sometimes, I find myself feeling low. Then I remember that Yuri!!! On Ice exists. It's kind of like what happened after watching Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann for the first time (Row Row, Fight The Power!), or growing up watching Rurouni Kenshin and deciding to be a master at something...anything.

I know I'm just linking anime soundtracks at this point. It's a good thing. The opening theme to YOI was nice at first, and a fight song now. It won't sound like that at first listen. It will.

I don't know why it took me two months to make fanart.

Yuri1.jpg

Speaking of theme songs: I know these animators better do what they do when they do what they do. That's not rotoscope, by the way. 

Old News by Jaz Malone

There arrives a point in everyone's life when they decide to revisit old work. For me, this point comes often, and usually ends in cringing out of my skull. It's probably a little masochistic to continue the cycle, but art is a little masochistic to begin with.

At some point, back in college, I made a couple short documentaries as part of a class. I would not call myself a filmmaker, and at the time, I don't think I was getting enough sleep to call myself anything. My camera work was shoddy, and the footage is grainy, but the characters I chose to highlight are still charming. One short features a group of competitive board gamers. There are a million things I'd do differently these days, but I'd say for being half-dead from my senior thesis (which I won't even talk about), it's not the worst thing I've made. 

Nowhere close to the best.

Still...not THE worst.

Maybe.

Tata?/Auntie? by Jaz Malone

In Bondy, I stayed with a very nice family. It included a 2 year old. As it turned out, 2 year olds are exactly the same in every language. Franglish and English versions of our daily interaction are below.

 Franglish!

Franglish!

 English!

English!

I really lucked out with my host family. They're the nicest people, and since the parents are originally from West Africa, the food was incredible. I'd gladly go back one day!

I Lost My Hat. by Jaz Malone

It's not a great tragedy, but it's annoying. My ears are chilly.

First World problems aside, I'm nearing the end of my excursion. I soon won't need to process almost every sentence in French, then English, then French again. Thank the ancestors for multi-lingual French people. I'd be stuck without them as soon as my brain tired of constant translation, which is about halfway through every day.

I've been spending a lot of time doing the same things I would be doing at home: mulling over my life's direction, drinking too much coffee, etc. I suppose that's helped by the fact that people overseas fall into the same categories as anywhere else. The good, the bad, and the ugly all exist in their variations, as do the majority - the somewhere-in-betweens. I haven't posted my run-ins with these characters. It's not necessary. Humans exist. The end.

That said, I do have a few decent sketches to properly scan when I return. Two months is a long time for a sketchbook. Not long enough, à mon avis, but I can live with it. My family, and the connections I've made over the years, have been infinitely supportive of my mental and physical departure. It's overwhelming. The only thing to do with gifts is to pay them forward, which I try to do as much as I can. And it's best to remember and understand the bad moments, but live for the good surprises. "Guten pranken," as Jim from The Office would say...like the fact that my English is starting to sound like translated French. Actually, I haven't decided if I like that yet.

I can buy another hat. 

The International Comics Fest by Jaz Malone

After New York, I hopped across the ocean to Angoulême, France, for the International Comics Festival. I'd never been to the castle town, and was under the impression that this would be like other comic conventions, where one large building is designated as the place for vendors, exhibitions, etc.

Nope. The entire town stops what it's doing for 4 days to celebrate comic art.

 The train station. This guy just stays here forever, I guess.

The train station. This guy just stays here forever, I guess.

The whole town.

 The window of a hair salon.

The window of a hair salon.

Everyone.

 Straight-up castle town comics takeover.

Straight-up castle town comics takeover.

As it turns out, they just like comics here. Everyone I met was an artist or an arts appreciator. Comics weren't the favorite pastime for some people in the town, but no one seemed to think they were pointless. No one seemed to think any artistic endeavor was pointless. Of course, this country also has universal health care and proper sex education, so...

 Condom vending machines on the street!

Condom vending machines on the street!

...but I digress (Psst!).

The festival featured exhibitions across town, huge vendor tents, films (Last Man!), and exhaustion from walking up and down as many hills as humanly possible. Those castle-builders weren't kidding about security - they made it as tiring to walk to the top as they could. 

 One long series of hills.

One long series of hills.

Since I'm horrible with directions, I got myself lost 5 times in 4 days. That's just how I roll, I guess. But overall, it was a great time. I bought way too many (and yet, not enough) comics from the crazy talented individuals there.

 Aw yiss, look at all dem comic booths

Aw yiss, look at all dem comic booths

I got to hang out with an African collective whose members hailed from several countries, and met some cool LGBTQ+ folx from the city. I'm still in France, in another city (Bondy) for the week. I'm still accepting portrait commissions for $35 to pay for daily expenses. If you're feeling generous, drop me a line at jazimated@gmail.com. $10 from each portrait goes to the ACLU.

Wherever I Go, There I Am by Jaz Malone

Currently, I am in New York. Thanks to the extreme generosity of a friend, I have settled into a small corner of an apartment in Queens, where I will remain for the next month. After several days of venturing out of said corner for food and libation as needed, I've started feeling out what this city has to offer. It's a lot.

I've been here before, many times. In most of those times, I had a distinct purpose. This time, I have nothing specific to accomplish; I have only a broad, "Do I want to live here?" curiosity. The answer has yet to be settled. There are certainly far more career opportunities here than in Philadelphia. I'm enjoying Queens, and quietly noting how it compares to other boroughs where I've stayed - Brooklyn, Manhattan, etc. As many times as I've gotten lost in the Bronx, I may as well have vacationed there.

But one does not come to New York to sit in a corner. Favorite pastime be damned. I'm here for a couple more weeks, so I should make the most of it...whatever that means for me. First task: go back to corner and figure out what that means. Then leave corner.

If for whatever reason you'd like to help me leave my corner, I am offering color portraits for sale. Feel free to email me at jazimated@gmail.com, or DM me on Instagram. You can see examples on this site, under "Work."

Tally ho.