Friday, April 25, 2008

Some paint about 1906

Here's a painting I'd actually hoped to post on 18 April. Turns out it took far longer to finish than planned, due to fiddly detailed bits and also to schoolwork/fieldwork.

I probably should preface it with a little explanation, though. In 2002-2003, I drew a comic book/graphic novel/thing on the premise that the days of the year are personified, with their appearances and personalities based on what happened on that date throughout history. As new significant events happen, those appearances and personalities change. The original thing from 2002-2003 was pretty badly drawn, and focused on September 11th, as my way of coping with those events. In looking back over those drawings for the fifth anniversary of 9-11, though, I figured that it was a waste of a concept to talk about personified days and only really focus on one.

So I went on to April 18th, the Great San Francisco Earthquake and Fire of 1906, a date still very much commemorated for that reason, even though other things certainly have happened on it since. Here's the 16-page comic about April 18th that I drew last year.
The female character is April 18th, and the male character with the sinclines and anticlines on his face is meant to be the personification of the San Andreas Fault. Definitely got a lot of his character design from the Palmdale roadcut.
(That's a whole other story. A friend outright challenged me to figure out how one would go as a fault for Halloween. I did not even try to meet the challenge costume-wise, but this character design was the result on paper.)

And now this painting was this year's commemorative measure on my part:

I feel pretty good about this, particularly considering my usual artistic weapon of choice is markers. I'm kind of concerned that the colors emphasize the fire more than the earthquake, fitting right in with the kind of historical revisionism that gets me all ranty, but I've sort of justified it to myself by realizing that I have no way to know how much of the damage to that original building was caused by the quake and how much by the fire.

The reference photos for both this painting and the pictures of the devastation in the thing from last year come from an awesome book called After the Ruins: 1906 and 2006. Photographer Mark Klett collected a bunch of classic photos of the immediate aftermath of 1906, then went back to those locations in San Francisco and tried to frame the modern day equivalents of the buildings (or at least the same patch of space) in the exact way that the 1906 photos were framed. The facing pages, 1906 and 2006, speak of devastation and of thriving reconstruction all at once, and serve as a reminder of repeatable history. Considering I've monopolized the school library's copy of this book by repeatedly checking it out, I guess it's high time I spit out the cash for my own copy.


Silver Fox said...

I like the painting, and the colors in it. And the comic is very entertaining, and humorous.

Julian said...

Thanks so much! Glad you like them!