Photos

Repost… Coming Home

Posted on by Joshua Dysart Posted in Cool Stuff!, Journal, Photos, Unknown Soldier, Writing | Leave a comment

I returned from my month in Uganda last week and have been getting multiple messages from concerned friends and readers alike asking me to please, please post and let everyone know that I’m alive and well. That’s very sweet. Thank you so much. I am. I am alive and I am well and singing the developed-nation blues again. For those who sent me emails while I was gone, please be patient, I’m trying… trying to get back into the swing of things.

Bathing.jpg
Me, preparing to bath out of a jerry can under East African skies after a 37 hour trip halfway around the world

But it’s hard. Hard to come home from a trip like this. My first night back in LA I went to a party to see friends and indulge in some carelessness after a month of traveling through harder parts of the world. At the party, which started in a bar and went back to my friend Luis Reyes’ (TokyoPop editor par excellence) apartment, there was everything one needed to eat, drink, be merry and generally live socio-economic, sexually liberated lives.

Sunrise.jpg
My first Ugandan sunrise, as seen from inside my cabin, looking out over Lake Victoria

Just five days before I’d been on the back of a motorcycle traveling through up-country Uganda, not far from the Sudan border, en route to an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Camp (or what one northerner called a “concentration camp”). Crossing an abundant but haunted patch of earth. Mango and jack fruit trees stood loyal as sentries every few kilometers and casaba root was betrayed by its emerald green thin stalks erupting from soft, red soil. And the ghosts? Spectres of a 20 year long war. Unmarked land mines, cholera, AIDS, a massive orphan population (a children to adult ration of about ten to one as far as I could tell), absolute poverty and a continued military presence which is supposedly there to protect the locals from the LRA rebels but whom many of the Acholi (the tribe most interrupted by the conflict) believe is there to keep them from leaving the camps.

Guard_in_Labuje_IDP_camp,_Uganda 2002.jpg
Ugandan People’s Defense Force soldier (government soldier) in Labuje IDP camp (not my photo… this was taken during operation “Iron Fist”, at the height of the conflict. Odds are this Ugandan soldier was shipped straight from Congo War II to North Western Uganda).

Northern Uganda looks nothing like the reports I’d been reading and posting back home. On May 18, 2007 the UN Integrated Regional Information Network reported “IDPs Begin Slow Journey home” after two decades. But this, like so much of the rest of the reportage coming out of this region, is largely bullshit built by a global community too enamored with Ugandan President General Museveni’s economic and military stabilization of the developed south to see the truth of the horrible situation in the underdeveloped north. Instead of people returning home to their land for the first time in decades, what I witnessed were people being moved to smaller “satellite” camps for reasons that Lt. Chris Magezi, the Ugandan Peoples Defense Force (or UPDF) Northern Region Spokesman/PRO Gulu, could not tell me during my short interview with him.

Museveni.jpg
President Museveni political poster.

While talking with a United Nations World Food Programme truck driver in a small IDP camp village just south of Gulu-Town, I asked, “What is the purpose of the satellite camps?” He shrugged and said, “Tribal politics is a muddy river here.” Referring to the severe social/economic division (which many are saying is being exploited by controlling forces in the government) between the Bugandan tribe who have a majority in the Ugandan Parliament in the south and the tribes of the north, including the Acholi.

UN Food Program Base.JPG
United Nations World Food Program storage facility in Gulu Town.

If one is to drop the conspiratorial tone that haunts the language and conversations of virtually everyone I met in the North (but not all) then it’s possible to assume that the satellite camps are an attempt to alleviate population concerns in the larger IDP camps while keeping people from striking out into land mine constipated areas in an effort to return to their land. Those farmers who do demand to return home suffer the very real possibility of digging (farming) on top of said mines. I was told by another investigative unit (Canadians, god bless them, they give North America a good name) I met in Acholiland that the UN group called the Mine Action Programme had only 23 de-miners for the whole Northern area (this has not been corroborated, a communication with the UN organization regarding this issue has remained unanswered). There were several meetings of Mine Action Programme bigwigs at Hotel Roma in Gulu. The same hotel I was staying at. Whenever I saw them in the restaurant or waiting area I would try to eavesdrop in on their conversations, which were predominantly in English, but to little avail. At one point I attempted to approach one of their African associates , but once I started asking questions about the organization I was immediately deflected. Understandable, since I didn’t approach the organization through any legitimate press channels. I’m also led to believe that they’re trying to focus their attention on Western Sudan among other places, so I’m sure resources are spread thin for them.

UN.jpg
The UN has a constant presence throughout Uganda. This was taken in the beautiful and stabilized town of Entebbe. Where a large UN base is kept.

Acholiland, particularly in the Gulu/Kitgum area is home to more NGO’s than any other place in the world. I was given varying numbers by varying sources, with between 400 and 600 actual registered NGO’s being sited. Most of these non-profit organizations have moved in during the last year as the the rumors of war began to die down and the perception of safety (years after actual safety had returned, many say) has finally been spread by President General Museveni. The mass proliferation of NGO’s has exploded the Gulu economy, pushing prices higher than they are even in Kampala, the developed capital. The problem is that most people in the area, many, many of them war affected, cannot financially afford the sudden shift in economy. Meaning that an army of do-gooders has moved in and raised the standard of living beyond the reaches of the population they intend on assisting. The seriousness of this issue remains to be seen.

Buying food.jpg
Road side shopping

Also, there seem to be three types of non-profits operating in the area. Ones who do good and necessary work, ones who come with well-meaning hearts but implement programs that do nothing to heal the cultural damage done to the Acholi way of life and in many cases perpetuate the welfare state mentality, and the ones called the “Invisible NGO’s” by a journalist I met who is working for two months in the area. The invisible NGO’s are organizations collecting grants and various government and private funds, yet have no locatable offices or evidence of applied services. These are the non-profit pirates, stealing money and goods the world has deemed belongs to the needy. The implications of too many NGO’s in one area are staggering and a whole paper could be written on the philosophical problems of good intentions and the global response to crises.

In fact, it’s my opinion that one of the obstructions to a lasting peace in the area is too many god damned professional do-gooders and not enough locally minded non-prof visionaries.

TRucks.jpg
A convoy of trucks with Aid heading out of Gulu-town and into the Bush.

While In Uganda I interviewed or spent time with Acholi religious leaders, various reporters and a documentary crew, a UPDF soldier who had been engaged in the north and is now stationed in Iraq (Uganda has 5,000 soldiers in Iraq currently), two Lord’s Resistance Army soldiers, several collage students in the south, Micro-financing bankers, NGO organizers and employees, Acholi political leaders from opposing parities, traditional Acholi musicians as well as young and hip musicians in the south, two nature conservationists, many Acholi teachers and community leaders, children in a school for war affected kids and various Ugandans from all walks of life, classes, tribes and geographic areas ranging from the South West Bugandan regions to the North Western Acholiland.

TAxi park.jpg
Taxi Park in Kampala. Grand Central Station for the Ugandan capital.

Back in the States, at the party, I found it hard to talk about anything other than my experiences and observations over the last month… probably to the point of annoyance. I couldn’t just be. Even the clean, gleaming, fully operational toilet in the host’s bathroom became, to me, a sharp and sudden symbol for America’s social isolation from the global culture.

Uganda Wins.jpg
Uganda defeats Nigeria 2 – 1 in Futball. Pushing the country up to #3 in the African Cup ranking. That night the streets of the capital exploded in celebration.

Because I couldn’t shut up about my trip, I started making several of the slightly-intoxicated, well-fed, college educated revelers feel a little guilty about their life in general and the party in particular, which was never my intention. I tried to tell them that it was good. Good to be one of the one in sixty-eight high rollers who won the birth lottery and popped out in a place where the odds of seeing three meals a day was as high as a kite. As long as we didn’t loose sight of what was real and common and fall into the trap of imagining our lives as normal in relation to the rest of the world, then it was okay to indulge. I mean if we didn’t indulge, then who would? The war-torn? The marginalized? The victims of global racism? Hardly. It was up to us. The North American Anglo, quite possibly the most privileged ethno-class in the history of the species, to indulge for all those that God, obviously a white male, had forgotten… or more rightly, taken a heaping shit on.

Gu;lu.jpg
The streets of Gulu under a full moon. These very streets were filled with the famous Night Commuters just six months prior. Tens of thousands of homeless children migrated daily – up to 12 kilometers – here and to other town centers to sleep safe from rebel abduction, or more likely, in the last few years, government persecution.

Only later did I realize that my incessant talking about the trip at the party was some kind of defense mechanism. A way to keep from fully entering the stream of my first first-world event in over a month. I guess maybe I was afraid of losing some sense of truth that I’d only recently regained. Something about the vast and wide world outside of the borders of myself.

Kunyama IDP camp.JPG
Acholi child at Kunyama IDP camp.

It took longer to get back to my life than I expected. To care about comic books and Internet posting and my Myspace page and foreign movies and cartoons on Adult Swim and You Tube videos. It’s even been hard to just pick up a phone and tell the people who I love that I’m safe and sound.

Working.jpg
Working hard on the streets of Gulu.

But today, today I started to feel like I was back for the first time. Started to feel American again. So I went into the expansive world of the Internet looking for a meaningless pop-culture fix.

And this is what I found in my Gmail inbox, sent to me from a closed peer network that I grab much of my postings from…

Sigh.

I’d like to contrast the behavior of the 15 year-old infant American in this video with just a handful more of the over 1,400 photographs I took during my trip.

Koch Guma children.JPG
Acholi children at the Koch Goma IDP camp. Those who are not orphaned are left alone in the camps for long stretches of time while their parents strike out looking for work. They will not get a Lexus when they turn 15. Many will not get to turn 15.

Boy on the road to Kunyama.JPG
Acholi Boy with a bike. During the hight of the conflict there were several cases of the Lord’s Resistance Army cutting off the feet of children for riding bycicles.

Food Drop.JPG
WFP food drop off at Kunyama IDP camp.

IMG_3768.JPG
Boy with box awaiting food rations during WFP drop off at Kunyama IDP camp.

Children carrying jerrycans .JPG
Children carrying Jerry Cans of fresh water through the streets of Gulu.

Laroo School.jpg
The Laroo school for War Affected Children

desks.jpg
Empty desks at Koch Goma school. An institution that has been trying to get up and running since 1994. There are still no students attending Koch Goma free School due to lack of funding, despite the massive, impoverished child population in the surrounding area.

Clinic.jpg
Koch Goma free clinic.

So there you go… just a sampling of the trip.

Anyway, I’m home… so expect further postings on this subject, including excerpts from my travel journals and, eventually, a document entitled “5 OBSTRUCTIONS TO PEACE IN NORTHERN UGANDA”. Also expect me to start caring about dumb ass shit again so I can get back to providing quality entertainment in both the comics and Internet medium.

Peace…

No really… peace.

Joshua

Happy Children.jpg

Coming Home (First Post After Uganda)

Posted on by Joshua Dysart Posted in Journal, Photos, Unknown Soldier, Writing | Leave a comment

I returned from my month in Uganda last week and have been getting multiple messages from concerned friends and readers alike asking me to please, please post and let everyone know that I’m alive and well. That’s very sweet. Thank you so much. I am. I am alive and I am well and singing the developed-nation blues again. For those who sent me emails while I was gone, please be patient, I’m trying… trying to get back into the swing of things.

Bathing.jpg
Me, preparing to bath out of a jerry can under East African skies after a 37 hour trip halfway around the world

But it’s hard. Hard to come home from a trip like this. My first night back in LA I went to a party to see friends and indulge in some carelessness after a month of traveling through harder parts of the world. At the party, which started in a bar and went back to my friend Luis Reyes’ (TokyoPop editor par excellence) apartment, there was everything one needed to eat, drink, be merry and generally live socio-economic, sexually liberated lives.

Sunrise.jpg
My first Ugandan sunrise, as seen from inside my cabin, looking out over Lake Victoria

Just five days before I’d been on the back of a motorcycle traveling through up-country Uganda, not far from the Sudan border, en route to an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Camp (or what one northerner called a “concentration camp”). Crossing an abundant but haunted patch of earth. Mango and jack fruit trees stood loyal as sentries every few kilometers and casaba root was betrayed by its emerald green thin stalks erupting from soft, red soil. And the ghosts? Spectres of a 20 year long war. Unmarked land mines, cholera, AIDS, a massive orphan population (a children to adult ration of about ten to one as far as I could tell), absolute poverty and a continued military presence which is supposedly there to protect the locals from the LRA rebels but whom many of the Acholi (the tribe most interrupted by the conflict) believe is there to keep them from leaving the camps.

Guard_in_Labuje_IDP_camp,_Uganda 2002.jpg
Ugandan People’s Defense Force soldier (government soldier) in Labuje IDP camp (not my photo… this was taken during operation “Iron Fist”, at the height of the conflict. Odds are this Ugandan soldier was shipped straight from Congo War II to North Western Uganda).

Northern Uganda looks nothing like the reports I’d been reading and posting back home. On May 18, 2007 the UN Integrated Regional Information Network reported “IDPs Begin Slow Journey home” after two decades. But this, like so much of the rest of the reportage coming out of this region, is largely bullshit built by a global community too enamored with Ugandan President General Museveni’s economic and military stabilization of the developed south to see the truth of the horrible situation in the underdeveloped north. Instead of people returning home to their land for the first time in decades, what I witnessed were people being moved to smaller “satellite” camps for reasons that Lt. Chris Magezi, the Ugandan Peoples Defense Force (or UPDF) Northern Region Spokesman/PRO Gulu, could not tell me during my short interview with him.

Museveni.jpg
President Museveni political poster.

While talking with a United Nations World Food Programme truck driver in a small IDP camp village just south of Gulu-Town, I asked, “What is the purpose of the satellite camps?” He shrugged and said, “Tribal politics is a muddy river here.” Referring to the severe social/economic division (which many are saying is being exploited by controlling forces in the government) between the Bugandan tribe who have a majority in the Ugandan Parliament in the south and the tribes of the north, including the Acholi.

UN Food Program Base.JPG
United Nations World Food Program storage facility in Gulu Town.

If one is to drop the conspiratorial tone that haunts the language and conversations of virtually everyone I met in the North (but not all) then it’s possible to assume that the satellite camps are an attempt to alleviate population concerns in the larger IDP camps while keeping people from striking out into land mine constipated areas in an effort to return to their land. Those farmers who do demand to return home suffer the very real possibility of digging (farming) on top of said mines. I was told by another investigative unit (Canadians, god bless them, they give North America a good name) I met in Acholiland that the UN group called the Mine Action Programme had only 23 de-miners for the whole Northern area (this has not been corroborated, a communication with the UN organization regarding this issue has remained unanswered). There were several meetings of Mine Action Programme bigwigs at Hotel Roma in Gulu. The same hotel I was staying at. Whenever I saw them in the restaurant or waiting area I would try to eavesdrop in on their conversations, which were predominantly in English, but to little avail. At one point I attempted to approach one of their African associates , but once I started asking questions about the organization I was immediately deflected. Understandable, since I didn’t approach the organization through any legitimate press channels. I’m also led to believe that they’re trying to focus their attention on Western Sudan among other places, so I’m sure resources are spread thin for them.

UN.jpg
The UN has a constant presence throughout Uganda. This was taken in the beautiful and stabilized town of Entebbe. Where a large UN base is kept.

Acholiland, particularly in the Gulu/Kitgum area is home to more NGO’s than any other place in the world. I was given varying numbers by varying sources, with between 400 and 600 actual registered NGO’s being sited. Most of these non-profit organizations have moved in during the last year as the the rumors of war began to die down and the perception of safety (years after actual safety had returned, many say) has finally been spread by President General Museveni. The mass proliferation of NGO’s has exploded the Gulu economy, pushing prices higher than they are even in Kampala, the developed capital. The problem is that most people in the area, many, many of them war affected, cannot financially afford the sudden shift in economy. Meaning that an army of do-gooders has moved in and raised the standard of living beyond the reaches of the population they intend on assisting. The seriousness of this issue remains to be seen.

Buying food.jpg
Road side shopping

Also, there seem to be three types of non-profits operating in the area. Ones who do good and necessary work, ones who come with well-meaning hearts but implement programs that do nothing to heal the cultural damage done to the Acholi way of life and in many cases perpetuate the welfare state mentality, and the ones called the “Invisible NGO’s” by a journalist I met who is working for two months in the area. The invisible NGO’s are organizations collecting grants and various government and private funds, yet have no locatable offices or evidence of applied services. These are the non-profit pirates, stealing money and goods the world has deemed belongs to the needy. The implications of too many NGO’s in one area are staggering and a whole paper could be written on the philosophical problems of good intentions and the global response to crises.

In fact, it’s my opinion that one of the obstructions to a lasting peace in the area is too many god damned professional do-gooders and not enough locally minded non-prof visionaries.

TRucks.jpg
A convoy of trucks with Aid heading out of Gulu-town and into the Bush.

While In Uganda I interviewed or spent time with Acholi religious leaders, various reporters and a documentary crew, a UPDF soldier who had been engaged in the north and is now stationed in Iraq (Uganda has 5,000 soldiers in Iraq currently), two Lord’s Resistance Army soldiers, several collage students in the south, Micro-financing bankers, NGO organizers and employees, Acholi political leaders from opposing parities, traditional Acholi musicians as well as young and hip musicians in the south, two nature conservationists, many Acholi teachers and community leaders, children in a school for war affected kids and various Ugandans from all walks of life, classes, tribes and geographic areas ranging from the South West Bugandan regions to the North Western Acholiland.

TAxi park.jpg
Taxi Park in Kampala. Grand Central Station for the Ugandan capital.

Back in the States, at the party, I found it hard to talk about anything other than my experiences and observations over the last month… probably to the point of annoyance. I couldn’t just be. Even the clean, gleaming, fully operational toilet in the host’s bathroom became, to me, a sharp and sudden symbol for America’s social isolation from the global culture.

Uganda Wins.jpg
Uganda defeats Nigeria 2 – 1 in Futball. Pushing the country up to #3 in the African Cup ranking. That night the streets of the capital exploded in celebration.

Because I couldn’t shut up about my trip, I started making several of the slightly-intoxicated, well-fed, college educated revelers feel a little guilty about their life in general and the party in particular, which was never my intention. I tried to tell them that it was good. Good to be one of the one in sixty-eight high rollers who won the birth lottery and popped out in a place where the odds of seeing three meals a day was as high as a kite. As long as we didn’t loose sight of what was real and common and fall into the trap of imagining our lives as normal in relation to the rest of the world, then it was okay to indulge. I mean if we didn’t indulge, then who would? The war-torn? The marginalized? The victims of global racism? Hardly. It was up to us. The North American Anglo, quite possibly the most privileged ethno-class in the history of the species, to indulge for all those that God, obviously a white male, had forgotten… or more rightly, taken a heaping shit on.

Gu;lu.jpg
The streets of Gulu under a full moon. These very streets were filled with the famous Night Commuters just six months prior. Tens of thousands of homeless children migrated daily – up to 12 kilometers – here and to other town centers to sleep safe from rebel abduction, or more likely, in the last few years, government persecution.

Only later did I realize that my incessant talking about the trip at the party was some kind of defense mechanism. A way to keep from fully entering the stream of my first first-world event in over a month. I guess maybe I was afraid of losing some sense of truth that I’d only recently regained. Something about the vast and wide world outside of the borders of myself.

Kunyama IDP camp.JPG
Acholi child at Kunyama IDP camp.

It took longer to get back to my life than I expected. To care about comic books and Internet posting and my Myspace page and foreign movies and cartoons on Adult Swim and You Tube videos. It’s even been hard to just pick up a phone and tell the people who I love that I’m safe and sound.

Working.jpg
Working hard on the streets of Gulu.

But today, today I started to feel like I was back for the first time. Started to feel American again. So I went into the expansive world of the Internet looking for a meaningless pop-culture fix.

And this is what I found in my Gmail inbox, sent to me from a closed peer network that I grab much of my postings from…

Sigh.

I’d like to contrast the behavior of the 15 year-old infant American in this video with just a handful more of the over 1,400 photographs I took during my trip.

Koch Guma children.JPG
Acholi children at the Koch Goma IDP camp. Those who are not orphaned are left alone in the camps for long stretches of time while their parents strike out looking for work. They will not get a Lexus when they turn 15. Many will not get to turn 15.

Boy on the road to Kunyama.JPG
Acholi Boy with a bike. During the hight of the conflict there were several cases of the Lord’s Resistance Army cutting off the feet of children for riding bycicles.

Food Drop.JPG
WFP food drop off at Kunyama IDP camp.

IMG_3768.JPG
Boy with box awaiting food rations during WFP drop off at Kunyama IDP camp.

Children carrying jerrycans .JPG
Children carrying Jerry Cans of fresh water through the streets of Gulu.

Laroo School.jpg
The Laroo school for War Affected Children

desks.jpg
Empty desks at Koch Goma school. An institution that has been trying to get up and running since 1994. There are still no students attending Koch Goma free School due to lack of funding, despite the massive, impoverished child population in the surrounding area.

Clinic.jpg
Koch Goma free clinic.

So there you go… just a sampling of the trip.

Anyway, I’m home… so expect further postings on this subject, including excerpts from my travel journals and, eventually, a document entitled “5 OBSTRUCTIONS TO PEACE IN NORTHERN UGANDA”. Also expect me to start caring about dumb ass shit again so I can get back to providing quality entertainment in both the comics and Internet medium.

Peace…

No really… peace.

Joshua

Happy Children.jpg

Your City Is Trying To Tell You Something…

Posted on by Joshua Dysart Posted in Art, Cool Stuff!, Journal, Photos | Leave a comment

image-00000223.jpg
new york city (united states of america), east village, 11th and a

Written On The City is a profoundly engaging, minimalist and beautiful website designed to distill the distinct voices of the greatest Cities in the world by allowing users to submit photographs of urban poetry and text that has been stenciled across, graphitized upon and splashed over the concrete jungles of mankind. There’s something spiritual about these anonymous messages to ourselves.

Granted, the collection is a little anemic right now, I hope that by posting this I’m inspiring people to go out and start shooting.

Check it out. Participate.

I notice that there is no listing for Los Angeles yet… I’m dying to get my new digital camera!

image-00000145.jpg
san francisco (united states of america), soma, folsom and sherman

San Diego Comic-Con 2005 (Pictures)

Posted on by Joshua Dysart Posted in Comic Books, Journal, Photos | Leave a comment

I broke my exceptionally cool camera in San Francisco recently and am mightily bummed. So I borrowed a friend�s for San Diego (thanks Laine Poo! You are a very sweet cranberry!!).

I roomed, as I have this entire con season, with the RED STAR cats, whom I do hold close to my wee little heart.

So without further ado, I give you the majesty of�

Team Red Star

Goss Sketching (3).jpg
Chris Gosset sketching at the new Red Star super-booth which, no doubt, played a factor in them having record sales at the con this year, despite no new product.

Goss Sleeping 1(3).jpg
Goss Passed out on the outdoor patio of the Hilton after a hard scrabble Video Game Industry meeting where he was forced to knife-fight to the death with ex-executives of the now defunct Activision to retain the rights to the “Red Star Interactive Experience”!! All hail the victor!

Goss sleeping 2(3).jpg
awwww… de sleepy-time babies…

Dre! (3).jpg
The beautiful professional fashion designer and ex-CIA assassin who wrote the book on “seduction n’ slash” techniques, Adriann Helton, hocks Red Star crap to unsuspecting suckers. Her political cartoons can be found in TEX: GEORGE BUSH AND THE FINE ART OF CHARACTER ASSASSINATION!

I didn’t get very good shots of the rest of the team, so I’m dipping’ into my archives for images of the others. The following photos were not taken in San Diego this year…

Jo and Sam (3).jpg
Dr. Jo Olson keeps the Red Star afloat. One of the most powerful women in the world!! BURN HER! She’s a witch!! That’s her sister Sam in the background.

Jet (3).jpg
Jeff Henderson, walking the mean streets of San Francisco. He’s a complicated man and nobody understands him but his woman.

I don’t have any decent shots of Pauly or Snakebite, though they’re incredibly important to the team… sorry guys.

And now for the rest of the con!

CAPTAIN GRAVITY AND THE POWER OF THE VRIL

Sal an dI (3).jpg
Sal Velluto and I are just part of the creative team that’s giving you you’re Golden Age WWII super hero fix, baby!

Sal is highly placed in the Italian arm of the Mormon mafia, so watch yourself.

THE VERTIGO DINNER

Every convention the ultra-hip of the sub-mainstream (and, well, me. I’m not exactly sure how I got into this club, but I’m sleeping on their couch till they kick me off) gather in some posh-ass place and get merry on Warner Brothers’ dime!

Dean and mom (3).jpg
Dean Haspiel (THE QUITTER) and his amazing, Leftist mother. It is my very fond wish that Dean and I will be working together soon. I think he’s fucking great.

Gibbons.jpg
Glenn Fabry (NEVERWHERE, barely visible on the left), Dave Gibbons (WATCHMEN, center) and John Watkiss (TRIGGER). Three artists who should be shot for over-excelling at their craft.

Karen and Richard.jpg
Karen Berger (VP-Executive Editor of Vertigo, and patron-saint of those of us desperate to do something different and still get paid) and her husband Richard – who’s a very cool guy.

KAren and josh (3).jpg
Karen and I. By publishing this photo of Karen I almost guarantee that I will never work at Vertigo again

And at the dinner were the cats behind SWAMP THING.

Enrique (3).jpg
El Maestro! The man who draws the world’s nightmares! Enrique Breccia, artist on the current run of SWAMP THING. I dare say, he looks harmless enough.

Enrique and MArtin.jpg
Father and son. Enrique and Martin Breccia. Martin is the amazing colorist on SWAMP THING.

young Breccia.jpg
The youngest of the Breccia art clan. Brother to Martin, son of Enrique. A writer, and no doubt headed for brilliance. Soon to be breaking American girls’ hearts in Brooklyn.

OTHER CREATORS

ANderson.jpg
Anderson Gabrych (BATGIRL). Quite possibly the hottest man in comics.

JH.jpg
That’s me with my arm around one of my absolute favorite artists working right now, J.H. Williams (PROMETHIA). His vignettes in WILDGIRL were worth the price of the whole book. That’s his wife on the left. Who’s name I can’t remember. Sorry, She completely deserves to be known as more than just somebody’s wife, but what can I say. Just after this photograph was taken I spilled her drink. Because I’m that cool.

FABRY.jpg
The incomparable Glenn Fabry (NEVERWHERE) keeping his fans happy while…

me signing (6).jpg
I sit next to him, having my own signing to which three people showed. Because I’m that cool. (Bob Wayne, VP of Sales at DC, took this photo)

Frabry Y Martin!.jpg
Glen Fabry and Martin Breccia back to being friends after a brief fist-to-cuffs in the parking lot.

And because he wouldn’t let me take a picture of him this year, I’m forced to dig into my archives and unearth this shot from last year’s Comic-con…

Marc (3).jpg
Marc Andreyko (MANHUNTER) wears his sun glasses at night. I can’t imagine why.

THE “DEAR GOD, JEFF MACEY IS LEAVING US” DARK HORSE PARTY.

I met Jeff years ago when he was working for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and took an immediate liking to him. He has since moved on to Dark Horse’s marketing department. Apparently this was his last con as an industry insider. He’s quitting to get a law degree so he can be a better soldier for the Left. “After the election,” he told me, “I just couldn’t sit back and keep selling STAR WARS books anymore.” Jeff receives my “Coolest Fucker at the Con” award for that sentiment alone. He will be missed on the circuit. To top it all off, his wife is about to have a baby!

Jeff.jpg
The man, Macey, out of focus and moving on to nobler pursuits.

SCott.jpg
Scott Allie, a recent father himself, and one of my favorite editors in the industry, raps with some really nice Dark Horse employee that I met, yet can’t remember her name.

THE TOKYO POP GANG

luis.jpg
Luis Reyes, editor of original content… and rock n’ roll legend. He is most assuredly doomed to die early.

her.jpg
Lillian Diaz-Przybyl, an editor at TOKYOPOP, believes that when you take her picture you steal a piece of her soul. So I clicked quite a few.

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Christine Boylan and I. I’m the one with the cavernous nose and oddly shaped head. Christine had done some work for TOKYOPOP but has moved on to greener pastures. Actually the bitch has been in LA less than a year and has her first film script being shot. Now she’s a writing assistant on THE GILMORE GIRLS which they tell me is on TV. Apparently Adult Swim and The Daily Show isn’t all that’s transmitted into my cathode chaos box. Christine is an old friend, and if I’m not mistaken she has a SUPERMAN story coming out soon.

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Felipe Smith (center, MBQ), me and some very cool stranger. Felipe’s book is truely tight and should be read by all.

DC STAFF!

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Fletcher Chufong, Manager – Events and Retailer Services, fires off a sexy pose for the camera.

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Eddie Berganza, editor of the Superman books, looks trapped and panicked as I beg for a job writing the Sun God Ra… uh, I mean Superman.

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Paula Lowitt, Senior VP-Business & Legal Affairs, checks to see if the poor drunk fucker sprawled out on the floor of the Hyatt elevator is dead (he’s not). Just after this picture was taken Geoff Johns stole his hat, which is hilarious to me.

AND ALMOST LAST BUT FAR FROM LEAST

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A very poor attempt, by more than one of us, to capture the beam of light that is Amanda Fisher, owner of MUSE COMICS, a store in Missoula, Montana.

LAST, AND ACTUALLY LEAST

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Me, passed the fuck out on Sunday night. Finally done with the whole moveable feast. I have no idea who took this picture with my camera, but since there were five of us in the room… it could’vd been anybody.

Ahhh, and now, in a matter of days, I leave for WIZARD WORLD CHICAGO.

No rest for the wicked.

CHA CHA CHA.

Peace, love and hippie shit…
Joshua

Politics, Media, Cool Links and Work Updates

Posted on by Joshua Dysart Posted in Animation, Comic Books, Cool Stuff!, Film & TV, Journal, Music, News & Politics, Photos | Leave a comment

Wow, it’s been a long time since I rolled into this little closet of a web room. Time to check all the light bulbs and scrape the cobwebs from the corners. For those of you that give a shit and have the time to drown in somebody else’s fairy tale, I’ll hit a few basics, catch you up on work, then hook you up with some cool media stuff. Into the mix I’ll throw some images from very current politics. After that I’ll leave you to your own devices and get back to my real job… spit shining the fiction machine.

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I was asked to write a 300-word promotional blurb for SWAMP THING to be published in all the Vertigo books in their monthly “column” entitled ON THE LEDGE. The first thing I wrote (perhaps we actually ride words instead of write them, hmmm� oh sorry) the first thing I wrote was done in my voice, which is this sort of open road rambling you’re enduring right now. I was very proud of it. Then some ghost named doubt glided its icy fingers up the spine of my inspiration and I began second-guessing what I’d written. I wonder if I’ll ever be able to create from a place of no fear? Anyway, as I said, I started to second-guess myself and I rewrote a more acceptable, but slightly pappy, piece of pimp.

So here’s the original ON THE LEDGE, the cool one, in case you’re interested…

*

ON THE LEDGE

These are things we always knew. That the rivers of the world are the true clocks, drumming down the land, passing time not in ticks and tocks but plips and plops. That the weather still tumbles across woods and mountains and deserts and oceans and wetlands and ice more than it does hamlets and malls and suburbs and shanties and soda pop mansions and labyrinthine megalopolises. That beneath the lands we build are the lands we truly cross. These are things we always knew. But we forget. We fight resource wars, we eat cake, we watch NASCAR, we play online videogames. We forget. We drown out the hum of nature. We become absent minded of the engine that governs us… just as we forget our own heartbeat.

But there’s a place, a mythic, gothic bog located somewhere in the vegetation of our collective imagination. And in it lives a monster. A creature that, like you and I, is crafted from the very fabric of the earth that birthed him. A walking sentient eco-system. A slice of spirit trapped in matter. And though he has forgotten much, he hasn’t forgotten what we have. He’s on the other side of this encroaching expanse of concrete and digital porn. He’s a soldier and a savior, a friend and a foe, heartbroken and healing, reluctant and ready.

He is called Swamp Thing… and in these times of forgetting.. he is what’s needed most.

– Joshua Dysart

*

Yeah… so there you go… that’s not what will appear in the comic books, but that’s what I was feeling, thinking and dreaming at the time.

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The Pentagon, under pressure from open-government advocates, released hundreds of images Thursday of flag-draped coffins of American soldiers. Of course the election is over now. From SFGATE.

MOLLS AND TROLLS, MOLLS AND TROLLS, WORK WORK WORK

Things happening all over the place. I’m about to start writing the Swamp Thing arc for issues #21 – #24, to be drawn by hard driving Enrique Breccia. It’s currently called THE BLEEDING RACONTEUR (though these things do tend to change), and, no bullshit, it will literally change the swamp forever (or at least until the next writer takes over and swings his/her wrecking ball pen up against the walls of all my little sandcastles).

More CAPTAIN GRAVITY work has been commissioned from PENNY FARTHING PRESS. Seems the book is going for a crazy spin around comicdom. It’s the number one seller in the history of PFP. Cool. Wizard Magazine just published a blurb stating that the original issue #1 is entirely impossible to get your hands on, fortunately the reprint #1, with a new cover, is on the menu… so bon appetite! I’ll be writing 20 to 25 extra pages of new story for the Trade.

I’m currently talking to Scott Allie, one of my favorite editors in the industry, over at Dark Horse about a mini-series. Can’t give any details right now, but it’s big and I’m really fucking jazzed about it. I’m going to start writing my proposal in about two-weeks. I’ll let you know more when there’s more to know.

The fantastic artist Dean Haspiel and I are working on a pitch together. He just finished working with Harvey Pekar on Vertigo’s THE QUITTER. When it’s ready we’ll hit VERTIGO first, then go from there. I look forward to sharing more of that with you when the time is right.

TOKYO POP is patiently waiting for a three-book breakdown (each book will be about 150 pages). My editor there…

Luis Reyes…
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and I have already settled on the project, now we just have to sell it to all the head-someones. Still, with so much other shit going on, it might be awhile before I get to it. On the plus side, this would be my first entirely original project ever. So hopefully I can give some love to it soon and it’ll get the green light.

There’s some other stuff too, but right now it’s all so gossamer that it’s not even worth mentioning.

Lots of work, but very little of it at that magic paycheck point yet. So I’m still struggling with money. Keeps me edgy, I say!

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French artist Marc Molk carries a painted portrait of British weapons expert Dr David Kelly in protest on the day of the British general election outside Downing Street in London, May 5, 2005. The suicide of Kelly, a former Iraq weapons inspector, in July 2003, led to the Hutton inquiry, which lifted the lid on the inner workings of the government and presented a serious threat to the premiership of Britain’s Prime Minster Tony Blair. Although Labour’s Tony Blair looked set to become British prime minister for a third straight time today, he might well exit the political stage in the near future after a ‘bloody nose’ from voters over the Iraq war, experts said.

COMIC INDUSTRY NEWS…

The latest incarnation of the Wein/Infantino HUMAN TARGET has seen its last issue with #21. It didn’t even get two years. If that were to happen to SWAMP THING I’d already be halfway through my run. This time around HUMAN TARGET was written by Peter Milligan and drawn by various exceptional artists, but mostly Cliff Chang. It was a very solid comic book. Fantastic actually. And Vertigo let it ride for a while despite rough numbers. It’s frightening to be working in a market that doesn’t reward this level of intellect, character development and plotting. Meanwhile sales on manipulative, spandex, crossover wankfests by mediocre writers go through the roof. It makes me concerned for my own future. This getting the axe, along with the now defunct KINETIC and possibly the very well written BOOKS OF MAGIC: LIFE DURING WARTIME, well, it’s beginning to show a hard trend. Books that I like and respect, and that I think – quite honestly – are better than mine, are not liked and respected by others. What does that say about my own work and my future viability in the market place?

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The U.S. can’t account for $100 million missing in Iraq. Government mismanagement of assets, from the lack of proper documentation on nearly $100 million in cash to millions of dollars worth of unaccounted-for equipment, are setting back efforts to fight corruption in the fledgling democracy, auditors and critics say. Meanwhile, while nameless war profiteers are getting rich… this picture released by the U.S. Army shows a U.S. soldier holding a child fatally wounded in a car bomb blast in Mosul, 360 km (225 miles) northwest of Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, May 2, 2005. 15 Iraqis were wounded in the combined suicide bomb attack.

HERE’S SOME COOL MEDIA STUFF

COMICS

SEA OF RED – REMENDER, DWYER & SAM (Image): There are a couple of pirate books out right now, but this one is just cool-ass gorgeous. The writing is fantastic, ringing impressively true to the genre, and the art is stellar. It’s beautiful.

THE GOON – POWELL (Dark Horse): I will pimp this book till the zombie apocolypse comes. Hilarious, monster fighting action illustrated with extraordinary craftsmanship.

VIMANARAMA – MORRISON & BOND (Vertigo): What if Kirby had been Hindu and had an infatuation with Bollywood? King Morrison, once again, shows us how it’s done. This cat Morrison seems to be living ten minutes in the future at all times. And everything Bond touches turns to gold.

OR ELSE – HUIZENGA (Drawn & Quarterly): This is a B&W from 2004, but I only just now discovered it. Wonderful, quiet, poetic, moving and formally inventive.

HAPPY – SIMMONS (Top Shelf): Another old work I just stumbled on. Sick, glorious, and simultaneously fluffy and edgy. The “autobiographical” comic about a young boy witnessing an exposed ball sack is fucking genius. And it’s just a dollar/issue at the Top Shelf site!

FILMS

ENRON: THE SMARTEST GUYS IN THE ROOM (Dir: Alex Gibney): I literally – and I’m using the word correctly, as in “actually” – had a panic attack listening to the phone conversations of these fucking assholes as they raped California citizens out of billions. An amazing exploration of the corporate culture of greed and a study on the dangers of deregulation. Far more engaging and infuriating than you could ever imagine.

ASSISTED LIVING (Dir: Elliot Greenebaum): Nice effort for the most part. It works far more often than it fails. First time director to watch.

PALINDROMES (Dir: Todd Solondz): The latest from the writer/director of HAPPINESS. Not perfect, but edgy as fuck. I like his more minimalist style here. An abortion fable where all the pro-choice people don’t give anyone a choice and all the pro-life people kill. The scene in which several handicapped children sing a song called “Jesus Doesn’t Make Mistakes!” is… well, wrong… and right.

MUSIC

The sea of sound I’m bobbing atop of as I write this week…

CORNERSHOP – WOMAN’S GOTTA HAVE IT (1995): Crazy lo-fi east/west fusion. From David Byrne’s label.

COTTONBELLY – X AMOUNTS OF NICENESS: NYC SESSIONS 1993/2004 (2004): fantastic dub-dance remix album.

ERYKAH BADU – MAMA’S GUN (2000): As a friend said, this is the best R&B album of 2000.

NICOLA CONTE – JET SOUNDS REVISITED (2002): groove ass nu-jazz remix of the lounge classic “Jet Sounds”.

BOOKS

THE POLITICS OF HEROIN: CIA COMPLICITY IN THE GLOBAL DRUG TRADE – McCoy: “The problem with America’s failed chance at essentially reducing if not eliminating drugs as a problem was a contradiction between the needs of domestic policy and the national security state.”

WEBSITES

POSTSECRET: anonymous postcards, all sent in with secrets written on them. A gorgeous humanist site. Some of the cards are heartbreaking.

Alchemical Kubrick. 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Great Work – On Film: Stanley Kubrick as Hermes Trismegistus!

The Holy Consumption: Read more independent comics goddamn it!

WEB MOVIES

Atom Films Online has several Raoul Servais animated films that can be watched free of charge. Servais founded Europe’s first department of animation. He’s best known for twelve animated films that won him world recognition at prominent international film festivals in the 1970s. In 1980 HARPYA was voted one of the fifteen greatest animated films of all time by a panel of international film critics. Watch ’em!

Sirene (1968),
Goldframe (1969)
Operation X-70 (1971)
Harpya (1979)
Pegasus (1973)
To Speak or Not to Speak

IN CLOSING…

That should cover me for a while. I’ve got to go masturbate and get back to work now… shutoff the lights on your way out.

One last picture… from my personal collection.

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Tone Rodriguez, larger than life penciler of VIOLENT MESSIAHS