The art of tattooing goes back for centuries in Japan. The art of Japanese tattooing, or “irezumi”, literally translates as “inserting ink”. They interchangeably also use the words “bunshin: patterning the body” , “gei: tattooing”, and “shisei: piercing with blue”; synonyms that can be read the same but have different contexts and subtle differences in meaning. There’s some speculation on when the art form started and how commonplace it was throughout Japan, but the furthest concrete evidence gets us is 300 B.C.
The world of comics has come a long way to get where we are today. Marvel has an entire cinematic universe, superhero toys and symbols can be seen all over stores; even lesser known and more niche comics like Ghost World, Invincible, The Walking Dead, or Watchmen now have movies and tv shows to critical acclaim. This all seems so commonplace to us now, but for a while in the late 50’s and early 60’s, comics as we knew them almost ceased entirely. Continue reading
Art Spiegelman is one of the most well-known adult comic creators. My introduction to him was through Maus, his autobiography-biography that followed him documenting his father as he recalled his time in the Holocaust. Maus garnered a lot of attention for its time, received a special Pulitzer award, and is one of the first books ever to be considered a non-fiction graphic novel. However, Spiegelman’s personal story doesn’t start with Maus, nor does it end there. He was a prolific artist for almost all of his working life.
The world of the 1900’s was tumultuous, to say the least. The first 50 years of the century saw two World Wars, fluctuations in world economy, and the beginning of a more unified world culture. This was a time for artists, authors, and visionaries to rise to great heights, share their influence across the world, and establish the roots of what we would now consider “pop culture”. Though not well known by name, the fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli was one such artist. Her avant-garde styles and creativity left a lasting impact on the world of fashion, entertainment, and even recreational sports!
Have you ever seen the movies Alien, Tron, or The Fifth Element? What about Blade Runner, Hellboy, or any of Studio Ghibli‘s many films? If so, chances are you’ve seen the influence of Jean Giraud, the French sci-fi comic artist also known as Moebius. Lauded as one of the greatest comic artists of all time, his life of art making was prolific and varied, and spanned multiple decades of recent history.
With the new year upon us, you might stop to think about our calendar. Why does the new year start in winter? Where did the name “January” come from? You might even have a little more insight, such as “Why is December the 12th month when its name means ten?”. These are all valid questions, and things you might not exactly know the answer to. Much like any cultural or linguistic evolution, the names of the months developed over centuries, but is deeply rooted in ancient Rome.
Snow is probably the trademark of winter, If you’re trying to convey cold through symbolism, a snowflake gets the job done. We’re all dreading the first snowfall of the year, we shovel it, we play in it, making snowballs, snowmen, and snow angels. We even make fake snow for decoration, ambiance, and even ski resorts. Because of how ubiquitous snow is, I’m sure we’ve all heard the old rumor that “Inuits had over 100 words for snow”. As a child, I certainly never questioned it, but did you ever stop to think if there was any truth to it? What languages have the most words for snow? Why are there so many terms for snow? These are all good questions, and with a little etymology and linguistics, we can answer them.
With November coming to a close, Thanksgiving passed and the holiday season in full swing, it’s easy to forget that Mark Twain’s birthday is November 30th. Born under Halley’s comet in one of the coldest months of the year, Mark Twain was one of the first great American authors, he left a tremendous impact on the literary world. His stories and memoirs fused wild adventures with a novel sense of humor, but this style comes as no surprise once you know a little more about his storied and eventful life.
Agatha Christie is an easily recognizable name these days. You or someone you know has undoubtedly heard of her works, seen a film adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express, or seen the TV adaptations of her Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot detective mysteries. She is the most-translated author to this day, and her book And Then There Were None remains one of the highest selling books of all time. She has been given monikers and accolades such as “the queen of crime” or “the queen of mystery”, and her legacy lives on in her 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections published in her lifetime. However, how she got her start and the compelling details of her storied life remain a mystery to so many. Continue reading
When you see the words “comic book”, certain images come to mind. Brightly colored superheroes and monsters on the cover of a small paper booklet, a stylized movie poster, a collection of cartoons from the newspapers. While comic books and graphic novels did start out in all these smaller mediums, their storytelling and artistry has only grown over the years, and by now they encompass so many genres and styles. National Comic Book Day is celebrated on September 25th, and celebrates the history of the medium and its impact on our culture.