Cartoon strips have been around for centuries, although the first credited newspaper comic is often claimed by the Hearst New York American in 1896, with Hogan's Alley. With the Hearst business policy "Our company's mission is still to inform, entertain and inspire", it's as if Alternative Fruit had seen it all those years ago. It is a co-incidence, but a healthy one. Richard Faulton Outcault, upon creating this strip, may well have been inspired by previous works often ascribed to doodles or side-line antics of other writing work. Even Medieval scribes have been known to draw comic scenes in their notes while painstakingly writing out line after line of Latin text, to a perfection most mortals can only dream of. Since the first official newspaper comic book strip back in the nineteenth century, other artists soon caught on and began making their own.
As works such as the Bayeux Tapestry and Trajan's Column depict entire stories in pictorial form, with insertions of words where needed, it wasn't long before this new comic strip art form also made it into dedicated works. In the way that Hieroglyphs from Egypt depict certain sounds and phonetics, comics began to adapt their art to evolve into a unique language variant. While every artist no-doubt had their own stories to tell, the themes and styles began to emerge which became institutions within themselves. Brands and characters became synonymous with their themes.
Comic book characters and brands have become symbols for much more than an expression of creativity. The ethics and morals of each story go into a giant tapestry of what the work represents, not just to its creator but to all who enjoy it. Like-minded folk all around the world can share a love for their favourite art. We're inundated with the heroes, Superman, Spider-Man, X-Men, Fantastic 4, The Avengers, etc, and they're all great characters but if we dig a little deeper, there's so much more out there. It's good to know the trivia surrounding the big names, and collect the cool stuff with their images on, however it's even better to build on that by learning about and appreciating some of the more underground and obscure works that ran underneath the classics. Often themes and gists are gleaned from underground material, and if we have a keen eye it's possible to spot it. That's a great talking point, if we find a common theme. It makes people think.
Thanks to Open Culture for sharing this article, it's possible for Alternative Fruit to share this huge online archive of thousands of digitised comic books. Ranging from the glory days of old to the end of the 50's, when the art form literally exploded with the onset of global reading audiences. Themes and genres are there for everyone, my particular favourites are the obscure varieties which try to be totally unique. What about you? Enjoy this huge collection of digitised comics.
As a child, one of my favourite things to do was to go to the library and rent an audiobook on cassette. I also collected the odd magazine from the local market with story-time cassettes as part of the package. I will always remember Morris and Doris. Getting a tape player was a big thing for me back then. I used it and used it. I like to read and don't have much trouble, only for me, concentration has always been something of an issue. I find it hard to focus for a long time on a book, many times a chapter is too much. I'm sure I'm not the only one who has this problem with reading, a wandering mind is something many people have. Sometimes it feels like focusing on a page is like holding up a heavy weight and after so long I just have to let it go. After a few minutes, I'm able to get back into it.
There are times when reading isn't the best option either. Often we're doing something else with our hands and eyes, and it's only our ears that we have to spare. Spoken word books are perfect for when we want to listen to something that is made of words rather than sounds. Music is great and I listen to it a lot but there are times when I much prefer to listen to a good book. It can be about anything, fiction or non-fiction. It's mostly in the way it's told that makes the difference.
A lot of people make use of an Audible subscription, and it is a really worthwhile service. The books are always read to the highest quality and the titles are so plentiful that no-one will be left empty handed. Subscriptions make an ideal gift to yourself at any time of year. Listening in the car or at home is as easy as a podcast. However, it's not always within a person's reach to pay the premium fees asked for by an audio-book company. We all understand that not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to justify pleasures like that. That's why a lot of people make a real effort to produce free audio-book literature for anyone to listen to.
Librivox, for example, is a digital platform which allows volunteers to read books and upload the audio files to their database. Then people from all over the world access the titles via the internet and download the books they want to hear. It's a brilliant way of opening up the world of literature to so many who may not have been able to hear the vast array of stories available there. There is one issue that I have encountered with Librivox, and that is consistency. Often the reader doesn't have an ideal voice for my ear, with accents becoming an issue at times. Other times a book can be split up into various readers, meaning that I have to re-adjust my ears to an entirely new voice telling the same story. With it being absolutely free and voluntary, I cannot really go as far to make them complaints, the service is extremely valuable.
For many years now, I have been enjoying a podcast called The Classic Tales Podcast. It is read by B.J. Harrison who for longer than I can contemplate has been steadily reading his way through book after book of high-end classic literature. The podcast is free to listen to and with a huge back-catalogue of episodes out there, there's enough to keep you going for mounts and months. The consistent quality of the readings is something to be remarked. It's obvious that B.J. Harrison has made a superb effort to make sure that anyone from anywhere can really hear the words. He does fantastic accents and impersonations of the books' characters too, something that is truly a golden touch. If you become a subscribing member, there's a reward code that lets you download premium editions of many other titles not made into podcast episodes too. I respect this podcast and can tell it's a labour of love.
To finish, I can't go without mentioning YouTube. Often it is just copies of Librivox recordings put there for the pleasure (and advertising I assume), however it makes it an easy go to place for certain titles. Copyrighted works are often removed fairly quickly, however literature of a certain age tends to not have intellectual copyright and can be reused. Here is a playlist of books made by Alternative Fruit. Enjoy!
Male mental health awareness charity Movember have been working with Sotheby's art auction. They approached ten street artists to create works of sellable art that represent male mental health. Because of the stigma involved in this issue, with prejudice and fear making it hard for people to talk about it, headlining the subject with high-brow offerings really helps to shine a light. It's a touchy subject, men are often told to never show weakness and if they believe it, they'll think admitting problems with their mind is a no-no. It takes a lot of strength to go against the grain and speak up when it's taboo. It takes a real man to talk about his own feelings and I guess it takes an even bigger one to forgive society for not wanting to know.
With these ten images, collectively called Against The Wall, the heavy truth is spelled out in multicoloured splendour. We get to see the metaphorical emotions and the plague of brainwashed thoughts which continue to forbid self-respect and motivation. I hope this encourages more artists to work on this area, there's a lot of ground to cover and with the obvious inequality within society's desire to help men's mental health, it's a mission with a worthy cause. The Against The Wall auction at Sotheby's is scheduled to run on the 16th of November for display and the 22nd for the sale itself.
For those who like poetry, here's one I wrote on the subject called Man Up.
Portable Petroglyphs Depicting Extinct Megafauna Discovered In North America When History Books Say Humans Arrived Much Later | Alternative Fruit
Clovis people were hunter-gatherers who are known to have colonised North America around 12,000 years ago. These are considered to be the first people to live on this continent, and helped to seed all of the eventual native American races and tribes who lived there since. This is however in contention as various evidence points to people living there before this period of time. The debate is still ongoing, and it seems that despite the clues, those who make the difference are still unable to piece them together. What about you?
People have been drawing images on stones for a long time, and as reported in the Indian Petroglyphs article last week, it shows us what the people were thinking about at the time. It gives us a good impression of what was important culturally to the individuals who made them. When we see creatures like elephants and monkeys on the petroglyphs in North America, we know that only a human could have made them. We know that these creatures did migrate over the arctic circle to these lands, however there was a mass extinction event during the last ice-age. Partially caused by lack of ecosystem and partially caused by hunting, we lost many of our giant animals at this time.
The Clovis hunter-gatherers lived after the ice-age, when these animals had already gone. So we know that these people could not have produced this art. That is unless they found skeletons and made an artist's representation, or copied described images from passed down tales. It's much more plausible that these carvings were made at the time these beasts were alive by people who lived beside them. Humans would naturally follow the migration paths of animal herds, so why not across into North America? Perhaps there was a period in time when there was an annual migration from Europe to America, especially knowing that the two countries have been gradually moving apart meaning they would have been closer at the time.
Why does it take so long for consensus to even consider an idea that clearly carries weight? Perhaps the cost of reprinting textbooks for every institution out there would be too much to think about, and perhaps the many tenured professors who've made their livelihoods on the back of previous data have other motives at heart. We can only keep considering all the evidence and making our own choices about what it all points to. One thing is for certain, we still love making petroglyphs. Just a quick browse on eBay will uncover loads of them, new and old.
Via Ancient Origins
also see, Museum of Portable Rock Art, Canada