Spark Generators 2

Like Autobiographix, Spark Generators 2 is a collection of real-life tales, but these have a tighter theme. Cartoonists were asked to do stories about their artistic influences. Edited by Jon “Bean” Hastings, the book benefits San Francisco’s Cartoon Art Museum.

The first piece, by Andrew Farago, sums up the mission of the organization and key points in cartoon preservation history. Astoundingly, this is accomplished through mimicking some of the best-known strips and characters, like Krazy Kat and Pogo. John Kovalic (Dork Tower) follows with a touching piece on the effect Charles Schulz had on his life and career.

Spark Generators 2 cover
Spark Generators 2
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Lark Pien’s wacky blend of children’s book and comic characters, including Richard Scarry’s Lowly Worm, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Hello Kitty, is adorably twisted and yet revealing of her reading loves. She’s not the only one to talk about non-comic influences. Keith Knight’s list, incorporating music and TV as well as print sources, is almost longer than his strip.

Rick Geary expresses the idea that one may not want to meet one’s influence in person, that the art can have more effect than the person behind it. Michael Jantze (The Norm) discusses learning through borrowing as part of the path to originality, while the insight in Jesse Reklaw’s mini-comic appreciation made me want to check out more of his work.

A self-aggrandizing essay by Gary Chaloner could have been omitted with no loss. An essay by Lynn Johnston (For Better or For Worse), on the other hand, was informative, but it could have been improved by more examples of the work of Len Norris, the cartoonist under discussion.

Aside from the above, this book features the work of some of my favorite artists, like Carol Lay (Story Minute), Rachel Hartman (Amy Unbounded), Chynna Clugston-Major (Blue Monday), and Tom Beland (True Story Swear to God). Not only is this book a fascinating way to learn more about the artists’ influences; it’s also a pretty good primer on things young and aspiring artists should think about in their own development.


3 Responses to “Spark Generators 2”

  1. John Says:

    Is this an older book, Johanna?
    The Mars Import site lists this as published December 2003, and I can’t find it at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
    It definitely looks like a book worth checking out, though. Thanks for the heads up!

    JOHN :0)

  2. Johanna Says:

    It is older, and its distribution was always spotty, I think. I suspect, since it was a charity/benefit effort, that they may not have sent it through as many outlets as a more usual graphic novel.

  3. John Says:

    With all the talent featured, and the subject matter, I’m really surprised that I haven’t heard of this sooner. I’ll order it from the Mars Import site.
    Thank you, again, JOHN :0)




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