A Brief Note on Supporting Me & My Art

Hi there, folks.  As you may or may not know, I have begun to sell my artwork here on Pigtails.  I have sold one piece already, and nearly sold the second one, but it is still up for sale.  Here’s the thing: I am almost literally an example of the starving artist.  Each of these drawings is highly detailed and takes from two to three weeks to complete.  I can’t work on them incessantly because I have other things to do, so they take a while to get done.  So please, if you are able to purchase a piece, I urge you to do so.

If you can’t do that, you can also make donations directly to the artist: contact me via my email and I will provide an address for you to send donations to.  You don’t even have to provide a return address, and I will accept cash or money orders.  I would like to continue putting up my work, but if I am unable to profit from it, it doesn’t make much sense to spend my time producing it or putting it up, and I’ll have to devote my energies to other things.  That would be unfortunate, because I have several wonderful pieces planned, including my take on the Birth of Venus, a portrait of Daenerys Targaryen and Khal Drogo from George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire book series, and a little alien girl.

You have gotten a taste of my work now, so if you like it, please support me financially so that it is worth my while to continue producing these high quality pieces for your enjoyment.  Thank you!

A Young Moon Goddess and Her Acolytes

Well, I’m finally able to present my second piece here.  I’ve been working on it all month and at last it’s finished!  It’s a fantasy piece, in keeping with my interests: two young warriors have been placed to guard a portal made up of two trees twisted together, when suddenly the portal opens and there floats a youthful goddess of the moon, her hair and clothing billowing in the breeze.

Bear in mind that this is a bad scan done with one of those handheld scanners and I went through hell trying to get the pieces lined up in Photoshop, but this is a reasonable facsimile of the original image.  I will see about getting a better scan early this week, because this scan–and all scans really–are unable to do the b&w art justice.  First, there is distortion of the image here and there, especially the bottom right-hand corner and the full moon.  Further, in order to get a consistent image which would be suitable for printing, I have to push the contrast up, which has a flattening effect.  Thus, you miss out on all the sensuous textures of the original.  The style of this piece is fairly realistic, though with some Art Nouveau touches in the trees and the goddess’s hair and cape.

Anyway, here is “Moon Goddess”–pen & ink on 11 x 14 Bristol board, and it is for sale.  If you’re interested, please contact me via my email: pipstarr72@yahoo.com.

Edit: I had this piece sold, but the buyer backed out at the last minute.  So, it is once again available.  Come on, guys, either buy my art or don’t buy it, but don’t lead me on please. ;)

Pip Starr - Moon Goddess (2015)

Pip Starr – Moon Goddess (2015)

Pip Starr - Moon Goddess (2015) (detail 1)

Pip Starr – Moon Goddess (2015) (detail 1)

Pip Starr - Moon Goddess (2015) (detail 2)

Pip Starr – Moon Goddess (2015) (detail 2)

Sensationalism, the Two Camps and the Eternal Child

In a passing conversation, I got a tip that there was a photograph attributed to Lewis Carroll (Charles Dodgson) that had been floating around since at least the 1970s. It is purported to be a photograph of Lorina Liddell, the eldest of the Liddell children with whom Dodgson spent a lot of time and took photographs. When I looked into it, I realized this was not an off-hand remark. BBC2 had just aired a documentary entitled The Secret World of Lewis Carroll on January 31st in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the publication of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Hosted by Martha Kearney, the film mostly honors the literary achievement of this artist, but in a bizarre twist, the producers claimed a last minute discovery of a photograph suggesting a more sinister interest in children by Dodgson.

I was told that the image could be found on the internet, however I was only able to find this very small one. I would appreciate someone coming forward with a better copy. Two or three versions of this reproduction were available.

Lorina photo cleanSuch a “discovery” is undoubtedly an irresistible bit of sensationalism for filmmakers and would inevitably, and quite incongruously, be included. Taking into account the overall structure of the film, it really seemed tacked on. Anyone who is an expert on the photographic work of Dodgson would recognize this as a forgery (or misidentified) and Edward Wakeling and many others have said so. The real mystery in my mind is why it was produced in the first place. Was it a forgery to discredit Dodgson? Was it a lark by another photographer who noticed the resemblance between a model and the real Lorina Liddell? Or were the identifying marks on the back just a guess by some art dealer who thought he recognized the model and period?

Before delving into historical, psychological and personality issues, it is important to notice that the producers focused only on the forensic evidence and only fleetingly mentioned that real experts on the man considered it a fake. After being in a private gallery in the Paris area, the image was inherited by Musée Cantini in Marseilles. That is where it was subjected to tests by Nicholas Burnett. According to him, the paper stock, albumen residue and probable type of camera—requiring a wet collodion process—was consistent with it having been produced when Lorina was a young teen. He also commented that the mold damage was consistent with that age and would have been difficult to fake. David Anley subjected it to further analysis in the hopes of determining if the model could have been Lorina. After some equivocation by both experts, they each admitted leaning toward the conclusion that the photo was genuine. Particularly disturbing about this is that in a court of law, such experts’ conclusions are compelling testimony in convicting defendants.

closeup

This seems to have offered the tantalizing possibility that Dodgson was a repressed pedophile. Given his status as a member of the clergy, repressed is certainly an accurate adjective, but the problem with the term pedophile is that it is far from satisfactorily defined. Kenneth Clark noted that institutional authorities hate dictionaries and encyclopedias because they clearly define things and powerful people and institutions need an environment of ambiguity to thrive. For the purposes of this essay—and the proper definition in my mind—I am defining it as the selfish exploitation (in person) of a child for sexual gratification—and presumably having some deleterious effect on the child’s mental and/or physical well-being. By that definition, Dodgson was certainly not a pedophile and it is unfortunate that his nieces, probably out of a sense of propriety, saw fit to remove pages from his diaries that may have offered clues to his thoughts and mental state.

He often scolded himself for deviations from his personal standard of honor. Being a clergyman, it is likely that these “failings” had at least some sexual component. Although I could personally relate to the man in most ways, we do diverge on the point of sexual repression. I don’t mean to validate Freudian theory, but the sex drive is a powerful force and cannot be dismissed easily. In fact, it was the Catholic Church’s political maneuver to have its priests and bishops be celibate that was key to centuries of sexual misconduct and abuse of children by these celibates. The other factor—given the doctrine of original sin—is the appalling lack of education priests get about the realities of human sexuality. The propensity for this behavior in this demographic is remarkable considering how rare sexual child abuse generally is. The documentary notes that Dodgson did take a similar oath and would, at the very least, have been confused by his own impulses. Despite protestations to the contrary, thought and action do not amount to the same thing. And regardless of whatever confusing distractions he may have experienced, there can be no doubt that his regard for children was worshipful. This would have been consistent with Rousseau’s philosophy that children represented a state of grace that would be corrupted only as they grew up.

The biggest error made by the amateur historian is not accounting for how the context of behavior changes over time and in different cultures. I am constantly (almost ad nauseum) reminded by colleagues of this when analyzing the actions of people living in the Victorian Era or the Hippie Generation. Even if there can be some objective humanist standard of ethical behavior, it is far from easy to disentangle oneself from the biases of one’s own culture. Most people are not even aware of the effect that their culture’s propaganda has on them personally. When taking this all into account, it behooves us to regard Dodgson’s quirks with a compassionate eye and commend him for his personal and public accomplishments and the way he enriched the lives of his child friends, despite the constraints of his society.

With all due respect to academic experts, I am not privy to the sound bites we are supposed to use when discussing the personal lives of celebrities. In the case of Dodgson, I see very little that reflects a deep understanding of his relationship with children. I am peridocially reminded how certain people have an excellent rapport with children; the Kye Tanson post is a recent case in point. The remarkable thing about such people is not so much that they do not fit into adult society which is often a dreadful bore, but because children are treated with respect as real human beings in their own right, these children would naturally gravitate toward such adults, expressing a remarkable confidence. One should not underestimate the capacity of little girls to pursue—perhaps for largely selfish reasons—these relationships and ingratiate themselves to such providers of stories, games, boat rides, tea parties and doting attention. In the case of Alice Liddell, there is evidence that she had a kind of pushy personality that was nonetheless charming—demanding stories, presents and other favors. Acknowledgment of the personal agency of Alice is hardly mentioned in historical accounts. It is therefore conceivable (and I think, likely) that whether or not Alice was Dodgson’s favorite, he was certainly hers up to a certain age. The fact that these girls grow up and change their personalities and priorities was an ongoing source of distress for Dodgson and he would, half jokingly, plead for them not to grow any further. With regards to his personal interest in Lorina, let’s suppose that he had some airy romantic notions about her at one time, I believe if he had actually seen her as a naked young teen, he would have been somewhat revolted. The visual cues for sexual desire (principally pubic hair, breasts and fat deposition) are quite different from the kind of pristine beauty of a child’s body.

Finally, some thought should be given to the personality of people who genuinely enjoy spending time with children. For them, it is almost as if they were promised a magical transformation into adulthood that never happened and they remained eternally children. They are physically adult and have adult libidos, but they seem to have a stronger desire for engaging in non-competitive (sometimes nonsensical) play, an infectious enthusiasm for hobbies, less patience for social niceties and a somewhat refreshing bluntness that may seem odd coming out of an adult’s mouth. These people provide an invaluable service to the next generation and, when endowed with wit and intelligence, an immutable impact on culture as the tales of Alice did.

In the decades that followed Helmut Gernsheim’s rediscovery that the man known as Lewis Carroll was also a skilled photographer of children, Morton Norton Cohen—who appeared on the documentary—discovered that some nudes did still exist. And those scholars who were not rigorously versed in the peculiarities of Victorian culture inevitably applied their own cultural standards of decency. In a defensive reaction to the proposition that Dodgson might have had unhealthy relationships with his little subjects, other scholars may have overcompensated—even denying that Dodgson had any special affinity and bond with children. The result has been a polarization in Lewis Carroll scholarship that, although sensational in our time, is a cynical and irrelevant distraction from the real character of the artist and his contribution to society. This “Two Camps” phenomenon makes the artist—unable to defend himself—a political pawn of grandstanding academics. Scholarship should be used to illuminate the public about our society’s history, not a tool to gain public notoriety. Shame goes to those who, out of expediency, do sloppy research and cater to the lowest common denominator of mainstream culture. BBC2 has certainly come a long way from its landmark days of productions like the Civilisation series.

A Quick Anatomy Lesson

When I came up with the idea of having a series of “comparative anatomy” posts, I knew they would come in two major forms. First, there would be the somewhat more serious sex education material and my first post covered a classic example, namely Will McBride. The second form would cover the more light-hearted situations when children take conscious notice of the difference in gross anatomy between boys and girls. In societies that are not sexually repressed, any adults privy to these “discoveries” would merely regard them with amusement as a rite of passage.

When I purchased this bronze figurine (about 35 cm high), I assumed it was just a beautiful nude study. It appeared to be a German girl spending a moment of quality time with the family dogs before getting dressed.

girl with dachshunds (front)

But when I was able to examine the statue more carefully, I noticed the way the girl was holding up these obviously male dachshunds and the direction of her gaze. She was apparently contemplating the peculiarity of the male anatomy.

girl with dachshunds (closeup)

It is hard to make out the expression on the face because the girl is looking down, but instead of puzzlement—she would really be too old for that—she appears to regard this state of affairs with a kind of existential bemusement.

girl with dachshunds (face)

 

I looked for signs of an artist’s name or date and could find none. The piece is clearly a reproduction—probably part of a short run—and there are various braces and holes to indicate that it may have been part of a fountain or mounted on a plinth. With my lack of formal art history education, I am not going to speculate on the style or period except that it certainly was produced in the last century. I would welcome feedback from our more educated readers about the origins of this figurine.

girl with dachshunds (side) girl with dachshunds (back)

The Third State of the Blog Address

As another year passes (Pigtails in Paint celebrated its 4th anniversary on February 15th), certain milestones come to mind:

Donations: We processed our first donation last month and I am so pleased to see that there are people who support us able to contribute in this way. Thankfully, for a few months at least, Pigtails’ expenses will not be coming out of my own pocket. As this site gains more academic recognition, people are beginning to notice that this is not a superficial enterprise, but an insightful hint into human nature and a hope for a compassionate world.

First Offer: Something I knew about Pip Starr that most people didn’t is that he is an artist in his own right. Over the years, he was inspired by various material and has produced compelling work from that inspiration. Although much of his work is derivative, he infuses a personal artistic passion to it, giving an added vitality. I kept prodding him about offering his work to the readers and he has finally and cautiously done so on his Winter Moran post. This piece is still on offer for anyone who would like to purchase it and I am available to help facilitate things if necessary. It is not my intent for Pigtails to serve as a sales site, but if any artist has something worthy to offer that would not be appropriate in another forum, I will consider such requests on a case by case basis.

Terahertz! Our internet host informed me last month that our bandwidth has exceeded the terahertz range. Now I have to admit that I do not completely understand what this means, but he assures me that Pigtails is experiencing a lot of volume and this is a testimony to what this site offers people. “Tera-” is a metric prefix denoting a trillion.

Readers and associates continue to send me little tidbits that are worth mentioning but do not warrant a dedicated post:

A Valentine: There is a small but touching item of a man who took his 6-year-old daughter out for dinner on Valentine’s Day and someone was so moved by the poignant scene that they left a nice note and paid their restaurant tab. You can check it out here.

A Facelift for Dolls: In the furor about corporate over-sexualization of young girls, there has been the predictable backlash from moral fundamentalists. But a more constructive form comes from a woman in Australia who takes thrown out dolls and gives them a new look. Of particular interest is that real little girls prefer these more realistic dolls to those oft-cited and slutty Bratz dolls. The creator calls them “Tree Change Dolls” and you can watch a short video about her story here.

Tate Reopens Access to Ovenden Landscapes: As I mentioned in the Graham Ovenden post, a cloud of suspicion has hung over this artist. In response, The Tate Modern has denied public access to his works kept in their collection—even for legitimate academic purposes. Last month, The Tate reopened access to Ovenden’s landscapes. You can see an article on this here. In the debate over censorship, there is always the implied assumption that reasonable people cannot judge for themselves. To commemorate this news, I have decided—when time allows—to post all the Ovenden images that once appeared on the Tate website. An associate, realizing how things can suddenly be censored, took the precaution of saving the images and then later shared them with me. I will be posting them on a page in the “Image Research Library” section of this site.  Even though the news reports that The Tate is only offering access to the landscapes, I have been informed that any of the Ovenden images can be viewed by appointment only.

Little Orphan Images: A “Wish List” has already been established to solicit help from readers when a little more information is needed to put together a post. I also feel a need to post images that I sense are important or part of something important. Because I received certain images out of context, I do not know the sources or intent. Therefore—again when time permits—I will be establishing a “Little Orphan Images” page to solicit help in identifying artists or films in which an image may have appeared.

Finally, I would like to thank our contributing writers who have broken new ground and helped keep things going while Pip and I pursue leads and develop posts. Best Wishes to all in the coming year, -Ron

The Children of Sunshine Finally Get Their Chance to Shine

Kids creating their own pop and rock music is fairly common today, with a few of them (Smoosh, Tiny Masters of Today, etc.) going on to relative success with their music.  But in the 1970s the musical landscape was quite different.  Though the early ’70s were a great decade for musical experimentation, independent music hadn’t quite come into its own yet, and studios were hard on the trail of the next Beatles or Rolling Stones.  In that environment it’s a wonder that Kitsy Christner and Therese “Tres” Williams, then both ten years old, were able to record an album.  Even so, the album Dandelions by Christner and Williams (a.k.a. Children of Sunshine) was an indie production with only 300 copies released, a novelty item that came and went quickly with little fanfare.  In all likelihood the album would’ve passed into the void of history unheard of by most if not for two key elements: the discovery of a copy at a garage sale by a local record collector and the internet.  You can read about how the album came into existence and how it attained fame over forty years later in this article at the Riverfront Times website.  It’s a fascinating story in and of itself.

As for the music, the entire album has been released on YouTube by ’60s/’70s acid rock aficionado The Psychedelic Garden.  It’s a short album and every bit as entertaining as it’s billed to be.  The music is stripped down and basic, and the girls are clearly musical fledglings, but that in no way detracts from the album’s charm and humor.  I’d say a reissue of Dandelions is well overdue, wouldn’t you?

By the way, be sure to read the newspaper article attached as a photo to the RFT article!

Edit: I urge you to read the replies section of this post as well, for the discussion brought forth another salient point about the nature of the relationship the girls had with their guitar teacher.

Frank Ackers (with Kitsy Christner & Tres Williams) - The Children of Sunshine - Dandelions (cover) (1971)

Frank Ackers (with Kitsy Christner & Tres Williams) – The Children of Sunshine – Dandelions (cover) (1971)

 

Akiane, Indigo Child Prodigy

Akiane Kramarik was born in 1994 in Mount Morris, Illinois.  Her American father and Lithuanian mother identified themselves as atheists; and then surprisingly, their daughter began to have intense spiritual visions in which she would meet God “face to face”.

Akiane Kramarik

Photographer Unknown – Akiane: Her Life, Her Art, Her Poetry (book cover) (2006)

This was not initially easy to accept as her mother Forelli remembered, “At first I thought it was a nightmare.” (Evening Magazine.) Her father Mark was also caught off-guard, “It sort of took me aback because we never read the Bible and didn’t have any kind of spiritual connection.” (CNN)

Photographer Unknown – Painting 'On My Knees' (2005)

Photographer Unknown – Painting ‘On My Knees’ (2005)

Akiane began having spiritual visions at age three; the following year she picked up art tools to express the things she was experiencing.  “I was just so surprised at the impeccable images I had in my head that I just had to express them in some sort of physical matter.”  (Sally Lee, Daily Mail, January 30, 2015.)  She quickly progressed from sketching to pastel by five, then to acrylic at six, and finally to oil.

Akiane Kramarik – On My Knees, 2005

Akiane Kramarik – On My Knees, (2005)

Her mother speaks of this process as follows,

It wasn’t just art that was happening. Simultaneous with art was a spiritual awakening…. It all began to happen when she started to share her dreams and visions. … We didn’t pray together, there was no discussion about God, and we didn’t go to church. Then all of a sudden, Akiane was starting to talk about God. … We were with the kids all the time, and so these words from Akiane about God didn’t come from the outside—we knew that. But there suddenly were intense conversations about God’s love, His place [in our lives], and she would describe everything in detail.” (Marry Berryhill, Today’s Christian, July/August 2004.)

Akiane’s parents soon joined the church, while she herself remains spiritual but does not consider herself a member of any denomination or religion despite frequent Christian references in her art.

Akiane’s family did not have an artistic character.  Akiane describes her painterly education thus, “I am self-taught. In other words, God is my teacher.” (In5d, Indigos, April 26, 2011).  Nonetheless, she was soon recognized as a prodigy.  In a few short years she appeared with Oprah, CNN’s Lou Dobbs, ABC’s Peter Jennings, Katie Couric and  Diane Sawyer on Good Morning America, Craig Ferguson of The Late Late Show, and Robert Schuller on the Hour of Power.  Her paintings sold for upwards of fifty-thousand dollars, and hung in locations such as the U.S. embassy in Singapore.

Photographer Unknown – Painting 'My Sight Cannot Wait for Me' (2002)

Photographer Unknown – Painting ‘My Sight Cannot Wait for Me’ (2002)

Akiane is highly dedicated.  She paints six days a week, rising at three or four a.m. and paints for as many as fourteen hours a day; some works take months and hundreds of hours to complete.

Akiane Kramarik – My Sight Cannot Wait for Me (2002)

Akiane Kramarik – My Sight Cannot Wait for Me (2002)

Akiane’s art can mostly be described as either realist or surrealist.  Often times, she herself does not know the meaning of the images she has seen in visions and feels compelled to paint.  She said, “God gave me more ideas I don’t even know what the meaning is, like pyramids, I really don’t even know that meaning….” (CNN)  Her mother said of these fantastic dream images,

“When she was talking about these galaxies and intergalactic experiences and God, I knew whatever she was seeing, something was really there for her.”  (CNN)

Akiane Kramarik – Faithfulness (2010)

Akiane Kramarik – Faithfulness (2010)

As a girl artist who often made a girl the subject of her work, she might be doubly interesting to Pigtails readers.  In fact, many times that girl subject was a self-portrait.  Described as an indigo child and dedicated to God and love, it’s probably appropriate to find girls and particularly one so angelic as herself in her paintings.

Photographer Unknown – Painting 'Turquoise Eyes' (2005)

Photographer Unknown – Painting ‘Turquoise Eyes’ (2005)

Akiane has traveled to thirty different countries and is currently residing on the Gold Coast in Australia.  She is fond of animals and since the age of twelve, her compassion for other living souls has motivated her to practice veganism.  She is home-schooled and studies largely only what is interesting to her personally.  Akiane speaks five languages including American Sign Language and has contributed significant funds to children’s charities.

Akiane Kramarik – Turquoise Eyes (2005)

Akiane Kramarik – Turquoise Eyes (2005)

Akiane’s painting and the publication of two books have earned her millions of dollars.  Rich, beautiful and genius, she has quite a lot going for her.  Despite all that, she remains humble and committed to sharing what she’s been given.  “I really love sharing my gift with others. At the same time, I’m just a normal kid having fun and that’s what life is all about—having fun at the same time as helping people.”  (rememberwhoweare, October 20, 2011.)

Photographer Unknown – Painting 'Innocence' (2006)

Photographer Unknown – Painting ‘Innocence’ (2006)

Akiane has occasionally faced criticism.  Some people accused her of being a fraud; others called her technical proficiency lacking, and some were offended by the religious content.  She recalls, “People wanted to burn all my works when we tried to display them in public.” (Sally Lee, Daily Mail, January 30, 2015.)

Akiane Kramarik – Innocence (2006)

Akiane Kramarik – Innocence (2006)

Akiane had some profound insights on art and children,

“Portals of divinity are everywhere. I believe that children may enter these divine portals easier, because they are seeking for answers in the purest way.” (In5d, Indigos, April 26, 2011)

“Infinity imagines curiosity from the wild abyss—Only the child makes a swing-set view of the worlds upside down. Unwatched truth is the enchantment of childhood.  And we never grow out of it…” (rememberwhoweare, October 20, 2011)

Akiane Kramarik – Co-Creation (2005)

Akiane Kramarik – Co-Creation (2005)

Akiane has a personal site online which can be found here.

Naked Power: Alan Moore and Winter Moran

Among aficionados of topnotch comics writing/storytelling there are few writers more famous (or more deserving of that fame) than Alan Moore.  Many of his greatest works (From Hell, A League of Extraordinary Gentleman, V for Vendetta and of course Watchmen) have been adapted to the big screen, some more successfully than others—Moore, true to character, has disavowed them all.  A quirky Brit known in the comics industry as much for his politics (and his hoariness) as for his writing, Moore is a dedicated anarchist and free speech advocate who hasn’t so much invited controversy as kidnapped it at gunpoint and forced it to deal with him.  He’s also clearly a genius.

One of Moore’s most controversial works was the erotic one-shot comic Lost Girls, co-authored and illustrated by his second wife, Melinda Gebbie.  The story took three young girls who were the protagonists of famous children’s fantasy books: Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, Alice from Alice in Wonderland, and Wendy from Peter Pan, and explored their erotic lives.  Although it deals primarily with these characters as adults, apparently (I confess I haven’t read it), there are scenes from their childhood as well.  The story flirts with dangerous ideas and subverts the notions of innocence that we often associate with these fairy tale characters and with children in general, and consequently some booksellers will not stock it in their store for fear of an obscenity charge, perhaps recalling the rash of police raids on comics shops and bookstores that took place back in the late eighties and early nineties.  It was because of cases like these that the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund formed in 1986, an organization strongly supported by Yours Truly.  (Note: The CBLDF always accepts donations, so if you feel like giving to a good cause that—like us—is on the front line in the war for freedom of speech, I recommend giving to the CBLDF!)

Less controversial (but no less provocative) was the Miracleman series, a new take on a much older character, Marvelman—indeed, in the earliest appearances of the revitalized character, he was still called Marvelman, but when the rights passed over to Eclipse Comics, the name was changed to Miracleman to avoid copyright conflicts, and many of the original issues were retrofitted with the new name and identity in republications.  Moore’s run on the series coincided with the longest and most successful era for the revamped superhero, and as you would expect from Moore, the story was much darker and more violent—way more violent—than the character’s ’50s and ’60s incarnation and deals with his origins and eventual rise to godlike power and status on Earth.  This run was eventually collected into four graphic novels, all of which I highly recommend if you can get your hands on them—unfortunately, original editions of the books are going for a pretty penny on Amazon these days.

But, I digress.  Not only was the writing on the series fascinating and challenging, the artwork in it was consistently gorgeous, done by the likes of Alan Davis, Rick Veitch, Gary Leach and my absolute favorite artist on the series, John Totleben, whose inking is superb on so many levels.  Good inking is really the key to creating good comics art; if the inking is poor, then even the best of colorists often can’t save it.  But fortunately, Totleben is one of the best, despite being partially blind.

The story of Miracleman as conceived by Moore is one that starts with a traditional origin story but then quickly flies off into the darker and more complex corners of superhero mythology.  Moore is a master at exploring the psychological motivations—good, bad and ugly—of people who routinely put on strange costumes and fight crime and/or who have superpowers.  Among superheroes, Marvelman/Miracleman is one of the most powerful, a British analogue to Captain Marvel, who was himself Marvel’s answer to Superman.  In Moore’s vision, this demigod, not content with simply catching criminals, decides to rearrange Earth to his own liking, often with spectacularly surreal results, and to set himself up as benevolent supreme ruler of the planet.  Initially this is received well by civilization because many of Earth’s biggest problems are solved by Miracleman and his equally superpowered wife, but soon the facade begins to crack.

The Golden Age era, covered by the fourth collection, was finished, but not by Moore.  His successor was perhaps the only person the equal of Moore’s particular brand of creativity and intellect, Neil Gaiman.  Grant Morrison also did some writing on the series, making it the only comics series I’m aware of that all three members of what I call the Holy Trinity of British Comics Writers—Moore, Gaiman and Morrison–worked on, though there are probably some comics fans out there who can prove me wrong.  At any rate, although never completed, Gaiman had promised to present his hero in three different eras.  With the Golden Age complete, the second era, the Silver Age, was begun by Gaiman but was never completed.  It begins to show the erosion of Miracleman’s created utopia, and also focuses more on the the characters at the peripheral and how they are impacted by their new reality.  The final arc, the Dark Age, would’ve seen the complete destruction of Miracleman’s paradise and perhaps the downfall of the character himself.  Alas, we will probably never know.

One of the more ingenious characters Moore devised for Miracleman was Winter Moran, the daughter of Michael Moran and Avril Lear, Miracleman and Miraclewoman respectively, and as soon as she’s born she proves to be not only a worthy successor but someone who might soon rival her father and mother.  Immediately upon being born she speaks perfect English and is able to fly.  Not long after that, she leaves Earth altogether for a few years.  When she returns she is four years old, still as naked as the day she was born but much, much wiser, having explored the galaxy and encountered many alien races, one of whom she married, as we will soon learn.  But that’s not the only shocking thing she did while away from Home System: she also has sex (albeit in an artificial body).  In a funny scene in Miracleman Book Three: Olympus, when Winter reveals she’s had sex, her father, who is perhaps the most powerful being on Earth at this point, reveals he is a typically worrisome parent, and for all his intelligence and prudence, he has no idea how to handle his super-precocious four-year-old daughter.

John Totleben - Miracleman - Book Three: Olympus (pg 116, pls 2-4)

John Totleben – Miracleman – Book Three: Olympus (pg 116, pls 2-4)

As the scene progresses, we see that Winter is dissatisfied with her father’s “redecorations” of Earth, and this is likely intended to foreshadow Winter’s eventual rise and challenge to her father’s supremacy.  Winter, it seems, is being set up as the eventual villain of the Dark Age.  But for now she is simply a super-powered, super-intelligent 4-year-old girl who, like Doctor Manhattan in Watchmen, has transcended the need for clothing.  We are aware that she has no particular attachment to human notions of modesty or conventional morality; it is perhaps a short leap from there to the understanding growing in Winter’s consciousness that humanity are as ants to her, or simply toys for her to play with as she pleases.  Or destroy.  Notice Totleben’s delicate Art Nouveau-infused work on Winter’s hair and the background designs here.

John Totleben - Miracleman - Book Three: Olympus (pg 116, pl 5)

John Totleben – Miracleman – Book Three: Olympus (pg 116, pl 5)

Soon Winter is an active participant in her new world.  But what does she do?  She makes it easier and more comfortable for women to give birth to a new strain of genetically modified super-babies like herself.  Hmm, why is Winter so interested in bringing more of such children into the world?  Is she perhaps creating her own army of super-children for an eventual takeover of Earth?  Notice Winter teaching the super-babies how to fly.

John Totleben - Miracleman - Book Three: Olympus (pg 117, pl 1)

John Totleben – Miracleman – Book Three: Olympus (pg 117, pl 1)

In Book Four: The Golden Age, after Neil Gaiman took over writing the series, Winter takes a backseat to another little blond super-baby, Mist, who, like Winter, tends to float around naked.  But Winter does make a prominent appearance in a peculiar way—she is the heroine of her own children’s book (which, incidentally, is being read to Mist and to her normal, non-superpowered half-brother by their mother).  The book is called Winter’s Tale and details what happened during those first few years when she traveled and explored the galaxy on her own.  The comic cleverly presents the pages of the book as part of the storyline, with occasional interjection panels where Mist, her brother and their mom discuss the book.  Here is the first page of Winter’s Tale:

Mark Buckingham; Sam Parsons - Miracleman - Book 4: The Golden Age (pg 94)

Mark Buckingham; Sam Parsons – Miracleman – Book 4: The Golden Age (pg 94)

Perhaps one of the more interesting parts of the story deals with Winter’s meeting with the Lantiman of Sauk, who immediately asks Winter to marry him, which she does.  The context is important here—let’s remember that this is being revealed through a children’s book that exists in Miracleman’s reality, and that it is being read to two children at the same time the reader is experiencing it, one a miracle baby herself, the other not.  The Lantiman reveals forthwith that Winter is simply the newest in his collection of child-brides, and the reader understands that we are now looking at an alien pedophile, and that he is presented positively in the fictional book.

Oddly enough, Winter and the Lantiman never have physical sex.  This fact is not presented in the story, but we know it’s true because the writer points out that Winter is looking for the Qys system–she has not yet met the Qys, the hyper-advanced species that introduced her to sex, at least by Winter’s account in Olympus.  It makes sense that the Lantiman’s relationship with his child-brides is not a sexual one in any conventional sense, given that it is not bound by species, and also owing to his gigantic size, which would make sex with Winter (and presumably most or all of his child-brides) nearly impossible anyway.

So, what is this love the Lantiman has for young girls of every species that compels him to marry them if it isn’t sexual?  I reckon it is something akin to the feelings many of Pigtails’ readers feel—it is not conventionally sexual in itself, but it recognizes the holistic beauty of children, which includes their sexuality.  It is the timeless fascination that little girls hold for some adult males like myself, the recognition that they are a kind of ideal human.  Not that I would ever want to marry a little girl, but for me this blog is analogous to the Lantiman of Sauk’s marriages; it is born out of something that transcends mere beauty or sexuality or any other such physically rooted concept.

And in that light, Winter, who is herself a transcendent version of the little girl—a little girl who is near to achieving her perfect potential—is a natural fit for the Lantiman.  Unlike child-brides in traditional cultures, the Lantiman does not seek to control Winter.  Indeed, he gives her an entire planet, a world for her to play with and control.  He is apparently not interested in her merely as a physical form (though the notion that he also finds little girls physically beautiful is not excluded here); he is interested in her as a little girl who is fully able to express her every desire because of her godlike abilities.  Hence, the Lantiman’s feeling that Winter was the best bride he ever had.  Notice that when Winter is ready to leave him, he does not stop her from going.  Granted, the account is being filtered through Neil Gaiman (as the proxy writer of the children’s book) for the children of the Miracleman universe, so we may not be getting an accurate account of what actually happened between Winter and the Lantiman.

Mark Buckingham; Sam Parsons - Miracleman - Book 4: The Golden Age (pg 100)

Mark Buckingham; Sam Parsons – Miracleman – Book 4: The Golden Age (pg 100)

And now, I have something really special for you.  This is the first actual illustration of mine I’ve featured on this site, and it is my interpretation of Winter Moran.  This piece is 11″ × 14″ pen & ink on Bristol board, done mostly in pointillism (I was going for Virgil Finlay-esque), frameable, signed by me on the front and back, and it is for sale.  If you’re interested, you can contact me off the board and we will arrange something.  Meantime, I hope you enjoy it!  This is the first of what will likely be a series of pieces I plan to post here with little girls as the common theme, most of which will be offered for sale.

Edit: SOLD – Sorry, but this piece is no longer on the market.  Thank you for your interest!

Pip Starr - Winter Moran (2015)

Pip Starr – Winter Moran (2015)

Lucas Cranach: Charity

Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472–1553) was a German Renaissance artist. He was the court painter to the Electors of Saxony for most of his career and is known for his portraits and nude subjects drawn from mythology and religion. I find it interesting that Cranach was close friend of Martin Luther (the leading figure of the Protestant Reformation). Because he is also regarded as an innovator for his nudes, Kenneth Clark commented that “Cranach is one of those rare artists who have added to our imaginative repertoire of physical beauty.”

Lucas Cranach - Rest on the Flight into Egypt (1504)

Lucas Cranach – Rest on the Flight into Egypt (1504)

The playful almost comic mood of Cranach’s paintings gives his work an appeal not found in the work of most of his contemporaries: Albrecht Durer, Mathis Grünewald and Hans Holbein with the exception of Hans Baldung. The earliest large work by Cranach is The Rest on the Flight into Egypt of 1504. Behind Mary and Joseph stands an old fir tree and birch tree that would more likely be found in Germany than in Egypt. Busy angels who make music, bring water and offer the Christ Child birds take the form of cherubs and child nymphs. To the left of Mary’s feet sits an angel in gold that plays the flute; the style of the gown appears to be that of a girl’s because of the style of the sleeve.

Lucas Cranach - Venus Standing in a Landscape (1529)

Lucas Cranach – Venus Standing in a Landscape (1529)

Cranach seldom painted the nude beauties he is known for until the late 1520s—well into the Reformation. Of the standing Venus paintings, this seems to be the most famous; her slender form, tiny breasts an narrow hips, the rounded forehead, are the physical characteristics of an adolescent girl or young woman. We tend to think of the ideal as a busty beauty but that was not the case until the mid-twentieth century. Nudes in the German tradition drew their inspiration from Gothic art which had a juvenile air. Cranach’s innovation was that he took the stiff figures of Gothic art and gave them the grace of Botticelli.

Lucas Cranach - Portrait of Martin Luther as Junker Jörg

Lucas Cranach – Portrait of Martin Luther as Junker Jörg (c1522)

Cranach was a close friend of Martin Luther from the beginning of the Reformation.  Luther was godfather to Cranach’s daughter Anna and Cranach in turn became godfather to Luther’s first-born son, Johannes. This special relationship with its founder enabled Cranach to chronicle the Reformation. At the time of the above portrait, Luther was regarded as an outlaw by the Roman Catholic Church. Luther is shown with the beard he had grown to disguise himself as the nobleman “Junker Jörg”. He was in hiding at the Wartburg, a strong fortress at the top of a mountain, under the protection of the local prince. In a small study in the castle, he translated the New Testament from Greek into German. To providence, Cranach owned the only publishing house in the area. Cranach illustrated and published Luther’s first translation of the Bible into German, which was the first time that the scriptures were translated from the Latin to be made available to the public.

Lucas Cranach-Charity Standing

Lucas Cranach – Charity Standing (1530s)

Cranach is known for conveying Lutheran religious concerns in his paintings, but I believe the influence of the Reformation on his series of Charity paintings has not yet been recognized. Charity is the foremost of the three theological virtues “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three: but the greatest of these is charity” (I Corinthians 13:13) The word “love”, is a closer definition to the modern ear because the word “charity” has the implication of giving to the needy. The fourteenth century Italian sculptor Tino da Camaino was the first to represent Charity as a loving mother with three or more children. Italian Renaissance artists followed the Graeco-Roman convention of depicting children as only boys.  The Italian masters appear to have been caught in a “patricentric box of language”. In Cranach’s interpretations of Charity, one of the children is represented as a little girl which is likely the first nude of this kind in western art. I believe Cranach broke with convention for a reason.

Cultures have been structured according to two principles: patriarchal and matriarchal. The priority of matriarchal principles is unconditional love: a mother loves her children regardless of whether they are good or bad; they are loved because they are her (or another woman’s) children. The essence of this love is mercy and compassion. In contrast, the priority of patriarchy is conditional love: a child needs to work to be respected by the father. The essence of this love is justice.

Lucas Cranach - Charity Landscape (1830s)

Lucas Cranach – Charity Landscape (1830s)

In the course of the Reformation, Luther ended the devotion to the Virgin Mary, which resulted in the elimination of the matricentric principle that existed in western culture. Erich Fromm recognized the profound influence the removal of the matricentric principle had on the development of society.

“Luther established a purely patriarchal form of Christianity in Northern Europe that was based on the urban middle class and the secular princes. The essence of this new social character is submission under patriarchal authority, with work as the only way to obtain love and approval. Behind the Christian facade arose a new secret religion, ‘industrial religion,’ that is rooted in the character structure of modern society, but is not recognized as ‘religion.’

The industrial religion is incompatible with genuine Christianity. It reduces people to servants of the economy and the machinery that their own hands build. The industrial religion had its basis in a new social character. Its center was fear of and submission to powerful male authorities, cultivation of the sense of guilt for disobedience, dissolution of the bond of human solidarity by the supremacy of self-interest and mutual antagonism. The ‘sacred’ in industrial religion was work, property, profit, power, even though it furthered individualism and freedom within the limits of its general principles.”

The Virgin Mary was a predominant figure in Renaissance art—about 1 in 4 paintings of the period represent her. I suspect that Cranach sensed the dangers of the elimination of the image of the Holy Mother and I believe his Charity paintings were intended to compensate because the image of the mother ultimately represents the principle of what ought to be. Traditionally,the father would support the family by going out into the imperfect world; he would deal with objective reality with a focus on prosperity. The mother would remain with the children in the bonds of human solidarity which better reflects genuine Christian principles because they can be compromised in an antagonistic environment.

Lucas Cranach - Charity (1830s)

Lucas Cranach – Charity (1830s) (1)

In all of Cranach’s Charity paintings, one of the children is a little girl. In some works, it is difficult to tell because only a tiny pigtail indicates the child’s gender. In two of the paintings, the girl holds a doll as her role model; the mother holds an infant. Cranach’s paintings are the only Charity paintings I know of that include this iconography. Feminine nature was to be valued and respected. Matriarchy has found expression in humanism and natural law: the idea of the sacredness of life and human equality.

Lucas Cranach - Charity (1830s)

Lucas Cranach – Charity (1830s) (2)

Art that follows the tradition of the Charity paintings has fallen out favor due to a patriarchal view that regards such work as regressive. While the Reformation had some positive points to the Protestant work ethic, it had the effect in atomizing society. Our perception of human interactions has changed due to loss of the matriarchal perspective. Nudity is interpreted from a subtext of self-interest and mutual antagonism which often leads to misinterpretation. It makes a great difference whether the body is viewed as a commodity or from the perspective of a loving mother who appreciates the sanctity of life. In the past, the matriarchal perspective colored the perception of even sensual subjects, as in Cranch’s Venus paintings; the figures reflect a gentle eroticism. I believe much of contemporary feminism is at fault in being compromised by the values of industrialization. It is actually patriarchal in it’s values; it takes part in what Fromm called the, “industrial religion.” Many artists from the beginning of the 20th century sensed the tendency of alienation and created work that embraced the bonds of human solidarity to counterbalance (eg. Lotte Herrlich, Ida Teichmann and Sally Mann), but the current barely exists today.

A Touch of Hypocrisy: Eiderlon Panties

As photography became the mainstay of advertisers, it became necessary to hire live models. Even though commercial art can be formulaic with occasional breakthroughs quickly spreading throughout the industry, sometimes certain campaigns manage to retain a certain charm. For me, Eiderlon panty ads hold that charm. These ads also give us a taste of the evolution of marketing and social standards in America.

Up until 1960, Eiderlon was still making extensive use of illustrators and their panty ads appeared to be watercolor compositions with simple comprehensible figures. By the mid-1960s, photographic models were used. Adult women’s breasts could never be shown in mainstream advertising—either posing away from the camera or having their flowing hair or arms strategically placed—but showing a little girl’s bare torso was usually acceptable. Also, the company was still engaged in a more primitive mode of advertising—focusing mostly on the product’s features, especially comfort.

Eiderlon Panties Ad (1965)

Eiderlon Panties Ad (1965)

Eiderlon Panties Ad (1969)

Eiderlon Panties Ad (1969)

Eiderlon Panties Ad (c1972) (1)

Eiderlon Panties Ad (c1972) (1)

Eiderlon Panties Ad (1975)

Eiderlon Panties Ad (1975)

This focus on comfort took a bizarre turn and this is where we get a touch of hypocrisy. While using skin to create an appealing image for their product, they were making a tongue-in-cheek (and completely cynical) campaign against nudity in 1969 and 1970.

Eiderlon Panties Ad (1970) (1)

Eiderlon Panties Ad (1970) (1)

As Americans began to feel the pinch of the inflationary period of the 1970s, the company put greater emphasis on the economy of its product.

Eiderlon Panties Ad (1970) (2)

Eiderlon Panties Ad (1970) (2)

Eiderlon Panties Ad (c1972) (2)

Eiderlon Panties Ad (c1972) (2)

With the feminist movement and its subsequent backlash, the style changed again slightly. There was an attempt to seem more hip and make a “back to nature” appeal. At the same time, the company was starting to play on women’s insecurity about participating in a man’s world while maintaining their feminity; with Eiderlon, they could take comfort in being pretty underneath. This also illustrates a new realization that how customers “feel” about the brand is much more important than any particular features.

Eiderlon Panties Ad (1974)

Eiderlon Panties Ad (1974)

Eiderlon Panties Ad (1979)

Eiderlon Panties Ad (1979)

In the last example, we see a return to the use of illustration. Also, as publications became more streamlined, they shrank in size and in concert with exploding advertising rates, the ads generally shrank in tandem.