Oct 27, 2011

ACLU Sues Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

 "If you have rights and you don’t try to exercise them, then you have no rights at all.” - Yao Bo, Chinese social commentator

Once again the ACLU steps up to defend photographers from overzealous and illegal harassment of photographers. The Los Angeles Times reports that the ACLU has sued the sheriff’s department and several of its deputies on October 27,  alleging they harassed, detained and improperly searched photographers taking pictures legally in public places.

In response, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Capt. Mike Parker made a statement that perfectly captures the police department's ignorance of the rights of photographers: "Should we really ignore suspicious activity?" Parker asked. "We have an obligation to the public to answer questions and we are going to ask people why are you taking that picture. It is our duty to protect the public."

Photography is not a crime. It is a form of free expression. It should not be treated as suspicious.

LINK to story

The ACLU has a page that describe your rights under the law when taking pictures, see it HERE.  Consider making a donation to the ACLU HERE. 

Florida Recording Law

Florida is a two-party consent state, meaning you must have permission of both parties before recording any encounter (such as a police stop, or a conversation on a sidewalk). 

However, there is a very important exception: all parties need to have an expectation of privacy in order for the act to be lawful. In short, if you are in public or in a place where your conversation might reasonably be overheard by someone else, having to obtain consent from all parties does not apply.

The Citizen media Law Project has a lot of very good information about Florida law and recording others in public. Check it out HERE.

In a related case, Chris Geo recently won dismissal of charges after being arrested for photographing a FEMA warehouse. As Chris Geo points out in the excellent video below,  "Unless we claim them [our rights], we don't have them." The video covers the three things which can happen to you during a police encounter, and how Geo won dismissal of his case. It's a long video but filled with good information.

Defending himself, he skillfully pointed out the flaws in the state's case:
  1. It is not illegal for a person to film a federal building (which the government was forced to concede in a previous court case, link HERE)
  2. Geo was arrested for refusing to provide his driver's license; there is no state, local or federal law requiring a citizen to have a driver's license. Indeed, lots of people do not drive, or have driver's licenses. Would that subject them to arrest?
  3. There is no state, local or federal law requiring a citizen to present a driver's license to an officer on demand
  4. The arresting officer did not indicate the encounter moved from a voluntary field interview to a Terry stop, which would require reasonable suspicion, or probable cause (read more about what a Terry stop is HERE)

Graphic Novel Review

The Comics Review category is a new category that reviews graphic novels I've read. Click on the titles to take you to the Amazon page where you can get more information about them. The first one up is...

Far Arden by Kevin Cannon

This is an amusing and engaging read for a variety of reasons. First, the artist has a compelling story, with lots of twists, and also because it looks like a fairly easy style to draw. Notice the characters aren't drawn with perfect anatomical detail. Getting the body proportions  exactly right is not important; the story is, and when the story is compelling, the reader is a lot more open to the art style used.  

I also  get a kick out of the little "sound effect" like words Cannon uses to describe various actions. It serves to give the panels a whimsical feel but also helps the reader understand the little actions that are taking place. I may adopt this technique in some of my comics. I found myself looking for these little descriptive expressions. A small gallery of them:


One of my hangups in my art is that I tend to make it too complicated, and try to make the art too perfect, with the result being that I either give up or don't attempt it at all. This style serves to remind me that I can keep the illustration style simple and still make the story I'm telling engaging. So, students, don't get so hung up on the technical quality of the art. The story is just as important, if not more so, than the artwork.

The Saga Of Rex by Michel Gagne
I love this one. The Saga of Rex is about a little fox with a heart of gold who has incredible adventures with alien races and fantastically rendered worlds. There are no words at all; the story telling is done through Gagne's incredible artwork. The Rex series appear in issues of Flight, a series of graphic novel collections. You can but the collected series HERE.

The storytelling is phenomenal, and without words, you have to study the pictures to understand what is happening sometimes. But the adventures Rex finds himself in are amazingly rendered and his innocent and pure personality comes through every panel.

I'm hooked.


Daisy Kutter is a tough-as-nails chick who used to be an outlaw but reluctantly became a sheriff in a western town where there are robots. The art is great, the mood and settings are evocative, and Kibuishi has a terrific sense of pacing the action of lightning quick scenes as well as creating drama using pauses between the action.

Stig And Martha by Mardon Smet

This is an interesting bit of artwork I found in a collection of Danish graphic novels called From Wonderland With Love, which showcases some of the best of Danish comic artists. This work has a whimsical, Ren and Stimpy-like quality to it, with a touch of street graffiti thrown in. I like how the sound effect words are distorted (note the wavering tips of the "A"s), indicating the nerve-jangling quality of the sound. I like that technique, I might add it to my own repertoire.

BONE by Jeff Smith

Bone is about the Bone cousins, Fone Bone, Phoney Boney and Smiley Bone, who are run out of Boneville, and are trying to get back home.

In the meantime, they meet all sorts of strange characters and become involved in an epic struggle that changes them all.

In the page to the left, two misfit monsters, called Rat Creatures, provide terrific comic relief as they bicker.

Bone is funny, sad, suspenseful and above all riveting.

Two Generals by Scott Chantler

Two Generals is the true story of Scott Chantler's grandfather, Lew Chantler, who in 1943 shipped out to Europe with his best friend Jack Chrysler as members of the Canadian armed forces. 

The story describes Chantler's training and experiences leading up to the invasion of Normandy, one of the most pivotal events of WW 2. 

Chantler was an unassuming man who fought bravely for his country, and the book is based on Chantler's 1943 diary, Chrysler's letters to wife, and the War Diary of the Highland Light Infantry of Canada. It's a somber and engaging read of real events and real people. 

Blacksad by Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guarndo

John Blacksad is a hard boiled private eye, who is also a cat.

Blacksad is a series of noirish, hard boiled detective stories in a city filled with animals who dress like people. There is  a gangster who's a lizard, a district attorney who is a German Shepard, a polar bear who is a divisive and unethical political figure.

This is one of my favorite books so far; the art is excellent, the writing crisp and the plotting taut. There are some adult themes in Blacksad, but it is not gratuitous, and serves to give greater impact to the stories.

Oct 26, 2011

Spidey Dances Up A Storm

Spider Man really knows how to dance! Check out this fun clip! I wonder how light Batman or Captain America are on their feet.

Oct 23, 2011

Occupy Wall Street Posters

This artist sells posters he created of what the "one-percenters" are probably thinking about the world wide protests. Sinister and on target!


Turning a Story Into Fiction

The website Making Light has a short but very good post on turning your story into a compelling narrative: 

  1. Move and Keep Moving
  2. Make it Consequential
  3. Recycle Your Characters
  4. See If You Already Have One [prop, setting, minor character]
This is a good post and worth re-reading often as you are telling your stories. LINK

Oct 17, 2011

John Stossel: The War On Cameras

John Stossel interviews Reason Magazine Senior Editor Radley Balko, who has written a well researched article on the price citizens pay for recording the police (read it HERE). Innocent people have been arrested, threatened with years in prison, their cameras confiscated without charge or warrant, and in some cases the contents of those cameras have been erased by the police, destroying evidence of police misconduct. If you wish to support the efforts to stop such abuses, see the list of links on the right, and give these groups your support. Tell 'em Magnum Arts sent you!

Photos From a Country Fair

click on all pictures for a larger view

A country fair offers the chance for a lot of good pictures; I'm especially intrigued by the artwork that adorns the rides, art that is designed to attract patrons into handing over their tickets. The artwork is fun, trippy, and some of the depictions of movie characters (such as Indiana Jones, for example), don't quite look like the actors that portrayed them.

Below: these rides go pretty fast! The blur effect is caused by longer shutter speeds, about one full second

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Below: I don't remember tiki statues being in Indiana Jones movies....

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Indy looks less like Harrison Ford in this one, more like a Latin American drifter who needs a shave
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I don't think Tony Montana likes bananas

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Oct 12, 2011

Mail Order Mysteries - The Trailer

Remember those ads in the back of comic books that looked so enticing? I always wondered what the actual products were like, and if they even came close to matching the ads. I never found out, because I never ordered them, but this author did, and wrote about them in a fun book called Mail Order Mysteries. Here's the trailer for it!

Oct 7, 2011

Weird Al Concert With the 501st Legion

Weird Al Yankovic is on tour, and wherever he goes, he asks the 501st Legion to be on stage with him when he sings one of his bigger hits, The Saga Begins. I was the photographer and team captain for this event, and was back stage during the concert photographing 501st members while they danced on stage behind Weird Al himself.  Click each picture for a larger view.

Members arrive at the back of Ruth Eckerd hall with their equipment

Checking the lights in an empty theater.  I love the smoke machine effects, very dramatic!

Weird Al's show director gives instructions to 501st members about where they will stand during their segment on stage

In the dressing room, chilling out before the show

These two pictures were taken by James, who also shot the video segment at the bottom of this post. James helped out with photography as well

Almost ready to hit the stage!

After each song, Weird Al puts on a different costume to go with the song he's singing, and there are big screens behind him which show videos and clips from his MTV days. He puts on a very entertaining show!

On stage, and dancing away!

Here is the video from this segment: