Mike introscuses himself!

mikeportrait Hello. This is Mike Barsanti, yr humble interlocutor & sometime Joyce scholar, the Father Cowley of Joyce Scholars, defrocked and voluble. I come to this project dishonestly, having been, at the time it was introduced to me, the Associate Director and “resident Joycean” of theRosenbach Museum & Library. I am now no longer there, working for a Very Large Philanthropic Organization that will not be named. Yet.

I came to Joyce dishonestly too, not out of any dignified need to experience great art, but rather because I have a competitive streak and I heard it was the hardest book to read in the English language and that my father had started it and never finished. And it was written by an Irishman, and I was much more interested in my Irish heritage (Momma was an O’Rourke) than in my Italian or (Heaven Forfend!) my English heritage. I would later realize that the blend of Irish, Italian, and English was actually an excellent combination to bring to the Joycean altar… but save that for later.

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Okay, we’re back…

pg30..more from the old blog as we come back to the project a couple of months after Bloomsday ’08..

So, a couple of months have gone by. Sorry.

The thing is that BloomsDay ’08 was the premier and test for this project and, I’m happy to say, it went very, very well. There’s been terrific response for the potential of this adaptation and some support offered and we’ve been taking some time to structure things according to that.

You may notice that I’m saying “we” here instead of “I.” In the coming weeks I’ll be turning over the majority of this blog to Mike Barsanti, my friend and partner in the project. It’s our intention to move this blog into a kind of a production model for annotation of the text through each panel of the comic in the hope that it will make some of the more obscure references a bit more clear. It will also serve that way as a conduit for other Joyce fans to tell me exactly what it is I’m doing wrong (I’m still trying to convince myself that this is a good idea).

I’ll leave to Mike to introduce himself, but what you’ll be seeing here now is the black&white drawings of each of the images in my adaptation but with Mike’s corrections and comments on subtext; the color commentary, if you will.

What’s the real beginning?

22cover..more from the old blogsite..

So the big underlying question here with adapting from  an established text released in numerous forms is, “where to There are really huge debates to be had here in regard to the definitive text but, according to my assessment it’s the 1922 edition of Joyce’s work that is most clearly now a part of the public domain and so that was the place to go for my sources.

I’m treading lightly on subjects like this, for obvious reasons, but it seems clear to me that one of the points of current public domain and fair usage laws has something to do with allowing artists to respond to earlier works of art that have, through history and reader involvement, wormed their way into the public consciousness.

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To What End?

…more here from the original blog. This wonderful cartoon is from german cartoonist Bernhd Pohlenz, just another of the gems you can find on thew web these days…

So from that first conversation in The Bards’ Irish Pub two years ago the idea grew into a series of layout sketches for how the novel could be presented visually in a form like comics. The idea of webcomics was still off of my artistic radar then, so the question, after doing some pages and concluding that such an adaptation might be possible, hell, even challenging and exciting to do was, of course, to what end?

Here’s some of the major strikes against such a project;
1)It is an impossibly over-sized graphic novel.
2)The skips and irregular page count of it’s narrative makes chapter-based monthly release impossible in print.
3)I had decided against funny animals, so syndicated newspapers were out of the question.

Discussing it with a friend, determining for myself that it might be indeed possible, and going through the time of trying to see how it could look on paper left me with no clear outlet for such a project. I couldn’t think of any way in which it could be something other than a series of drawings in my sketchbook.

Until Bloomsday (’07) last year.

I was looking at webcomics for the first time last year and the idea of alternative distribution methods through cellphones and other hand-held devices. Stuff that was completely new to me at the time, and I was just kind of dragging my toe in the end of the pool wondering if the water was warm enough to jump into. I took a couple of project ideas I had going on at the time and started to re-design them for the web and the cellphone.

Then the local alt-paper in town, Philadelphia’s CityPaper, had ads up for an “all comics issue” that my wife insisted I participate in. ULYSSES “SEEN” appeared there, almost as a joke, and received some good attention. Enough to make me try to figure out a way to make the project really happen.

“The Mockery of It…”

…more here from last year’s premier of the old blogsite. The image here, found on the web, seems to be from cartoonist Hugh MacLeod. Don’t know the man, but the work is really good…

On the surface it seems a fairly frivolous idea, I suppose. Make a comics version of a novel instantly recognizable but, to most people, completely oblique and difficult to read.

Hell, maybe even use funny animals to make the character types more distinctive. People love funny animals, right?
But I take Joyce, and comics, pretty seriously and it became clear that any respectable adaptation of  one thing that I love into that other form which I love equally well was, in fact, serious business.
So Bloom would not be a bunny.

On A Dare…

telemachus-duotone-6_1Again, more original material from the blog begun around the project launch (Bloomsday ’08)…

The first time I tried to read ULYSSES I was struck by how comical the dialogue was and how very distinct, yet still very hidden the narrative voice could be from chapter to chapter. This is years ago mind you, well before I had any thoughts of making something like this into a comic and well before comics as an art form could ever accommodate such a peculiar thing.

Joyce’s text, for Joyce lovers at least, can not be abridged nor turned into some two hour block-buster movie (some have tried this, of course, and some of them might well disagree with me on this point, but it seems, or seemed to me then, that people read Joyce for the language and are immediately and justifiably insulted by anyone, no matter how well-intending, who might come off as making a Reader’s Digest version of the novel for the Lifetime Channel).

So for a while there my friend and I played with the idea of film. Hell, nobody wants to actually do all that drawing and neither of us were filmmakers, so this was relatively safe territory. I started to wonder what the novel might look like if one took the time to separate the spoken dialogues from the internal ones and used this to construct a screenplay. Certainly that’s a big enough task on it’s own, but the charming and engaging quality of Joyce’s character’s sparkles in the dialogue.

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Getting Started


-while this version of the site and all it’s features are new, we felt it was worthwhile to carryover some of the content from the old blog into this new format. The first few entries are from the projects premier at Bloomsday ’08….

While I’ve kept many working journals over the years, this is the first one I’ve ever thought about doing in an on-line environment. Blogs, like typing, are relatively new to my working method, so I hope people will bear with me as try keeping track of what could very well be the next ten years of studio production.

(Yikes! That’s pretty scary when you say it aloud!)

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