Finder's Keepers
Name: Garth Cameron Graham
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I’m Shippin’ up to Boston…

March 28th, 2010

So, two of my best friends just got married in Salem. It was an awesome wedding, and the lovely couple are undoubtedly enjoying themselves in the manner that all newly weds do. Many congratulations to the both of them!

Needless to say… I’m in Boston right now. Well, Swampscott, technically, but whatever. The important point is, what with the wedding (which I wouldn’t miss for the world) and Anime Boston next weekend (where I’m very excited to be running the panel “Steampunk to Cyberpunk: a History”) I am not at the office (i.e. the basement) and I will not be there until the 5th of April. I attempted to get a buffer built up, but alas it was not to be. So, my apologies, my dear friends and esteemed readers, but there will not be new pages until the 6th at the earliest. I will, however, be making a point to post more here in this blog over the next week or so, in an attempt to make up for lost blogging.

Sometimes life gets in the way of the best laid plans. And life is fucking amazing right now.


February 24th, 2010

So remember when I told you guys the other week that there were going to be some changes around here? Well, here’s the first of them!

Shark Robot will soon be taking over all of my online storefront. What does this mean, you ask? It means several very important things. First it means that I won’t be in charge of shipping out merchandise anymore, freeing up a fairly sizable portion of my time to work on the comic! Huzzah! Secondly it means that I’m going to restructure how I do prints. Thirdly, it means that we’ll have T-shirts again! And new designs to boot!

One of the things I’m going to do during this change-over is I’m going to discontinue a lot of prints. Yes, you heard me, a lot of prints (mostly the limited edition ones) will no longer be available as I will not be printing them anymore. I’ll be keeping a number of existing prints (obviously) and there will be a bunch of new prints coming up. All the artwork will be available in new sizes: 8×10″, 10×13″, and 16×20″, which are all standard sizes, making framing super easy!

As of this month I’m making a slight change to the way the limited edition wallpapers work. As always, any donor who donates more than $15 will get one of the signed and numbered limited edition prints. However, now they will not be limited to runs of 100. The Limited Edition prints will be done in runs only large enough to cover the donors for the month. So once a new wallpaper goes up that 8.5×11″ limited edition print will never be available again. Based on past experience, this will make them limited to runs of roughly 15-30 copies. There is the potential for any wallpaper to later be turned into a regular print and available in the sizes mentioned above, but there is no guarantee that will happen. So come March, when I put out a new wallpaper, the current wallpaper will not be available in print again. You can always donate to get previous wallpapers at any time, but the limited prints will not be available once a new wallpaper goes up.

So when is this change over happening? The END OF THE MONTH. Come March 1st, all links to the storefront will be turned to point to Shark Robot. I won’t dismantle the GCG Studios storefront until the end of March, however. I figure a little bit of overlap is a good thing, but you’ll have to find your way there yourself.

Ultimately I feel this will lead to a better shopping experience for you, more time to do art for me, and in the end will streamline the whole business part of this thing I do. Yeah I know some of you guys are all “boo! you shouldn’t be in it for the money!” to which I say “I like being able to pay rent.” I don’t like the business part, I like the art part. If someone else would put a roof over my head and slide food under my door I would happily draw all day and night long without any thought to anything but the comic. As for the rest of you, thank you guys for all your support. I couldn’t be doing this without you guys. I feel this partnership with Shark Robot will be a good thing for all of us.

Stay tuned for new comic pages and a return of wearable art! Oh, and issue 3 is now available for preorder!

Finder’s Keepers the Movie

February 20th, 2010

So an interesting question was raised at the Finder’s Keepers Q&A panel at Katsucon the other weekend. I was asked “so who would you have play the roles in Finder’s Keepers the live action movie?” I was unable to successfully answer this question as I had never given it a great deal of thought. Pondering it a bit I can only say that a young Viggo Mortesen would make an amazing Cardinal. I still have no ideas for the rest of the cast. So let’s play, shall we? Who should play the cast of Finder’s Keepers?

Chapter 4 Starts Friday

February 16th, 2010

Hey guys, I got back from Katsucon a little earlier today and the weekend was a blast but I am dead. There is something indescribably exhausting about being on the way you have to be at a convention. It’s not an act, or a fascade, but you definitely end up exerting yourself in interesting and unusual ways when at a con. Particularly if you’re an introvert like myself. So, I realize that despite having been away for some 3 weeks I’m going to have to push it just a little further. Friday we’ll see the first update of Chapter 4 which’ll be the cover art, however I won’t make you wait a full week before we get into the story. I’m going to punch out the first page and have that posted for you all by Tuesday. After that we’ll return to our now standard Tuesday updates.

I have other grand plans for the near future. Not only will we be kicking off Chapter 4 this week, but there will be some marked upgrades all around. I’m going to overhaul the Finder’s Keepers website in the next couple of months. The new format and navigation of the site has proven to work quite well, but there are always things that can be improved. As such I’m going to make said improvements, to bring you guys an even better reading experience.

As for what I’ve been up to in my absence from the web, the last three weeks have been amazing and exhausting all at the same time. Ohayocon proved to be an amazing con, despite the ridiculous cold. Columbus also surprised me by being the once city I can think of that I didn’t automatically hate when I drove into it.

What the Hell?! Con reminded me of why I like college conventions: they’re fun beyond reason! I also got auctioned off like a slab of meat (sexy sexy meat) at the geek auction, and I would not be surprised if the event was covered in some regard by the Devil’s Panties in about 2 months or so. It was also really great to see Kel and Ursula aka. Lol Wut? Pear Lady again. It’s amazing how long it sometimes is between meeting up with friends.

Katsucon was epic this year. I’m not sure there’s a better word to describe it. The Gaylord convention/resort is an amazing (if labyrinthine) and Katsu really stepped up it’s game in spite of the snowpocolypse of twenty ten. Despite the multiple feet of snow, the airplanes that didn’t make it off the runway which delayed essential convention supplies (i.e. badges) Katsucon brought its A-game and rocked the national harbor. Katsucon also played host to what I would call the greatest Super Art Fight ever. Three amazing bouts between amazing artists, yielded the best show I have ever been to, and I’ve been to most of them. Michael Brocco and Nick Borkowicz put on a spectacular spectacle in the first round, the second round in which I defeated Jamie Baldwin was probably the loudest I think I’ve ever heard a super art fight audience be, and Jamie Noguchi was brave and bold but ultimately got his ass handed to him by the insanely talented Jo Chen who proved to us all that the only way to art fight is with a brush.

Katsucon also made me do something I never thought I’d do. The convention was so amazing that I broke down and started a twitter account. You can now follow me between updates at GarthFT. Maybe I can keep that updated better than my old livejournal.

Getting back to it!

February 10th, 2010

Just a quick update while I have something resembling a moment to think. We’re almost done with our guest appearances, and I’d like to thank everyone who submitted a piece. You all are awesome and I appreciate the help. We should have chapter 4 starting up next Tuesday and going from there.

So far I’ve hit 2 of the 3 cons, and they both have proved A-mazing. Ohayocon was a great con to attend, and it was fantastic meeting my fans in the north! WhatTheHell?!con was also equally epic, if much smaller. I do enjoy the little college conventions. Terribly welcoming, and you actually have the ability to do everything and truly have fun. It was also entertaining to be auctioned off like a piece of meat for charity. I know the ladies were entertained as well…

So that brings me to Katsucon this weekend! I’ve always enjoyed Katsucon and I expect this year to be better than its ever been! Despite the insane amount of snowfall we’ve had in the area, I’m going to be there! I hope you guys will be too! I’ve got a couple of fun panels including a never-done-before Finder’s Keepers Q&A! That’s right! I’m opening the doors, giving out the secrets, but you have to be at the panel to find out! I’m really looking forward to this weekend. I will have some rather important announcements and more in-depth reviews of the last couple of weeks after Katsu, when my brain is a tiny bit more together than it is right now.

Guest Strips!

January 26th, 2010

As I said earlier, I’m taking a couple of weeks off before I start in on chapter 4. The timing is pretty good, actually as starting this weekend I’ve got 3 convention appearances back to back. This weekend will kick off with Ohayocon! In the meantime however, I’ve had several fans and friends offer up some artwork/comics to tide over the gap. I hope you enjoy them!

So, I have seen Avatar now…

January 19th, 2010

And I have to agree with just about everyone else: James Cameron’s Avatar is fucking amazing. Seriously. Hollywood hasn’t made a movie like this for over a decade. Despite the things I didn’t like about it, the couple of plot holes, the seriously important shit that was kinda hinted at and missing, the brilliant parts that got buried in the “noble savage” and “yay nature” nonsense, I love this movie. It is a movie that I will gladly watch over and over and over again without ever tiring of seeing it. I can only watch the Dark Knight so many times, but Avatar will never tire.

Cinematics wise, it was a visual cornucopia that was so amazingly nuanced that I can hardly believe it happened. The CG, for what I think is the first time ever, is so real I forgot it was CG. Here, truly the virtual and the sets are blended together in ways that are so seamless that the only thing that you can use to tell them apart is the “can they build that?” test.

Yet the cinematics, no matter how captivating, are not what really did it for me. What sold me on Avatar was the phenomenal cultural barrier between the Humans and the Na’vi. And it’s not the indigenous people vs. greedy corporate invaders part. I actually found the Na’vi “noble savage” shtick to be a detriment to the film, but more on that in a moment. The cultural barrier is not in the environmentally harmonious vs. masters of environment, it is in the separation between consciousnesses. The Na’vi, and the entire Pandoran ecosystem for that matter, have the ability to directly connect to each other, mind to mind. They have an external neural linkage that lets them bond directly with all the life I could figure out on the planet. Really the only reason they need a spoken language is out of some sense of privacy I’d imagine. They can know the minds of the people and animals and even plants around them. The very forests become a neural nexus and depository of the minds of all the people that came before. They have tangible proof that they are not alone in the world, trapped inside their own skulls, that there is more to life that mere survival.

Humans don’t have that luxury. We can’t. We can never truly know one another like the Na’vi can. We have to communicate, through imperfect means, through body language and spoken word and pictures, and none of it is ever exactly what we see and know in our own minds. We can never truly connect with another individual directly, let alone the environment around us. We have to take it on faith that there is more to life than our own needs and desires. Frequently that kind of faith is hard to come by, especially when the world itself seems out to end you. Life is a terrifying thing. We are fragile creatures that die with extreme ease, and the world is very good at killing us. Natural disasters, disease, hunger, simply falling down, even the plants and animals around us can be deadly. It’s no small wonder that humans turned to changing the environment to make it less likely to kill us. Eat or be eaten. If the world is out to get you, beat it down until it no longer can. It makes sense, as long as you don’t empathize with the environment.

The Na’vi are such a part of their environment because of that neural connection that taking a human stance would be akin to punching yourself in the face until you weren’t suicidal anymore. It’s an alien concept. And seeing that was beautiful. Having two cultures that truly could not understand each other because their ways were so utterly foreign that they were inconceivable was awesome.

There are no bad guys in Avatar. Don’t let the hollywoodisms fool you. The humans are not evil, and the Na’vi are not without flaw. They’re just trying to survive with their way of life in tact. Humans are mining Pandora because it has a mineral that is undoubtedly a primary key to keeping civilization as we know it running. Why else would you fly out to the stars and set up a major mining operation? Sure because you make money at it, but why do you make so much money? Because it’s vital, and people will pay for critical elements. I think many of the performances are delightfully nuanced. Most of the humans don’t like the idea of wiping out the indigenous population, even the corporate liaison gets a sick look to him when relations fall to war. If the corporate scum-sucker’s stomach churns at the thought of murdering hundreds of sentient beings for fun and profit, there’s probably hope for us as a species yet. Even the Colonel who is all for killin’ folk isn’t really evil. He’s just surviving. The planet he’s on has tried to kill him every day since the day he set foot on it, can you really blame him for not caring about killing it back a little? Conversely, the tree-hugging Na’vi are no better. Sure it’s their planet, but they’re just as stupid and stubborn as the humans. The movie spends forever teaching Jake (our human/na’vi go-between) about the Na’vi way of life, but the blue catfolk never bother to consider learning the human way. They pick up the language, sure, but they never once ask the outsiders why they’re here or making big holes in the ground. In truth the final battle is amazing, and not just for the explosions. I found myself rooting for both sides at different times. When the human marines were blowing the crap out of the Na’vi and their winged beasts I was all “boo humanity!” but then when those ten foot tall blue bastards landed on the airship and slaughtered an entire marine crew I thought to myself “holy shit alien monster, kill it!” Whether intentional or not, the fact that both sides were wrong and right all at the same time was astounding. It really helped hammer home how all of the violence was simply because of a break down in communications.

As I mentioned earlier, there are more than a few things about Avatar that I was not overly fond of. The most obvious was the “noble savage” image plastered all over the Na’vi. Fuck that shit. Point at an indigenous people and tell me that you’d rather have their way of life. Tell me honestly and truly that their way is better than the way you live your life right now. You can’t do it, can you? You know why? Because it’s a crappy fucking lifestyle. I’m all for being balance and harmony in ones life. Balance within oneself, balance between work and play, balance between give and take, balance between man and nature. I am 137.5% for that, but I’ll be damned if I’ll claim that the hunter/gatherer lifestyle is one that appeals to me. For some reason though we have a mindset that simpler times are better times, even when it’s vehemently not true. That strange nostalgia helps paint lower-tech cultures as being “good guys” where as higher-tech cultures remind us of the stress and bother of daily life and become “bad guys.” This is unfair at best. I would much rather have seen the Na’vi be a culture and civilization on par with the human race. Less mysticism around their ways, if their technology be low make it be a choice of the people rather than to make them look like an easy victim. I’d love to see an advanced Na’vi culture. I doubt that they’d ever form the kind of metallurgy and industrialization that humans have simply because of their intrinsic tie to their ecosystem. However, I can easily see them developing a finely tuned ability to use that neural connection to shape the world around them. The planet would become a massive supercomputer. They could influence the growth and shape of the trees and plants to form buildings. I’d even be willing to bet that they could have an amazing breeding program, influencing the shape and mental capacity of the animals in utero. They would be an advanced, intelligent species, having developed a culture that makes them as much a part of the environment as the environment is a part of them. Humans meeting them in that state would be a different ball game, and yet the same. The cultures would still not be able to grok each other, but they would be on the same playing field.

I also felt that for all that was in Avatar, a great deal of the story was left out. The biggest parts being “why is the unobtanium so damn important to humanity? Why’s it so vital?” and “did the initial contact crew ever bother explaining to the indigenous folk how important it is?” Ok, perhaps why we need unobtanium is irrelevant; I mean it’s called unobtanium for God’s sake. I bet it builds starships, makes interstellar travel possible, makes the economy work, cures cancer, and makes you bacon omelets for breakfast. However, if a ragtag ship of aliens were to land on Earth, discover sand and tell the nearest human beings that sand was vitally important to them and they needed as much as they could get, wouldn’t you think people might help? Even if the aliens had not a single thing humanity wanted (unlikely), I’d like to think we’d just give ‘em some sand just ’cause. Did humans not explain to the Na’vi how critical this mineral was? Did the Na’vi not care that it was the key to another species’ survival? Does obtaining the mineral come at too high a cost? How much value can you put on the lives of strangers? These are important things to consider, but admittedly answering them requires a different movie.

I also felt that Avatar started a lot of sub-plots and threads but never went anywhere with them. While I applaud Cameron for acknowledging that these threads would exist in this scenario, I am disappointed that they never developed or were resolved. We assume a resolution because, that’s what happens. For instance, right after Jake comes out of his first mad-cap Avatar driving experience and everyone’s talking about how awesome it is that he’s gotten into Hometree and the Na’vi have sorta taken him in, his driver/buddy Norm gets this fantastic look of “god damnit, that should have been me. it’s so unfair, untrained jarhead gets the glory…” I was expecting this envy thread to go somewhere, it was perfectly fitting, and excellently introduced. Yet the thread never went anywhere. In fact that was the only sign of tension between the two ever. I would have loved to see more on-screen development of the human characters, and all of the secondary characters in general. I would have loved to see all the subplots and threads explored and wound together. Sadly that would make the movie like 5 hours long.

The other big thing that bothered me was the ending. So stop reading now if you haven’t seen it and care about spoilers. For the rest of you, I’m talking about Jake’s body swap and the death to humanity. Jake Sully can never truly be one of the Na’vi, no matter how much they accept him. He is not Na’vi, and I feel it cheapens his accomplishments and realizations and sacrifices to make him literally one of them. Conversely he can’t be fully human either. Not after shipping his planet’s one hope of survival back home in shame that they have failed. Oh, didn’t catch that? Yeah. After saving the Na’vi, Jake ships all the other people that were against him (including some people that did help out a touch) back to the dying Earth. Good call there. Yeah, call me a speciest, but somehow I couldn’t bring myself to betray my own kind like that. No matter how wrong they were. Regardless of that, Jake is a man between worlds. One foot on each side of the fence, caught in the middle, and the middle is where he needs to stay as a character in my mind.

Despite any shortcomings, Avatar manages to do something I haven’t seen from hollywood in over a decade I think. It’s a film full of heavy issues and thoughtfulness that is amazingly fun to watch all at the same time. Avatar remembers that its primary goal is to entertain, and it does so in spades.

Super Art Fight 6!

January 12th, 2010

SUPER ART FIGHT 6 is coming back to Baltimore! Next Saturday, the 23rd, ten hyper-talented artists will throw down and duke it out the only way we know how: on canvas! This is an important match for me. I will be facing down the veteran and co-founder Nick “Ghostfreehood” Borkowicz for a chance to regain my title of SUPER ART FIGHT CHAMPION! That’s right, it’s my title. It may currently be held by the insanely talented and amazing Michael Bracco, but it will always be my title. And I will win it back, oh yes I will. But first I must do artistic battle with Borkowicz, and defeat him soundly! If you have never been to an Art Fight you have done yourself a disservice, and if you have gone before you need to be at this one. If not to watch me trounce my opponent then surely to watch all the other epic matches. And I have my suspicions that they will be most epic in-deed.

Happy National Human Trafficking Awareness Day!

January 12th, 2010

Well, ok, so National Human Trafficking Awareness Day was technically yesterday the 11th. Did you know that? I certainly did not. In fact I was under the impression that human trafficking was more a problem for pretty female tourists in parts of Europe. Yes, Liam Neeson has a very specific set of skills to deal with just such happenings, but seriously. Turns out it’s not just a global issue, but is in fact happening right here in the grand o’ US of A. You’d think we’d have gotten past this by now, but apparently no. So what can you do about it? What can we do about it? Well ya might try checking this out. A bunch of very fine folks, fine folks who also happen to be webcomickers are running a fund raising drive to help out organizations that are attempting to combat what is possibly one of the oldest and most unpleasant of human commerce. Give it a look over.

New comic Friday

January 7th, 2010

I’m not quite dead yet. I sometimes wonder at that, considering perhaps that I’m actually a zombie… some kind of zombie artist risen from a graphite grave. Anyway, the important news is that there will be a comic this week, it’ll just be Friday (the 8th) instead of Tuesday. The remaining two pages will go up on their scheduled Tuesday release dates, and then there will be a short break before we delve into the fourth and final chapter of volume 1. I’ll also be opening the pre-order for issue 3 shortly, so make sure to check out the store.

Starting at the end of the month I will have a convention extravaganza! Starting with my first ever trip to Ohio since I was wee. (I used to live in Xenia) This will be exciting! I hope to see a bunch of you there as well as a bunch of new faces.