Category Archives: The Book! (On Tender Hooks)

Of Brides and Breaking Wheels

In my intense need to share the joys of the High Holy Holiday of Halloween I’m going to be posting a few of my paintings as household goodies this week — starting with “Song of the Goldfinch” which you can snag as a pillow (available in three different sizes).  If you can’t wait and wanna read the rest of this later, you can pick it up right here! 


And as a tote bag, also in 3 sizes …


These are images of my painting “Song of the Goldfinch”, part of the Monster Ballads series, where I was thinking (as I often seem to do) about what it means to be a “monster”. In this series, the classic creatures were all depicted as martyrs — because if you think about it, The Bride of Frankenstein didn’t exactly ask to be dug up and reanimated. Her companion, the goldfinch, often appeared in Renaissance paintings as a symbol for the soul, resurrection, sacrifice and death. I see it as a messenger who can travel between two worlds.

In many historical painting of martyrs they are depicted holding the object of their martyrdom (aka “the thing used to kill them”). Saint Catherine of Alexandria was sentenced to be crushed to death by a spiked “breaking wheel”, so you often seen her with what looks like a big old wagon wheel at her side like she was Loretta Lynn’s great, great, great, grandma.


Awful as it must have been, it didn’t work (“at her touch this instrument of torture was miraculously destroyed”), so the Roman Emperor Maxentius, who was already pretty pissed because he’d offered to get Catherine out of this nasty jam by marrying her (an offer she declined, explaining she was already married to Jesus), decided to have her beheaded. Unfortunately her miraculous way with wheels didn’t seem to apply to blades, and this attempt on her life was entirely too successful. This is why you often also see Catherine with a sword, or sometimes both a sword and a wheel. I particularly like the smashed wheel in this one:


In my painting the Bride is holding the instrument of her death which, according the heartbreaking film “The Bride of Frankenstein” by James Whale, is fire. The fire that the monster set when his bride-to-be rejected him and he decided “We belong dead.” (This movie makes me cry every time, people. Every. Time. “Friend?” Cue the waterworks.)

"Song of the Goldfinch", oil on wood panel, 24 x 14 inches

“Song of the Goldfinch”, oil on wood panel, 24 x 14 inches

If you want to bring any of this juicy goodness home, just bunny on over to this site right here. (Yes, simply click that link like your clacking your ruby slippers together and you’ll be magically whisked over.)

More goodies to come!

More Sugar


Richard von Busack is pouring sugar on me — well technically on my book — in a terrific review for “On Tender Hooks” which you can read right here. He’s coined the tastiest turn of phrase in any review to date:  “toasted marshmallow-colored nudes.”  Yum!


Once upon a time two guys living in Cleveland, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, came up with one of the most iconic of all superhero comic characters, Superman.  Desperate to break into comics, they sold the rights for $130.  Years later they sued but failed to regain control of the last son of Krypton.  When the Superman movie was coming out in the late 70s, DC finally succumbed to public pressure and gave the two a pension and credit.  But what happened during those many years in between?  Joe Shuster, justifiably bitter, got seriously pervy.

The crazy thing is we’d never even know about it if someone hadn’t found all this work in a junk box at a used bookseller’s stall — a rare heap of “Nights of Horror,” a comic so sleezy it was sold under the counter until banned by the U.S. Supreme Court.  Experts in the field were able to tell it was Shuster’s work and the results have been bound up and published as “Secret Identity:  The Fetish Art of Superman’s Co-Creator Joe Shuster.”

secret_identityThe popular theory is that Shuster’s characters look like Superman, Lois Lane and friends as an act of wrathful revenge.  Nice little write up in the Library Journal right here.

In other news of the perverse, Ron English, R. Sikoryak and myself will be presenting a panel at San Diego Comic-Con this summer entitled “Pop Perversity: Parody in Comics & Art.”  Going to be some serious fun — hope you have tickets ’cause the con is totally sold out!  More details as we get closer to the date.  (I’ll also be signing books — I think it’s 3pm on Friday at the Chronicle Books booth.  I’ll check that as we get closer to the date.)


Next Best Thing To Being There

The road to hell really is paved with good intentions.  (It sounds better in Italian: “La via per l’inferno è lastricata di buone intenzioni.”)  I still haven’t downloaded my shots from the opening.  Don’t even ask what I’ve been doing — I have no idea!  I run around all day like a chicken with its head cut off but at the end of the day I don’t feel like I have a lot to show for it.  (Turns out a head might be useful.)

photo by Josh Keppel

photo by Josh Keppel

So thank goodness for folks like Josh Keppel, who posted a veritable heap of photos from the opening on the Bay Area NBC site.  You’ll practically feel like you were there while you’re looking at all the great shots he took.  And if you were there, you can play Where’s Waldo looking for yourself!

Actually now I don’t feel compelled to even bother with my own pics — Josh’s are much better.  And reliving the evening through these images is helping me not feel as blue about the show coming down this week.  If you haven’t seen it, zoom on by, this is your laaaast chance!

Sign O’ The Times

Thanks to Jacquie Tellalian for pointing this out (I had no idea) — the NYTimes blogged my book!  HOLY CANNOLI!


I thought the write up was fun too (“Derrida-like vigor” indeed!).  Now if someone will just post another comment — the only one on there right now is the tersely ego-smushing “Gimmicky.”  (I didn’t realize it was possible to reduce 20 years of work to a single word that would then irritate me so much. Kudos Daniel!)

You can read it for yourself right here.


Just got back from Bodega, still shaking the sand out of my shoes and have yet to download the camera from opening night, but fortunately while I’ve been at play others have been working — here’s a Flickr set from the Shooting Gallery!


What A Way To Start The Day


Is there anybody who wouldn’t like to see the word “genius” in the same sentence with their name?  (Except maybe for “Who’s the genius that screwed this up?”)  If you didn’t see the link in the comments, I just had to wave this around a bit because it’s such a lovely, lovely review.  Angela Cardone, arts and culture producer for KPBS Radio, pours some sweet sugar on me with “The Pop Culture Genius of Isabel Samaras.