White River Junction

I went down to White River Junction for a little celebration at the Center For Cartoon Studies, where I showed the students FIVE episodes of SuperF*ckers and talked about the experience of adapting my graphic novel into animation.  Also, had some time to myself for a little soul-searching, shown here.  Also, I finally beat New Super Mario Bros. 2 on the Nintendo 3DS.


ProFile Friday: In Memorium

Isabelle Daniel “Barbara” Hall Fiske Calhoun, best known for her work (as Barbara Hall) on “Girl Commandos” and “Pat Parker, War Nurse” during the Golden Age of Comics, died this past Monday, April 28, 2014 at age 94 in a nursing home in White River Junction, Vermont, not far from the Center for Cartoon Studies. Her daughter Ladybelle and son in law Brion were with her for the last days of her life. She died peacefully and without struggle. Drawing and painting remained her main interest in her final days. “Art is prayer,” she frequently said

Hall was born in 1919 into an old Southern family. Her ancestors had fought the British during the Revolutionary War, and later fought on the Southern side in the American Civil War. She studied painting in Los Angeles, moving to New York City in 1940. She showed her portfolio to Harvey Comics in 1941, and was hired to draw the comic “Black Cat”. Her next strip was “Girl Commandos”, about an international team of Nazi-fighting women. This comic was developed from “Pat Parker, War Nurse”, about a “freelance fighter for freedom.” When stationed in India, this nurse recruited a British nurse, an American radio operator, a Soviet photographer, and a Chinese patriot. Hall continued this strip until 1943. Girl Commandos was taken over by Jill Elgin. On January 8, 1946, she married writer and playwright Irving Fiske and became Barbara Hall Fiske.

Hall continued her art career as a tempera and pastel painter. Together with her husband, she began an alternative living group/artists and writers’ colony in Rochester, Vermont, called Quarry Hill. (Later it became known as the Quarry Hill Creative Center.) She and Irving Fiske had two children, Isabella (Ladybelle) and William.

In the Sixties, through her daughter, Ladybelle, she met and became friends with many well-known underground cartoonists, including R. Crumb, Trina Robbins, Kim Deitch, Spain Rodriguez, and others. Ladybelle met Art Spiegelman in 1966 through Trina Robbins and also, concurrently, through a group of Spiegelman’s fellow-students at the State University of New York at Binghamton. In 1978, Ladybelle, Spiegelman, Françoise Mouly, and some other Quarry Hill residents created Top-Drawer Rubber Stamp Company, which featured art by Crumb, Spiegelman and many other cartoonists and artists. This hand-made art rubber stamp company provided employment for several Quarry Hill residents for a time.

Barbara Hall Fiske designed several images for Top-Drawer including angels, an image of William Blake (Quarry Hill’s favorite poet and artist), and more.

Hall divorced Fiske in the 1970s, created Lyman Hall, Inc. (after a collateral ancestor who was a signer of the Declaration of Independence) to run the Quarry Hill property, and took the name Barbara Fiske Calhoun after her second marriage in the 1990s.

One of her “Pat Parker, War Nurse” stories was reprinted recently in Divas, Dames & Daredevils: Lost Heroines of Golden Age Comics edited by Mike Madrid.


Part I of photos from the incredible Whatever She Wants: A Drag Musicale! Co-written and co-starring SASHA STEINBERG, cartoonist extraordinaire! who you can follow on tumblr for more more more!


Lip-syncing! Gender-bending! Murder! A gay ole time! Blending classic drag performances, theater, and film noir, Whatever She Wants is sure to please. Whatever She Wants tells the story of Veronica—an aging singer whose star is on the downward bell curve of success—and Jayne—a young upstart with nowhere to go but up, and no morals to get in the way. For one night only, witness the Main Street Museum transform into the Foxtrot Lounge, and the men and women of White River transform into the glorious drag queens and kings of a bygone era.

May 11th, 9pm. 5—20 dollars. A benefit for Tranzmission, prison book project.

BYOB - Dance party to follow.

Staring the enormous talents of:

Sasha as…Veronica Loy
John Jacob as…Jayne Summers

………Also featuring:

Celeste as…. Emcee
Nancy as….. Sugar
Jess as….. Monte
Renee as…. The Chorus Boy
Matt Bucy as…. Gertie

From the EcoPhotography Archives: The White River at dusk, White River Junction, Vermont. I found this shot across the street from a mechanic’s garage while madly trying to find something to shot as the sun went down. I made the photo in June of 2007 as part of my Connecticut River watershed project for the Nature Conservancy and the Trust for Public Land.

Canon 1DsMarkII, Canon 16-35mm F2.8 lens, F16, 0.8 second.

Yesterday, August 8th, I visited the Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, Vermont.  Before my tour of campus, I sat out in the town square and drew the old timey elegance of the Hotel Coolidge.  It’s also where some of the students live, in dorms.  

I had added a few thoughts in pencil, “do I have a future here?”  I’m thinking of going there for grad school, after I graduate in Spring ‘15.