Friday, February 27, 2009

The Heart of Juliet Jones

Stan Drake's The Heart of Juliet Jones, Dailies- Vol. 1, March 9, 1953 to August 13, 1955 This collection published by Classic Comics Press has an introduction by Leonard Starr, one of Drake's contemporaries. Legend tells the story of Elliot Caplin, the brother of Al Capp of L'il Abner fame, who was in a conversation with King Features and Comics editor Sylvan Byck, insisting he had the perfect artist for a strip. Sylvan declared he had the right one. Ironically, both were talking about the same Stan Drake. And so the comic strip emerged.

The early years of Juliet Jones reflects the values and economic situation of a family living in the 1950's, but also the timelessness of a dramatic, credible, complex storyline that still appeals to a contemporary audience. As a woman in the twenty-first century, I can identify with Juliet because I think she has qualities I would like to have. She's honest, perceptive, a quiet leader, kind and accepting. She takes on responsibilities and exudes confidence as an independent woman.

Male heroes in comics continue to be popular with males. I personally think there is a need to develop more intelligent, pro-active female leads in literature, film, comic strips, and comic books. Juliet, her sister Eve and father Howard face many conflicts and dilemmas. The mother is absent from the storyline. Juliet takes on the role of caretaker for her family. Howard is the dutiful father, wanting to provide financially for his two daughters. When he runs into trouble in his entrepreneurial business, Juliet steps in to help him.

Juliet is a hard worker with insight into others' motives and protects her family. She is steadfast, principled, calm and mature in contrast to Eve, her flamboyant, emotional sibling. Early in the strip, I feel Eve's antics, love interests, and attitude overshadow the quiet, conservative personality of Juliet. Her youthful exuberance is fresh. Eve becomes more responsible as the strip evolves, going to college and getting a job. Later in the strip, Juliet becomes mayor of the town which is a credible storyline based on her conscientiousness, ethics, intelligence and diplomacy.

Stan Drake was born in Brooklyn in 1921. He studied at the Art Students League under George Bridgman. His artistic career began in advertising. He sought to make his female characters ideal and attractive. His expertise in drawing didn't develop overnight. He owned one of the first Polaroid cameras, studied photographs and drew from them to improve his craft. His art is polished and loose without stiffness or awkward poses. Variation of line weight makes each panel resonate with life and movement. Facial expressions reflect the emotions of the characters quite well.

At its peak, Juliet Jones was published in 600 newspapers. In 1989, Frank Bolle took over from Stan Drake until the strip ended on January 1, 2001. The right blend of characterization, plot and artistic merit makes Juliet Jones a joy to read. Classic Comics Press

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Greetings!

I have had a busy February. Working with the Consumer Initiative Fund as a liaison manager to oversee peer-run projects, including programs and services for mentally ill persons. Going to a fabulous retreat. Hitting the pool. Walking miles upon miles just for the exercise. Meeting a friend for coffee. Taking long hours to edit a series of stories. Entering writing contests on Secret Attic after being published in their September 2008 magazine issue available at www.lulu.com.

Waiting to hear if my submission to Front Magazine was accepted on the topic "Disciplines." Publishing my monthly column called "Musings by Sandra Yuen MacKay" at www.lit.org. Waiting to hear from a local small press editor about publishing "My Schizophrenic Life" about my recovery from schizoaffective disorder, a combination of schizophrenia and a mood disorder. And also waiting for a reply from an agent for my collection of three novellas tentatively called "3 Women, 3 Lives."

With all this waiting, I prepare myself for rejection. Writing submissions may easily get rejected or put in the slush pile. Those that are lucky, talented and good at marketing are the authors who succeed. It's part of having a professional attitude to not take negative criticism and rejection to heart. Writing is healing for me. It's part of what I like to do. To be published for payment is exciting but is really icing on the cake, for me anyways.

I attempted to write 2 stories for another contest, but after some good advice from my friend, decided my approach wasn't going to work and shelved the contest for now. I think trying too hard doesn't work. 

I successfully found a date to meet two others to plan for a short presentation at the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists conference in June which was tricky because our schedules conflicted. I worked on my part in advance and hope the others agree with what I prepared with a few alterations. I also planned a talk with another Sandra for a class of occupational therapists at the University of British Columbia for next week.

I did work on 2 or 3 paintings. I have come to the conclusion that creativity cannot be forced or rushed in art or writing. To paint, I have to be in a state of utter concentration and focus which usually means I forget what time it is, or when to eat. 

Also I worked on some pencil and ink drawings on greeting cards to sell at the Mother's Day Art Sale put on by the members of the Art Studios. This organization offers art and writing classes to persons with mental illness. In the past, I taught creative writing there, and worked as a Traveling Art Assistant to mount art exhibits by the members at places around Vancouver. I act as secretary at planning meetings and also volunteer and am part of the fundraising committee. 

Still I made time to watch "Lost," "24," "Fringe," parts of "American Idol," and the Oscars. I thought Hugh Jackman did a fairly good job. However, I'd rather have seen clips of the nominees acting rather than hearing accolades from past Academy winners in their category.

My husband has hounded me to write some reviews on this blog. I hope to be able to do that in the near future. So welcome to my blog!