Suzanne Forbes, an expat New Yorker in Berlin. Made possible by the generous support of her Patrons. https://www.patreon.com/SuzanneForbes. Former DC Penciller for Star Trek, former courtroom artist, painting portraits and teaching drawing.
I returned to my comic-book roots with this edition of Dr. Sketchys Berlin. I have a new tool, a giant PITT brush marker, and I just dashed the drawings out like a wild woman!! Using a combination of the PITT marker and my beloved white chalk marker on Strathmore Toned Gray paper, I was able to treat the drawings like paintings, working additive-subtractive. This method gave me tremendous freedom and confidence.
The models were Lucille Lehr and Sebastian Stone, two extremely muscular and fit humans who totally embodied cartoon heroes. They are both extremely talented multi-disciplinary artists, and they brought such marvelous energy to the show. Lucille’s resemblance to Jane Fonda was UNCANNY. I had SO MUCH FUN!!!!!
I am so grateful to have Dr. Sketchy’s and the good folks who make it happen in my life.
I met up withSuzanne in Prenzlauerberg for a visit to the Circus Bar!
There are two circus bars, actually, kitty-corner from each other as we used to say in the Old Country.
Zum Starken August has burlesque Friday and Saturday nights, with an MC like Martini Cherry Furter, above. Toast Hawaii has bands and also something called Pornokaroake which I don’t know what that even is. Toast Hawaii, btw, is a disgusting German dish. Do not google it.
I’ve drawn Martini before and it is always SUCH a pleasure. She is so beautiful, all glamour and cheekbones and legs and sass. The straight boys she was teasing as I drew this were blushing like little kids.
I’m working on a drawing of performer La Lobo Balucia from this night too, which should be up soon 🙂
I actually drew this picture of a lady with giant pillows on the U-Bahn in June.
But I have been so busy I didn’t have time to scan it or the other new unterweg of last month!
These two struck me with their very different styles.
I am using bunch of different gray-scale markers again, experimenting with value scales. And I am increasingly using gray and black pastel or conté crayon to texture surfaces and add dimension. Really, nothing could have suggested “pillow” as fast and effectively as the gray pastel did. I’m not sure how I got here, because I started out so constrained by the exigencies of comics printing in the 80s. But I like it, and I like the freedom.
Previous unterwegs below. All unterwegs drawings are courtesy of my Patrons on Patreon whose monthly financial support allows me to make this free art available!
SUCH a beautiful party for the official release of the gorgeous coffee table book of photographs by Jo Pollux and text by Sadie Lune.
It was held at cherished all-inclusive queer art gallery/bar/clubhouse Ludwig Berlin in Neukölln, and featured the artist and her muses! The book showcases Jo’s Film Noir aesthetic and Sadie’s dark prose. In attendance were models from the book, including Sadie,Bishop Black, Manon, Finn Peaks, and more.
There was a wonderful crowd of queer Berliners, plus visitors from all over.
There were performances, including this one by Finn Peaks.
Finn had pink eye makeup on making him look even more like Anne Carlisle in Liquid Sky!
And afterwards the crowd retired to the back room to witness à la carte acts of dominant play by Sadie, always a huge hit.
My live-drawing of queer Berlin’s art scene is courtesy of my Patrons on Patreon whose monthly financial support allows me to make this free art available! You can help for as little as a dollar/euro a month.
I’m working on some more drawings from the back room, but since they are sensual and involve passionate interactive I am not creating them for my Patreon. You will be able to find them on my other website, the one with my name, soon 🙂
I had to sneak this portrait of her as she chatted with a friendly gay boy from Oz, because she looked so luminous. we went for Thai food beforehand and she looked like a movie star, I was like oh la lala, just havin some iced tea with my friend the movie star.
This is done in pastels, gel pens and other mixed media on Strathmore Toned Gray paper.
I love this paper but it’s too big for my scanner so I have to photograph the drawings and with their complex, mixed pigment surfaces they are hard to photograph. I am gonna have get a bigger scanner sometime soon!
Lady with a Baby
My friend S. with her little one, just a few weeks old. She has the most amazing kids. Seriously, the most amazing, beautiful, strong, full-of-identity from birth kids. I saw this one in the hospital and he was already right there. And the older kid- her glamour, character and self-possession are already legend among the Berlin demi-monde! “I saw her having lunch with Peaches one day, when she was just five years old”, someone whispered at a party. We are planning a portrait of mama and older child later this year.
This work, of making a record of the people I know, and telling the story of a moment in their lives – I cannot think of anything I am better suited to do, or any task more honorable.
I am so deeply grateful to my Patrons on Patreon, whose financial support makes it possible.
It was a quiet Sunday afternoon when I glanced at Instagram and saw my friend Dia was about to perform at Tipsy Bär, on the other side of town.
I hadn’t seen Dia work their moves onstage since we lived in the Bay, so I grabbed my art tools and jumped on the train. I made it just in time to catch Dia’s second act as well some other fabulous people!
Ebony Rose Dark danced so gracefully, so delicately on those 6″ heels. She was amazing!
And she casually kept them on after her performance! We had a minute to chat and she told me about some of the other performances she does, including one in pitch dark with fellow visually impaired performers. Now I really want to go to Worn and Felt and draw in the dark.
Vivienne P. Lovecraft was a vision of serenity in opal pastels, performing about Steven Universe I believe?
Which is a tv show that so many people I love are into, but I have never seen. I feel slightly guilty about that!
During the trivia contest, the question “What do the H. and P. in H.P. Lovecraft stand for?” was asked and Dia yelled, “Highly Problematic!” Another audience member pointed out that Lovecraft was from Rhode Island, which is hysterical, during Drag Brunch.
I loved her rainbow flag stole and a tender performance to Björk’s “All is Full of Love”, where she came out and hugged all the audience members. It was really comforting and hopeful. As Ms. Jupiter pointed out, a Sunday afternoon drag show may seem silly, but taking space this way is always, always a political act.
I’m grateful I can document moments like this in Berlin, thanks to my Patrons on Patreon whose monthly financial support allows me to make this art!
It’s because I can’t ride one, I don’t understand the basic mechanics. But people bring their bikes on the U-Bahn, and their dynamics with the bikes are interesting, so I occasionally try to draw them.
When I did the drawing above I was thinking about the looseness and easy mark-making of my pre-comics drawing style.
I recently scanned some drawings from 1990-91 for my archives, and realized how much rigidity I developed while I was formatting my drawing style for comic inking and printing. I want to try and rediscover that sketchy early 90s style.
I wouldn’t say this drawing succeeded at that, but it’s been a long road here and it’s ok for it to be a wander to try and go back abit.
At least I drew this goofy hand, which is barely drawn at all!
In Berlin homeless people spare-changing on the U-Bahn announce themselves and say their names loudly as they enter the train.
That’s what the guy you see here is doing. There’s a sort of script panhandlers follow. It’s not clear to me if this is custom or required by some regulation. It does serve the purpose of giving people a chance to dig in their purses/pockets for change, if they are so inclined. I panhandled daily to support my heroin habit in the last year of my active using; I understand doing anything you can to ease the mechanics of asking strangers for money.
I looked through some of my art school notebooks and found these drawings!
They have never been scanned, photographed or copied; if we had a fire they would just have been gone forever. The one above is the birthday party of Gabriel, the son of a woman I knew in the recovery community. Gabe was what we would call a Spectrum kid nowadays, and there was not much understanding about how to support him, although his parents were devoted.
For some reason he adored me, and I was very fond of him and his older sister Shuli, and spent a lot of time with their family altogether. Based on the notebook this was found in, I am estimating it was done in the summer of 1991. I have only the haziest memory of drawing it!
And this is a teacher at MCAD, where I finished my BFA.
This is a drawing done in class of my friend Kirk Kristlibas.
Kirk was a dear friend of mine in my last couple years of art school, a deeply creative and talented person whose personal style was amazing. The kind of self-directed polymath art-generator you only meet a few times in a lifetime. He was a fellow New Yorker and we would drive around in my car yelling about the fucking Minnesotans. I have not seen him in decades, but he is quite googleable and so I see he has written a book, gotten multiple art degrees, done theater work and apparently looks exactly the same?
I drew a lot in my school notebooks and a little bit in my journals.
This is a self portrait of me in bed with a boy named Jamie.
In my bedroom in St. Paul, right after I’d been sober for a year. My roommate Anita and I had a party for our sobriety birthdays and I said to him, “You must be my birthday present.” He was a wounded soul, one of several survival sex workers I’ve been lovers with.
This one to the left is a self-portrait of me in my uniform from Woullet Bakery, where I worked for nearly a year when I was newly sober.
My roommate Anita had been forced to go back to prison, through some very fucked up drug testing stuff that was extremely unjust.
I was devastated; she was one of the best friends I’ve ever had, and an extraordinary muse to me right when I went back to art school, at MCAD. She posed for all my homework, and was an amazing cook, and gave me Neuromancer to read.
I’m going to start in soon on photographing some more of the many drawings and paintings I made of her in the short four months we lived together.
Looking back at the way I drew before I worked as a courtroom artist and then on Star Trek, I feel like something was lost.
The spring that I drew this picture, I did my first official tryout for Marvel, with Fabian Nicieza.*
One of Fabe’s critiques of my work was that I needed uniform, enclosed lines on all shapes and consistent, inkable shading. Which was good advice for superhero comics then, and maybe even now. Although in 1990 Baxter and Mando papers and Flexographic printing had long since become part of comic production, a lot of comics were still printed on newsprint, and artists were still being told to pencil for newsprint production.
I had to get rid of the multiple lines, the looseness, the brushiness of my drawing, unless I was gonna ink it myself, which I was never interested in. Comic colorists needed areas that were fully enclosed for each color, to be painted in carefully with Dr. Martin’s dyes, for the hand separated CMYK plates of the four-color printing process. I believe nowadays it’s all done digitally, with digital shading, stored codes for costume colors, and there is a person in the production line called a flatter, who is somehow involved in preparing digital color files for printing.
My old style probably still wouldn’t work for comics, but it was beautiful and free. Since I don’t have to draw comics ever again (it was not good for my health), I would love to find my way back to that free style. You can see a collection of more older drawings I scanned during my last period of archiving work, in 2009, here.
I am incredibly grateful to my Patreon Patrons, whose monthly financial support makes it possible for me to take time to document my art archives.
Again, until today, no modern media record of these drawings existed – if we had a fire or flood they would just be gone forever.
*the splash page of the tryout script Fabe sent me was a picture of a dead woman, lying in a boat. I talk about some of the many ways women were deterred from working in superhero comics, even by well-meaning editors, here.
“I love to draw Liliana,” I said to her dear friend Fannie Headaek, “she has the elegant lines of a fighting swan.”
Does that make sense? I don’t know, but I stand by it! And check out co-host Gieza Poke!
Is Pansexual Pleasure Goddess Gieza’s outfit a yellow plaid bustier and plaid booty shorts topped with a yellow plaid cape with power shoulders and a yellow tam o’shanter fascinator? Yes, yes it is. Fucking amazing.
Also performing was The Darvish, an elegant neo-bellydancer.
Dunja, an incredible Guinness World Record setting hula hooper, (see below!) as Mia Wallace!