In 2014, Anya Ulinich abandons the world of prose with her new graphic novel, “Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel,” in which she deploys her competence as both a writer and an illustrator. This book is based on “Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel,” by Bernard Malamund, which narrates the story of a man who consults a marriage broker in search for a wife. In Anya Ulinich’s version, the magic barrel is a world of online dating, portrayed as a chaotic and intricate world many of us are familiar with. Anya was classically trained in art, but switched to writing upon her arrival in the States, as she stated having “no place to paint.” However, after her first book “Petropolis,” Anya found herself stuck, she felt like she was “impersonating a novelist.” After the rejection of her second book from her publisher, her agent asked her, “What else do you have,” and Anya showed her an assortment of doodles, sketches, diary-like pages; that was all she had. This was the beginning of a great and entirely new project. Even though Ulinich graduated from the University of California with an MFA in painting and had previously written a novel (non-graphic), she maintains having known very little about comic books prior to this project. Nonetheless, this book brings Ulinich’s work to a whole other level of notability, creating a new visual and written language all of her own.

Essentially the book tells the story of a woman, Lena, (also the narrator), who much like Anya herself, is a late 30s divorced mother and novelist from Moscow, teaching and living in Brooklyn with her two daughters. It recounts Lena’s attempts to mend her views of love and sex, through social media platforms such as OKCupid, but there is much more complexity to the plot that Ulinich had in mind. The work appears as a sort of revealing, sequence of journals, which uncover and examine the main characters, and thus indirectly the author’s life and psyche from within. Through subtle details, we come to learn much about the reality of Ulinich’s life and upbringing.

“Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel” successfully and deeply captivates its viewers as we are both told and shown a story simultaneously. Her drawing style is rather ostentatious, thrilling, powerful, and witty, yet it is somehow always dark, or cloudy or night-time. Moreover, Anya’s drawing technique of combining quick sketches and more finalized illustrations into a style which is naturalistic, impressionistic and at times, cartoony, parallel the protagonist’s constant efforts to make sense of the diverse pieces of her life.

In her book, Anya Ulinich does not attempt to hide anything. We follow the protagonists’s most mundane actions and watch her in all her imperfect and tremendous humanity, resulting in a stronger bond and connection between character and reader. Anya Ulinich is both witty and serious, kind and straightforward, ruffled and unapologetic. The pages mostly dominated with words take a bit of getting used to, yet the experience is truly rewarding. I personally believe that books such as this one, gorgeously created, cleverly recounted and fancifully illustrated are such masterpieces and treasures.

-Noe Paparella

NY Comics & Picture-story Symposium

Tuesday, November 4, 2014 at 7 pm
at Parsons The New School for Design,
2 West 13th Street, in the Bark Room (off the lobby)
Free and open to the public

Comics Symposium















Marlene Villalobos Hennessy on “Chameleon Images in the Late Medieval Religious Cartoon.”
My talk examines a range of late medieval illustrated religious texts or ‘cartoons’ in which artists and illuminators converted letters, words, and even phrases into visual images.  Several of the ‘cartoons’ I discuss show words and pictures in the process of transmutation into one another, revealing the image’s capacity for shifting, ever-changing, often textualized permutation. By looking at this rare, exceptional, or enigmatic iconography in a group of mostly understudied late medieval British manuscripts, this talk identifies and explains how medieval manuscript artists took on this subject and captured some of these enigmatic transformations.  Hence maim is to unravel some of the networks of association between words and pictures, devotional readers and monastic artists, in a range of illustrated late medieval religious cartoons.

Marlene Villalobos Hennessy is Associate Professor in the Department of English at Hunter College, CUNY, where she teaches classes on Medieval Literature, Visual Culture, and the History of the Book.  She has published numerous articles on late medieval British manuscripts and religious culture and has  edited a collection of essays, English Medieval Manuscripts:  Readers, Makers and Illuminators (London and Turnhout: Harvey Miller/Brepols, 2009).  She is currently completing research on a reference work entitled An Index of Images in English Manuscripts from the Time of Chaucer to Henry VIII, c.1380 – c.1509: The Scottish Libraries and Collections, as well as a book-length project, Blood Writing: Manuscripts and Metaphors in the Late Middle Ages.

Alumni Of the Week: Leo and Diane Dillon


All images courtesy of leo-and-diane-dillon.blogspot.com

Many great artists can attribute the core foundation of their work to their matriculation at Parsons, but how many can attribute the core foundation of their marriage to our institution? Leo and Diane Dillon can do both.

Illustration power couple and class of ’56, the Dillons met in 1953 while studying at Parsons where they “became instant arch-rivals and remained together from then on.” Shortly after graduation, they married and developed a very unique method of creating work together.

With a career spanning over 50 years, the Dillons created more than 100 speculative fiction book and magazine covers. Together, the two amassed over 20 prestigious awards for their work including the 1971 Hugo Grant Award for Best Professional Artist, five New York Times Best Illustrated Awards, the 1976 and 1977 Caldecott Medal, and the 2006 Knickerbocker Award.

Following Leo Dillon’s death in 2012, the New York Times referred to the Dillons as “one of the world’s pre-eminent illustrators for young people, producing artwork — praised for its vibrancy, ecumenicalism and sheer sumptuous beauty — that was a seamless amalgam of both their hands.”

In 1997, the Dillons were inducted into the Society of Illustrators’ Hall of Fame and in 1991 they received a Doctorate of Fine Art Degree from Parsons.

“The Art of Leo and Diane Dillon” is on display October 21 – December 20, 2014 at the Museum of American Illustration at the Society of Illustrators. For more info on the Dillons and the current exhibit, visit the Society’s official website.

New York Comics & Picture-story Symposium: Eddy Portnoy on A Brief History of Yiddish Cartooning

portnoy-imageThe 105th meeting of the NY Comics & Picture-story Symposium will be held on Tuesday, October 28, 2014 at 7 pm at Parsons The New School, 2 West 13th Street, in the Bark Room (off the lobby). Free and open to the public. Please note 7 pm starting time.

Eddy Portnoy: A Brief History of Yiddish Cartooning
Jews and cartoons have an unusual relationship. Initially, Jews were the victims of a particularly virulent anti-Jewish caricature, and did not engage the form within the context of their own culture until the second half of the nineteenth century in the Yiddish press. Though little known, the cartoons of the Yiddish press serve as a pre-history to subsequent activity in the field by Jewish artists.

Eddy Portnoy teaches in the Judaic Studies program at Rutgers University and also serves as the academic advisor at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. In addition to curating exhibits, he writes and lectures on Jewish popular culture.


Image by George Bates from http://georgebatesstudio.blogspot.com

Cabinet of Wonders Panel with Parsons Illustration Faculty George Bates

The Illustrators’ Cabinet of Wonders: A Show and Tell by Steven Heller

Image by George Bates from http://georgebatesstudio.blogspot.com

Image by George Bates from http://georgebatesstudio.blogspot.com

Steven Heller moderates a panel discussion about the art and business of illustration with illustrators George Bates, Peter de Sève and Barbara Nessim. They will share insights about their work and shed light on the changing roles of illustrators in the current media.  

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Bard Graduate Center (38 West 86th Street)

6 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. (reception) 

6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. (panel discussion) 

$25 general/$20 student & senior

To register for the event, please visit: bgc.bard.edu/programs,  programs@bgc.bard.edu  or  call 212.501.3011

About the Panelists:

American art director and critic, Steven Heller, is the co-founder and co-chair of the MFA Design: Designer as Author & Entrepreneur program. He is also the author and co-author of works on the history of illustration, typography and graphic design.

George Bates is known to work in every corner of Commercial Art, Illustration and Fine Art. He is a Part time professor of illustration at Parsons School of Design. He has also created two permanent public art installations for the NYC MTA Subway Arts for Transit program.

Peter de Sève’s illustrations and character designs are known throughout the world.  He is perhaps best recognized for his many New Yorker magazine covers and for the characters he designed for the popular Ice Age series of animated films.

Barbara Nessim is an artist, illustrator, and educator who lives and works in New York City.

Student of the Week: Qiaoyi Shi

“I am very interested in illustrating books and stories. I always find it easier to work on subjects that are less personal. My main intention is to show feelings and events that people are intrigued by, but are not able to experience. Part of my process before I start drawing is to simplify it as much as I can and remove all the frills, in hope of achieving a more clear and stronger statement.
 I mostly work digitally, in mixed-media art or printmaking. Lately, I have been focusing on gouache paintings.”
Visit her website at www.qy-shi.com
Follow her work on http://instagram.com/_qiaowee
And email her at  shiq0331@gmail.com
Qiaoyi Shi - Student 1Qiaoyi Shi - Student 2 Qiaoyi Shi - Student 3

Alumni of the Week: Jessica Deutsch

“Ever since I can remember drawing has been my outlet for expressing everything. When I am happy I draw and when I am sad I draw even more. As an observant Jew most of my work is religiously inspired. I believe that tradition carries so much wisdom, but also needs to be processed through to feel applicable to the time I am living in. Spending hours on a project allows me to organize my thoughts and actualize them into a piece of art. I hope to inspire others to question their reality with my work, but more importantly to simply make people smile. I want to show that there is always something deeper to the reality we see every day. Whether it is a lesson from a sacred text or my own thoughts, I want to provide a suggestion of meaning, worth, and happiness to my audience. I like to think of my work as wishes for the world.”

Jessica graduated last spring! Want to get in touch?  Email her at JessTDeutsch@gmail.com and visit her website here.

Jessica Deutsch - Alumni 2 Jessica Deutsch - Alumni 4Jessica Deutsch - Alumni 3


On Campus Friday – Human Rights Org LINK Hosts Info Session

Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 11.33.31 AMHow much do you know about the world’s most secretive society? Do you want to learn more about the lives of ordinary people in North Korea?

Every year, thousands of North Koreans risk their lives to escape political persecution and economic hardship. If caught trying to escape or caught in China and sent back, they are at risk of extremely harsh punishments, including brutal beatings, forced labor, forced abortions, torture, and internment in a political prison camp.

LINK (Liberty in North Korea), and organization based on the West Coast, helps North Koreans escape and relocate to South Korea and the United States. LINK is visiting our campus this Friday, October 17th. If you are interested in hearing the stories of North Korean refugees and learning more about the situation in North Korea, please come to the LINK info session on Friday at 6 East 16th Street, room D1004 at noon.

For more information, check out http://www.libertyinnorthkorea.org

New York Comics & Picture-story Symposium: Gary Panter


The 104nd meeting of the NY Comics & Picture-story Symposium will be held on Tuesday, October 21, 2014 at 7 pm at Parsons The New School, 2 West 13th Street, in the Bark Room (off the lobby). Free and open to the public. Please note 7 pm starting time.

Gary Panter attempts to invoke the unfolding lotus of the 1960s by thumbing through an old magazine missing pages – LOOK, Jan 9, 1968.

Gary Panter is an illustrator, painter, designer and part-time musician. Panter’s work is representative of the post-underground, new wave comics movement that began with the end of Arcade: The Comics Revue and the initiation of RAW, one of the second generation in American underground comix. He’s had three one-man shows at Fredericks & Freiser gallery in  New York City. In 2008, Gary was the subject of a one-man show at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum. His books include a comprehensive monograph, Gary Panter (PictureBox), and four graphic novels: Jimbo in Purgatory (Fantagraphics); Jimbo’s Inferno (Fantagraphics); Cola Madnes (Funny Garbage); Jimbo: Adventures in Paradise (Pantheon). Gary has won numerous awards, including three Emmy Awards for his production design on Pee-wee’s Playhouse, as well as the 2000 Chrysler Award for Design Excellence. For more information visit: http://www.garypanter.com/site/