Episode 023: The Sparkling Azure Ocean
In which we discuss collaborations, middle school art, and groovy seagulls
I’d been thinking about collaborating on a Polyester City episode ever since we launched. After getting to know fellow creative Jason McBride, the talented writer/poet/illustrator behind Weirdo Poetry, I hoped my first collab would be with him.
When I first reached out to see if Jason would be interested, I knew which of his works would inspire a new beat. We quickly agreed on The Sparkling Azure Ocean: a panel from one of McBride’s brilliant haiku comics in Color Coded (July 2023).
Per Jason, “I love music, even though the only instrument I can use is the playlist. Music has been a critical part of my life since my childhood. I love to see how Peter interprets different pieces of visual art by turning them into music and simplifying them into their base colors.”
So here we are: the first Polyester City collab!
Something about this frame from this comic. As soon as I saw it, I started hearing the beat in my head.
I love how seagulls can spread their wings and stay in one place when there is a wind blowing. It’s like they're hovering in mid-air. I could lay on my back on the beach for hours and watch them do it. Mesmerizing.
That’s what this panel looks like to me: seagulls floating in front of the sun, wings stretched out, high above the water.
Reduction notes: Jason has such a singular style, his minimalist use of colors really dovetailed with how I approach things…sky, sun, seagulls, sea. It all came together really quickly.
I have no formal art training. In seventh grade, I was forced to take an art class as part of a rotation of electives. Mr. Emery, the art teacher, told me that I was so bad at art that it would probably be safer If I didn’t even look at it.
I obliged for many years, until the pandemic. When everything shut down, I began to experiment with different ways to make poetry comics. After a lot of failure, I stumbled onto my collage style of art.
I try to make each comic tell a story related to, but not completely the same as, the story of the poem that is paired with it.
One unique aspect of Polyester City is how Peter takes beautiful pieces of art and creates new art by using boxes of basic colors from the original composition. I love his interpretations. He always manages to capture the emotion of a piece, even though his simplifications are abstract. I love his version of The Sparkling Azure Ocean.
Sky, sun, seagulls, sea.
We have four things here. I guess I could have tried to represent each one differently in this beat, kind of like I did with Dali’s elephants, sand, and sunset back in Episode 010. But a less specific/more general vibe was calling me.
Seagulls are groovy. Beaches are groovy. So a funky, groovy beat came out
A weird far-off-in-the-distance descending string line happens throughout the beat. It's most prominent in the breakdown in the middle section, but it kind of sets the tone for the whole thing.
The main theme is a distorted Wurli played through a wah-wah pedal, but in the breakdown, it switches to backward guitar. Funky!
The only thing I purposefully did to try and replicate something specific in the artwork: create the two spiraling, descending lines that happen in the breakdown and then again in the reprise.
Seagulls floating and diving. Pretty groovy.
This music is magical! It definitely feels groovy. When Peter sent it to me, I loved it right away. I immediately played it for my older teens (ages 18 and 16) and they also loved it. The music compels me to move and makes me feel like I’m in a beach scene in a movie.
I enjoy how the funkiness of the music, the beat, tells its own story. Just like how I want the artwork and the poem in my work to tell parallel stories, this music adds another dimension of story on top of everything else.
I’ve mentioned I live in the mountains on a lake, and seagulls occasionally visit us here. But there are WAY more turkey vultures flying around.
I live outside a thick stand of pine trees. We don’t have seagulls, but we do have several red-tail hawks that screech all summer as they hunt.
Turkey vultures! Red-tail hawks!
Tremendous, scary birds of prey. Not hard to believe birds are the closest thing to dinosaurs.
Until next week, thanks for reading Polyester City. If you have any thoughts, please leave a comment by clicking the link above. If you know anyone who likes Music and Art and Stories [and Haiku Poetry Comics], which is pretty much everyone, please consider sharing by clicking the link below.