“Iron Man” (KMNDZ)

Iron Man” (2008)
by Johnny KMNDZ Rodriguez (1974-)
20 x 50 in., oil on wood
Coppola Collection

In 2008, Gallery 1998 in LA hosted the “Stan Lee Tribute Art” exhibit, where a bunch of non-comics artists did Stan-inspired work. The art was really great (I have a pdf capture of the whole exhibit) and if I had had $50,000 to spend I would have picked up as much of this art as possible. I had to make A choice, so I nabbed this terrific Iron Man piece.

Google search on “Thor” by Yoskay Yamamoto for my second favorite piece in this exhibit.
And the close runner-up: “Super Sentinel” by Max Grundy
Also: “Fantastic Four” by Johnny Yanok & “Invisible Girl” by Chris Reccardi

“On the Road”

I have a thousand or so stories about collecting various art forms. Here is one of them. I picked this up on eBay recently for a nice price (about $160). There was not much interest from the bidders, but I really liked it and a little investigating made it seem as though this was a rather rare drawing. As I have mentioned previously, I fancy these late 19th/early 20th Century illustrators.

Here is what it looked like at the auction site and when I received it.


It was easy enough to find out stuff about Tudor Jenks.

Tudor Storr Jenks (1857-1922) was a lawyer and journalist, and is best remembered for his fiction and non-fiction children’s stories. He studied art in Paris during 1880-81, and returned to the US to practice law. Living in NYC, he took a break from practicing law from 1887-1902 and served as the associate editor for the popular St Nicholas magazine. 

How to track down this drawing? By the looks of it, St Nicholas magazine seemed a good place to start. Nothing in the online indices matched this motif, and no illustrations by Jenks that I could find, at all.

When the picture arrived, I unframed it and found this on the back:

That was useful. The Century Company (see logo) published a magazine called The Century Magazine, and Jenks was a frequent contributor. All this stuff has been scanned as part of the Google library project, so I quickly found a searchable index. Century Magazine had a feature called “In Lighter Vein” and it was just a few steps to find an entry titled “On the Road” (see above). Out of the frame, this title was reinforced:
On the Road” (1900)
by Tudor Storr Jenks (1857-1922)
5 x 6 in., ink
Coppola Collection

The reference showed up in a search:

Tudor Jenks Story
“On the Road”
The Century Magazine
Vol 60, p 319, 1900

And viola!

It is a cute poem. I photoshopped the scan and added the text:

As far as I can tell, this is the only example of his cartooning that has ever surfaced. If there are any Jenks aficionados out there who know more, I would be happy to learn more about his art contributions.

Will the People with the Carrots repeat the Same Mistake?

Setting aside the failed efforts to take on the failings of graduate education over the last 20 years, some of which efforts were pretty high profile, the National Academy of Sciences  has been wading in this pool, now, for a couple of years.

Their collective hearts and minds are in the right place, but this group only knows one way to do business, namely: convene a bunch of people around an agenda, gather what is known, make a recommendation for a funding program, create a call for proposals along with a new funding initiative at places like the National Science Foundation, and then (at least in the first round) fund those same people who were gathered and wrote the recommendations.

This system has worked pretty well for basic science programs since its introduction in the 1940s, which was inspired by the revolutionary success of the Manhattan Project: let’s tackle high speed computing, sustainable energy, cancer, and so on. It has not worked so well for the social science aspects of science, particularly education.

Social reform driven by an influx of funding is extremely difficult to sustain because it becomes a thing to go to get and spend money on, when you should be doing it well in the first place.

Social reform is not doing science. When you do not know something in science, you fund its discovery, and after a while, you have either discovered it or you cut bait and move on to something else.

Social reform means (broadly speaking) that we are doing something wrong with the resources we have and we (rather simply) need to start doing them right. A necessary goal is cultural change.

You should not need to bribe someone to not do something bad (back in the old country, that is called extortion and protectionism).

My deep fear is that this recent activity will result in the same outcome that has always come from this group. They will revert to form and start offering big juicy carrots to create the same white elephants of systemic curriculum reform that have emerged from these one-trick ponies again and again (never let it be said that I do not know how to mix a metaphor). The universities will create new programs and agree to carry them out with the promise of continued funding, but the core bad behaviors will not change.

Interestingly, those places most in need of shaking up (the high-powered research institutions who are fighting over access to the money) are exactly the places that tap the money keg to the greatest extent and have the greatest number of students who are affected.

And that, my friend, is what we call leverage. Two can and should play at this game. The wheel may be crooked, but it is the only game in town. 

The people with the carrots need to think about their sticks. They can fix this whole thing overnight with no incremental costs and no bloody new funding initiative to do what we should be doing in the first place, namely, a responsible job at educating students and preparing them for their professional futures.

The NAS needs to stand up and say no more bribes for just doing your job, and no rewards for not having done it.

They can accomplish their goal in a one statement initiative that is issued by the funding agencies. All of them.

Starting three years from now, you need to demonstrate, convincingly and up front, that you, your department or unit, and your institution are committed to the holistic cause of responsible and morally sound graduate education. If we are not convinced, we do not fund your grant requests.

You can use up to 15% of the Indirect Costs you are collecting from us to put towards efforts to support and improve graduate education.

And remember: this really matters, because in three years your convincing demonstration will be as prerequisite to funding as having hired an excellent cadre of clever researchers. And do not forget that you must demonstrate that you have done something convincing and sustainable at all three levels: at your institutions, in your departments or units, and in your research groups.

Sincerely Yours,
The People with All the Carrots