Friday, January 30, 2009

I want to go swimming.

Monday is Groundhog Day. Please, benevolent rodent, make this winter end!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Bibliography part 9- Post-CCS

This is the last bibliography post, hurray! Here's all the work I've finished so far since graduating from the Center for Cartoon Studies. After this I'll be all caught up to the present, and just posting things as they come out.

Tales of the TMNT #53. Oh man, this a huge deal! It all started with a tour of Mirage Studios during out FRESHMAN year at CCS. After that, we had a small contest among the class, where we all submitted Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles story ideas to Peter Laird. I think only four people chose to participate, and Peter ended up chosing an idea thought up by Jon-Mikel Gates and myself. There was a lot of back and forth with Mirage in the editing process (since we were just students and had no idea what we were doing), so between that and homework it was almost a year before we got final script approval.

THEN they held another contest to see who would draw it. Winners were fellow Innagural Class members Adam Staffaroni (pencils) and Andrew Arnold (inks). Between finishing their graduate theses and both getting real jobs at DC Comics, it was another year before the art was finished, so the book only just came out in December. My mom hasn't even read it yet!

I Know Joe Kimpel
has been putting out regular Four Square Anthologies for about a year now. The idea is pretty simple- four cartoonists, four stories, in a sqaure format. I was lucky enough to be invited to participate in the first one, along with Mario VanBuren, Caitlin Plovnick and Emily Wieja. We chose the theme "Sorry" after noticing that cartoonists tend to apologize a lot.

I was so impressed with the first Four Square Anthologies, that I asked the IKJK Krew if I could edit the next one. I picked the theme "No" because I wanted to continue the one-word title theme, and because I'd been in a long debate about the word with a colleague that year.

I knew that I wanted to ask Lauren O'Connell and Morgan Pielli to contribute, but was stuck on who the fourth person should be. Emily suggested Jon Chad, who had been an intern at CCS then returned to teach and work as a lab tech. He ended up screenprinting the covers for this issue, which saved my life since (as you've seen) my screenprinting and computer coloring skills are not sharp.

I did this four page testimonial comic as a "gift" to CCS right after graduating. Our class had been talking about whether or not to start the tradition of senior class gifts to the school (it was a little late, since the subject only came up a few weeks before graduation, and we were all broke and hadn't done any fundraising or anything). James Sturm brought up the idea that the best gift we could give the school was just to go out and make comics and succeed.
This whole point of this comic was just to explain that, even though I was often frustrated while at CCS and frequently considered dropping out, attending was the best decision I've ever made.

So I kept up with Tragic Relief after finishing my thesis work. I reprinted the books with new covers, grayscale on toned paper, after someone remarked at SPX that year that the painted/color printed covers looked "cheap". I've since had complaints from retailers that the grayscale covers also look "cheap". Can't make anyone happy!

So I did seven issues of that (just issue #5 is pictured) then collected them all into once volume, "Giant Sized Tragic Relief" when reprinting all of the issues became too much trouble. You can check them all out here.

Contributed a short story to Tree Fort Press' western anthology, "Dead Man's Hand".

Pulled together a book of comics about Lynda Barry's visit to CCS, which was another one of those huge life-changing moments for me, and it seems for a lot of others as well.

Secrets and Lies is huge and awesome and edited by Cat Garza! Think I've got a three page story in there (?)

Won a Xeric. Made a book. Tired of writing about it.

Co-edited an anthology by the women of CCS along with Kubby as a fundraiser for the scholarship fund. She's going to be editing the 2nd volume, and I'm working on fixing up and reprinting the first.

Pulled together a zine to welcome the fourth freshman class to CCS. By the way, this new class has some amazing talent. Watch out for them.

And FINALLY, this is what I'm working on now. "Woman King" will be my second grahic novella. Hope to have it all done by MoCCA (fingers crossed).

Okay, so math is not my strongest subject, but that's about fifty minis/chapbooks/zines/anthologies I've made or contributed to since I started making comics at age 19...which averages out to a little more than six per year.

I think I can do better. Let's go, 2009!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Making Comics, Reading Comix

February's issue of BASH Magazine should be out soon, and I'll have another comic in there. This one, for Valentine's Day, is from the Chinese story, "The Bridge of Magpies". Have I mentioned that BASH Magazine is FREE?

As you can see, I have only the most basic idea of how a loom works. I used photo reference for this, I swear!

I had a ton of fun doing costume research for this one. Ended up settling on the Qing Dynasty clothing, just because it worked best with my paired-down style. Han is prettier, but there's all these layers and crazy hair ornaments and things that make it too complicated.

I think I've been trying too hard to work stars into all of my comics lately. It's all this Vermont winter sky.

Also got some excellent comics in the mail this month. Last year at MoCCA I traded Marek Bennet a copy of my book for a subscription to Mimi's Donuts. I really think I got the better end of that deal. Marek recently got a Xeric grant, too, so there'll be a collection out soon. My copy of Always Comix Age Eight arrived, and it's SOOOO pretty! Man, do I envy people who can screen print. I also joined Liz Baillie's Mini Comic of the Month Club, and my first comic arrived like two days later. And there was a squid in it. Total bargain!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Bibliography Part 8- Summer Camps

Short post today- all about Comics Camps! I've been a teacher at four of these now. Each one was only a week long, and only one of them was completely focused on comics, so getting a whole book done in that time was asking a lot. I only managed it twice:

Working at Tip Top Pottery, I coordinated three summers of the Tip Top Art Camp along with painter Rebecca Gottesman. The kids would spend half the day painting in her studio, then come downstairs and spend half the day making pottery. Because they were only allowed to do one pottery project a day, the rest of the time was rounded out with comics exercises. During the second summer I taught, the kids each made up their own super heroes and collaborated to do these great battle drawings. This was based on an exercise we'd done at CCS in James Sturm's class. I pulled all the drawings together into a little zine so each camper could read everyone's and take them home.

That same summer, I spent a week out at the Orchard School in East Alstead, NH, teaching a comics camp. This one was coordinated by Marek Bennet, who was also running another camp in Hopkinton at the same time! This camp was all about comics, and the kids were totally focused. It was hard to get them to do anything else! We had to force them to take a break and go swimming. They just wanted to stay inside and draw all day. It was great!

Each camper put together their own quarter-size mini comic that week. Some amazing stories came out of the class. All of the teachers and counselors were expected to complete one, too (no one got off the hook) and at the end of the week we held a mini comics convention for all of the parents, so each camper could present their comic and trade with everyone else.

Of course, the copy machine broke (doesn't it always?) and I ended up with only copies of my own.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Bibliography part 7- The Center for Cartoon Studies Year 2

Senior year at CCS means it's thesis time!

This wasn't supposed to be my thesis. I'd originally planned to do the first two chapters of a painted graphic novel called Marya and Death. I was overly ambitious. I later tried to revive that story as a web comic, but that didn't work well either. Not sure yet if I'll ever pick up the story again, but ANYWAY

This is what started the whole mess. I was sick of working on my thesis, and one day decided to take a break and draw mermaids instead. Those doodles, along with a lot of encouragement from my classmates, turned into this 72-page story. It wrote itself- the first draft only took three weeks. Sometimes, you just gotta draw mermaids.

And after finishing that first story, I immediately dove into the second one. Probably a mistake, since this is my least favorite of the Tragic Relief stories.

I finished three issues of Tragic Relief that Spring, and decided to try and turn it into a bi-monthly mini comics series from there. I kept that up for a little over a year. Seven issues seemed like a good place to stop. But anyway, by this point I'd given up hope of ever returning to my "real" thesis and turned these three issues in as my final project instead.

I contributed a short comic to Side A: A Music Lover's Graphic Novel sometime during this year as well. It's in a similar style to the Tragic Relief stuff, only cleaner. I had used a Pentel Pocket Brush pen as my only tool during Tragic Relief, mostly out of laziness. For this, I switched to brush and ink. Made a huge difference.

SUNDAYS! This book was amazing, and it was a real honor to have been invited to contribute to it. I did one-pager about the Basket Ogress, who terrified me as a kid. And still does, a little.

More to come! The month is almost over.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Bibliography Part 6- Trees and Hills

Trees and Hills is this great cartooning collective made up of people from the Vermont/New Hampshire/ Western Mass area. They've been putting out anthologies pretty regularly lately...I wanna say twice a year? And each one is a little better than the last.

Reasons I like contributing to the Trees and Hills anthologies-

1. The editors great.
2. They're REALLY generous with the contributor copies
3. They promote the books! I know this seems like an obvious thing, but so many of the mini comics anthologies don't send out press releases or review copies. It makes a huge difference!

You know...I don't even remember which comic of mine is in this one. Uh, little help?

For the next three issues, I did these fun little comics called "Space Ninja vs. Zombie". The title is pretty self explanatory. At the time Trees and Hills was trying to keep their anthologies all-ages, and I wanted something that would be kid safe, and also fun for me to draw.

Twig is a little Free Comics Book Day flyer that Trees and Hills put together. The strip I have in there was from when I tried (and failed) to make the history comics challenge.

For this one I left the Zombies and Ninjas behind, and did a little recipe comic about making soup with my Dad. When he was younger, he worked in a Chinese restaurant, learned a lot of the recipes, and taught my sister and I a lot about cooking. Seeds has been a real break-out bestseller for the group, and comes with a recipe book and packet of organic seeds you can plant.

If you live in this area, I would really recommend submitting to these anthologies. And buying them. Actually, I'd recommend that for people who don't live in the area, too.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Bibliography part 5- The Center For Cartoon Studies, Year 1

Here are the zines and minis I put together during my first year at the Center for Cartoon Studies. Hopefully you'll be able to see the improvement.

The "Ed Emberley" assignment is an annual favorite at CCS. Our class was asked to create a minimum four page comic using only characters/props from Ed Emberley's Make a World.
I loved this assignment, and sometimes worry that the comic I made for it is the best thing I'm ever gonna do.

My Fall final project for our Cartooning class with James Sturm, "Terra Incognita". We were asked to create a zine with a 2-color cover and minimum 500 typeset words. I've never been very good as silkscreening.

So I didn't bother with the color cover when I reprinted it.

"Terra Cognita" is a companion zine I put together for my Fall final project in Peter Money's writing class. He asked everyone to chose a word, then based all these writing assignments around it.

The Anthology Project is also an annual favorite at CCS. Our class was assigned them for Spring midterms, but now classes do them as the Fall final project, which works way better. My group was Elizabeth Chasalow (now Jarvela), Christine Williamson and Alexis Frederick-Frost. Our anthology was about a cursed box, and we each did a story about someone who finds it and the horrible things that happen to them. I think all the stories in this book are really amazing, but we had a lot of production problems so this was never reprinted.

"Cowboy Orange" was just a collection of poetry comics I'd done both before and after attending CCS. The first printing I ran a bunch of bad screenprints though the copier to make the covers...this was a bad idea. I should just stay away from screenprinting all together.

Towards the end of our first year, Ivan Brunetti, Seth and Chris Ware came to visit CCS. It was one of those life-changing events. Before they came, I hadn't even planned on staying at CCS for the second year. Michelle assigned us each to make a one-panel comic about the visit, then I designed the cover and Jon-Mikel Gates laid out the book, and we sent them each a copy as a thank-you gift.

Year One Final projects! I put together a book with every comic I'd done during my first year, 72 pages total. Only six copies where made, and each is bound differently.

More to come Monday!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Bibliography part 4- The Dead Year

Here's all the work I completed in the time between my last spring at The Evergreen State College and moving to Vermont to attend CCS. You guys sick of this bibliography stuff yet? I'm starting to get a little tired of it, and there's still a lot more to go.

Arbitrary Tenderness is a chapbook I put together for my final project at Evergreen. Sixteen poems, letter pressed cover.

Always the Quiet Ones was my second zine- a collection of short stories and comics that I pulled together for the second Olympia Comics Festival that I attended. Only thing I really like about this zine now was how cheap it was to produce, I found a print shop that only charged one cent for black and white copies...I made a lot of copies of this mess.

On Uneven Ground was an anthology that the Evergreen Writer's Guild pulled together. I've just got a story in there.

Slightly West was Evergreen's literary magazine. I was the editorial assistant there my last semester, and they printed a bunch of my work (not because I worked there- it was a blind judging process, I swear).

Anthology! Anthology! was a...well, an anthology of work by members of the Creative Writing program "Author! Author!" at Evergreen. We all had such different interests, so it's a really weird mix of work. At one point I had around fifty copies of this I was trying to give away. Just the one left now.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Bibliography part 3- Olympia!

It's Olympia, the annual anthology put out by the Olympia Comics Festival!

I contributed to four issues of this great little anthology, and as far as I know they're still putting them out every year. You don't have to live in Olympia or attend the festival to contribute, but it helps.

The first year I contributed, I was also the Editorial Assistant over at Slightly West, who did the production for this book. During my last few weeks of college, when I should have been writing final papers and saying goodbye to friends, I was locked in the lab scanning comics for this. We didn't know what we were doing, so the editor had me scan everything at 2400dpi, which took FOREVER. My blood and tears are in this book! Tim Sinaguglia did the cover. I love his work, I hope he's still making comics.

...I can't remember who did the covers for any of the other issues, and they're packed away in a box now so I can't really go look them up. If anyone else out there knows, clue me in and I'll update this!

Fun Fact: This is the only issues that doesn't have a cute indie girl on the cover! They know their audience.

Olympia is always a really fun book, with a good mix of established and new talents. The festival is one of my favorites to attend. The stage show is a ton of fun (and takes place before the sales floor opens, so all of the artists can actually attend), it's inexpensive (around $10 for a table, compared to $300+ for shows like SPX and MoCCA) and just really relaxed. Attendance varies a lot from year to year, and I've yet to see the kind of big crowds that the festival deserves, especially being so close to Seattle and Portland. Hopefully the festival's new director, Chelsea Baker, can help with that!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Hey Kids! Check this out:

There's a new issue of BASH! Magazine online with comics from Sean Ford, Jeff Lok, Bryan Stone, Eamon Espey, Theo Ellsworth, Keith Knight...and other amazing people I can't remember right now! You can also pick up the print version for free if you live in the D.C. area.

Short version- Great comics, FREE, check it out!