Doot Doot Garden: The Blog of Craig Thompson
Doot Doot Garden: The blog of graphic novelist Craig Thompson
ps… December 25th, 2007

…it just started snowing in Portland!

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“and the bells were ringing out…”s December 25th, 2007

As a meager gift to you readers, here’s a few goodies scavenged from the piles of scrap paper that litter the studio. Thank you, endlessly,
for being there — for reading the books and your encouraging comments!

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1) mindless doodles, circa 1999. One day, the “flaming meanies” will be resurrected.

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2) The scribbly rough of page 56 in Chunky Rice

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3) The penciled version of page 442 of Blankets ~ July 1st, 2002

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4) The photo that became the cover of Carnet de Voyage. 2ème arrondissement, rue des Moulins, Marseilles –
I claim that I didn’t use any photographs on those travels — but Top Shelf needed me to provide a
promotional cover for the book before it ever existed. So before I left for the trip, I used this photo
from January 2001 to capture a trip yet to happen in March 2004.

Peace on earth!

the universal struggle! December 13th, 2007

Jordi, thanks for the reminder of the month-long lapse. I’ve been wrestling to stay on top of things,
and meaning to put something on the blog for a while now. It’s great to know all of you care.
Seems like a good time to open up the forum. Lots of questions and comments to address. And I confess,
I’m terrible at responding to personal mail, though I’m ever grateful for it. So here goes the first ever:

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Wendelin asks for “some advice or pointers on how to get started in the field of art and cartooning.”

Zacheus (that little orange critter) answers: Draw all the time. Make sure to draw from life — especially human figures, sexy trees, mundane details of chairs and buildings and telephone wires — as much as you draw from imagination. Don’t neglect either. Also read real books without any pictures. My opinion is that a solid education at a state university will probably serve you as well or better than art school. Craig’s a dropout, but he would have definitely benefited from learning a second language and other brain exercises. Like any art, don’t think too much about money. Material possessions are for those on a different path. But keep your defenses up against the exploitative “Man” — every industry is crawling with them. Draw your own mini-comics and put them up on the ol’ internet or print them out on a laser printer or make a friend at kinko’s and trade those suckers and meet other cartoonists – they’re a friendly, humble crowd. Is that enough to get started on?

J.T. asks, “Does it come natural for you to work consistently at drawing and creating stories,
or are there barriers you have had to overcome or are still overcoming?”

It’s like they always say — 90% perspiration. Or as my fine art buddy Dan Attoe says, “Painting is like mowing the lawn.” Slow, tedious work. You feel like a leper – crumbling over your little drawing desk – while life passes you by. But life passes by no matter what, and at the end of a day, or a month, or a year — you have something to show for it. Like the Velvet Underground says, “You’re gonna reap just what you sow.” (Or is that from the Bible?) My main barrier in the past was starvation. Now it’s hand pain and business crap and self doubt and blahblahblah. We’re not alone in the struggle!

Okay. And now since this is supposed to be a visual blog, here’s a sample of the construction of a single HABIBI page.
(recently shown at my Wordstock and PNCA talks)
1) the first draft drawn directly in my sketchbook in ballpoint pen. 2) the messy, re-edited / page breakdown version.
3) the penciled page, and some ornamentation I sampled and digitally arranged. 4) the final inked page.

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Take care!

swiping Cohen November 13th, 2007

We’re past due for a blog update, so I thought I’d mention the release of the Traditional Chinese edition of BLANKETS.
My Taiwanese publisher Reading Times concocted a fancy animated “trailer” at their site.
Here’s a peek of their cover designs, splitting the book into two volumes.

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And here’s my preface.

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It reads: “The closest that the rural Wisconsin town I grew up in got to China was the ginseng crops we exported — the principal agriculture of the region. During the years toiling in the fields, digging up the strangely humanoid ginseng roots, I dreamt of a day I could live as an artist rather than a farmhand. While drawing BLANKETS between 2000 and 2003, my main fear was that readers wouldn’t relate to this insular story of an isolated upbringing in the middle of America. Instead, the book has extended my boundaries — brought this awkward outcast a community across the world. Today it boggles my mind to see this work being translated into Chinese. I’m reminded of Leonard Cohen’s forward to the Chinese edition of BEAUTIFUL LOSERS. He acknowledges the great Chinese poets and zen teachers. To that, I add that China was the womb from which printmaking was born. Cohen says, ‘Dear Reader, please forgive me if I have wasted your time.’ With humility and honor, I echo that sentiment to you.”

dueling pencils October 30th, 2007

Apologies for slow updates since returning from Europe. Believe me, I’ve been focused on HABIBI.

It’s sort of a comic book tradition for cartoonists to depict each other’s characters, but this time it’s for a book in progress.
Fellow Portland cartoonist and drawing buddy Jen Wang gifted me with this amazing drawing of HABIBI’s lead characters
Dodola and Zam. Her watercolor is on the left ~ and to the right is a panel from the second chapter.

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And here’s dueling portraits — Jen’s drawing of me drawing — and my drawing of Jen drawing (drawing me drawing?)

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Thank you again, everyone, for blog comments. For those in the States, watch for MENOMENA on tour — though I won’t be with them for this round.
I will, however, be talking with Matt Wagner and Shannon Wheeler at this year’s WORDSTOCK festival, November 11th on the Borders Books stage.

escargot October 17th, 2007

Home from the tour! Here’s a quiet domestic scene from Lyon — Alanis, Laëtitia, Koupaïa, Samuel, Frédéric …

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… and here’s one last rocknroll image — the song “twenty cell revolt” performed in Barcelona. (stolen from “elchicodelaleche” ~ lots more on FLICKR)

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Big thanks to my dear Menomena buddies Danny, Brent, and Justin ~ and to Sascha and Severin for managing this adventure.
Also thanks to Jared, Teak, Danni, Benoît & Valéry, Frédéric & Laëtitia, Anne-Julia & Walter, Samuel/Koupaia/Alanis/Solveig/Anton, Mylène,
Kathleen, Dupuy & Berberian / Anne & Niki, Jeffrey/Jack/Helen/David, Uncle Hansje & Mara, Alessandro and his parents, the Disney crew,
Miriam, Marta, Carlos, Lisa, Thais, and all the kind folks we met.
Thanks to all of you who made it to the shows, and thanks to all the venues that hosted and cleaned up our messes.
Heck… here’s one last photo. (Gracias, Álvaro) The sweatiest shot of Danny I could find, and the completed wall at Barcelona seconds before
I ripped it to shreds. (whoah ~ my shadow is well-hung.)

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Check out Danny’s satisfyingly detailed tour log at LOCALCUT. Now back to serious work. Cousin Brianna, please e-mail!

give it to us October 6th, 2007

My first chance to update while on the road — my apologies to all neglected emails!
Thank yous to all who made it to the Paris, Brussels, and Amsterdam shows. The drawing
seemed best-received in Paris, though it was inspiring to hang out with Jeffrey Lewis and the Jitters
in Amsterdam. Presently resting at the home of Frédéric and Laëtitia in Lyon while the Menomena
boys play Germany and Switzerland. The below photos were taken by Frédéric, except for the
final by my Portland friends Geneva and Jeff who happened to be in Paris. In two days, I leave
for Milan and will be editing HABIBI on the train. More photos at PITCHFORK and the
Pete Townsend finale at YOUTUBE.

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(Danny on drums, Brent on keyboards/guitar, Justin on bass/sax,
Jared the soundguy, Sascha the tour manager, and me doodling.)

the magic of threes September 21st, 2007

Today’s Yom Kippur, autumnal equinox (almost) and my birthday (and eRiQ’s from NZ) (and Leonard Cohen’s). 21 = 2 + 1 = 3.
The third chapter of HABIBI has just been completed. Three of nine. Nine the month of September. And soon I’m leaving for a
quick jaunt to Europe to visit three of my publishers (Pantheon, Casterman, Oog-n-blik) and mull over the upcoming chapters.
The book is mutating, because changes are stirring within me. Anyway, there’s my nutty numerology for the moment.
And here’s a peek of three panels from the third chapter. (I’m reluctant to spill entire pages, because I want it to be a surprise!)

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menomenandme September 10th, 2007

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Portlanders, I’ll be missing the Stumptown Comics Fest event, because I’m joining my
Menomena buddies on tour in Europe. If you live in Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Milan,
or Barcelona — there’s a chance we can meet.

29 September ~ Paris, Nouveau Casino
02 October ~ Brussels, Botanique
03 October ~ Amsterdam, Paradiso (also with Jeffrey Lewis!)
09 October ~ Milan, Casa 139
11 October ~ Barcelona, Apollo

If everything goes according to plan, I’ll be scrawling huge drawings on stage while Menomena rocks.
This happened once before with Tracker and the Blankets soundtrack and it seemed to work,
but I’ve no photos to prove this event exists. (Andy Wong, do you?)
Here’s the promotional poster however.

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We’re not promoting myself on the upcoming Menomena bills, because I’ve no clue of the layout
of these Euro clubs. If the space suits it, you’ll find me drawing on stage ~ otherwise I’ll be
dancing along in the audience and signing posters at the merch table.

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Here’s world-renown illustrator Carson Ellis and Danny from Menomena backstage at
the recent Decemberists/Menomena show at the Portland Edgefield.

C U n the E U

similar hunger September 4th, 2007

Big gratitude to all of you for your sweet words and good wishes and patience! It means lots that you still care during these long lapses in books. Your blog comments are such a comfort that I feel guilty for not updating more regularly. The third chapter of HABIBI is nearing completion. I’ll post a couple images upon celebration. There are all sorts of things I’d like to share with you, but the internet makes me secretive. For tonight, here’s a couple of pages from my journal with doodles and excerpts from Henry Miller and Karen Armstrong.

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And here’s a sketch of E on the stairwell of my old apartment.

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