friday the thirteenth

More thanks to all of you for the comments and support. I’ve done a poor job of responding to any questions, so here’s to catching up on some of them this sweltering Friday the 13th evening in Portland.

Kesher asked about a Spanish Chunky Rice. Tanwer and Salakov are right. Chunky should be available in Spanish from Astiberri any day.

Ngam, Flescetto, Smoky Man, and Liz asked about potential signings in Paris, Italy, and Chicago. I’ve nothing scheduled for the rest of the year, making myself sparce on the promotion circuit. For a while, I was spending all my time signing books rather than starting on a new one, so I’m trying to stabilize at home. My drawing hand needed the rest, too, but I sincerely miss interactions with you loyal readers. That’s one reason I’m grateful for this blog. When HABIBI is finished, I’ll likely tour for a year.

Here’s a slice from a signing tour in Germany when my editor/publicist Sebastian purchased David Hasselhoff’s GREATEST HITS as our Autobahn soundtrack Frankfurt to Berlin.


Ben Bishop asked about Nickelodeon magazine. Best for new cartoonists to simply submit directly. I lucked out. While working as a graphic designer at Dark Horse comics, I snuck some of my own illustrations into ads and indicia pages. It was against company policy, but the editors of the SCATTERBRAIN humor series encouraged it. After seeing these said illos, Chris Duffy at Nickelodeon contacted me about submitting to the Nick COMIC BOOK. At first, I focused on one panel gags and later graduated to full-page comics.
Editors Chris Duffy and Dave Roman are glowing heavensent angels of the comics industry. They are almost solely responsible for economically fueling me through the production of Blankets via monthly comics and illustration gigs. Here’s a peek at a new millennium cover for them and the preliminary ballpoint pen roughs.

Ngam ~ My birthday is actually September 21, 1975 as seen on the CARNET passport.

Emily asked if I still believe in God and Jesus, but I think I’ll defer that question for this forum. Jesse Cohn pondered self-nurturance versus self-denial in Rumi’s poetry, which is a juicy and exciting topic, but too much for tonight’s typing. Open discussion for both!

Sorry for the late response to Maria asking about the Cure and Tom Waits references in BLANKETS chapter titles. Yup, you got them right.

Jaybird asked about my HABIBI working day.
The entire book was storyboarded in thumbnail form. The first draft was completed in summer 2005, but then I tinkered with it and got lost an insecure creative block until a late 2006 revision. Except for much of Carnet, I definitely pencil before I ink. It’s a great stage for working out compositions, but it often hurts the integrity and fluidity of the final line. In the future, I hope to draw a book with ink straight to paper like many of the inspiring European cartoonists, but for now, I’m not “masterful” enough to get away with that on HABIBI. Of the six hundred pages, I feel fairly good about the first two hundred, the second third will require some editing, and the last part of the book will likely be tossed out and rewritten. I haven’t yet “solved” the story for the main characters, because I haven’t sorted out the same issues in my own life. Here’s a picture of me living inside a tree.


34 thoughts on “friday the thirteenth

  1. I am always amazed by your art for the Nickelodeon comics…..

    I’ve also been wanting to tell you, thanks for coming to Diana’s class (at PCC) and talking with us, it was quite interesting.

  2. Chunky Rice will appear here in Spain in August, published by Astiberri.

    And David Hasselhoff´s Greatest Hits page is superb. In Spanish… “IMPAGABLE”.


  3. Whenever I see older sketches you’ve posted it makes me think of Mushroom Tea you did for that small student newspaper of that small UW campus in that small central Wisconsin city in 1995.
    Whenever I travel to that small central Wisconsin city I mean to go to that small student newspaper’s office and see if I can get copies of those issues as well as ones from when I was editor the following semester.

  4. When you do your thumbnails do you do them all in a sketchbook or on loose papers? It looks like a lot of the roughs you had were from sketchbooks … or do you just sketch and sketch and then start the thumbnail process not knowing for sure what will go where?


  5. Definitely wasn’t tuned into NickMag at the time. I am, now, however. And this cover design is breathtaking. Your inked version is cool enough, and the color just makes it a million times better. Thanks for sharing.

  6. That bit you wrote about the “insecure creative block” you had with Habibi between ’05 and ’06 prompted me to ask: how do you get past those “stuck” times? Do you keep trying, do you forget about it and focus somewhere else, do you keep thinking about having to go on with what is left undone?

    Unfortunately I’m terrible at drawing 🙂 but I love writing and I’ve been having a huge writers’ block for over five months now, feeling guilt for not writing, inadequate and all. Just wondered how you deal with it.

    Thanks for sharing the drawings 🙂

  7. Craig,

    In reference to your open point about God and Jesus, I have an interesting story.

    When I first read Blankets, I was pretty steeped in my faith — 9 years thus far as a born-again Christian. So you can imagine, as I read my way through Blankets, I was enthralled by your journey through faith.

    Then BAM! The ending COMPLETELY threw me. “If Craig was like me, and then something came along that just shook him from his faith — well, what could have done that? Good lord, what?!”

    Those last few pages set me off on a quest. Combined with some heady discussions with my friend Alex, your sudden change inspired me to seek out what it was I believed that could be skimmed off like dross. I was determined to remove all factually disprovable beliefs from my mind.

    Having spent the last year on this quest, I have now come to the same place you did. I can no longer honestly call myself a Christian. Sure, I accept that the Bible could be right, and that Jesus could be who he (or his apostles, anyway) said he is, but I’ve chosen to simply stop worrying about believing anything. I am now able to coexist with people without having the ulterior motive to “save” them.

    I cannot tell you how relieved, scared, and free I feel all at once.

  8. Hey Craig! I guess I am late at finding out that you had a blog all this time. I just moved to Portland and so far it feels and smells better than LA. Have you ever thought of doing some animation work? Ever heard of Laika?

    Anyways, big fan of your work! Please keep posting!!!

  9. Craig–neato rough-to-print shots of the Nickelodeon comic book! Once again, thanks for sharing.
    I know you’ve had problems with this and I’m sure some of your other blog readers have, too–what do you guys do about the tendonitis/arthritis/carpal tunnel/general ouchiness you may get from too much drawing? It’s getting very bad in my drawing hand. I can take breaks from art, but I can’t take breaks from my day job, which involves a lot of handwriting and repetitive motion. Drugs, braces and splints aren’t helping D:

  10. You say that you like some inspiring European cartoonists… can you some names for us?
    What I like in your works is the pure heart that draw them
    Joba from Portugal

  11. oh craig – you are such a good drawer! and still, so modest!

    i’m so glad ed & i ran into you again a couple weeks ago, and I’m sorry it took me so long to check out your site. but it’s always been in the back of my mind, and alas… i’ve finally made it here.

    so – i won’t be seeing you this sunday. we never got our tickets to the show. however, after the disappointment (with not getting decemberist tickets) died down, i did manage to snag some rufus wainwright tickets. yay!

    well – if you get around to it, you should check out my website, and let me know what you think. or you could email me. maybe we could hang for a happy hour or two.


  12. Hello, Craig!
    – I found your new blog thanks to my girlfriend.
    We are big fans of your art work and we read your comics and trip book (it´s right?). Sorry for my bad english.
    I´m drawing my trip book of Shanghai, an incredible city and I like to send you an exemplair.
    Another thing… my friend Mandy and me created a blog for publish our lost works in it. We accept collaborations… If you like… ahem ahem, he he he.
    Thank you for supporting my bad words and thank you for your draws.


  13. From the Basque Country (Europe), congratulations, great job man! I just read about you in a spanish newspaper’s sunday magazine and your travel comicbook seems amazing, makes me wanna go to Essaouira. But then I ended up in your blog, I realize it’s simply something I can’t miss, like the “Persepolis” comicbook.

    I love comics … actually I was the one in charge when it comed to buy comicboocs to my inmate brother in law 😉 . But now I’m pretty busy with my bizarre trash pictures: Take a look at my blog. Here’s to you… because I find your style and skills really inspiring.

  14. Craig:
    Wonderful to hear that you’re still working at the “next book”; I was beginning to wonder….
    “Blankets” was released the year I graduated highschool, and I must admit it was a major catalyst for change. I grew up in rural Montana with fundamentalist parents, a strong involvement with the church ( I was going to attend a college to become the youth pastor’s successor!) and the community, yet I often felt that what should have been security was actually a form of opression. I aspired to be a Fine Art major, but my father wanted me to become a ‘good wife and mother’. Wraught with guilt and concern for the ‘unsaved’ in my community, I applied for a Bible College in Washington.
    One blistering afternoon, I ducked into a local bookstore, and soon felt myself begin to gravitate toward the spine of “Blankets”.
    Needless to say, I was captivated. It read like a journal of my senior year, complete with the turmoil of a naive first love, a unique blanket and a re-connection with a talented younger brother.
    Three years later, I am a Fine Art major who has scandalized her hometown by doing such things as taking Life Drawing and being seen kissing in public.
    I have since read “Carnet” and “Goodbye, Chunky rice”, much to my delight! Amazing and inspiring penwork, charming and intimate narratives…not to be missed!
    I transfer to the Oregon College of Art and Craft (in Portland) within the year; perhaps some day I will have the honour of shaking your hand.
    Continue to think positive thoughts, Craig.
    Later days, Aurora

  15. Hi Craig

    You mention in this post about European comic artists that you admire. Can you post links to their sites?
    Also I’m really enjoying reading the comments by other readers who had a similar upbringing to you and how Blankets seems to have become a life raft for them. That must feel nice.

    cheers Vanessa

  16. Hi again!

    Ok, please excuse my fan girl squeek, I’m amazed to get your response! And as a PDXer, born and raised, I find a lot of my solice in the trees that surround us. 😉 My particular favorites are Mt. Tabor and the Tualitin Hills Nature Park.

    Thanks so much for the answer. I am happy to announce that I finally got all 14 pages (plus front and back) of my own comic done in time to graduate! well, penciled but not inked… And that leads me to my next question.

    Do you involve any digital technology in your development or layout of your work? I’ve been scanning the penciled pages into photoshop and then messing with contrast, etc to make them look a little more finished but its a temporary solution. I know some artists rely on blue pencils, but i haven’t messed with this technique at all. I feel most comfortable with pencil, pen and paper, but i’ve been told that I’ll never make it in comics without going digital.

    And as far as solving the character problem in Habibi, well… I just wanted to support you in whatever you discover about the characters, both in terms of writing and in terms of living. Blankets had so much power for all of us because of the raw authenticity of your journey and the fact that you didn’t solve it for us.

    Your work has been one of my greatest inspirations, and my own comic is a monologue about my own journey to find the sacred within the body even when the body is the recipient of trauma.

    So thank you. And blessings,

  17. Dear Craigblog:

    I look back on those days when we worked toe to toe on Nick Mag as the salad years of my career. I’m not sure what that means, but salads are healthy and that’s good.

    Not that we don’t “team up” anymore–but back then it was like we were on the phone all the time…like blood brothers…like blood brothers where one blood brother makes the other blood brother draw Jimmy Neutron comics. Okay, so it wasn’t all perfect–but that’s what family is all about.

    It’s a blast seeing those sketches again. It was so hard to choose. You are the man, man.

    By the way, have you ever seen the video for Hasslehoff’s “Hooked on a Feeling”? It’s so goofy–it gives one new respect for the man.


  18. hello sir
    how cool it is to find your blog (by chance). i have a book of yours titeld “adieu chunky rice” (yes i speak french…as you can say by my way to write…). do you have a next book coming out in europe ?
    can i ask what kind o brush do u use ?
    nice to have some news about you man. keep the good work !
    .ben. from Geneva, switzerland.

  19. Upon my seemingly fortuitous discovery of your Carnet de Voyage, I realized that comic books weren’t as I had (skeptically) imagined. Flipping to a random page in the book, I found a kindred soul in the pages featuring fine wine, chocolate, and French things… alas! A graphic novel for the young female adult with a taste for travel. Thank you for your work. It’s too bad that It’s two weeks past the chance of finding you in my own backyard. I hope you enjoyed meeting a few UCF knights. Do keep traveling,

  20. Hi Craig,

    I read Blankets earlier last year and finished reading Carnet de Voyage yesterday… I’m in complete awe, the stories, portraits, details, pathos, nostalgia, everything about the account was so so beautiful!

    You must visit India, there’s much to be get inspired by!

  21. Hi Craig, your books are awesome! I really enjoy reading them a lot of times as I get older. The first book I read was Blankets, and I found myself inside a lot of the situations you’ve passed for. I’m trying to start a graphic novel, and Blankets was the major reason that made me think of doing this. I want to share the story I’m writing, but I wrote and drew like 5 pages and I can’t keep doing it, the inspiration is gone. Do you have any tip to give me? And even if you haven’t, thank you for the books you’ve wrote, they have changed my way of understanding and expressing what’s in my mind and in the world I live in.

  22. Craig,

    Your drawings and comments are delightful! Adventure, melancholy, art, nature,culture, hope all in one!
    Reading your carnets helps me to see my voyages in clearer detail. Thank you for expressing your gifts.

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