the spirit of the dead keep watch

Paul Gauguin‘s influenced some of my drawing lately. A) a recent pin-up for Mike Allred’s MADMAN referencing Gauguin’s 1897 painting.
B) Gauguin’s “MANAO TUPAPAU” translated as “the spirit of the dead keep watch” … C) flipped backwards in a HABIBI panel this week.

OTHER NOTES: 1) Last minute reminder to apply for the ACA graphic novel residency. The deadline is May 21st.

2) Nicolas, sorry to neglect your 5 questions. If it’s not too late, here’s some quick answers.
a) Artist that inspired you? Baudoin (see below), Gauguin (see above), Blutch, Taro Yashima, Dylan Horrocks, etc., etc.
b) What brush size do you use?
The pro-fave Winsor Newton series seven, number three
c) Thumbnails and then script to help guide you or script first and then thumbs? The thumbnails are detailed drawings with text already integrated.
d) Favorite story to read?
Currently IN LOVE with the short stories of Lorrie Moore.
e) Favorite character to draw? I suppose the little critter guy from CARNET DE VOYAGE. (seen here riding sea turtle)

3) Dave, you asked about Edmond Baudoin. LE VOYAGE is a perfect entry point, but appears out of print. Anything really!
4) Jess, you guessed correctly. The dootdoot website is down and outdated and planned to be revamped.
5) Thank you all for your comments and patience with my slowness!

23 thoughts on “the spirit of the dead keep watch

  1. I have to say it’s food and drink to see bits and pieces of Habibi come to life! My department has left graphic novel selections at my discretion for senior English next year and I’ve got my heart set on this one!! I’ve been checking daily for news and today I’m rewarded in the most profound way as Gaugin is a personal favorite. All’s truly well!! Merci!!

  2. Hi Craig! My name is michaela. I don’t know if this is the best way to contact you..Anyways, I’m writing a paper on your amazing comic Barnyard Animals. I’ve been reading your other works and looking up some info on you, but I thought I would just go straight to the source and see your own opinion about it. For instance:
    1) Would you consider Barnyard Animals a groundbreaking work in terms of your career?
    2) How does it compare artistically to the rest of your comic works?
    3) Was there any significant factors from your life that effect the theme of your story?
    4) How would you personally describe your artistic style?

  3. Hello Craig,

    I’m trying to reach you about the celebration of the “XeroXed #XX”. As I interviewed you for the “XeroXed #3” back in March 2004, I would be glad to talk to you about that project.



  4. Heya Craig,

    1) I’ve applied for the residency 🙂 All the way from Malaysia. Had to rush (as a local gallery forwarded the info to me only days ago ) but I’m glad I’m giving it a shot! Hope you and your chosen Associate artists have a wonderful time, regardless !

    2)As a muslim , I’m getting curiouser and curiouser about Habibi! The artwork is luscious , and I’m enjoying the little gems of Sufi love.
    I’m sure the book will be very thought provoking.

    Thank you for devoting your time , talent and passion to create books like this for us all.


    Sarah Joan

  5. Not related to this blog entry- but here I go anyways.

    I read ‘Blankets’ today- in its entirety. Beautiful, sweet, and heartbreaking. We all have some Craig in us. And nice use of a Cure song. That one is on my I Pod. Well Done.

  6. All right, J TURNER, thank you 😀 I didn’t even realize the connection with the song until I read your comment (I read blankets in Slovene) 😀

  7. Hi Craig my name is Ally and I am taking Diana Schutz’s Understanding Comics Art class. I posted some questions last week but I think I had forgotten to include my email and that might be easier for you than responding via your blog. I would so appreciate any time you could give to this I know you’re incredibly busy so I’ll make my questions as brief as possible 🙂 Thank you so much in advance this would be a tremendous help not just for the class but in learning to appreciate comics in general and yours specifically. Btw I love your work and am a huge fan! Here are my questions:
    Is this story autobiographical? How does it fit into the time frame from Blankets if it is? What do the pictures of people with the heads of birds mean to you? What were you trying to express with those images? In a way I feel like the animals at the end of the story were trying to protect them by not allowing them to get to the farm, is this what you meant? If someone reading this story only took one message from it what would you want the message to be? You could have written a lot of different things about the boy in his teen years but you focused on the owl he spoke to, is this to keep within the theme of animals, to express his aloneness/loneliness, or for other reasons? What does the owl mean to you? His speaking to the owl reminds me of the mouse in Chunky Rice sending messages to his friend that he can’t receive are these stories connected in your mind? Ok I know I said I’d make these questions brief but my curiousity got the best of me. None of these questions are on the homework assignment so you’re not doing my assignment for me by answering them 😉 Again thank you for reading this and for sharing so much of yourself in your work. My email is

  8. Craig,
    Your work is amazingly inspiring and being able to look at bits of your process is awesome.
    Could talk a bit more of your earliest process? before you start on the first draft of the book, you work out characters, read reference material and all that or you just let it flow and whatever comes out you take and polish on later versions? I’m really curious about that and would LOVE to know more.

    Thanks for the awesome work you’re bringing so far.


  9. what about your patterns? you do all of them or you use some that are already done? I was wondering after seeing those that appear at the covers of you chapter printouts. they are really beautiful and I’d like to know if you buy them.

    all the best, Craig!


  10. oh! I forgot one question! sorry to bother you, but I’m REALLY curious about how much time you spend on a HABIBI page. thanks!!

  11. I know it seems like your blog is becoming a Q&A session and I did ask you a big question a few months ago, but what’s been bugging me for ages is the question of what you use to do white lettering on a black background. Originally I assumed that is was white gouache or acrylic based ink done with a nib or small brush, but it’s so uniform and looks exactly the same as your black lettering. Is it some kind of technical pen with opaque white ink?

    Thanks again in advance!

  12. Guess what, it’s me again 😀
    I just want to know whether you are familiar with Gibi e Doppiaw (Gibbi and W in English, I think) and if you are what do you think about them?

  13. In looking through archives of this blog I don’t see many questions about the technical complications of telling this kind of story. I assume you had to “come out” to your parents about your migration out of Christianity. I’m thinking also of your dad putting your brother into the cubby. Also, how did you handle the exposure of a private intimate relationship? Just wondering how story-tellers travel delicate paths such as these when relating pasts publicly without generating a lot of fallout. Thanks for any insights on this.

  14. I’m moving out of my parents’ house today and found my copy of Blankets while packing up my room.
    Thank you. ^-^

  15. Hi Craig!

    Thank you for being such an inspiration. Blankets is one of the most moving things I’ve ever come across.

    I just finished absorbing ‘Moon and Sixpence’ a few days ago, and was skimming through ‘Carnet de Voyage’ yesterday…so coming across this post just now made my day a whole lot brighter 🙂

    Looking forward to Habibi! Keep up the wonderful work…Cheers!

    We’d love to see you here in India sometime…big fans 🙂

  16. Hello Mr. Thompson,

    I just wanted to drop a line saying that I’m excited to see that you’re giving an artist demo here at the Portland Art Museum in June. I’m on staff here, and I’ll definitely make time to check it out!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *