Just to assure Jennifer and my other blog-readers, I do read all the posts, even if I am lame about responding… Your support
has meant so much to me this year – endless thanks! Fabien and Tatiana, the blue “brush grip” is a simple pencil cushion purchased
at any art supply shop. No signings (including Chicago, Emerson) planned for the next half a year. Chapter seven pages are accumulating!
The new German BLANKETS has just been released from Carslen, and is hands-down the the most fancy-schmancy production of any edition.
Hardcover, super deluxe paper, stamped logo, bookmark ribbon, and a delicate lacing of spot varnish ornamentation.
Look how it stacks up next to a standard version of the book.
For domestic fans, I’m currently working on redesigns of BLANKETS and CARNET – including hardcovers – to be released summer 2010 by Top Shelf.
This recent email from my friend Allison was too bizarre and well-worded not to share with the rest of you.
“Today I had a strange experience in a creepy used bookstore. I was walking past the sci-fi/fantasy section,
and from the piles of unsorted books on the floor, a familiar blue color caught my eye.
I jumped for joy at the thought of buying a discounted copy of Blankets, even though this copy was oddly shelved
with fantasy novels and tales of Wiccan overlords. I thought, “what a strange place to put …”
But when I opened the cover, I found the entire book printed upside down and backwards …
… with most of the panels shoved up into the margins, or buried in the gutter.
Even with this defect, the bookseller wanted $18 because it was the only graphic novel he had in the store.
I thought maybe it was a sign to support my current theory that the stars have turned upside down and backwards,
hence the madness of our modern world and the obvious fact that humans are bored and taking it out on one another.
I left the book in the store, but not before I re-shelved it next to Nutritional Healing.
Just as I am doing with the universe, I will return in a week to see if it has righted itself.”
Fresh home from my midwest excursion. BIG THANKS to the librarians that made it to the panel and are fueling support for
graphic novels in the literary world, not to mention fighting on the frontlines of public confusion over the medium.
I’m restless to dig into work on the final chapters of HABIBI. In the meantime, here’s some treats I excavated from the ol’ cubby hole at my
parents’ house. Above: Congressman Dave Obey and Tom Cruise (yes) presenting an award to 16 year old me for a national high school art
competition. Below: decaying childhood art (approx. age 9) and a photo of my brother Phil and I with matching bowl haircuts.
While this box of BLANKETS roughs is still unpacked, here’s a few more things…
1) a couple of thumbnails for a cover idea…
2) … doodled on the back of this ROBOX script – one of the gazillions of bill-paying jobs I worked on to fund BLANKETS …
3) … the final ROBOX story, written by Dave Land (!), colored by Dave Stewart, published by ex-employer Dark Horse …
4) … (fourth verse same as the first) a few more obsessive variations on the cuddling couple.
I sketched that pose a dozen more times and then scrapped it altogether.
There’s plenty more were those came from. My continued thanks for the supportive blog comments!
Sean, as far as I know, I won’t be attending Stripdagen in the Netherlands this year.
No shows planned other than the upcoming Stumptown in Portland.
When I woke this morning to snowfall in Portland – fat, fluffy flakes in the midst of our flowery spring – it seemed the right time to update the blog.
Your outpouring of support concerning HABIBI process/progress has certainly buoyed my spirits. aww shucks Thank you!
So with your blessings, I plow forward with work on the book, and hopefully fit in an occasional blog update to stay in touch.
Recently excavated from the studio closet is a box full of BLANKETS roughs and production materials — including over
a hundred pages I edited out of the initial thumbnail draft. Here’s a peek:
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!
1) mindless doodles, circa 1999. One day, the “flaming meanies” will be resurrected.
2) The scribbly rough of page 56 in Chunky Rice
3) The penciled version of page 442 of Blankets ~ July 1st, 2002
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!
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.
And here’s my preface.
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.”
Dear blog-readers, Thank you for all the amazing comments. My apologies for not getting around to responding, but I’ve been focused on the new book. As even my best friends know, I’m lousy with correspondence, but maybe at some point I’ll get a handle on that aspect of blog-managing. Today, I leave for a cousin’s wedding in Ohio for four days, so I wanted to leave you with something — a handful of photos from that high school era, approximately 1993 in rural Wisconsin.
From left to right, top to bottom: My brother and I traversing the highway near our home. The view from the backyard skate-ramp (which I chose to omit from the book). (Note: yoda shirt.) My bro, our neighbor Shawn (aforementioned paper-provider), and me with cow-themed fashion. The sign for my hometown: population 1,200 at the time. An angst-ridden portrait (taken at church).
In response to one of the most frequently asked of questions, here’s my list of “art tools”. My apologies to those
bored with shop-talk… I pencil with any ol’ HB pencil — these “Berol Turquoise” will do. Erasing courtesy of
“Staedtler Mars Plastic”. The text lettering in the balloons is casually dashed off with a .05 or .08 MICRON felt-tip.
For inking, I dunk a watercolor brush in a well of India ink – the old fashioned way. SPEEDBALL “Super Black” makes
me happy with its soulful darkness. CHUNKY RICE and BLANKETS were inked up with these cheap Winsor Newton
Cotman III number twos — a synthetic/sable blend. With my new book, Farel Dalrymple turned me on to this
upgrade brush — the Raphael series 8404 size number four. It’s quadruple the price, but it’s debatable if my line
has improved at all. While on the go, the Pentel “pocket-brush” is certainly handy. Another frequently asked question;
“How do you get that dry-brush effect?” Answer: Vellum finish bristol paper. Its toothiness combined with an abused brush
caked up with gunky ink.
The dimensions of my pages has fluctuated plenty. The live art area of CHUNKY RICE is 10.5″x14″ reduced for print a whoppin’ 48%. That’s admittedly too much shrinkage. While all the details are sharpened in the reduction, some of the integrity of the original is lost. The Pantheon edition of the book is smaller than the Top Shelf one, but the details are sharper, because I finally scanned the pages at 1200dpi from the original art. The older edition was simply 600dpi scans from Kinko’s photocopies! BLANKETS is drawn far smaller and reduced less — 7″x11.25″ / 70%. HABIBI is in-between; 8.75″x12.5% reduced 63%. (Sorry, this isn’t metric!)
One last goody. On this page of BLANKETS, you can see a paste-up correction. Just a slice
of typing paper glued atop the bristol.
Hectic week is distracting me from updating. But here’s a little sumtin’…
A glimpse of my thumbnail process. I draw the entire book in this loose ballpoint pen format and edit, before ever starting the final pages. BLANKETS was thumbnailed for a year. The first page of final art was drawn August 24th, 2000.
These thumbnails were sketched out on February 19th, 2000. They’re finalized counterparts were inked on May 25th, 2002.
On the back of my final pages, I keep a brief journal —
This one mentions the bill-paying work I was about to throw myself into — two covers of NICKELODEON and a ten page comic for Dark Horse. For the record, I didn’t ink the next page of BLANKETS until June 18th, 2002, nearly a month later.
As for HABIBI, I spent late 2004 until late 2006 editing and rewriting the ballpoint pen version.