After laying dormant for far too long, I’m touring again – this time to South Korea for the Bucheon International Comics Festival (their twentieth year!) July 19th-23rd, 2017, and a store event at Book By Book in Seoul on July 22nd, and plenty of promotion for the Open Books/Mimesis editions of my books. Hope to see some of you there!
This snow sculpture of Radcliffe perfectly merges SPACE DUMPLINS with BLANKETS and CARNET DE VOYAGE. The sculpting is courtesy my friends and translators, who hosted me at that chalet in Argientières in the French Alps in 2004. (Thank you, Laetitia, Frédéric, Anne-Julia, Walter, and kids!)
In less than a week, I leave for a 6 week book tour in Europe. Details coming soon!
Thanks for the reminder about the Cintiq post, Dan. As mentioned back in August 2013, I’ve been experimenting with the Wacom Cintiq as a way to shake up & expand my working methods. The 13″ felt too cramped & claustrophobic, so early this year I upgraded to a 22″ Cintiq on an Ergotron arm – inspired by Fiona Staples, whose work on SAGA I admire.
For the past couple of months, I wrestled with the machine & have settled on a compromise common among comics pros – I pencil the pages digitally, then print out blue lines and ink on actual paper.
The advantage of digital penciling is I can see a chapter all at once (top right photo), cut&paste, zoom in close, edit on the fly, and work standing up (top left photo, avec Momo). But digital inking still looks too slick to me — I prefer the flawed & tangible qualities of fussy sable brushes on paper. Foot in both worlds!
Finally, my advice to young cartoonists is to keep it organic & raw and not get bogged down by plug-in devices. In a month, I’ll be starting a direct-to-sketchbook project like CARNET DE VOYAGE to relearn working on the fly outside the studio.
We decided the palette was getting too muted & subdued, so he’s tweaking the pages just enough to infuse the grimy dinginess of outer space clutter with a burst of cartoony, kid-friendly levity. Previous incarnations on the left – updated versions on the right.
In other news, I realized that today is the exact ten year anniversary of my CARNET DE VOYAGE travel & book. To celebrate, I dug around for a photo or two, but they were sparse, because as noted in the back of the book, zero cameras were used in the creation of it. It is my unaltered travel diary begun March 5th, 2004 and ended May 14th, 2004. The week following, my buddy Frédéric and I scanned the three sketchbooks and layed out the book in Lyon, France – no edits other than a proofread from my non-native English speaking friends.
After spending 6-7 years on HABIBI, I can’t fathom that I created a book in less than three months. It helps to not make anything up, not edit, not use any photo reference, and avoid penciling as much as possible. First scruffy photo is in Morocco on the journey to Merzouga.
The second photo was provided by Lewis Trondheim – me drawing on the beach in Montpellier, France: young, naïve, skinny & shirtless.
was the first to translate & publish Trondheim’s work in the US.
And B) the latest foreign edition of HABIBI to debut is from my Serbian publisher Komiko. I wanted to mention it, if for no other reason because I like seeing my name spelled “Krejg”.
Finally recovering from promotional travel. A token of carrying home on one’s back is this handmade Chunky Rice plush from Raquel & Ferran in Barcelona. Thanks, you two! And to Jordi & the other dedicated Spanish fans that made it out. Accompanying Chunky is a classic casualty of travel – the drowned sketchbook – reminding me of the age-old lesson to sketch in archival ink. Appropriately, most of the drawings are of airplane interiors that literally bled together after so many flights.
Along the way, I meet so many amazing people – too many to acknowledge in this small space – but foremost you readers! Seen here is my Spanish/Catalan editor Laureano & a new fave cartoonist David Rubin. Also, the charming Elvis Mitchell – an incredible interviewer that sets one at ease & draws out an honest conversation.
Some of you may recognize Laureano from my 2004 travelogue CARNET DE VOYAGE. Below, the view a block and a half from Laureano’s apartment. On the right is a snippet from my 2004 sketchbooks that never made it into print. But it’s another good reminder…
Recently, Yana wrote with a few questions about the construction process for CARNET DE VOYAGE. She asks,
“…you say that it is more on-the-spot then your other carefully constructed books but just how on-the-spot was it?
How much of the imagery in the novel was actually done on site? Or was most of it developed from on site sketches
into more final ink drawings? And if a lot of the ink drawings were done straight from life, were they then pieced
together digitally on the computer to give the travelogue more of a structure and professionalism? The reason I am
asking is because our whole project has been about making drawings from life in peopled situations? And I was also
wondering how you capture a scenery that is constantly moving (all those bustling Moroccan streets for example) without
the use of photographs? Is it a matter of filling in gaps with imagination and focusing on different aspects individually?”
Good questions. And hopefully these answers are timely enough for use in her essay…
1) CARNET was my diary — documented day-by-day as dated (or at least the day after).
2) Portraits and landscapes and full-page illustrations were drawn on location. Again, no photo reference.
In the case, of bustling street scenes, I would just start drawing from a point of interest — if I saw someone
in the crowds striking the proper pose, I’d dash to that portion of the page and fill it in. There was a lot of
this dancing about the page — a donkey cart would roll past and I would struggle to get it down as quickly
as possible. Once out of view, I’d complete it from memory. And these drawings could take hours to complete
— standing in the most uncomfortable positions getting sun-burnt and harassed and nearly run over by motor bikes.
I would draw things “in real time” and leave empty space on the page for journaling text.
3) The comics narrative part of the book was constructed during a more comfortable part of the day or the next morning.
I kept a separate journal to doodle and piece out my thoughts and thumbnail page compositions. Here’s a peek at that:
(A ~ the very first narrative page of the book. On the left, notes-to-self on page layout.)
In Morocco, I separated my drawings into two sketchbooks. One was public – manhandled by butchers with bloody fingers
and crowds of children. The other was private – composed often at night in the flickering fluorescent light of the hotel
bathroom – journaling about my awkward interactions with locals.
Pages 108 – 113 of CARNET detail a “guided” tour of Fez I took with some newfound Spanish friends. The event happened
on the 5th of April — I doodled 17 pages of visual notes while walking at the same time — and I composed the printed
pages the next day, aboard the long train ride back to Marrakesh, while sandwiched between other travelers.
(B ~ Fez tour … )
4) EDITING. Any and all of it happened between the 15th and 24th of May at my friends Laëtitia & Frédéric’s home in Lyon, France.
I’d left them with my first two sketchbooks when I departed for Barcelona, and they’d scanned all the pages by the time I returned.
Then there was one last sketchbook for scanning, proof-reading (with non-native English speakers!) and minimal digital construction.
The rare occurrences where a graphic was moved about digitally was noted in my compositions as I went along (not after the fact),
because I wanted to squeeze drawings from separate sketchbooks onto the same page.
(C ~ transplanting the donkey)
Well… that’s all for today. Hope this helps, Yana. Sorry to be so text-heavy, though this barely hints at the
adventure of drawing the book while on the road. Every cartoonist should give it a try!
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!