Doot Doot Garden: The Blog of Craig Thompson
Doot Doot Garden: The blog of graphic novelist Craig Thompson
kazim ali & jens harder April 10th, 2014

This morning’s clutter on the drafting table – inking several SPACE DUMPLINS pages simultaneously. Also my friend Kazim Ali is in town for a reading from his new book SKY WARD at Reed College TONIGHT (6:30 Elliot Hall Chapel) for those of you in Portland. Here he’s writing Arabic on my new Cintiq (more on that in some future post… As evidenced above, I’m still inking with actual India ink & brush.).

Finally, this just arrived in the post – BETA (…civilizations volume 1) by German cartoonist Jens Harder. In this intricate, mind-boggling, coolest possible coffee table book, Jens catalogues the history of human evolution & civilization. Every image in the 365 page tome (apparently the first in a trilogy) is sampled from existing media – cave paintings, etchings, pottery, photographs, film, comics, etc. then redrawn in Jens’ meticulous brush lines. For those of you who thought HABIBI was nuts, this takes it to the next level. Speaking of which, here’s a page that references HABIBI in the development of written language.

A favorite page of mine groups CHRIS WARE alongside Caravaggio, Courbet, and Magritte to name a few.

color tweaks & carnet’s tenth March 5th, 2014
Just wanted to share some of the incredible work Dave Stewart’s pouring into the SPACE DUMPLINS colors.

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.

the sakai project February 9th, 2014

One of my favorite comics growing up was USAGI YOJIMBO. Its creator Stan Sakai is humble, hardworking, and perhaps the kindest person I’ve met in this industry. His wife has been suffering serious health issues, so an art auction fundraiser has been organized to aid the family with medical expenses.

Here’s my tribute – crafted this snowbound weekend in Portland. The inspiration was 1) the unrequited romance of Usagi & Mariko from the earliest 1987 issues of the book, along with 2) the tradition of Ukiyo-e woodblock prints (specifically “Two ladies conversing in the snow” & “A village in the snow” by Hiroshige), and finally 3) the snow-dappled tree framed by my studio window as the neighbor kids sled down their front yard.

To learn more about the fundraiser and the other artists involved, please check out the Cartoon Art Professional Society’s Paypal.
The work will also be colored by the amazing Dave Stewart and see print in THE SAKAI PROJECT book to be published by Dark Horse and Bongo Comics (July 23rd release).
 

 

 

 

float down the liffey November 27th, 2013
Last week, I finished pencilling chapter three of SPACE DUMPLINS. I usually pencil & ink a single page on the same day (two with BLANKETS), but this time for the sake of editing, I pencilled an entire chapter at once.

Seeing the whole chapter made it more malleable & consistent, more tangible to “stage”, and saved me from repeating compositions. But my work days felt more monotonous – tending to a single task for weeks on end – and I missed the creative “down time” that inking affords me. Pencilling is all sweat & brainwork, but inking is more intuitive – freeing my mind to listen to music, podcasts, talk on the phone…

Many of you asked why I’ve started using colored ballpoint on my pencils, but it’s purely for fun – now that I scan the pencils and print out blue lines, the pencils can be as messy and colorful as I like. As an experiment, I dabbled with inking some panels digitally on a 13HD Cintiq.

Below is an excerpt from a page I inked twice – A) The old-fashioned way with a brush and India ink. B) The newfangled digital tablet way. I was surprised that the difference is almost imperceptible. An advantage of digital is that I was able to draw word balloons and color holds on separate layers, and of course it’s all easier to correct. But for now I still prefer the tactile sensations of light bouncing off paper, crude ink, and finicky sable hairs.

The pictured character is named TINDER, after my cartoonist buddy Jeremy Tinder – whose style I aped for the character design.
green bean & wordstock September 24th, 2013

After getting home from three weeks in LA, I have a couple events unfolding in the Portland area.

1) The local launch for First Second’s FAIRY TALE COMICS with cartoonist (and Laika storyboarder) Graham Annable at GREEN BEAN BOOKS. 1 PM on Saturday, September 28th (1600 NE Alberta Street, Portland). More on that anthology – a sequel of sorts to NURSERY RHYME COMICShere.

2) A two-way stage conversation between Gene Yang and I to scour the crossover themes of our coming-of-age memoirs (AMERICAN BORN CHINESE) and historical, religious epics (BOXERS & SAINTS) at the WORDSTOCK literary festival. 3 pm, October 5th, Oregon Convention Center.

Hope to see you locals there!

 

chunky shark cycle September 10th, 2013

Friends of my brother, GROW ANTHOLOGY, make sweet skateboards out of recycled paper, and they’ve launched a KICKSTARTER campaign to produce their first run of artist-edition boards – THE CHUNKY SHARK CYCLE! It’s limited to only 250 boards…  Chunky and Dandel graphic laser-etched into the top of the deck… made sustainably from recycled paper from a paper mill in my home town! They’re a flexy-fluid longboard ride or an object of art for display. Please, do check in to support the Chunky Shark Cycle Kickstarter and get stickers, t-shirts, decks, complete boards, or purchase my original art. Exciting to merge the two passions of my youth – comics and skateboarding!

(PS: Start following progress on the new book at: <http://instagram.com/spacedumplins> )

 
paddling vs pushing pixels August 23rd, 2013
Thank you, Jordi, for your reminders and thanks to all you loyal blog followers for your patience in this two month lapse between posts.

Portland has the best summers in the world, so there’s been the typical sunny day distractions of: A) river swimming (drawing buddy Scott)B) white water rafting (flip on the Deschutes)C) a little surfing (Justin loads the boards on my car – fifth one on the back seat), and D) lots of stand-up paddling (Brazilian twins Fabio & Gabriel on the Willamette).
 

In the work world, dealing with recurring hand problems, I’ve experimented with some alternate drawing techniques, including investing in a 13″ Wacom Cintiq.  1) Adrian Tomine’s latest OPTIC NERVE has a genius lampoon of “our generation’s” resistance to the new brand of art tools coupled with our frustration towards the declining quality of old world art supplies (bristol, brushes, ink). 2) For a couple of days my drawing desk became a clutter of video monitors (yuck).
 
3&4) I managed to digitally pencil a page, but then (5) printed out blue lines and reworked with an actual tangible pencil.
Here’s (6) Dave Stewart’s colors (digital) on my India inks (analog).
Purists will be relieved to know I’m sticking with the old-fashioned pencils and sable brushes for now. Digital dabbling, however, did push me to adopt a new working method of pencilling on cheap sketch paper, then scanning and printing blue lines on bristol board to ink by hand. Saves me the hassle of light box tracing and erasing pencil lines.    More summer-time announcements coming soon…
world comics June 24th, 2013
My Korean publisher OPEN BOOKS translate my work with incredible attention to design & production. Check out their edition of CARNET DE VOYAGE with a 3/4 jacket.

In the upper right is a “LASER QUEST” jam with Lewis Trondheim. I’m reminded that Kim Thompson
was the first to translate & publish Trondheim’s work in the US.
Also, this news is late now that Hassan Rohani has been elected president of Iran, but my dear friend Amir co-orchestrated a very cool presidential campaign for the star of his & Khalil’s book ZAHRA’S PARADISE. (author photo by Michael Macor)
http://vote4zahra.org/  If you haven’t yet read their book, you must!  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-22803971
kim thompson June 19th, 2013

Comics industry luminary Kim Thompson will be dearly missed. Though we aren’t related, I referred to him affectionately as “Uncle Thompson.” He nurtured the comics scene into the thriving community it is today, translated and published crucial European artists, and encouraged young talent.  He was one of the very first professionals to discover and acknowledge my work. Here’s a postcard he sent me on March 5, 1997.

 

brazil jam May 24th, 2013

Brazilian buddies Fabio Moon, Gabriel Ba, and Murilo Martins are visiting Portland for ICAF (International Comics Art Forum).
If this post isn’t too late, check out the twins’ SPOTLIGHT TALK at 70 NW Couch Street (Portland) TONIGHT at 7:30.

What do cartoonists do when we drink coffee and nerd out? We discuss craft & reminisce on the masters of the medium.
This morning, we picked four cartooning heroes who passed away recently, and copied panels as a tribute. Below left,
Fabio pencilled a CARMINE INFANTINO panel that Murilo inked. To the right, Murilo pencilled some MOEBIUS panels that Fabio inked.

Then I pencilled a TOPPI page that Gabriel inked. Right, Gabriel pencilled a SENDAK page that I inked.

Here’s my inks on Gabriel’s pencils of a Maurice Sendak image from WE ARE ALL IN THE DUMPS WITH JACK AND GUY.
It’s been a year, and I still think of Maurice daily.