|six momos for the new millennium||December 27th, 2014|
Happy Holidays, Blog-Friends, and as ever thanks for your patience with these updates. As of today, CHAPTER SIX of SPACE DUMPLINS is finally complete. Only one more (shorter) chapter to complete the book. Unfortunately, I’ve fallen behind schedule – distracted by finalizing the cover design, a trip to NYC to meet with Scholastic, some health problems, and of course MOMO trampling pages in the midst of inking.
In this first photo – I moved my inking to the dining room table – the only spot with enough natural light to work during a six hour power outage. The second image documents Momo intercepting the blue pencil while roughing out a page (final inks on the left).
Now to dive into the final chapter. Despite being behind schedule, the book should still hit its off-to-print deadline for its Fall 2015 release. Thanks for sticking with me!
|praying drunk||August 4th, 2014|
My drawing buddy Farel Dalrymple has a new graphic novel out from First Second titled WRENCHIES. On the surface, it appears a post-apocalyptic adventure, but underneath it’s a meta, existentialist, psychedelic, and deeply personal epic. WRENCHIES explores religious upbringing, guilt, addiction, and self-destructive tendencies while leavening it with moments of child-like, nerdy bliss and the most endearing chubby kid in a homemade superhero outfit named Hollis. Haunting and glowing. If you’re in Portland, FLOATING WORLD is hosting a launch for the book from 6-10pm this Thursday, August 7th.
|pile of trash in fine art & folk art||July 20th, 2014|
For those of you asking about Dave Stewart’s process coloring SPACE DUMPLINS, there’s a great interview up at FROM THE GUTTERS.
Dave is tackling some ridiculously detailed panels. Here’s one I just drew of an outer space landfill.
As ever, the reference is hodgepodged from both low brow & high brow sources. A) The FOLK ART side hails from the graveyard of cars rusting in the forest behind my parents’ rural Wisconsin home. (See page 533 of BLANKETS for more wooded trash heaps.) B) The FINE ART side is Nancy Rubin’s “Airplane Parts” sculpture at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.
|drawing brothers||July 3rd, 2014|
(A – Edmond with Cambodian cartoonist Tian, left. Amiens Cathedral, right.)
(B – Signing at the Palais du Commerce, left. Little Prince statue in Place Bellecour, right.)
After book signings at the A) Amiens BD festival and B) Lyon BD festival, Edmond & I retreated to his childhood haunts of Villars-sur-Var -
Our timing aligned with village festival of their patron St. Jean – documented in Baudoin’s book LE CHEMIN DE SAINT JEAN.
Our collaborative project has just begun… the next step is Edmond visiting my stomping grounds in Portland & Wisconsin… BUT for the rest of the year, I plunge back into SPACE DUMPLINS to hit that deadline for a FALL 2015 release – the tenth anniversary of Scholastic’s GRAPHIX line.
|les petits riens||June 10th, 2014|
In the last year of his life, Maurice became an adopted grandfather and we chatted weekly on the phone. I transcribed bits of his conversations, almost all of which are too personal or vulnerable or hilariously vulgar to share here on the blog… but to commemorate his birthday, I found something petit. On July 31, 2011 speaking of his other project left unfinished - “THE NOSE BOOK”, Maurice said,
“I am writing something. A door is opening — moreso a WINDOW is opening. It’s FUNNY. I’ve never written anything funny before. No tragic overtones… just plain silly. But I’m not gonna judge it, or condemn it. … Which is very unlike me.”
The photo is with my dear cartoonist buddy Aaron Renier who introduced us in 2011.
In a later conversation, Maurice said, “I’ve been feeling fetid in my efforts at writing. Feel as if the creative spirit has departed. It better not leave me or I’ll have a SHIT FIT!” That’s how I was feeling when I left for France – I’m in Paris today – taking a breather from SPACE DUMPLINS to work in a sketchbook outside the studio again.
One more: “You just gotta get old and whatever was unattractive about your work is suddenly all right. Everything becomes silly.”
Still miss him everyday.
|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.
|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.
|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 COMICS – here.
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!