Thank you, Ruben Connolly (age eight), for sending your excellent SPACE DUMPLINS fan art!
Happy 73rd birthday to EDMOND BAUDOIN – mentor, friend, and collaborator on my NEXT book project, working title “DRAWING BROTHERS”.
(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 –
a mountaintop village near Nice to churn out drawings and write thumbails for our book.
Our timing aligned with village festival of their patron St. Jean – documented in Baudoin’s book LE CHEMIN DE SAINT JEAN.
Edmond has over 60 books in his bibliography, though zero are translated in English at this point.
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.
Related to the straight-to-sketchbook project mentioned in the last post, I’ll be spending the month of June in France. While there, I’ll also participate in the Amiens BD festival and the Lyon BD festival to compensate for my abbreviated French presence during 2011’s HABIBI book tour. As some may recall, the French edition of HABIBI was late from the printers and so I’d done press at that time, but no signings.
To prep for travel, my friend Lucie is tutoring me in French. Here’s a little excerpt from my study notebook — a homework exercise to “write (& draw) a dialogue with two (or ten) characters” in which Little Zacchaeus (from CARNET and SPACE DUMPLINS) interacts with references from some favorite bande dessinée – including PETIT VAMPIRE VA À L’ECOLE by Joann Sfar, LES OGRES by David B. & Christophe Blain, CÉFULUS by Ludovic Debeurme, and SALADE NIÇOISE by Baudoin. (Translated or not, it makes no sense.)
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.
Springtime instigates spring cleaning of the art studio. Here’s a couple of goodies unearthed in the process. Above is a batch of unused illustrations created for a stage presentation at the 2005 ICON Illustration Conference. The general talking point of each illo is: a) preconceptions of comics, b) the obliviousness and/or coping mechanisms of arteests, c) SCOTT McCLOUD as a cult leader of sorts for my generation of cartoonists, d) the reality that most cartoonists pay the bills via illustration gigs, e) the debate over the label “graphic novel”.
Below is another except from the 70 foot scroll I created in fourth grade (1985 or 1986) when I was approximately the same age as Violet in the upcoming SPACE DUMPLINS. Wish I could scan this entire epic for you… in the meantime, there’s a little more on it here.
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…
Thank you all for your patience while dootdootgarden was down. It was eaten to death by spam like a disease. Now it’s up-n-running on a more reliable server, and with a more professional name – craigthompsonbooks.com. Thank you, too, to those who brought the Twitter impostor to my attention. Finally dealt with that creepy pest. Work on new projects is shifting into a bit of a secretive stage; so in the meantime, here’s some treats from the HABIBI process vaults and my sketchbook.
Above left: a discarded page of HABIBI that was reworked into page 591 of the final book (right). Note that the sidewinding snake looks almost exactly the same, but is redrawn. And the narration becomes less clunky.
Below: an exercise in my sketchbooks is to copy a frame from a favorite film to get a sense of the composition and chiaroscuro balance of light and dark. This one is from Hiroshi Teshigahara’s The Woman in the Dunes.
My next event is the Festival of Faith & Writing at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan — April 19th thru 21st. More on that soon.
Fresh home from China, An amazing experience impossible to sum up in a handful of images. I didn’t do as much drawing as I’d like,
but I was inspired by exhibits at Shanghai Art Museum (including the cartoons of Hua Junwu and scrolls of Hsu Wen-jung), the outdoor “opera”
Impression Lijiang directed by Zhang Yimou, and most of all by the old men who practice calligraphy with water every day in the park.
Personal highlight was bamboo rafting near Yangshuo. I slipped while moving the raft over some rocks and sprained my wrist (why I quit skate-
boarding) and was looked after by a group of coworkers/friends traveling from Guangzhou. Thanks, guys, for the tandem bike ride and amazing feast.
And thanks most of all to S & J for making the trip happen.
Like every cartoonist, I often reproduce paintings in my sketchbooks, trying to wrap my head around how another artist composes an image
or lays down a line. Here are some samples — from Viktor E. Popkov’s JULY, and an uncredited illustration for the SHÉHÉREZADE ballet.
Many of you asked about the upcoming HABIBI tour, and it’s safe to say I’ll be making it to many of the countries you mention —
appearances in France, Belgium, Spain, Netherlands, London, Germany are already being mapped out. Nieva asked about the Philippines,
and Ada brought up Poland — both of which I’d love to include, but am unsure of yet. Definitely I’ll be at San Diego Comic Con
for at least Friday and Saturday (July 22nd & 23rd) — not with the book, but other treats.
If you have a book or comics store in the States, it’s worth getting in touch with my publisher Pantheon. More soon!