It’s been a very busy couple of weeks for me! Here are some headlines:
1) I’m the new writer at PvP!
Earlier this year I enjoyed an unexpected three-week run as guest artist/writer on Scott Kurtz’s beloved landmark webcomic, PvP. I’ve been a fan of the strip for ages, and I had a total blast. Fast forward a few months to PvP’s fifteenth birthday, and Scott asked if I’d be interested in coming on as a regular writing contributor. So, starting with the most recent storyline, we’ve been working together to write and plan the strip and take it in some very exciting new directions. (And, luckily for me, Scott will still be drawing everything!)
This is really a fun development for all involved, and I’m having disgusting amounts of fun. You can look forward to hearing lots more about my adventures in strip co-authoring. And if you’ve never read PvP before, this is a great time to start!
2) TCAF adventures
I’m just back from Toronto for my second-ever trip to TCAF. A huge thanks to everybody who found me! The festival pulls in some of the most enthusiastic and cheerful attendees in the known universe, and incredible creators and good friends grouped in almost overwhelming numbers. Cheers to Chris Butcher and all his fellow organizers and volunteers for all their hard work.
I had an especially great time finally meeting longtime favorite folks like Bill Amend, Alex Woolfson, and Katie Shanahan, and tabling next to the impressive talents of Kenan Rubinstein, Nina Matsumoto, and Nicole Chartrand. I also enjoyed a day staring at dinosaur bits at the Royal Ontario Museum with Lucy Bellwood and Boulet (on the last leg of his exhaustive North American tour). Lodging and sharing several blissful meals with my traditional TCAF teammates Lucy Knisley and Erika Moen kept me from running myself too ragged.
Thank you, Toronto!
3) It’s spring in Portland!
A detail from page 288 of Family Man. Madness to think we’re closing in on 300 pages! I can’t wait to start organizing all these pages in preparation for the print edition of Volume 2.
I‘m gearing up for a visit to Toronto to attend the Toronto Comics Arts Festival! I’ll be there from May 11-12, enjoying the sight of all those friendly Canadian faces.
Come find me there, Toronto residents – I can only make the trip every few years, so you may not see me in the Eastern provinces again anytime soon! (B.C. residents, on the other hand, can take heart – I’ll be at VanCAF just two weeks later.)
Lately I’ve been producing large portions of my work in Manga Studio 5. It’s a lovely, brisk program geared towards comics artists like me, and it’s helped speed the art process behind Family Man considerably. Most of the reasons why are not very apparent unless you’re an artist who combines traditional and digital media.
More visibly, it makes a difference in my preliminary drawing – the underlying, less-than-perfectly-tidy art which I’ll eventually trace with ink to create the final lines.
Previously I’d draw all my pages on a lightweight sheet of oversized printer paper with a mechanical pencil and a gum eraser, running it through a scanner, and spending time tidying up all the smudges and edits, (after which I turn the image a light blue for tracing purposes and print it out on sturdy inking paper). Which on a good day looks like this:
And now, working digitally in MangaStudio5, my preliminary art looks more like this:
Not only is it already the right color for me to print out and ink onto, but it’s 100% smudge-free, doesn’t use up that extra sheet of paper, and is totally editable. It’s also just kind of cool-looking.
With any luck, there are no visible differences in the very end product – just a quicker and more pleasurable trip to arrive there. I’m an artist who’s rarely satisfied to just rely on a single set way of achieving a result, and I love finding new tools that suit the way I’m working on any given day.
I had a great time with this feature illustration for the Portland Mercury‘s coverage of the Bridgetown Comedy Fest! This festival is swiftly becoming one of the most diverse and exciting comedy showcases in the U.S., so it was a real pleasure to be asked to depict some of the professionally funny people who make up its ranks this year.
Thanks to arts editor Alison Hallett and AD Justin Morrison for the assignment, and be sure to check the Mercury for full festival coverage!
Detail from page 281 of Family Man.
Family Man has been back and updating for the last several weeks! If I go too long without coloring something sepia-green I start to get the shakes.
It is that time of year: the time where I pack my suitcase for the convention circuit! Next weekend (March 1-3, 2013) I’ll be in Seattle for the Emerald City Comicon. I’ll be exhibiting with Erika Moen at Table 2615, where you can also find Katie Lane of Work Made For Hire during the brief moments where she won’t be busy hosting a three-part series of panels about business and negotiation skills for creative freelancers.
I’ll have books, prints, and original art for sale! You can also come find me if you’re picking up a copy of this year’s Monsters and Dames charity art book, because I have a piece in the 2013 edition:
I also recently completed an illustration for Ryan North’s brilliant To Be or Not To Be book project, his massively illustrated, mind-bending silly and surreal, multiple-path narrative riff on Shakespeare’s Hamlet. You’ll have to wait until the book is released to see my contribution, but suffice to say that it offers the world something it has never seen before: an intimate view of Hamlet’s movie poster collection.
In slightly more straight-laced literary territory, here is a non-commissioned watercolor illustration I recently completed: a little portrait of the two protagonists of David Mitchell’s latest novel The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet. Set in the closed world of 18th century Japan, it follows the misadventures of a naive Dutch trader and a disfigured Japanese midwife.
Let it be known that redheaded guys are merry hell to depict in watercolor.
You’ll hear more from me in the coming weeks as I warm up my springtime projects for 2013. Until then, I hope to see a good number of you next week in Seattle!
Every so often you get the proverbial offer-you-can’t-refuse. For me, sometimes that’s work with a creator or for a project that I love. Sometimes it’s when somebody you respect needs help. Sometimes it’s a fun artistic challenge, and sometimes it’s a really cool opportunity to make contact with a new audience.
And sometimes it’s all of those things, because maestro Scott Kurtz needs somebody to write and draw a guest story for his wonderful flagship strip PvP while he heals up a sore back and gets ready to launch a big new project. So! For the next little stretch here I’m happily dropping (almost) everything to do just that.
I’ve been sweet on Scott’s work, and on PvP in particular, for years now – and especially since the story moved to Seattle, my old hometown. That means that I also get to depict some of my favorite landmarks from around the city. Tough gig!
So I’m having an absolute ball taking Scott’s lovely, silly, brash, sincere characters out for a spin. If you’re already a fan of PvP, I think you’ll probably enjoy this little story; if you’re new to the strip, well, you have some very fun archive-diving ahead of you! Either way, head over to site, check out the first strip from my run, and (hopefully) enjoy.
I’m taking the week away from Family Man to compensate for producing a weekday strip; I hope to be back next week! It’s a small price to pay for having such a ball.
In the meantime, if you peruse my store, you might notice that I have soft-launched two new books! I’ll make a big deal about it later, but if you missed your chance to get in on my Kickstarter project from 2012, you can now purchase your very own copies of Outfoxed and Danse Macabre. I still have a lot of orders to fulfill from backers, so expect a slightly longer turnaround than usual, but…they’re HERE!
And we’re back! It feels very good to be drawing again after my extended holiday/book-shipping/physical-therapy break. It’s fun to come back to Family Man and get to resolve a mild situational cliff-hanger, too. This page is a bit late due to the predations of my first head-cold of 2013, but I’m so happy to be doing creative work again that I don’t mind at all.
In the next few weeks I’ll be adding new books and merchandise for sale to the public in my store, in addition to returning to regular updates here. I’m looking forward to a productive and busy 2013! I hope you are, too.
One of my favorite ongoing gigs for 2012 has been with the alt-weekly Portland Mercury. I grew up in Seattle, and my teenaged face was frequently glued to the subversive pages of the Merc’s parent paper, The Stranger. I still get a kick out of seeing that logo on the paycheck envelope. Arts editors Erik Henriksen and Alison Hallett are both smart, funny, sarcastic people – I absolutely love working with them.
The last piece I did for the paper this year was a collaboration with Alison, summing up some of the notable happenings in the Portland creative scene this year.
As a bonus, I got up-and-coming cartoonist Lucy Bellwood to wander over to my computer and draw her autobiographical comics self-portrait for item #7. I predict that you’ll be hearing a lot from Lucy in 2013!
Hop on over to the Mercury to see what each of these items references! (Personal triumph: I was directly involved with #5 and #7.)
I’m gearing up for the arrival of 6,000 books sometime in the next week or so (I hope!). When they do turn up, I will turn into a Shipping Machine, calling upon my hordes of winged monkeys to fulfill the 800+ orders awaiting fulfillment. I’ll be taking it day by day, but hopefully getting enough out the door that I can make time to keep updating; if not, well, at least I’ll be stepping away during the holiday blitz. I’m so excited to get these books out into the world!
In the meantime: you have checked out To Be Or Not To Be, haven’t you? C’mon seriously, it’s a choose-your-path story book version of Hamlet. Written by Ryan North. With over a hundred different endings, illustrated by jerks like ME! You are powerless to resist!
That’s it for this scene in Family Man – I hope you all didn’t too much mind the brief detour. Next week we’ll see some protagonists again!
Happy Thanksgiving week to my fellow Americans; I recommend this unlikely vegetarian gravy recipe, which has beaten out meat gravies (even amongst committed carnivores) every year at the table since I started making it. It is terrible for you, and thank goodness for that.
Meanwhile, in book news! Last week I received some advance copies of the final books from the Kickstarter project. The rest are slowly steaming their way across the ocean, but here are some pictures in the meantime! The books will be on sale to the general public no later than the New Year.