Earlier this year I had the pleasure of providing illustrations for a personal essay in Oregon Humanities Magazine, written by Dionisia Morales.
The article (“Picture Their Hearts”) discusses the author’s parents’ mixed-race marriage in 1950′s America, her experiences growing up biracial in a family that didn’t talk much on the subject of race and identity, and recounts adult conversations with her now elderly (but still reluctant) mother.
The story opens with descriptions of her parents’ honeymoon photo album.The challenges in this assignment involved making the images relatable without being too specific – the author didn’t want any of her actual family portraits to be referenced.
The art director thought that a comics-inflected set of illustrations would keep the material from feeling too clinical or academic (I also created several word balloons for pull quotes).
I ended up suggesting the presence of photos as much as possible while keeping faces not entirely in-view (with the exception of President Obama, whose public image I thought formed an interesting contrast to the “hidden” visual world of the family.)
I had a great time illustrating this really intimate and thought-provoking story. Many thanks to AD Jen Wick at Oregon Humanities!
My work has been popping up all over this month! In addition to maintaining my ongoing projects and client work, I’ve gotten some great press.
Alex Dueben interviewed me for Comic Book Resources!
We talked about my graphic novel Family Man, the origins of my nerdiness for historical settings, how I got my start in comic books, and what it’s like to work with Scott Kurtz as a writer on his landmark web strip PvP. If you have wondered what it’s like to bounce from moody period drama to screwloose gag humor on an hour-to-hour basis, this interview was my first opportunity to talk about it.
Next up, my Eisner-nominated short comic, Outfoxed, has also put in an appearance in the Best American Comics anthology’s 2013 “Notables” list, alongside some really wonderful work covering every genre and format. Thank you to editors Jessica Abel, Matt Madden, and Jeff Smith for their consideration!
Also related to Outfoxed, you Francophones can now read the story in your native language. Outfoxed (under the translated title À Renard et Demi) is included in the first volume of Papier, a new quarterly book-length black and white anthology captained by Lewis Trondheim. The book showcases established French-language talents as well as new and newly-translated works by international artists like me. It’s a dizzying honor to be in the inaugural volume. The book looks and feels splendid, so head to your local librairie or Amazon.fr to snap up a copy.
I’ll be at a hometown show this weekend – the Rose City Comic Con! This is my first time at the show and I’m looking forward to it greatly. Especially delightful since my compatriots from Periscope Studio will all be tabling with me! Local shows are the best, because I can bring just about everything I’ve ever printed or drawn and put it on the table.
This is my last official convention appearance for 2013, so I’ll see you all there.
Here’s one of the most fun illustration gigs I’ve ever gotten! Ryan North, the Mad Genius of Canada, recently produced To Be Or Not To Be, his choosable-path-adventure version of Hamlet (now with dinosaurs!). Every possible ending is illustrated in full-color by one of several dozens of cartoonists. I love Hamlet in every possible way, so the mere existence of this project was a delight to me. Getting to participate made it 500% better.
I’ll let you order the book and figure out the exact ending my illustration accompanies, but suffice to say I got to design Hamlet’s bedroom. (I am particularly fond of the “Yay Fencing” poster and the 20-sided die.)
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!