I am currently in Washington DC, waiting for my gracious couch surfing host to get off work; the Great Big Small Press Expo has yet to leave my peripheral vision. I don’t feel much like writing, so I’m not going to do a lot of that now. Hey, let’s look at pictures!
On the way from Alaska to Maryland (itself on the way to Toronto) I spent four days in Portland. The day before leaving saw us swimming from rock to giant rock in a frigid river stream across the border in Washington. After the flowing falls came the flashing lights and silver balls of the new(ish) Wizard of Oz pinball machine that we finally got to play!
Having arrived at the hotel in Bethesda, I found out that I was rooming with professor x-men [sic] himself.
Finally found out what my comic looks like in print!
Tablemates Marta and Josh:
Marta with the remaining tablemates, Totoro and myself:
Maybe I’ll write about my experience of the event at some later point, though that’s not too likely (on the other hand, find me in person and I would love to talk!). Regardless, it was a wonderful experience, one you can vicariously experience as the memories pile up.
Let’s hop across the finish line with some drawings I did in people’s books that Marta was thoughtful enough to snap pictures of:
I’ve just finished the first week at a new 58-hour-a-week carpentry job. Easy to appreciate valuable time spent with people who lead very different lives than from mine, difficult to find much time for drawing. This is how I buy my normal full-time comixing ‘job,’ however, so cheers to that!
I’m trying to get in the habit of drawing a bit on break. job perk: I feel like Paul Bunyan’s nephew when I’m drawing with a dull carpenter’s pencil on a scrap of shop paper towel.
I’m also posting more on twitter, tumblr, and in this space too, perhaps, though the content will be scarce until I finish this job and reclaim my life. In the margins, I’m still working away at my comic, “where ever flows the river,” and am now a few pages into watercoloring the thing.
Here’s an early test-print I posted on twitter a few weeks ago. Was super exciting to see the color and line-art layers come together for the first time!
Also, I suppose I should mention, the weather has been in the 80s & 90s, and may even break 100 next week, according to the forecast. Alaska is a mysterious place indeed.
Christmas and surprise travel plans have incorporated and sent forth a decree, proclaiming regular updates and the premiere of a new webcomic will begin late January.
For now, look at stuff (Including a little present at the end):
Let’s start with another preview from the webcomic:
Marta and I went to a house talent-show-party of sorts where I had the rare and exciting experience of reading some poetry ‘n related mishmash. The bands and performances that followed were very engaging, and I found myself really missing the music community of dear Fairbanks. I drew one of Marta’s old friends, Brendon, while he was occupied fronting his band in their debut performance :
Here’s a tiny sample if another side project I’m using for some personals process experimentation:
I’ll have more to say about this later, but for now just look at this segment of the introduction to “Children’s Picturebooks: the art of visual storytelling“. Two mediums, perhaps only separated by the markets they peddle in. I’ve just started reading this, but I foresee myself recommending it to many comics-folk once I do.
Here’s some process stuff — notes and thumbnails for the next section of Overnid:
And heeeeeere is your present, a PDF-wrapped short comic. It’s a temporarily B&W preview of my current main project — a 44 page watercolor album, tentatively titled “Overnid.” While it /is/ a chunk of pages from the middle of the book, I hope they can stand alone as a short vignette:
Productive times are here at last, let’s all pray they last and last.
Things are picking up speed in my neck of the woods, neigh, deep in the equine throat of these woods even. More info is forthcoming, and on a weekly schedule! (though this is bound to be thrown off a bit by holidays). A bunch of much-needed site-maintenance is also now in view on the horizon, so you can look forward to that if you’d like.
SO. More coming soon, but for the short-term, once-you-finish-reading-this-sentance-and-scroll-down sort of soon, here’s a couple of previews:
First, the partially-colored opening panel of my first attempt at a relatively extemporaneous webcomic :
I’ve got the first three pages to a similar nearly-finished degree of completion, so look for weekly updates to begin in another month or so, once I’ve built up a sizable buffer.
I’m also managing about a page a day on another comic (a portion of which i’ve been selling as a mini-comic vignette that I will try and have available in my shop once I get it running). Here’s pencils for the first page of the second segment (pg. 13 of the total 36):
If our goals are floating islands, hovering out of reach, than knowledge and practice are the batteries which power the tractor beam that can pull them down to earth. Or somesuch. Though it’s been difficult to maintain a center of productive balence in my current unstable housing situation, I have nevertheless begun to settle into a working schedule. Over the last few weeks there is so much i’ve been figuring out about keeping myself productive, about writing, and about the process of creation in general.
As i’m sure is true for many of you reading this, i am constantly trying to find new gimmicks to scam myself into being more efficient with my time. The strategem my most recent scheming has brought me to employs the use of a cube timer which is set by orienting the cube so that the desired time (5, 15, 30, or 60) is on the top face:
The principle here is that the more barriers you remove between yourself and productivity, no matter how small they may seem, the more productive you will be. If the guitar is out of its case and in a stand, there’s a better chance that it will be played than if it is cloistered in the case. I find that i am much more likely to reliably monitor my time if all it takes is knocking a little cube on its side.
I have at least two other new comrades in this battle for maximized life – the first is my new whiteboard. I’ve got it marked off with sections for both ongoing and one-time tasks of a daily, weekly, and monthly sort:
The last companion this Doctor will mention is a simple pad of paper. I find that one of the barriers most effective at blocking my productivity is the remembrance of things i really (truly) ought to do that are not the task at hand. Sending a certain email, looking up the time of some event, putting a hold on some book at the library, etc. My solution is to keep a pad of paper at my side and bar myself from pursuing anything off-topic for the duration of the [usually hour long] block of time. Anything not related that i need to remember i simply write on the notepad, and look up after the timer has gone off.
I’ll get into the writing/creation topics next time, but i’ve still got a few more odds ‘n’ sods to share before signing off. First up is this amazing experimental OsamuTezuka short animation i stumbled upon while looking for some clips from this incredible documentary (i’m almost certain the picture at the first of those three links is the same as on this poster i managed to get the librarian at the school i went to in Osaka to take down and give me!). The documentary includes a decent amount of footage of Tezuka at work – something i’d love to see more of. I suppose there is this video my friend Robin did with Brandon Graham. I love that Brandon’s reflections on his process are overlayed with the footage of him drawing. I guess that is basically taking the Tezuka thing one step further, adding a peek into the mystery-reeking mental side of the creative process.
Back to the Tezuka video. I’ll hold off on going into a Tezuka rant (find me in person if you’d like to hear a rant of your very own), and i’ll simply contextualize the video by saying that he did more to change the face of Japanese comics and animation (and culture as a whole some would contend) than any other individual in the ever. One small element of his mammoth output was his experimental short animations. From what i have seen, they are always conceptually fascinating, though there is some variability in their popular entertainment value. This one, however, is just great. Formal play at it’s most playful. enjoy it, you.
And here is a thing i made. I took Marta’s store-bought, wooden display, traced the pieces on some cardboard i found, and cut out my own for free!
And since i was making it myself from cardboard, not only can i easily replace any damaged pieces, but i can also customize it to my liking. So far i modified the original design so that the top back slat is double hight to both support larger, floppy paper and…
…transmogrify into a puppet theatre! Since the back slat is removable, in theory i can also create unique backdrops/sets and swap them out. I plan to write a number of finger-puppet plays that are part of the world of an upcoming comic, and perform them at comic shows. That will be coming down the line hopefully sometime in the next few months, once i manage to make up some felt finger puppets, and of course write the plays. Another great thing about my new display is it’s portability:
In other news, i’ve decied to start regularly submitting designs to Threadless.com. My intent is to keep the pressure low by treating these as sketchbook drawings that i push to a more complete stage than i might usually. Mistakes are ok is my maxim. Hopefully i’ll get in some good practice, and if i ever turn out anything that hits the right beat, perhaps i’ll make a little bit of money too (drawing commissions is another rout to that goal, so get in touch if you’ve got the need!). If you’d like to skew the odds in my favor, feel free to click the below image and vote for me! If you’re reading this after voting has ended for that design, head here to see if i have any new designs up for voting.
Keep an eye on this site in the coming weeks, as i’ll be filling out the new illustration/design section with more content, adding an archive of some old comic strips, uploading a concise guide to the basics of comics creation, and perhaps i’ll even let you know if a comic of mine ends up getting featured on another site(!).
If you’re in the Toronto area, stop by ladyfriend Marta and normalfriend Ethan Rilly‘s table at Word on the Street this Sunday the 23rd, see what becomes of Marta’s print-in-progress (pictured below) at the Toronto Main Street Event next Saturday the 29th, and come by Marta and my table at Canzine on October 25th to bear witness to my little cardboard display’s maiden voyage.
Two weeks ago Marta and I were scrambling across Alaska. We weant from Fairbanks to Seward and back, with stops to hike and visit friends in Denali, Palmer, Hatcher Pass (early morning breakfast on the boulder pictured above), and Anchorage. Since then i spent a good few weeks in New Jersey/York visiting friends and family, learned to wakeboard and sail –
– and packed five days full of free New York City rambling. Did you know there is a ton of no-dolla stuff to do in NYC? I didn’t until recently. The very hospitable Jeffrey Lewis who so recently played at Wall of Balloons back home in Alaska hosted a relaxed and very fun drawing get-together where i finally met Robyn Chapman, another friendly Alaskan cartoonist whose name i’ve been hearing for years. Frank Santoro had one of his comics sales/comics talk sessions that i’ve been reading about for a while. It was great time meeting him and a number of other cartoonists whose work i love, and i managed to trade/buy some really great old comics (all but one issue of Timespirits, some THB, the first issue of my favorite comic series ever, Thieves and Kings, etc). Then there was outdoor shakespear, free museum hours, a free fiction writing workshop and more. I even got to meet a French comics hero of mine, Lewis Trondheim!
And now i am back in Toronto, back with lovely Marta, back with enough time to dig back into all of the projects that have been building up over the stuffed summer days. Speaking of which, here’s a blurry picture of the good ol’ Wall of Balloons drawing in pencil form:
And back to a few sentences ago, the amazing array of unexpected experiences New York provided has me aboard an old and oft-rode trainmobiile of thought. There is something magical in the space between. In gaps. Gaps in expectation, in perception, between sequentially placed images (oh yes, really?).
A few summers ago, back in Alaska, I had a number of experiences that really left a deep impression on me. One was going to a party at an acquaintance’s cabin – this is in the middle of the woods in Alaska – and finding a huge concrete skateboard bowl. Another was being lead by my friend Nick Meurlott around a wooded, car-corpse-studded ridge to the bank of a hill beside the Parks Highway, to a perfectly circular natural sinkhole. At the time i had never seen or heard of anything like it, and its precise geometry seemed freakish and unnatural. We lowered ourselves into the ten or so foot hole using some exposed tree roots. At the bottom, there was a small cave entrance winding off into the side of the ridge. I can’t imagine this was in any way safe, but we took turns squeezing into the cave entrance, around a tight little corner of crumbling mud, and into a small cavern. In that dank little room under a mountain of earth there was a seat worked into the dirt, with a filthy piece of blue foam for a cushion. All around the throne were little ledges carved into the walls, with candles setting atop them like it was some sacred site of worship. After my turn inside, i squirmed out, breathed long and deep and thankful as i thought of the tons of precarious dirt that had just been suspended over my, and climbed back up the roots into the normal world with it’s trees, and sunlight and cars zooming by.
We all carry in our minds a subconsciously understood perimeter of reality — a loose map of what is possible, circumscribing the vast array of things, both expected and unexpected, that might happen at any given moment. Every so often something from outside this circle shouts loud enough to call our attention, and suddenly our maps shrivel and burn out of existance. Sometimes these events can be tragic; in these two instances they were magic.
I’ve been reading a lot about writing recently, and it has been becoming more and more clear just how important opening gaps in both the readers and the characters expectations is. The world is beautiful whether or not we understand it, but it’s these forceable deviations from the known that compel our interest, our desire to find out what happens next. We humans compulsively guess what happens next; we take what we know, and interpolate what happens next to find out what’s happening in that gap.
Sometimes we make mistakes. While not exactly the same principle, the phenomena of change blindness is facinating:
Most of the time our brains are correct, but doesn’t that make it all the more disorienting when they’re not? It seems to me that this principle holds true in the battleground of human communication as well. I’ve noticed that when an astute, intelligent person who is used to being correct, is not, s/he is apt to react more poorly then someone who is less confident in their knowledge. So easy to trip over that gap.
All right, so here’s an example of a rather different approach to digging into the gap, by venerable mr. Akira Toriyama:
aaaand there’s the typical samurai-film clash, beat for beat. A few pages later, however…
What can happen in that space between? ennathin!
Now for some sketchbook pages:
Quick comics availability update — you can now purchase my comics in:
Hello, and good thanks to everyone who came and comixed, and especially those who lent a hand or paw (mustn’t exclude denizens of the dear old abbey)!
It was a battle with the sun’s re-surfacing, but all in all, wall of balloons saw a small but steady stream of visitors come by and participate in the fun. I’ll try and get a more fully-formed recap of a post up soon, but for now I’ll just toss a few pictures from Jamie‘s blog up, and link you to his already-written recap. Apparently we were on TV as well (i was interviewed in any case, though i didn’t see the story), and Julie Stricker from the newsminer wrote an article.
(by the way, the event page has been archived if you start to feel homesick)
Dawson Arthur, crawling from his comics historian chrysalis
marta and nick – two of the biggest factors in making this thing work, and work well – and me (center).
Lucas Elliot teaching The Way
The next few weeks will be packed as Marta and i attempt to fit all of Alaska into her eyes before we head back to the east coast, so i can’t promise that updates will be running regularly quite yet, but i’ll try to wipe my dripping thoughts on this web-kerchief as close to once a week as i can manage anyhow (and of course, new under mind will still be up weekly).
In addition to more scavenged photos (hopefully including some of Jeffrey & Jack Lewis‘ shows – they were soo good), i plan to get the contents of our event ‘program’ up here, probably as a downloadable PDF. It is essentially a mini-zine crashbang course on comics, complete with a recommended reading list, basic storytelling, basic comxing, and drawing tips. I also plan to have a modified version of it with me at future zine fairs and the like, so be sure to stop byn the next time i’m tabling somewhere.
T-SHIRTS! There are still t-shirts available! If you like reading, or know someone who does, check them out (see above for tri-modelled picture). Will have them available on the shop once that is more than a shell, but for now, as with everything, just send an email to email@example.com. $15 + shipping for these screen-printed and soft removable nakedness-removers! I’ve also got a handful of the limited (edition of 20) event prints still available for $5 a piece. The goods:
I’ve been thick, thick in this wall of balloons, and the days are counting down till we get to share it with alla you! In the meantime and the nicetime, I just wanted to give you all some quick updates before diving back into the planning.
First off, we’ve got a near complete list of the who that will be running our various programming:
Introducing Comics - my friend and local comixdude about town Dawson Arthur will be opening our scheduling, and then…
Everyone Can Draw - Lucas Eliott will be teaching our drawing workshop. If you’re in Fairbanks and enjoyed the official t-shirts for this last weekend’s Midnight Sun Festival, then you’re already a fan of his work.
Everyone Can Read Comics - The bigbig news in my life at the moment is that my lovelylovely lady Marta Chudolinska has braved the border and traveled all the way from Toronto to visit. Thankfully, we all get to benefit as she will be teaching on the subtle art of reading comics. Check out her wordless graphic novelin 90 linocuts from Ontario publisher The Porcupine’s Quill if you doubt her authority on the subject.
Everyone Can Make Comics - This’n will be me. Wear your hardhats, this is gonna be some heavy comiconstruction folks!
Also, it sounds like Jeffrey Lewis is going to give a presentation of his art after the “There’s More To Comics” panel – get pumped!
In related news… look! The aforementioned Alaska Comics Champion Jamie Smith wrote a thing, and so did fellow Alaskan and multiversitycomics.com associate editor David Harper right heeeeeeere. Keep your eyes on the newsminer as well!
Can’t have a comics event without comics, so i spent a chunk of today hanging out at the copy shop printing a fresh run of my various comics and prints , including a special limited edition just for this show — so be sure and stop by my table and take a look!
And here’s a little mockup i threw together of a shirt that, shipping be swift, will be here in time for the show as well:
Please note the change in nose shape from the pencil drawing i posted earlier. /sheepish
And on with the previews – here is a little teaser of the mural being installed:
Righto. As usual, there’s a new page of under mind up for you to look at. (of course you could just stop by on Saturday and buy the whole first issue…)
Enjoy the rest of your week, and be sure to stop by and slap five in the UAF Wood Center this Saturday!
I fought for three days to eat a bowl of icecream. And when i ate it, i ate it with a spoon full of peanut butter and nutella. Reesis inna spoon. Fill your spoon in said manner, then use the spoon to eat other food, carefully slorping off the top layer of peanutcocoyum… it’s transmogrification power rivals calvin’s most fabulous invention.
Which is to say
I been bussssy. Busy working on building a new wall… of balloons! The comic event mentioned in my last post has become “wall of balloons: a day of exploring comics.” Which you’re probably already aware of as the landing page of this site is currently the main internet home of the event. (alongside its facebook). If somehow you got here without traveling through that page, then simply click on the header image up there, and you should be taken to it. It’s pretty tiring to work a full day hammer-slinging and then come home to work on this thing until bed time, but (wo)maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan, i’m so PUMPED!
This is going to be the kind of event i would love to go to, and would love even more to find the equivalent of in another field that i’m less familier with. One thing i’m ferrally passionate about is sharing [pushing] comics on everyone around me. I’ve got comics currently lent out in at least Alaska, Vancouver, and Toronto, to all sorts of people, and i love it. I regularly fall into ideological angst over all of the things i so undeservedly and temporarily possess, and making sure that the things i own get used by as many people as i can often serves as a sort of middle ground between the various ideals i oscillate between. To this ends, my comic collection will serve as a reading library during the event. But that’s all on the surface. What really gets me zoomin is that i’ll be able share the core of this medium i love so much. I want to break thigns down so that anybody can be intellectually satisfied and creatively stimulated by comic books!
And did i mention that JEFFREY LEWIS is going to be playing at this thing. dood-o-rama-knee, judges, luke!
You’ve already seen the main postercetra art i made for the event, but i’m currently working on extending that drawing for some potential shirts/bags i’d like to get made in time for the show. Here’s part of the rough pencils:
Now, i know i’ve been going on about how much time this is all taking (and really, none of the above was an exageration), but i do manage to fit in some awesome fun stuff, like helping to build and then sail this! —–>
And where peepsoul gather to speak about comics, neato extemporaneous collaborations manifest, such as this one drawn at Nazareth after TCAF by myself, m’lady love marta, Sophie Yanow (who was there on marta and my first proto-date!), and Kevin Czapiewski, another cartoonist i met at the Chicago Zine Fest really enjoyed getting to hang out with a bit more at Toronto Comics Art Festival. This whole comics community is a great place to be.
and here’s a “Happy TCAF!” card i made to hand out at the show and have been meaning to post
I’ve been reading comics voraciously for most of my life, and it seems that no matter how much i read, nor how hard i try to cover all of my historical bases, there are still gaping holes in my comics knowledge. Which of course means brilliant new stuff to discover, so rockrockrocksteady. For example, Druillet is old news to most educated comixfolk, but to me, his crazy designerly layouts from this old Heavy Metal i found at BMV blows me away. I’ll post more later.
okok, i should wrappel this up.
Here’s something i made for my hard-loving mother on mothers day
And don’t forget to read the latest page of under mind, and check out the preview of my other comics i finally put up here.