Southern California, Take Note

LAAFA 2-day Workshop

It’s that time again!

In February, I’ll be bringing the Two-Day Making Comics Workshop back to The Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art for a fifth year.

14 hours of everything I can teach you through lectures and hands-on exercises. An intense look at the art of telling stories visually.

The workshops welcome everyone from experienced artists to stick figure beginners. We have a great time every year, and everybody learns a lot, including me.

Here’s the link to SIGN UP. As always, availability is limited. See you in February!

It’s That Time Again


Comic-Con 2015 is around the corner!

I’m a special guest this year so the whole family is coming down to sunny San Diego once again.

Winter was born immediately following Con in 1995. She pointed out the other day that she’d been to every single day of Con held during her lifetime. So Wednesday’s Preview Night is a must, to say the least…


Thursday, July 9 • 1:30pm – 2:30pm
First Second: What’s in a Page?
Led by First Second editorial director Mark Siegel, four cartoonists take a close look at their own work and each other’s, looking in depth at the text and art in a single page of comics, and what’s hidden under the surface: panel structure, emotional complexity, and creative influences. With Scott McCloud (The Sculptor), Rafael Rosado (Dragons Beware!), Aron Steinke (The Zoo Box), and Gene Luen Yang ( Secret Coders).
Room 4

Thursday, July 9 • 2:30pm – 3:30pm
Comics Arts Conference #4: Eisner vs. Eisner: The Spirit at 75
Panelists Scott McCloud (Understanding Comics), Michael Uslan (Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice), Trina Robbins ( Pretty in Ink: American Women Cartoonists 1896-2013), Karen Green (Columbia University), Jared Gardner (Ohio State University), and moderator Danny Fingeroth (Disguised as Clark Kent: Jews, Comics and the Creation of the Superhero) discuss the two major phases of Will Eisner’s career. Beginning with the 1940 creation of his iconic character the Spirit, used by Eisner to tell stories of sophistication and depth, the discussion will then shift to his 1970s reinvention of comics, catalyzing the literary comics movement with A Contract with God, the first of many graphic novels he’d create.
Room 26AB


Friday, July 10 • 10:00am – 11:00am
Spotlight on Scott McCloud
Text and images-the combination of these two is what makes a comic. But how do you move beyond that simple fusion to create a true story, with characters, plot, and narrative depth? Renowned, best-selling authors Scott McCloud (The Sculptor) and Gene Luen Yang (Secret Coders) discuss what goes on behind the scenes when telling stories in graphic novel form, as well as the creative development of McCloud’s bestselling graphic novel The Sculptor.
Room 9

Friday, July 10 • 11:30pm – 1:30pm
Signing at the First Second Booth
Booth 1323


Saturday, July 11 • 12:30pm – 2:00pm
Signing at the First Second Booth
Booth 1323

Saturday, July 11 • 4:00pm – 5:15pm
Signing at the CBLDF Booth
Booth 1918


Sunday, July 12 • 12:00pm – 1:00pm
Signing at the HarperCollins Booth
Booth 1029

Stop by and say Hi if you can make it! Larry Marder always said it’s the “gathering of the tribes” and so it is. And the gathering is bigger than ever.

convention center

England • Germany • France • Belgium • The Netherlands • Spain • Italy • Canada • & the U.S.!


Okay, next up!

I’ve updated the sidebar at right with details about our national and international travel in the next couple of months.

Some of the mini-tours overseas are still waiting on specifics, but I’ll add details to the sidebar as they come in. Meanwhile, here’s a summary in plain English.

First it’s The U.K. and Germany (details soon). Then I fly home for the visual lecture at Wittenberg University on March 16, while Ivy heads back to the U.K. to cool her heels.

Next, we rendezvous in Paris for the Book Fair, as well as stops in Lyon and in Brussels.

From there we head back to the States, and drive to three schools to perform the visual lecture: Mississippi State University, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Rutgers University Camden (details TBA).

Then, I’ll be a special guest at the MoCCA Festival in New York before we fly to the Netherlands, Spain, and Italy. THAT is all in March and April.

But then, with May comes the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF), and in July, Comic-Con International in San Diego—special guests at both. Hope you can make at least one, they’re great shows!

That’s our crazy 2015 so far. Let’s see how much crazier it will be by the time it’s done. And remember to contact me if you’d like the big visual lecture to come to your school or organization.


Sculptor Tour

The Sculptor drops February 3 and we’re hitting the ground running with the official First Second U.S. Tour of 14 cities in 16 days, followed by six additional European tours in support of our foreign editions, plus presentations in at least four additional American cities; all in just three months (February, March, and April).

So if you can get to New York City, Portland ME, Boston, Washington DC, Houston, Austin, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Portland OR, Seattle, Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Lansing MI, Huntington Beach CA (details at right), Burlington VT, Mississippi, Richmond VA, Springfield OH (details soon), or one of our multiple locations in England, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the Netherlands (details soon), I hope I’ll have the pleasure of meeting you in the next 100 days.

Meanwhile, plans are heating up fast for summer, fall, and winter, with major convention announcements in the offing and even more appearances springing up around the world.

Most of our official publisher-sponsored tour stops (see above and at right) will be conversational, improvised events with some visuals included, focused on my graphic novel.

Meanwhile I’m also scheduling the big visual lecture throughout the year. That one is the huge fast-moving presentation on comics and visual communication which will be steadily evolving all year (I’ve developed a special interest in some of the broader issues of visual education, but more on that later). If your school or other organization would like to get info on THAT opportunity, feel free to drop me a line.

Regardless of where it happens, let’s meet soon. We have A LOT to talk about!


Looking Back: A Strange, Wonderful 2014

[Above: Ivy and a Shanghai skyline from last month's two-week trip to China]

2014 was the year that I finally finished my giant graphic novel The Sculptor after five years in hibernation, but even though the book was completely out of my hands by June, the rest of the year has been a weird limbo-like waiting game, since the thing doesn’t actually hit the shelves until February 3.

Still, my idea of “limbo” (like my idea of “hibernation”) isn’t entirely normal. To outward appearances, I’ve actually been quite active. Here’s a quick rundown of some of our 2014 adventures, in roughly chronological order…

January: Flying to Tennessee to meet the 36 students I’d be teaching at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville from late February through the beginning of May. I’m joined by fellow teacher Kell Black, set to teach the first half of the class while I head back to California to frantically work on both The Sculptor and my edition of Best American Comics (with series editor Bill Kartalopoulos). Meanwhile, we frantically start putting all our worldly possessions in boxes in preparation for a move. Sky and Winter head back north to UC Santa Cruz and San Francisco State respectively.

February: “The busiest month of our lives” held that title for only two months since May was probably busier, but it was an impressive month just the same. First, we continued packing like crazy. Next, I flew to Amsterdam for an IxDA conference in a giant converted gas factory. Then back to Southern California, arriving at the apartment at 2:30 am to get ready for the movers who would be arriving at 8:00 am (Surprise—they were early, haha). 90% of our stuff goes into storage, and we drop a bed at Ivy’s parents’ house. Then, we drive up the coast to Marin Academy for two lectures and about ten class visits, then back “home” to pack the little stuff that we can move ourselves, then fly to Orlando for the InControl conference and a side trip to Disney World. Ivy flies home to finish getting the apartment cleaned despite feeling sick as a dog, and I fly to Tennessee to teach my first classes, plus a public lecture, while taking up residence at a local La Quinta.

March: I teach my class on Tuesdays and Thursdays. A massive snowstorm and spring break gives me space to really concentrate on the book and I finally finish principal art on The Sculptor. At this point, all that’s left is corrections—oh, and completely restructuring and rewriting the first 50 pages or so, because I didn’t think they were good enough anymore. Ivy and our neurotic rescue dog Bucky join me and we have lots of magnificent, fattening local food. We’re also joined by Pendleton Ward, who I’ve invited to give a guest lecture during my residency. Bucky growls at Pen every time he gets in the car, but Pen vows to pet the dog before he leaves, and this he does without incident on the last day. Bucky is all growl no bite as Pen suspected.

April: My students continue to be delightful, curious, funny, and attentive. We do a ton of lectures, exercises, and critiques, and they brilliantly dissect City of Glass during a book club segment, teaching me things even I didn’t know about the book. We have two more guest speakers: Ryan Germick, head of the Google Doodle team (and a former one-time student of mine at a one-week workshop at MCAD 12 years prior—as was Pen Ward), and all-ages comics superstar and friend Raina Telgemeier. We also take a side trip to Philadelphia to teach a weekend workshop and lecture at University of the Arts.

May: Ivy and I bid a fond farewell to Kell and my students in Clarksville and begin our drive home to Southern California (starting with a three-hour drive in the wrong direction to visit an awesome family in Knoxville, but that’s another story). On the way home, I’m still unpacking my massive desktop computer and Cintiq at every hotel as I put the finishing touches on the corrected final art for The Sculptor. Or maybe it was the cover? There were a lot of different finish lines to cross. Anyway, we get home, drop off Bucky, then drive north to San Francisco where I’m keynoting a Google conference in a San Francisco Marriott (with no url apparently, ’cause it was internal), then we park the car in San Jose, fly to Manhattan, I deliver a lecture at Bloomberg, then another lecture the very next day for New York-based IxDA members. Then we fly back to San Jose, hop in the car, drive to Houston for a lecture at the Contemporary Art Museum, as well as a panel at a local convention featuring artist Trenton Doyle Hancock and me in conversation, then a drive to Atlanta where I deliver yet another lecture, this time for the good folks at MailChimp. We’re joined by Winter, who’s out of school now, get some awesome MailChimp swag, then borrow their Pantone swatch book (a favor for which I will be eternally grateful), select the all-important second color for the book, and drive home by way of the Grand Canyon, which I get to experience for the first time (it was big and impressive and I want to go back).

June: Back home and in the studio. Send out the final final final final final final files for The Sculptor and go over proofreading, pagination stuff, etc. Otherwise, enjoy some much needed rest.

July: Comic-Con! Great panel with Gene Luen Yang, and a last-minute panel about my graphic novel that won’t be out for a million years at that point.

August: I teach my annual two-day workshop in Los Angeles. Most of the rest of the month is spent sitting around feeling frustrated that my book won’t be out for a million years.

September: Ivy, Winter and I attend Seeing Knowing, a conference at Berkeley, as research for my next book on the subject of visual communication. Winter heads back to school, I fly cross-country for a lecture at Georgia Southern University, then back home, then Ivy and I drive to San Diego again, this time for an event at their gorgeous new library, co-sponsored by Comic-Con, where Larry Marder, Charles Brownstein and I discuss the history of “dangerous” comics in commemoration of Banned Books Week.

October: Off to the NAM Festival in Palencia, Spain for a lecture, a three-day workshop, and lots of great food and adventures with new and old friends. Then, only a few days later, Best American Comics 2014 hits the shelves, and we fly (inappropriately enough) to the Lakes Festival in England, where we have even more wonderful adventures, and meet even more new and old friends. Flying back to LAX, we check into a hotel in Los Angeles, and meet professor Henry Jenkins for an onstage conversation for USC/Annenberg.

November: Home for a week, then it’s back on the road. Ivy and I drive to Kansas State University for a lecture, then Kansas City Missouri for lectures at Universal UClick and Hallmark headquarters respectively. Then we park the car at Kansas City airport, fly to Los Angeles for just one day (gotta do laundry sometime!) and off to Shanghai. Our trip to China lasts for two weeks, and includes four different international schools with lectures and class visits for over a thousand kids. After that, we fly back to LA and return to Kansas City to fetch the car, driving west once again.

December: Ivy and I swing by Comic Arts Los Angeles, a brand-new show that everybody enjoyed tremendously. Then, a few days later, it’s off to Santiago, Chile for a literature festival and more great food (most of it Peruvian, admittedly) and new friends, then back home for the last time this year. Then Hanukkah, Christmas, Ivy’s birthday, and here we are.

Happy New Year!

Every Which Way…

Charmed this morning by To Be Continued, a collaboration between Italian writer/artist Lorenzo Ghetti of delebile and German web designer Carlo Trimarchi.

After all these years, I guess we’re still in the early stages of test-driving different navigational modes for webcomics. I like how this one plays with different modes from chapter to chapter. Probably confusing for new viewers, but the thing feels so crisp and user friendly, and the storytelling is so sharp, I could see readers staying on board for the long haul.

I took a really long break from webcomics to work on The Book. Fun stuff like this makes me want to dive back in.

[Thanks to gio for the heads-up]

Designing for the Device

The hardcover edition of The Sculptor will finally be on sale February 3, 2015. But already, I can see I’ll have a frequently-asked question: “Will there be a digital version?”

It’s a reasonable question, and the short answer is Yes. As far as I know, there’ll be versions available for tablets and other devices. I’m grateful to First Second for standing by me during those five long years while we busted ass to make this the best book we could, and anything that helps them break even sooner is okay by me. Also, if readers are hoping for a more affordable option, I realize that digital sometimes has its advantages.

But on a creative level, I frankly couldn’t care less about any digital repurposing of this one. This book is designed for print and as far as I’m concerned, the paper and ink version will always be the “real” version.

I believe passionately in designing for the device, and in this case, the device was a BOOK. If I was designing for digital, as I have in the past, I would have been just as passionate about taking full advantage of that environment—and just as apathetic about any lazily repurposed print version.

The idea of any artist in any medium feeling they have to castrate their work to suit multiple formats makes me kinda sick. I hated it when newspaper editors/syndicated started requiring strip cartoonists to make an entire third of their Sunday comics disposable. I hated it when movie makers starting avoiding any local idioms or a strong sense-of-place for international markets. I hate it when webcomics embrace shitty online formats for the sake of future print collection—or vice versa.

I spent years talking about the limitations of print. With The Sculptor, I was able to finally work within those limitations knowingly and create something I hope benefitted from that tension and strained against those limits in a creative and interesting way. In only 6 weeks, I hope my readers find that struggle worthwhile, and I hope they’ll have that experience with a book in their hands.

Kansas State: November 2

kansas state logo

Attention, Kansans!

Be sure to join me Sunday November 2 at Kansas State University for a Free Public Lecture.

And check out the sidebar for some more travels, including China and Chile in the next several weeks.

I’m staying home in January (well, maybe) but then things really heat up February 3 when The Sculptor comes out and Ivy and I go back on the road big time.

Look for a ton of U.S. appearances in February and multiple events in at least six European countries in March and April.

2015 is going to be amazing. Look for more news shortly.

Attn: Southern California

Los Angeles Workshop

This August, I’ll be bringing the Two-Day Making Comics Workshop back to The Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art for a fourth year.

14 hours of everything I can teach you through lectures and hands-on exercises. An intense look at the art of telling stories visually. More info on my seminars here.

The workshops welcome everyone from experienced artists to stick figure beginners. We have a great time every year, and everybody learns a lot, including me.

I just wrapped up two months teaching an expanded workshop at Clarksville Tennessee’s Austin Peay State University so I’ll have lots of new stuff to share. Wish me luck cramming it all in.

Here’s the link to SIGN UP. As always, availability is limited. See you in August!


Oh! And see the sidebar for more upcoming events. Now that I’m finally back from my long hibernation—and YES, done with the book—look for a big blog post soon with a round-up of recent and upcoming developments. It’s going to be a very interesting year.

Notes from Hibernation #3

Still working hard on the graphic novel through this fall, so this blog will continue to be pretty quiet for a while. Panel at left from a recent page (yeah, I know, not much to go on!).

If you’re curious about the GN, here are the posts that’ve mentioned it so far (scroll to the bottom to read in order—it’ll look like nothing’s happened at first, but that’s just ’cause this post is one of them). Feel free to laugh at me for my original guesses at the completion date. (It’s taken, um… a bit longer.)

I’ve updated the sidebar regarding some upcoming trips. Norway, Comic-Con, Belgium, Ball State, and Mount Holyoke, all in the sights for summer and fall; with more to come in the spring.

Missed between updates was a fun visit to Blizzard Entertainment, just last week. Thanks to the whole gang there for a great pair of events.

As always, I’ll be posting random thoughts and links mostly via Twitter. Follow me, and you can be annoyed on a more regular basis.

Have a great spring/summer/fall. I’ll have plenty to say when I crawl back out from the shadows later this year!