Archive for April, 2009

Speaking of Ms. Beaton…

This was pretty much our experience with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as well (during our drive through B.C. on the way down from Alaska in 2007). A fine, polite fellow was our Mountie.


Off to New York for the seminar and reference photos for the GN.

Hm. Must blog something…

Ooh—Kate Beaton collection! There. That was easy.

The Fringe of the Fringe

Nawlz has been around for a while, but in case you haven’t seen it yet, it’s pretty much the quintessential experimental webcomic. Weird, dissonant, and relentlessly inventive.

I sometimes joke that my early experiments in webcomics put me in comics’ “lunatic fringe” but it’s nice to know that there are artists like Sutu out there that make my scribblings look tame by comparison. He tells me he may release a graphic novel follow-up including the first chapters on DVD, so I guess all the walls between print and web are tumbling down if a strange beast like Nawlz can cross the line.

Meanwhile, Mr. Rowland points us to MS Paint Adventures and an entirely different sort of experiment with cartoons and interactivity. Simple on its face, but not so much when it sucks you in.

Experiments in any medium are like a blind man tapping about with a cane, finding the shape of his surroundings. His peers, comfortably sitting still on the couch, can dismiss the dead-ends and stubbed toes that result, but every once in a while a vast new room of possibilities opens up.

I’m sitting still myself while working on the graphic novel, but I’m grateful for the sound of tapping all around me.


Dylan Meconis began her webcomic about vampires in the French Revolution back in high school, but you’d never know it from the smart, funny writing and accomplished artwork.

Now we can finally own it as a book so all is right in print as it is in pixels.

Also out this month (with a considerably bigger spine) is Tatsumi’s monumental A Drifting Life which I’ve been reading with great interest. Early in the book, the young cartoonist meets his hero, Osamu Tezuka, still in med school, but already a Manga sensation. I’d pulled over in my car to a shady spot to read a bit, and it made me think about how I’d been influenced by Tezuka, and had the pleasure of meeting some of my own heroes like Eisner when I was just starting out.

Starting to drive again, I realized that I was about to pass the cemetery where Jack Kirby was buried. I pulled in, parked, and picked up a small stone.

Dylan Meconis was in late elementary school when Jack Kirby died, and barely out of kindergarten when we lost Tezuka, but their genetic traces run through almost anyone making comics in America today, whether they realize it or not. It’s a long, long lineage, and it’ll be longer still with any luck.

Two Scrollers

Courtesy of the New York Times this week, Maira Kalman’s And the Pursuit of Happiness is an enjoyable meditation on laws and those who preside over them.

And since Kalman’s comic is presented in one big scroll, it gives me a hook to also link to Dash Shaw’s gargantuan scrolling Bodyworld webcomic (completed earlier this year) which I’ve been meaning to blog about for awhile.

In principle, I always liked the idea of putting comics all together on one page; the idea being that readers could just hit a button or touch their scroll wheel and just use that one method to move all the way from beginning to end. I used the format myself a lot in my early webcomics.

It saddens me, though, to note that the big drawback of scrolling in the early days still hasn’t gone away after all these years. Most browsers still update images every few pixels while scrolling so that the entire page flickers and jitters all the way down until it stops. Dude, it’s 2009! Why does scrolling still hurt my eyes?

Ah, well. Still holding out for multi-touch laptops that scroll like iPhones. We’ll see…

New York, Toronto, Barcelona—and Drawing, Drawing, Drawing

Still catching my breath after China, but three more trips loom in the next five weeks. First Manhattan for the two-day seminar. Then Toronto, where the whole family will be joining me for TCAF, a show we’ve wanted to do for a while and which we’re all very much looking forward to. Then I’ll be swinging by Barcelona for the 27th Annual Comics Festival there.

Despite a busy spring, my travel schedule will cool down for the rest of the year as I focus increasingly on my new graphic novel for First SecondThe Sculptor. In fact, the Manhattan seminar will be doubling as reference-taking for that story which takes place in New York City.

We announced The Sculptor before the blog relaunched, and I haven’t written much about the project here because it’s still in the very early stages, but hardly a minute goes by at home or abroad when I’m not thinking about it. As exciting as China was, I couldn’t wait to get back to the studio and resume work on this story. I may be away for 12 out of the next 37 days, but I’ll be devoting the remaining 25 days—and the 1,000 days that follow it—to finally using everything I’ve learned in 25 years to tell a story I love, as clearly and effectively as I possibly can.

Shanghai Wrap-Up: The Side Trips!

Dude, that’s totally Sky on the Great Wall of China.

Though most of our journey to China took place in spectacular Shanghai, we decided since it was Sky’s 16th birthday to splurge a bit on a couple of brief side-trips.

First to the enchanting Hangzhou with our great hosts Mikey and Alyssa and new friends David and Kim, where, thanks to some light rain, we fulfilled every tourist photographer’s dream: To make China look as much like China as possible.

Then, of course, to stately Beijing, for the great triumvirate of all photo ops: Tiananmen Square, The Forbidden City, and of course, The Great Wall of China (a ringed section thereof with some extremely steep and intimidating climbs).

Sky and I are home now. We arrived in Los Angeles about 40 minutes before we left Shanghai. Efficient.

In honor of Earth Day, the world just got a little smaller for my daughter and I—and much, much bigger all at once.

[Note: I've added many photos to these sets since Wednesday afternoon. Also finally adding some captions to these albums]

Shanghai Part Three

Just time for a quick update to my photos. Our time in China has been amazing, but also left little time for blogging. Sorry about that.

All five of my lectures and all our class visits are now complete. We’re taking a weekend in beautiful Hangzhou with our fantastic hosts, Mikey and Alyssa, and new friends Dave and Kim, then off to Beijing for a couple of days before returning Wednesday.

Meanwhile, if you’re in Portland for The Stumptown Comics Festival, you can say hi to Ivy and Winter who are visiting this weekend. Give them a hug for us. We miss them!

Shanghai Part Two

Sky has uploaded some pictures and I’ve uploaded more of mine

Still hoping to get captions in, but for now… sleeeeeeep.

Winter and Neil

Since we’re celebrating Sky’s 16th, it should also be noted that 13 year-old Winter is having some fun via a class assignment, Twitter, LiveJournal and her “fairy godfather,” the esteemed Mr. Gaiman. Details here on her Livejournal page which, surprisingly I was able to view here at Shanghai International Community School, even though it was blocked elsewhere in the city.