Archive for January, 2010

That Trick Never Works

Dan Abram’s Geekosystem pinged me this morning, telling me I’d made some Top 30 Geeky Writers list, so I’m guessing the brand new site sent out a bunch of these emails in hopes that a lot of people on the list would link back to them.

Won’t work on me, though. I’m on to them.

Oh, wait…

(Actually, they put me next to Chabon and Mignola, so I shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth; that list would make one hell of a dinner party.)

I’m Sure it Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

I wasn’t checking Twitter much yesterday, but Ivy (my wife, not the comic book character this time) pointed out @BGFCentral‘s knowing tweet:

Only men talking in the video, only male hands using the product in the video. Yup. Explains the name.

Can’t comment on the product yet—haven’t tried it—though various specs sound a bit underwhelming if it’s going to be displaying full-sized comics spreads. I guess we’ll see.

[Video via Heidi]

Sarah Oleksyk’s Ivy

Just got the fifth and last installment of Sarah Oleksyk’s Ivy in the mail. Ivy sports confident storytelling and accomplished artwork that’s been getting better throughout the series. (Also gotta love the title, since it happens to be the name of the woman I love, but that’s neither here nor there).

I’ve been studying it for Oleksyk’s use of a middle tone with black and white artwork since I’ve been toying with similar approaches for my graphic novel. There’s something very warm and solid about the approach that I like. Seth does something similar in a lot of his books, though Oleksyk goes for more naturalistic contours to nice effect.

Each chapter of Ivy is available as a thick self-published “mini” (actually 8.5″ x 7″, folded-over legal sheets). You can contact the artist to buy the whole set of five books for $20 here. As a self-printed story clocking in at close to 200 pages, it’s a pretty good deal. You can also read an excerpt from the first volume here.

Oleksyk’s been at it for a while, but may be a relatively new name for many out there. Based on her continuing growth as an artist, I look forward to hearing the name with increasing frequency in the future.

Reasons to Smile

Raina Telgemeier’s graphic memoir for young readers Smile is set to drop a week from today. There’s a short excerpt here and you can even watch a youtube trailer for the book here.

Smile is a classic all-ages comic of a kind we don’t see nearly enough. Honest, funny, moving, and personal. And Telgemeier’s clear, smart storytelling rocks as always.

The potential for this sort of comic shouldn’t be underestimated. I’d wager that if you put copies of Smile in any orthodontist’s office in the country, they’d be read to pieces by that (admittedly captive) audience.

There are so many subjects that could benefit from this treatment. Of all the pleasures that fiction offers, few have had such a consistent track record of building reader loyalty as a sense of personal connection. It was one of the key ingredients in Manga’s meteoric rise in the late 20th Century. There were manga series targeted at virtually any job, sport, game, social situation, or personal trauma you could name. “Hey, there’s a comic about me!” is one hell of a selling point.

When I look at a class filled with would-be comics artists, I know that most if not all of them want to break into the market we have now. But not every new comic has to fit into a shelf that’s already there. Some have the potential to create a new shelves out of thin air. And we need new shelves.

Thanks, New York!

Talked to a lot of people on my latest fact-finding mission to New York as I head into the rewrite phase of my graphic novel.

One of them, Nathan Schreiber, I had the pleasure of meeting last week, so this is as good an excuse as any to plug his great comic Power Out (image above) now running at Act-I-Vate.

Shouts out as well to Dean HaspielSeth Kushner, Christopher IrvingMatt Madden, Jessica Abel, Tom Hart, Leela Corman, Jason Little, Myla Goldberg, Martha Thomases, John Tebbel, Mike Cavallaro, Becky Cloonan, Keith Mayerson, Laura Lee Gulledge, Simon Fraser, Nick Bertozzi, Joe Infurnari, Leland Purvis, Christine Zehner, Editor Supreme Mark Siegel, and everyone at Deep6 and XOXO.

I don’t think I’ve learned that much in one week since I first discovered gravity as baby. Thanks, everyone!

Awww… (+ Taking the Week Off)

I’m off on another fact-finding mission, so I’m taking a week off of blogging, but before I go, I’d like to add my whole family’s congratulations to Neil and Amanda on the official announcement of their engagement (and relief at not having to keep it a secret anymore)!

Real life takes some crazy random turns, but once in a while, fate seems to be paying attention. This one was meant to be.

(And of course, our hazy recollection that Sky introduced Neil to the music of the Dresden Dolls has been upgraded to family legend now that it seems it might have mattered in this ocean of dominoes.)

New Yorkers: Where do You Live? And Why?

As I’ve been working on my Manhattan and Brooklyn-based story from far away, I’ve been building a mental map of life in the city today, but it still has plenty of holes in it and it’s been a long, long time since I’ve lived there myself.

For anyone out there living in working in Manhattan and Brooklyn especially, I’d be curious to hear about the neighborhoods you live in and why you chose to live there.

[Note: No disrespect intended to Queens and the other boroughs (see first comment), the story just happens to take place mostly in those two. That said, I'd be curious to hear from all five boroughs just for the perspective.]

London in May

Just a quick note to say I’ll be attending UX London May 19-21st since I know such corporate shindigs need a little extra planning (and extra coaxing of the boss in most cases).

Had a great time visiting Skype’s London office in November, but while there, I had a number of queries about when I’d be lecturing in the area, since that event was a company-only thingey. So, now you know.

UX London has a lot of great speakers on the bill this year, not just me. Hope to see you there, both from the stage and as a fellow audience member.

In Praise of Mr. Steinberg

Comics critic Domingos Isabelinho recently took the comics blogosphere gently to task for not noticing a central influence on Mazzucchelli’s landmark Asterios Polyp: the art of Saul Steinberg.

It’s true. I failed to mention Steinberg in my own review of AP, but now that Isabelinho has pointed it out, it’s hard not to see.

I always loved Saul Steinberg’s work and was influenced by him myself at an early age, though it might be harder to spot in my work. Of all the cartoonists whose work I’ve enjoyed, no one else was as comfortable to wander the big triangle in search of a visual idea.

It was liberating for a draftsman with limited gifts (that would be me) to understand that art could communicate the way written language does, while simultaneously flirting with both resemblance and abstraction.

Steinberg’s art made the possibilities of the picture plane look near and accessible to anyone in the mood to pick up a pen. And so they are.

David Lloyd Sums it Up

Yeah, I’m going to follow Kurt’s lead here:

David Lloyd sums up the last ten years beautifully with the above image at the Beat’s year end survey.

I never cared much if my comics were made into movies in the past. Someday it might happen and I’ll buy something big, and go straight back to the drawing board, but I never viewed movies as a “step up” like some.

Still, it’s been encouraging to see the increasing deference our medium has earned as nerds of all types have clawed higher and higher in popular culture. And it’s refreshing to see at least a few comics benefit directly from the increased attention (Watchmen, 300, etc); reversing a long trend of comics movies selling movie tickets, but very few comics.

Waiting for progress in comics is like waiting for the hour hand on a clock. At any given time, it can feel like we’re standing still, but we’ve actually moved a lot in a fairly short time.

Or does that metaphor mean we’re just going in circles? Hm.