Archive for ‘Community’

Life’s Reminders

Drawing of Dwayne McDuffie by Denys Cowan

News of the untimely death, from surgical complications, of comics and animation writer Dwayne McDuffie burned through the news wires yesterday. A real shock (he was only in his late forties) and the loss of a strong and unique voice in the comics community.

This has been a week filled with reminders of how fragile life is, and the many ways the “real world” can intrude on our cozy, screen-filled worlds. Emails arrived from Iran and Egypt that helped put a face on conditions/recent events there (one on new business, one on old). I remembered talking to Dylan Horrocks just last week about his conversations with people in the thick of it, thinking how disconnected I was.

And, as many of you heard, there was another serious quake in Christchurch, New Zealand right after we left the country. If you’d like to contribute to efforts there, here are some details. Jason Webley was there for a concert and Amanda Palmer was on her way to Christchurch, so it was a little harder to keep it all at arms-length, having just seen them both.

Us nerds like to escape from the world through stories. But, inevitably, the rest of the world is going to come knocking. And, as McDuffie made clear for decades, any story can be richer when we throw the doors open and let the whole world in.

The Plot Thickens…

Okay, it’s a bit short on details, but why do I get the feeling that things are about to get very interesting out there?

Back home from our first-ever visit to New Zealand and the family (Ivy, Sky, and I, with the role of Winter being played by Sky’s friend Kendra) had a fantastic time.

Webstock was top notch. Hung out with and loved performances by Amanda Palmer and Jason Webley, met great brains like David McCandless, Peter Sunde, and Tom Coates, played Werewolf for the first time (Go, Villagers!), and had lots of good food and good conversations.

Wellington is a beautiful city. We’re so adding it to The List (our friends will know what I mean).

Big shout out to the 40 or so wonderful cartoonists we met this weekend in both Wellington and Auckland. You guys rock.

And thanks of course to Dylan Horrocks, ambassador for the Kiwi comics nation, our host in Auckland with his adorable family, and one of our favorite people in all of comics.

Back to the drawing board!

[video link via @modernlovecomic]

Doodle 4 Google

Many of you may have already heard the news last week about Doodle 4 Google, and one of the best-known companies on Earth hardly needs me to herald their press releases (well, maybe that once), but this looks like such a fun contest I want to make sure you all get the details—especially if you have kids.

I’ll be one of nine guest judges (along with Whoopi Goldberg, Jim Davis, Jeff Kinney, Beverly Cleary, and some other truly cool people) and there’ll be an exhibit of the 40 finalists at the Whitney this spring.

I love kid’s art. DC had me help judge a cereal box competition many years ago and it was one of my fondest memories from that period. I can’t wait to see what America’s kids have in store this time.

Go with the Flow

Here’s a great flowchart comic about link sharing from H Coldwell Tanner and Roscott.

There should be more flowchart comics! These things are cool.

[link via shidoshi & wohali]

Back on Dry Land

Ivy holding a baby alligator on the Everglades Saturday, after her birthday cruise.

For years, Ivy and I have wanted to celebrate her birthday with a Cruise, and for her 50th last week we did just that. Luckily for us, one of the nerdiest cruises to ever sail the seas came along just in time.

The JoCo Cruise Crazy was a great week of on-ship entertainment featuring Jonathan Coulton and several other nerd demi-gods including John Hodgman, Peter Sagal, Molly Lewis, Wil WheatonBill Corbett & Kevin MurphyPaul and StormMike Phirman and others. Over 24 hours of programming and never a dull moment.

I was already indebted to Jonathan and John for taking time out at Neil Gaiman’s 50th birthday party in New Orleans last month to comfort Ivy when I was rushed off to the hospital. They both remembered her as well on the cruise, and we got to spend some extra time talking to John, Bill and Kevin, who are comics fans in addition to being all around nice guys, and incredibly funny.

Also on the ship were two webcartoonists, David Willis (who was celebrating his honeymoon with the lovely Maggie) and evil genius David Rees. Rees’ comedy was a thing of wonder. As our hero Peter Sagal put it: “I don’t know what he does, but he does it really well.”

(Willis was wearing an Axe Cop shirt when he met Sagal, btw, and Sagal recognized it right away. NERD! <3 )

Watch for Ivy’s two part write-up on the cruise at her blog later in the day. She’ll have a lot more detail than me.

I’m returning to blogging today after an extended winter break. A lot has happened in the world of comics in the last couple of weeks, some of which I hope to get to in the next few days, but for now, I hope you all had a great New Year celebration—and will have a great year to go with it.

Redirecting Warm Wishes…

I’m back home from the hospital and New Orleans (see last two posts). I’ll be updating a bit erratically while I make up for lost time, but know that as long as I keep on the meds and take care of that stubborn kidney stone after this week’s Stanford lecture, I should be fine.

I was kinda proud that my “celiac artery dissection” was consistently described as “rare” and “unusual.” I wouldn’t want to get knocked flat by some mainstream, run-of-the-mill disorder you could pick up at a three-for-one sale at WalMart.

Meanwhile, please redirect all warm wishes to Randall Monroe who’s struggling with a more serious condition in his family this month. Randall’s wit, intellect, and imagination have been a great treasure for all his readers, and I know we all wish him and his loved ones better days ahead.

The REAL Future of Comics

New York based Raina Telgemeier recently blogged some adorable photos of school and library visits she did here in California on behalf of the terrific “dental drama” Smile. I defy anyone to read the post and not smile just as widely as Raina and her growing family of young readers.

Reading it drove home for me again (see previous post) what an enormous opportunity every cartoonist has to translate their own experiences and interests into comics and find or even create new readers, based on the subject of that work.

One reader emailed me from a Therapy Center simply because she’d heard there was a comic explaining Crohn’s Disease (there is; it was a 24-hour comic by Tom Humberstone who suffers from the condition). Crohn’s disease affects between 400,000 and 600,000 people in North America alone (thanks, Wikipedia). Why the Hell WASN’T there a comic about Crohn’s disease until now??

Whole markets can be created out of thin air when the right subject strikes. Gan Golan (one of my 2003 seminar students at MIT) made a name for himself collaborating on the political parody Good Night Bush in ’08. Now he’s now teamed up with several other great talents to create Unemployed Man and he’s had no trouble getting coverage on CNN and a zillion other press outlets—not because of some surge in interest in the comics artform—but because Gan and co-creator Erich Origen have zeroed in on a topic with a potential target audience in the millions.

The beauty of this kind of outreach is that it only adds to the base of comics readers, and rarely do these efforts cannibalize each other. Barry Deutsch’s fantastic orthodox Jewish adventure Hereville isn’t competing for readers with the Bertrand Russell stories in Logicomix, or with XKCD, or with Persepolis. Each one is its own little community of readers, some of whom may have never read a comic before, but ALL of whom are now one comic deeper into this medium we’d all like to see grow.

Are you a cartoonist?

Are you passonate about something? Anything?

Are there others that share your passion?

Do those “others” number in the thousands?

Tens of thousands?


Oh, The Internet, We Can’t Take You Anywhere…

Okay, so Tuesday of last week, Kate Beaton put up a comment via her Twitter handle in 4 parts:

dear internet, you are well meaning, but I’d like to make a point.

when you tell a female creator you like her work so much you want to marry her and have her babies, you’re not doing anyone any favors

first of all, as cute as it sounds in your head, it’s a shitty, disrespectful ‘compliment.’ No one makes comics looking for sexual attention

secondly, by doing so you invite others to critique that person’s works based on their looks, which is uncomfortable, sexist and unfair.

There was a blizzard of responses (including a bunch of negative comments by males, apparently) that sparked a wider discussion about sexism in comics, and on Friday, Gabby Schulz put up a very funny comic about the whole thing.

It has 666 comments as of this writing (no joke!) and they make for some bracing/revealing/funny/depressing reading; sometimes devolving into YouTube-level depravity.

It’s important, before you open Pandora’s Box and go to the comic that you understand a few things that seem to confuse people:

1. Gabby is a guy (who sometimes goes by “Ken Dahl,” though that’s actually a pen name).

2. The comic is fiction. Also funny. It’s not meant to be picked apart like a court transcript.

3. Beaton is right.

It may be true that men and women have traditionally adopted different styles of communication and there are some men who might have reacted differently if roles had been reversed, but now that you know it’s offensive to say such things, it’s kind of ridiculous to argue the point.

It offends. Now you know. Act accordingly.

It’s not rocket science.

[Edit to Add: As some of our comments have pointed out, the 'babies' line was just an example, and a mild one at that. There have been far worse, and it's a pattern reported by several other female cartoonists.]

The Day in Review

Two more 24-Hour Comics Day links to consider, now that this year’s event is in the rear-view mirror.

Sean Michael Robinson offers a thoughtful look at the phenomenon, his own experience in Seattle, and improvisation in comics here.

Pay special attention to the paragraph on our daily impediments to focus and see if you can’t relate. “Iron swimsuit” indeed…

Meanwhile, the video (from 2008) in this blog entry about 24-Hour Comics Day in Amsterdam, just made me smile from ear to ear.

You don’t need to know Dutch to recognize the language of creativity, camaraderie, and comics. Wish I could have been there.

What Things Do

Jordan Crane has a new website up filled with great comics called What Things Do.

It includes stories by Crane himself, as well as art by USS Catastrophe alumni like Kevin Huizenga, Ted May, and Dan Zettwoch.

Crane’s recent Vicissitude (above) is a good place to start. Cool storytelling and a zillion well-placed spot blacks.

[Thanks to Alec Longstreth for catching this morning's crazy typo, "Justin" Crane. Oy. Senior moment there.]