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Archive for ‘Family’


Old Man Gaiman

Neil in Ojai with Sky and Winter a few years ago

Our old—and I do mean OLD—friend Neil turns 50 years old today and the family and I are here in New Orleans to join in a little celebration tonight.

Some say that Mr. G isn’t like us mere mortals. That he doesn’t age the way we do. That he is impervious to the ravages of time and will wander the Earth millennia after the memories of all humankind have passed forever from this plane.

Well… maybe…

But don’t believe everything you hear.


15 Years and a Day

Yesterday, Winter celebrated her 15th Birthday with her friends, and today with the family so I won’t be posting much.

Ivy’s retelling of Winter’s legendary birth from last year is here, but if you’re short on time, the night was nicely summed up yesterday in two tweets.

Happy birthday, Winter!


The House that Patience Built

Back home from Comic-Con!

It felt like a very forward-looking Con to me, despite all the worries about impending doom in various markets.

Both Sky and Winter were among the thousand or so led by Edgar Wright out of Hall H on Thursday to see one of the first public screenings of you-know-what. Have yet to meet anyone who didn’t love it.

The four panels I was on went off without a hitch. After the fourth on Saturday, I talked for a long time to two teams of iPad comics creators about the challenges of that new platform, and was reminded of how young the mobile space still is.

Speaking of young, Ivy and I got to meet Juni Kibuishi for the first time (above—and yes, Ivy’s hair is purple again!). I watched his eyes watching everything and was reminded how unpredictable each generation of creative minds can be.

Raina Telgemeier’s terrific all-ages Smile sold out at the show. We talked at the First Second dinner about the dozen other subjects that deserved the comics treatment and what a difference Raina’s personal touch and wise storytelling choices made.

Of the hundred thousand plus who descended on San Diego last week, maybe a few hundred were aspiring young artists or writers making the journey for the first time.

It’s easy for a dedicated young artist to believe that if their work is good enough, it’ll rise and rise until they’re the ones at the Hall H microphones (or at least Ballroom 20) and it’s their characters being painted on the side of the Bayfront Hilton.

It’s also easy, after a few years of frustration, for even the best young cartoonists to believe that the system is rigged, and no matter how hard they work, there’ll be enormous obstacles put in their way that have nothing to do with the quality of their stories and art.

Both are true, of course. Good work will rise to its level AND the system is rigged. Which is why, if you want to find a common denominator among the success stories at San Diego, it’s patience.

For example, bookstore buyers don’t always understand Telgemeier’s Smile. The children’s comics market in bookstores is still immature and the obstacles for new authors are numerous and frustrating. But as soon as kids actually got their hands on the book (often through book fairs), it became a big hit. The book itself made all the difference.

One of the iPad hopefuls I talked to was Robert Berry whose Ulysses adaptation was originally rejected by Apple for nudity. It’s a smart, well-designed work that was nearly killed in the cradle, but its future actually looks pretty bright now that Apple was embarrassed into reversing their decision. Joyce’s legacy may deserve part credit for the reversal, but the quality of the work will carry it from here on.

And Scott Pilgrim for YEARS couldn’t get shelved in one of the biggest book chains in America. The “system” was truly rigged against it. Yet here we are.

Will Eisner insisted again and again that CONTENT would always drive the industry and the art form. No matter what happened at the retail, publishing, or distribution levels; it was what happened on the page and in the panels that would make all the difference.

I believe it more every year.


Understanding Parties!

Ivy throws me surprise parties once in a while. She’s brilliant at engineering surprises, but it’s almost wasted, because I’m pathetically easy to fool. (Imagine Ricky Jay doing card tricks for a cocker spaniel, seriously.)

Anyway, she pulled off another wonderful party Saturday, two days after my actual birthday, which was all it took to eliminate any suspicions on my part, because, well… see above. I’m dense. We had a fantastic time all the way into the wee hours.

Along with our great local pals, longtime friends Kurt Busiek, Larry Marder, and Barry Deutsch flew/drove/rode in for the occasion, and Larry and local legend Paul Smith even gave me some gorgeous original art! (Check it out!: Paul’s | Larry’s)

And then there was the cake! Yet another piece of great original art; quickly demolished, but no less appreciated.

Friends, Life, Wife: I love you.

Thanks. ^__^


Hey, They let you take Pictures!

Had a great time in London with Ivy last week. Thanks to all the great people at UXLondon (hosts, guests, and attendees all) and to the friends who came out on ridiculously short notice to see us.

Swung by the British Museum, among other sites, and was reminded that they allow picture-taking, so I went to town on the sculptures (mostly with my iPhone, but later with a semi-real camera).

I wish all museums allowed snapshots. There are times when a postcard just won’t do, especially when looking closely at the rich textures and beautiful decay of ancient works like these.

Anyway, here are a few I liked.


I Love my Wife

By the time this blog post goes up, Ivy and I will be sitting down to the midnight showing. By the time most of you read this, we will have already seen it, gone to bed and woken up again.

It’s not because I’m the comic book guy dragging his long-suffering spouse along. No, no. It was Ivy’s idea. She just really, really wanted to do it. She was literally hopping up and down, I kid you not.

Neither of us expects it to be a *great* movie exactly. We figure it’ll be slightly better or slightly worse than the first one (which, for what it was, was pretty good) but we know we’ll love every minute of him because he really is a joy to watch, and we’ll enjoy doing something fun and slightly stupid in each others’ company.

And yeah, yeah, whatever, whatever… I passed caring years ago. I am Mr. Fusion. I can take the popcorn with the caviar and sort it all out on the back end.

When it comes to comics, I’ll never be satisfied. I’ll always search out the true gems and shovel aside the crap. I’ll see every flaw in everything I read and everything I draw. It’s why I sometimes lose touch with what it is to be a reader only. It’s why I haven’t read an Iron Man comic in years—which is kind of sad when you think about it.

But for a big dumb superhero movie, I can sit back, enjoy the show, hold hands with the squeeing fangirl I married, and give thanks that I pretty much got exactly the life I dreamed of when I was 15 years-old.


Kids and Powerpoint…

Here’s a blast from the past. Nancy Duarte of Duarte Design (who worked with Al Gore to produce the famous Inconvenient Truth slideshows) has posted a video of Sky’s 2006 Comic-Con presentation on the then-upcoming Making Comics 50 State Tour. She was 13 years-old at the time.

Duarte’s book Slide:ology features Sky in a two page spread, examining the fast-moving approach she uses when presenting. Although she was obviously influenced by her Dad’s style, it’s important to point out that Sky created what you see here without any help from us. I told her how to make a new slide in the first five minutes she had the program and she just took it from there.

I also need to point out that this was her first time doing the presentation. Sky would add to and refine her slides as she went on to present at MIT, Carnegie-Mellon, Google, Adobe, etc. By the time we got to Albuquerque, her timing was almost inhuman.


Turin, Rome, and Happy 17th, Sky

Back from Italy with a few photos, lots of great memories, and a 17 year-old daughter whose birthday lasted for 36 hours courtesy of a really long plane ride.

Thanks to my Italian publisher Vittorio Pavesio for a great visit, as well as the lovely Gina, and all the great folks at the Pavesio Comics booth. Shout-outs also to Fulvio, Maurizio, Gianfranco, Barbara, Ryo, Massimo, all our fellow guests, and the great teachers and students at Rome’s International School of Comics, including director Dino Caterini and our Rome translator Matteo.


Italy!

Off to Rome and Turin with the family this week. Back at the beginning of next week.

Don’t want to promise anything but we *might* upload some photos while in transit before then, so check in occasionally.


I Don’t Know about You, but THIS is the Superhero Movie I’VE been Waiting for

I’m even okay with the ’60s Batman-style sound effects! Thanks, everyone I’ve ever known for telling me about this as soon as I got home.

Oh, and hey, as long as it’s Random Friday, I’ve got a question: I’m dying to find a reeeeeally old music video from the ’80s—maybe even pre-MTV. It had a funky, electronic song (possibly no words) with black and white, photocopy-style animation. There was a recurring assembly line motif with hamburgers and hands and that creepy masonic eye/pyramid thing. Really cool and jerky, almost like it was made by a robot Terry Gilliam. Does anyone remember this video? I’d love to find it out there somewhere but I don’t know anything about the director or even the musician(s) involved.

UPDATE: It was the experimental film “Machine Song” by Chel White. Thanks to music video master Alex de Campi for the answer!

As some of you might have guessed, based on past blog entries, music is very important to our whole family. Sky is going to Coachella this year with a friend of ours and I’m envious, but after Italy, I’m going to be too eager to get back to work on the book, so I’ve got to miss it yet again.

I love that my daughter has been listening to bands like Passion Pit, Hot Chip, and Vampire Weekend* (all at Coachella) while simultaneously getting into Bob Dylan and Bob Marley, on LP no less—and that I had nothing to do with those last two. Well, any of them technically, (though I did discover Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros before her).

I used music constantly while working on the first draft of the layouts for the new book. I had several different playlists for different kinds of scenes and I’d go for long walks trying to imagine sequences, while letting the music sustain the mood I was going for.

Recently though, I mentioned this to my Mom over the phone and she said she hoped I took the headphones off once in a while to listen to the sounds around me too. (Which is both reasonable, and exactly the kind of thing you count on a Mom to say.)

Funny thing is, though, I’ve discovered that music actually distracts me during those walks now that I’ve entered the rewriting stage of the layouts. Keeping a sustained mood through music actually makes it harder to step back and consider the structure of a scene or set of scenes in my head, and how to change them for the better, or to implement the suggestions of my panel of “kibitzers.”

That trance I needed to put myself in while conceiving sequences would now prevent me from evaluating those scenes objectively. More proof, if any was needed, that we need to appeal to different aspects of our creative personality at different stages of the creative process.

Hm. This post is like a Simpsons episode. One thing leads to another and…

Uh.

See you Monday!

*Pop Quiz: If I added Peter Gabriel’s name to those three band names and asked you which of the four was not like the others, which would you pick and why?