Archive for ‘Inventions’

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!


Good luck to all the artists at this year’s 24 Hour BD event in conjunction with the international comics festival in Angoulême.

451 Participants… Yikes!

I am the Butterfly Wing that Caused the Hurricane that tried to Blow Over Matt Smith

Explanation here.

Link via Lori.

Best. Email. Ever.

Okay, I officially love these guys now.

Got this letter this morning.

Dear Scott,

Mind if I call you Scott?

Oh, Scott, you have done so much for us comic geeks.
Reading comics is no longer childish. It’s «de la culture» !
One book and everything changes. *sigh*
Thank you for that.

I have to tell you first how much my friends and I like you. We admire you.
But I have something else to say, and it won’t please you. Ooooh no.

Do you like french people, Scott?
You don’t have to answer. We know how Americans see us… They think they know us, they think froggies are full of self-esteem, arrogant… even rude sometimes.
Do YOU think we are? Do you, Scott?
You are so far from the truth.
We are worse.

This «24 hour comics day» you created, you know… it was a really good idea. Congrats for that.
But, eventually, we realised it was way too easy.

We decided to do the same, but in 23 hours.
Yep, 23 hours.
Because we choose the shortest night of the year, when daylight savings time begins.

And we did it. We’ve been drawing faster than you and your pals for 3 years now.

We just wanted you to know. We are just the best.

And on march 26th, we’ll do it again.
In your face!
But with respect.
And a lot of compassion.

Yours faithfully,

Zia, for the amazing Turalo, Piak, Paka, Kéké and hundreds of french comics artists.

(So who else is surprised they even *have* daylight savings time?)

Good luck from all us slowpokes!

52 Card Psycho

From G. Alan Rhodes comes this unusual and innovative project. Be sure to view the demonstration video to get the full visual impact.

Rhodes writes:

I sometimes check-in with your website, and seeing your writeup of 5 Card Nancy (fantastic!), it occurred to me that you might like this project I’ve been showing around: 52 Card Psycho. It’s basically an Augmented Reality installation where the shower scene of Hitchcock’s ‘Psycho’ is made into a deck of cards. Writing to you now, I can see that this work strongly relates to the inspiration I had when reading Understanding Comics back in ’93: how can I made films into comics (the inverse of that has been done a lot lately…).

Maybe it will inspire an idea– I’m currently making several new projects with the same technology.

That’s it for today. Have a great weekend!

Friday Odds and Ends

Congratulations to Jim Woodring for actually building and using that big-ass pen I told you about a while back! Some pictures via Bart Beaty here and a video here (links via twelve zillion people, but I think I read about it on Comics Reporter and the Beat first).

Another notable new webcomic to check out: Doug Tennapel’s Ratfist (thanks to Corey Mcdaniel for the heads-up). Also realized that Kris Dresen’s She Said is gathering steam. Hop on board before its done.

And via Snail Mail, two books about comics:

The comics-format To Teach: The Journey in Comics by Bill Ayers (yes, that Bill Ayers apparently) and Ryan Alexander-Tanner, which looks intriguing, and The Rise of the American Comics Artist: Creators and Contexts, which I have an interview in, but looks plenty interesting anyway.

Finally, congratulations to Sarah Oleksyk on the publication of the collected Ivy. I’ve read them all, but I’m happy for the excuse to read them again.

Have a great weekend!

Tic Tac Toe Jam

Matt Madden sends word of his latest invention, the Tic Tac Toe Jam!

Anyone want to try it out and post links here?

24 in 24 From Australia

Here’s the latest mutation of the 24 Hour meme, this time from Down Under, James and Hania Lee’s 24 Flash animations completed just this weekend. Lots of funny and creative short shorts at the link.

The listing on YouTube is pretty comprehensive, so I’ll be lazy and reproduce it here:

All of these film shorts were created within a 24 hour period. Flash animation by James Lee. Music composition by Hania Lee.

Members of Newgrounds, deviantart and the web helped bring this film together, by providing ideas while I was broadcasting the whole thing live.

I animated everything in Flash, using some textures which were edited in Photoshop. The idea was inspired by Scott McCloud’s 24 hour comic.

Read more about my work on tarboy.com

I seem to remember that the first 24 hour animation contest (about a decade ago?) involved a single 24-second short. It’s telling that in a post-Flash world, a single animator (and musical partner) would even consider making 24 of the things in a single day, however brief some of them were. Very cool.

Friday Odds and Ends

Way, way back in the deep recesses of the horrifying guilt-mountain that is my Inbox, I found an old email from one Michelangelo Cicerone forwarding the news of a very cool Historic Tale Construction Kit, which is essentially a Create Your Own Bayeux Tapestry tool. Give it a try if you’re so inclined.

On the night table: Top Shelf’s excellent alternative manga collection AX; Mario and Gilbert Hernandez’s good-old-fashioned twisted comic book adventure Citizen Rex; and Moto Hagio’s lyrical Drunken Dream from Fantagraphics.

To satisfy your weekly Greek webcomic quota, check out the handsomely-drawn Mused by Kostas Kiriakakis.

And finally, here’s an insidious video that’ll burrow its way into your skull forever, courtesy of Warren Ellis. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Have a great weekend.


Well, in my case, GET, ’cause they already offered us a set, making this a thoroughly tainted recommendation.

But… but… Dude, this looks so cool! So does the app. Very story-machine-ish.