One short day, in the Em-erald Ci-ty

Greetings readers!

With a new month comes a new blog post! This month is the start of my convention season. You can see a list of appearances I'll have this season over to the right --->
Emerald City Comic Con is the first show of my season this year and it is just next weekend! Even though it's the most main stream show I tend to do, it still puts a huge emphasis on creators and creator owned works. I'm tabling with Colleen Frakes and she made an awesome little map for folks to be able to find us. We're at table F7 which is just one table over from where we were last year at F6! Ha!

Something to note is that because of my teaching schedule, even though ECCC is a 4 day show (!!!!) I will only be there Saturday and Sunday. I hope if you're in the Seattle area and can make it, that you'll stop by and say hello.

I'll have five volumes of Half Asleep, Fugue omnibus, the infamous Pizza Book, a few other minis, and of course, TOTE BAGS. If you're someone who has been following me on Instagram or Facebook, you'll have seen the sneak previews of the new tote bags. This year I'm trying out four designs, three of which are brand spankin' new! Of course, I still have a few of the old classic, Rainbow Cats, but the new ones this year include:

Ice Cream

Tools of the Trade

Corner Kitty

Once Emerald City is done, the remaining totes will be available for purchase in my store along with Volume 5 of Half Asleep. Additionally, the totes that were the most popular will be reprinted for the rest of the shows I'll be attending (Chicago Zine Fest, CAKE, SPX).

I'm really excited to be going to Seattle again this year, it's one of my favorite cities and it's such a lovely time of year to go. I'm also extremely thrilled to be carrying around 5 of the 8 Volumes of Half Asleep! I mean, just look at these handsome faces all lined up!!!

I'm chugging away on Volume 6, if you can believe it. I'm hesitant to show too much for in-process work on this volume because we're getting pretty deep in the story and I wouldn't want any new readers to be bummed to see something they didn't want to yet. I guess just keep that in mind as the next few months tick by. I'm working on the volume! I'll try to show a few things here and there, but there won't be as many photos for fear of ruining something.

Thanks again for reading along and keeping up with this slow attempt at a return to the blog.


Welcome Back Cotter!


It has been OVER A YEAR since I've written a blog post which is extremely embarrassing but I have to let you know, dear readers, that I have used that time well! I've been working hard on Half Asleep (for sale at my store).

There are now FIVE volumes that are completed, four are available for sale online and volume 5 will be available for the first time at Emerald City Comic Con which runs from April 7th until April 10th, I'll be there the 9th and 10th tabling with the one and only Colleen Frakes!!!!
I'm really excited about trying to get back into the habit of blogging again. Something I want to try to do is to post more process work and try to get at least once a month if not more! I'd also like to try a "Ask Me!" section to see if there are any questions people have that they'd like to know more about.

SOOOOO if you have any burning questions about comics, my process, teaching, or anything else feel free to leave it in the comments.


Deep beneath campus...

A large part of Volume 4 of Half Asleep takes place underground. If you've been keeping up with the story, you know that in Volume 3, Ivy discovered something incredible and almost unbelievable toward the end that had been hidden deep underground. In Volume 4, we see more of this space, this new character (Uncle), and some of the technology that exists down there. Because of that, much of Volume 4 is turning out to be, well, dark! And who knew, but having to fill in those spaces with ink takes time! I no longer have my wonderful intern, Corianne, to help me out. It's just me flying solo. Anyway, I did some process shots of one panel and the way I go through from pencils through my inks for this part of the book. Enjoy! And don't forget you can purchase Volumes 1-3 at the store!

I've officially finished 12 pages of my inks, and still have a whopping 30 left to go. But slow and steady fills the spot blacks. See you next time!


Progress for progress' sake!

I've been slaving away at the drawing desk, working hard to pump out the inks for this newest volume of Half Asleep in an attempt at having it ready to go for Emerald City Comic Con on March 27th, 28th, and 29th. We'll have to see if that happens or not as we are DANGEROUSLY close to those dates and there is a SIGNIFICANTLY large amount of work left to do. We're also planning to reprint Volume 3 whose stock is dwindling. BUT you can get copies of all of the volumes online via my store or at Challenger's Chicago or Quimby's (also in Chicago). It's also worth briefly mentioning that I've added a new Convention appearance which is that I'll be tabling at the Chicago Zinefest on May 9th!

I know you're all here to look at pretty, pretty pictures so here are the sneak peeks at Volume 4!

See y'all next time!


There's a sale at Penny's!!

Greetings dear readers! Just as the title suggests, let's talk about sales, stores, and future appearances! (Sorry I don't know if there in fact is or is not a sale at Pennys)

Right now, my friends, you may have noticed or remembered that I have a list of comic conventions that I'll be attending this year/season. Not quite as many as I usually attend but I'm also still waiting to hear back from a few shows before that list will be solidified. You can check back at another time since it's in a nice, easy to locate area right over here ------>

But we'll talk more about those in a moment. Something else you may remember is that I have a really awesome store that is hosted by Store Envy. The link is also conveniently located to the right over there ----->

OR you can click this hyperlink right HERE

Available at this fine looking store right now are several excellent items. The first three are Half Asleep 1, 2, and 3. YES! We do have more copies of 3 that you can purchase NOW! Volume 3 has been a hot item and we have a limited number available now, and then shortly after Emerald City Comic Con, we will have more reprints available.

Half Asleep has been getting some pretty positive attention and we're very excited to start putting together Volume number 4. As noted last week, the pencils are all done and I've started inking now. This week, you'll be able to see some sneaky-peaky of the cover for Volume 4. Volumes 1 and 2 can also be purchased at Quimby's in Chicago and soon will be available at Challenger's Comics and Chicago Comics(all in Chicago).

The next item I have available online at the store is the collaborative graphic novel Cycles that came out in 2012. It's a great story of two brothers and a bunch of bicycles. It's basically an action movie before all the elements of an action movie were invented! I think it's a great book, but don't take my word for it...

Along side Cycles is my graphic memoir, Fugue that is now collected in ONE volume. This book follows the Hetland family as they grow up spanning over 40 years of story and music. For an in depth review by Rob Clough, check out this link!

Last but not least is the infamous Pizza Book. I'm not gonna talk too much about it because it's really an experience. It's a circle-bound book that explores in detail the process of working with a collaborator. Its shape and structure are echoed in its narrative. Check out some slick pictures here.

To go back to my convention appearances, I'll have a few items that you won't find online. Some mini comics that are only available for purchase in person, a print that I'm test driving, and possibly a tote bag (if I can get my behind in gear). But I hope if you live near Seattle, Vancouver, or Chicago you'll stop by and say hello! I'd love to meet/see you and chat.

Until next time, faithful friends!


Whale, Whale, Whale...

Oh my lovely dear readers. How I've missed you! Of course much and more has happened in my negligence absence of this blog. But I hope you will all believe me when I spent many a night, morning, and noon-time thinking about updating and telling you everything. Here we are though! Since last September, let's go through what we've been up to here at Hooray for Comics HQ.

During the fall, I spend my weekends traveling for The School of the Art Institute of Chicago to talk with prospective students all over the country. This year, they had me really zipping around. I visited 15 cities and met with over 100 students. Some locations were amazing, new, and warm! And others were quiet, cold, and had wonderful company. Since my partner does this as his full-time job, there were also many days spent working hard in the studio into the wee hours of the morning.

Along with traveling, I of course had my one class full of another group of impressive and hard-working students, and did Academic Advising one day a week as well. As you know, if you are a long time reader, these are just the normal hum-drum-ary of my regular work week.

Now let's talk about why you all are really here. "Beth!" I hear you cry, "what have you been working on in the studio for all this time?!" Well my friends, I hope I'm not disappointing you, but I've been hard at work penciling Volume 4 of Half Asleep! I can happily say that the pencils are all completed and I've begun inking. If you notice to the right of this post, there is a list of my convention appearances right now. I'm aiming to have Volume 4 completed and ready to go for Emerald City Comic Con at the end of March, and for Volume 5 to be ready for either VanCAF or CAKE at the end of May/early June. Volume 5 has already been 100% written and is being thumbed. I'm hoping to ink volume 4 and pencil volume 5 at the same time, so that way I can have a little variety in my work as well as progress made on both! I can't believe we're half way through the series. Some pretty exciting plot points and character developments have been popping up! Here are some sneak peeks at the pencils for Volume 4:

Don't forget you can buy Volumes at the Store. Currently Volume 3 is sold out, but it will be returning as soon as we can print and assemble more.

In addition to working hard on the pencils for Half Asleep, I've been going through stock and updating the store with inventory and making sure we have everything we need. Some of you have been asking about the Pizza Book and how/where to get a hold of it. Good news for you my friends! It's now available for order online and can be sent directly to your door!! Make sure you head on over to the store to pick up your copy ASAP. I'm not gonna lie, these books sell faster than we can make them. So pick up your pizza while it's still hot! There is an excellent and 100% NOT SAFE FOR WORK review that you can find here from the fine folks at Nudes Reading Comics.

Thanks for checking in and continuing to have faith that this blog will be updated. As always, I will do my best to keep this current.


First things first

I'm back from SPX, my faithful readers! It was an amazing show and continues to be one of my all-time favorites.

I'm going to take a little break now that my convention season is 100% over and my work travel season is about to begin. However, I wanted to let you all know that ALL THREE VOLUMES of Half Asleep are currently for sale in the STORE!!! And Kyle and I are working on something super special that will be announced soon, so keep your eyes on the blog as I return to my once-a-week scheduled posting.

Thanks and see you all soon!


Old habits die hard...

Only FIVE days left till SPX! Can you imagine? What happened to the last two days, I hear you cry. Well, my dear readers, I was updating social media so much I completely spaced on the fact that it didn't update this beautiful blog. And in case you're not following my every move via Twitter, Facebook and/or Instagram (feel free to do so!) here are some highlights from Saturday's Assemblathon and Sunday's Don't-Touch-Me-I-Hurt-Everywhere-Recoup-Day.

I got us up and moving to get an early start on the day. Despite Kyle's repeated protestations that we wouldn't need to go early because it's only going to take us a few hours, I insisted that we leave our neighborhood around 8am with the hopes of getting started around 9am. Here is the train ride as Kyle does his job of "carrying things."

This is all the pieces laid out for us to tackle in a good work flow.

Although there are only three volumes, we were putting together 250 copies total. 100 of volume 1 (we only had about 25 left from our last print run, THANKS!), 100 of volume 2 (which was COMPLETELY sold out and never even made it to the online store, THANKS!) and 50 of volume 3 (which is our standard practice in case there are mistakes [always] and to test the audience interest). We had finished cutting out all the faces, but had not had time to score all of our fold marks. Plus each issue has its pages printed separately due to the mix of color and black/white pages. Black and white printing is SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper, so we print those separate to keep costs down. However, this means each issue must be hand collated. If you've never collated something, you may not understand why this one step takes almost 45 minutes by itself. Set up, and walk-through.

Here we are still scoring covers, and folding them to make the stapling process easier. As well as stacks of white paper which have now been collated and trimmed to the correct size. This photo looks like it was taken around 11am or noon. Not even half way through our day. You can see there's still a lot of stacks and no finished books.

Kyle taking a quick stretch break after finishing stapling all 100 copies of Volume 1. After they are stapled, if you look closely they are still not the right size. That's because each one gets an individual face-trim (cut to make it the correct size where you would flip through the pages). We do this because not only are the covers complicated, but we want to make sure that when you get the final product, it looks nice and tidy and doesn't have rough edges where your fingers go.

Sometime between noon and 5pm we finished volume 1 and were in the process of face-triming volume 2. I'm not sure when exactly it started to get hazy right around then as we had been standing, singing, and making books for almost 8 hours. Simulataniously working on various stages of each volume so that we never had a point where only one of us was doing something. The time flies by even though it's a long days work. Lots to chat about and sing to helps!

At 8:20pm we finished cutting the very last copy of volume 3 to the song "Final Countdown" and it couldn't have been more perfect. We packed up, ordered a pizza to be delivered to our apartment building and magically ended up on an express train home. By 9:30pm we were stuffing our faces with stuffed crust pizza and chatting with our partners. What a LONG DAY!

I don't have any documentation of how sore and tired I was on Sunday, but I'll tell you this, I slept in till 10am, woke up to go out to breakfast and then went back to bed until about 3pm, played some video games and called it a night at 9:30pm.

Sorry for the delay! But I'm really excited for SPX and I'll see you there!


Watch out, it's number EIGHT

Faithful blog readers, welcome back to another episode of COUNT DOWN TO SPX! There are only eight days left until I'm standing behind a table, covered in smiles and nervous sweat, mentally preparing myself to sell my work to the public. Oh yeah, and goofin' around with buds. Did I mention where I'll be tabling? In case you missed it, I'm at table N12 which is here:

As promised, here is another update about what I've been up to as we get closer to the convention.

Part of this summer, I was invited to teach along side the one and only Jon Chad at The Center for Cartoon Studies. We did one workshop and boy-howdy was that an incredible time.

We ran a workshop called Create Comics and the basis behind it is that you have a group of students that will build their comic skills over the course of a week. Their final project is a collective storytelling comic. Everyone helps world build, write, draw, and assemble a final comic. They did such a good job on this book and I had such a blast meeting new colleagues and teaching side by side with such a great pal.

All of the faculty and TAs working hard on drawing the cover of the book.

Final product!

EPIC movie night with the one and only Steve Bissette. Golly I miss going to those!

Oh yeah, and I got to see a bunch of my classmates who ended up being in town. I love them. And miss them. And if they're reading this, I hope they are feeling the same way when they look at this picture.

I think on that sentimental note, I'll leave for today. Tomorrow (Saturday) Kyle and I are assembling around 250 books so it'll be quite a post!


Number nine, number nine, number nine...

As the title suggests, there are only NINE days left until SPX. Keeping up with my promise I made yesterday, here is the next blog post in our countdown to Bethesda!

The series Kyle O'Connell and I have been working on for, wow...a whole year now, has continued to grow. We are just finishing up Half Asleep Volume 3 of what will be an 8-part series. In case you haven't had a chance to check it out, here's the synopsis: It's about this girl named Ivy Lassette who at the age of 11 is the youngest student enrolled at the elite college, Ebony-Alerca. Ivy’s studies focus on Hypnology, an experimental discipline that teaches students how to access and inhabit their dream worlds with the same conscious control they experience in waking reality. Ivy’s world-renown and highly demanding professor also happens to be her mother, Dr. Michelle Lassette. Follow Ivy and Dr. Lassette as they navigate the layers of existence attempting to understand the world, each other, and themselves.

Volume 1 is available in my Store for purchase, and Volume 2 will be joining it shortly however we sold out of Volume 2 SO FAST that I was never able to take the "Coming Soon" sign down from the page (a blessing and a curse, I know). But if you are making the trek out to SPX, you'll be able to get all THREE volumes from me in person and even a little drawing if you want.

You read correctly, Volume 3 will be debuting at SPX in a mere 9 days. Volume 3 has been a whirlwind and quite possibly was the fast volume to create yet. It is 44 pages of comics and begins with a spectacular dream sequence. I don't want to talk too much about what happens within the pages of volume 3 but I do want to talk a little bit about process.

Volume 3 began on July 14th. Well technically, it began much earlier than that as Kyle had completed the script for volume 3 on March 30th. With some minor rewrites it was ready to begin thumbnailing around May 30th (exact date is not noted). BUT penciling for this volume, I can confidently say, began on July 14th. I just got back from teaching a summer workshop in Vermont and then hit the drawing board running with my eyes on the SPX prize.

I pencil extremely loose and listen to a LOT of dance music while I'm doing it. Part of this I feel is that it keeps me moving, keeps me from getting bored and keeps my lines from "dying" on the page. If I labor over something too hard, it often loses its life.

On August 1st, I finished penciling, wiped down my table, and set up all my inking supplies. Part of what made this volume move so quickly was I had my spectacular intern at my disposal this summer. All the "x"s you see on these pages, she would go through and cover those areas with solid black. We call this process "spotting blacks." It saved me a lot of time to have someone else helping me out. Not only did she spot my blacks, but she also had measured and ruled out all my pages ahead of time (for penciling) which let me just get down to work. I hate measuring and she did a great job! It was win-win!

Our star character getting in trouble but also a close up on the areas that Corianne would fill in later.

A trick I use when I have to make a large crowd scene or big group of background characters is that I like to fill in my crowds with people I know. Friends have called this my "treasure hunt style" and I think that y'all enjoy it. It's nice to be looking at a friend's comic book and say "hey wait! that's me!" plus I view it as adding in another layer of care and investment on my end. It also helps me from making everyone look exactly the same. Keeps me thinking about diversity.

Once all the inking is done, I move on to the watercolor pages. This volume has 9 full watercolor pages and a little something extra I'm not going to mention. I'm not going to lie to you, dear readers, I'm a fast, FAST cartoonist. I pencil roughly 3-5 pages a day and ink 2-3 pages a day--this is at a pretty leisurely pace. Watercolor pages S L O W M E D O W N. I can do, at MOST, 2 watercolor pages a day. That is if I get up at 6am, am starting painting by 6:30am and stay up till about 11pm or 11:30pm. That is an insane day. So more often than not I'm working on the covers at the same time as the watercolors since watercolor, in its unique form, needs time to dry or you get a big ol' mess.

I'm going to save talking about our unique covers for another post. Hope you've enjoyed this long and detailed process post about Volume 3 of Half Asleep. See you tomorrow!