9.08.2014

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!

9.05.2014

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!

9.04.2014

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!

9.03.2014

Fallow Fields

Dear readers, I think it's time to do some heavy lifting when it comes to this blog. I've been able to spend a luxurious summer of not-blogging, but making. As you saw from my lovely intern's posts, we've been busy hustlin' the hard life. However, it's now time to take this fallow field and plant the seeds for our next harvest. A metaphor two of my favorite people use when making comics, Jon Chad and Betsey Swardlick.

This being said, let's do a big countdown series to SPX which is going to be the next show I'll be at, and coincidentally, my final show of the "convention season" which for me is from March-September. SPX, or the Small Press Expo is in Bethesda, MD and is the grand ball of comics. If you've never been and you're in the area, I highly recommend it. It has some extremely talented creators and is well worth the trip. I'll be at table N12 tabling with Marnie Galloway and long time tablemate, Josh Kramer, editor of the Cartoon Picayune. We'll be right next door to Hic and Hoc Press as well as some other long-time buddies Dakota McFadzean, Pat Barrett and first time SPXer Ben Horak. Here is an excellent map that Marnie made to show where we are!



We are officially 10 days away from the doors opening at SPX. (September 13th 11am-7pm September 14th noon-6pm)and something I'll have at the table that Corianne was working hard on is the infamous Pizza Books!


Corianne spent days and days trying to get these finicky creatures to line up front and back perfectly to and to be prepped for laser cutting. We were able to cut 50 books this way and they were AWESOME. However due to demand, this is not nearly enough and the laser cutter was in too high of demand for our quick turn around. Corianne then spend days upon days of cutting out 100 books! (that's 400 circles)


Once all the circles were cut, it was time to fold.


Myself, and Kyle also were prime folders once we got going. All 100 copies of the pizza book are now assembled and packed away, ready to go for SPX. It takes a village my friends.



As we get closer to SPX, I'll be revealing more things that will be available at my table. It's also wise to start checking the Store for any new arrivals.

Till tomorrow!

7.18.2014

Catching up on Comics!

Hello fellow comic lovers. 

It’s been awhile, but we have been busy busting out the beats y’all! Ok, so we aren’t making music per-say but doesn’t a real good story have some great beats. Pacing that is, and comic pacing is all about those panels. It’s the dirty work but it’s also the backbone. So I have been plugging away at making the panels that someday (real soon) will hold the beauty of Beth’s drawings. Beth has been kicking out the thumbnails for those new books you all are waiting on and let me tell you… this is a secret… its gonna be worth the wait!!! I have been throwing some side eye glances over to her workstation and she is killing it!  So you better start prepping yourself and your favorite comics reading chair for some new stuff, go ahead fluff the pillows, sit down, wiggle a bit. Comfy? Ready? Good!

Until then have you read Half Asleep Volume 1 and 2? You might wanna catch yourself up! 

Half Asleep Volume 1 and 2
 

Alright confession… I, Beth’s trusty intern, hadn’t read them til about a week ago, but man was I kickin’ myself in the pants for waiting so long and I just don’t want you to have to suffer the same pain! So, I suggest you get your hands on a copy real soon, curl up in that comfy chair and get to readin’! 

You can click that nifty little button to the right that says STORE and you'll find um! 

Well now you have a mission, and we have ours! Drawings for us, and reading for you! 

Look at that to-do list!


Look out for some new blawgs coming down the pike.

Til next time,

The ever-enthusiastic intern,

6.14.2014

Post-CAKE-Coma

Hi Readers! 

Intern Corianne here reporting on CAKE 2014! It was my first time attending CAKE, yes I am a comic noooob! No worries though, after surviving the initial shock of over-stimulation I fared alright. Of course there was the occasional, "Hi!... I follow you on twitter... YOU'RE GREAT!!!...*nervous sweats*... K BYYYYEE!!!" Luckily, the comics community seems to be very forgiving of the awkward and I improved my social skills by round 3 of walking around. Sorry, to those who experienced that pain. 

"Person is cooler than she appears." - gonna put it on my side mirrors. 

So when the social stress got to be too much I retreated to the panels. They are totally safe, I learn something, they talk to me and I can't put my foot in my mouth! WIN WIN! 

I attended "Seduction of the Innocent." That is something to write home about. "HEY MoM! I am learning to seduce the innocent. Thanks, send money. K kool, TTYL" Too late I already have my degree. Muhahahahaha! Awesome, awesome panel! The panel focused on making comics for kids and young adults and the stand out thought, DONT DUMB IT DOWN! Speak for yourself then cut the booze, sex and swearing and there you go... kids comic! #boom. Ok, there is a little more than that, but it was encouraging for someone like me who likes dark humor, comedic grotesque shit but also an aspiring kids comic artist to be reminded that "kids have a dark side too." Whoo hoo there is hope for me yet! Shout out to Liz Prince who spoke in the panel! Tomboy, her new book comes out September 2nd.

Still not ready for more people?.... yeah... OK.. PANEL #2... "24 Panels a Second"

Perfect! I studied animation and am now transitioning to comics! Great please, PLEASE make me feel better about "wasting" so much time in animation classes when I could have been making comics! Guess what they did! The answer? They go hand in hand and it's not crazy to be in love with both! Awesome thanks! Honestly, a great panel but I didn't take as many notes because I was too busy sketching. The panel had some awesome facial features that needed to be drawn. All in all, left with some confidence in my career path.

Some of the panel doodles.


Now ready to meet some awesome artists? AWE HELL YEAH!

Special shout out to Pranas T. Naujokaitis for his rocking kids book, Dinosaurs in Space now with a place on my bookshelf, and Bernie McGovern who gave me an awesome list of Chicago Artists to stalk-I mean check out! 
Don't know who I'm talking about? Check em out! 

Walked away with some great books and even more I want to own soon! All together it was a very successful CAKE!



Thank you to everybody who made it out and stopped by Beth’s table to say 'hi' and thank you to everyone who made my first real Chicago Comics weekend so awesome!

Til next time, 

The ever enthusiastic intern, 
Corianne

5.29.2014

CAKE and Corianne!

Hello my fellow comic enthusiasts! This is coming to you from the newest voice in the sky, (interwebs, invisible cords think about it, its weird) ahhh....hemmm. drumroll please! Corianne Wells!
Please picture me rolling in balancing on one leg, on a bears head, on a ball


I will be Beth's faithful intern for the coming summer months and look forward to keeping record of the many shenanigans that are bound to occur!

But I already suspect you are suspicious! So I shall tell you a bit about myself to ease your worries. Once a student of the great Beth Hetland I graduated with the shiny BFA, from SAIC (emphasis in illustration and animation). Now a full fledged adult (so they say) I work at T.S. Shure, a toy company in Chicago as a Marketing Illustrator, while pursuing my love of art, comics, characters and a really good story. Also, I'm gonna give it a go at being a radical intern. So check in on my adventures at Hetland HQ.



SO NOW FOR THE MAIN EVENT.... 
put your hands together....
FOR...

BETH HETLAND @CAKE

Chicago's Alternative Comics Expo

www.cakechicago.com

Surprise, surprise! No it isn't on Beth's convention list (at least not the one on this blog) but you can't think she would have missed it!? 

Ladies and gentleman, grab your coattails, hats and umbrellas! Its gonna be a whirlwind of a weekend! 

BUT have no fear here's your treasure map!

51 B = BETH HETLAND + CARTOON PICYUNE (http://www.cartoonpicayune.com/)
51 A = PENINA GAL (http://peninacomix.wordpress.com/)
50 A = TUGBOAT PRESS (http://www.tugboatpress.com/)
50 B = ALEC LONGSTRETH(http://www.alec-longstreth.com/)
52 B = DAKOTA MCFADZEAN + MEAGS FITZGERALD = CONUNDRUM PRESS (http://www.conundrumpress.com)
52 A = LUKE HOWARD (http://www.andsothen.com/)

TABLE 50 + TABLE 51 + TABLE 52 = DA PARTAA 

"epic hangout extreme" - Beth Hetland

You can find the full list of awesome exhibitors here:
http://www.cakechicago.com/2014-expo/2014-guests-exhibitors/

So don't miss out! This is gonna be my first CAKE but I've always loved sweet things so I am pumped!

JOIN US THIS WEEKEND!
 May 31st - June 1st 
@ the Center on Halsted
3656 N. Halsted

See ya there! Signing off, the ever enthusiastic intern,
Corianne

5.15.2014

Writing Process Blog Tour

Greetings faithful readers! I've been tagged in a blog tour by the one and only Cara Bean who I met during several fantastic summers in Vermont at the Center for Cartoon Studies.


1) What am I working on?

At this very moment I'm working on several different things (as I tend to do), but let's start with the biggest and go to the smallest. I'm working on all the thumbnails for what is going to be an eight part comic series that I'm collaborating with my best friend, Kyle O'Connell, on called Half Asleep. I just finished drawing, printing and assembling volume 2 which debuted last weekend in Toronto at TCAF and have made my way half way through the thumbnails for volume 3 which I hope to have completed for the fall. Kyle is writing and I'm drawing but we edit and spend a lot of time going back and forth to workshop each others part of the process.
I'm also currently working on a few freelance projects including wedding invites, tattoo design, and anthology contributions. In addition to the freelance, this Sunday I'm going to be on a podcast that is all about telling stories, so I'm writing a story right now!


2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Primarily, when I'm creating solo work, I'm making autobiographical work. Something I'm the most interested in with autobio work is how much of the story is fact and how much is creative license. When I read autobio work, I tend to get bored easily with the day to day things or more regurgitative responses to life. What I do that I think, and hope, is different is to approach my experiences in reality with the narrative control of a fiction writer. I nudge and rearrange stories as you might with an anecdote that someone is telling you. Throwing in hyperbole, metaphor and a dab of magical realism to balance out my internal fantasies. I think a lot about a quote from Alfred Hitchcock that a good story "is life with all the boring parts cut out." I also find that some my work tends to lean toward more artist book concept that the content will reflect. Book form and design is very important to why printed material still exists, so why not use it? I'm influences and swipe from scrap booking techniques, traditional binding techniques and origami forms. Finding a form that can be as mailable as a narrative is very exciting for me and I think is something really different that a lot of cartoonists don't do.


3) Why do I write what I do?

I think this is such a good question! I write the stories I do partially because that's what I'm interested in reading and enjoying. The other part of why I make the things I make is that something is boiling deep inside of me and the only way for me to process my thoughts, feelings, or actions is to write and draw until it is removed or better understood. Sometimes I think about the information I struggle to absorb as bowling balls. They're heavy and awkward and there really isn't a good way to store them. They just sort of take up space and you only ever need one, maybe, but how do you keep or get rid of the others? Until they become something usable, they're just bowling balls sitting around my mental space. But slowly and surely I clean up that space and am able to move these cumbersome objects out and replace them with stories and comics.


4) How does your writing process work?

This is something I'm still figuring out. I'm gonna let you in on a secret. I have a REALLY hard time writing. Whether it's autobio or fiction, I'm still figuring out my process with it. It starts with sketches, images, ideas, or making some kind of object or marks that I think are strange. These marks often will reoccur or I'll make the shape several times to see if it's still interesting to me. Let it bounce around in my head and if I'm still thinking about it and I still think it's weird or exciting, I'll try to build from it a bit more to see what happens before and after. For me image and text come at the same time after the initial interest in the project. I really value a well paced comic and I think to do that you need to constantly be asking yourself "Is this the best way to tell this?" and "What's the most important thing about this scene?" Without these two guiding questions I feel like my writing and storytelling really tend to wander off track. BUT once my story is mapped out, I have my thumbs and text at the same time, I can start penciling, inking and doing corrections. The other major part of my process is in the editing stage. I often seek out other cartoonists or readers to not only check the story for clarity but spelling mistakes (of which there are MANY quite often) and for enjoyment! I am from a heavy art background and critique is very important to me. I'll even change things from one print-run to the next if I think someone has a good idea of how to improve.


Next up I am supposed to tag three people to answer the same questions for next week. So here are mine: Tyrell Cannon (who also has an awesome Kickstarter up right now!), Andy Warner, and Laura Terry! Enjoy the rest of the tour!

4.11.2014

Something in the wind

Hi readers! It's Friday and here's an update on some of the things I've been doing.
Last week, Kyle and I performed in Brain Frame Lit at SAIC. Our performance was a live meeting in which we collaborated on our work in front of a room of on-lookers. It was a blast and totally weird. I was very nervous as you may be able to tell from some of these images. But after we were done, we passed out a new mini comic that will be available from me at conventions while supplies last. These books are really awesome and made through a scrapbooking technique I was playing around with called a Circle book. So each "page" is a full circle and when you close the book it forms sort of a pizza piece. With this mini, you can read the "Kyle Section" or the "Beth Section" all the way through the book, and then it directs you to turn the object and read the other part of it. It is a really neat object that talks about our process of collaboration.
One of my students, Tori Kwon, made this awesome comic version of her experience of us.


As the semester is coming to a close for me, I'm able to find more time to put in on inking Half Asleep Volume 2 (hopefully coming out for TCAF in early May). But here's a sneak peak of one of the pages where Ivy is day-dreaming about her obnoxious and lecture-y mom.


I've finished listening to the second book of the King Killer Chronicle, as well as finish both books 1 and 2 of the Divergent series. Book 3 here I come! And then... who knows what will be next to listen to while I finish inking this. As of last night, I cleared page 21 of completed inks which means there are only 27 more to go! I'm nearly at the tipping point from the uphill climb to half way, to the downhill launch into completion.


I am also very happy to say that I just printed a fresh batch of the FUGUE Omnibus which is available at MY STORE along with volume 1 of Half Asleep purchases and newly added International shipping prices!


Thanks so much and see ya next time!

3.14.2014

Beware the Ides!

My faithful readers!! Happy Friday.  I'm pleased to officially announce a few things and remind you of a a couple as well!

First and foremost, I will be tabling at the Chicago ZineFest at Columbia College Chicago's 1104 S. Wabash Building from 11am until 6pm on Saturday the 15th! (THE IDES OF MARCH!) Come find me at table 48, here's that handy map again.


Second, not only will I have copies of Half Asleep Vol. 1 and Cycles but I will have a few minis that you can't get online and are only sold IN PERSON by me. If you can't make it to ZineFest, I hope you will take advantage of my electronic store front and order some of my books!

Saving the best for last. I am EXTREMELY pleased to announce OFFICIALLY that FUGUE: a Family in Three Parts has now been collected into an omnibus edition and will be debuting at ZineFest! I was very hesitant to announce its completion as there were a few moments back there when I didn't think it would happen. However, I have a wonderfully supportive community that encouraged me to give it the 'old Beth Hetland magic' and low and behold, dear readers, a book has been born. Here I am with the very first copy lovingly and proudly gazing at it.





Each book has cream interior pages, color chapter breaks, digital colored covers and is handbound by yours truly. They are a STEAL clocking in at 136pages and for the low, low cost of $12.00 (plus shipping). If you stop by at Zinefest for one of these, you'll save on shipping! Hooray! They will also be at all of the other shows I'm attending this year (listed to the right) while supplies last.

Thanks for reading and hope to see you soon!