no need to be afraid dear...

Hey friends! Happy Holidays. No post until after then. :) Thanks for your patience.


They're probably drinkin' coffee...

It happened, my friends, the semester is coming to a close and I've officially been a teacher for one semester! What. A. Ride. All my students are putting together really stellar projects and I can't wait to see them. (Last classes are Friday and next Monday) These guys really make me work hard to stay a head of them. Since they all have to put together multiples of some kind for each class and exchange them, I thought fair was only fair to also make multiples to give them, too.

Here is one of mine. It's called "Breakfast with Beth." A student showed me Jason Shiga's website and through that I learned about this really cool interactive book design using only one sheet of paper. (but it's not the hidden book way... it's SOOO much cooler!). But you get to make three choices as you go through this comic. The story is inspired by my struggles with being an adult especially early in the morning. When I worked for Dartmouth I had a very specific morning routine that I had to develop quickly. The more simple the routine the easier I can do it while I'm half asleep. When I moved back to Chicago, I needed to create a new breakfast routine... and let's just say, this old dog had a hard time learning new tricks.

So it starts with me curled up in bed with a little blanket...

Then you pull the blanket off and I'm grouchy...

It flips open to start the story...

I decide to make some coffee, but can't remember where the grounds go in a french press. You decide, do they go in the top? Or in the bottom?

Top? Let's try it...

Uh-Oh... maybe? Then you have two more options that lead to you two possible endings... but let's say you decide to go back and try again...

Bottom! Let's try it!

Alright! Now you get to choose what we're gonna try and eat... toast or cereal... which lead to two more endings.

My second mini I made for my other class is forth coming, but again ended up being about the creation of food in my house. Inspired by Mr. Jon Chad and his lovely book "Whaletown" which is another one page mini but unfolds itself from a small panel to a large one. The crux of this type of book really lends itself to an escalation story. Which I turned into a tale about my roommate Amanda and her impulsive soup-making style.

Both of these mini's really allowed me to play with format, color and new processes which are all things I haven't done since before starting Fugue. Not that I am resentful, but my little brain loves to have a structure to build a story around. Not to mention of course it puts into practice some print techniques I've learned but never been able to utilize.

In other news, the book I illustrated for Nomad Press has been getting some attention which is very exciting! And I had the distinct pleasure of being interviewed at Columbia College this morning to talk about comics and teaching.

It was a real studio with teleprompters and everything!

The link for the segment is coming soon. (Don't make fun of me too much, I got real nervous when they put that mic on me!)

BUT MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL, Kyle and I have hit page 50 of our comic called Cycles! Can't wait to share that puppy with the world! Tune in next week for more.


Oh man, hot damn it's everywhere!

In case you didn't notice. There was no post on Wednesday. But that's because I had no idea how to articulate my feelings about what was happening this last week. Best place to start is the beginning right?

Let me tell you a story about a man, a man named Alec Longstreth...

In the fall of 2008, I was in Jeremy Tinder's Indie Publishing class at SAIC. Throughout the course of the semester we would read books by cartoonists and then they would skype in and we would have the opportunity to ask them questions about their books. One of our guests was the current fellow at The Center for Cartoon Studies, a guy named Alec Longstreth who had just published through lulu a book called Transition. As I read this, I realized how much he and I had in common. This mysterious man who draws comics and loves Weezer (like LOVES Weezer) and explodes with enthusiasm, we were basically built to be friends. So when our class was getting ready to interview him, Jeremy told us about this challenge he was starting. On August 1st, 2008 he decided in order to refocus his efforts on his five chapter book, he shaved his head and face and vowed to not cut his hair until he was completed. It was a great interview and he was penciling book 3 at that time.

Jump forward a year, and I'm accepted to CCS. One of the first people I meet at an outing to go swimming is a very tall, bearded man... who could be non-other than the barely scruffy gentleman who I met digitally before. Nervous as can be, I introduced myself and told him how much I loved his work (and Weezer) and that I was in Jeremy's class the year before. He was very polite and had no idea how much I respected and admired him.

As the years progressed I got to know him as a teacher, but more importantly as a person. Someone who cares so much about his work that it literally could bring him to tears, someone who was full of knowledge about all parts of cartooning, someone who gave fantastic feedback and really wanted each person to be able to do their best in comics. Someone who jumped around and carried a pointer stick and cheered and introduced us to so many cartoonists... He was someone who could help talk you through your rough times, or high five you at your best times. The man who gave us pinball, the man who married comics, and the man who taught us that our comics WILL love us back.

One of the most amazing times I ever had with Alec was two summers ago. Weezer happened to be playing in Essex Junction, Vermont and there was NO WAY we were gonna miss it... Alec bought tickets for me, Jon Chad and himself and we took my car up there. The whole ride there we listened to their albums in reverse order and sang at the top of our lungs, talked about Weezer lore, and laughed until our faces hurt. Once we got there, Alec found out he got on the backstage pass list! His excitement was out of this world and Jon and I watched the most amazing show from the house and could SEE ALEC SITTING ON THE STAGE watching them. Afterwords Alec was all a flutter told us everything and I'm pretty sure the car just hovered the entire way back to White River because we were so high on the best night ever.

After I graduated, I got the high honor of being quick enough to get a piece of the studio that Alec, Jon, Joe Lambert, Keny Widjaja, Alex Kim, Katherine Roy and Jason Lutes shared. It was incredible, feeling like one of the 'big kids' in that room working on comics and listening to audiobooks, music or whatever. When I left Alec was almost done penciling the entire last chapter... he knew the end was in sight. Alec, who was so supportive and helpful to me and my comics, was about to complete his epic... cut his hair! There was no way I was gonna miss that.

A bunch of things happened at once within the last three weeks. Southwest had an airline prices sale, my classes were gonna be on CRIT week break, and he finished his book... That was it, I was going. So Tuesday until this morning I spent in White River. And I told Alec when I was coming that if he needed any help ANYTHING AT ALL, I was his girl. Yesterday morning I got a text at 9:30... "It's printed... Let's do this shit!" I braided my hair and popped my knuckles and ran down to the lab. There was Alec in his bearded glory, stapling and folding the first few books...

We quickly created a good system. He stapled, and folded, I pressed them in stacks of 10, then face trimmed each one on the guillotine, lined them up in a row for Alec to sign and number. Then they went in the box. We talked about everything, the past, the present, the future. Pumped some Elvis and Johnny Cash and sang our throats off. We finished the very last book at 1:30pm.

At 7pm the hair cutting began.

But not before this AWESOME video by Claire Sanders!

You can watch the live stream recording here. And there are more images on my Flickr Album but here's the highlights...

The new Alec toasting at the bar:

The same old Alec with a fresh face :)

Congrats, Alec, my dear friend. I'm so glad I was able to be there. :)


Late Night Double Feature!

Well it is officially 12:01AM on December 1st! NaGraNoWriMo is over! OR IS IT?!

As promised here is an honest to god update of Kyle and my book, Cycles.

Here is my dry erase tally of how many pages we were shooting for. I dragged my finger through each page I finished. Yes ladies and Gents this says only to page 36. However I penciled through to page 44, but just couldn't ink fast enough today. Ah well. Penciling 6 pages, and inking 3 in one day isn't exactly small potatoes.

Next up is a little process stuff for all you curious folks at home. Ideal how this was going to work was Kyle would take allof October to write me a script. Then on Nov. 1st he hands it over to me, and he doesn't see anything until I put the pen down at 12:00am Dec. 1st. Then we edit, then we share with the world! But the actual factual way Kyle and I did this was he would spend some time and write a scene at a time and email it to me. I would get a big old chunk of text with some descriptions, a lot of dialogue and occasionally editorials from him. I would pull out my favorite ball point pen and start marking what was a panel, what was a beat, and the page layout for that scene. This process would usually take me under 20 minutes per typed page.

This was the most recent chunk of text that he gave me on Monday night.

These were some diagrams needed for that most recent scene. (Includes a detailed layout of a breakfast page you'll get to see!)

Then I'd grab my favorite dance album, or listen to my favorite two podcasts (Kevvie Metal and Nerds for Reel) and pencil till my hands, and pages, turned blue! I've been averaging about 45min or less a page. In case you can't tell, my penciling technique is "draw a hundred lines and you'll find the right one eventually!"

These are the remaining 7 pages to ink, I penciled all but one of these today.

This is also the phase during which I find photo reference for things Kyle may have written about or specified that I don't know what they look like. Here's my most recent print out for something yet to come!


And lastly is some inking. But hey, you all know how that goes! I've been inking with my Pentel Pocket Brush and lettering with a Faber-Castell F grade Pitt Pen. But spotting blacks with my favorite number 2 synthetic Utrecht brush.

Without further adieu, thank you everyone for rooting for me. It definitely was a challenge and Kyle and I WILL be finishing this book! Keep your eyes peeled for it in print in early 2012. Enjoy some fun pages and the last page I inked in November 2011.


(Last page I inked before Midnight)