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!


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!