Pittsburgh on my mind

During the last week that I’ve spent back in Pittsburgh, I’ve been repeatedly reminded by how invigorating its community of creators has been for me in my growth as a cartoonist. It’s a great place filled with some truly hard working creators.

One of the things that bums me out the most about not having been in Pittsburgh this past fall was not being able to attend the 2nd Annual Zine Fair. With a roster of exhibitors as juicy as the one that they organized, the event was bound to be a blast. Hopefully, the timing of the 2013 zine fair is conducive to me trekking down to the city.

For now though, I’d like to share a couple of photographs taken by Anna Lee Fields.

pghzinefair-117-2114536582-o pghzinefairdouble-107-2114581968-opghzinefairdouble-114-2114582101-o pghzinefairdouble-105-2114581911-o pghzinefairdouble-104-2114581918-o

If you’d like to see more photos from this gathering, hop on over to the Zine Fair’s site.

While I missed the Zine Fair, I can assure you that I won’t be missing the upcoming DRAWING POWER event on April 20th.tumblr_mjkc0soOX91s7s0rao1_1280

Drawing Power will be a one day event celebrating and exploring the small press and self-publishing comics and zine community of Pittsburgh and its connection to the larger world. If you’re interested in the nitty gritty details, check ’em out below.

Saturday, April 20th
Carnegie Museum of Art Theater (lower level)
4400 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Moderators will be Bill Boichel from Copacetic Comics and Caitlin McGurk from the Billy Ireland Collection at OSU.

10:00-10:30am: Meet & Greet; tabling
10:30-11:15am: Panel 1
11:30-12:15pm: Boulet presentation
12:15-1:00pm: Big Feminist But presentation
1:15-2:00pm: John Porcellino presentation
2:15-3:00pm: Panel 2
3:15-4:00pm: Dash Shaw presentation
4:15-5:00pm: Panel 3

Panel 1: The Pittsburgh Scene, Bill Boichel moderator
Andy Scott
Nate McDonough
Lizzee Solomon
Paulette Poullet

Panel 2: Self-Publishing, Caitlin McGurk moderator
Ramsey Beyer
John Porcellino
Bill Boichel
Rachel Masilamani

Panel 3: A Career in Comics, Caitlin McGurk moderator
Jim Rugg
Ed Piskor
Frank Santoro
Dash Shaw

There will be tables packed with locally produced zines and books for both perusal and sale, as well as new releases from the out-of-town artist guests and a selection from around the world.

On a different note, I would like to share a youtube channel that I’ve been watching recently, offtheLeftEye.

Sometimes we get too caught up in our own minds, concerned with how we compare ourselves to others. Those trains of thought often wind up hurting us. If you’ve ever grappled with your ego, you might enjoy the following by offtheLeftEye.

Leading a Cartooning Workshop at Assemble

This past Saturday I travelled to Pittsburgh to lead a 3-hour cartooning workshop with Andy Scott at the community space for arts and technology, Assemble.
Have a look at the goings on. It was a blast.

imageimage-3image-4One of my favorite things to do is to make comics with kids. They know what’s up.


To get into the nitty gritty about the workshop, Andy and I facilitated three primary activities.

To cover the basics and to make sure that kids didn’t feel much pressure regarding their drawings, we has a station dedicated entirely to covering the step by step construction of cartoons. Andy and I provided materials that would allow them to draw both famous characters and entire simplified worlds a la Ed Emberley. The kids would have the opportunity to copy them by sight or by using tracing paper.

I wanted to make sure that we harped on copying as a positive learning tool and not as something to be ashamed of. I know first hand how empowering it can be to know how to draw a character that you see on tv and on billboards. In my mind, an activity like this one would allow the kids to go home having nailed down Homer Simpson or Sponge Bob, a brag worthy skill that’d be a great boost to their self-esteem.

Besides step by step cartooning, we set up a self-portrait station, where kids were encouraged to draw themselves as animals, robots, bugs, superheroes or their favorite household items. These drawings would then be used to create a poster design for the following week’s Crafternoon.

In addition to that there was a large collaborative megacomic on a massive sheet of butcher paper. For this megacomic, Andy laid down a basic structure of frames, a couple of “meanwhiles” and “BUT”s and a few city skylines. After that, we let the kids go to town, encouraging them to take the stories to the outer limits of believability.

Of course, given that the space is oriented towards drop-ins, kids were welcome to follow their cartooning muses in any way they pleased. Some kids wanted individual attention, so I spent time with many of them making one sheet minicomics. The chief approach to my process was by collaborating with the kids, trading off our comics frame by frame.


Everyweek, the crafternoons offer a different engaging activity free of cost to kids from around Pittsburgh, but particularly to those from the Bloomfield, Garfield and Friendship communities. Have a look at their varied March offerings:

If you’re living in Pittsburgh and are interested in the possibility of volunteering your time to lead a crafternoon, please do so. The more we share our talents with kids in spaces like Assemble, the more opportunities for growth we give ourselves and the children in our communities. You can get in touch with assemble via the following email: outreach@assemblepgh.org

Next week’s Crafternoon will be a screen printing session with Steph Tsong and the friendly folks from the Artist’s Image Resource in Pittsburgh. Using the contributions of the workshops attendees, I put together a little poster for the kids to try their hand at printing.


The goal of the poster was to create something that would work as promotional material for the crafternoons that would playfully capture the high energy environment which typifies the Crafternoons at Assemble and that could also be customizeable by the kids on their own. (Thus the empty word balloons.)

It was a blast to run a workshop like this. I hope to work with Assemble and similar organizations in the future to create spaces for kids to draw and work on comics fundamentals.

If I could do this for a living, well, that’d be a dream come true!

Notebook making

A notebook that fits in your breast pocket is a thing of beauty.


Comprised of no more than a durable cover with a neat image and and some quality graph paper, a small notebook helps me create an unparalleled connection to the world around me. It lets be in the moment.

I was recently approached by WRCT Pittsburgh to produce a small run of notebooks for their journalists to use during their 2013 coverage of the SXSW Festival in Austin. It was a pleasure to make them a custom screen printed design for the occasion.

If you are interested in ordering some custom notebooks, let me know. I’d love to work with you in designing a small runs of notebooks for you and your crew.