Announcing: The Little Book Fair!


Have you heard about The Little Book Fair?  It’s an exciting event that’ll be happening here in Pittsburgh in August that I’m involved in organizing!

The Little Book Fair
will be a one-day celebration of the vibrant small-press and self-publishing community in Pittsburgh. The Little Book Fair is dedicated to fostering community and dialogue amongst independent artists, small publishers, bookstores and readers.

It will occur Friday, August 2 from 6-10 PM at 113 North Pacific Avenue during the Unblurred Gallery Crawl in Pittsburgh.

If you’re interested in learning more about the event, hop on over to the Little Book Fair’s website.

If you’re interested in tabling, Click here!


Submit to the Andromeda Quarterly

Have you submitted comics to the Andromeda Quarterly, yet? If not, now’s your chance!

Andromeda is a comics anthology based in Pittsburgh, PA. Published on a monthly occurrence for two years from 2010 to 2012, it’s now released on a quarterly basis.

Andromeda seeks out talented and dedicated individuals wherever they can be found (that means you!). The Pittsburgh based publication hopes to establish a creative platform in which to project expression and artistic experience.

October 2013 Issue:

Release Date: October 1st, 2013
Submission Deadline: August 15th, 2013

  • Size: 6×9 (unless otherwise noted; i.e. theme issues)
  • Resolution: at least 200 dpi
  • Color Modes: B&W as well as COLOR images are accepted and reviewed
  • Preferred File Formats: JPEG, TIFF, PNG, PDF or GIF
  • Maximum Page Submission: 40 pages

All submissions can be sent to:

Here’s hoping to see your comics in the coming issue!

Storytellers’ Studio this July!

FinalstorytellersHey Pittsburghers!

Do you know any kids ages 5-13 who love writing and sharing stories? They might love to participate in Storytellers’ Studio: After-Camp Care!

Over the course of this five-day program, kids get to collaborate with other campers on a group story and adapt it into plays, songs/raps, and comics. I’ll be facilitating the comics making. I’m really excited to be part of this program and can’t wait to see what we all cook up comics-wise!

For more information about the program, visit the Facebook event page.

If you know somebody who might be interested in this, I’d love for you to pass this along their way.

Pay Attention to This: Rachel Masilamani

This article orginally appeared in Dog City: Issue 1

There’s things you can’t do with words and there’s things you can’t do with pictures, that’s what’s so exciting about the form.

It’s constantly pressing against your limitations.
– Rachel Masilamani 2013

A veteran self-publisher, Rachel Masilamani has been making comics in the United States since 1997. Her first comics collection, RPM Comics #1, received a grant from the Xeric Foundation and was named “Best Comic Book” by the Baltimore City Paper. Since then, her comics have appeared in Meathaus, Street Runoff, Graphics Classics, The Indiana Review, in other anthologies and in her own publications.


An accomplished story teller, Masilamani is hard pressed to categorize her work.

Endlessly fascinated with people, Masilamani draws inspiration from her own life and the behaviors of those around her to create stories that burrow themselves deep into the minds of her readers. Her stories elegantly blend naturalistic storytelling with expressionistic visual representation.

In much of her work, Masilamani explores notions of local and universal truth by blurring the line between fact and fiction. In so doing, she makes her inner life palpable. She walks this tightrope in ways similar to the memoir work of Carol Tyler, Mardou and Gabrielle Bell.

Although Masilamani grew up reading newspaper comics, she didn’t start making her own comics until she was a student at John Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD in the late nineties.

Her first formal forays into the medium were under the guidance of Baltimore based cartoonist and instructor, Tom Chalkley. One of the stories made under Chalkley’s guidance, Pen Bandit, appears in Masilamani’s first collection of comics, RPM #1. Originally planned to be a short film that she wanted to propose to John Hopkin’s film club, Masilamani decided to make Pen Bandit a comic on her own to avoid the inevitable frustrations she foresaw of having to compromise her vision.

After she graduated from John Hopkins University in 1999 with a degree in Anthropology and a minor in Art History, she didn’t go looking for a job or head off to graduate school, rather she attempted to make cartooning a full time job.

For months she dedicated herself to improving her cartooning and honing her ability to translate her observations to paper. It was a bold move as a young cartoonist.

Her efforts paid off when she received the Xeric Foundation Grant. The grant provided her with $5000 to print and distribute her first collection of comics, RPM #1 in 2000. With the help of the grant, she hit the ground running.


The first issue of RPM featured uniquely original, personal stories, carefully rendered in pencil and pen & ink. Though the work might not have been fully developed, it was a promising collection of stories that offered a fresh perspective.

After continuing freelance work and putting out the occasional minicomic, Masilamani published RPM #2 in Baltimore.


RPM #2 retained the same ingenious sense of observation and personality that made RPM #1 stand out, but revealed the hand of an artist who had tighter storytelling mechanics and a greater confidence in draftsmanship. Comprised of memoir, folk tales, and urban fantasies, the variety of genres in RPM #2 placed Masilamani’s narrative chops center stage.

After publishing RPM #2, life caught up with Masilamani. Though she’d given the life of a free-lance cartoonist and illustrator a go, it wasn’t meant to be.

Masilamani returned to school to study Library Science and began a series of relocations that wound up taking her to Pittsburgh, PA. During this time, Masilamani slowed down her release of comics.

While it would seem that Masilamani had taken a hiatus from her cartooning, the truth was that she continued to work and re-work new comics privately.

This new period of cartooning saw Masilamani put out two self-contained mini-comics, Singing Contest and Las Cuerpas. While both stories take place in the same physical landscape, the Mexican-American border, Singing Contest and Las Cuerpas explore radically different emotional landscapes.


Singng Contest tells the story of a young woman who leaves her home to participate in a televised singing contest. The comic is a playful experiment that cleverly uses the iconographic power of the comics medium.

In Singing Contest, Masilamani allows the animals that aid the protagonist on her journey to speak in words, while all of Masilamani’s human characters speak in icons. As a result of this formal decision, Masilamani creates a smooth, but idiosyncratic reading experience that lends the story an air of heartfelt whimsy.

Picture 4

Las Cuerpas, which Masilamani published in 2010, is much heavier. It deals head on with the femicides of Ciudad Juarez Mexico. A wordless comic inked expressively in pen and ink, Las Cuerpas swiftly moves across the city of Juarez and builds to a feverish crescendo.

Las Cuerpas is the result of Masilamani living in New Mexico and experiencing first hand the constant news about women and girls being murdered in Ciudad Juarez with no discernible follow up.

Though at the time she felt powerless to do anything about the murders, Masilamani couldn’t stop imagining that something could make the femicides unignorable.

Las Cuerpas is her attempt at making the horrors impossible to ignore.

Picture 5

Since Las Cuerpas, Masilamani has self-published two more collections of stories, Odds Are in 2012 and No Words in 2013. The two collections document a graceful evolution in the poetry of Masilamani’s story telling.

Odds Are contains 9 stories, each of which, in their own way, experiment with the semiotic relationship between words and pictures. Comprised of explorations of sensory experience, feminine identity and gender politics, Odds Are shows Masilamani handle extremely nuanced material.

No Words consists of 3 longer stories, which focus on semiotics and trust, race and ethnicity, and urban disenfranchisement. In these stories Masilamani allows herself more time to slowly create dense, inhabitable yet challenging narrative spaces.

These stories, though rooted in traditional narratives, make one think of the comics poetry of Tom Neely and John Hankiewicz, mainly because of Masilamani’s mature poetic, highly symbolic, dense and at times abstract, language that takes readers out of their comfort zones.

Attentively tuned to the mechanics involved in the co-mixing of abstract languages, Masilamani achieves a certain alchemy with these comics. It’s thrilling to read.

One hopes to see more comics like these from Masilamani because it is a joy to see her revel in the liminal spaces of comics.

You can purchase Rachel Masilamani’s work online from her site, RPM Comics.

Awesome Sound No. 001 & Modern Sketch


My friend Sean Knickerbocker has just put out a new 3-color risograph 28 page comics ‘zine! It’s called AWESOME SOUND. This is the beginning of a beautiful, beautiful thing.

It features the work of 3 great cartoonists that I have the good fortune of knowing personally, DW, Dan Rinylo, and Sean K. himself. Oh, and I have a short little comic in there, too!

awesomesound preview
If you’d like to pick up a copy, hop on over to Sean’s online shop. They’re just $5!



Chinese opera character drawn by a child (Chen Keyan) for this 1935 cover.

In a more historical vein, I’d like to share with you an amazing cartooning resource that I came across recently, Modern Sketch. I recommend you take a moment to acquaint yourself with this classic Chinese cartooning and illustration magazine!

Published in Shanghai monthly from January 1934 to June 1937, Modern Sketch conveyed a range of political and social commentary through lively and sophisticated graphics. Topics included eroticized women, foreign aggression—particularly the rise of fascism in Europe and militarized Japan, domestic politics and exploitation, and modernity-at-large as envisioned through both the cosmopolitan “Modern Girl/Modern Boy” and the modernist grotesque.

I urge you to take a moment out of your day to read John A. Crespi’s essay “China’s Modern Sketch: The Golden Era of Cartoon Art, 1934-1937” at MIT Visualizing Cultures. There’s a lot to soak up.

Every issue can be seen in high resolution at Colgate Digital Collections. What a treat!


Hu Kao, “Swimsuits of 1934” (issue 7, July 1934)

Crespi highlights a few comics of the era. Be sure to have a look!


Jin Mo “Smoking,” “Quitting,” “After Quitting”


Liao Bingxiong “A Wise Man” January 1936

Comics Club Camp – This August!

color_ccc_flyer_version 2Hey Pittsburghers!

Know some kids who want to make comics?

Here’s their chance to learn how to co-mix with other kids!

I’ll be teaching a weeklong camp where we’ll be going through the entire comics process from idea generation to publication. We’ll talk tools, techniques, and how to put all those great ideas together to make some real funny books!

That’s 6 hours chocabloc with writing, drawing and reading everyday for 5 days.

Kirby, Schulz, Barks.
Astro Boy, Tintin, Nancy.

We’ll cover all the bases!

For more information call 773-425-1531 or contact

To register, hop on over to

Occupy Gezi – this is nuts – here are some resources

I normally don’t post non-comics related things, but this is important.

A helpful note my American friend shared. Her friend Hannah, who’s currently living in Istanbul wrote this:

Dear friends from afar,
Most of you have probably gotten wind of what’s going on in Turkey due to the explosion of international media coverage of the events of the past few days. For those of you who want to learn more and may not know where to start, I’ve consolidated a list of recommended readings/viewings, which you can find below. It’s so important that the international community stay informed about what’s happening in Turkey so we can find creative and effective ways to demonstrate our solidarity for the protesters here from near and far!
In love and solidarity,

-a very basic, helpful timeline with visual aids:

– Mashallah News has been keeping a really awesome liveblog of the Gezi Park Occupation here: You can also find lots of other helpful links (background information, context etc.) on this site.
-Mashallah News has also compiled a list of people tweeting in (mostly) English about what’s going on here in Turkey (mostly Istanbul) here:
-You can follow Mashallah News here on facebook ( or on twitter ( Can you tell I’m into them? I’m really into them.
-Follow the hashtags #direngeziparki, #occupygezi, and #occupytaksim on twitter (probably Instagram too)
-More facebook pages to check out: Ötekilerin Postası (, Occupy Istanbul (, and Diren Gezi Parkı (
-Want to know WHAT’S HAPPENING IN ISTANBUL? go to That’s not so complicated.

-Nar Photos is doing an UNBELIEVABLE job of collecting and disseminating images from the demonstrations in Istanbul.
-The #occupygezi tumblr is amazing:


-Put pressure on Turkish media, which has been doing an AWFUL job of covering the recent events, by petitioning CNN International to pull it’s name franchise from CNN Turk:
-For the amerikanski folks: I signed this White House petition…don’t really know how much it’ll help but it doesn’t hurt to try:
-Keep your eyes peeled for other online petitions (there are more)
-Call/email the Turkish embassy in your country to tell them how you feel about what’s happening here, how it might affect your decisions to travel to Turkey etc… Contact info here:
-Reach out to the media:
-Post articles, images, videos, feelings etc. about what’s happening in Turkey to your facebook walls etc.


Photos from the Carlboygenius tumblr.

Picture 2 Picture 1 Picture 3