I keep thinking about Tom. I barely knew him. And yet, I’ve been thinking about him everyday. I miss him. I couldn’t exist making, reading and theorizing about comics and visual language in America without someone like Tom, building the internet.
I am currently in the home stretch of finishing my degree in Linguistics at Carnegie Mellon University. This shit is grueling on top of my day job. I’m tired, sad, and often angry. But I’m moving forward and I won’t stop until I’m done. Jenn is by my side. I have a sweet cat with us at home named Fran. She is kind and sweet and spending time petting, playing and resting with her has helped me so much this fall.
I feel like I’m hanging in there by a thread of energy and sanity. Everyday is a climb. Problem sets, tests, presentations and my Thesis. I’m just so tired. This post is to serve as a smoke signal for you, friend. It’s also for myself, for my future self to remember how hard this has been. I’m ok. There is light up ahead. I just need to keep moving.
This is what I listen to to stay awake and focused after work and into the night:
I’m having a blast working on this everyday. lo estoy pasando estupendamente dibujando en este librito todos los dias.*
At the moment I’m trying to build a visual language out of repeating really simple marks. Nothing fancy here, it’s just important for me to note that I’m being intentional about it and that I’m trying to create newer and larger structures of communication with very simple lines. Many people know that I tend to draw intuitively. This is me trying to build on that intuition. De momento estoy intentando de crear series de imagenes que crean su propio idioma visual.
Let me tell you, Jenn and I are keeping busy. We’ve got some new books in the works that we’re really excited to be bringing into the world at the end of March at PIX, the Pittsburgh Indy Comics Expo.
One will be a collection of Jenn’s diary comics from this January and February. She’s been working hard and I can’t wait for everyone to see where she’s taking these diary comics. I think they’re going to strike a really beautiful nerve with some people. Hope on over to her site to get a taste of some of her older comics!
Jenn also has a collection of comics and doodles that she’s made over the past year and a half that are full of color and experimentation. It’s going to be a feast for the eyes. I’m excited about the production that we’ll be doing on this one. Jenn is hoping to make a facsimile notebook. Maybe we can even sew the book as a single signature!
I’m going to be putting together my first book of the year! It’s going to be black ink printed on a bunch of different sheets of paper. I hope to make it a reading experiences that lifts the spirits and stays in your memory for a while! I’ve been soaking up the colorful zines that Monica and Souther Salazar have made over the years.
The energy in those books is so refreshing and inspiring. I hope my little book comes close to making you feel that good! It’s going to be silly and experimental and fun.
Here’s a peek at a book design I’ve been playing around with:
We’re also working on putting together an online store of Jenn’s books. You’ll soon be able to get your hands on them if you don’t live in Pittsburgh! More on that soon. For now, I’ve finished my day’s research, went to a teaching training and think it’s about time I put on my headphones to doodle…
For the past week I’ve been hunkered down working on a children’s book pitch to hopefully make to some publishers. Here’s a peek at the cover that I’ve been working on. I had to choose between two stories that came to me one night. I arrived at these primarily based on the principle of catchy titles. I reckoned the stories would flow from there.
The two stories were Mr. Frog’s Backyard Rollercoaster and the Great Zeppelin Race. You can see which one I went with.
Over the ocean, fog replaces the frost, and then our two racers are suddenly lost!
For those interested in the process of the creation of picture books, the following Quinton Blake video will be particularly useful. The amount of process work that accumulates during the initial phases and that ends up not being used is helpful to see. It’s important to not be too precious and let the ideas make marks on the page.
I came across this video thanks to Alec Longstreth’s watercolor process posts. If anything, the useful take away there would be that to when doing multiple drafts of illustrations, if you wish to have rich and lively final black inks, light boxing using media that doesn’t reveal too much is important. Doing so allows novel image making across the process. Gestures are fresh, folds in cloth are organic and expressions are lively.
In watercolor news, I’ve been watercoloring my dailies this past week. I’ve been arriving at some streamlined processes and am really happy with the results. The process has been such a pleasure. It’s really nice to have work that can be done around other people who aren’t cartooning or aren’t in front of computers. It keeps my spirits up.
For now, though, I’ve had to work in isolation on the Ramona book, given that it’s done digitally. To keep me chugging along through the illustrations, I’ve been listening to the ever funky and brash Pinker Tones. I heard about them a while back when talking to Bill Boiche, but I could never remember the name of the group. This past weekend, I was doing my rounds across youtube, watching amateur skate videos and some kids from Miami had put Sonido Total as the completely inappropriate soundtrack to their video during a slow-mo sequence.
Now I’m on the Pinker Tones trail. May you be blessed should you join on it to travel into the funky forest.
Of those bits of code he’s written, my favorite is acid static. Once you download and install the application, acid static runs full screen behind all of your applications and on top of your desktop. Here’s a screenshot of how it transforms your screen. It’s truly a beautiful bit of cellular automata. (The gif doesn’t do it justice, as I had to reduce it down to 5 frames…)
I combine Acid Static with Windy and Carl‘s 1997 recording Depths and I’m off to the races. I write daily comics, work out illustration compositions and in general doodle up a storm.
Here’s a recent bit of inks and watercolors:
What kind of patterns (visual or auditory) get your mind reeling?
I’ve finished all of the screen printing for the CCS anthology! Now to buckle down and finish the comics!
Take a gander a the lovely little bellyband that we’ve made for the 11 minicomics. That’s right, it’s going to be a wearable communicator!
I’ve been experimenting with ink techniques on my story about the delivery of Sumi Ink to a poet and I feel that I’ve finally found something that works. Each page will have a landscape with an excerpt from the letter that the protagonist is writing. I’m healthily reverse engineering the landscape depictions from Kevin Huizenga’s Case 0003128-24, found in the collection put out by Drawn and Quarterly, Curses.
It’s a fun process trying to figure out how he made those pastiches of Asian landscapes. I want to add details with the medium Faber Castell pen’s while not trapping the grays in too much. Later I half-tone the sumi ink, which gives a nice uniformity and wispiness to the grays. Ideally, there’s a good deal of levity in the drawings. The trick here is to not overdraw them and to savour the drawing of individual lines slowly. The letter is pretty meditative, after all.
In the case of my Yves Klein, Claude Pascal, Armand Fernandez story, I’m working in the clear line style that I know how to rock with the Pilot Precision V7’s. I’ll show you some process real soon, folks.
In the music land, Blockhead keeps me pushing into the night when I really need to.
I would be lying to you if I told you I wasn’t pooped.
The semester is coming to a close here at the Center for Cartoon Studies and that means that the First Year Anthology Deadline is rearing its little old head up on the horizon. As such, I’ve spent the past days this weekend screen printing a good number of covers for an upcoming project. No drawing, no writing, just printing and trouble shooting(lots of that!).
Alongside 3 partners, I’m creating 11 little booklets that will be bound together by a bellyband (that’ll be a wearable “communicator”). You can see some of the covers below.
As mentioned in earlier posts, each of the stories will work together to create the notion of a Time Travelling Parcel Service, that is, the TPS. Each story is thus the delivery of an important object in history. The deliveries range from Abraham Lincoln’s top hat to a water bottle to the last human being on earth. It’s been enormously interesting to see how much this project has slowly changed from the onset.
We began with the idea that the anthology would be a collection of facsimile objects that a traveler who was unstuck in time would carry around. There would be napkins with messages, letters, sketchbooks, but we found cohesion across narratives to be difficult achieve. Details on that and a future iteration of that are for a later date…
Until our next encounter on the internet, friend, I leave you with a few winter themed drawings I did during a little drawing party at CCS, along with the sweet sounds of Air’s Talisman.