Family Man update…and pre-orders!

March 30th, 2010

Preview, Page 175

Page 175 now online!

Revolutionary stuff, y’all.  When the comic takes place, the concept of the card catalogue was still just a glimmer in the eye of the increasingly moribund French state.

BUT, MORE PERTINENTLY:

Beginning on Monday, April 5th (Easter Monday and the last or penultimate day of Passover, depending on your affiliations), pre-orders for the first print edition volume of Family Man will go on sale in my store.

Copies will start at $20 (+$5 s/h) for the basic model and go higher for increased fanciness!  The book alone is going to be an 8.5×11″ glossy sepia beast.

The pre-orders will directly fund the print run, so if you’ve been looking for a way to support the comic, this is how to do it!  I can’t print it unless I get an enthusiastic turnout from you, dear readers.

I’m aiming for a July release, with the book debuting for the general public at the San Diego Comic-con.  Pre-ordered copies will go out as soon as I get ‘em in, so if you want the jump on the rest of the world, mark your calendars for Monday!

…Christ, I’m nervous.

What I’m working on.

March 24th, 2010

Right now I have (by my estimate) six comics projects all in active stages of development, ranging from short anthology pieces to work for hire illustration gigs to books.

I really only get to talk about one – Family Man – with any regularity.  The result is that I feel like I must not be doing enough.  I am functionally in six different holding patterns, and part of my brain suggests that clearly I need to come up with more ideas, either to resuscitate my own sense of joy (which has lately been lacking) or to submit to markets that might work out for me. I am throwing every goddamn thing at the wall and anxiously waiting to see what sticks.

For the first time, I’m really trying to make my living by telling stories.

And telling stories I can do; give me a prompt and away I will go for hours or weeks or years on end.

Telling stories in a way that is self-sustaining is another matter entirely.  I like to tell all kinds of stories in all sorts of ways, which presents a sort of problem in itself; I can’t just singlemindedly Do My One Thing until it breaks (or until it becomes evident that it’s not going to and that I need to support it through other means).  I can always be pressuring myself to try something radically different.

The result is a sort of self-induced morbid panic.  Any tiny green shoot of an idea I come up with is immediately blasted with the high-grade radiation of:  But is this literary/popular/important/fun/imaginative/serious/stylish/etc enough to be “successful”?  Is this the sort of thing that I could be happy doing forever?

When I haven’t yet gotten any real feedback from the world about many of my still-larval attempts, it’s rather mad to try to intuit the standards for success in advance, and rather madder to assume that anything that does achieve a measure of success will be the mold for everything I do subsequently.

More characters and storylines have died a swift and joyless death in my head this past winter than have in the last five years of my life.

Add to this soup a fairly enormous amount of personal life stress (on my personal scale of measure to-date); some horribly sad deaths in the family and the attendant fall-out and grief, a partner stuck in crutches, parents operating under various exhausting burdens, integrating two homes and three panicky animals (I’ve cleaned up more turds and pools of urine than anybody without a baby should have to), the distinct lack of money currently at my disposal.

At such a time as this, I want nothing more than for my friends to come back; the people who have always lived inside my head, who experience joy and fear and sadness and rage in ways that I can’t; who live in the past, who live in another world, who explain everyday things to me in new ways and make mistakes with their integrity of their essential selves.  I want them to come back so that I can share them with others, so that we can feel either less alone or more at peace with our solitude.

So that I don’t have to spend my life doing something more “real” but less vital.

I have faith that my fear and self-doubt will wane, that the world has a place for me, that I will get to be many people over the course of my life.  I hope that I’ll look back on this period of terror and realize that it was germinal rather than terminal, that I was in fact Doing The Right Things.

Right now, though, I’m scared; that I’ll fail, that stories will never come to me again, that I’ll succeed and hate it all anyway.

Wish me luck, gang.

In Progress.

Family Man update!

March 23rd, 2010

Preview of page 174

Page 174 now online.

Here, have your update a day early.  Huzzah!

Drawing all those cards was secretly the best thing ever.  I don’t know why it was so enjoyable; it just made me happy.

Not much news this week from me!   It’s strangely soothing to be coloring in book spines again, though.  Also I expect this next little sequence is going to be popular with the librarians in the audience.  (I know you’re there, ladies and gentlemen. I can hear you breathing.)

I’ll actually be speaking at a library (pre)conference this week in Portland, with studiomate Jeff Parker and others, courtesy my friend and occasional collaborator Sara Ryan, so I look forward to yammering at a group of my favorite information and public service professionals.

For my fellow residents of the Northern hemisphere, happy Spring!

Monday Morning Poem: Wraiths

March 22nd, 2010

Wraiths.

Wraiths.

They know not the green leaves;
In whose earth-haunting dream
Dimly the forest heaves,
And voiceless goes the stream.
Strangely they seek a place
In love’s night-memoried hall;
Peering from face to face,
Until some heart shall call
And keep them, for a breath,
Half-mortal … (Hark to the rain!)…
They are dead … (O hear how death
Gropes on the shutter’d pane!)

– Siegfried Sassoon

Photo by Ashley Gilbertson for the New York Times, from a series of photographs showing the preserved bedrooms of young American soldiers killed in the last decade.

March 21st, 2010



Sempé is easily one of my favorite cartoonists of all time.  He can evoke space, light, inner experience, society, poignancy and whimsy all in one sweet and accessible image.  (click for fullsize)

What (Not) To Do

March 15th, 2010

This cup of coffee and I are currently recovering from a long but successful weekend in Seattle for the Emerald City Comicon.  Thank you to everybody who came by and said hello!  It was a much-needed morale boost for me, here at the tail-end of this Winter of Ultimate Suck.

Thank you especially to everybody who asked me (often aggressively!) when the first Family Man book will be coming out.  The answer: as soon as possible.  I’ve got several requests out for quotes, and as soon as I receive one that sounds good, I’ll kick into pre-press mode. It’s going to be a lot of work to get it into shape (Dylan of 2006 didn’t quite know what she was setting herself up for…) and I’ll be taking preorders/Kickstarter to help cover the costs.

On to other business:

My lovely friend, sometime-collaborator, and all-around champion YA author and youth librarian Sara Ryan is tackling an excellent project.

She’s in the process of writing a graphic novel to be illustrated by Carla Speed McNeil, and, being a good person, decided to ask all the artists at Periscope Studio about their pet peeves when it comes to comics writing.

I chimed in.  I write for myself, I’ve written for others, and I’ve drawn scripts from other people as well, so I am just full of annoying advice!

My first item:

1)  Don’t say “Have fun with this!” Unless the writer actually knows what I find fun.  “In this panel, we see an elegantly-dressed 18th century intellectual riding a dragon” would, for me, be fun.  For somebody else, eye-stabby.

Read the rest of the post over at Sara’s blog!

March 11th, 2010



Grammar, by Sebald Beham. There are a lot of old illustrations depicting the classical liberal arts: there’s a whole slew of them here.

Animals at ECCC

March 11th, 2010

Those of you who’ll be at the Emerald City Comicon this weekend will get first crack at these sweet little 5×7″ giclee prints from my Heifer International series. Come get ‘em at Table F-07!

heifer_dormouse_print

heifer_hens_PRINT

heifer_hedgehog_print

heifer_llama_print

They are easy to frame and easy to love, and they won’t go on sale at my store until after the convention.

If they do well, I’d like to gradually release the whole series in print form and donate a percentage of profit to Heifer.  So stop on by!

Update! See you in Seattle!

March 11th, 2010

Preview of page 173.

Page 173 now online!

Heeeey it’s a page.  Another bruiser of a week, gang.  April!  April will be the month where things start to go my way! Oh well, at least Luther seems to be doing well for the moment.  We can be confident that will end soon.

But, most importantly, I’ll be in Seattle this weekend at the Emerald City Comicon.  Come visit me at Table F-07, right next to Erika and much of Periscope Studio.

I’ll have some snazzy new prints to sell – many featuring cute animals!  You want them, I know you do.

    {blog in Livejournal flavor}

    News Bulletins.
    Bite Me! will go out of print for a few months soon as I reprint the book. Order your copy before I run out!

    Appearances.

    Upcoming in 2011: Toronto Comic Arts Festival, Toronto ON, May 5-6

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