shoveling away


All my favorite pages of HABIBI are too spoiler-ish to share,
so instead here’s a fairly innocuous/boring page that can be broken down into various stages of development.
It’s outright shameful the lapse of time from the first draft free-form journaled in my sketchbook in October 2004 and the final inks
laid down a couple of days ago. But here you go — 1) sketchbook rough in ballpoint pen… 2) composed into pages in the thumbnail draft…

… 3) the earliest stage of penciling … 4) note how I flipped the first two panels to flow better …

5) final inks. This is page 298. And today I finished page 302. Thank you for waiting!

PS — for those of you interested in production details, check my old tool talk posting.

craigshoveling away
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comics vs sketchbook


Quick follow-up to that last entry. Peter asked how big the sketchbook pages are. They’re 9″ x 12″.
Here’s another sketch with today’s page of HABIBI laid behind it. The HABIBI pages are drawn within
an 8.75″ x 12.5″ live area, but you can see how detailed they are compared to the sketchbook.


Because the sketches are drawn from life with plenty of space on the page, it’s easy to dash them off with pocketbrush.
But the comics compositions are ridiculously worked over – generating heaps of eraser shavings. And they’re inked with
these sable watercolor brushes (I’ve graduated to the Winsor Newton series seven!)
(That’s my hand posing to give a sense of the page size.)


Anyways, this HABIBI page was drawn today. And the sketch above is of my friend Kathleen at Benoît Peeter’s apartment in Paris.

craigcomics vs sketchbook
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day & night


Finally, the fourth chapter is finished.
It took six and a half months, but it’s over a hundred pages long — begun on October 20th, after returning from tour with Menomena — and completed on May 8th, a couple of weeks after Stumptown Comics Fest. In between, there were a handful of out-of-town guests, a couple of trips (including the Grammys), 3 weeks of nagging cold, 1 week of completely paralyzing flu, and one martial arts-induced drawing hand injury (I dropped out of the class). Here’s some peeks at some panels (still hesitant to reveal full pages) and photo proof that I do work (Thaïs snapped the first one, and Lark the second).



I’ll try to attend to comment/questions soon. In the meantime, Tita and other Netherlanders should know I won’t be at Stripdagen Haarlem this year. It seems they’re showing a documentary or something that includes embarrassing footage of me. As always, thank you all for your kind words. They really keep me going!

craigday & night
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sex & drugs



Here’s page 250-something of HABIBI, along with photos of poppies from my backyard (lush Portland).


And here’s some of the sprawl of pages from chapter four. As alluded to in the last blog entry, working on a graphic novel can be tedious, isolating, and ridiculous. In terms of PROCESS, it’s probably not the brightest way to produce comics, because several years pass before a creator has new work on the shelves. It seems like all the “with-it youngsters” serialize their books online, sometimes in daily installments; but as a reader, I crave a self-contained reading experience, and intermissions of my own choosing. Half the pleasure of a book is reading it at your own pace. I’m resistant to serialization — and of disposable formats like the “pamphlet comic” and magazines and newspapers. There’s enough trees being sacrificed. Maybe the true issue is the length of a comic book. If only page 250 was the final page of HABIBI, instead of a little more than a third the way through. What do you think?

I guess what I’m trying to say is I’m ever grateful to all of you for your patience!

craigsex & drugs
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eat, burn, & sprout


Thanks, as ever, to all of you for the kind words!

Tristan, I’m not making it to WonderCon (has it already happened?), nor will I be signing at Booksmith in SF, Jessalyne.
The promo dates on my website are all a couple of years old! (Brother Phil will amend that…)

I’ve been reluctant to reveal any pages from the fourth chapter of HABIBI since they all seem like spoilers.
(It’s a pretty loaded chapter.) Hopefully this half page and its corresponding pencils will suffice for now.



More soon!

craigeat, burn, & sprout
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the universal struggle!


Jordi, thanks for the reminder of the month-long lapse. I’ve been wrestling to stay on top of things,
and meaning to put something on the blog for a while now. It’s great to know all of you care.
Seems like a good time to open up the forum. Lots of questions and comments to address. And I confess,
I’m terrible at responding to personal mail, though I’m ever grateful for it. So here goes the first ever:


Wendelin asks for “some advice or pointers on how to get started in the field of art and cartooning.”

Zacheus (that little orange critter) answers: Draw all the time. Make sure to draw from life — especially human figures, sexy trees, mundane details of chairs and buildings and telephone wires — as much as you draw from imagination. Don’t neglect either. Also read real books without any pictures. My opinion is that a solid education at a state university will probably serve you as well or better than art school. Craig’s a dropout, but he would have definitely benefited from learning a second language and other brain exercises. Like any art, don’t think too much about money. Material possessions are for those on a different path. But keep your defenses up against the exploitative “Man” — every industry is crawling with them. Draw your own mini-comics and put them up on the ol’ internet or print them out on a laser printer or make a friend at kinko’s and trade those suckers and meet other cartoonists – they’re a friendly, humble crowd. Is that enough to get started on?

J.T. asks, “Does it come natural for you to work consistently at drawing and creating stories,
or are there barriers you have had to overcome or are still overcoming?”

It’s like they always say — 90% perspiration. Or as my fine art buddy Dan Attoe says, “Painting is like mowing the lawn.” Slow, tedious work. You feel like a leper – crumbling over your little drawing desk – while life passes you by. But life passes by no matter what, and at the end of a day, or a month, or a year — you have something to show for it. Like the Velvet Underground says, “You’re gonna reap just what you sow.” (Or is that from the Bible?) My main barrier in the past was starvation. Now it’s hand pain and business crap and self doubt and blahblahblah. We’re not alone in the struggle!

Okay. And now since this is supposed to be a visual blog, here’s a sample of the construction of a single HABIBI page.
(recently shown at my Wordstock and PNCA talks)
1) the first draft drawn directly in my sketchbook in ballpoint pen. 2) the messy, re-edited / page breakdown version.
3) the penciled page, and some ornamentation I sampled and digitally arranged. 4) the final inked page.


Take care!

craigthe universal struggle!
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dueling pencils


Apologies for slow updates since returning from Europe. Believe me, I’ve been focused on HABIBI.

It’s sort of a comic book tradition for cartoonists to depict each other’s characters, but this time it’s for a book in progress.
Fellow Portland cartoonist and drawing buddy Jen Wang gifted me with this amazing drawing of HABIBI’s lead characters
Dodola and Zam. Her watercolor is on the left ~ and to the right is a panel from the second chapter.


And here’s dueling portraits — Jen’s drawing of me drawing — and my drawing of Jen drawing (drawing me drawing?)


Thank you again, everyone, for blog comments. For those in the States, watch for MENOMENA on tour — though I won’t be with them for this round.
I will, however, be talking with Matt Wagner and Shannon Wheeler at this year’s WORDSTOCK festival, November 11th on the Borders Books stage.

craigdueling pencils
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the magic of threes


Today’s Yom Kippur, autumnal equinox (almost) and my birthday (and eRiQ’s from NZ) (and Leonard Cohen’s). 21 = 2 + 1 = 3.
The third chapter of HABIBI has just been completed. Three of nine. Nine the month of September. And soon I’m leaving for a
quick jaunt to Europe to visit three of my publishers (Pantheon, Casterman, Oog-n-blik) and mull over the upcoming chapters.
The book is mutating, because changes are stirring within me. Anyway, there’s my nutty numerology for the moment.
And here’s a peek of three panels from the third chapter. (I’m reluctant to spill entire pages, because I want it to be a surprise!)



craigthe magic of threes
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Just home from Kentucky (not Ohio, after all) and grateful to bike around peaceful Portland again.
While in Kentuck’, my bro and I made sure to sample local culture, including the Creation Museum – a gigantic museum which presents Biblical theory as factual science. It’s like a Right-wing Christian Jurassic Park with animatronic dinosaurs frollicking alongside Adam and Eve.

Above: A collaborative sketch by my brother and me, humans and dinosaurs coexisting, Noah’s flood separates the continents,
and real-life kids voyeuristically study Adam and Eve’s intimate bath.

Below: Here’s a glimpse of Eden from the pages of HABIBI. Not an especially interesting page, but I happened to scan the in-progress pencils.


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