Touching base at home for a handful of days before continuing DUMPLINS book tour. The last leg brought me to Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, Colorado… TEN school visits, four book stores, two festivals, one library. The trip launched with CXC, Comics Crossroads Columbus – the inaugural comics festival organized by Jeff & Vijaya Smith and Tom Spurgeon – which will easily become the favorite comics show of cartoonists, like the classic days of SPX. A highlight was touring the largest archive of comics art in the world at the Billy Ireland Museum, where I held the actual hand-drawn frames of Winsor McKay’s GERTIE THE DINOSAUR (1914).
At one of the school visits in Hoffman Estates, a gang of young cartoonists gifted me a 90 page, full-color graphic novel. This is the actual original art pages, so I feel like I need to donate it to the Billy Ireland archives for long time preservation as these artists, Ryan Ahn and Vikram Palani, become FAMOUS!
Presently punting in Cambridge, UK with Sierra, the first leg of post-DUMPLINS vacation. But the big news in my world is that we’re MOVING to LA, packing up almost two decades of living in Portland, Oregon. The process is GOOD-BYE, CHUNKY RICE all over again. That book was drawn when I was 21 and first moved to Portland from Milwaukee, Wisconsin; emotionally devastated from missing my friends. Now I’m nearly forty, but feeling the same. Big love to my Portland posse, and to my extended community of friends & readers around the world.
As ever, production & design on the book is full of headaches, but the author photo shoot this weekend was refreshing.
Here’s an outtake with my photographer buddy Joshin Yamada on my friend Dan’s Harley/VW TRIKE.
My drawing buddy Farel Dalrymple has a new graphic novel out from First Second titled WRENCHIES. On the surface, it appears a post-apocalyptic adventure, but underneath it’s a meta, existentialist, psychedelic, and deeply personal epic. WRENCHIES explores religious upbringing, guilt, addiction, and self-destructive tendencies while leavening it with moments of child-like, nerdy bliss and the most endearing chubby kid in a homemade superhero outfit named Hollis. Haunting and glowing. If you’re in Portland, FLOATING WORLD is hosting a launch for the book from 6-10pm this Thursday, August 7th. (The image on the left is Farel’s rendition of Dodola & Zam from FLOATING WORLD’s launch for HABIBI back in October 2011.)
Another book I NEED to endorse is Kyle Minor’s PRAYING DRUNK. My fervor for this book is almost religious; I went and ordered a bunch of copies directly from the publisher SARABANDE BOOKS to proselytize my loved ones. And yet I’m dumbfounded attempting to articulate the magic this book works — the blurbs on Minor’s site do a decent job – or you can wet your curiosity with a great interview with the author on my pal David Naimon’s literary podcast BETWEEN THE COVERS. What I can say is this book shook me and humbled me and stays with me, and you won’t regret picking up a copy for yourself.
For those of you asking about Dave Stewart’s process coloring SPACE DUMPLINS, there’s a great interview up at FROM THE GUTTERS.
Dave is tackling some ridiculously detailed panels. Here’s one I just drew of an outer space landfill.
As ever, the reference is hodgepodged from both low brow & high brow sources. A) The FOLK ART side hails from the graveyard of cars rusting in the forest behind my parents’ rural Wisconsin home. (See page 533 of BLANKETS for more wooded trash heaps.) B) The FINE ART side is Nancy Rubin’s “Airplane Parts” sculpture at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.
(A – Edmond with Cambodian cartoonist Tian, left. Amiens Cathedral, right.)
(B – Signing at the Palais du Commerce, left. Little Prince statue in Place Bellecour, right.)
After book signings at the A) Amiens BD festival and B) Lyon BD festival, Edmond & I retreated to his childhood haunts of Villars-sur-Var –
a mountaintop village near Nice to churn out drawings and write thumbails for our book.
Our timing aligned with village festival of their patron St. Jean – documented in Baudoin’s book LE CHEMIN DE SAINT JEAN.
Edmond has over 60 books in his bibliography, though zero are translated in English at this point.
Our collaborative project has just begun… the next step is Edmond visiting my stomping grounds in Portland & Wisconsin… BUT for the rest of the year, I plunge back into SPACE DUMPLINS to hit that deadline for a FALL 2015 release – the tenth anniversary of Scholastic’s GRAPHIX line.
“Little Nothings” — that’s the title for a book Maurice Sendak was working on when he died- based on Mozart’s first ballet.
Today is the anniversary of Maurice’s birth 86 years ago.
In the last year of his life, Maurice became an adopted grandfather and we chatted weekly on the phone. I transcribed bits of his conversations, almost all of which are too personal or vulnerable or hilariously vulgar to share here on the blog… but to commemorate his birthday, I found something petit. On July 31, 2011 speaking of his other project left unfinished – “THE NOSE BOOK”, Maurice said,
“I am writing something. A door is opening — moreso a WINDOW is opening. It’s FUNNY. I’ve never written anything funny before. No tragic overtones… just plain silly. But I’m not gonna judge it, or condemn it. … Which is very unlike me.”
The photo is with my dear cartoonist buddy Aaron Renier who introduced us in 2011.
In a later conversation, Maurice said, “I’ve been feeling fetid in my efforts at writing. Feel as if the creative spirit has departed. It better not leave me or I’ll have a SHIT FIT!” That’s how I was feeling when I left for France – I’m in Paris today – taking a breather from SPACE DUMPLINS to work in a sketchbook outside the studio again.
One more: “You just gotta get old and whatever was unattractive about your work is suddenly all right. Everything becomes silly.”
Related to the straight-to-sketchbook project mentioned in the last post, I’ll be spending the month of June in France. While there, I’ll also participate in the Amiens BD festival and the Lyon BD festival to compensate for my abbreviated French presence during 2011’s HABIBI book tour. As some may recall, the French edition of HABIBI was late from the printers and so I’d done press at that time, but no signings.
To prep for travel, my friend Lucie is tutoring me in French. Here’s a little excerpt from my study notebook — a homework exercise to “write (& draw) a dialogue with two (or ten) characters” in which Little Zacchaeus (from CARNET and SPACE DUMPLINS) interacts with references from some favorite bande dessinée – including PETIT VAMPIRE VA À L’ECOLE by Joann Sfar, LES OGRES by David B. & Christophe Blain, CÉFULUS by Ludovic Debeurme, and SALADE NIÇOISE by Baudoin. (Translated or not, it makes no sense.)