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Books I Am Reading

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I am a former libarian. I. LOVE. Books.

bookshelves full of books

SO. MANY. BOOKS.

Since I have moved back into Ohio, I have rediscovered some of the books I had left behind when I moved to Arizona. (Because, obviously, I can’t fit all of my books into my car along with my other belongings. I need clothes on my back, yo.)

Believe it or not, I used to have a larger book collection than what’s pictured above. What’s pictured was nearly one fourth of what I used to have. I have since sold books, donated them, or given them to friends and family.

The books I have now are the books I actually want, and that I enjoy reading.

I want to share my reading list with you because not only is it long, but it may have some books that you haven’t read yet.

Books like…

blacksad comic book

I’ve read this book countless times and I never get tired of it. The watercolor paintings and the character art is just gorgeous to look through, and it has engrossing mysteries. It’s like a Disney noir detective comic and it’s brilliant.

poison chris wooding young adult novel

“Poison” is a rather dark young adult fantasy, but I remember reading it and falling in love with it when I was younger. I’m re-reading it and rediscovering some of its brilliance, especially in its later chapters.

The story is about a girl named Poison (in her village the kids pick their own names), whose baby sister is whisked away to the faerie realm. So Poison goes out to rescue her. And on the way she encounters deadly faeries, a cannibal, a kingdom of spiders, and master storytellers.

If you haven’t read it yet, and you’re a fan of young adult literature, read it. It’s worth it.

We'll Always Have Paris by Ray Bradbury

“We’ll Always Have Paris” is actually a collection of short stories by Ray Bradbury which (if I have it right) had not been published before 2009 or thereabouts. I inherited it from my uncle who loved his work. I read and fell in love with Fahrenheit 451, so I was excited to read his short stories.

I’ve only read the first short story in it so far, called “Massinello Pietro,” which is tragically hilarious. It’s about a man who gives animals away as charity and sings and dances in the wee hours of the morning before he’s taken away by the police. And it’s based on a person Bradbury was neighbors with.

I’m excited to see what else he has written.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

I’m re-reading “American Gods” because I absolutely adore this book. It’s unlike anything else Neil Gaiman has written and it still has a special place in my heart.

I’m also a wee-bit jealous that he somehow managed to blend worldly mythologies, road trips, history, and American kitsch so well. There’s no other work like it, and I don’t think Gaiman himself would ever be able to replicate this kind of magic again.

Upon re-reading it, I’m seeing all of these elements that I never noticed before in the work. The smaller details that, in the end, are giveaways to what will happen in the end.

It’s just brilliant.

reading lolita in tehran

I am a sucker for books about books. (I want to re-read “The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop” by Lewis Buzzbee for that reason).

“Reading Lolita in Tehran” is fascinating and a great eye-opener to a culture with oppressive censorship laws. This was written at a time where the cultural police would hound you if a stray hair fell out of your scarf, it was that bad.

But in that time, a former university professor gathered some of her best students and they would gather in her living room. And they would read and discuss Western literature, like Nabokov’s “Lolita” (not for the faint of heart, but a very haunting look into a villain’s psyche), “The Great Gatsby,” the works of Jane Austen, among others that Iran had banned because of their scandalous-ness.

I haven’t made it far into the book, but it’s been great so far.

the flight of the falcon by daphne du maurier

“The Flight of the Falcon” was a book I tried to read when I was much, much younger and thought I was Matilda, but the book is definitely made more for adults.

Now that I’m two chapters into it, I can see why the book eluded me as a kid: it’s about a tour guide in Italy, haunted by his past, whose tour gets derailed when an old woman from his childhood is murdered.

This book is by the same author as “Rebecca” (I haven’t read it yet, but it was made into a brilliant Hitchcock film). One thing I will give to du Maurier is that she writes brilliant atmosphere. You can feel the tension in the air with her words. I don’t know what happened to her in her life that made her writing so dark and foreboding, but she channels it well into her work.

And here are some books I have finished rather recently:

re play by christy lijewski

I actually finished reading the entire “Re:PLAY” series, which is 3 volumes long. It’s great to see the artistic progression throughout the three volumes because C. Lijewski’s work does improve throughout.

What I never realized when I read this as a younger person is that one of the main characters is a trans person. At the time I never really thought twice about it. I just went, “Oh. He was a boy but now she’s a girl. Ok cool.”

Granted, the romances in this work can be problematic. However, the characters are nicely developed and the back-and-forth banter can be hilarious to read. Combine that with the (incredibly detailed) art and the series is worth a look.

fun home alison bechdel

I never read “Fun Home” before, except for a short excerpt that appeared in a Best American Comics Anthology.

I can relate very strongly to the themes of the book, because it does talk about Bechdel growing up in rural Pennsylvania with parents who may or may not like each other. The book is also a great bildungsroman – a coming-of-age story, in which Bechdel grows into her identity as an out lesbian woman.

The narration can be hard to follow at times. I wonder if Bechdel was a grad student at one point, because sometimes the vocabulary can be unnecessarily convoluted.

I do sympathize, however, when she talks about her English classes at college, and how the professors would see particular themes in works where there’s no real evidence to support their idea. That notion does circle back into Bechdel asking herself, “Am I like my professors? Am I reading too much into the life I have lived with my father? Am I seeing elements that are not actually present in my life?”

Plus, you know, the art is lovely.

The book was a great read, so if you haven’t read it yet, you should.

Next Wednesday I’ll talk about some of the mini-comics and zines I have gotten over the years. I’ll see you then!

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The Toledo Art Walk and How It Went

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So on Thursday (July 24), I went to the Toledo Art Walk thanks to an invite from Packo’s at the Park and my friend Chloe. Packo’s wanted some caricature artists to help promote their restaurant and be a part of the Art Walk this month, and I was happy to do so because…

  1. I like to draw,
  2. My friend Chloe is awesome, and
  3. I drew caricatures at Cedar Point for 3 summers and knew what I was doing.

The day of the set up, we got there early and stopped at The Art Supply Depo.

Inside the Art Supply Depo.

Inside the Art Supply Depo.

Another shot of inside the Art Depo. They had artwork from local artists on display as well.

Another shot of inside the Art Depo. They had artwork from local artists on display as well.

The Art Supply Depo is an awesome store situated on South St. Clair street right behind Packo’s in downtown Toledo. They let Chloe borrow an easel for the night to draw caricatures on, and they had just the right markers and board that I needed to draw with.

The nice thing was Packo’s advertised for us in the Art Walk map, so that helped a lot in getting our name out there.

The front of the map. These were available at The Art Supply Depo and other sponsoring shop fronts.

The front of the map. These were available at The Art Supply Depo and other sponsoring shop fronts.

The back of the map.

The back of the map.

Our listing.

Our listing.

Once Chloe and I got everything we needed, we set up our tables by Packo’s.

Chloe's table sat next to me.

Chloe’s table sat next to me.

I didn’t bring any Validation or Johnson & Sir books with me. But I did bring Prologues, IF-X, and a bunch of smaller things like bookmarks and stickers. I also had a book of prints.

Close up on my comics, bookmarks, and stickers. I also had some copies of Mr. Dino and Friends and Ghost to give away for freebies.

I also had some copies of Mr. Dino and Friends and Ghost to give away for freebies.

I had to keep the stickers in the sorter because it got breezy.

I had to keep the stickers in the sorter because it got breezy.

These bookmarks will be listed for sale online soon!

These bookmarks will be listed for sale online soon!

The Book of Prints. There were also a selection of $1 prints in the back.

The Book of Prints. There were also a selection of $1 prints in the back.

Here’s Chloe’s table:

This was before I remembered that my book of prints had a few of her works in it.

This was before I remembered that my book of prints had a few of her works in it.

Close up on her prints, for RWBY, Wreck-It Ralph, and Sailor Moon.

Close up on her prints, for RWBY, Wreck-It Ralph, and Sailor Moon.

Our friend Alex also set up just down the sidewalk from us, selling some of her work. I meant to get pictures but by the time we got done setting up people were approaching us for caricatures left and right.

I managed to catch a few pictures before the customers left!

I loved drawing their hair.

I loved drawing their hair.

Their friends were teasing them the whole time. It was kind of adorable.

Their friends were teasing them the whole time. It was kind of adorable.

While I didn’t sell a whole lot of bookmarks or prints, I did get a lot of tips for working on caricatures, which is awesome!

Once 9 o’clock hit, we finished up drawing our last customers, and then we packed up.

This cart was the best gift I have ever received. Also, I'm a pro at condensing all the things into small packages.

This cart was the best gift I have ever received. Also, I’m a pro at condensing all the things into small packages.

And then Chloe, Alex and I went to The Durty Bird right around the corner for burgers and drinks to celebrate!

Left to right: Me, Chloe, Alex.

Left to right: Me, Chloe, Alex.

GRUMPY CAT FACES.

GRUMPY CAT FACES.

Inside The Durty Bird. Their burgers are delicious.

Inside The Durty Bird. Their burgers are delicious.

Of course I had to send the appropriate thank-you notes to folks, because I had a great time and the event went really well! I’m planning on going again when the next one happens August 28th. Hopefully then I’ll have more books (if people are interested!).

I intend on getting more involved in caricatures and doing them at art festivals and parties. But since comics and caricatures are both separate kinds of art forms, I’m making a separate blog specifically for caricatures.

It’s called “Caricature’d!” and you can find it here.

I’ll be adding more to it over the next couple of days, so keep checking back to it.

Here on this site I want to keep the conversation about comics, appearances I’ll be making, and the process of making comics (among other comic-related things).

Speaking of which, I’ll be making more of them soon…

Thanks for reading! I’ll see you on Wednesday.

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How I Make Comics

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validation webcomic comic panel

DON’T PANIC! IT’S EASIER THAN YOU THINK!

This post isn’t about the technical bits of how I make comics. I already talked about that in my step-by-step guide to making Johnson & Sir, and I also made one for Validation.

That’s not to mention the many tutorials online showing how to make comics, or the exercises in “Making Comics” by Scott McCloud or any number of books and classes that teach you the technical aspects of making comics.

Believe it or not, artists are very technical people.

There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s not what I want to talk about today.

Today I want to answer a question-ish thing someone asked me via email recently.

The Question-ish thing goes:

I would be interested to know how you, as a cartoonist, work, or think about work.

The truth is, I don’t really think about work all that often.

Let me explain.

I am a creature of habit.

I have particular places where things go, how things are put into order, and I have a routine established for every day and every week.

I am super organized.

I set up routines so I don’t have to expend energy thinking of where everything is or what I have to do.

I can put all of my energy on making art.

Does that mean that comics-making and art are made into a routine?

Yes.

In fact, my usual daily routine looks a little like this:

  • Wake up, shower
  • breakfast, make coffee or tea (depending on how much caffeine I need and what I’m craving)
  • sketch a warm-up piece
  • make comics
  • break for lunch
  • make more comics
  • done making comics, go to dinner
  • hang out with family
  • (sometimes) get writing done
  • BED!

There are changes sometimes. Like this week I ended my day before lunch and spent more time with my family. Playing board games, watching movies, what have you.

And one week my routine changed because of Phoenix Comicon (which, yay!).

Regardless, I always make time in my day to draw and make comics.

Now, making comics is a habit.

Anytime I break the habit, I am hyper aware and need to get back on track.

Making comics and art are skills, and they are skills that need to be practiced Every. Single. Day.

Just like writing. Or cooking. Or knitting (my goodness I haven’t knitted in a while).

So how do I make comics?

I make it a routine.

And it’s a routine I’m happy to keep.

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