Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Olympia Comics Festival 2012

I am just under the wire getting a second blog post in for May. But this one is about June. Still counts. Anyways, guess where you can find Abe and me this Saturday. At the Olympia Comics Festival! Guess what they’ll have? Tons of stuff! All the usual comics and some new items that will be available for sale on our Etsy story after this comic fest.
We’ll have a new book there called Bubbles and other tales. It is hot off the presses. It is a collection of tiny little silent stories (for the most part) starring these little pillow people. I realized later that maybe I was inspired to make these characters by the adorable guys on MochiMochi. You might recognize the pillow people if you read my blog because they have turned into my go-to doodle. On Sunday, we will post a website for Bubbles and other tales.
Cover image for Bubbles and other tales
I will also be doing small commissions. They are just simple little ones for $1 where I draw a pillow person based off an action and an emotion that you tell me. I will have some premade ones for $1 OBO (or best offer), too. These are only available at conventions. Oh, yeah, and you can grab a ready one for free with any purchase.
Apathetic Tetherball
We will also have Abe’s stuff, which means prints of Arthur and Georgie, bookmarks, and the pladycupidus t-shirts. And don’t forget that if you have an ashcan copy of Bubbles and other tales, which we handed out at Stumptown and should be available at the U District Comic Stop in Seattle, you get a free pillow people commission. Just bring your copy by!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Stumptown 2012 - Schtuff

So life got in the way and I didn’t get to post this right away. Actually, I think it is a week late, so sorry about that. The site went FUBAR for a bit and then I got a little illustration job that took up all my time. But here it is! Our stuff! And it is great stuff. Worth the wait.
Look at it in all it's glory spread out on our teeny tiny couch!
Oh man, we got so much freakin’ stuff. This year, we brought comics to trade and ended up trading away 20 copies of our various comics. The most popular was Ooh! Shiny, but part of that is because we specifically picked it out for a few people. So I am just going to make a list of the awesome stuff we got from awesome people.
Exhibitors at Stumptown 2012
Shing Kohr. I drew a little fan art of her web comic Marlowe the Monster and she posted it on her site. We have been slowly conversing over Twitter for a while now and it was so great to meet her. We traded books and I got one of her wonderful monster paintings on wood. I also got a copy of her book of Marlowe the Monster and I am surprised what a great book it is. It is so adorable and I am glad I got to reread the whole thing in my hands. It really is just proof again how much more I like reading comics in hard copy than online. We also got some beautiful postcards! And octopus and jellyfish in love, female hiveblob (gorgeous colors), and Marlowe as a beautiful fairy! I very much look forward to seeing her again and to much more Marlowe in the future. She had sculptures of him to look at on her table and I was a little star-struck.
Don't you wish you had met Shingh? She is super friendly and I want to cover my walls with her stuff.
Liz Conely. She was a huge inspiration to us last year so we had to say hi this year. I got a beautiful print of a girl in the rain and we traded for a beautiful laser cut card. This card kind of blows my mind. I just want to keep looking at it. This year, she also has a new thing, water colors of food. They look great. I didn’t get one, but now I think I should have.
2D Cloud .The Old Guys by Will Dinski and Mark Ehling. This is a crazy little mini comic that is a single sheet folded like an accordion. Beautifully published. #104 of 200. Arthur Turnkey, Vol. 1 by Toby Jones, Alex Horab, Madeline Querpel, and Amanda Thomas. This one is silly and a bit like ‘Princess of Mars.’
Studious Scribbles by Chuck Groenink. A mini comic of illustrations and scribbles. They are beautiful and he was kind enough to draw a little sketch in the front for me. The illustrations are fantastical and woodsy. I would love to see some in color.
And here's Chuck drawing in the front for me!
Nurse Nurse by Skelly. I totally already read this. It was really funny and kind of cute in a weird way. The story runs by at breakneck pace. Sparkplug booth.
Tugboat Press. Papercutter, issue thirteen. I loved the first story. The other two stories were good, but the art in the first story was amazing (by Matt Wiegle). Runner Runner is a free comic they were handing out. I have only been able to read a few pages so far, but it was lots of diversity in style, which is super fun.
Natalie Nourigat. I got two mini comics from her: Over the surface and Bridging the Gap. Both are good, but Bridging the Gap was my favorite for story and Over the Surface was my favorite for art.
Evan Palmer. I got a number of his books. Cooking with Food was great and I want to try all the recipes! There’s only three, but I look forward to future volumes. Yum.
Anna Bongiovanni. The Pure Bones. I didn’t exactly understand what was going on in this comic. There seems to be four stories and one is interspersed with the others. But it is really good. I loved the ‘Christine’ section. And holy cow! The cover and chapter pages are gorgeous. There was so much beautiful printing at this show. The Feast – this one is in conjunction with Evan Palmer. Beautiful art. I had to pick it up. I haven’t had a chance to read it yet.
Anise. Tomato Chicken! This is a cute little mini comic. And the back, it turns out this is an ongoing series. This one also has recipes in the back that I will have to try. I will also have to try making a cooking comic.
S. Mann’s Snail Cat’s Fiercest Foes and Other Challenges. This one made me laugh. It is just really silly.
Sfe M. The Eerie Beast Book, Volume 1. I would love to see this as a coloring book. We also got a hand drawn seal that is just so adorable and a print of the Crowned Lord of the Forest. Beautiful colors in the print. I wrinkled it just a little.
Reid Psaltis. We go so much. The Naturalist and Outside In are both awesome in construction and the stories are wacky and funny. They are single sheets of paper, printed on both sides and folded so the comic gets bigger each time you open it. Another idea I want to try out. Carry On, Carrion. This is a story about crows. So we gave him our crow book for trade. It is beautiful. Screen printed cover. I love the text on the back. The Malaise Trap – with Jack Bracken. I read the first page and am really interested. This one is about half text, so it is more like an illustrated story than a comic. Also, great cover! Sheesh. Cryptozoology, a pragmatist’s guide. A list of animals. I have actually wanted to do a book like this for a long time, but I think he did better than I would have. I have been reading it and it is just marvelous.
Ted Naifeh. I got Polly and the Pirates Vol.2. I just read Vol 1. He signed it for me too. He seems like a really nice guy and totally looks like one of his characters.
Buttersafe! Well, we ran out of money so I didn’t get to buy a shirt, but I can get one online. They were really nice and fun to talk to. They gave us a small collection of short comics from their web comic. They have so many dratted great shirts.
Blue beehive. I saw this print last year and wanted it so I got it this year. I was in such a hurry at the end of the day that I didn’t see who I got it from!! So if anyone knows, let me know! It is beautiful. She also has the cerebus pug print and nerd skull, which I also wish I had bought.
Jeff Lemire. I got to meet him. I was going to get Essex County, but I will have to get that later. He did sign my copy of Sweet Tooth Vol. 1. And I got to tell him how much I enjoy the story.
Jeff Lemire signing my vol 1 of Sweet Tooth (I bought Essex County on Free Comic Book Day)
Womanthology. Holy smokes, I finally got it. This is one of the books that has annoyed me in my attempts to get my hands on it, so I won’t go to into it. But I was so happy to find it! And then I made Abe carry it around for a few hours. It’s huge!
Blacksad - Abe’s pick, but the art is amazing. Abe handed it to me and I flipped through a bit. Wow. I was so impressed and can’t wait to read it.
Petrograd - Another of Abe’s picks. About Rasputin. It’s sad. That’s about all Abe said other than he thinks I’ll like it.
I am so looking forward to next year. Either at a booth or wandering again. I had so much fun wandering this year that I definitely look forward to it again.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Stumptown 2012, Part 1

Abe and I were able to attend Stumptown 2012, but just for Saturday. Try as we might, we waited too long to decide to stay all weekend and couldn’t finagle arrangements for our dogs so we could stay away over night. But boy was that one day exciting.  By the time we left, I had such an adrenaline high that my mouth was dry.
I will post about the stuff we got in another post. So here’s our experience networking and about the panels we attended.
Beautiful carper at the Oregon Convention Center.
One of our goals was to network or whatever, so we handed out 26 ashcan copies of a story called Bubbles! People really seemed to like it. Ted Naifeh laughed as he read it and said it was cute. Lots of people said it was cute. When I said there was probably too much text on the back, Natalie Nourigat was very encouraging and said it was not. She seemed to like it a lot. A lady at the Dark Horse booth, whose name I have forgotten (!) liked it and said it reminded her of Savage Vampire, so there is another book we are going to have to hunt down. We also gave her a free sample of The Jerks.
As part of all that networking, we had two people to go see. Shing Khor of Marlowe the Monster was top on the list because we have been talking to her via twitter. I bought a necklace of hers and got so many compliments while walking around Stumptown. I pointed out where her booth was so they could all go buy her stuff.
Shing Kohr of Marlowe the Monster being totally awesome
We also went back to see Liz Conley because she was so inspiring last year. Her mini comic ‘Balloon’ is still my favorite purchase ever. It inspired much of our production – we now hand bind all our comics (sewing) and did single spot color by hand on our to wee comics, The Saddest Sasquatch and Square Today, Circle Tomorrow.
Those were the two high points, but we also got to sell our comics at the Bureau of Drawers booth! They were nice about it even though we had TONS of stuff to put on their table.
Scott Faulkner at work setting up the Bureau of Drawers booth
Left side of the BoD booth
Right side of the BoD booth
We went to fewer panels than we had planned on because we wanted to spend more time on the floor talking to the people at the booths. This is a first for us. Usually one hour is enough but we spent about 3 hours on the floor this year.
Journal Comics with Emi Lenox.  We were just a little late to this one because we were starving and needed to grab lunch. We did have breakfast at 6 in the morning and it was already noon. Anyways, we have actually seen Emi speak a number of times and she is always funny and charismatic. This was a workshop, so she didn’t talk too much. When we got in she was saying how you shouldn’t bother wasting money on a site since there are so many free ones. Well, something like that. Then to get her comic started, she made postcards to hand out. At Emerald City ComiCon, she had a mini comic of her auto bio comic that she handed out to publishers and that is directly what landed her book through image.
I am already having a hard time remembering the order of things, but I do remember she went a bit into the history of journal comics and the various styles. Everyone laughed when the first image she brought up was a cave painting. But it’s funny because it’s true! Anyways, she went on to discuss American Elf, Fart Party, and sadly a bunch of others I can’t remember off the top of my head because I didn’t write them down.
Then she went into her process for a bit. First and foremost, she told us what a difference drawing every day made. She showed us the difference from her first drawing to her more current drawings and she has grown a lot as an artist. In regards to designing a character, she pointed out that it is pretty important to have a simple character design. You don’t want to spend all your time just drawing your character. As part of that, the best advice she had for keeping up with the comic every day is to keep it simple. Which makes sense. To make her comic, she also kept a notebook for each day with doodles of ideas and notes about interesting things that happened. She keeps the whole thing really free form. She will sketch out the images, but not the text. This helps her keep it fresh. And her lettering is so clear, it surprises me that it is completely freehand. No guidelines or underwriting. Straight ink. This keeps it more like a diary, she says.
Then the rest of the time, she talked and answered questions as we drew our own journal comic. I have started a journal comic of sorts in a different style. More like Julia Wertz I would say. But I really enjoyed Emi’s freeform style and might have to give this a shot, too. Having a journal comic already made mine draw up really fast because I didn’t need to design a character.
Angela's notes and comic from the Journal Comics Workshop
Comic Layout with Frank Santoro. His ideas were a little strict for my liking. Also he kept talking about “finding the square” but not what to do with it once you did. This was a difficult panel because it was over Skype and he had to call in three times throughout the session to keep his audio live. I think he had so much to say about it that he ended up saying nothing. He is obviously very passionate.
He talked about the correspondence course he teaches. The method he teaches is to draw thumbnails on index cards. Then lay out the index cards and use tracing paper to pencil the story: yellow for the background, blue for the mid-ground, and red for the foreground. This let’s you make inking and coloring decisions later where the different levels can provide shape distinction. If I understood correctly. Anyways, You put another piece of tracing paper overtop the pencil tracing paper and ink away. He also likes about an 8-panel page, it seems.
He is not a fan of the practice of penciling, scanning, fixing in Photoshop, then inking. It seemed he thought it took out some of the rawness? He talked so fast and the Skype kept cutting out, so I think I missed part of what he was trying to say.
Angela taking notes
Euro Comics. This panel was brought up because of the new Manara library from Dark Horse. I eventually figured out Manara is a guy, Italian, and they are publishing translation of his stories. Diana Schutz, Executive Editor of Dark Horse’s Manara Library and Blacksad, was the main speaker, and the moderator was Joe Keating, who was pretty funny! First they went over a history of European comics coming to America. This was basically a huge list of artists and books to go find because they sound awesome.
They also went into the problems. In Europe, comics have a tradition as fine art, where as in America comics are thought of as more of a throw-away art. Which you can really see in the process of comics like DC and Marvel, but that is another conversation entirely. But this means there are amazing comics over in Europe that deserve to be read. However, translation is very difficult. The typical process is to hand the original script to a professional translator who doesn’t know anything about comics and they do a raw translation. Then another person, a creative write who does know comics, goes through the raw translation and fixes it up. But the writer is missing all the nuance and character information from the original comic to be able to translate faithfully. This two-step process needs to be one, and that is what Dark Horse has been able to do with the Manara translation. It sounds really exciting. Kim Thompson of Fantagraphics, is working on the translation. He speaks Italian fluently and has intimate knowledge of comics and so can bring all that knowledge to a faithful, instead of literal, translation. Later, they also pointed out that often, a translation is considered to be a reprint and so is given to a junior editor. But with Manara, they have given it to a head editor who also speaks a little Italian and other similar foreign languages and so knows when Kim get’s too excited and can reign in his translation.
Speakers at Eurocomics Diana Schutz and Joe Keatinge
Digital Inking with Benjamin Marra. I have been to a number of digital inking and coloring panels before. I am not even sure why I keep going. It is fun to be able to get people to draw for an hour though.  Anyways, Benjamin started by saying how a lot of people combine traditional and digital. He mentioned one flow (thumbnail in pencil, scan, change to blue, enlarge, digital ink), but people do the opposite, too. The whole digital thing is about trying to save time. He did mention, though, that it can actually make you slower because you can zoom in so far and start drawing details that won’t be duplicated in print.
He typically draws at 300 dpi, it sounded like. Though perhaps he also works larger at times. For the ‘brush,’ he uses about a 3px and doesn’t use any dynamics. Anything smaller than 3 px is unlikely to reproduce well. He likes the cleanness of a fixed width brush, like working with a micron pen.
He uses layers for everything. “When in doubt, make a new layer.” To start, he does a quick sketch in a color similar to non-photo blue because that is what he is used to. He likes the digital part for this because you don’t have to worry about preserving the paper. Sometimes, he will go from this sketch straight in to inking. But usually he does another layer to tighten up the sketch. He lightens the sketch layer through the opacity and starts a new layer with the same blue to add in the details. Then he lightens the tight pencils, hides the sketch, and starts a new layer to ink on. In addition to the pen, he uses the lasso tool to fill in large quantities of solid color, like for shadows. He will often use a 6px brush to outline the character. I was surprised how this made the character pop.
Yeah, so I had a blast. Look for more tomorrow.