Sorry to break the chain of Lulu tales, but this blog is supposed to be about comics!
You can read an interview with yours truly by Jonas Madden-Connor of the Vegansaurus blog by clicking here. I talk about why I dream of Snoop Dogg, among other things.
Also, there is supposedly an interview with me in the latest issue (Jan/Feb '10) of VegNews Magazine, but I haven't seen it yet. I haven't been out of the house too much since Lulu was born, so if anyone picks up a copy, lemmie know!
Lulu's (back) in town!
Born at 9:23 on 12/21 and weighing in at a miniscule 5 lbs, 14 oz., Lulu managed to beat the clock to be a Sagittarius. Also of note, she was born on the winter solstice, greatly increasing the odds that she will have psychic abilities. 18 1/4" stretched out, she will probably not be a basketball player, but neither is anyone else in her family.
Her arrival was quite an ordeal, and I thank modern medicine for both her and Karen ending up safe and healthy. Karen went into labor just as the blizzard here in New York hit. We decided to make our way to Karen's parents' house on the Upper West Side in order to be closer to the hospital (on the Upper East Side) than we are in Brooklyn.
I called every car service in Brooklyn, but with no luck. Because of the blizzard, cars were either unavailable or unwilling to drive into Manhattan. We saw a few taxis go by from our window, so we decided to try and hail one. Once on the street, there were no cabs that weren't off-duty. I finally hailed one, but when I told them Karen was in labor and we needed to go into the city, he just drove off. We had no choice but to walk to the subway station.
A nice guy on the street tried to help by calling car services on his iPhone, but he had no better luck than we did. He then called 911 to get us an ambulance. Once we realized what he'd done, we tried to call and cancel. At this point, Karen's contractions weren't terrible, so we didn't want to take an ambulance out of circulation just to give us a ride. Apparently, you can't cancel an ambulance request, and we didn't have time to wait around. We kept going on to the subway.
Once in the station, Karen's contraction were becoming worse and more frequent, so we decided to go straight to the hospital. Once there, they examined her and proclaimed that they couldn't admit her yet since she was only 1 cm. dilated. They discharged us back into the snow storm.
Back at Karen's parents' house, we tried to get some rest. Karen's contractions were inconsistent, but getting closer together (around 3 min. apart). Needless to say, she wasn't getting any sleep. Finally, at around 4 in the morning, we went back to the hospital. Again they discharged her because she was still only 1 cm. (although her cervix was 90 percent effaced).
By around 8 am the next day, Karen was completely exhausted by constant labor with no sleep. We drove back to the hospital and were once again discharged. We didn't want to risk going all the way back to her parents', so we just hung out in the lobby of the hospital for three hours.
When they checked her again at 11 am, she was still only 3 cm. dilated. We could've stayed at the hospital this time, but she would not have been able to eat or drink and we figured she would need all the energy she could get. Our doctor said to come in to his office (in Brooklyn) on Monday for an exam. It was another night of no sleep.
Driving into Brooklyn was pure agony for poor Karen. She was splayed over the back seat, screaming in pain with every bump in the road or sudden stop. Dr. Brennan decided to sweep her membrane to try to speed up the labor since she was still only 5 cm. dilated. We jumped back into the car and drove back to the hospital.
The hospital exam showed her holding strong at only 5 cm. This time we stayed and eventually Karen was able to get an epidural. The difference once the epidural kicked in was night and day. You could see the relief in her whole body and face. We got a bit of sleep waiting for Dr. Brennan to arrive after his office hours were over.
When the doctor showed up, Karen was still only 5 cm. dilated. He broke her embryonic sack and found meconium (when the baby is in stress, they will sometimes poop in their embryonic fluid...not good for them to be breathing). Also, Lulu had not descended down into the pelvis. Babies usually descend well before birth, so this was puzzling. Upon examination, the doctor told us that Karen's pelvic opening was tiny, and that even if her dilation were to speed up and the baby was to drop down, it may still be a difficult or maybe even impossible delivery. It was later discovered that her umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck.
One of the things I like about Dr. Brennan (besides his easy going nature) is that he does everything in his power to avoid a C-section. Unfortunately, there didn't seem to be any avoiding it in our case, but he still left it up to us.
The operation was surprisingly quick, only lasting about 20 minutes tops. There was a curtain drawn between us and the doctors and nurses, but we were able to hear what was going on. One of the nurses was kind enough to take photos with our camera. When we first heard Lulu cry on the other side of the curtain, we both broke down in tears of relief. I got to hold her while they stitched Karen up. Despite being covered in gooey meconium and having her eyes slathered with vaseline, she was the cutest thing I've ever seen.
We were lucky enough to get a private room for Karen's four day hospital recovery stay. I slept on a cot next to her bed and tried to do anything I could to help Karen rest. Lulu is a natural born breast feeder, so we were spared any difficulty in that department.
We were discharged on Christmas day, and now we're falling into a little routine in which I change the diapers and burp her and Karen breastfeeds her. I had no idea how often these little dudes feed n' poop! It takes every ounce of my will not to squish her cute little face or eat her little body parts. So far, she's very sweet and unfussy, and I look forward to watching her grow and develop. All hail Lulu!
Rob Clough reviews a bunch of comics he picked up at SPX including "Old Man Winter & Other Sordid Tales", "Tales of Good Ol' Snoop Doggy Dogg" and "Losers Weepers #1" on High Low (click to read it).
He also reviews my table-mate Sophia Wiedeman's "My Terrible Tearable Heart", new comic friend L. Nichol's "Jumbly Junkery #7" and "J J #8", both of which I just picked up this weekend at the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival, as well as Julia Wertz's excellent "Legend of Rebob Mountain", Noah Van Sciver's depressingly funny eponymous mini comic and Jeff Zwirek's beautifully designed "Pinstriped Bloodbath" anthology of Chicago artists, all of which I also picked up at SPX.
The Brooklyn Comics & Graphics Festival was the first local fest that I haven't had a table at this year, and I was very upset by that fact. Of all the cons I've attended, this one seemed to jibe with my personal aesthetic the most. Nothing against traditional super-hero comics, but they're just not my bag and there were none to be found at this particular con. There were only about fifty or so exhibitors, and they seemed to all be really great. The place was packed the entire three hours I was there, and I almost couldn't make it to the next table without running into friends. There was no fee to get in, which undoubtedly helped combat the fact that it was sort of hailing outside.
I picked up some wonderful looking new (to me, anyway) comics at the con including a bunch of new ones from Matt Wiegle, an absolutely insane looking one called "I Want You" by Lisa Hanawalt that features lots of anthropomorphic animals wearing human clothing (one of my own favorite things to draw) and a new anthology featuring a two-pager about pigeons by yours truly. The anthology is called "SuperTalk", and it has pieces by some really really great artists that I've had the pleasure of working with in the past.
Since Karen's organs are all squished due to pregnancy, she's started snoring (loudly) all night. As a consequence, we are both fairly sleep deprived. I've been told this will only get worse once the baby is actually born.
Sometimes I start laughing and can't stop. I end up on the floor, usually covered in tears (of laughter). Karen caught the tail end of such an episode, and I now share it with you. The terrifying part is how unfunny the event that sparked it all was (sorry for the terrible grammar there). I was photoshopping lasers coming out of Pony's eyes. The lasers are igniting a nearby five dollar bill.
Modern Dog did a one page feature ("Art Attack") on my pet portraits in their winter issue (on the newsstands now!). A very nice push just before the holiday season. I don't think the article is on their website, so you'll just have to be all luddite-y and pick up the actual magazine if you're so inclined.
The fantastic Kat Irannejad did an interview for Brooklyn The Borough (click to read it) in which I don't come across like a rambling incoherent imbecile (no small feat!). She managed to rein in my stream of consciousness anecdotes and such into a readable piece. The interview also got picked up by The New York Times 'City Room'!
Matthew Brady of Warren Peace did a short n' sweet review of my 'Tales of Good Ol' Snoop Doggy Dogg' mini-comic.
Karen's kind of freaking out because she got a wonderful opportunity that she can't pass up just before she was planning on wrapping up work at the Anomaly Jewelry factory (our living room) for a while in order to concentrate on Lulu. The Golden Globes Award ceremony contacted her to participate in their celebrity gift bags. It's a tremendous opportunity, but also a TON of work. I'm trying to help out in any way I can, but unfortunately I don't know the first thing (well, maybe the first, but definitely not the second) about making jewelry. Add that to holiday orders and being 9 months pregnant, and you can understand her sense of being overwhelmed.
On that note, there's a great feature on Karen on Shana Logic, a blog that promotes indie creators and retailers.
I just finished a new four page comic for the upcoming Dapper Chap #6 comic anthology. I've posted one of the pages here to entice & titillate you. Now it's time to get back to work on Losers Weepers #2.
Last Sunday I went to see The Bobby Lewis Ensemble in Harlem for their Thanksgiving service. My friend's sister is one of the singers in the choir. I can't tell you how much I love gospel music. I don't often get to see it live, so this was especially thrilling. Plus, three of the church members (including my friend's sister) shared their testimonies. It was kind of like an AA meeting, but with more Jesus thrown into the mix. The music and Pastor Lewis' service was so moving that by the end people were openly weeping and hugging.
I'm not a religious person, but I really do appreciate the power of a good sermon. Bobby Lewis reminds me of my friend and bandmate David Grant. In fact, we had David officiate our wedding. Both David and Bobby have a great sense of humor and are riviting to watch. Plus, they both have some pipes on 'em.
Although I can't take that leap of faith to believe in the miracles described in the Bible I can't argue with the sincerity and warm feelings that resulted from the service. In fact, Karen's been giving me a hard time with how Bible-centric I've been as of late. I just finished reading A.J. Jacobs' book detailing his attempts to live according to The Bible (hilarious and educational!), Jonathan Goldstein's "reworking" of biblical stories ,"Ladies And Gentlemen, The Bible" (hilarious, not so educational) and am currently working my way through the actual Bible (found it on the street). Oh, and I have been meaning to pick up R. Crumb's comic version of the entire Book of Genesis.
I have a soft-spot for pigeons. Many people view them as "rats with wings" (a trend possibly started by Woody Allen's quip in the 1980 film 'Stardust Memories'), but I, for one, relish their company. As you may know, New York City is not my first choice of places to live (not even my 10th). One of the things that keeps me sane is the pigeon and squirrel population. Along with roaches, rats and mice, that's about the extent of the city's wildlife.
Pigeons are incredibly athletic, gregarious and clean birds. Their tendency to hang out in big groups (thus generating huge amounts of poop concentrated in one area) is what gets them in trouble. It doesn't help that people feed them bread and other processed foods that cause their droppings to be rock hard and especially difficult to eradicate. Pest control companies help spread the myth that they carry disease (they can, but it is extremely rare that it transfers to humans) to keep themselves in business.
Anyhow, I for one love watching them. This explains why they crop up (that's a pigeon pun, by the way) so often in my artwork. Here are two recent examples: A comic for an upcoming anthology and a mural in our future baby's room.
Me n' Sophia shared a table at King Con in Brooklyn this weekend. I had to miss the first few hours of the first day to attend a baby birthin' class (some of my least favorite birth-related phrases include "bloody show", "sweep the membrane" and "ripened cervix"), but it was in full swing once I got there.
This was a new con mostly favoring local comic artists. It was a nice change of pace from the sometimes overwhelming MoCCA and SPX. The show was small enough that most attendees perused just about every table instead of homing in on the larger small-press tables (an oxymoron?).
It seemed like Regan, the organizer, was doing just about everything herself, so there were understandably some small problems. Hopefully she'll outsource some of the work next year to save herself from a mental breakdown.
The table across from us was full of talented and especially nice folks (L. Nichols, Darryl Ay0 and Matt Wiegle, some of whom I recognized from previous conventions. I traded a bunch of comics with them, which I look forward to reading.
I'm now finishing up a new two-pager for a comics anthology slated to debut at the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival. I wasn't able to get a table there, but maybe I'll be able to squeeze some books onto the aforementioned anthology's table (if they get one). Anyhow, I'll post that comic soon.
I just got back from a funeral for my uncle Will in Detroit. He was one of the nicest, sweetest guys I've ever met, and I'll miss him. Despite the terrible circumstances, it was great to see my mom's side of the family (I don't get to hang out with them very often, unfortunately). I even got to meet Will's son and one of his daughters, both of whom I'd never met previously.
It's been hectic since I got back to Brooklyn. My band had a show on Halloween (and, as predicted, injuries were sustained). My Fed-Ex guy showed up at the show along with two members of his metal band ('Deadzone"). For some reason, I found it hilarious (and...touching?) that he came. Our friends Sara & Erika threw a really great baby shower for us the day after. It's always nice to be surrounded by a ton of close friends, especially when they're shoving presents at you. We got some great stuff for Lulu. She will be dressing like David Bowie, apparently.
I've been working on a mural in Lulu's room, which I'll post when I'm done. I'm working on a two-page comic for an anthology due in about a week. Sophia Wiedeman and I will be once again sharing a table at the upcoming King Con in Brooklyn this weekend, so c'mon by and pick up some new comics. Lastly, I'm working on a few pet portraits. Just finished this one of two cats who have an antagonistic relationship. I tried to convince the client to go with a pro-wrestling theme, but her husband is a football fan, so...
DFHC has (once again) risen from the grave. We started as a Halloween-themed cover band (Misfits, Roky Erickson, The Sonics, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, etc.) in Richmond, VA (hence the reference to the Civil War cemetery that resides there). After a several year hiatus, the majority of the members all ended up living in New York City and we reconvened. We slowly started sprinkling in some originals until they made up the majority of our set lists.
The performance aspect of our shows has always been a big focus. Being a bunch of art-school graduates and/or drop-outs, we always end up building giant set pieces and props. Usually the singer's entrance involves busting out of a full-sized coffin, being carried onstage in a body bag to be shocked back to life, head served on a platter (Thanksgiving show) or something along those lines. There's usually a mid-show skit involving some sort of giant pinata filled with Jack Chik tracts, halloween or biblical themed candy and toys, booze, etc. to be destroyed by the audience.
Anyhow, the shows are always fun if not dangerous. We're playing this Halloween in Brooklyn, and I can pretty much promise you an inexpensively good time. Click on the image for all the info. See you there!
Although Diamond is distributing Old Man Winter, once you've spent most of your (my) life savings (well, to be fair, a good chunk of the Xeric grant) on an ad in their 'Previews' magazine they don't do too much for your continuing sales. For small press guys like myself, anyway.
Luckily there's Tony Shenton, distributor extraordinaire. He works tirelessly to get mini-comics and whatever else ya got into indie-friendly comic stores. I am honored to receive word that he'll be distributing both Old Man Winter and my other minis across the country. Thanks, Tony!
Just finished another kid portrait. I still prefer painting animals, but I think this one turned out pretty decent.
I also just finished reading Ken Dahl's "Monsters" comic, and it was one of those epiphonic (I think I just made up a word there...a derivative of 'epiphany') moments. Sometimes reading a truly superior comic can either devastate you (me) by making you realize that you may never achieve something so perfect OR it can revitalize you and give you newfound resolve and energy. Anyhow, I highly HIGHLY recommend picking this one up. It's a compelling story and even more compelling artwork.
I have the after-comic-convention saddies that I've heard so much about. You spend months working your butt off, hang out with tons of like-minded folks surrounded my incredible talent, and then...it's over. Back to real life where nobody around you really gives a crap about comics.
Oh well, time to get started on the next issue of "Losers Weepers".
I did get a couple of reviews while I was gone. Chris Allen reviewed "Old Man Winter" on his blog Chris Allen Online (click to read it), and Brian Warmoth reviewed "Tales of Good Ol' Snoop Doggy Dogg" on Warmoth.org (click to read). I was especially tickled by the in-depth interpretation of the influence of Schulz's "Peanuts". That reference was more or less meant as a throw-away joke for the cover and doesn't really carry through to the actual content of the stories, but Brian just about had me convinced otherwise! I have to admit that I was obsessed with "Peanuts" as a kid, so it's not hard to imagine it creeping into my subconscious and affecting everything I do.
The Small Press Expo was this weekend, and it was a sh*t-ton of fun. I shared half a table with Sophia Wiedeman, and the other half of the table housed the incredibly talented Josh Neufeld.
He's done a ton of comic work including several pieces for Harvey Pekar's "American Splendor", and most recently, "A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge". While volunteering for Red Cross in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Josh interviewed six residents of New Orleans affected by the destruction. He's turned their stories into an incredibly dense comic that I can't wait to read (it's next on my list, but I've got to finish a couple of library books before they're due!).
I debuted a new 44 page comic called "Losers Weepers #1" (first chapter in a series) which is now available on the Birdcage Bottom Books website along with my other books.
"Tales of Good Ol' Snoop Doggy Dogg" was once again my best selling item. Ulises Farinas of The Bear Party Collective told me a relevant joke that I then told to any and everybody who was within speaking distance. I will now tell it to you because it is awesome:
Q: What's brown and rhymes with 'Snoop'? A: Dr. Dre
In preparation for SPX this weekend, I've been assembling mini comics like a maniac. Three tools have made my life so much easier that I felt I must give them a proper shout-out.
1. INDUSTRIAL PAPER-CUTTER
This guy is phenomenal. He cost $130 ($30 of it was shipping 'cause it's heavy), which isn't too much more than one of those crummy guillotine style dudes you get at Staples or whatever. "Yusef", as I call him, (a tribute to Cat Stevens, who wrote "The First Cut Is The Deepest"...he later changed his name to Yusef when he became a devout Muslim) can cut up to 400 pages at once!!!! I got mine on ebay, and I HIGHLY recommend getting one if you do a lot of your own assembly.
2. LONG-ARM STAPLER
Costs about $25. It can be adjusted to any length for whatever size your comics are. My only complaint is that the measuring stop mechanism that you rest the papers against while stapling sucks. It doesn't click into place or anything, so it can slide out of place. Also, the metal piece doesn't reach all the way down to the base, so paper can actually slide under it. Lastly, you have to just eyeball the measurement according to some vague markings on the top of the stapler, so it's not very exact.
3. BONE FOLDER
This would be my stage name were I a professional wrestler. It's also a very handy little tool. It ensures a nice crisp crease every time. My wife makes fun of me for owning one (apparently owning a bone folder is "nerdy"), but I swear by it.
I'm gonna be dramatically unveiling a new 44 page comic at The Small Press Expo (SPX) in Bethesda, MD this weekend. It will undoubtedly involve fire, chihuahuas in sparkling jackets and/or levitation (the unveiling, not the comic itself).
I'll put it up for sale on www.birdcagebottombooks.com next week when I get back.
I've posted an image of the front cover, although it is being printed on green cardstock. I was going to stamp color onto the covers like I did with the Snoop Dogg comic, but it turned out looking very ugly (in my opinion). I'll have about 20 on hand that ARE stamped if you prefer those, but otherwise it's just going to be plain jane. Saves me some time, anyway.
Anyhow, hope to see you at SPX!
It was a weekend of taking friends off the market...
Two of Karen's friends from college got married at a small summer camp in the Adirondacks and one of my bandmates/old friends had his bachelor party. I was determined to do both, so I took a train up to Karen's parent's house upstate VERY early the morning after the bachelor party. We borrowed their car and drove another five hours into the mountains in order to just make the ceremony.
The smell of the woods always makes me feel exceptionally calm and relaxed. I found out that I am now too portly to fit into my custom made suit that I had made for our own wedding just two years ago. I had to pin the pants closed.
The ceremony was touching, with Jeremy playing guitar & singing (with cartoonist David Heatley singing harmony) as Bridgett walked down the "aisle" (it was outdoors). There was an outdoor dance party and fire-pit for the reception. It got down into the forties, so the fire was a nice, if not necessary, touch. We all slept in the old cabins with a wood stove for heat. Basically, it was quaint as hell.
Karen painted a banner for them that I think turned out amazingly well (pictured).
Speaking of David Heatley, remember those drawings of nerds I did for a video of his a long time ago? No? Oh well, you can see the video below regardless. Thirty something cartoonists & illustrators contributed nerds, which he turned into little puppets for the video.
My old pal Tod Parkhill (first guy I met at college, first guy to publish my comics) was kind enough to send me a copy of 'Brick', a weekly alternative newspaper in Richmond, VA that has a review of my comic in it. The review is written by Patrick Godfrey, the owner of Velocity Comics in Richmond. Since it's not posted on their website, I've transcribed it here (P.S. the cover is not from the pertinent issue, but it was all they had up on the website, plus Rob Ullman drew it, so...bonus!)
Patrick Godfrey - Brick
Seriously, gang, is there anything more hilarious than animal cruelty?
Woah, lynch mob – kidding! But I bet I got your attention. Very few topics invite as passionate a response as animal cruelty, a major topic in newcomer JT Yost’s collection of short stories. It’s nice to see a rising cartoonist comfortable wearing his heart on his sleeve yet backing it up with some smarts; It happens less often than one would hope. But Yost succeeds, particularly in brief gut-wrenchers ‘All Is Forgiven…’ and ‘Roadtrip.’ These two punched me in the gut and kept me thinking well beyond my time reading them.
Overall, this one’s a handsome little sampler of an artist clearly on the incline. The cartooniness of Yost’s line is in distinct oppostion to the horrors depicted, and dang if it doesn’t work. I look forward to watching this guy continue to find his voice with a longer format.
One minor quibble: cover’s a little ugly. It’s not a deal-breaker or anything, but the cover copy’s a bit tough to suss out and the stark palette choice of black, white and pink is a bit of a puzzler. Don’t let that stop you from checking it out, though.
Man, now I feel like a dick.
Nah, don't feel like a dick...most people hate the cover.
I did a pet portrait of my old friend Clay's lady-friend Lisa's chihuahua, Wilfredo, a while back. A virtual tour of their apartment is featured on the Apartment Therapy website this week. You can see my painting along with several photos of the real Wilfredo gallivanting about (seemingly levitating into the sunlight in one) here.
Their apartment is chock-full of interesting artwork (Barry McGee!) and bric-a-brac. I love homes that are flooded with information...paintings & photos crammed in every available inch of wall space. I guess it makes some people feel anxious, but I like constantly finding new stuff to look at. Clay favors a more pristine environment, but they've managed to strike a compromise that works surprisingly well.
In other art-related news, I've finished the layout & sketches for my new comic (tentatively titled "Losers, Weepers"), and I've started transferring them to bristol. I freehanded the lettering, and I've noticed that my type grew in size as the story progressed. Now I'll have to go back and re-letter it using my trusty Ames Lettering guide, I guess. I usually use a Prismacolor Col-Erase non-repro blue pencil to transfer the sketches, and then ink on top of that. The Col-Erase pencils are extremely soft, so I end up having to sharpen them constantly, and use one up about every two pages. I just went out and bought some blue mechanical pencil leads to try out as a replacement. They're not non-repro blue, but maybe if I use them lightly it will work well enough. If anyone has any better suggestions, I'm all ears!
Sienna Blake of the Australian quarterly magazine Vegan Voice was kind enough to foot the bill for a long-distance interview over the telephone last month. I just received the issue in the mail today, and I'm impressed with the format she chose for the article. Most interviews are basically transcripts with a question and then an answer, but Sienna went the extra mile and wrote it up in a conversational style that is closer to what actually transpired.
The magazine is chock-full of other great articles and interviews as well. I highly recommend ordering this issue as well as some back issues if you're interested in vegan/vegetarian issues. Now that Herbivore Magazine is no longer in regular production, it's your best bet for a replacement!
In other vegan news, I found two vegetarian friendly restaurants in my neighborhood. They are tucked away on some side-streets that I hadn't explored. I've been seriously lamenting my lack of good vegan Mexican options here in Carroll Gardens/Brooklyn Heights, so I'm delighted to report that Calexico at 122 Union Street is phenomenal. The marinated tofu burrito has a wonderful "crack sauce" as well as non-dairy avacado sauce.
The other place is a homemade dumpling shop called Eton (205 Sackett Street). The menu is pretty simple, only about five choices (one for me - Tofu & Veggie Dumplings), but it reminds me of The Dumpling Man in the East Village, where I spent many a day and dollar.