Everything I'm working on lately is in the sketching stage, so that's why I haven't really posted any new artwork lately. It's not because I'm sitting around in my underwear watching old footage of Roosevelt Franklin, I swear!
"I Saw You..." has been getting lots of reviews, which is good. I still haven't received my contributor's copy, so I can't give it a review myself, but here's what the pros say:
The New York Times
Brews and Books
Philadelphia City Paper
Random House Library Services
Read About Comics
...plus Julia Wertz, the brains behind it all, was interviewed about the book here:
The Greenpoint Gazette
I'm pretty certain that one of the only people who actually read this blog is my mother. She informed me that I haven't posted anything in a while. So, this post will be bittersweet for her. On the one hand, I AM posting something, but on the other hand there is mention of not one but two old mens' penises.
I went to the "I Saw You..." book release party at Desert Island on Friday. It was so crowded that I couldn't even reach into my pocket to get out my camera for a photo. They made little tiny buttons for the contributors to wear. Each button had an image taken from that artist's page. My button focused on the old butcher's penis (you'll have to buy the book to see what I'm talking about...please buy the book!!). The guy who was handing out the buttons (who was also one of the artists featured in the book) also had a penis on his button, so I wasn't the only one.
Now, for the mention of the second old man penis: When I sent out a mock-up of the book I'm self publishing (Old Man Winter & Other Sordid Tales) to a handful of other cartoonists that I admire asking for criticism, one of my favorite responses came from Kevin Huizenga. Among other things, he pointed out that the protagonist's penis was not properly age progressed. I actually took his advice to heart and added in some additional wrinkles!
Anyhow, the release party was a lot of fun, and I thank all of my friends that came out for it. It was freezing out that night, so I really appreciate the effort. Afterward, we were able to race back to my neighborhood to catch the last half of Dare Duke's show at Banjo Jim's. I bought his new album, and I'm happy to report that it's really really great.
It's time for another shout-out. This one goes out to one of my many (many!) talented former roommates. David Wang builds breathtakingly beautiful audio equipment (amplifiers, receivers, cd players, mp3 players, etc.).
He often uses vacuum tubes, which besides amplifying electrical signals also provide the nice aesthetic touch of a warm glow. He engineers each piece to be simple in its function and look. I commissioned both a receiver and cd player which stack on top of one another to save space. I find myself staring at them even when they're not in use.
I've attached a few sample photos here, but you can see more at the Trippy Amplification website. David can probably build just about anything you request because, unlike me, he is incredibly mechanically inclined.
My buddy Marty Key (A.K.A. Marty Violence) commissioned a painting of Duke's Mayonnaise (a southern delicacy) for his wife to celebrate Valentine's Day. Nothing says romance like mayonnaise. Apparently she burst into tears upon seeing it. I don't know if this was because she really loves Duke's or because she was like, "why is my husband giving me a painting of mayonnaise?!"
I'm pretty certain it's the former, as she's a foodie and a prolific chef. Anyhow, I'm glad she liked it, and I hope my representation of the condiment doesn't hurt my standing in the vegan community (come search my 'fridge...all you'll find is dijon Nayonnaise, I swear!).
Here is my first non-animal portrait (A.K.A. "human"). It doesn't do justice to my adorable little chubby-cheeked niece, but I gotta start somewhere! According to my mentor, Burt Silverman, babies are extremely difficult to paint, especially if they're smiling. Maybe he said that to make me feel better, or maybe it's true.
I have a tendency to procrastinate, so I'm glad I happened to find out that yesterday was the last day of James Jean's "Kindling" exhibit at Jonathan Levine Gallery before it was too late. Karen and I headed over there before going to see her brother's new film "Memorial Day" (showing at the IFC theater).
James' paintings were gorgeous and complex as usual. Although his complex pieces are a lot of fun to look at (there's so much going on you can just keeping finding new things) I actually prefer when he keeps things simple. His work seems most powerful (to me, anyway) when his color is subdued and he focuses on just one subject.
Here's a photo I took of my favorite piece. I wasn't supposed to take photos without permission, so don't rat me out!
Cartoonist David Heatley is putting together an animated video for his "Suburban White Girls" song, and he's asked others to contribute background characters and scenery. He asked me to draw a couple of '80s suburban nerds, so here's what I came with. At first the lanky guy was going to be holding a cabbage patch kid, but then I remembered what an Garfield obsessed little nerd I was and had him holding a stuffed Garfield instead. Then, to increase the creepy factor a bit, the squat fellow staring at him was the obvious next choice.
I'm assuming David will post the video on his blog when it's done. Feel free to contribute yourself, although the deadline is coming up soon!
I'm back from visiting with my family in Georgia. This blog is supposed to be "business related", so I won't tell you about how cute my niece is or how I hung out with baby goats. I can mention two comic-related anecdotes, though.
Chris Staros of Top Shelf was kind enough to interrupt his busy schedule (including a visit from his dad!) to have lunch with me. He gave me all kinds of good advice and even a couple of important contacts (a printer in Canada, Lebonfon Printing, who may have better prices than Brenner Printing and an indie-friendly contact at Diamond Comic Distributors) as well as a delicious meal at a Thai place in the Marietta town square. While we were talking in his home/office James Kochalka (a huge inspiration for me) called, which had me nerding out in my head. This photo I've lifted from an article in Atlanta's Creative Loafing shows the view I had from the couch, although Chris wasn't looming over me.
An important bit of advice that he gave me, something I was struggling with, was in regards to sending out books for review before publication. It seems to be a Catch-22 that a publisher is supposed to send out copies for review before they've been printed. For a self-publisher like me that means going to a copy-shop and running off copies at about $9 per book (keeping in mind that the cost of professional printing will be around $2.50 or less!). The bigger publishers can afford to print galley prints (although they're still expensive), but I can't. So, Chris suggests just printing them up, sending them to my house and using actual copies stamped 'Review Copy' to send out. This is what I'll undoubtedly end up doing, although it will be inconvenient to have all these boxes in my already ridiculously crowded apartment. Also, I'll have to do all the shipping for all orders rather than having Diamond or whoever is distributing send them out from their warehouse. I plan on seeing how much it will cost for Diamond to store some of the books at their warehouse should they agree to distribute me.
Chris also told me that many of the bigger review publications won't review a book if it appears to have already been published, so most publishers put blank covers that say 'review copy' on their galley copies. I don't have the option to do this, so I'll just stamp them and hope for the best.
Another quandary is Diamond's new policy regarding minimum orders. They now require $2500 worth of orders, which ain't easy for a small independent publisher like myself. Fortunately, according to Chris, Diamond is more likely to work with a Xeric award winner and make an exception. We'll see!
The other comic-related episode in Georgia was that I got to hang out with all three of my childhood friends featured in the "Logging Sanjay" comic (Sanjay, Matt & Dewey). It was great to see them all again.
A long long time ago, I saw that Julia Wertz was looking for comic artists to interpret their favorite "Missed Connections" posting on Craig's List (if you haven't ever browsed them, I HIGHLY recommend it...both heartbreaking and hilarious). It's a great idea, so I immediately drew one up and sent it in.
Originally it was just going to be a xeroxed mini-comic, but it has since been expanded into a book published by Three Rivers Press (a division of Random House!). Tons of great artists signed on to the project, and now I'm sort of embarrassed by my submission. If I'd known what was to become of this, I surely would have spent more time and effort, but oh well.
It just came out, so buy it on Amazon here or at your local comic shop. I think some of us will be signing books at the release party at Desert Island in Brooklyn on Feb. 20th, so c'mon out. You can see a list of the contributors here (Aaron Renier, Adam Kidder, Gabrielle Bell, Jeffrey Brown, Laura Park, Julia Wertz, Peter Bagge, Sam Henderson, Tom Hart, etc., etc.!)