11/13/2017

Caleb Orecchio here with holiday dread, and other news.—————————————————————————————————

Happy Hooligan by Frederick Opper. According to King of the Comics: 100 Years of King Features edited by Dean Mullaney, “The seventh episode of Happy Hooligan, New York Journal, April 22, 1900.”

 

As the holidays approach, I’m thinking about how I’m going to lie to my family. I don’t talk about my comics in a serious way around them anymore. I just do them for fun, I tell them. That’s great! they say back.

Once I told an extended family member that I visited a comics syndicate in New York and showed them my comic strip. WOW—New York, that must’ve been exciting! Very much so. Did they except your strip? No—they said it was “too good”—like, it wasn’t simple enough—it’d be hard to sell to newspaper editors. The family member didn’t know what to say after that. That’s okay though, I tell them. I still make a comic strip every week day for a comics website. Oh cool—do they pay you? No. Again, they are speechless.

Then I get defensive like I have to protect my dignity or something because I assume they think I’m an idiot who doodles all day for no money. I just do comics for fun really, I tell them—I’m actually a freelance graphic designer. That’s great—how’s business, they ask? Great. I switch the subject to how good the food is.

The guy who does my taxes has a similar reaction to my comics making. He keeps telling me I should focus on my graphic design and try to expand. “Is there any money in comics?” he asks.

“There is at the newspaper syndicates—I’m going to keep trying until I get in.”

“Who reads newspapers?”

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if you don’t know, now you know

  • Another CAB has come and gone. Had to ignore social media on Saturday so I wouldn’t get envious. Looks like Chris Anthony Diaz was busy taking photos which is good news for our eyes.
  • I think this article is “interesting” just because making comics as a means of market research is basically what Marvel and DC do as publishing entities. Netflix joining the fray really doesn’t surprise me.
  • Speaking of DC Comics.
  • Really enjoyed this interview with How To Read Nancy authors, Paul Karasik and Mark Newgarden conducted by Dan Nadel over at TCJ.com.
  • Speaking of The Comics Journal, they proudly present an excerpt of Chuck Forsman’s new bookI Am Not Okay With This. Originally serialized for Forsman’s Patreon supporters.
  • Seattle Review of Books has a report of Short Run–a show that I have only heard good things about.

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Suzy and Cecil – 11-13-2017 – by Sally Ingraham

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Joanie and Jordie – 11-13-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio

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Cozytown – 11-13-2017 – by Juan Fernandez

11/06/17

Caleb Orecchio here with thoughts on Alyssa Berg’s risograph comics. PLUS! some insight into Alyssa’s process from the author herself!—and other news.

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riso version of Alpenglow by Alyssa Berg

I think Alyssa Berg’s current work is a step in the right direction for a modern day cartoonist—being an exploration in printing, risograph specifically, and how that process can present her comics in the best way a riso machine can.

Alyssa makes painted comics that live online as photographs of the actual paintings, then “adapts” the paintings into risograph printed comics—the latter being slightly different than the former naturally due to how a painting transfers to this particular printing process. As a cartoonist, I can literally see her “thinking” when comparing the “actual” versions with the riso versions. Looking at her two versions of Alpenglow (winner of the 2015 Comics Workbook Composition Competition) I’m fascinated at the choices Alyssa made when “adapting” the paintings to print.

At CXC 2016 I bought her first printing of Alpenglow, which was digitally printed. At SPX 2017, I bought the second printing, which is adapted to riso. Look at the differences below.

digital printing on left; riso on right

digital on top; riso on bottom

digital on top; riso on bottom

digital on top; riso on bottom

The differences are interesting because both versions are good, obviously, but I find the riso version to be particularly intimate. Her paintings are beautiful, and I miss seeing the brush strokes and nuance of color the digital version provides, but the way the riso strips everything down really sings for me. For one, riso just flat out looks better than digital. Anything looks better than digital really. Second, the choices Alyssa makes are in service to the clarity of the image while also retaining the spirit of the painting (which we’ll get to in a second in Alyssa’s own words). This pruning of the work through the filter of riso really circumnavigates any  distractions (though they are enjoyable) the paintings provide, and allow the reader a wholly immersive comics reading experience.

I should be clear, I don’t necessarily think the painted version is better than the riso version, or vice versa; but it’s the fact that these very excellent comics exist in different ways is what is exciting to me.

I asked Alyssa to give some brief insight into her process of adapting paintings to riso prints, and this is how she responded:

“I started printing my painted comics last winter at the SVA RisoLab. I had this short-lived fantasy that I would be able to use a simple CMYK color separation in Photoshop to make faux-CMYK prints on the Riso. I realized quickly that while certain prints looked okay using this method, most of them came out with too much visual information/noise because of the texture & subtlety of the color mixing in the paint combined with the imperfect registration of the Riso. Also, registering the text with this method is not ideal.

“Over the summer and currently during my residency at the RisoLab, I’ve been experimenting with ways to keep the integrity of the painting in the reproduction. I use a mix of “CMYK” in certain areas, spot colors with texture layers on top in other areas, and other spot colors without any mixing. This method reduces the noise and keeps the print painterly. The text is almost always one color so it’s crisp and clear. All of my color separation is done [manually] in Photoshop. I’m not much of a technology-person so there has been a big learning curve. By now doing color separation has become pretty intuitive, but still, I’m not always sure what the outcome will be. I like that little surprise. I rarely look at Riso color mixing charts/percentages. I rely on my knowledge of color mixing and grayscale from my painting background. I tried once to design a specific zine for the risograph & it came out kind of boring. It required too much thought while I was painting the pages and I prefer to not think in this phase! For now, I’m happier painting freely then putting in the hours on Photoshop.”

Thanks Alyssa! If you want to pick up her comics, Alyssa will be at Comics Arts Brooklyn this weekend at Table K6.

As a cartoonist, there’s a lot to learn from watching Alyssa transform her work for print. I highly, highly recommend seeking her books out, and compare the books to the paintings; she has most of them up on her site.

I leave you with some pages from my favorite Alyssa Berg comic, Open Letter to Sleep.

-CO

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if you don’t know, now you know

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Suzy and Cecil – 11-6-2017 – by Gabrielle Tito

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Cozytown – 11-6-2017 – by Juan Fernandez

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Joanie and Jordie – 11-6-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio

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10/30/2017

Caleb Orecchio here with thoughts and ramblings on Chester Brown’s Yummy Fur brought on by reading Brian Evenson’s book, Ed vs. Yummy Fur–and other news.—————————————————————————————————

A recent conversation I had with Comics Workbook’s fearless leader, Frank Santoro, about Chester Brown’s Yummy Fur has got me all hot and bothered about the title again. Every so often I go back and flip through my copies and marvel at the energy of Brown’s early strips, and the absolute beauty and power of the later stuff going into UnderwaterYF is the promise of the undergrounds fulfilled as a vessel for looking inward and taboo exploitation, and there is virtually limitless aspects of the title to consider and examine as a 21st Century cartoonist.

Consequently, I recently read Ed vs. Yummy Fur: Or, What Happens When a Serial Comic Becomes a Graphic Novel by Brian Evenson, published by Uncivilized Books–being their debut title in their line of prose comics criticism, Critical Cartoons. The book compares and contrasts “Ed, The Happy Clown” as a serial within Yummy Fur, and Ed, The Happy Clown the graphic novel. Now, I will admit that the book left a lot to be desired due to the titular focus of Ed which I felt limited the scope of Evenson’s point. However, I  was fascinated with Evenson’s consideration of Brown’s Gospels as being inextricably linked to the reading of “Ed” within Yummy Fur. 

Brown’s Gospels (being The Book of Mark and the unfinished Book of Matthew) are a bit lost on my generation (millennials). This is no doubt due the fact they haven’t been reprinted into a book, but also I think it is simply difficult to understand the significance of such a work during the time of its publication. From what I can gather, no cartoonist had really done a Bible adaption in such a faithful (ha), straight-forward, and non-judgmental way (at least, certainly, for “Mark” this is particularly true). The only other widely-known comics Bible adaption I know of  from up to that point is Mayer and Kubert’s, which could basically be considered easily-digestible, white-washed propaganda.

Pretty book, but classically problematic–observe Eve’s blonde hair.

In an interview with Brown from Evenson’s book, Evenson says (or writes, because I assume the interview took place over email or at least that’s what it feels like–I wouldn’t be surprised if Evenson just gave Brown a questionnaire to fill out and mail back), “Issue #4 [of Yummy Fur] is one of the few issues of comics I remember being really shocked by. I think it was less because of the sex and murder at the end of the Ed material in that issue and more because we go straight from that to an adaption of the Biblical book of Mark.”

From Yummy Fur #4. The first appearance of The Gospels in YF. This is the spread that shocked readers like Evenson.

I think what Yummy Fur readers were expecting from Brown’s “Mark” was biting satire and exploitation, and obviously the lack of both and the general neutrality of the adaption shocked his fans more than any “parody” could have. However, I think if Brown had published “Ed” and the Gospels in their own separate books, the effect Evenson talks about experiencing would be less severe or memorable.

After reading this, and the rest of Ed vs. Yummy Fur, I can’t help but see YF as anything less than one complete work–as oppose to a book containing many serialized stories. All comics in YF from “Ed” to “Showing Helder” to “The Little Man” to “Fuck”, (AND the letters pages) etc. have an interesting give and take with the Gospels they share a book with. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that there is an unsevered umbilical chord connecting the early pre-“Ed” material to the later autobio stuff; and going further into Underwater. I see Yummy Fur being the record of a developing cartoonist constantly tinkering with his craft, and a self-aware conscience looking at it’s old-self in the face. When you read the “Playboy” stories, the juxtaposition of the Gospels are impossible to ignore while reading about young Chester’s religious upbringing. It’s like the Gospels and the teachings of Christ are always in the back of Brown’s mind and dictate his actions and motivations for better or for worse.

Observe this spread from Yummy Fur #21 where Jesus is virtually yelling at a young and curious Chester as he guiltily hides a copy of Playboy.

 

More to my point, look how the debut of “Matthew” literally interrupts the “Ed” serial in YF #15. This particular chapter of “Ed” takes place at church where a sermon is given, which makes the insertion of “Matthew” that much more pertinent. This interruption happens at least twice more in subsequent issues, a point Evenson also points out in his book.

Anyone still here? Well if you are, here is what I’m picturing in my head:

A multi-volume, “The Complete Yummy Fur.” Everything reprinted (including Vortex house-ads–like, literally just scan mint copies of Yummy Fur cover to cover and sew them together) even the letters column, aka “The Fur Bag”–of course all this would be done as a bootleg, to Chester Brown’s chagrin I assume. The last volume would be subtitled; the complete Underwater. Unedited, these volumes would contain an interesting insight into an individual’s reckoning with their “conflicting” interests, political views, personal stories, and relationships with readers and “the times”.

Something to chew on for 21st Century cartoonists like myself.

-CO

BONUS: Lookit this! An observant, Tom K from the 90s in the letter pages of Underwater. Tom would go on to publish Evenson’s book in 2014.

 

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if you don’t know, now you know

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Suzy and Cecil– 10-30-2017 – by Sally Ingraham

—————————————————————————————————Joanie and Jordie – 10-30-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio

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Cozytown– 10-30-2017 – by Juan Fernandez

 

10/23/2017

Caleb Orecchio here, sharing my current production process and other news.

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Hey Folks, Caleb here. Last week I talked a bit about coloring and practicing color. Today I want to give you a bit of insight into my own color and production process. No, this isn’t a “my way or the highway” type of thing, true believer–rather, think of it as a mini workshop.  I want to exhibit what I do so you, possibly a fellow cartoonist, can (not necessarily use this process, but) take into account the many ways to make comics in this day and age and hopefully maximize your time and energy.

Before I get into it, a quick word about the comic being made in this post. It is the 170th installment of Joanie and Jordie, a strip that runs daily (in theory) at the bottom of each Daily News post. This comic will appear at the bottom of this very Daily News post, True Believer! This was a tough one. I am currently trying to execute a a certain style and I feel that I’m struggling with. Not in a bad way, but it’s a challenge. I’m trying to keep all characters involved in the scene visible in each panel. Also I’m trying to keep the current storyline at a brisk pace and feeling free to follow my bliss. After I drew this very strip dear readers and my only friends, I realized I need to color less “literally.” I’ve been very hung up about drawing literally, but this exercise showed me that I need to stretch out my wings and loosen up.

Anyway, below is  my template for my strip.

I cut out and draw on 4.5″ x 6″ sized panels (more or less classic daily strip panel size and proportional to the current smaller standard of 13″ x 4″ sized strip) individually and make my manuscripts by pasting these panels onto a separate sheet of paper over my template.

View with lightbox on.

Lately, I’ve been inking more traditionally. Some of you may think that is weird to mention. Anyway, I just feel that inking the way I am now is the way to go. Still feeling it out. Really I treat my strip in a way I feel the Noel Sickles treated his run on Scorchy Smith. He, as you may or may not know, constantly experimented and played with the look of the strip until he handed it over to the next guy. What I’m trying to say is that the look of Joanie and Jordie never stays consistent for too long. I “ink” with one Pentel Rolling Writer pen and one ebony pencil.

Note possible dialog in margins.

Next up is color. In the past, color has come before inking, but right now this order of operations is what I feel comfortable with. I use three Prismacolor markers on three seperate layers of tracing paper to color: canary yellow, scarlet lake, and copenhagen blue. I apply them on tracing paper because this helps me see the colors and their mixtures as I go.

Okay, not too bad I suppose. I’m getting a bit stiff which means I need to change something up here soon. Anyway, next is lettering. Notice in the corner of each of these layers that I label each part of the process. This is merely for my biographer and/or The Billy Ireland Museum for when I’m dead and the eventual disintegration of my organization skills takes its toll. Is my ego out of control or what? haha But who else is going to do it if I don’t do it myself.

My two “black” layers.

My three color layers.

Now to scan. I scan these at 600dpi because that’s as high as my scanner will go. Also, I’m afraid to go any higher in resolution because I don’t want to overload my aging laptop.

Okay, so here is where the REAL inside baseball stuff comes in. This is Photoshop. I’m just going to run through this quickly because life is too short to give a detailed tutorial in Photoshop.

First I bring in the ink, or “K” layer.

I then select a patch of white and go to SELECT, then click “Similar” in the dropdown menu.

This then selects everything that is white within the layer. We are going to delete all the white and leave just the black so we don’t get any pesky paper tones. I do this on every layer.

Also don’t forget to get your color mode correct.

Line up each color layer and layer them appropriately. I like to put them in the order they would be applied in process printing: Yellow first, then red, blue and black. Watch my layers in the bottom, right-hand corner and see what I mean.

You have to “Multiply” each layer so the colors can blend appropriately.

Okay so the last layer, the text is tricky because you have to delete parts of the inks and colors–see below. But fear not true believers. Just make copies of each layer so you have them on hand in case you mess up.

Take note of color layer order, “Layer 1” being the ink or “K” layer.

And there she is, a brand new comic strip!

Thanks for watching! Come back next week where I will be shot out of a canon from the bottom of the ocean. Bye now!

-CO

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if you don’t know, now you know

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Suzy and Cecil – 10-23-2017 – by Gabriella Tito

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Joanie and Jordie – 10-23-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio

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Cozytown – 10-23-2017 – by Juan Fernandez

10/16/2017

Caleb Orecchio here with thoughts on practicing color, and other news.

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I’ve been thinking and working with color a lot. In this day and age, where color is an option for cartoonists looking to print their work (color was not always an option for ye olde comics makers, true believer), the quantity of choice of what the colors should be and how to apply them can be intimidating. Fear not. In my opinion, the best way to start in color is the classic CMYK–which is essentially, as you probably know, blue, red, yellow, and black. One reason this is a good choice is that most riso printers carry these four colors (riso being probably the best option in self-publishing in color if you can swing it) AND they are easily acquired in forms of marker or colored pencils, AND because these are the colors comics used in the past and traditions are important to me.

The Classics Illustrated series is a great gateway into classic coloring. They all have a minimal, crude feel to the coloring. It does not seem that their printer offered a large pallet, or maybe they couldn’t afford it. Anyway, I read about the 152nd installment of the Classics Illustrated line, “Wild Animals I have Known”(adapted from the book by Ernest Thompson Seton; drawn by LB Cole) from Kevin Huizenga’s blog years ago and subsequently bought it. I’m going to run through an example of how I play and practice with this book.

Here’s a good panel that demonstrates a nice, simple combination of CMYK. First, I isolate the colors by tracing over them with markers on tracing paper. I don’t worry about being exact because that isn’t the point. I’m not trying to recreate the image, I just want to see how colors interact.

Then I put them together–then yellow, then red and so on. Please forgive how the lightbox makes the photos look.

But the idea is to keep going. Okay so how would it look like if we took one color out? Or just used one color?

I could go on and on. You just have to keep trying things. Try it if you want–and feel free to mix it up. Make a new blackline drawing and put it up against the color. Flip the color layers or stagger them. This is just something to think about while you work on your comic. Follow your bliss.

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if you don’t know now you know

  • I meant to post about this a month ago when it came out. I sincerely love this youtube documentary about comic shop owner Glenn O’Leary and his store, Comic Book Palace. My taste literally never overlaps with his and I think he is wrong about almost every aspect of comics–accept the way he retails–but I can’t help but love it.
  • Sticking with the retail theme; TCJ.com blog made me aware of this–Dan Gearino on Jim Hanley.
  • LOL they are making the New Mutants movie a horror movie (or seemingly so)–nothing wrong with that I guess do what you gotta do whatever.
  • Aaaaand a shoplifter jumped out of a Midtown Comics second story window–doesn’t he know comics are worthless?

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Suzy and Cecil – 10-16-2017 – by Sally Ingraham

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Cozytown – 10-16-2017 – by Juan Fernandez

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Joanie and Jordie – 10-16-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio

10/09/2017

Caleb Orecchio here with thoughts on The Best American Comics 2017, and other news.

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The Best American Comics 2017 is here, compiled by series editor Bill Kartolopoulos, and guest editor Ben Katchor. When I heard Katchor was the guest editor this year and saw Matthew Thurber’s cover for the book, I was quite looking forward to the latest edition.

The Best American Comics cover by Matthew Thurber

It’s a really solid one and feels fairly intimate due to the amount of personal work. There are several thematically personal works, but mostly I mean work that feels “drawn”–as opposed to laborious, exacting work that can often bog down a large anthology when bumping shoulders with more spontaneous comics. There is literally no Image, DC, Marvel, Dark Horse, etc. and many, if not all, of the comics are drawn using analog materials. So the whole book feels really nice to read, you don’t have to adjust your eyes before reading each piece. First up to bat was Gary Panter with a comic originally published in frieze no. 181, which sets a nice tone and basically sets the gold standard for the rest of the book.

I thought it was interesting how many Pittsburgh people made it in the book, which may or may not continue to solidify Pittsburgh as a thriving comics town. You have Ed Piskor (of course) plus Laura Pallmall and Sienna Cittadino, who not only are now residents of Pittsburgh, but also made their way through Comics Workbook one way or another. Cittadino’s featured work, Jeremy Meets the Forest Cowwas an entry to the 2016 Comics Workbook Composition Competition (Cittadino literally won the 2017 competition), and Pallmall is a graduate of the Santoro Correspondence Course for Comic Book Makers. Just thought that was interesting.

Another Comics Workbook connection is Kurt Ankeny whose amazing book, In Pieces: Some Place Which I Call Home, (originally serialized on Comics Workbook’s Tumblr) was excerpted (see image below). Kurt is an excellent drawer and I’ve seen his sketchbooks full of great coffee shop portraits, so I know he can draw really well on the first take.

Kurt Ankeny, everyone!

So I asked him, “Is that sequence in The Best American Comics first-take? Like, you literally drew these pages in your sketchbook more or less?”

He responded, “They were done in a pad of perforated paper, but yes, essentially first take. That first page was drawn onsite from observation.”

This reminds me, Kurt was invited by thee Ben Katchor himself to give a talk at Parsons for the NY Comics & Picture-story Symposium tomorrow, Tuesday,  Oct. 10, 2017 at 7pm. Kurt is very smart and an excellent cartoonist so if you’re in the area, treat yourself.

Anyway, that’s all the time we have today folks–see you next week as I attempt to jump the Grand Canyon with a pair of roller skates, a parachute, and a box of tissue paper. Should be fun. Bye now.

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if you don’t know now you know

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Check out thee exclusive Connor Willumsen bundle from Comics Workbook!

Get Anti-Gone by the great Connor Willumsen, along with two zines – a 20 page bootleg, and a special collage zine – as well as a unique Anti-Gone drawing by Connor. Get a “Connor box” HERE.

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Joanie and Jordie– 10-9-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio

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Suzy and Cecil – 10-9-2017 – by Gabriella Tito

10/02/2017

Caleb Orecchio here with your Monday edition of the Daily News providing a CXC wrap-up.

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Sally Ingraham, Audra Stang, and Frank Santoro

What a weekend. A long weekend. From September 28th to October 1st I attended Cartoon Crossroads Columbus with Comics Workbook, and I have no regrets.

First I must thank Frank Santoro who, apart from being my favorite cartoonist, is the fearless leader of Comics Workbook –without whom, my experience of these festivals would be lacking any sense of purpose. Thanks Frank! Also have to thank Sally Ingraham who keeps me and the other kids in check and with things to do–she also serves as an inspiration of work ethic in comics.

Next I should thank the CXC Executive committee, the people who make this show what it is and tirelessly keep the wheels going–Jeff Smith, Lucy Caswell, Vijaya Iyer, Kathleen Glosan, Tom Spurgeon and Melody Reed. Thanks for putting on such a great show.

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FIRST DAY–Thursday September 28th

Got there in time to meet the rest of the Comics Workbook crew and see Kevin Huizenga’s talk about his use of time in comics. As you may have guessed, the talk was very in-depth and interesting. I thought it was cool that he remembers, vividly, drawing his first comic. He ran through his Ganges catalog and gave us examples of how he plays with time and how time has many different perspectives. You, dear reader, probably already know this, but he is extremely smart and I was really impressed with the amount of research that goes into each issue of Ganges.

And so we, the CW crew hung out and around OSU campus and caught up with each other and generally palled around. The official CW caravan crew was Frank Santoro, Sally Ingraham, Connor Willumsen, Audra Stang, and Kurt Ankeny driving in from Pittsburgh–then myself who came in from Dayton, OH. We also saw the likes of Adam Griffith, Phil Dokes, Juan Fernandez, Jenn Lisa, and Aaron Cockle that weekend.

Of course, how could I not mention the Billy Ireland. What you’ve heard is true. It’s amazing. Often, peoples hearts stop and their eyes get teary. I’ve written much on this before and so have others, so I won’t take up any more space on here about this subject.

Harvey Kurtzman

Lynda Barry

SECOND DAY–Friday September 29th

First thing I saw was Leslie Stein’s tutorial on watercolor and other various materials she uses. Very fun lecture. Stein did great crowd work and was entertaining while she drew. I found it interesting just how much of an education this was for a lot of people in the audience who didn’t even know what a micron pen was(!). Side note, I think microns should die a quick and sudden death–but that’s just me.

Audra, Kurt and I got lunch and hung out. They gave me some tips on drawing portraits–they are both very accomplished in this field, among others, and I am often quite jealous of their ability.

At 3:00pm, was the Chris Ware spotlight moderated by Caitlin McGurk. My friends, you could not have seen a better talk. Chris Ware was, as usual, completely and utterly fantastic–funny, intelligent, self-deprecating–everything you’d ever want from the man. And Caitlin McGurk was an excellent interviewer, she could hold her own and her intellect matched Ware’s. In fact, Ware surprised her by mentioning how an article about memory that she wrote when she was nineteen, changed the way he thought about memory–the article was recommended by Chester Brown–and much of her ideas in that article made their way into Building Stories. Like I said, the interview was amazing, I could not be happier with the experience.

Chris Ware and Caitlin McGurk–sorry for bad lighting

Real quick, I’ll share one of the anecdotes that Ware shared about his daughter (when she was six)–I’m paraphrasing:

Ware: Okay, Daddy has to go upstairs to work.

Daughter: Daddy, you’re not going upstairs to work, you’re going upstairs to blame yourself.

(Uncontrollable laughter by crowd)

Then at 5:00pm comes The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum 40th Anniversary Reception. Got to spend quality time with Audra and Connor before the awards for Master Cartoonist and Transformative Cartoonist were awarded to Kyle Baker and Howard Cruse, respectively, by Tom Spurgeon and Jeff Smith. Before the awards were passed out, Jeff Smith gave a very touching thank you to all the staff, volunteers and sponsors of CXC. What was particularly touching was Smith’s thank you to Lucy Caswell–who was his mentor and, I think it’s fair to say, we would not know Jeff Smith as we know him today if not for Lucy.

THIRD and FOURTH DAY–Saturday September 3oth—Sunday October 1st

Frank Santoro and Matt Fraction

Connor’s Workshop

First day of Expo and Marketplace. Comics Workbook had our table next to Connor Willumsen’s which was nice. Frank ran both tables expertly. Watching him table, one learns the ropes. He’s certainly the best tabler I’ve seen–maybe only rivaled by his own mentor, Bill Boichel. People love going to Frank’s table and talking to him and commenting on “back issues” or anything that comes to mind.

It was fun to see him talk to the likes of Rob Clough, Peter Bagge, Matt Fraction, Tom Spurgeon, Jeff Smith, etc. etc. People have such a respect for Frank. He’s the man.

Connor Willumsen had workshops literally every hour while the library was open–AND he would occasionally come up to his table and draw sketches, sign and draw in his book–Anti-Gone, it’s amazing–for people. Connor’s amazing, dude can draw straight to ink like a master. I’d be mad at him if he wasn’t such a kind, thoughtful person.

Speaking of Connor, he was on a panel with Jeff Smith, Peter Bagge, and Kyle Baker–three giants of comics and some of the most successful cartoonist fiscally and critically. Despite Connor’s relatively low-profile compared to these legends, Connor held his own and impressed everyone on the panel with his cartooning prowess (all three legends took a look at his book during the session) and his ability to hold an audience.

Smith, Bagge, Baker, Willumsen

Connor had a busy weekend and a tall tall mountain to climb–and he finished the race a mile in front of the pack. Frank says he’s the “starting center fielder” on the scene these days.

Sally Ingraham took over for Connor during his aforementioned panel because he was double-booked and people still wanted to learn comics. Every time I want to complain about comics and how much it engulfs my life, I remember that Sally is a savage and never complains. She is ready to jump in whenever and wherever CW needs her–and is totally prepared. AND she still manages to make a daily comic.

Sally Ingraham

Audra Stang is a rising star. I heard critics mention her work multiple times throughout the weekend. People are starting to pay attention to her–and you should too.

Audra drawing in Rob Clough’s sketchbook

I have to mention how particularly fun the last CXC after-party at Pins Mechanical was. Evan Dorkin was the host and made everyone howl with laughter. When I arrived, Frank was holding a ping pong tournament where Dustin Harbin was the undisputed champ. We came in when he was battling the great JC Menu. Harbin has an interesting serve that is hard to keep track of, but it was no match for my past youth group skills. Once I came in to play–the pace changed. I never lost a game. Connor came close though–so did Dustin. It was fun–Frank had to bench me because I had beaten everyone and other people wanted to play. haha I say all this to brag about beating a bunch of great cartoonists at ping pong–it’s ridiculous.

All in all, CXC was great. I love going because, 1.) it’s my hometown festival, and 2.) I haven’t been to show that has such a mix of camps and to see all those camps mingling is something to behold. And my comics sold pretty well so no complaints from me.

Thanks again to everyone who makes CXC a great show, from the executive committee to the donors to the board of directors and volunteers. Thank you!

And once again, thanks to Frank and Sally for their support of the Comics Workbook “kids” and our endeavors.

-CO

Chester Gould

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if you don’t know now you know

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Suzy and Cecil – 10-2-2017 – by Audra Stang

 

09/25/2017

Caleb Orecchio here with thoughts on work ethic, and other news.—————————————————————————————————

Sam’s Strip by Jerry Dumas and Mort Walker

I was talking to my dog recently. I says to her, “Zoe, I’ve rearranged my life around making comics and I still can’t finish a daily strip on time. I moved to a secluded lighthouse outside an old, cheap rust belt town and work the bare minimum to pay off school loans and rent and I still can’t manage to keep a consistent comics work schedule. What am I doing wrong?”

She looked up from licking her privates and and answered, “You complain too much.”

You probably already know this, but SPX 2017 was last week. I put my daily comic strip on hiatus because I was “too busy to be bothered by it” (if you’re a loyal CW Daily News reader, you’ll have noticed that Joanie and Jordie has been absent from this site for a minute). But lo and behold, Sally Ingraham (star cartoonist of Suzy and Cecil fame, comics educator, and managing editor of this very blog–among other things) made all her strips for that week in her hotel room at SPX AND executed her Daily News duties–PLUS! managed to manage the Comics Workbook Workshops being held throughout the weekend and keep tabs on us “kids.” I’m sorry to be so conflict of interest, but I didn’t do nearly as much and I was still more fatigued than she was by the end of the weekend.

I mean, I still drew throughout the weekend. I did my drawing exercises and drew funny faces and dogs running every day. That counts right? Yes, but then I look over at Audra Stang and she has basically filled up a sketchbook with comics, documenting the journey from Pittsburgh to Bethesda and has Frank Santoro literally rolling on the floor with laughter reading them. Then Kurt Ankeny comes in with his sketchbook where, that morning, he had more-than-adequately redrawn some old masterpiece painting from some museum in D.C. He probably did it in 5 minutes while standing up. He invited me to go with him that morning but I was asleep when he messaged me.

I could go on and on.

What’s my point? My point is, to just keep going. Yes you’re tired. Yes you’re broke. Yes you’re busy. But guess what–we’re all in the same boat and we all want to be the next Gilbert Hernandez or Lynda Barry or whoever. Welcome to comics, it’s hard. Just keep going.

Sam’s Strip by Jerry Dumas and Mort Walker

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The fall semester of thee Santoro Correspondence Course for Comic Book Makers starts October 1st 2017. 8 weeks of comics instruction that will bang your practice into shape – 500 bux. Full details about the course and how to apply can be found HERE.

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if you don’t know now you know

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Suzy and Cecil – 9-25-2017 – by Sally Ingraham

 

09/18/2017

Caleb Orecchio here with your post SPX 2017 review, and some links.

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Want to start by saying thanks to Frank Santoro for taking care and sticking his neck out for his “kids.” My SPX experience would not be nearly as fruitful or as interesting without Frank. Also want to thank Sally Ingraham who also runs herself ragged making sure us Comics Workbook “kids” are having the most beneficial experience.

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I am writing this on Monday morning, the day after SPX 2017 ended. My tank was practically empty by the end of the day as I went through all the events of the week/end in my mind. It was a really fun show where I participated in running workshops and being a gopher for Comics Workbook.

On Thursday, I tagged along with Frank Santoro, Sally Ingraham, and Audra Stang from Pittsburgh to Bethesda, Maryland where SPX is held.

Friday I got to meet thee great Gilbert Hernandez during a secret workshop Frank set up for his “kids.” We drew our “Blubber-esque” comics while Gilbert and Frank riffed. Everyone in attendance had their work reviewed by Mr. Hernandez–needless to say we all had a fantastic time–just happy to spend time with and talk to one of the great cartoonists walking the earth right now.

Saturday and Sunday were busy busy busy busy.

Comics Workbook held workshops in Glen Echo Room, four on Saturday and four on Sunday.

The excellent Juan Fernandez kicked off the weekend of workshops with roaring energy and a full house–Juan is an excellent comics educator who never ceases to impress me. Liz Reed gave tutorials on making characters out of clay–I was called elsewhere, but form all accounts the experience was really great. I, along with Audra Stang, had to be bouncers for Gilbert Hernandez’s workshop that Frank moderated. We filled the room to the brim–the hotel staff was concerned because we had to form two lines that snaked through two hallways. A lot of people had to be turned away simply because we had no room. As I stayed outside the room making sure no stragglers trespassed, I talked to Whit Taylor before she went to moderate her panel held in the White Oak Room. Gilbert’s workshop saw people like Tom Spurgeon and Noel Freibert making it in before we had to basicially guard the door. Connor Willumsen had to follow Gilbert and he killed. Connor filled the room too and led an excellent workshop.

The incredible Alexis Ziritt led the first workshop on Sunday. What a nice, talented guy. Kids both young and old drew and laughed for an hour through Alexis’ great workshop. Next up was Sally and Audra co-piloted a workshop. Both are experienced comics educators and had really excellent results. The joy in the room was bursting and the comics made were many. Great tag-team. After that, Sally helped me lead a “free-draw” workshop. I had particular topics I wanted to talk about but talked about none of them. Instead I discussed my process of making my (“daily”) comic-strip, Joanie and Jordie. I drew an improvised J&J live which people seemed to think was funny. Sally helped me to focus the workshop making great points and giving me good prompts. Had good questions to answer from the crowd too. Finally, Mardou ended the CW workshops with a reading of an upcoming book and presentation of her process. Mardou is great, there is a showmanship to her presentations and made me laugh out loud. Great presentation for those who want to up their storytelling game.

Had a couple shifts at the CW table in the main exhibitor hall. Frank’s longboxes, of course, are famous and 10 minutes don’t pass without someone commenting on how happy they are to see Frank’s longboxes there. CW was also selling my comic, a collection of J&J strips called Poor Little Joanie. I was happy to see it sold fairly well. Some people were familiar with the strip who I didn’t know which was nice. Same with Sally and Gabriella Tito’s collection of Suzy and Cecil strips. I had a couple customers who bought both. I kept my eye on the Simon Hanselmann Truth Zone collections–those things are coveted by many. Got to talk to Jim Rugg while I tabled–Jim is always very nice and attentive. A good tablemate. Saw thee great Bill Boichel and he told me he wanted to buy a handful of copies to sell at his store.

It was busy busy busy out on the floor. Got to see Alyssa Berg who I hadn’t seen since CXC last year. Her new riso comics are fantastic–she’s taking her paintings and converting them to riso for print. The results are fantastic. Got to meet Cameron Nicholson for the first time. And Tyler Landry. It was an amalgamation of familiar and new people to see irl: Kate Harmon, Kurt Ankeny, Adam Griffiths, Jenn Lisa (makes excellent cookies), RM Rhodes, Simon Reinhardt, Megan Turbitt, etc. etc.

I’m exhausted–in a good way. I’m depleted, left it all out on the court. Thanks again to Frank and Sally who lead the way for us CW “kids.”

the only photo I took at SPX

 

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if you don’t know, now you know

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Suzy and Cecil – 9-15-2017 – by Gabriella Tito

09/11/2017

Caleb Orecchio here with thought’s on GG’s new book, I’m Not Here,  from Koyama Press and other news.
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GG’s work has a lot of pain. I’ve always been very frustrated in the past by GG’s work because I felt like, though her comics are excellent, I was not being “let in” so to speak. It always seemed that the emotional resonance of her work was being muffled to the point of complete ambiguity–which isn’t bad–I just felt like something was being consciously held back. I don’t want to pretend that I know GG’s intentions, (and obviously, this is my own opinion) but I definitely feel that lately her work has taken on a more emotionally straight-forward approach, for the better–particularly with I’m Not Here, published by Koyama Press.

The joy of reading a GG comic is the sensational drawing. I really like the below page of suburban houses and lawns. There is an undeniable beauty there that I hesitate to elaborate on just because I don’t feel like I have to explain why something like this is beautiful.

GG’s drawing is a really excellent vessel for emotion. Her “cartoony realism” style (that arguably skirts the border of realism if not for lack of detail–or rather, the use of minimal detail) feels completely comfortable to my eyes and I believe in everything I see. So, when a child cries because a precious toy must be thrown away or a mother is bent over in physical and emotional anguish, it hits like an F# note on a piano–it’s jarring and instantaneous. GG’s drawing eschews the use of impressionistic facial expressions that a less technical cartoonist must utilize to impress emotion upon a reader, and is able to directly depict emotion through face and body language. This to me is a mark of an excellent cartoonist–which, I don’t have to tell you, GG is. This has always been true of GG’s work.

 

I hope I’m not being presumptuous, but what separates this work from her past work, for me, is that this book feels particularly personal. Not that GG’s work has never been personal–in fact I’d argue all of GG’s work is intensely personal. However–I have never felt that F# note with her other work. The immediacy of I’m Not Here is undeniably pertinent–almost like we are going to the source of it all or something. The pain depicted in this book feels real as oppose to metaphorical or situational to me. Make sense?

Personally, this is (if I haven’t made myself clear) GG’s best work. I had a sigh of relief after reading I’m Not Here. There is a real catharsis to this book. If you believe in everything you see therein, like I did, and allow yourself to partake in the emotional arc of the story, you will find yourself–like you just ate a very nice, delicious meal without feeling overly full or drunk–satisfied.

-CO

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if you don’t know, now you know

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Suzy and Cecil– 9-11-2017 – by Gabriella Tito

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Joanie and Jordie – 9-11-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio