Juan here. Back in action and ready to start a new week with you! Today: A stroll through the 44th Angoulême International Comics Festival; Frank Santoro’s Comics Corner #1; a look at deep learning through coloring and sketching algorithms; Toon Books’ spring list; Julia Gfrörer’s Laid Waste reviewed; preview of Dominique Goblet’s Pretending is Lying; Noah Van Sciver’s 2nd installment of The Introvert Club; Comics by Jack Brougham, Sally Ingraham, Caleb Orecchio, and Juan Fernandez.

Juan Fernandez, Emil Friis Ernst, and Jennifer Lisa in the Nouveau Monde tent at Angoulême 2017

44e Festival de la Bande Dessinée d’Angoulême

I’m BACK – OOF! I was on the ground at the Angoulême International Comics festival 2017. Joined by Jennifer Lisa we took in the sights and sounds of this incredible happening.

The second largest comics festival in Europe, and the third largest in the world runs every year since 1974, Angoulême saw the 44th iteration of its city wide comics festival the weekend before last. More than 200,000 visitors come each year to the fair, including between 6,000 and 7,000 professionals and 800 journalists. I’m still unpacking so much I saw and heard there…

Today on the site, we’ve got the first of a 3 part series on the Comics Workbook Experience at the 44th Angoulême International Comics Festival.I’m unpacking this life changing experience here for Comics Workbook.  This first part of this series is a collection of photos.Intentionally presented free of commentary, this series of photos invites you to take a look and see what tickles your eye. In depth reflections on this edition of the annual festival appears in the next next installment of this Comics Workbook Festival News series.

Enjoy a stroll with me and Jenn through the festival HERE.

If you have never been to Angoulême or need to be reminded of what it is like—here is a good primer by Brigid Alverson, and Frank Santoro’s 2014 Tour Diary.

Paints Chainer: A free  Japanese neural network that colors illustrations for you

The robots are coming. The new web service, Paints Chainer, created by mechanical engineer @tai2an shows how “creative fields” can soon be automated. Human capacities augmented through the automisation of “drudgery”.

I bring this up because automation is moving into every possible sector of human labor. What does that mean for how define work and what it gets us?How do our values as a society change? Who gets thrown under the truck? Can automation be an agent of positive change? So long as work is necessary, how do humans remain relevant as part of the production and consumption of commodity cultures? With developments like these do wae have a say in inventing the future? 

 Anyway, just wanted to share this to get your minds thinking about how to best engage in a world where these processes are realities. The future will continue to be carved by these ideas.

Think you can use this weird tool in your arsenal, ninjas? Go for it. Get weird.

I’ve talked about deep learning and convolution networks before on this site, but I think it’d be good to cover it in the context of this web service. How does this work? Simosela Edgar, has got a great site that’ll help you wrap your mind a little better around these algorithms. Slam that translate button because this is all in Japanase.

To understand it better, let’s look at a similar web service, the Fully Convolutional Networks for Rough Sketch Cleanup by Edgar Simo-Serra*, Satoshi Iizuka*, Kazuma Sasaki, Hiroshi Ishikawa

Automatic drawing of rough sketches:

The proposed model is a multilayered neural network in which all layers are composed only of convolution layers, and when a rough sketch is input, the line drawing is outputted. This model consists of three types of convolutional layers: down-convolution, flat-convolution, up-convolution. For down-convolution, setting the stride number of the filter to 2 halves the map resolution, flat-convolution does not change the map resolution, up-convolution halves the stride number by doubling the map resolution . As a result, the image is first compressed and processed into a small feature map, and finally it can be returned to the original resolution and a clean line drawing can be output.

You can test drive it over HERE. It’s an “auto-inker”. Sure, the line is dead and things are clunky. But, you get my drift. What does it mean to learn to simplify? How do computers simplify? What kind of visual literacies do humans have. Consider this set of developing AI as examples for active and passive visual literacies. If you’re interested, be sure to learn more about the team’s research.

Last but not least, let’s think about here are the politics of datasets. The AI we develop NEEDS a data set to be its world to reference as it gauges its attempts at replication of “reality”. Who supplies that information? What gets left out? Why? For those curious, I plugged in some Julie Doucet pages and some Xaime Hernandez panels and got some hilarious colour guesses. What would you need to feed this algorithm to handle non-shojo/shonen looking images?
I have some thoughts and I bet you do too.

Needles and Threads



Frank riffs on John Byrne’s Fantastic Four run – stay tuned for more from Frank’s Comics Corner!


Here at Comics Workbook we are passionate about sharing our love for the medium through Daily News posts like these, through our online correspondence course, the Rowhouse Residency, the Pittsburgh Comic Salons, and through our Comics Workbook tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We promote and share comics and their makers, provide a platform for makers – both professionals and students – to publish their work, and provide educational opportunities at local events and international comics festivals. If you like any aspect of what we are doing please consider supporting us – it’s easy to donate directly to the project, or we have a plethora of interesting work available for purchase at our school store. Check it out HERE.



Blinkers – 2-6-2017 – by Jack Brougham


Suzy and Cecil – 2-6-2017 – by Sally Ingraham


Joanie and Jordie – 2-6-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio


Cozytown – 2-6-2017 – by Juan Fernández

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