Sally here with an update from the Rowhouse, a conversation with Phoebe Gloeckner, a new Art Trip with Sacha Mardou, wise words from Lynda Barry, and a couple of unique interpretations of visual or non-visual communication – plus, a very chill anime beat.



It was a busy week around the Rowhouse in Pittsburgh, as the Comics Workbook team had our first residency! Matt and Mahmoud worked with Frank on a comic book based on a game they are developing – but beyond that (the nitty-gritty of arranging and rearranging index cards!), the days were spent in a ferociously exciting exchange of ideas on comics, architecture, music, social-media communication, and so much more. The time is NOW, folks!


Pages from Diary of a Teenage Girl by Phoebe Gloeckner

Ariel Schrag interviewed Phoebe Gloeckner at MoCCA this year, and a video of the whole conversation is available to view (below). It is a lively discussion between two powerful female voices in comics. Phoebe Gloeckner is known for A Child’s Life and Other Stories and The Diary of a Teenage Girl – both considered to be essential works about adolescent girlhood. Ariel Schrag has also been known to dig into the trials and tribulations of adolescence, via comics such as her autobiographical high school series Awkward, Definition, Potential, and Likewise.

The two women talk about Phoebe’s work as a medical illustrator, the filming of The Diary of a Teenage Girl, and many other things. Take an hour to sit down with them!

For more information about Phoebe, check out THE Phoebe Gloeckner interview on The Comics Journal.


Lynda Barry

Having recently moved from Santa Fe, NM, to Pittsburgh, PA, I was somewhat miffed to discover that within a week of my move, the extraordinary Lynda Barry came to speak at a theater in Santa Fe…! Fortunately, a close friend of mine went to the event and was kind enough to report back for me/us.

In the words of Comics Workbook extra-special correspondent Julie Kirby:

“Rather than field questions she insisted we already knew the answers to, cartoonist Lynda Barry ended her talk at the Lensic Theater in Santa Fe Tuesday night with a dirty joke and a song. Such a satisfying finale after an already intriguing presentation was precisely why nearly 800 people turned out to see her speak, and surprisingly, to hear her sing. While Barry was indeed entertaining and undeniably hilarious -who doesn’t love a collection of awkward figure drawing anecdotes? – I believe she had a much more important purpose. To encourage! To inspire!

An adamant proponent of the 30 second drawing, Barry suggested that allowing ourselves too much time, too many opportunities for regret inhibits our art. That recognition does not require exact duplication. Barry demonstrated how familiar shapes – the profiles of Popeye and Marge Simpson, or the outline of the United States – can be reproduced with little accuracy, yet great familiarity still results. She lamented that by 8, 9, 10 years of age we often quit drawing because we believe we are unable to properly depict a nose. (In my personal experience, it was hair.)

Barry basically said STOP. Stop editing, stop erasing. Start writing with a paintbrush and without expectations. While even she acknowledged that many of her ideas are not entirely original, her unconventional delivery of them certainly was.”

Thanks Julie!


Scan 12 copy
Sketchbook pages by Sacha Mardou

Today on Comics Workbook we’re featuring a new Art Trip piece. Sacha Mardou had a run-in with an iconic dress, and scribbled down her impressions and thoughts for us. Check out Art Trip: Little Black Dress HERE!



On Tuesday, Aaron Cockle featured the work of Ilan Manouach (a cartoonist, musician, publisher, and more from Greece) in his Daily News post. He highlighted part of an essay by Bill Kartalopoulos about Manauach’s work Katz (which is a riff on Art Spiegelman’s Maus). I bring this up again for two reasons –

ONE: because Bill Kartalopoulos guest-edited a whole section on comics for World Literature Today, which features numerous essays, interviews, and book lists. Check it out HERE.

AND TWO: because the part of the essay on Ilan Manouach that caught my interest was his project Shapereader. Manouach is working on developing a system of comics for the visually impaired! Incredible stuff. Check out the image above. It is a laser-engraved communication board, one of six that accompany a graphic novel called Arctic Circle, which employs the Shapereader repertoire. Below is another such board.


The communication boards “…carry the index for 210 different shapes, providing the tactile equivalents for the specific features of the story. They are divided into groups according to their semantic content and function: characters, props, settings, actionsaffections as well as graphic and textual devices forming the well-known toolbox of graphic storytelling craft.”

In Manouach’s words:

“I think comic books are interesting because they are both very material and very immaterial. … Comics is a language, a very immaterial thing, but at the same time it’s a very tangible thing. There are books, they take space, they are printed in Singapore, they travel back to the States, they are carried in distribution, sold in bookstores, etc. I wanted to do a work that takes both of these directions and puts them to the extreme.”

Take the time to learn more about this fascinating new “tactile” comic form, and read Bill Kartalopoulos’s essay on Ilan Manouach a few times – there are more projects and ideas in there that neither Aaron or I even touched on…!


First two pages of listening guide for Mozart’s Symphony No. 41 in C Major, K. 551 ‘Jupiter’. Photo: Hannah Chan-Hartley

Here’s another interesting angle on communication – The Toronto Symphony Orchestra uses “listening guides” that use symbols and what looks almost like Morse Code to aid a listener experiencing a (sometimes overwhelming) live orchestra performance. Over on Creative Review they get into the details of the project with it’s creator – Hannah Chan-Hartley – the managing editor and musicologist at the TSO.

‘In developing the listening guides for Key, Chan-Hartley says she “wanted to remove some of the barriers to comprehension that more ‘traditional’ guides you see in print tend to have. For one, these traditional aids often have a lot of descriptive text, which you have to read through and then remember as you listen to the piece. I wanted my guide to be visual, and one that you can follow along with in ‘real time’ while listening.

“Secondly, only people who can read musical notation would find the excerpts in the traditional guides useful, so I wanted a graphic way to represent what is being heard so anyone could understand.

“And finally, I wanted the guide to be in a format through which you could visually grasp the overall structure of a symphonic movement or an entire symphony – by showing when the main musical themes are presented, developed, and recur, and thereby help to structure your listening”.’

Read the rest of the article and see lots more pics of the “visual listening guides” HERE!



Our recent Rowhouse residents are guys of many talents – one of their projects is the curation of the Chill Anime Beats tumblr, where you can find many soothing, lonely, lovely Vines like the one above – CHECK IT OUT HERE.


Have a fantastic weekend folks! More sock-knocking-off comics news coming your way on Monday. Cheers – Sally

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