M. S. Harkness – Rowhouse Residency Report

M. S. Harkness lives in Minneapolis, MN. A recent graduate of MCAD, she makes comics and is a personal trainer. She joined us in Pittsburgh for a Comics Workbook Rowhouse Residency in July 2017. Here are her thoughts about visiting the city and her Rowhouse Residency experience.


Part of M. S. Harkness’ crowdfund campaign for her comics residency!

I wanted to participate in the Rowhouse Residency as a grad present to myself after grinding for four years in art school, under the excellent tutelage of Kevin Huizenga. I’d never been to Pittsburgh before and I wanted to see Copacetic Comics. I wasn’t sure about what the experience was, but I wanted to make it my summer trip where I could get a lot of work done but still be on vacation. I think I messaged Frank something like “I’m working on Tinderella, I’m going to have like half the book inked so I just wanna grind on that.” So I crowdfunded and made plane tickets happen.

Detail from Tinderella

It was a really cool experience. I valued the time I had and the opportunity to wander through as a guest. I dunno what the typical residency is – I came in open to doing whatever I could to see the city and improve my craft, but I had a set goal of just churning out pages. So every day I played a lot of music and stretched the shit out of my wrists so I didn’t mess them up too bad with carpal tunnel.

I got to go to the Pittsburgh Comics Salon on the 5th and meet Juan Fernandez. Frank looked at my work and gave me good insight onto what he was seeing. But for the most part, I did a lot of drawing and talking with Sally Ingraham about cartooning and teaching, and how much we cared about what we were both doing. That sort of time is really invaluable, especially since I got to do it outside of the setting of a convention, or an expo, where you’re just stressed the fuck out and tired and not really hearing what anyone was saying. I got to watch fireworks and take nature walks with other cartoonists, which is really good after a day of being inside over a table.

M. S. Harkness and Sally Ingraham on the 4th of July

In total, I inked about 11 pages, so that felt good. I left a stack of Prizefighter’s and Floor Troll minis at Copacetic Comics, so cop those if you haven’t yet. The last night I was in town I got to hang out with my auto bio BFFL Nate McDonough who lived on the whole other side of town and I spent like 60 bucks on Lyft rides to see. He was worth it though, and we stayed up late as hell screaming about the comics we were going to make.

M. S. Harkness by Nate McDonough and Nate by M. S. Harkness

I want to do an anthology with him at some point but don’t tell him that!!!

Other than Frank telling me ways to improve my process, I did a lot of ‘why’ thinking while I was in Pittsburgh, sort of meditating on my own reasons for doing what I do in comics. It was all really constructive, not that sort of awful anxious shit, just a lot of thinking about what the next steps are going to be once I get this book done and how I want to live and portray my life. I’m only 24 so everything is really cool and exciting and not dumb (in regards to my career – the world itself is shit and awful). I always just want to make things that are entertaining and worth reading.

I highly recommend the Rowhouse Residency to all folks. If you make comics but haven’t had the chance to pick the brain of someone who thinks about comics as a language and a science, Frank will give your work the combing it needs to be understood and received. Sally’s a really good resource too – if you’re interested in integrating comics into a teaching curriculum, she’s a powerhouse.

Tinderella should be out some time next year, either when it gets picked up and thrown into a publisher’s kickstarter, or when you preorder it from me personally and I get it printed myself. Follow me on Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram or better yet, buy my comics on Bigcartel!

Big shout outs to Bill Boichel, it was lovely meeting you <3

Also to Frank and Sally, I’m sorry I stole the keys on accident I hope they got back to you okay in the mail.

Frank Santoro and M. S. Harkness by M. S. Harkness




For more information about the Comics Workbook Rowhouse Residency visit this page or email santoroschoolATgmail

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