The Rowhouse Report: May-June 2016

The Comics Workbook Rowhouse Residency is a GO! 

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“Gig poster” for the June 2016 residents

The Rowhouse is a busy place these days!

The end of May brought the first official residents to the doors of the school, with Matthew Conway and Mahmoud Hashemi‘s visit. They came on a mission to work on the back-story of a game they are designing. They enjoyed the adventure of being the school’s first residents, and brought a unique energy that set a tone for the summer and the school.

Mahmoud wrote an extensive report on Matt and his experience of the school, which I am quoting from below:

Compared to my expectations of independent comics artists, Frank is well-adjusted and well-equipped, with good taste in more than just comics. This expectation is likely skewed by my reading of so many “journal comics” artists. I feel like I learned about creating and collecting in general, not just about comics. Frank never stops relating things to comics, education, and community-building. Passion is fleeting compared to this. His motivation is closer to second nature.

This nature was my original hopeful realization with Frank, before I met him. I feel a deep kinship with him, as I think about creating code the same way he thinks about creating comics. Independent, expressive, and individually valuable. Corporate partnerships are inevitable and, while they can be good, ultimately these looming entities don’t care about the potential of comics/code, they just use creators opportunistically.

I see Frank doing for independent print comics what E-40 does in hip hop. He seems to know everyone past and present. E-40 and Frank both act upon this knowledge, combining it with the deeply ingrained understanding that respect is the real currency of the business. Money is an inescapable reality, but it’s possible and laudable to address the group as a community first and an industry second.

Economies have a tendency to be treated as zero-sum. But respect is not zero-sum. Through his music, E-40 pulls everyone together, adding to their respect, and his own. And above all he respects himself, setting a good example. So it is with Frank.

Suffice it to say, we need more creator-mentor-educators like Frank (as well as Sally, who I think recognizes all this and more, and actively assists Frank in the mission). In my ideal world I would be able to spend one week per year with a creator of his caliber, but I feel lucky to even have this one trip.” – Mahmoud Hashemi

You can read the whole report HERE.

Frank, Matt, and Mahmoud edit the Homemake comic


Lale Westvind

Lale Westvind came through Pittsburgh on her motorcycle in June and spent some time at the Rowhouse. Maybe there’s something in the air here, or maybe it’s just Lale’s own incredible drive – either way she managed to knock out half a comic over the course of the evenings she spent at the Rowhouse. She simultaneously explored Frank’s comics collection, and matched him story for story.

Her visits coincided with an interview that Comics Workbook conducted with her, which you can read HERE.


Sammy and Kevin

Sammy Harkham and Kevin Huizenga buzzed through Pittsburgh in June and Copacetic Comics hosted an evening of conversation with these comics geniuses. Afterwards they came back to the Rowhouse for the night and of course they couldn’t just sit around chatting. Drawings were made, comics were discussed, and the Rowhouse got to soak up their combined creative energy. The place is already approaching Kryptonite levels…!


In addition to hosting residents and other roaming cartoonists, the Rowhouse serves as the headquarters for the Comics Workbook team. Local team members like Juan Fernandez and Sally Ingraham pop round most days to work on planning things like The Pittsburgh Comics Salon and to help with packing up orders that come through Frank’s ongoing auction. This “work” often morphs into drawing sessions or a visit to the basement to check out the incredible comics vault that Frank has been building for years.

Regular life at the Rowhouse – today’s project: assembling issues of Zona #3


Yes indeed, the Rowhouse is humming and July promises to be just as exciting, with residents Audra Stang and Caleb Orecchio coming to visit. Stay tuned for more residency reports and other news soon!

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