Monday, December 5, 2011

Lately: December 2011

In addition to doing some last minute artwork for Save The Date and teaching at SAIC, I've mostly been working on A Matter Of Life, the next autobiographical book which has stories mostly about fatherhood and religion. Here's part of a cover design sketch on the top left. On the top right is part of my drawing for the retailer incentive cover for the first issue of Adventure Time comic book (in this month's Diamond catalogue, so order at your comic shop now). The bottom left is a drawing of Racky, based on one of John Porcellino's King Cat covers, drawn as a thanks to John for speaking to my class at SAIC. The bottom right is part of the cover to a minicomic I created in conjunction with the New Trier Literary Festival. I gave a talk to students, then had them write a comic with me - I sat and drew thumbnail pencils while they gave suggestions for what the comic should be about and what should happen next. I inked the comic at home later on and failing to think of a good title, settled on naming it after an Anders Nilsen book.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sundance 2012!

About five and a half years ago I got an email asking if I'd ever thought about writing screenplays, and so I started working on a story. The final idea turned into a screenplay that I co-wrote with Egan Reich and Michael Mohan. The movie, Save The Date, ended up being filmed this summer, and now they've scheduled the premiere. It all feels fairly strange, but exciting.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Where I Draw

Jordan Shiveley, who runs Grimalkin Press, started a new blog displaying artist's working environments. You can see my non-coffee shop drawing space there now.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Funny Misshapen Obstruction

Once again I put my comics students through the obstruction exercise - inspired by Lars Von Trier's film The Five Obstructions, I had students re-draw a comic of theirs with some restriction specific to them. These included not using panel borders, using different materials than they normally do and limiting dialogue or text. I felt it would be only fair that they be able to give me obstructions as well. They chose to have me draw with a panel layout that wasn't a grid, use animals not people, use pastels and draw it big. They also tried to get me to draw more cars but I nixed that one. I chose to redraw this two page sequence from Funny Misshapen Body, and started out by thumbnailing a non-grid layout of how I could re-draw the pages.

I wasn't going to go buy pastels just for this, so I used colored pencils, and drew on some standard issue Dark Horse comic art board. I didn't have a lot of time to work on it, but I think it turned out okay, and more importantly it was interesting to get outside my normal comfort zone. I don't think working like this would work for me in general, and the effect of having an entire book of pages like this wouldn't feel right for my autobiographical comics, but it's something that'll probably sit in the back of my head and be of use somewhere down the road.

Saturday, October 1, 2011


It's been a busy two months, most of which I've spent finishing up the artwork for my next book with Chronicle, which should be out next year for Father's Day. It's been a lot of fun to draw, but I'm glad to have most of the pressure off for it. Meanwhile, I've been teaching a comics class at The School Of The Art Institute Of Chicago again. This past week's exercise was for the students to try and duplicate a panel from a comic, and then re-draw it again in their own styles or without trying to copy directly. I did a quick example of this panel from Uncanny X-Men #192.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Chicago Comic Con

Tomorrow morning I'll be taking the train out to Chicago Comic Con (formerly WizardWorld). Top Shelf won't be exhibiting this year, so I'll be at table #3006 with Change-Bots 1 and 2, Clumsy, Process and Oscar mini-comics, hand drawn trading cards and a few other odds and ends.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Secret Headquarters

This Friday I'll already be back in California (after another exhausting but great San Diego Comicon) to sign at Secret Headquarters, who will also be hosting an art show featuring all the zombie/Beatles art from the book Paul Is Undead. SHQ will also have for sale a bunch of special 'Process' artifact packets, packaged without the minicomics.

Monday, July 18, 2011

San Diego Comic-Con

Once again I'll be at San Diego Comic-con this year. Most of the time you'll find me at the Top Shelf booth #1721, where I'll also post my schedule of where I'll be when. I might forget unless you ask, but I'll have these free sketch cards courtesy of Things From Another World to benefit the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. I'll complete the sketch card with the head of your least favorite Change-Bot, or you can head to the Threadless/CBLDF party on Thursday night and bid on the completed original art I made for the card, featuring the beheaded Balls.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Save The Film

Somewhere in Los Angeles today (or maybe actually yesterday) the movie I co-wrote and provided a bunch of artwork for started filming, which is really exciting and also slightly hard to believe. I started working on it five years ago when Jordan Horowitz wrote to me and asked if I'd ever thought about writing for film, and this was the initial idea I pitched to him back then:

basically the story is about two girls' relationships, one the deteriorating relationship of high school sweethearts, and the other a new relationship complicated by unexpected pregnancy; the date being the wedding date, but also the due date of the baby. pretty vague, but there you go. it would definitely lean toward the comedic side of things

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

It's A Cute Cat World!

Here's a quick peek at three stages of my new two page comic running in Devastator #3, which comes out next Wednesday, with a release party at Meltdown in Los Angeles this weekend. There were actually something like a dozen stages to this comic, because I kept starting to draw it and starting over because it wasn't just right. It's a true story that I'm glad I waited to draw.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Change-Bots Art Show Live Now

Even if you missed the opening to the big Change-Bots Two art show in Brooklyn, you can still go check out the art through June 23. And if you're not in New York, you can always take a look at the digital version of the show here. If robots aren't your thing, the Scott Eder Gallery also has other artwork of mine available for purchase, including art from Cats Are Weird.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Incredible Change-Bots Two Art Show

This coming Friday will be the opening of my Incredible Change-Bots Two art show at the Scott Eder Gallery in Brooklyn. The show will feature all the art work from the latest Change-Bots book, as well as a host of large drawings I've been working on since last fall - large character portraits, Electronocybercircuitron, a giant battle scene and more. There'll also be a special Change-Bots print for sale. I'll be there for the opening, and Saturday night I'll be at Desert Island signing.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Free Comic Book Day!

This Saturday I'll be at Comix Revolution in Evanston for Free Comic Book Day. In addition to all the usual Free Comic Books from the bigger publishers, Comix Revolution will have a special Change-Bots FCBD 16 page minicomic, collecting all the Change-Bots interviews that won't be appearing in any of the Fan Club newsletters.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Lately, April 2011 Edition

Some of what I was working on in April:

1. A special hand-drawn slipcase story for a unique copy of Clumsy that will be donated to the CBLDF
2. Print for the upcoming Change-Bots art show and signing in New York (the actual print will be in color)
3. One page comic for the band Art Brut
4. Covers for future issue of Elfworld anthology
5. The next autobiographical book, coming out in 2012 (assuming I finish it in time) from Top Shelf
6. Screenplay I co-wrote that might actually be made into a movie this year
7. Sketchbook for thumbnails to next book with Chronicle
8. Drawing for a T-Shirt design
9. Large drawing for the aforementioned art show in New York
10. Notes for a possible music book idea
11. One page comic for a Japan benefit anthology

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Change-Bots Retrun

Head out to your local comic shop today for the release of Incredible Change-Bots Two. If you're in Chicago, you have something like a hundred comic shops to choose from, including Challengers, where I'll be signing tonight. If you're in Portland, you can wait until Friday night when I'm at Floating World, as well as Saturday and Sunday at Stumptown. Of course, I'll have Change-Bots Fan Club memberships available too. It's still the March newsletter right now, because I've spent the past week working on taxes.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I'm Really Good At Playing

I was going to write an essay over at GraphicNYC, but realized what I was trying to say worked much better as a comic, and they just posted I'm Really Good At Playing today. Here's a step by step look at the process once I'd scrapped the idea of writing it as a prose essay. First I made a small outline, and expanded that out into a full script. I was basin the dimensions on he biggest size my scanner bed can handle.

I streamlined the script and wrote it out on the back of the illustration board I was drawing the piece on, so that if I was working out at the coffee shop I didn't have to carry the extra piece of paper with me. Because an extra piece of paper can be very heavy.

I was planning on making the comic full color, so I pencilled the piece out a bit more completely than I might normally.

I started to ink and immediately screwed up the first panel - the title - and decided to start over. I tested inks and sizes a little bit on the illustration board first.

So then I re-pencilled the story in non-photo blue, intending to draw it only as black and white line art. I also made the panels smaller and split things up, nearly doubling the number of panels.

Head over to GraphicNYC to see the whole, complete comic.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

One Hour Minicomic Challenge

At the Chicago Zinefest this past Saturday, I held a one hour minicomic challenge. The idea was that in the hour I had, I would come up with the idea for the comic, write it, draw it, and make copies that I would fold and staple and give to everyone there. I called it a challenge because I wasn't sure I could do it, especially since I was also going to be talking to the audience about my process as I worked and answer questions. I had already quartered and numbered the pages in non-photo blue pencil to save a little bit of time. First thing was to have them throw out suggestions of what the comic should be about. The first idea thrown out was sloth, and after a few more ideas were suggested I decided I'd go with sloth, making the snap decision to not waste time. My first thought was about the giant sloth skeleton at the field museum, and then I remembered in sixth grade when I got to be a junior zookeeper for a week, and one day got to go into the sloth exhibit. So I brainstormed another handful of stories from that week as a junior zookeeper to fill up the minicomic, since all that happened with the sloth was that he hooked his claw onto the zookeeper's shirt. I guess I could've just made that one story 8 pages and just have the sloth move really slow, but that would be kind of boring and felt like a cheap trick. Anyway, I managed to draw the comic in the hour, just finishing the last page as time ran out. The Zinefest took the pages and ran off to make copies, while everyone who had attended wrote their names down so they could pick a copy up from me later, after I'd folded and stapled them at my table. There were over fifty people there, and I feel like it was pretty successful. I don't know if it'd have been harder or easier to just make up a fictional/fantasy sloth comic, but it worked out well to make this one autobiographical. Incidentally, there were three people who didn't pick up their copies, so they can email me to see about getting their copy.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


It's a busy couple days starting tomorrow. Close on the heels of my interview at Gaper's Block, I'll be on air for Tony Breed's morning radio show on CHIRP between 8 and 9 am central. This is all in advance of this weekend's Chicago Zinefest. Tomorrow night I'll be reading at 826CHI as part of the exhibitor readings sometime between 630 and 830. And then in addition to having copies of Process and Oscarfor sale at my table on Saturday, I'll be doing a special workshop: The One Hour Minicomic Challenge, where I'll attempt to complete an 8 page mini from idea to printed/folded/stapled in one hour, while I answer questions and talk to the attendees.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Change-Bots 2 at C2E2

This weekend I'll be at McCormick Place for C2E2, where Top Shelf (booth #810) will debut Incredible Change-Bots Two. I recently finished "Bew! Bew! Bew!", the 15"x21"(apx.) Change-Bots battle drawing I've been working on for the Change-Bots Two art show at Scott Eder Gallery in May, so stop by Scott's booth (#728) to check it out (as well as a spectacular collection of other artists' work). I'll also have a few copies of the letterpress Oscar minicomic, some of which was on display at the MCA Chicago's "New Chicago Comics" exhibition earlier this year, as well as Change-Bots Fan Club Memberships, the Process minicomic, and hand-drawn trading cards.
If you're in San Francisco instead of Chicago, head over to Giant Robot for their Game Over 4 art show to see my Balls Patrol.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Change-Bots Fan Club 2.0

Incredible Change-Bots Two will be out sometime in the next month, along with the first volume coming back into print. There's a new Change-Bots Fan Club offer - the new offer doesn't include the fancy drawing the original offer did, but it's also cheaper. You get a hand letter pressed membership card (your choice of faction), and the current month's four page newsletter which includes fun facts, a comic strip interview with a Change-Bot, a one page comic, a bonus fun page, and a small drawing of your favorite Change-Bot. There'll be a different newsletter for each month while the offer is available (until the end of 2011). The first newsletter's bonus page is a cutout pattern to make your own paper Rusty. I colored and assembled one to show how it looks - he even does a low tech incredible-change.
Details on how to join below; I'll also have limited quantities on hand at conventions and signings. Paypal is also now accepted - paypal to the same email listed on the form.
Please note to clarify - the membership includes the current newsletter only; I may try to have some email version of the whole set available to send out at the end of the offer, but costs are prohibitive for sending out physical copies every month.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Shoplifting From American Apparel

I drew the film poster (colored by Bill Crabtree) for the adaptation of Tao Lin's novel Shoplifting From American Apparel, and Sangha Films has a Kickstarter page up now to fund the film. Incentives include a chapbook that will have art from myself and others. Watch the trailer to see the talking trees I also drew.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Just Barely

When the first Change-Bots book was released, Wizard Magazine ran a one page exclusive comic I drew for them. So with Change-Bots Two coming out this March, I thought it'd be great to do that again. Unfortunately, Wizard Magazine announced that it was ending it's run after issue #235. Fortunately, the new exclusive Change-Bots strip made it in! So go to your comic shop and pick up the last issue of Wizard. Maybe two copies, so you can leave one in its sealed bag and open the other one to read about Change-Bots Two. Meanwhile, I drew a few strips for online previews as well - check out Comics Alliance and Comic Book Resources for more appetite wetting action. Er, whetting. CBR also has an interview with me about the new book. Next up, Cat Fancy...

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Luke Process

My blog was featured over at Be@Home, and I mentioned that I try to post behind the scenes process kind of work. Coincidentally, also this week was the release of the book Creating Comics, which features a lot of comics creators talking about their working process. So, to continue the trend, today's post is about my process on a recent illustration project - drawing a seven page story for Sorted! as part of their comics series. My story is Luke Gets Lost, about a ten year old boy who's a bit lazy.
Here's the notes from writer Lissanne Oliver for the cover design:

: PAGE 1 – title (COVER) page. Plenty of white space

• Luke sitting in a beanbag or over stuffed lounge chair. He’s grinning. He’s a big sloth.
• small stack of books/comics with an “Overdue” tag hanging out
• Plate or cereal bowl on top
• few cereal crumbs on the floor
• ipod on floor with a trail of headphone cable
• Fart escaping

Step one was to pencil out the rough idea for the composition. After sending that to Lissanne, we talked about making the beanbag chair more beanbag like, so I re-worked that before inking and adding the gray tones. Then I needed to fit my drawing into the cover template, along with adding some green. This required a bit of photoshopping, which I'm still not very good at. After all this, there were a few problems - Luke was a little big and dominating, with not as much white space, and seemed to be crowded into the cover. Lissanne suggested shrinking the size, reversing the image, and tilting the chair back a bit. Some of the details needed adjusting, such as the stack of books which became lost visually next to the beanbag, or that I spelled 'you're' as 'your' on the invitation. She also mentioned wanting the story to be drawn more loosely and sketchy - along the lines of how I drew AEIOU or Every Girl Is The End Of The World For Me.

I wanted the cover to match the interior, so rather than manipulate the image in photoshop - which would take me a while - I figured it'd be just as well for me to spend that time simply re-drawing the cover. So I reversed and shrunk the image in photoshop and printed it out, and then used it as an underlay, since the paper I was drawing on was thin enough to see through. I hand tilted the drawing and used that as the pencils, fixing some of the details and letting the drawing become rougher and less finished. Of course, I find I'm unable to draw quite the same way I did when I was drawing AEIOU. I put more pressure on myself to make things just right nowadays, so maybe I end up reworking - and overworking - things. After a few false starts (mostly just drawing Luke's head and having it feel just a little off), I ended up with the inked cover complete with grays. Then I fit the new drawing back into the cover template, along with making some minor adjustments like getting rid of the ipod.

After the cover there were six more pages to draw, and rather than inking the pencils I'd finished for them all, I printed those out and used them as underlays. When those were finished there were more corrections to be made. Sometimes I'd made mistakes in the text, and in some places Lissanne wrote new text. There were some panels with minor adjustments and a few I redrew entirely. This was the first story I've drawn written by someone else, save for a short two page zine piece, and although it felt stressful to work on at times, when it was finished it didn't seem like it had been so bad. I think sometimes the idea of how hard something will be can be just as bad as if it were hard in reality. I feel like all in all it was a good experience and turned out well.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


This weekend is the opening of the StaticCreep Exhibition of Sequential Art at Las Manos Gallery here in Chicago. Included will be my illustrations from Paul Is Undead, so I'm posting my thumbnail sketches from that project here.
And despite a busy holiday season, I managed to find time to contribute a page to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund Year In Review Minicomic. Look for that at the CBLDF booth at conventions, as well as member stores, in limited quantities.