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Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Thinking About An iPad for Comics (and other art)?

Thinking about an iPad?

Photo by Henry Ascroft on Unsplash


If you are thinking about buying an iPad specifically for comics, and maybe for some other art too, you have a lot to sift through!  New, used, Apple Pencil 1, Apple Pencil 2, pro, air, "regular" ipad, screen size, screen quality...

ARGH!

There are many options for you to consider and I do urge you to read the many excellent reviews you can find online of whatever the current iPad models are.

What I'm going to do here is share the thinking process that helps me decide which ipad if any is the best match for me or for a friend.  Sometimes just getting help with a process for decision-making is as useful, or more useful, than a ton of information about the products themselves!


New Or Used

First:  new or used?  Refurbished by Apple is a solid deal, I know.  If you are going to go refurbished or "renewed" as I sometimes see it called, just check the warranty.  Know what you are getting into.


The Apple Pencil is a Must

Second:  the Apple Pencil.  Whether you get an iPad that uses the Pencil 1 or the Pencil 2 matters less than that you must get an iPad that works with a pencil.  Of course you could work with another stylus.  But I wouldn't.  Not for comics and other forms of art.  You want the precision and no lag flexibility of the Pencil.  For me, it's the reason to draw on an iPad.  Depending on which one goes with the ipad you choose, figure an additional $100-$150.  


Understand the New Options

Third:  look at the new options and what each has.  Currently (September 2019) these are what I would consider.  (Note:  I leave the mini off my list because it is too small for me for hours of daily work.  But check it out if it might work for you!)

1.  The new 9.7 inch iPad which starts at about $329 for 32G memory.  Apple Pencil 1.  Only this new version of the "iPad" takes the pencil so don't buy an older version of "iPad."  Thsi is the cheapest entry point for a new iPad.  The screen is not as good as the next option... does this matter to you for the money?  

2.  The new 10.5 inch iPad Air.  Apple Pencil 1.  Only this new version of the "iPad air" takes the pencil so don't buy an older version of "iPad air."  About $499... for that price difference you get a 64g memory and a considerably better screen.  If budget allows, I would encourage anyone to consider this over the 9.7 inch iPad.  You can read an excellent review of it on The Verge. 

3.  The new iPad Pro 10 inch.  Apple Pencil 2.  Starts around $799.  Big price jump.  You can read on Apple's site and other reviews for detailed comparison.  In my mind, it is about processing speed mostly.

4.  The new iPad pro 12.9 inch.  Apple Pencil 2.  Starts around $999.  This is what I have and I love it . Yes, I paid the money because to me, the screen size is worth it.  It is so much cheaper than a Wacom tablet, and portable.   Drawing on it for hours at a time allows me more free arm movement.  That size means it is heavier than the others.  I keep mine in a minimal protective cover, no keyboard as they add a ton of weight. 

I tell people that they do not need a pro unless for some reason they are sure they want one.  I chose mine because of that size. 


Compare Used to New

Fourth:  if you are looking at a refurbished or used iPad, I would ask these questions:

1.  How do the specs of the older model compare to the new iPad or iPad Air?  In many cases you can get a new one with specs that are nearly the same as the old one... so why would you buy used?   Neither choice is obviously better; just compare.

2.  Be sure what you are buying works with a version of the Pencil.

3.  What warranty exists and is that sort of security important to you?  


Additional Essentials

When you do get your iPad (hooray!), there are a very few accessories which I consider essential:

1.  The Apple Pencil (I already mentioned this, but I can't say it enough).

2.  If you have the Apple Pencil 1, it has a stupid design flaw that makes the cap very easy to lose.  And many people (myself included) find it too slippery and easy to drop.  So buy a skin for it, or at the very least a cap keeper so when you remove the cap to charge it, you can't lose it.

3.  Drawing on glass drives many people nuts.  Too smooth.  Clicking.  There is a product called Paperlike that you can put on the screen to make it feel more like paper.  Roughly $30, for two.  I have not used this.  I have found that a cheap matte glass protector works just fine for me.  Two for $10 on amazon.

4.  A lightweight case to protect that glass.  I find a simple portfolio case, sometimes even in leather, for about $20 or so on amazon.  Of course, you can go MUCH higher and fancier.  But as long as it protects the glass and the edges, I'm good.  I don't use the case for other things much (like an easel).  I put my ipad in a portable stand for that.  But think about what you want and get the most minimal (lightweight) protective case you can.

5.  Apps!  If you are interested in creating comics, these are the ones I recommend:  Procreate, Medibang Paint, and Comic Draw.  Check them out and see what looks good for your work flow.  (Tip:  if you were going to get only one, learn only one, for me it would be Procreate, no question).

I hope this gives you a start if you are considering buying an iPad for work in comics or art!  




Thursday, September 5, 2019

Capturing Color Palettes with Adobe Capture



Today, I thought I’d share a fun tool I use on my iphone and iPad to capture color palettes and put them into Procreate. It is the free app called Adobe Capture. It does a lot of different things (including turning images into vectors!), but I use it mostly to play with palettes.
From the app you just point the camera at something and it picks five prominent colors from the scene. You can adjust them, change one or all, and just mess around. It’s fun!
Through the app this gets saved in an Adobe Creative Cloud library, which is available then across your Adobe programs, if you use them.
But if you don't, no worries!  Just take a screenshot of the palette that Capture creates and save in Photos.  Then you have it as a .jpg to use wherever you like.
I import the photo into Procreate and easily use the color picker to nab those colors for a palette.
Yes, one can simply take the picture and pull colors from that. But for me, as I learn about color (because I am not a natural at it), the app helps me because it narrows the many many colors in a scene to just five. Thought I’d share, and heck, it’s free to play with.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Good Information About Making Brushes in Procreate

After years of just sticking with the included brushes, I have finally purchased some digital brushes for the Procreate app, the app I use to make most of my digital art on my iPad. 

I have purchased from a variety of sources, including Matthew Baldwin, Abbie Nurse, Sadie Lew, RetroSupply Company and others.  I encourage you to poke around online and see who is using what to get interesting effects!



I confess, I don't understand at all how to make these brushes!  So I was delighted when RetroSupply sent me a link to this online tutorial.

I haven't tried it yet, but I thought I'd share it in case others were curious!


Thursday, August 29, 2019

A Few Books on Graphic Novels and Women's Body Image


An image from Commute by Erin Williams. Photograph: Abrams Books

I'm very interested to check out the books mentioned in this article from The Guardian!

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Some Memoir Prompts

Recently I finished a week-long workshop in memoir comics at the Center for Cartoon Studies, taught by Melanie Gillman.   They are an excellent teacher, and I had wonderful classmates, and so I learned a lot during the week.

One of the practices Melanie recommended was creating journal or diary comics every day or as often as possible and putting these on social media.  This keeps you practicing and gets you into self-publishing and hopefully building an audience for your work.

These comics are meant to be completed, start to finish, in 30-50 minutes or so (we had 50 minutes in class and it was amazing what people could do in that time).  For inspiration we looked at (among other things) a web comic called Deep Dark Fears and an anthology called Lies Grown-ups Told Me.

Here's an example of my comic (done in 50 minutes, remember!) for a prompt like "tell me about a lie a grown-up told you that you believed at the time."



For short comics like these, I don't want to spend time thinking up subjects, so it's a case where a writing prompt is really helpful to me.

But to really spark my imagination, I find I can't come up with the prompt myself.  It's best if it coms from outside of me, from something random, like pulling a paper out of a hat.

So where do I find such prompts?  Below are a few sources.  These are all prompts intended for prose, but I don't think it really matters that much in terms of prompting one's thinking.

 I think reshaping them to fit a daily journal comic, something you could do in 50 minutes, is probably most important.  For me, no matter how the prompt is written, I always try to rephrase it:  "Tell me about a time that..."  That helps me.

So a prompt like "How good are you at saying goodbye?" becomes "tell me about a time you said goodbye and felt really good about it (or really bad about it)."   Or "how comfortable are you with lying" becomes "Tell me about a time when it was the right thing to tell a lie."  That sort of thing.

Anyhow, my favorite book of prompts is Natalie Goldberg's Old Friend From Far Away.  I also love her classic book Writing Down the Bones, which has some prompts and also some thoughts about writing.

I also very much enjoy this huge list from the NYT.  It is intended as a list for teachers to use with students, but with a little revision as suggested above, I think it works well for one person.  And it's such a huge list you are bound to find something there to prompt you!

I find two other online collections valuable for inspiration as well: the essays collected at This I Believe and the work done at StoryCorps.  Both of these have huge online archives you can explore for ideas.

Also, if you haven't seen Lynda Barry's book SYLLABUS (also her book What It Is), check those out, as she has some excellent methods for helping you develop your own prompts.

On memoir as a genre, I love Mary Karr's book, The Art of Memoir, and Marion Roach Smith's book, The Memoir Project.  Notably, Marion Roach Smith is strongly against "prompts" and exercises as they distract you from writing your "real" memoir.

I think this is a terrific point.  Doing exercises without a clear intent can be a waste of time and energy.

This is why the idea of a daily comic which you SHARE in some way is so attractive (and perhaps terrifying).  You have a prompt, you have an hour, and you learn to focus and complete quickly and in a way meant for readers.  And then you pop it up on Instagram or Facebook or Twitter or share with family and friends in some other way.   You can find me on Instagram:  @Elizabeth_Trembley .

The best writing book EVER is Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird.  No prompts, but just the best writing book ever.  :-)





Thursday, July 25, 2019

Lynda Barry on Keeping a Visual Diary

As part of my summer project of using this blog to help get the word out about wonderful resources on the web, this post includes several of my most favorite things all wrapped up into one!

Lynda Barry
Brain Pickings
Comics
Combining the Verbal and the Visual



Check out this terrific article on Brain Pickings (and sign up to receive their posts and newsletter!!  ALWAYS so good).

Our hearts and minds and spirits are changed by looking and drawing.  Because of that, because of how I think it expands our hearts and minds and spirits, I see it as essential, especially in times of life fraught with evil, violence, targeting. 

Bringing peace and goodness into the world through our own lives is an important act of resistance, I think.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Drawing Helps Students Learn

Here's a link to a new article by Youki Terrada about how drawing boosts students' learning, memory, and retention.  "The Science of Drawing and Memory" appears on the edutopia.org website.

No surprise to anyone who has used sketchnotes in the classroom!

Why is drawing such a powerful memory tool? The researchers explain that it “requires elaboration on the meaning of the term and translating the definition to a new form (a picture).” Unlike listening to a lecture or viewing an image—activities in which students passively absorb information—drawing is active. It forces students to grapple with what they’re learning and reconstruct it in a way that makes sense to them.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Comics as Performance Art: The Long Weekend in Alice Springs

This summer I'm working to share resources on the internet about comics, comics theory, and comics creation.  There is so much out there from which I can learn!

Today I'm sharing perhaps one of my favorite creations, the video version of The Long Weekend in Alice Springs, by Joshua Santospirito and Craig San Roque, based on the graphic novel of the same name, which was itself based on an academic paper.

This has inspired me to think, off and on, for years about doing a project like this about Holland, Michigan. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Comics as Performance Art: Toormina Video

This summer I'm going to be linking to other terrific resources on the internet about comics, comics creation, and comics theory.  Though is so much out there that is inspirational and educational.

This week I'll be posting links to two of my favorite videos made from comics.

It's interesting to thing about comics as performance art.

First is Toormina Video, a story about the author's father.


Enjoy!

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Diary Comic: Working on the Many Me's in Memoir


I did a diary comic to help me figure out why I occasionally get confused while organizing and drafting my memoir.
Now I get it. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Diary Comic on Comics


For fun. 
I love blowing “doubters’ “ minds with info on how cool comics is as a medium. 
The ideas are from Hilary Chute.
BAM indeed. 

Thursday, July 4, 2019

My Graphic Essay Response to a Graphic Essay by Sarah Glidden

My "Homework" on Glidden’s Essay



Having read a wonderful, thought-provoking graphic essay which Sarah Glidden wrote for HyperAllergic on Hilma af Klint, I decided to learn from her by doing a little essay of my own, mimicking her style.
I encourage you to read her essay first, so you'll see what I am responding to.
I had fun...

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Analysis of the Depiction of Memory in Batman Hush, Part Two


This is a continuation of my analysis of how memory is visually depicted in Batman Hush.  Click here to read part one.
The next example uses the present blending into memory that we saw in the Alfred page above, but introduces the extremely complex notion of memory fragmenting.  We are now, however, prepared to read it smoothly.

The green jade pendant is something the characters are encountering in the now.  But it is triggering Bruce's memory, and so we see it in color, but depicted in the looser watercolor style, as it pulls us into the monochromatic blue world of childhood. 
In addition, this page doesn't use panels in the same way as we've seen them in other memories.  In this case, it sticks with the standard nine-panel grid, even as image spill across gutter, and interlace with "snapshots" of objects in the room.  The speech balloons in the first tier help us understand how to read these as blended across the gutters.
This composition from fragments mimics the fragmentation of traumatic memory, thus preparing us for the most complex depiction of memory yet, which occurs on the very next page.

On the next page, Bruce Wayne observes Harley Quinn steal a pendant from one of his friends, a pendant that belonged to the friend's deceased mother.  And he remembers the death of his own mother.  Simple enough in words.  But the visuals rock such complexity!
I note how the nine-panel grid keeps the fragmentation introduced on the previous page, but in a much more visually complex way.   The watercolor, blue memories, are snaphots, fragments, from Bruce's memory of the murder and robbery of his mother.   Each of these gets only one short wordless panel.  Traumatic memory is preverbal, so this makes a lot of sense!  The white balls on the ends of Harley Quinn's hat meld visually into the pearls stolen from Bruce's mother (especially across the first two panels of the second tier, thus helping us understand some of the visual triggering Bruce is experiencing.  Even her speech balloons in the third panel of the second tier continue that visual string of pearls.  And then the bottom tier allows us to sink with Bruce into the full trauma, the first moment of his aloneness, the murderer gone, only the child left present with the bodies of his parents.  And the color scheme shifts to red for the first time.  Clearly, at this point it does not signal Metropolis (as we know this murder took place in Gotham) but overwhelming rage/trauma.
One final thought:  the red occurs in the memory, but not in the now of the story, because the gutters remain black.  This changes later in the book.

In a later episode, in an encounter with the Joker, Batman begins to remember all of the horror and trauma that the Joker has brought to his city and to individuals whom he (Batman) has loved.  And as he remembers, he becomes more and more enraged.  
At this point, the background color of the now of the story turns from black to red, and we see that red framing the memory sequences.  The memories themselves are pleasant and so remain in the familiar loose watercolor style framed in black.

However, as we see on a later page, when Batman's memories become horrific, they become awash in red, as with the murder memory.  These have no white in them.  
And I also see a red gutter appear, reminding us of the rage Batman hides from Oracle in the now of the story.

One last thing.  There is one (and I think only one) point in the story where Batman envisions a future scene which he fears.  It is depicted in a style and color that does not appear on any other page in the 300+ page book. 
Mostly hatched, with a little wash, it has a line quality and color reminiscent to me of a ballpoint pen.  Unlike the looseness of the watercolor used to depict memory, this uses a looseness that is like a "sketch," something that is in the making, but not come to fruition yet.  Perfect visual match, I thought, for a speculation about the future.
These sorts of interesting things happen over and over in the book.  It really was a great study for me in handling and cueing time and emotion... on top of being a fun Batman story!

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Analysis of the Depiction of Memory in Batman Hush, Part One



As I work on my graphic memoir, I am always thinking about (and confounded by) ways to visually depict how memory works, weaving around in time, triggered by specific things in the now, and how one memory can trigger another.
Recently I read the Batman graphic novel Hush by Loeb, Lee, and Williamson, and I was intrigued by how they managed memory.  So I wrote it up to make notes for myself, then thought I'd share them here in case they are of interest to others!  These are only my impressions from reading the book... apologies to those who know more than I do about these artists, their work, and the post-millenial Batman world than I do!
In this first page example, I see the standard page appearance.  Black background and gutters, detailed ink, multiple colors.  Whenever we are in Gotham City, as we are here, things tend toward the blue overall.  Bruce/Batman's narration is in the blue shaded boxes.
So we have read some 50 or so pages that look like this in the clear cut now of the story.

Then the comic starts to train us how to read its greater complexity, as Tom Hart, one of my great teachers, likes to say!  On the page immediately following the above, we find ourselves in one of Bruce's memories.  The time jump is triggered by a comment made by the doctor on the bottom of the above page, and our understanding is helped by the physicality of the page turn, and the completely different visual style,
The monochromatic coloring and the loose watercolor style not only trigger a difference in time, but also mimic the vagueness of memory, which is generally less precise in our minds than the now of our lives.  The memory goes on for several pages before, on a page turn, returning to the more full-colored and detailed depictions of the now. 
We see several such memory sequences, always on a page turn, and always filling several full pages, before the comic takes its next jump in depicting the complexity of time.

In this next image, I see the jump in complexity, again, the page training us how to read it.  Rather than the page turn helping to mark the time jump, the authors rely just on the style shift.  
I like how the character and position of Alfred helps to root us in place.  I also note how this memory, unlike the earlier ones, has a white gutter, but I am not sure what it is signalling.  
Anyhow, now that we readers are trained to read time/memory jumps without the aid of a page turn, or even a full page of memory, the book can do more complex things.

The next example shows how the book expects us to read location changes and time jumps not just from the now of the story to the past, but from one point in the past to another.
So, the first two tiers above are in the now of the story, with a location change to Metropolis.  Unlike Gotham City which is always depicted in blue tones, Metropolis (home of Superman) is depicted in red tones.
In the third tier we jump in memory to something that happened just the previous evening in the story, in Gotham.  We know where we are in time because we just saw this exact image (with different narration) in a previous page.  It doesn't have the looseness of the other memory scenes because it is so recent.
Between the third and fourth tier, we jump from the memory of the previous evening to a memory from childhood.  The shift to the now familiar loose watercolor style triggers the time jump, and the shift in color scheme (along with the narrative cue) signals that this memory is not from Gotham, but from a childhood visit to Metropolis.
So we are now, in the space of one page and four panels, jumping between two places and three points in time!  HOW COOL IS THAT??
Stay tuned for the next post to read the rest of my analysis.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Workspace Photo

Workspace photo. 



I see that my birdfeeder is crooked!  Gotta do something about that...

I do actually have a studio space, but it is such a mess from my moving out of my college office post-retirement because I haven’t had the gumption to do a big re-.org and put-away, that I am working here. July. July is “clean up the studio” month.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Sharing: An Graphic Essay about Kafka and Comedy (?!)



This summer I am trying to share more of the terrific things I find on the internet related to comics, creating comics, and comics theory.  There is so much out there to learn from!

Today I'm sharing a graphic essay about Kafka, built around some collage, and referencing Winsor McKay comics and Charlie Chaplin!  It is by Peter Kuper and appeared in the New York Times.



This sort of essay is an inspiration to me of what I might do when I am done with my book. Or maybe along the way. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Sharing: An Article About An Artist's Paintings of D-Day


This summer I am trying to share more of the amazing material I find on the internet related to comics, comics techniques, and comics theory.  There is so much out there to learn from!

Today I share this article by Dave Philipps, which appeared in the New York Times, about artist and D-Day survivor Guy de Montlaur.  It is also about his art, trauma, and expression.

"One June Early Morning"  source:  the NYT article linked above


This is not exactly about comics, but it is another interesting example of an artist who experienced war, could not speak about it, but could paint it.   I continue to find work about the pre-verbal nature of trauma and the verbal/visual nature of people's ability to express the "unspeakable," just fascinating.

Also, this article mentions a John Huston documentary I never knew about. 

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Sharing an Article on Queer Theory and Comics


This summer I'm going to try to do more sharing of interesting things I find on the internet about comics, comics techniques, and comics theory.  There is so much out there to learn from!

Today I want to share an article called  "Queer Encounters" by Joseph Ronan and Paul Fisher Davies, which appeared in the online journal Sequentials, V1, #2.





The content itself is interesting, using queer theory to think about comics as a medium, about the dynamics of dialogue, the “duality” of word/image, resistance, what it means to be “immature.”

I really enjoy thinking about how the binary of words/images (which seems a more marked distinction in the US than in many cultures, at least in our history of comics) can be thought about through the traditional binary of gender identity.  It is always interesting to me that one of the main influences that shut down the development of comics as a mainstream form of literature in the US (in the mid-twentieth century), was the Frederic Wertham book Seduction of the Innocent (along with his subsequent testimony before Congress).  Comics were really seen as something that turned readers (mostly boys) into delinquents of all types, notably sexually.  This led to the Comics Code Authority rules, which so gutted storytelling that comics in the US, though remarkable in their ingenuity in getting around the CCA, simply didn't have the freedom to develop as a literature in the way it did in other nations.  So the "fixity of social forms" talking about in this graphic essay, really seemed to negatively impact this medium which was, itself, working against such fixity. 

I thought the comic structure was interesting as well. I enjoyed watching it try to do what it was talking, yet remain readable. It also looks to me like it was done on an iPad... so I enjoy learning from that as well.

Would love to hear what others think of it.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Memoir: How to Visually Depict Terror

As I continue work on my graphic memoir (trigger warning:  it includes a scene in which I find a dead body), I'm thinking about how I can use different visual styles, maybe even different art tools, to depict the disintegration of my normal mental state into terror as I realized I was in a life-threatening situation.
That got me thinking about how much I've learned about how trauma is processed preverbally and wondering if I could recreate the finding of the dead body scene with no words at all. 
Anyhow, I had out the pens and paints, so I decided to draw it all again (for what, the 200th time??).  I did not relook at anything I've drawn before, but of course, I remember much of what I've already drawn.  So some of these images might look familiar if you've read this blog much before.




Anyhow this was just for fun, messing around to see what I could learn by doing it.  There's nothing better than playing with art supplies and seeing what other parts of your brain they might open up!

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Sharing this Article with Comics Watercolor Artist Jared Cullem


This summer I'm going to try to do more sharing of interesting things I find on the internet about comics, comics techniques, and comics theory.  There is so much out there to learn from!

Today, I'll share an interesting article about comics creator and watercolor artist Jared Cullem which I found on the website la petite palette.

I love how he talks about discovering watercolor as a medium for his art after having no interest in it at all:


If you told me it would become my obsession and passion I would have laughed. It gave me the advantage of working mostly on drawing and value before shifting into painting. I ran across French comics that were watercolored and it changed my life forever. I got my first little cotman box and have painted daily, unable to stop since. 


I love the way the details blur as this character slips more into his internal world.

Check the article out here.


Tuesday, June 4, 2019

In Honor of Pride, My 2018 Pride Comic

 Last year I posted about how I sketched for hours during my local pride event, then turned those sketches into a commemorative comic.  It was distributed through our local LGBTQ resource center throughout the year.

I won't be home for Pride this year, so I thought I'd post this PDF of last year's comic as my part of the celebration.



Thursday, May 30, 2019

Sketchnote of a Talk by the Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori

I feel so lucky to have been able to attend this talk and Q and Q session with the former Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. A true change agent for the world. The first and still the only woman in the worldwide Anglican Communion to serve in such a role.


Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Comics Help Survivors Pull Together Fragmented Stories




In April and May of 2019,  I had the wonderful experience of delivering a two-part workshop on visual literacy and comics for the Traumatic Brain Injury Support Group of Holland Hospital in Holland, Michigan. 

Though everyone in the group is living with the results of a brain injury, we found that we were able to share and laugh about many common experiences and insights as we learned about visual literacy and simple storytelling in panels.

The first part of our work together looked at simple shapes and how placing them inside of panels in different arrangements communicated different ideas. We also looked at simple ways of depicting humans and faces.

In our second session, we looked at a basic six-panel story structure. Participants had time to share a story from their lives that they wanted others to know about. Drawing ability didn't matter... we used simple shapes if we wanted.

In a short twenty minutes, everyone generated a story idea, questions about how they could go forward with this practice, and ideas for how to draw complex things. Several folks shared their completed story, which ranged from depicting the events around their brain injuries to difficulties they experienced with friends new and old.


Thursday, May 23, 2019

A Comic to Help College Writers

A few years ago I produced this mini-comic to help college students write better papers.

I did it because I had not found a student in years who had read the nearly twenty page-long, single-spaced document the college provided to help them write better.

I thought maybe a comic, which distilled the important points and was maybe a little fun, would help more students.

Anyhow, this comic was quickly adopted by both the college's writing center and the advising staff, and is still in use today.





Tuesday, May 21, 2019

A Comic About Cartoon School



In late 2017, I did a comic about my trip to and studies at The Center for Cartoon Studies for the blog of the English Department at the college where I worked (now retired!)  You'll see it ends with a little plug for a course I was preparing to teach.

I've searched, and it seems I did not put it up on this blog at the time!  And, as it was one of my first comics made entirely on the iPad, an early diary comic, and it commemorates an event I enjoyed very much, I'm doing a little throwback Tuesday and including it here!








I went back to CCS for a graphic novels class in 2018, and am looking forward to taking a course in the graphic memoir later this year!


What if All Our Stories Disappeared?

I ran across this fascinating article in Lit Hub, by Alexis Wright...
"Stories have a problem. Writers are not keeping up with what is happening in the world to help us understand what in hell is going on, but one of the major threats for writers and thinkers whose ideas and work disregard the barriers is censorship of the truth."
Paula Schmidt, from pexels.com

"While thinking about this huge subject of silencing, the muting of voices, and bullying tactics used to oppress, humiliate, manipulate, create fear and exclude, I thought about how to tell this story about censorship in another way—by visualizing an extreme situation where the world was stopped from telling stories. "


Thursday, May 16, 2019




Recently I was able to create the visual script for the remaining 16 or so pages of the fifth chapter of my in-progress graphic memoir.  Thought I'd share a few images.
In this first one you can see the underlying grid I use on all my pages.  It has two layers.  One is the six-panel grid which is the basic design spine for my book.  Of course, I do not follow it on every page, but it is the rhythm that underlies it all.  The other layer you are seeing is grid that breaks the page up into 12 even sections horizontally and vertically, with gutters.  This helps me to divide the pages away from the six-panel grid in an even way (I can easily find halves, quarters, thirds, sixths...).  And it helps guide me in drawing straight lines.
Anyhow, you see me roughly placing the words, which have already been written and edited a bit in a Scrivener document which is words only.   Anything could change at this point, but what I'm aiming for is a sort of movement from the upper left down toward the right.
Next is a different page, but one step further along in the process.  I have drawn in what I think are likely to be the panels. In my book, the narrator's vioce is external to and above the panels (totally cribbed that from Fun Home).


This next one (also a different page) is almost done but not quite.   That middle block of words is being said by a friend to me in the past (roughly 2003 or so), and though she is pictured on the page, she is pictured in 1996, so I don't quite know how to "balloon" that dialogue, or where to point it.  She is depicted in 2003 on the previous page, so maybe it will read clearly, or maybe I can point a tail in that general direction but I'm not sure yet.  I will have to look at the spread to see.
Plus, this is the sort of page that makes my head spin with nerves and my heart jump with joy.  The images in the first and second and start of third tiers are from 1996.  The dialogue is from roughly 2003), and the very last panel is from 2005 or so.    THIS is why comics is, I think, such a miraculous form for memoir!!!!!  You can't do time like that in purely prose (of course, I'm not sure I can coherently do it in comics, but I think it can be done...)
I also like the verbal and visual rhythm of "no" on this page's draft.  :-)

And there you have it... a glimpse into my drafting process.  NONE of this is final art, of course.  I'm just getting the story together and practicing various visual styles as I go.