A Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher in New York

Last night my mind was blown when I got a RARE sighting of a bird normally found no farther than Texas in a cow pasture 30 minutes from my house in New York! And what a bird! The scissor-tailed flycatcher is probably as glorious a bird as there is. I only saw it fly a couple of times, but with that tail it was hard to miss! 

Flycatchers are my new favorite bird (don’t tell woodpeckers) and I had put the scissor-tail on a dream list. I never thought I’d see it so soon! It was surreal and oh so magical. Only the cows were not impressed!

Some Recent Thrilling Sightings

Here’s a sketchbook spread of some recent thrilling bird sightings. Actually, since drawing the list, my birding has gotten even MORE thrilling. It’s my first migration season and it’s absolutely incredible out there. Birds! The best anti-depressant I have found!

4 page comic on Daphne Du Maurier on Patreon and All the Sad Songs Featured on Backlisted!

It’s Friday which means there is a new comic on my Patreon! This week it’s a 4 page comic on the British writer Daphne Du Maurier’s obsession with the estate Menabilly. Menabilly was the inspiration for Manderley in her world famous novel, Rebecca. You can access it now along with many other comics and posts for a modest rate!

New comics are still coming every Friday along with occasional posts about my memoir in progress and thoughts about comics as a creative practice. I have really been enjoying having a space to share what’s been happening in my world–come on in! It’s colorful there!

BUT THAT’S NOT ALL!

On Monday I had the delight and shock of my life when I discovered that ALL THE SAD SONGS was featured on my favorite podcast Backlisted! Some of you might remember me gushing writing about Backlisted in December when I shared my sketchbook spread of Queens of Crime. Imagine my shock to hear Andy Miller, writer and editor and co-host of Backlisted sharing ALL THE SAD SONGS as his pick of what he had been reading and loving this week! WHAT?? IS THIS REAL??

It’s hard to adequately say what this means to me. That podcast has done more for refueling my inner life in the last year than anything else has in years. In some ways it has recommitted me to a life of reading and writing in a way that I had forgotten was possible. Andy and John Mitchinson, and their array of guests, are so smart, funny, generous, and engaging that it’s truly infectious. To be included in that show and to be read (and praised) by Andy Miller is just…mind blowing (to say the least), and (dare I say it?) deeply affirming. Not all attention helps refuel, but I have to admit, this puts some strength in the heart for me. In the words of Tom Waits, I’m going to take it with me when I go.

It’s perfect timing because ALL THE SAD SONGS just went into a second printing! After a brief period of it possibly going out of print in the US, Retrofit decided to do a modest second print run, and I just got the first shipment of new copies. The price will be going up once my current supplies go out, so if you have been sitting on it–now is the time to get it!

New Comics Every Week at Patreon

Hi Friends!

After years of thinking about it, I finally decided to to launch a Patreon for my diary and sketchbook comics.

My daughter Poppy was diagnosed with Long COVID and is home for the foreseeable future, which is making work slow and intermittent. I am still working on the book about my mother, but the needs of my Homelife (trademark pending) have caused me to rethink work in general and I’m unable to take on any large projects outside of the book right now.

I’ve resisted the Patreon idea for a long time. The vulnerability around it is huge–what if no one comes? And who needs another reason to be on the screen? Yet, I have a backlog of unpublished work and I can’t afford to print it in a new issue of Paper Pencil Life for the time being. Also, so much of what I make is about knowing how and what I am living and thinking. Sharing it helps me feel connected to what others are living and thinking too, something I need more than ever now. I’d love to be able to share it with you.

Subscribers will get comics weekly, with occasional posts about my memoir process and missives about comics and life. Come on over! It’ll be good!

This Is Serious Too

I only have permission to post this panel from yesterday’s COVID diary. I’ll just say this: we hit a mental health limit. I’m not sure I will continue posting, but I want to thank everyone who has sent messages of encouragement and solidarity and shared their own COVID experiences. This pandemic is no joke and as much as we try to control and grapple with a way to manage it, there seems to me no one way this virus moves through. My family is adjusting from day to day. It sucks and is hard, and community, even from afar, is something so vital. Stay safe everyone. Love to all!

Sketchbook Spread: Queens of Crime!

This week’s sketchbook spread is on the mystery writers “Queens of Crime.”

I’m so burned out on podcasts and tire of anyone who starts a sentence with “Have you heard the podcast…,” but the one podcast I am utterly devoted to is Backlisted, which is a total delight and has completely revitalized my reading life and love of books and writers. My friend Chris has been talking about this podcast forever and I finally listened to it and was so hooked at their humor, their intelligence, and just the joy they bring to some of the most obscure books. It seems to me so utterly anti American in that it is for the love of art and literature and yet there is absolutely no slime or put downs in it. It has made me believe in intelligence and joy co-existing–something I had forgotten that could exist in discussions of art and literature. As a result, it seems to me so far seeing–a real rarity these days. I don’t always agree with the opinions of the hosts, but I adore listening to anything and everything they have to say. It deepens my curiosity and just makes me want to do and think in deeper ways.

Their episode of Josephine Tey’s novel Miss Pym Deposes is one of my favorites and completely opened me up to the world pf mystery writers–which I had no idea about. I knew about Agatha Christie of course, but not that she was part of a large “Golden Age” of detective fiction, nor that she was considered only ONE of six women who were considered the “Queens of Crime.” I’ve read Agatha Christie and seen almost every Poirot episode (perfect for coloring comics to!), but had never heard of any of these women–who seem all quite astounding in their own way. I just finished Tey’s novel and I’m listening to Ngaio Marsh book right now as I color pages in my memoir. In addition to being a jaunty beret wearer, and a prolific mystery writer, was from New Zealand, and I guess was a fantastic painter and theater director?? I swear there is not enough time in this world to learn and read all there is to discover! I’ll just keep drawing as much as I can!

Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade Sketchbook Spread

Happy post Thanksgiving to all! I hope those who observed this American tradition had a good one. I heard that it was the 95th anniversary of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade and instead of watching it, I decide to draw floats from its earliest years. I swear I could have drawn pages and pages of these amazing incarnations of “upside down puppets” as the original creator Tony Sarg thought of them.
Can you believe that they never brought back this Pinocchio again?? Amazingly, there is some footage of this painful looking schnoz floating down Broadway. You can view it here & here.

I don’t think I’ve watched this televised event for 30 years, but if I had a time machine would watch the parades from the 20’s and 30’s in a heartbeat! In the meantime, I’ll just keep drawing them.