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Graphic Novel Book Club

February 15, 2020

GN Club_Current- circle webDid you know that I run the Split Rock Books Graphic Novel Book Club? I do! Every month I choose a Graphic Novel (book length fiction or memoir in comic form) for adults and we meet on the the third Tuesday evening of the month to discuss! I’ve been running it for the last year and it’s been so great to share work and to introduce the varied narrative voices of comics to both regular readers and newcomers to comics.

The Highlands Current did a story about it and asked me to do an illustration of last month’s meeting when we discussed Ulli Lust’s memoir This is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life. If you are in the Hudson Valley you can join us for next week’s discussion of Eleanor Davis’ beautiful travelogue, You & A Bike & A Road.  It’s going to be good!

New Comic on Patti Smith on New Yorker.Com!

January 12, 2020

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SO excited to announce that I have another comic up on the Culture Desk Blog on New Yorker.com –this time on the legendary Patti Smith and her memoir YEAR OF THE MONKEY.  Yep, you read that right!

(Swaying with happiness over here!)

Go read it!

Happy 70th Birthday, Tom Waits!

December 7, 2019

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Apparently, I can’t stop drawing musicians. Even though Tom Waits has probably one of the hardest faces to capture, drawing him seemed necessary once I remembered that it was his 70th birthday.

Tom Waits is my favorite artist of all time–across any and all mediums. His thoughts on music had a HUGE impact on writing All The Sad Songs. I don’t feel fanatical about many things, but Tom Waits’ music is like church to me. Here’s to being original, deep, and surprising for 70 years. Here’s to more to come.

Tom, I am so glad you are in this weird and troubled world.

Tom Spurgeon

November 16, 2019

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“I want sloppy, beautiful, devastating art. I want experiences through art that are troubling and terrifying and joyful. I want to be desperate to catch up.

The object of my affection may not be the same as yours, and in fact I hope it isn’t. I want to die with my head on its shoulder.”

Tom Spurgeon to Warren Ellis, April 2019.

One of the giants of the comics community passed away suddenly on Wednesday night. Tom Spurgeon was a writer, journalist, a comics advocate and educator, and a beloved presence at every show I saw him at.  I don’t ever remember meeting him formally–I just came to know him through the strange osmosis of comics and knowing right away that he was someone important. I know I am not alone in saying this, but as an artist I always felt seen and grateful for his encouragement. The thought of him gone is like thinking something essential like the Empire State Building being gone–the comics world has a completely different horizon now. I don’t like it.

I once asked Tom: “How do you not get sick of comics?” He laughed and said, “Who says I don’t?” I think what I was really asking him was a harder question: how do you stay open? He was somebody who seemed to stretch like a bridge across a long line of history in comics to the present moment. He had done so much already, been so many things and yet still read everything and was as generous as he could be. I am one of the many benefactors of his generosity. He once said to me at a show: “Send me an e-mail to remind me to send you a note Seth wrote about you.”  Seth is one of my favorite cartoonists, and he wrote Tom a note about me?? You don’t need to ask me twice! But I never wrote him–I didn’t have to.  He wrote me first. Tom went to look for it, but couldn’t find it. “Don’t feel too bad,” he wrote. “I once lost a postcard R. Crumb sent me about somebody else.” I didn’t feel bad–I was deeply touched by his gesture. Of all the plates he was spinning, he still went home and remembered to look, and when he couldn’t find it he was quick to let me know. He knew what something like that would mean to someone like me (a hopeful in a sea of hopefuls), and he didn’t leave me hanging. That’s generosity—and, I might add, class.

Of course, his secret sauce was love (isn’t love ALWAYS the secret sauce?). Read anything he wrote and you knew that he loved comics and wanted to see it thrive and continue to thrive. What a gift! What a reminder to me in my tiny world of work and desire.

Ambition can burn up all your curiosity, all your wonder–it doesn’t have to, but too much of it can. I’ve only been doing this comics thing “professionally” for 5 years and already I have been struggling with burn out. I’ve been forgetting my own sense of value among a torrent of attention and it’s been injuring me and making me small with self-absorption. Tom’s death has hit me like a reminder: What are you doing here anyway? What is it that you promised yourself when you set out to do this? What do you love?

Here’s something that I have loved about comics: I loved Tom’s presence. I loved his writing and his ardent love for comics. As my pal Chris Duffy said: “He was the mayor–and we didn’t even know it!” He deeply valued this art form long before it had prestige or awards or the internet, and would have continued to do so even if it had never received those things. He was interested in the larger picture, and in an ongoing system of value for those who created the work.  He was a soldier to comics. May we all be so lucky.

Thanks Tom for all your effort–I know we will continue to garner strength from all that you put forward. You are truly missed.

 

Comic Arts Brooklyn this Weekend

October 29, 2019

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On Saturday I’ll be tabling all by my lonesome at Comic Arts Brooklyn! First time tabling in my own name at this fine show. I’ll have the usual fare: books, comics, and possibly a print or two. I’ll be at Table I18! It’s free to the public, so come on out!

Meanwhile, on the internet…here’s Johnny Cash from my Inktober Country Music Portrait Series still going strong over at Instagram! Only two more portraits to go! I’ve been enjoying them a lot, but I am SO looking forward to completing this project so I can go on a Social Media break for most of November! I love these self imposed disciplines, but the social media engagement has its costs! Artistically, I need an internet break and bad! So here’s to it!

Hope to see you at CAB!!

Saturday, November 2, 2019, 11:00-7:00pm 

Pratt Activities Resource Center
200 Willoughby Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11205

TABLE I18

 

 

 

Inktober Series: Country Music Portraits

October 15, 2019

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Over at my instagram account I am posting country music portraits every day as part of the Inktober tradition. Truth be told, I got started late and don’t even know if I’ll fulfill the full remaining days of October, but for now I am having a good time.  I recently watched the Ken Burns documentary on the history of country and it totally inspired me. It’s been fun to follow up this inspiration with so many portraits of artist I love.

(New comic!) My Love Life

September 19, 2019

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Brooklyn Book Festival Bound!

September 18, 2019

girls and guitarsI will be part of the luminous Brooklyn Book Festival THIS Sunday, September 22 at 3:00pm as part of the panel The Living City: Graphic Narratives on Place, People, and Soundtracks. Join me, Frank Santaro (Pittsburgh), and Ted Fox (Showtime at the Apollo) discuss cities, soundtracks, and comics with Calvin Reid.

I am so excited to be part of this amazing festival. It’s FREE and open to the public! What else are you going to do on a lovely afternoon in Brooklyn? Don’t tell me! Just come on over!

Sunday, September 22, 3:00pm

The Living City: Graphic Narratives on Place, People, and Soundtracks

Brooklyn Historical Society, 128 Pierrepont Street, Brooklyn, NY 

Dmitri Kasterine

August 10, 2019

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I had the privilege of being photographed recently by the great Dmitri Kasterine. He wrote a little post about it and my work up on his blog.

I’ll add my own narrative to this experience: I was nervous to be photographed.  I hadn’t “posed” in 20 years and usually go running and screaming from any and all photos of myself. He made it easy and his only critique was, “Don’t smile!” As he says on his site, he likes to go beyond the polite face of his sitters. I think it shows.

Illustrations in The New York Times!

July 28, 2019

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I got to do 23 portraits of 4th graders for The New York Times Magazine‘s All Comics Kid’s Section in today’s print edition of the Sunday New York Times. It was a labor of love! Go get your hands on this amazing issue–so many beautiful stories!