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!
On Saturday I will be giving an artist talk IN PERSON at the Boardman Library in Poughkeepsie, NY about telling life stories in comics!
My inner 10 year old is doing backflips because I used to stare at this picture and imagine the lives of my cartooning heroes Wendy and Richard Pini, creators and authors of the Elfquest series, and wonder from my California home, where the heck Poughkeepsie was, and how you even pronounced it, and if there was a way I could possibly run away to live with them, or magically jump into the picture. Now I live 20 miles south of them and although my life doesn’t have elves in it, I have in a sense magically entered that picture through drawing my life in comic form–but wait! I’m spoiling my talk!
Register here and come hear me talk all about that portal between life and drawing and writing and living. It will be masked, social distanced, but it will be personal! Come on over!
The bird spreads just keep on coming! Here’s a selection of my favorite birds I’ve seen in New York. This doesn’t include a heap of others I’ve seen and love like the Red Wing Blackbirds, The American Bittern–or was it a Green Heron? (The jury is still out!).
The Great Blue Heron panel is maybe my favorite panel I’ve done in awhile. Secret back story: I suffered a running injury this winter and still have not recovered, so my morning exercise and nature observing habits have been completely sidelined–which has been a challenge to say the least. Last month I started driving out each morning to an estuary near by to do some birding and writing on the memoir I’m working on. It turned out to be the perfect anecdote for both my work and heart. I’ve had some amazing encounters with great blue herons there. One morning I drove in and there were three just standing along the road. As I slowly approached them, they each took off slowly one by one. It took my breath away to watch these loping and enormous creatures–looking part dinosaur, part old monk in sweeping gray robes– fly above the green reeds. In these times when so much is on the screen and self curated, nature feels like something open and refreshingly disarming. I need to get back to working on the memoir, but this playful “hobby” of drawing birding lists has been deeply nourishing!
We traveled to California to see family and I did some birding and drawing while there. The top spread was birds I actually saw, while the bottom spread was inspired by all the Acorn Woodpeckers that were teaming in the backyard of my in-laws’ house. Woodpeckers are among my favorite birds by far and it was astounding to sit on their back deck and see an entire community of these striking woodpeckers nesting, calling and flying from tree to tree. I lost count at 15 one evening!
The trip home was hellish with canceled flights and motel rooms and panic and stress galore. It was nice to half listen to a movie and finish the woodpecker spread on the final flight back to New York when I was too tired to read or do much else.
Lately, my diary comics have been filled with nature and bird sightings, which is making me wonder if a bird themed issue of Paper Pencil Life might be a good idea. As I write this down, I worry about how boring this sounds, but the great thing about having your own comic series is that you can do whatever the heck you want! As it is, this has been such a pleasure to do–a way to be and see as I make my way in this world.
Absolutely gobsmacked to share the news thatmy latest comic at The New Yorkeris about the fascinating relationship between the writers Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West. Spoiler: it’s complicated!!
A shout out to my teachers at Goddard College, Bill Vander Clute, who taught a Virginia Woolf intensive class in the Fall of 1991, that changed my life, and to the poet Nora Mitchell who taught a class titled Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual Literature in the spring of 1992 where I first read ORLANDO. Both of those experiences were with me as I made my way through this comic.
The news is officially out! I am at work on a new book with FANTAGRAPHICS!! Working title is BABY HOLD ON TO ME and it’s a memoir about my mother, who was one of the first female stagehands of Rock n Roll. I couldn’t be more excited! It’s basically the project I have been dreaming of my whole life, but especially since her death in 2015. She lived an enormous complicated life and I can’t wait to share it with you. Stay tuned!
I’m SO excited to have a NEW 7 page comic forthcoming in the print only April 2021 edition of NEW CITY! It’s a 7 page comic on the artist Dora Carrington–one of my earliest inspirations for drawing stories from life! It was the first comic I’ve done outside diary comics in a YEAR and I enjoyed every second of it! GET YOUR COPY HERE!