Angoulême festival 2015! Trish Trash!

Whether you’re a friend, fan, or fellow cartoonist, you probably know that January is a very busy month for comics in France, as it is once again time for the Festival International de la Bande Dessinée here in Angoulême. In addition to the usual festival craziness, this year’s event will be particularly exciting for me, as it will mark the first time I’ve originated a book in French, with a French publisher, thus achieving a goal I set for myself the very first time I went to FIBD, back in 1998 (although then I said I wanted to do it in 5 years). True fact. Ask Tom Devlin.trishskatethumb

Trish Trash: Rollergirl sur Mars from Editions Dargaud. For preview pages, diagrams, and book trailer visit the Dargaud blog.


Signing schedule

I will be signing books and drawing dédicaces at the Dargaud table in Le Monde Des Bulles Hall 1 (location 1 on map), at the Place du Champ de Mars, at the following times:

Thursday, January 29th: 1pm – 4pm

Friday, January 30th: 10am – 1pm

Saturday, January 31: 12:30pm – 3pm

Sunday, February 1: 4pm – 6pm

I’ll also be at la Librairie de la Cité Sunday, February 1: 11:30 am – 12:30 am


Another don’t-miss event is the Sillages exposition at the Maison des Auteurs, which will give visitors a chance to check out a sampling of the amazing work that is being produced by the artists in residence here, including (ahem) me.  I’ll have two original pages from Trish Trash and the cover drawing on display at the show. The opening is always packed and super fun. Don’t miss it.

Vernissage Friday Jan 29, 6 pm- 8 pm

You can find the Expo Sillages (location 16 on the FIBD map) at La Maison des Auteurs. Check out this fantastic poster by Nylso—another MdA resident whose work will be in the show.sillages

The locations of all events can be found on this map, le plan du festival.

If you are attending the festival—and if you’re not, I’m not sure why you’re reading this—I’ve written up some food recommendations to help you feel like you’ve actually been somewhere in particular (other than the World of Comics)—it’s a follow-up to last year’s essential dining post byAbby Denson and me with lots more info on local charentais foods and specialties.

I hope to see some of you on the festival floor!

an eater’s guide to Angoulême

goat cheeseLast year I helped Abby Denson put together a guide to eating at and generally getting through the Angoulême festival (which is actually called le Festival International de la Bande Dessinée, aka FIBD). Abby’s list of tips is still pretty current, and really covers most of what you need to know to survive in style, so for this year’s festival I thought I’d up the ante and make more of a food-lover’s guide to Angoulême.

First of all, my perspective is that whether you’re ordinarily a foodie or not, if you’re coming from abroad to France, you expect to eat well even if your primary purpose in coming is comics. But it’s all too easy to end up eating mediocre bistro food (i.e. chewy steak with ungreat frites) or kebabs the whole time. None of which really gives you the flavor of where you really are, which is, in this case, southwest France. So let’s start with the basics. Continue reading

a few of my favorite podcasts


Since I’ve spent the last three years doing a deep dive on audio storytelling (narrative nonfiction radio and podcasts), the last two and a half of which I’ve been in France (where practically no one has heard of this stuff, not even This American Life) this moment of vast cultural freakout about how awesome podcasts are (hello, Serial!) feels super-strange to me. I mean, good-strange, like, hey, maybe I’m not crazy for drawing a 200-page comic about how they make this stuff! I might need a new tagline for it, though.

“Coming in August 2015: Out on the Wire, a 200-page comic about how one makes audio that’s sort of like Serial.”

Anyway, I noticed there are a ton of top-10 podcast lists out there, and what-to-listen-to-after-Serial lists, and, I thought, maybe I have something to offer in that vein. So here’s a list of shows that have inspired me as I have been working on my book. That said, I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a “top ten” exactly. What I do have is kind of groups of shows that I like to listen to when I’m in a certain kind of mood.

Mixed in this list are the shows I feature in the book. Even though the research phase of my book is long past, I still listen to all of these basically as soon as I’ve got a minute. But there’s still a “what do I feel like” component in the order of things. I’ve asterisked* those shows that are featured in OOTW, in case you’re interested.

There’s nothing on this list that will come as a complete surprise to any committed podcast listener, but take a look, who knows. I usually find one or two new things on each list I read. If you are this person, however, already an expert and hungry for more, make sure you’re also subscribing to Hot Pod, a new newsletter on podcasts that gets into much more detail than I can even digest.

Where possible, I’ve picked a good story or episode on SoundCloud to share here. Where there’s no embeddable player available (that I could find), there’s a link. FYI to podcasters and writers about podcasts, SoundCloud is a great way to share audio files!

Shows for when you want to feel connected to other people’s lives.

Snap Judgment*. Dramatic, propulsive storytelling, with a lot more music and sound than almost any other show. Snap is one of the few shows that dares to use hiphop and music with a beat to soundtrack radio stories, and they do it right. Upbeat, energetic. Not a good choice for when I’m tired or need a sense of calm equilibrium.

The Moth*. The Moth is by far the most “live” of anything I listen to regularly, in that it’s very minimally edited versions of autobiographical stories as told live on a stage. But the stories are developed intensively before telling, which creates a lovely frisson between the risk-taking of live performance and well-thought-out structure. And each story is around 10 minutes, so even if I’m listening to a Moth Radio Hour, I can stop between stories if need be.

Radio Diaries*. Consistently excellent, deep, empathetic stories that emerge out of real life. The pieces are not overly long, but somehow let you feel like you’ve fallen straight into the life of someone else. Quiet, inward-feeling

Strangers is akin to Radio Diaries, in that it’s deeply interested in and empathetic to other people. Lea Thau’s stated ambition with the show is to make us “strangers no more”. Her recent autobiographical series on her history of love was wrenching and great.

This American Life*. The grandaddy of them all, yet still so consistently brilliant, it’s startling. If you used to listen but stopped, try it again. If you never started, it seems obvious to suggest that if you like Serial, you’ll like the source from which it directly sprang.

Shows to listen to when you’re feeling off-kilter and inward.

Everything is Stories is intense, mysterious, even a bit creepy, and infrequent. I keep telling people about Practices of Enfreakment.

Love and Radio is also mysterious. You plunge right into stories and are way under water before you figure out what, or who, they’re even about.

Theory of Everything is the punkest of the shows I listen to. Benjamen Walker talks with this kind of insistent drone, and heedlessly mixes fact, fiction, and opinion into little nuggets of unrest.

Shows for when you feel like learning something.

StartUp. A show about starting a podcast business. I’m learning a ton about what it means to start a company and seek venture capital and so on, but Alex is the warmest, fuzziest entrepreneur I’ve ever heard, which makes me actually want to hear how he’s doing what he’s doing. Also, Nazanin, his wife, is a star in the making. This is a serial (not Serial, but serialized), so start from ep 1.

Decode DC. An extremely humanistic show about…politics. Never thought I’d string those words together. In fact, I think they’d say of themselves that the show is not about politics, but governing. Which is even better. Learn about Washington ye peons, and vote.

Radio Ambulante. RA is more in the first category “stories about humans,” than “learning” except that it’s in Spanish (though they have English episodes too, that they produce for the World), and from the POV of Latin Americans, so I stretch my language skills and my understanding of the Americas each time I listen. But really, its approach is more TAL than Spanish class. (But then, in the end, every show on this list is more “stories about humans” than anything else. If there’s one thing that defines my interest in audio narrative, it’s “stories about humans.”)

Here’s one in English. Check the site or podcast stream for Spanish episodes.

99% Invisible*. The podcast upstart about design and the built world that incidentally altered the playing field in terms of audience building and crowdfunding. (All the shows on the new Radiotopia collective 99pi host Roman Mars helped found are completely worth a listen.)

A History of the World in 100 Objects. This show is an outlier. A series of 100 episodes that were originally broadcast in 2010, each features an object in the British Museum, and then investigates how this object reveals some stage of human history. The series ranges all over the world, and over 10,000 years. It is highly scripted, and marvelously structured over so many episodes, and it’s so well written and clear, clever and funny. Each episode is just around 15 minutes, though I’s happily listen for twice as long. If anyone knows of some other show like this one, please let me know! (Here’s the best link to images of the objects. FYI: You’re better off searching for this one from within your fave podcast app, rather than using a link here for audio download.)

Radiolab*. Radiolab attacks some of the most challenging and complex ideas of any show I listen to, and thus requires a high level of attention, not to say concentration. But the rewards are equally great. The key to Radiolab is not banter or the fancy sound, though both are obviously important, it’s their steel-trap storytelling and ability to break down ideas so that we can understand that really sets them apart.

Neither Confirm Nor Deny.

Planet Money*. The experience of PM is like going out for a beer with a couple of really smart friends who are into something totally odd and specific, that, when they explain it to you in regular-person language, somehow ends up having resonance with your own life on a much broader scale than you’d ever imagined. The episodes are also on the short side, between 15 and 25 minutes usually, so I can fit a bit of rewarding brain activity into little slots of available time.

Episode 400: What Two Pasta Factories Tell Us About The Italian Economy.

 Shows to catch up with kids today.

New Tech City. Manoush Zomorodi is my generation (that is, X), is smart, has small kids, and lives in Brooklyn (where I did, too, until recently). She’s curious, up to date, and in touch, but unafraid to be a baffled newbie when it comes to deep tech subjects. She’s me, essentially, with a much better public-radio name (Musical, but tough to spell!).

Containing Ebola Like They Did in This Video Game.

TLDR used to be the guys who now do Reply All (see below). Now, it’s got a new host, Meredith Haggerty, a young woman I haven’t yet got a handle on as far as her interests and POV. But I loved her first episode, which took on how shitty the world of tech is for many women, and did it in a very uncompromising and funny way. I feel like this version of TLDR may turn out to be more akin to its parent (On the Media, which I also listen to quite a bit) in terms of asking the hard questions than the previous iteration was.

Little Sh*ts

Reply All is the new show from the guys who used to do TLDR, and it feels like a similar project: they dive into all kinds of interesting, sometimes creepy, dark corners of the internet, with a particular interest in social media, and how the internet changes human interactions.

Shows about radio.

How Sound*. How Sound is a show with a pedagogical mission. Host Rob Rosenthal is the teacher of the Transom Story Workshop (and thus a character in my book), and in each episode he listens to a story or show, and then talks about some element of how it works or was made or is structured. Which means that most of the shows on this list have been featured on How Sound. It’s a must-listen for anyone who wants to learn more about radio storytelling.

How Sound on Radiolab

Re:Sound. Really much more a “show about humans” than a “show about radio”, this is the Third Coast International Audio Festival‘s show (and TCAIF is kind of like the Oscars + TED for this kind of radio). The good and the bad of this show is that you never know what will be on; the mission is to discover the best from radio around the world, which means sometimes you’ll hear pieces you just heard on another show, and sometimes things you’d never choose, but usually pieces you’d simply never find, but are much happier for having heard. The “about radio” designation is for this—getting a picture of what creative producers are doing all over.

Shows that are my “comfort food.”

…meaning I can listen to them basically whenever.

Le Show. I discovered Harry Shearer’s weekly hour of commentary, comedy, and snark, in the late 90s, and then I kind of forgot about it for like 10 years, and then I recently started listening again, and it’s exactly the same and still really good.

Good Food. This is the best food show I’ve heard on radio, but it’s based in LA, which will leave you bitterly wishing for their food trucks and California weather to show up where you are, and to have access to their amazing farmer’s markets. Still, tons of “national” content there. I could be happy never again to hear Evan Kleiman tell a guest that she’s “really hungry” after an interview, though.

Studio 360. An arts show that makes me slightly wistful for the New York I never really lived in. Wide ranging and interested in everything, which means I’m interested in about 60-80% of content. I’ve been on there twice, though, so they’ve got impeccable taste in some areas!

Me on Studio 360.

Finally, congratulations, podcasters, on having an even-worse name for your medium than “comics”. Welcome to the club!

Feminism Core Sample: new poster available

feminism thumb

Every time I turn around these days, I encounter this wave of angry feminist feeling emanating from Twitter, the internet, my friends. It simultaneously thrills and energizes me, and makes me miserable to realize how much horrible shit still happens all the time to women because they are women. Not like I didn’t realize it before, but day to day awareness of these facts had receded somewhat from my consciousness.

I came of age in the early 90s, which was another period of intense feminist feeling (at least I felt it that it was). I may be wrong, but I feel like feminism and awareness of women’s issues had faded from everyone’s consciousness throughout the ’00s. I remember feeling really alone, thinking and talking about problems women face. Maybe it’s evident from the way I’ve phrased the last couple sentences: I don’t really trust my perceptions about all this: is this just my own awareness ebbing and flowing, or is there something real happening right now? I think and hope the latter. It’s beyond time.

I recently remembered this strip that I did in 2005 for the LA Times. I’ve redrawn a bit of it and added a title. I grew up in the 3rd and 4th tiers, and I feel like we’ve almost reached the bottom tier now—the great unknown. It makes me laugh, and most of you will never have seen it before, so I thought I’d post it here. I’ve also made it available at my new Zazzle store. (along with a mug and a t-shirt version, that have the two tiers above on them). Check it out, and get one for your favorite mouthy female (or male, for that matter).

Click through to read the whole strip.


Trish Trash avant première: I get to see my new comics 2 months early.

Trish Trash: Rollergirl sur Mars, by Jessica Abel

Trish Trash: Rollergirl sur Mars, by Jessica Abel

Friends, it gives me a lot of pleasure to announce that the first moment I put my hands on a copy of Trish Trash: Rollergirl sur Mars (vol. 1 of 3), I was standing outside a comics museum, watching a roller derby demo. Thomas Ragon, my editor, had put a lot of pressure on the Dargaud studio to get the book printed two months before the official release date, so I could be standing there on the chais Magelis, wiping a light drizzle off the fresh, offset-printing-ink smelling pages. Continue reading

Books and their covers: designing for Trish Trash

Trish Trash: Rollergirl sur Mars will have its avant-première in a week and a half, which means I’ll finally get to put my hands on the actual cover of this book, that I’ve been working so long and hard on. This is the final cover, the one you’ll see if you get a copy yourself.

Getting to this cover, however, was a long and complicated process. I’ve been working on covers for lots of books lately, sending in rough sketches for Out on the Wire (really rough, not ready for prime time), and trying to come up with covers for all three volumes of Trish Trash: Rollergirl sur Mars now, before the first one is even out.

Continue reading

GET READY. Trish Trash: Rollergirl sur Mars arrive.


Get Ready

Trish Trash: Rollergirl of Mars is coming. Volume 1 on sale January 29 @ FIBD (Festival International de la Bande Dessinée, AKA “the Angoulême festival”.

Dédicace avant première (pre-release signing) at the Librarie de la bande dessinée et l’image, Angoulême 29 Nov.!


“authenticity,” expat life, and (not) going native in France

I’m sitting in Paris, in this biodynamic and organic wine bar (Complètement BIO! Pas de sulfites!), having an extra glass of wine just because I’m in town for a meeting and I’m on my own tonight and why not. I’m reading an Aleksandar Hemon article in an old New Yorker, about how he absolutely owned Sarajevo, he felt like the geography of the place was imprinted on his soul. And then he happens to be out of the country when the siege begins, and then he doesn’t go back for 10 years. He’s losing the geography of his youth and unwittingly overwrites it with Chicago, which happens to be the place where I imprinted….

All the places in his story are my places, and at my moment. I might have seen him walking down the street any time. We overlapped five years, years during which he was engaging, and I was disengaging.

And I know its the three glasses of wine, and Hemon is an awesome writer, but I feel absolutely melancholy about what I’ve given up in leaving Chicago. And yet I can’t quite imagine moving back. When I visit, the geography of my youth is gone, only the street grid remains. Which is sort of what he says, too.

And just as I’m thinking, why don’t I have a home with that imprinted geography anymore why did I give that up? I look up and one of the bartenders is animatedly demonstrating how she wants to add a shelf over the back bar to the other one. In Japanese. Because they’re Japanese.

Why did this Japanese couple open a bar in paris? Don’t they miss home? Are they Parisians now? What does that mean? (Parisian? Japanese? Home?)

If you ask, I’ll tell you: you should go live abroad somewhere for a while. I tell this to all my students, and to any young narrative artist who is curious.

Screen Shot 2014-08-11 at 4.52.52 PM Continue reading

pastel vasco: almond cake with almond-orange cream filling

pastel vasco For the last couple years, I have posted Facebook pix of Matt’s birthday cake, which is always pastel vasco. In response to a few recipe requests, voila, my first cooking post. I didn’t know I’d be posting this, or I’d have made a bunch more food-porny photos. Too late now, it’s all gone!

Pastel vasco, also known as gateau basque, is the national pie/cake of the Basque people in southwest France/northeast Spain. Matt and I first had it (basically everywhere) in San Sebastian/Donostia (that’s the Basque name for the town) in 2006, and Matt fell deeply in love. Me too, although perhaps not as ardently.  Continue reading

The Beautiful Ones


In 2009, for some reason, Editions Dargaud (my publisher for the Trish Trash project, as well as the French version of Life Sucks) decided to publish an anthology with Arte TV on the subject of… “Summer of the 80s”. The whys of this decision are unknown to me.

Whatever the reason, I took the opportunity to work with Ron Wimberly on a 5-pager, “The Beautiful Ones.” It takes place at First Avenue/7th St. Entry in Minneapolis in 1983.

Ron arrived for a residency at la Maison des Auteurs a few weeks ago, and it’s made me remember this comic, and to hope we do it again!