Out of the frying pan

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Ask not for whom the little yellow la Poste truck comes...it comes for me.  by jessica abel ©2012

 

Hot on the heels of six years of reading hundreds of American comics every year for the Best American Comics, I’ve agreed to do the same (much smaller volume, but IN FRENCH) as a member of the Grand Jury of the Compétition Officielle of the Festival International de la Bande Dessinée, to be held here Jan 31 – Feb 3 2013.

I’ve developed a Pavlovian fear of mailmen.

Studio time

I moved into my own studio in September. It’s big, two rooms, one for a large computer desk, the other with a small round table and a huge drawing table. Top floor, angled roof, two dormer windows (known here as “chiens-assis”, “seated dogs”). It’s roomy, well-equipped, comfortable.

And a little bit lonely.

I’ve never had a studio that wasn’t in my apartment. I haven’t had a studio by myself in fifteen years. I’m happy to have all this space, and to be able to play any audio I want, whenever I want. I’m happy that my move here has allowed me to reorder my priorities so that I’m not spending all my time on administrative stuff that requires lots of office help. But I miss the hustle and bustle of the old studio, and I miss my interns. Continue reading

Boomfest: comics in St. Petersburg

Back in the summer, I was quite unexpectedly invited to St. Petersburg, Russia, for a comics festival called Boomfest. I hadn’t heard of it, but several friends had gone, including cartoonists Joe Sacco and T. Edward Bak and José Alaniz, an academic with expertise in Eastern European and Russian comics. I don’t usually write up much of a report on events I attend, but I wanted to with this one, because Russia is just so very off our–meaning North American comics’–radar. It’s a small scene, but growing, and worth our attention.  Continue reading

On arriving in France (thought, mostly, at 320 kilometers per hour*)

[ I took the high-speed TGV train last week from Angoulême, France, where I live as of about a month ago, to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, to go to a comics festival in St. Petersburg, Russia. It was the first chance I'd had to really sit and compose my thoughts about leaving my old life in Brooklyn and starting a new one in small-town France. More actual concrete details about the situation to be found below all this poetic folderol, if you're interested.] 

WHO

If possible, don’t bring small children.

I stand on the TGV platform and carefully check my ticket time, train number, car number, the chart depicting the train showing that I’m standing at point H and my car (06) will be at point K, pre-walk like a real, if overly-cautious, angoumoisine (yes that’s what they’re called). Flashbacks to getting on the TGV at Charles de Gaulle a month ago (almost exactly—2 days short) with 2 small children, 3 overstuffed luggage carts and no charts to be found showing where our car would be, running, literally, down the platform to our train car, then running back for the other cart (only 2 adults available), chucking bags, computers (oh lord), small children into a crowded vestibule, other travelers helping, getting in the way. Porters crabbing at us for having so much crap. We’re MOVING I wanted to tell them. You think this is a lot of crap? Take a look at my Brooklyn basement. Take a look at the shipping warehouse with my 77 boxes waiting for a boat. (I would like to go to Le Havre and wave hello to them when they arrive on October 15.) What am I going to do when this train arrives at Charles de Gaulle and I visit the site of this trauma? Will I have a small (petite) heart attack?

Continue reading

Cordão de Ouro

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An excerpt from this strip appears in Mastering Comics, and someone (Ryan Mita) wrote the other day in capoeira solidarity…and, indeed, Matt and I did play capoiera for a few years in Mexico and right after we returned to the US in 2000. Age, the unwieldy geography of NYC (living an hour+ away from the main places people practice) and inability fo find a group that even approaches the awesomeness of Capoeira Longe do Mar all contributed to our exit. The fact that there’s a capoeira group in Angolême, where we’ll be in a few short weeks, gives hope for a new start, despite being older than ever. Maybe for our kids, anyway.

This strip ran in Pulse! Magazine, the in-house magazine of Tower Records, where many many great cartoonists published throughout the 90s under the auspices of the amazing Marc Weidenbaum. It’s one of the few collaborative comics Matt and I have ever done. Click the panel above or thumbnail below to see the full size version. (more…)

Team Trash

I sit here just having finished the major inking on the first volume of Trish Trash: Rollergirl of Mars, a task I could not have completed without a teeming studio full of assistants and interns. I salute you, Team Trash! Check out our new Trish Trash Tumblr, rollerderby + mars, featuring all the cool derby photos and science geekery we’re using to create this book (and of course sketches and work in progress).

Team Trash at work. Lydia and I are on the other end of the room.

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Outtakes from Comics: Philosophy and Practice

I’m in the midst of work on a 4-page comic reportage on the Comics: Philosophy and Practice conference, that featured a series of panels with some of the greatest cartoonists of the modern era. And as anyone who’s ever done journalistic comics (and probably journalism of any kind) knows, most of your best material ends up on the cutting-room floor. So here, therefore, is a glance at my cutting-room floor.

Photo by Sarah Blauser

Art Spiegelman:  It’s that rereading, that searching for the chicken fat that gives sustenance, that isn’t from about how many images and texts can you consume in 45 mins of trolling for porn on the internet, but how can you actually focus on something in a world that’s moving faster and faster. And that focus is something that books allow for. And therefore, books may have a life that’s of more interest than just what vinyl fetishism is for music listeners. There may be something specific to books that gives them a franchise on their continued existence. Continue reading

The Kickstarter drawings

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Click the photo above to see all of the drawings.

It’s not news that I’ve been working on a drawing project that I kickstarted back in November. I proposed this project as a warm up for Trish Trash: Rollergirl of Mars. Shockingly, it ended up competing with that for my time and attention (as you cartoonists out there would have/did predict). I’m not sorry, though. It was crucial preparation for my book, and offered me the opportunity to work on hover-derby costume designs.

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Tweets from “Comics: Philosophy and Practice”

I was at the University of Chicago at the Comics: Philosophy and Practice last weekend, and live-tweeted most of it. A few people have asked for a link-able, reusable version of this documentation, so here it is (after the jump). I’m working on a comics story about it, for the University of Chicago Magazine, and will update about that here.  Continue reading

Comics: Philosophy and Practice

poster by Chris WareI’ll be at the University of Chicago this weekend for this absolutely insane comics event. I mean, please don’t let there be a terrorist attack on the NATO conference (also in Chicago this weekend!), because we’d lose the entire top tier of American cartoonists. Continue reading