Girls’ Comics: new-old work on the site


I’ve been slowly working at updating old versions of the pages on this site, and adding some new material. I hope to bring you some regular postings of old comics within a few months. Meanwhile, I’ve put together this narrative of a really productive accidental drawing/print/painting series I did in the 90s. This image, especially, is one I’ve used any number of times for various purposes, and if I dug deeply enough, I might even find that it’s some kind of a precursor to Trish Trash: Rollergirl of Mars.

More to come.

SP-Xiles 2001


I recently rediscovered the archival webpage of SPXiles—an improvised SPX replacement event in NYC the weekend after 9-11—in my files. I thought I’d re-post it here for nostalgia and for the record. We’d already posted the photos on Flickr (as well as photos of the September 12 planning meeting) a year or so ago, but what the heck. What follows is what I posted back in late 2001 (minus the weird Dreamweaver-generated tables and plus a few new links and editorial notes, denoted in [brackets]). 


SP-Xiles: Brooklyn, New York, September 16, 2001

SP-Xiles was an impromptu event organized in New York City as a response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. This same weekend, SPX/The Expo, a small press comics convention, was supposed to take place in Bethesda MD [it was cancelled due to the attacks]. To make up for the cancellation of one of the most anticipated and important events of the year in the independent/literary comics scene, a group of local cartoonists decided to stage a make-up event. With the help of our host Charlie Orr, who made his Williamsburg loft available, we were able to pull it off. We succeeded in bringing together our community at a time when we were (and are) all still reeling from the attacks and sorely needed a forum to get together, be with friends and make new ones, and to share our comics with the local community. We took collections of a minimum of five dollars from all exhibitors and asked them to donate a portion of their take at the end of the day (many donated everything they had earned). We also invited guests to donate money at the door.

Thanks to everyone who came and made the event a big success. We collected $1925.00 (one half for the Red Cross and one half for the New York Fire Fighter’s 9-11 Relief Fund). This money was converted to two money orders which were sent out on September 18 with a note explaining where the donation came from.

If you are a NYC-area cartoonist or comics fan, please keep in touch, we hope we can get together again soon under better circumstances! (e-mail below)

If you have a web-page about another SPX make-up event, let us know, and we’ll link it here [at the bottom of this page].


SP-Xiles was organized by Jessica Abel, Leela Corman, Tom Hart, Ellen Lindner, Sara Varon, Matt Madden, Charlie Orr, Gabe Soria. Thanks everyone!

Take a look at our photo gallery and scroll down to see the list of exhibitors



Co-organizer Matt madden arriving on the scene


Charlie Orr’s loft at the beginning of the day. All paintings seen throughout these photos are by Charlie.


Setting up on the floor…


People start to arrive.


a lavish brunch is offered (bloody marys not pictured)


Our host Charlie Orr, with his girlfriend Melissa, in front of his vertical Twister game.


Event co-organizer Sara Varon with her wonderful silkscreened books and prints.


Jason Brightman selling his new series, Frayed Ends.


Bishakh Som, Howard John Arey and Joan Reilly with their anthology Hi-Horse.


Tomer Hanuka introduced a new issue of his great comic, Bipolar, created with his brother Assaf.


Co-organizers Leela Corman and Tom Hart sell underwear and other wares.


The international section’s Alban Rautenstrauch (with Dave K) sells his STEREOSCOMICS from France.


Dino “Dean” Haspiel sketches on the thank you card while Gabe Soria mugs.


A view from the floor.


Tom Hart offering comics and spiritual advice.


Alex Holden shows his new comic “The City Is My Garden” to Tomer Hanuka.


Cartoonist/entertainers Tunde Adebimpe (we’re waiting for new work…!) and Lauren Weinstein (Notes fromVineyland)


Guys and Dolls in the kitchen.


Joey Cavalieri shares his cartooning wisdom with John Kerschbaum (The Wiggly Reader), Jason Paul, and Wendy Chin.


Mysterious man behind the scenes, K. Thor Jensen.



Dean and a blurry Josh Neufeld get ready to move out.


The Hi-Horse crew saddles up.

James Sturm came all the way from Vermont (via Philly). He had a few copies of his great new book, The Golem's Mighty Swing. Here he assesses the scene with Tom Hart.

James Sturm came all the way from Vermont (via Philly). He had a few copies of his great new book, The Golem’s Mighty Swing. Here he assesses the scene with Tom Hart.

Co-organizer Ellen Lindner at the after-party at Enid's in Greenpoint. Her latest minicomic is "The Egg Mysterious."

Co-organizer Ellen Lindner at the after-party at Enid’s in Greenpoint. Her latest minicomic is “The Egg Mysterious.”


Here is a partial list of exhibitors who came to SP-Xiles to show their support, sell their work, and donate to the Emergency Funds. If you don’t see your name (or a friend’s) here (or if we’re missing the name of your comics), please send us a note and we’ll add you as soon as we can.

Jessica Abel (Artbabe, La Perdida)
Tunde Adebimbe
Josh Bernstein (Royal Flush)
Nick Bertozzi (The Masochists)
Eli Bishop
Jason Brightman (Frayed Ends)
Wendy Chin
Becky Cloonan (Social Unrest, Three-Way Kill Time)
Leela Corman
Abby Denson
Ryan Dunlavey (Tommy Atomic)
Chris Duffy (Nickelodeon)
Zena el-Khalil (A Beirut Tale)
Andrew Ford (Rib)
Steve Ellis and Fred Van Lente (Tranquility)
Ken Gale & Mercy E. Van Vlack (Dangerous Times)
Brandon Graham (Universe So Big)
Dylan Graham
John Green (Cryptic Press, Quicken Forbidden)
Jenny Gonzalez
Tomer Hanuka (Bipolar)
Tom Hart (Hutch Owen)
Dean Haspiel (Opposable Thumbs)
Danny Hellman (Legal Action Comics)
Jim Higgins (New Thing)
Hi-Horse (Howard John Arey, Joan Reilly, Bishakh Som)
Kathryn Hyatt (Marilyn)
Alex Holden (The City Is My Garden)
Kenichi Hoshine
K. Thor Jensen
Sabrina Jones (Girl Talk)
Dave K
Martha Keavney (Badly-Drawn Comics)
John Kerschbaum (The Wiggly Reader)
Michael Kupperman (Snake’n’Bacon’s Cartoon Cabaret)
Batton Lash & Jackie Estrada (Wolff and Byrd)
Ellen Lindner (The Egg Mysterious)
Jason Little (Bee Comix)
Heidi MacDonald (Vertigo)
Matt Madden (Odds Off)
Meathaus (Farel Dalrymple, Tomer Hanuka, and others)
Josh Neufeld (Titans of Finance)
Jason Paul
Alban Rautenstrauch (STEREOSCOMIC)
Dale Shaw
Bob Sikoryak (Drawn & Quarterly)
Chris Skokna (The Expo/SPX)
Leslie Sternbergh (Twisted Sisters)
James Sturm (The Golem’s Mighty Swing)
Jamie Tanner
Scott Teplin
Lauren Weinstein (Notes from Vineyland)
Sara Varon (Chickenopolis)
Rich Watson

for more information write the organizers.

Here are some other photos and reports (thanks to Dino for rounding these up): [if any of these still exist, let me know and I’ll re-link them]

Rich Watson’s reportage

Tim Hall’s digital snap-shots

Charles Brownstein &’s SP-Xiles coverage

Batton Lash’s photos

Traci Vogel’s reporting on SP-Xiles and the 9-11 Emergency Relief book in Metro

Paul Harrington in’s feature column

Dean Haspiel’s photos

Other SP-XILES EVENTS nationwide [if you know if there are any traces of these online, let me know and I’ll re-link them]
if you were involved with an event and know of a web page, please send us the URL

SP-Xiles Gulf Coast (by Scott Gilbert)

Zinester BBQ/Left Coast BBQ (by Jesse Reklaw)

Ben Catmull’s left-coast photos

Left-coast sketches courtesy Hi-Horse

visual scripting: using InDesign to write scripts native to comics

This is the first of a series of posts I hope to make on methods of writing comics. I’ve gone through a long (and ongoing) process of development of my own process, and finally have arrived at a method I think is very worth sharing. I don’t plan to talk all that much about what goes into the actual story, just how to use tools and formats to get whatever ideas you have onto paper (or screen). A further note: if you are really interested in all this kind of stuff, I mean enough to get all the way through this post, you should definitely have my two textboks on comics, Drawing Words & Writing Pictures and Mastering Comics. They are the kind of thing you’d enjoy. 

Second in the series: a video training for how to make a template.

Also, you might be interested in Using Scrivener to create fictional comics.

from page 1, tome 2 Trish Trash


Alison Bechdel is an not only a cartoonist, she’s an inventor. Between the Bechdel Test and the Bechdel Method, she’s more than earned her place in the comics pantheon, and her Guggenheim Fellowship.

what’s the Bechdel Method?

Back in 2009 or so, I was talking to Alison Bechdel about her writing process, and she told me about a new technique she’d developed that has since turned out to be absolutely transformational for my comics. And no, it wasn’t the part about photographing herself posing for every single one of her characters. It was the idea of using graphic design software to create a mutable, flexible script with the initial stages of visual storytelling built in. See the first couple of minutes of this video of Alison Bechdel walking you through her technique for glimpse of it. (As an aside: I’m proud to say I was able to simplify her life slightly by suggesting Adobe InDesign as opposed to Illustrator as a basic tool!) I wrote up Alison’s technique in detail in Mastering Comics. Since then, I’ve made a few refinements, and I’ve come up with a name for it, visual scripting.  Continue reading

¿Qué es una “novela gráfica”? (i.e. ‘What is a ‘graphic novel’?”)

Comics in Colombia are on the march, friends, make no mistake. Under the youthful and very energetic direction of Daniel Jiménez Quiroz, editor of the anthology Revista Larva (with the assistance of a large group of friends and collaborators, of course), Colombia now has a very internationally-oriented annual comics festival called Entreviñetas (“between the panels”). Entreviñetas has hosted, among many others, Matt in 2011. Matt’s had several comics published in South America this year as a result, and now, schools and libraries across Colombia are apparently graced with this very informative poster:

¿Qué es una "novela grafica"? —What is a"graphic novel"? poster in spanish detail view Continue reading

Trish Trash on view at FIBD

For the Festival International de la Bande Dessinée (FIBD), the giant comics festival descending on the small town I live in on January 31—more on that to come in a post in a day or two—the Maison des Auteurs is putting on an exhibition of work by all the artists who have been resident in this past year—that’s 44 people, people. So I’ve got just a few pieces in this show, and it’ll be the first time finished Trish Trash pages are seen by the world. Well, strictly speaking, the color will be tweaked a bit and they’ll be in French…but more or less. I’ll also have the original drawing for a book cover I drew this fall for an upcoming Susan Choi novel, My Education. Check out that fantastic poster by Lucas Varela! I’ve gotta get me one of those.

Trish Trash volume 1 page 6 color preview Continue reading

Out of the frying pan


Ask not for whom the little yellow la Poste truck 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.] 


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


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…)