drawing table the week I arrived in France before things got rolling.

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.

I actually have no idea what I’d have interns do right now if they were here—it would require another re-jiggering of priorities, to concentrate on things like updating my website and cataloging my work instead of making new work. However necessary that work may be, it takes one away from facing the blank pages, which is what I need to be doing. But I really do value those relationships with young artists that I build in class and then deepen in the studio. If you’re reading this, guys, drop me a line and let me know how you’re doing!

I found this post I’d put together early last summer but never run—consider it an ode to the old Brooklyn studio.

feeding the beast

As working artists and authors who also teach comics at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, we have been very fortunate to have a steady stream of student interns helping us in our studio over the last ten years. It is not an exaggeration to say that without their help we would not have been able to keep on top of all of the projects we juggle—most notably Drawing Words & Writing Pictures, its associated website (dw-wp.com) and the follow-up textbook, Mastering Comics, but also including our personal creative work, editing the Best American Comics, translations, teaching prep, Kickstarter campaigns, and filing, lots of filing. At times we’ve had up to five interns coming in per week and as many as three on a single day. It makes for a bustling and productive studio, but these are kids, and they have needs. We can’t pay a salary, but we feed them all a substantial lunch on their work days. When we started out, we had a series of ominvorous hoovers and a lot less going on in the studio, so it was relatively easy: we would cook something, and just make an extra couple of portions for the young ‘un. But since then, we’ve gotten busier, so we tap the limited food choices in our neighborhood with greater frequency. And we’ve had the occasional vegetarian or (oh lord) vegan and then there are food allergy issues, and when you’re juggling multiple interns in a week, well, it gets interesting.

M: “I’ll order bagels today.”

J: “Celiac.”

M: “D’oh!”

or J: “why don’t I just heat up those black beans for our vegan intern?”

M: “Lard.”

J: “D’oh!”

So, in the hopes of offering a guiding light to future artists with interns, we offer you this chart matching Brooklyn food choices to intern-filled studio practical considerations. But don’t thank us. Thank your interns.

Mexican XXRemember to order corn tortillasNurp.X
CaribbeanXXXNo wayEnh.
Banh miXXNopeNuh uhKinda
ThaiXNot so muchXXif you douse it in hot sauce
SzechuanXNope.XEven the green beans are dressed with pork.!!!!!
DumplingsXXNope.Are you joking?Not really.
VietnameseNot reallyNot veryXFish sauce anyone?No
Homemade pastaXXNot even closePossibleOptional
Homemade risottoXXXPossibleOptional
Homemade stewXNot relative to pasta, but homemade is cheaper than restaurantsPossibleNot the way we make it.Not really.

Conclusions: Anything that comes in family portions = good deal (Caribbean food! Roast chickens!). Anything where you each order your own dish = pricey. If you have a 6+ foot-tall 20-year-old working for you, make extra rice. Don’t go out for hamburgers. Remember to thank your lucky stars that the vegan and the celiac never interned on the same day.

For Duane, Marina, Nic, Jodi, Nate, Da Young, Meredith, Rob, Matt H, Rel, Lydia, Jude, Leah, Hilary, JP, Li-Or, Eric, & Wyeth


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Meet Jessica Abel

Meet Jessica Abel

Author. Cartoonist. Teacher. Coach.

I help people whose imagination and creativity are the ultimate source of everything they do in their professional life stop grinding and start carving out the deep focus needed to finish—and launch—the game-changing work they want to be known for.  Discover my Courses, Join the FREE Creative Engine Workshop or find out more about me.


  1. Ruz on February 3, 2014 at 9:29 am

    When I worked construction we called those types of roof windows doghouse dormers. I wonder if seated dogs has some sort of vigilant watch reference built in? Thanks again for all the heard work. You can’t possibly know how to what extent you help others. The intern insights are hilarious.

  2. DaYoung on April 22, 2014 at 10:39 pm

    YOU GUYS MADE BEST RISOTTO EVER!!!! XD Could I get the recipe, please?! Hope everything is well in France. Warm regards, DaYoung

  3. Jessica on April 24, 2014 at 4:25 am

    Hi DaYoung! I’ll see if Matt will post it for you. Nice to hear from you!

    By the way, the studio is no longer anywhere near as lonely. My intern Justine sits a few feet away as I type this…

  4. Matt on April 27, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    there’s no real secret to making risotto but you can’t go wrong with Marcella Hazan. Here’s a recipe from her that has the basic technique which you can vary as you like:

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