Saturday, December 10, 2011

plot #2

I've been quite busy helping plan the 2012 Chicago Zine Fest, and running around the Midwest to various comics/zine shows, and hanging out with my awesome parents.  So the Plot #2, Your Curiosity Will Get You Killed has been progressing very...very...slowly.  But I am still working on it, and yesterday I had a few hours on an Amtrak train up to Milwaukee, so I worked on some cover designs for the issue. Here are some of the better designs I've come up with so far:

Friday, November 25, 2011


Saturday, November 26th (which, depending on when you read this is tomorrow, today or in the past) is the date during which the 3rd annual Genghis Con will be strutting its stuff all over Waterloo Ave in Cleveland, Ohio.  I exhibited at the show during its first year, and am excited to return, this year (smuggling Sam Sharpe in my suitcase). 

Here are the "deets:"
The Genghis Con
Saturday, November 26, 2011
11am - 6pm
Beachland Ballroom
15711 Waterloo Rd.
Cleveland, OH, USA, Planet Earth (sorry Martians)

Flyer by Kevin Fagan (related to Matt?)
It'll be tons of fun, so if you're near the Cuyahoga river, follow it to Cleveland, and the Beachland Ballroom.

Sam will be sharing a table with me and have his brand new (and freakin awesome) comic, Viewotron #1, which will soon be a name that is mentioned in the same breath as Optic Nerve, or Ganges, or maybe Betty and Veronica Digest.

I will have the Plot #1 which I hope you will read and enjoy.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

no debut

In my last blog I excitedly announced the debut of oh boy, COMICS! #2 at this weekend's Minneapolis Indie Xpo (free and open to the public, come one come all!).  Unfortunately that debut will not be happening.

UGH!  I was so close!  I staid up so late two nights ago, pasting up the master (and the master for a new free minicomic, Not Worth It, Number Fun!).   Looking at the past year's "extra" comics I had drawn (nearly 50 pages!), all together in one volume was really exciting.  It -along with Not Worth It, and a near-constant listening of They Might Be Giants' new Album Raises New and Troubling Questions (which is awesome)- had reminded me how important drawing unimportant comics is as a way to keep oneself fresh while working on larger more significant projects.

but then my backpack got stolen yesterday.

my sketchbook!
my computer! (if you see a dirty white macbook with a Quimby's sticker covering the Apple logo, that's mine)
some items not worth noting -like left over Halloween Candy, a zine I was reading, a CD I never got to listen to, oh and

I'm quite angry about this, but more than anything I'm really disappointed these comics wont be available at MIX.

The good news is, I will still be exhibiting at MIX with my good friend Sam Sharpe, and I'll have copies of the Plot #1, which is only a few months old, and I think a pretty good comic.

Monday, October 31, 2011

31773490715 17413 3x90

****EDIT: I wanted to let folks know MIX is FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC THIS WEEKEND 10-5 Sat & Sun****
November 5 & 6 I will be exhibiting at the Minneapolis Indie Expo! I'm really excited for this show, last year's inaugural MIX was a highlight of the 2010 con/fest/expos I went to.  The folks up there in Minnesota are quite nice, and they seem to have a really supportive community of comics makers up there.  Something we seemed to notice last year was the number of folks who showed up to the show who said they weren't really into comics, but wanted to check the show out anyway.  That's a really pleasant difference from a lot of other comics shows or zine fests.

I'm excited to be able to show off the Plot #1 to more folks.  I'm also going to be debuting issue #2 of oh boy, COMICS!, my odds-and-ends anthology.  It will be about half the size of the ridiculously sized #1 (which itself may soon get a bit of a trim and rearrangement of material), but it's full of exciting stuff you probably haven't seen.

I'm excited too, because I'll be crashing at the home of Raighne & Meghan Hogan, two top-notch comics kids with whom I stayed last year (and then in March, Raighne crashed with me for the Chicago Zine Fest).  I'm excited to explore some new vegan options in the city.  I'll also be checking out on of the Twin Cities' two Roller Derby leagues, the North Star Roller Girls (I'm rooting for Minneapolis' other Roller Derby League, the Minnesota Roller Girls in the following weekend's WFTDA Championships)!  

So if you're near the Twin Cities come by the Minneapolis Indie Expo, I'll be at table 51 hanging out with fellow Chicagoans, Sam Sharpe, Corinne Mucha, and Sarah Becan.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

the plot

Oh hey, I totally have a new minicomic!   

The Plot #1 A Monster in the Forbidden Forest debuted at SPX, and I got rid of all 40 copies I brought down (a trash can helped).  Kenan (who has taken on the job as my editor, even though I'm not paying him) has already written his review of the comic in a larger post about SPX. He summed up the story  better than I've been able to.  While you're on his blog, definitely read more of his posts, he's far more eloquent that I am, and pretty insightful with his observations, while I putter around with tweets like "Roller Derby is cool."  

  It's 40 pages of adventure with a stamped cover (I got custom stamps made for this thing)!

My website is in complete disarray, so I'm not going to make any promises to make it available for purchase on my web-empire any time soon.  BUT!  You can order it from Quimby's Bookstore, I spend 40 hours a week there, so there's no chance of it going out of stock any time soon.  While you're there, order more great comics from the store, we've got TONS, and the shipping rate doesn't change until your order goes over $30.

I will also be selling/trading it at the following events this fall: Madison Zine Fest, Milwaukee Zine Fest, Minneapolis Indie Xpo, and any other events that start with the letter M (I'll even bring some to the WFTDA's North Central Division Regional tournament, Monumental Mayhem).

 This comic is going to be at least 10 issues long, and the more I write, the more I realize it's probably going to be longer than that. I'm in for a loooooooong involvement with this story, and I am quite excited about that.  

Actually, maybe I should take a minute and explain where this comic came from.  I was flying back to Chicago from the Stumptown Comics Fest, thinking about my comics plans, as I really hadn't had time to draw any comics since the Fall (organizing a zine fest is really hard).  I had grand plans for a year-long comics experiment, inspired by Liz Baillie's Minicomic of the Month Club, and writing a dark, scary, gruesome graphic novel about the things that scared me as a child and as an adult.  To be honest, I was not excited about these serious endeavors.  Reading the few minicomics I picked up at Stumptown, I started dreaming of what I would enjoy drawing, images came to my mind. A bug the size of a house! A stranger falling from the sky! Telepathic abilities! Aliens! A strange secluded town! After thinking of these things, I couldn't shake them, and over a few weeks of working it out on paper, a story developed (though not all of these elements made it into the story).  So I dropped the serious comics I was going to make, and started drawing fun comics!  And that's what the Plot is.

I'm currently writing issue 3, and editing issue 2.  I'm actually kind of editing it while I draw it, and have 24 pages penciled.  Here's the first one:


Friday, September 23, 2011


I promise my SPX blog is coming soon.  Maybe not at 1:30 in the morning.

Today I had kind of a rough 2nd half of my shift at work.  I finally got out of work and headed over to my favorite coffee shop.  Got a coffee, and a lemon poppy seed scone, and read some fun comics (even though I had my newly procured copy of Habibi on me).  I read the latest issue of Sweet Tooth by Jeff Lemire and the first volume of the new printing of Grant Morrison's New X-Men (I know I'm supposed to be boycotting Marvel, especially their Kirby titles...sorry) comics from the early (mid?) 2000's until they kicked us out of the shop.

So when I got home I drew this drawing of Wolverine and Cyclops fighting a (baby?) Sentinel.  I'm not super impressed with the outcome, but the process was a lot of fun:

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

dylan williams lives

Most people involved in the indie comics scene knows by now of the passing of Dylan Williams on Saturday.  Like many people, I learned about it Saturday night at the Small Press Expo in Bethesda, MD.  It hit those of us who knew him really hard, even those like me who only had the good fortune of a handful of encounters.  Dylan's death is devastating to those of us who knew him, even more painful for those who were close to him, and is felt by those who have read, enjoyed and been influenced by the comics he facilitated for the past two decades.

But Dylan lives in every resourceful zinester who wants to take publishing into their own hand.

Dylan lives in the disembodied laughter you hear coming from the din in the spaces -large or small- that for a weekend host an indie comics convention.

Dylan lives in the cartoonist who is better at promoting their friends' comics than their own.

Dylan lives in the pages of comics put out by publishers he'd humbly call his peers, who in turn would call him a role model.

Dylan lives in the electric pride felt in the applause at the Ignatz award when we celebrate one of our own for their outstanding work.

Dylan lives in the packages mailed out by distros who -if they were doing it for money- would have stopped a long while ago.

Dylan lives in every trade made between two self-publishers.

Dylan lives in the satisfying moment when you close the back cover of a comic book and think to yourself, "that was really good."

That is how I will remember Dylan, who I jump at the chance to call a friend, an inspiration and a role model. The pain of his passing will last a long time. The love he had for comics, its creators and its community will far out last that pain.

Dylan's family still needs help paying for medical bills and now, his funeral.  Consider supporting Dylan by buying some fantastic comics. For more reflections on Dylan's life and passing, visit the Comics Reporter's Collective Memory page. 

You are missed, Dylan.

Friday, August 26, 2011

scanner hiccup #2

Here's the other scanner hiccup I ran into scanning elements for the cover for the Plot #1.

On a more serious note, Dylan Williams is fighting cancer right now, and he needs support from folks.  "Who is Dylan Williams," you ask?!  To anyone who's spent more than five minutes with the guy, Dylan is a friend, and I've had the pleasure of hanging out with him on a few occasions, so I know from experience.  He's a cartoonist, an organizer for the Portland Zine Symposium, and he runs a gallery in Portland, Oregon, but he's probably best known as the main force behind Sparkplug Comic Books!  Sparkplug is one of the best small presses putting out comics today (and when I say "best" I really mean it...and when I say "small" I really mean that too). 

  Those who are "interested" by this "graphic novel thing," or those who mainly buy comics from Marvel or DC probably have never heard of Sparkplug (or its peers, Tugboat, Koyama, AdHouse, Picturebox, 2DCloud, LaMano, Grimalkin, Kilgore, or Chicago's own Shortpants), but to those who dig just beneath the surface of the world of comics know Sparkplug puts out some amazing comics, and support those artists who the bigger indie publishers (Fantagraphics, Drawn and Quarterly, Pantheon, Top Shelf) tend to ignore.  Actually, a lot of those who started off with Sparkplug have moved on to larger publishing houses, which -Dylan has stated- is part of Sparkplug's design.

  Dylan has spent most of the past two decades supporting comics that deserved attention, and now he needs some support from us who have benefited from his contributions.  If you've got some extra cash, go over to Sparkplug, and buy some comics, they're amazing!  You could probably pick them at random, and be blown away by the quality!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

scanner hiccup #1

This happened when we were scanning elements for the Plot's cover last night, it only happened twice, but both times it created great results:

Friday, August 19, 2011

support yer local businesses, friends

I just had a pretty terrible errand run.  It started off alright, as I made a huge leap in getting the cover for the Plot printed!  That got me really excited.  Then I got a flat tire as I pulled up to Paper Boy (seen below).
Paper Boy is my favorite paper store.  Full of fun objects related to making marks on paper.  They had some beautiful paper, and all of their staff was so friendly, down to earth and wicked knowledgeable!  As my bike limped up to the store, I could see through the windows that something was missing.  Everything.  They closed!

I went across the street to talk to the folks over at Paper Boy's sister store, the toy store, Uncle Fun.  Turns out Paper Boy closed about a month ago.  What a sad thing to learn.  They said if I needed paper, I'd have to go north on Southport to Paper Source.  So I did (after buying erasers shaped like a doughnut and a peanut).  I walked my half-inflated bike up to Paper Source which seems to be ground zero for wedding planning which was kind of the exact opposite of Paper Boy's MO.  I had a lot of questions for the store, and one employee was answering my questions adequately, but then apparently she had an appointment, and the manager took over helping me out in the following manner:

Quite loudly she asked me (as she did a pair of women before me) "What are we looking for today?"  She then was pretty fake and difficult to talk to in a normal volume.  When I was checking out, she tried to make small talk and asked if I was from New England.  I told her Western New York, and she stated that:

Western New York is upstate New York, and therefore:
Practically New England.

I then actually -sort of uncharacteristically- informed her I thought she was wrong on both counts.  New York is technically a Mid-Atlantic state, and I consider upstate New York as anything north of the southern shore of Lake Ontario (I know a lot of people will disagree and call "upstate" as anything north of New York City, but friends, THAT'S THE REST OF THE STATE (not counting Long Island)!  But still, how can an area that's an hour away from Ohio be more New England than NYC, which is an hour away from New England?!)  She grinned and agreed with me as she was walking away from me, loudly asking someone who had just walked through the door "And what are we looking for today?!" and pointing out the new academic calendars that they had just gotten in.


  Then I walked to the bus stop, and had my bus driver honk and yell at me several times as I put my bike in the bus's bike rack, telling me I was "reading the directions wrong" when he really should have just told me my back wheel wasn't in the groove it needed to be in.

But even that wasn't as bad as finding out your favorite paper store has closed, and your option is a cookie-cutter wedding center.  I work at a local business, and I feel invested in its success, so I recognize I'm pretty biased, but it tears me up that a high quality quirky paper store is gone, and a national chain store, devoid of a real personality stands strong.  One moment, as I place this soap box on a this high horse...please, friends, support your local businesses! 

Next time you walk up to a starbucks, look to see if there's an independent coffee shop around.  When you need to print your zine, don't go to Kinko's, go to a local copy shop, they're probably cheaper.  Don't buy your next book on amazon, go visit a bookstore.  You'll probably be interacting with someone more passionate about their store and its products, and you'll be keeping your money in your city's economy, which helps you!  I know situations present themselves in which national chains are unavoidable, but we've gotta keep the good stores thriving.

Jeesh enough rambling, sorry that I- oh, wait a minute...this isn't yelp.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

area cartoonist makes animals talk

  I've been a fan of the local publication, AREA Chicago for years, and I've contributed (lousy) illustrations to the biannual newspaper twice before.  AREA stands for Art Research Education and Activism, and each issue focuses on a particular topic related to the city, with the intention of creating a multi-faceted cultural and social map of the city.  The most recent issue of AREA came out on the issues of immigration and migration, and I have a comic in it! 

   If the description of AREA sounds a little dry, or pretty intellectual, there's a reason for that.  It kind of is.  Throughout its history, it's been run by kids who are pretty brilliant.  The type of people you kind of have to make an effort to keep up with in a conversation, so it's not a fun read.  It's a great read, but definitely not one I would describe as fun. (Recent things I've read that I would consider fun: Beasts of Burden by Evan Dorkin & Jill Thompson, the Convalescent by Jessica Anthony, Love and Rockets by Jaime Hernandez, Snarked #0 by Roger Langridge, several comics by Jason) 

  I was asked for this issue to document a community event at Mess Hall in Rogers Park for which participants were invited to bring a border-crossing tool to help build a border-crossing tool kit. It was a great casual gathering, which started with potluck snacks & socializing.  Later, each participant presented their tool, most of which were not physical.  I took notes through the whole thing, and then tried to figure out how to present it. 

  I finally landed on a fairly straight-forward presentation of each person presenting their tool, but instead of trying to remember what people looked like, or trying to imagine a group of people, I decided to use five migratory animals as their spokespeople.  Hopefully it added some goofiness into the discussion, and some levity into a fairly serious publication.

  AREA Chicago #11, IM/MIGRATIONS, a local reader about how borders are made, experienced and challenged through human movement is available for free at many locations throughout the city! Unfortunately the comic is not available on their website, though most of the rest of the issue is, including an essay about Garlic and Greens, a food histories project I've been volunteering for, and which you can participate in by sharing your soul food stories.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

in the mix

Woo Hoo!  I've just been confirmed as an exhibitor for MIX, the Minneapolis Indie Expo!  I'll be sharing a table with my pal Sam Sharpe.  We exhibited last year and had a lot of fun in Minneapolis, and hope to repeat the good times.  Check out the exhibitor page, there are tons of really exciting folks at this year's fest, so if you're anywhere near the twin cities (AKA North America!), you should totally stop by the Soap Factory November 5 & 6. 

  I've been cramming my days with inking my new minicomic, the Plot #1, a Monster in the Forbidden Forest!  (see sample above) I'm on track to having it done by SPX, which is happening EXACTLY one month from today in Bethesda, Maryland.  It should be tons of fun, as I'm exhibiting with my partner in crime, Kenan Rubenstein (who's been acting as an editor for the Plot), and Matthew Ocasio who edits the zine the Matter.  We'll be the sharp kids with the awesome comics there, look for us. 

  In other news, the two festivals I help organize are both announcing their dates for 2012.  The Chicago Zine Fest will be happening March 9 & 10, and the Chicago Alternative Comics Expo (CAKE) will be taking place June 16 & 17.  So mark your calendars, and buy your train tickets, both shows are gonna be HOT!

  OK, enough gabbing.  Back to work, jerk!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

comics comics comics

I took this week off from work, and instead of traveling to see my family or running off to some convention, I'm staying put in Chicago, and primarily working on a new minicomic, the Plot #1 (that name seems to be sticking, but could easily be replaced with a title that might actually make the comic sound interesting).  Above is a photo from a few days ago when I took thirteen penciled pages that share the same setting, and made sure the environment looked the same across all the pages. 

I am just past the half way point with penciling this first issue, below is page 36 of the 68-page comic.  For the most part I've been really excited with the story (I am also spending hours writing issue #2), and really happy with my drawings.  This isn't a normal situation for me.  Usually I'm fairly unhappy or at the very least unimpressed with almost every aspect of the comics I work on.  So either this means I've developed as an artist or I am oblivious of this new comic's flaws.  

I've been listening to a lot of interviews with comics artists I highly respect, like Sarah Oleksyk and Noah Van Sciver, as well as the Plinkett reviews of the Star Wars prequels (which are pretty amazing).  All of them talked about what they liked in story telling and what they hated in bad stories.  It made me wonder if I was actually writing a terrible story that might someday be used as an example of a stupid comic, or that could receive such a destructive review as Plinkett's.  It definitely helped bring that familiar sense of self-doubt back to my drawing and writing this week!  So, thanks for the help, guys.

This photo includes the thumbnail for the page, which shows how I write the comic, and its translation into the final page. 

Hopefully this'll be ready for SPX in September.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

we're all gonna die

Above are a couple panels from the minicomic I'm working on.  I'm expecting it'll be about the same length as Spitting Pennies.  I'm about half-way through the thumbnails for the first of five issues.  I really want to have it done by SPX this year (which is about 100 days away), but I'm not going to sacrifice the comic's quality to have it done in time.  I do plan on having new stuff at SPX, though.  New free comics, a brand new Sock-Monster comic on a button, hopefully a split minicomic with a good friend we've been working on for months and months...

  In other news, we've been digging a rain garden at my house, and today we finished the digging!  Now we just gotta lay some compost and seeds, and hope it rains.  If the weather keeps going the way it's been going the past couple months, that last part should not be a problem.

Jacked on caffeine,

Thursday, May 12, 2011

free comics! the past. new comics! ...eventually.

Last Saturday was Free Comic Book Day (FCBD (pronounced fick-bud, for you uninitiated (not really))).  Sam Sharpe, Erik Schneider and I put together a free minicomic we put around comic book stores in Chicago (Quimby's, Chicago Comics, Thirdcoast Comics, Challengers). We named it Handout Comics.  We made a stencil cover, for it.  Here are a couple pictures from the process:
 Erik folding the comic's guts!
 Finished copies of the comic (we made 200)!
 Sam cutting the image stencil!
Sam printing the image stencil!

The whole process was a lot of fun, and I hope folks enjoyed the comics!

A while ago, you might have noticed me mentioning the Minicomic of the Month Club.  I won't go into its details, because I've decided to scrap the plan (which was going to commence in June).  There was very little interest (probably due to very little promotion by me), and I myself -while looking forward to the project- was not excited about it.

But on the way back from Stumptown Comics Fest (which will receive a review soon), I started coming up with imagery that was pretty exciting, and slowly -over the course of a few weeks- a story grew, and has stolen most of my free time and wandering mind.  So I'm excited to mention (which I'm sure will back-fire later down the road), I've started working on a minicomic series that will be a lot of fun to draw, and hopefully a lot of fun to read.  It will probably be 5 issues long, and I will hopefully have the first issue done by SPX in September.  Below is one of the initial sparks of the story, the working title of which is the Plot.

Friday, April 22, 2011

just ignore the lack of posts

I'll get to posting about Stumptown and the Chicago Zine Fest eventually, but for now:

James P.B. Duffy is playing the show mentioned above at the Dollhouse (1656 W Division #2) at 7pm on May 1st.  There's a $5 suggested donation.  Can't remember who James P.B. Duffy is?  

Neither can we!  Today Josh and I are practicing for the first time in a long time, so you know the show that's in about a week will be so good.

Our myspace page is at

Hope to see you see us make fools of ourselves.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

more sock-monster!

hey guys!  have you seen this Sock-Monster comic yet?  I bet you haven't!

oh brother.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

2 sock-monsters!

Also, if you want to support an amazing comic book getting printed, consider dropping a dime on Poison the Cure #3's Kickstarter campaign.