Friday, December 05, 2008

Big December news update

Hi everyone,

Have lots of news to report in on. First off, I haven't posted any artwork for awhile. Here is one I just completed. I'm still doing a lot of WWI research for the first chapter of the Bull book. This is a study of soldier's face from WWI. I thought the photograph was really haunting and tried to capture this feeling in the drawing.
Soldier's face, WWIThe Londoner
The local community paper The Londoner, did a feature story on me this week. Here's a link to the article (I'm linking to the print-friendly version, because my mom thinks the photo in the regular version is the worst picture ever taken of me). Anyway, the day the article came out, I found out that the reporter who did the story - Ben Benedict got laid off as part of The Sun Media cuts. The Londoner is one of the few community papers in the country that has an excellent circulation and actually makes money. Why does it make money you ask? Because it contains a lot of relevant local community content. Who writes these articles? Ben Benedict.

Really, this just makes me mad. Its so short-sighted. I am sure they will start running associated press articles, or Toronto Sun Media articles instead, people will slowly stop picking the paper up, then 12 months from now the Sun will think it's a mystery as to why the paper isn't as profitable as it used to be. sigh. So that's my rant for the day. Ben also really went out of his way to cover local arts news that didn't get covered anywhere else. Good luck to you Ben!

Holiday Comics and Graphic Novel Recommendations
Sequential is listing people's recommendations for graphic novels and comics to give as gifts for Christmas. I submitted my picks as well. You can find the whole list here. Take a look if you're looking for X-Mas ideas. I will also take the opportunity to add one other suggestion to - What 2008 comic would you recommend for an adult woman 18-100?
  • I'm adding "Jamilti and Other Stories" by Rutu Modan (published by Drawn and Quarterly). I really like Modan's drawing style, and bought this collection of her shorter stories recently. This book didn't get as much attention as "Exit Wounds" which came out last year to much acclaim, and if anything I think this book is much stronger. I've had it my bedside table for at least a month now, and keep picking it up and looking at it. The stories have really stuck in my head as well. Great stuff!
Finally, MIT recently posted the podcast version of my talk on "Comics and Social Conflict", with Jeet Heer and Ho Che Anderson. Jeet also did a write-up of it on his blog here.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Flickr Picto-Browser Set

I started a Flickr account and I am addicted. This actually seems to be a useful web 2.0 thing. I'm already a convert to Ray Fenwick, and Marc Johns. Check out my my own browser set below.

The Best Birthday Present This Year?

Tomorrow (nov 5th) is my birthday and I have been praying that I won't open up my paper to read that McCain has won the election. The best birthday present I will get this year would be to read about an Obama victory.

Right now it's 9:00 PM, and I'm watching the projection on CNN as the polls start closing, and I'm starting to relax a bit that Obama will indeed win the day. Kay Hagan just beat Elizabeth Dole - yay! Democracy in action as people reject Dole's "godless" ad, which was completely reprehensible.

To say that I've been glued to all information on the American election for the past couple of months is a bit of an understatement. I feel quite desperate about things, and have been wondering why I've felt so strongly - especially since I'm Canadian.

Our Canadian election came and went in just 6 short weeks this fall. My candidate won in my area, but the Conservatives remained in power overall (though they did get hammered in Quebec over their "culture is only for the elite" line which was a sweet victory). Though I was disappointed, I wasn't crushed, and if Obama loses tomorrow, I will be crushed.

I think this is basically because I believe my life will be affected more by who becomes the next President of the United States, then by what Canadian party is in power. This is a strange kind of irony, but I believe it's true. Whether we like it or not, the US. has a huge effect on us here. To paraphrase Trudeau:

"Living next to to the US is like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, one is affected by every twitch and grunt. "

Then when I was watching the 30 minute piece Obama put on the national networks this week, I realized that I have a lot in common with him, and maybe this is also why he really touches a cord for me.
  • I also have a mixed race background,

  • Was raised by a single mom,

  • Was incredibly close to my grandparents who were huge influences on me,

  • I know what it's like for people to look at you and assume you're from somewhere else,

  • I've also only met my father once, and feel that I've been shaped more by his absence than by his presence.

Finally, there is just so much that Obama stands for that I believe in, and a loss for him would in some way represent a loss of those ideals for me. Share the wealth - yes, I believe in that. Healthcare is a privilege, not a responsibility. Education for all. Equality for all. The list goes on and on...

I'm thinking that tomorrow will be a brighter day...

November 5th Update -my wish came true and the good guys won! What a great way to start the day!

*Obama image courtesy of Jennifer DeGuzman.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Speaking at MIT this Thursday

Very exciting news - I will be speaking at MIT in Boston this Thursday, October 23rd with fellow panelists Jeet Heer and Ho Che Anderson.

Needless to say I'm really excited, nervous and really honored. Here's the full info:

Comics and Social Conflict
Ho Che Anderson, Jeet Heer, & Diana Tamblyn
Thursday, October 23, 5:00 -7:00 PM, MIT

The Paris GunComics have emerged as a key means of interpreting and disseminating controversial and contested histories: Chester Brown's Louis Riel, Keiji Nakazawa's Barefoot Gen, Joe Sacco's Palestine, and Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis are just some of the works that take definitive social and political conflict as their topic.

Why has historical material become so important for comics art? What unique opportunities does comics allow for critiquing and revising dominant historical narratives? These are the questions our speakers will discuss, in relation to their own work and to the comics world in general. Diana Tamblyn is writing a biography of Canadian arms trader and weapons engineer Gerald Bull; Ho Che Anderson authored King, a 3-volume biography of Martin Luther King; and Jeet Heer is a historian and a leading comics scholar.

Admission: Free. Open to the Public.

Here's what the building looks like where we will be speaking - just a little bit daunting!

Full info can be found here at the MIT website.

Then Friday afternoon, Ho Che and I will be reviewing work by any students who want feedback on their portfolios.

I'm really interested that they selected three Canadians to talk about this subject. Should be really interesting and certainly very topical! I've also never been to Boston before so I'm looking forward to doing a bit of exploring.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Muskoka in the Fall

Word on the Street
I exhibited for the first time at Word on the Street this past Sunday and had a great day! The weather was gorgeous, tons of people came out and best of all - I sold a lot of stuff! Thanks to everyone who dropped by to say hello.

Muskoka Landscapes
Other than working on my comics, I'm trying to do more artwork in general. Last fall I took a bunch of photos of the colours changing up north in Muskoka and have been doing some studies of them. Below is what I've done so far. I'm pretty happy with the results!

Muskoka Hillside - done in pen and ink.
Muskoka Hillside
View overlooking 3 Mile Lake. Done in pen and ink.
3 Mile Lake, Muskoka
Muskoka Landscape - done in oil pastels. I used to use oil pastels a lot and like working with them. I'm a bit out of practice with them.
Muskoka Landscape
Gerald Bull Graphic Novel
I'm still working hard on the graphic novel. Last week I started drawing it in earnest. I'm now on page 2 drawing wise, and on Chapter 3 writing-wise! Making good steady progress...

Friday, September 05, 2008

Kaiser Wilhelm II

Kaiser Wilhelm IIWork on the graphic novel continues. I have finished my reading and research and have started writing. I am just finishing up Chapter 2 now. I'm also still doing preparatory drawings (Kaiser Wilhelm II above, appears as a character in my Prologue), but will start drawing the actual book this month.

Last week Newsarama posted a review of my older minis and they said some nice things. You can check it out here.

I've also set up a Flick page with my drawings and illustrations, which you can find here.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The General Behaviour of a Spinning Shell

Here are some preparatory drawings for my Bull Project. When I asked friend Frank Cammuso for advice on how to prepare for a full-length graphic novel (and he should know having just finished one major book for Scholastic - Knights of the Lunch Table and Otto's Orange Day for Toon Books this year), he recommending totally immersing myself in the subject, literally surrounding myself with it. This is what he did for Knights where he did tons of research on the Knights of the Round Table.

So - I've been doing just that. Tons of background reading and preparatory sketches on all sorts of things I would never normally draw. Since Bull was an artillery expert, I've been reading a lot about that, and some of the things are strangely beautiful like these below. I adapted them from mathematical equations that looked at the paths spinning shells take in flight.

Slowly Rolling Fin Stabilized Missile
Slowly Rolling Fin Spin Stabilized Shell
Spin Stabilized Shell Fast Rolling Fin Stabilized Missile

I think I might end up doing a mini of all of my drawings (and maybe the prologue of the book which is a story in and of itself) for the project and release it for next year's TCAF. Would you guys be interested in something like this? I think it would end up being approx. 40 -50 pages or so.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Paris Guns

Work on my graphic novel has begun. A few weeks ago I spent a few days with Gerald Bull's family in Quebec. They could not have been more gracious hosts and I came away with a lot of valuable information and anecdotes.

The Paris GunsI also have just finished writing the prologue and am doing preparatory drawings. Above is what I envision as the image for the prologue page chapter cover which depicts the history of the first long range guns - the Paris Guns developed by the Germans in WWI.

Summer Reading List
Sequential recently posted my summer reading list. Not surprisingly, the majority of it covers my research for the Bull project.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Mocca 2008

This past weekend, Dave and I went to NYC for Mocca 2008. Rosie stayed home with Grandma for the 2 nights we were away (the longest we've both been away from her).
On Friday, we drove to Toronto and flew in to LaGuardia. There was apparently a lot of congestion at the New York aiport, so our flight was 2 hrs late which was too bad as that really cut into our bumming around the city time.

We stayed right near the Puck Building at a neat "boutique" hotel in Soho. The best part about it was that it had a rooftop patio which was a nice oasis in the middle of the city. That night for dinner we got takeout at the nearby Whole Foods and ate it overlooking the city.

Saturday we walked over to the show with friend and tablemate Frank Cammuso and his wife Ngoc. We had registered the night before so got to bypass the big line to get in. We were on the first floor luckily as it was nicely air-conditioned all weekend long. The folks on the 7th floor roasted under the skylights in the heat wave and I was glad to not be up there.

Things were slow to get started with the hall not really being full until 1:00 PM. This was my first ever Mocca and after hearing so many great things about it, I have to say I was a little discouraged with my sales. Usually I have pretty steady traffic and I was hoping since I was new to NYC I might do pretty well. This might have actually played against me though as I'm kind of unknown in the city. There was just so much good stuff on display to compete with people's attention.

There didn't seem to be a "book of the show", I kept looking at what was underneath people's arms and it really varied (or it was free stuff). Also it did really seem that people weren't spending as much as usual with a lot of people just picking up a few things or simply browsing. There was a lot of speculation of how this would bode for San Diego.

On Sunday, things did pick up. I think a lot of people had done their browsing and started buying. I think a lot of people bought their "big" books on Saturday as well like the Michel Gondry comic, the Lynda Barry book, the new Jason book, Chiggers, etc., so they were picking up smaller stuff that caught their eye on the Sunday. At 3:30, we had to leave the show a bit early to catch our flight back to Toronto and the timing worked out well for us as at about 3:15, show organizers started evacuating the building because of a fire alarm. It meant that I literally threw the contents of my table into my suitcase and we walked quickly out of the building. Gentleman that he is, Frank helped us with our bags and hailed a cab for us. We hopped in and left hundreds of people on the sidewalk in the burning sun as fire engines wailed all around us. It was a very surreal ending to the show.

All in all, I did about 20% of the sales I did at TCAF - still my best and favourite show. SPX is a solid #2. I don't know if I would go back to Mocca, I might like to try Indie Island first. Mocca does take place in NYC though which is awesome but also expensive. As usual, the best part of the show for me was chatting with friends and meeting new ones.

Here are Highlights of the Weekend:
  • Hanging out with Frank and Ngoc.
  • Meeting Lark Pien and Thien Pham and enjoying a great Thai dinner with them and the group.
  • Seeing and chatting to US-based pals Cecil Castellucci & Jillian Tamaki.
  • Catching up with the with fabulously talented Toronto crowd (a big contingent of which came out for Mocca): Jeff Lemire, Willow Dawson, Stef Lenk, Tyrone and Alana McCarthy, Mariko Tamaki, Blake Bell, Jeet Heer, and the inimitable Steve Manale.
  • Talking to R.Sikoryak and his wife at Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly's rooftop patio party.
  • Drinking belgian beer with Dave on our hotel rooftop overlooking the NY city skyline.

Comics Purchased
Usually I buy comics throughout a show from the money I make from my sales. Since sales were lower this year, I bought less stuff sadly...

  • Freddie & Me - Mike Dawson. This is THE book I wanted to pick up at the show. I really like Mike's stuff.
  • Knights of the Lunch Table - Frank Cammuso. Of course I had to pick this up! I read it on the plane on the way home and it's really meaty with great artwork and storytelling.
  • Laika, Missouri Boy and Notes for a War Story all from First Second.
  • Mini-comics by Jeff Lemire.
  • Full Night Moon - Lark Pien.
  • Vertigo had free advance copies of every new book in their Minx line and I picked up Emiko Superstar and Janes in Love (Also read on the plan ride back. A great GN, I liked the first one and this one is even better!).

If I had more money and room in my luggage I would have picked up something by Will Dinski & Super Spy by Matt Kindt. Ah well, it's hard to get everything you want...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Visions of an Icon

These are my contributions to the upcoming "Visions of an Icon" art exhibition, which is a celebration my very favourite super-hero - Superman, put on by the Joe Shuster Awards.

I did two drawings, the first is of the most iconic part of Supes - the crest:The image is of the suit itself, all battered up after a lot of long, hard use. After doing this piece I realized I did it in the entirely wrong dimensions (sorry guys!), so I thought I'd better do another one for the show. Also I was anxious to draw the big guy.

Inspired by Gary's Frank's recent run on Action Comics, where his rendition of Supes is heavily inspired by Chris Reeve, I did this full-on drawing.
I'm quite pleased with it. He kind of looks like Chris Reeve and also of Superboy from the old 1960's comics which I love.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Gerald Bull Project
Gerald BullSome exciting news for me is that last month I received a Canada Council grant for my next new project - a full fledged historical graphic novel in the vein of my Banting mini-comic about Canadian scientist Gerald Bull.

Gerald Bull was considered by many to be one of the most brilliant scientists of the twentieth century. His research led him across the globe, from Canada, to the Pentagon in the U.S., to Barbados, South Africa and Iraq – where he developed the “Supergun” for Saddam Hussein, and ultimately to Brussels, where he was assassinated in 1990.

Canadians often think that our history is boring, but this story is one of drama, intrigue and politics that reads like it came right out of a John LeCarre novel. It also has a lot of themes that are relevant to the politics of today - namely how far should individual passion and obsession take you?

I first became aware of Gerald Bull through my grand aunt Louise Murphy. A Sergeant and code-breaker in WWII, she served as Bull’s personal secretary during his time at Valcartier, Quebec in the 1950s and would house sit for him while he was on overseas trips.

She knew him as a genius, a caring family man and boss. She also felt that he wasn’t given the respect or support he deserved from the Canadian and US governments (his work for South Africa actually got him imprisoned in the US for 6 months), and that this is what led to his downfall.

So - this is what will be taking up my time for the next couple of years. Right now I am in research mode, but am also doing some sketches. This summer I will be writing the first draft.

Above is my drawing of Bull in Barbados, where he worked on the HARP gun (High Altitude Research Project).

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Well, we've been in our new house for about a month and a half now and things are finally settling down. We had lots of problems with basic necessities like electrical, hot water, phone (TONS of problems with Bell and then Rogers), & Internet.

I'm slowly getting into the swing of this working from home thing. It's got its pros and cons obviously. Overall the whole family is happy to be in London.

I'm also back at the drawing board! A friend, fellow cartoonist Zach Worton asked for a sketch from me about a year ago! I finally got around to it this month, and since it is so late I did a fully finished one for him. He's a fan of the Canadian painter Norval Morriseau and I found a really awesome old photograph of him looking very James Dean like that I did the drawing from.

Norval Morriseau

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Happy New Year 2008!
Sorry for the lag in between posts but December has been a very busy month for me! Dave got a great job offer in London, Ontario, and we have both quit our jobs in Toronto and sold out house already.

Rosie has gotten into our #1 pick for daycare (after much time and persistence on our part), and now we are house hunting in London. A goal in moving to London is to be closer to my family (my mom especially who's crazy about Rosie and vice-versa), to get away from the bustle of Toronto which we're kind of sick of, and to provide a more relaxed environment for Rosie to grow up in.

Another goal was for me to be able to devote more time to my artwork and comics in particular! It's been very hard with a 50-hour/week job, plus a toddler and a husband (who I like to see) to get much time to work on my artwork, but hopefully you will notice an increase of updates here of more art-related postings. Other than that, we'll see where the wind takes me.

Way Off Broadway
Here is some artwork of a recent commission I did for the "Way Off Broadway"singers. This is a singing duo from London who do local gigs and wanted an illustration to use on their CDs, business cards and marketing material. They wanted caricatures of their likenesses along with an image that showed that they're fun guys who don't take themselves too seriously.

Initially I did a drawing of both charaters running away from a Broadway sign (from their name - Way Off Broadway), and I tried to put equal emphasis on both. The client Abe, correctly pointed out that really both should be running in the same direction away from the sign.

Initial drawing
Way Off Broadway Singers

This meant that one character would be in the foreground though, and the other in the back. To try to keep an equal weighting on both I made Jeff substantially taller (which from the photos it looks like he is in real life), plus with cartoons you always have the license to exagerate features somewhat. Below is the final piece which I was quite happy with and the client too!

Final piece as approved by client
Way Off Broadway Singers Final

Rosie Stories Review
Lastly, Shawn Hoke recently gave my Rosie Stories mini a new review at his site.