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August 2011

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Aug. 16th, 2011

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FRIENDS WITH BOYS goes ONLINE!!!! Please spread the word!


I have some pretty amazing news: My next graphic novel, Friends With Boys, due out from First Second Books in February 2012, will be going ONLINE from now until its publication date! How awesome is that?

Here is the information: The comic now has its own website (design by my talented friend Lissa Pattillo, you should hire her), and will be updating five times a week (every weekday) with a page of Faith comic goodness. I will be blogging along with (most of) the updates, giving you lovely readers the inside scoop of what my process was during the making of this graphic novel, so I hope you will comment and give me your thoughts on the comic. I am ABSOLUTELY THRILLED that First Second is letting me do this. There has been a lot of talk lately about the evolution of print, and what the future of comics will be, and I'm really happy that I'm getting the chance to reach out to possibly a wider audience through the internet.

I truly believe I would not be drawing comics if it wasn't for the internet. It's unlikely I would have developed the technical drawing skills without being encouraged by my online comic readers, and unlikely I would be in my current position as a full time freelance cartoonist (after all, the internet is where First Second found me, and my relationship with them allowed me to graduate to full time cartoonist).

There has been much discussion lately (and always!) about the role of the internet in people's ability to make a living wage through their art and whether or not work is being devalued by so much of it being free. While I agree there are people out there who will consume and would never give anything back to those whose work they enjoy, I believe there are enough people who value art and comics and the work artists put into their comics and who are willing to pay for something tangible in order that those artists can pay their rent. I believe that if Friends With Boys goes online (for free! in all of its entirety!) it will reach a wider audience, who I hope will enjoy it enough that when the book is published, they will buy it in support of me and my publisher. Not every online reader will buy the book, but I'm sure enough will.

When I first started reading comics, really reading comics, comics that I felt were made for me (a school-age girl), they were online comics. I didn't have a comic book store to go to, nor did I have friends who were into comics. I had no connection to the comic book industry. But I had a computer, and I could access the internet, and there were comics on the internet. These comics were made by a diverse group of cartoonists, and (at the time) most were done "for fun." Reading online comics gave me new perspective on comics, and showed me what was possible for the medium, beyond the superhero genre. Later, as my tastes evolved and I gained disposable income, I became a comic consumer. I do not think I would be the hearty purchaser of comics if it wasn't for the online comics I read while in school.

Not everyone is blessed with a good comic book store down the road from where they live. Not everyone has an awesome library system or a decent bookstore with more than Watchmen and Maus for sale. But pretty much everyone has the internet, and I believe Friends With Boys will reach a wider audience if it goes online before it's published. I hope. I really really hope so (this is the part where I get nervous, as there is a little more at stake here than when I decided to put Superhero Girl online)!

So please, help the comic reach that audience. Please pass the link on to your friends, please retweet it on twitter, like it on Facebook, do whatever it is you're supposed to do on Tumblr. I really wanted this comic to go online because I enjoy the internet, the immediacy of the interaction with readers, something that you don't necessarily have with print. I still meet people at conventions who ask if Demonology 101 will ever see print (you are adorable and I love you, but never), bug me about Ice being updated (sorry sorry sorry sorry) and say how much they enjoyed my Wolverine Goes Grocery Shopping comic. And then they buy books from me. It's pretty wonderful.

So please, readers, help me do this. Here's the link. Send it to whoever you know loves comics. I hope you enjoy it.

Jul. 7th, 2011

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Animaritime

Oh my, it has been a while since my last blog, hasn't it? I kind of figured this would happen: work has descended on me in earnest, and I haven't had much motivation to post. My newspaper/webcomic The Adventures of Superhero Girl is still ongoing weekly, so by all means check that out. I should probably try and do some weekly sketchposts here or get a tumblr, because I have lots of unscanned artwork just sitting around ... and I feel like I should be showing it to people or something. But work is so ... there is so much of it and when I do have free time I want to use it to stare vacantly into spaaaaaace. Anyway.

But I did just have a very nice weekend in Moncton, New Brunswick as a guest at Animaritime, and wanted to write about it. It was my very first anime convention, although not my first time as a guest (the very first comic book convention I ever went to, back in 2007, I was a guest at as well), and I had a lot of fun. I hope they have me back next year.

One thing that was really nice about this small convention is the more laid back atmosphere (and the fact that I'd had my travel costs covered by the convention) meant I got to experience it a little more, actually attend a couple panels and do some shopping, rather than constantly be glued to my table trying to sell my stuff. I really enjoyed the 'State of the Manga Industry' (I'm paraphrasing, I can't remember what the panel was actually called) panel and Manga Licensing panel they had on Saturday, where I got to hear about the industry from Vertical Inc's Ed Chavez. I'm a recent reader of manga, and while I enjoy consuming it, I'm not familiar with the innerworkings of the industry, so it was very nice to get to talk to someone who knew what the industry's like. And I would like to say DEAR GOD I think I work hard? I have nothing on manga artists. Anyway. Have some pictures:


My very own fruit plate! How nice was it to have this when I checked into the hotel? Very nice! I took a picture then ate it all (for reals).

The convention ran from Friday (July 1st) to Sunday (July 3rd), and since Friday was Canada Day and a holiday, it was packed. Pretty much everyone was elbow to elbow.

Cutest Pokemon trainer ever! Addison is the daughter of Cal, who runs my amazing local comic store, Strange Adventures.

I was pretty excited to see this girl. I took a picture of her with her helmet up too.

And she found Ed! How nice. Oh, during the opening ceremonies for the convention I was asked to say a few words about my panels (I was running a How to Become a Profession Comic Book Person panel as well as one about Zombies Calling), and after rambling a bit, I spluttered "you all look adorable!" at the watching crowd, which was about 90% cosplay. But they all were pretty cute. If occasionally very loud and ... well, enthusiastic. :D

All the FMA cosplay I saw was for the male characters. I guess nobody had the rack to pull off Oliver Armstrong (seriously I would love to see that).

This guy looked like he'd come directly from Afghanistan. SNAAAAAKE!

Hella impressive. How would you even make that? I dunno.

This girl was also a really good artist to boot. I bought a little Princess Peach drawing from her. Here's her tumblr.

COMMISSIONS:
So sometimes people paid me money and I drawed them things.

An original character. Nice artist, too.

Hah, okay, a girl commissioned a drawing of "Envy and Wrath" from FMA. Of course I was happy to oblige. What she didn't specify was that she wanted Wrath from the original anime, not the manga/reboot anime. D'oh. Anyway, I like this picture and got a photocopy of it, so hopefully I'll colour it, eventually.


More original characters.

WHAT I GOT:
So I bought stuff!

My favourite thing was a gift from one of the Animaritime staff. There was pretty much NO FMA merchandise at the show, which disappointed me greatly. I really wanted to buy a toy! I found a keychain, which is okay, but ... it's not a toy. Anyway, I was thrilled with these. Aren't they cute? I love 'em.

Yeah, can you believe I didn't actually have FMA volume 1? Picked it up for cheap (also the FMA, original anime movie, which I enjoyed despite having no idea what was going on. The fight scenes were nice, even if the story was kind of insane). The rest was used manga I also got for cheap, and am happy to have (I kind of love Swan, it is the ultimate badass girly manga) because manga is pretty awesome and I love it.

So thanks again to Animaritime for having me out!

May. 11th, 2011

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TCAF 2011

For me the most amazing part of TCAF came afterwards, when I listened to my mom talk about attending Usamaru Furuya's panel on Sunday. She had no idea who he was, had never read his work (and frankly, I wouldn't give it to her as she has even less of a stomach for horror as I do), but she came away from the panel fascinated by him as a person. I feel like that is the true importance of an event like TCAF, which can provide access to interesting comic folk to people who are not part of the comic world. This is the third year Mom's attended the Festival (to support me, of course), and every time she's come away interested in those who make comics. We tried to find her a copy of Swallow Me Whole by Nate Powell to buy (she tries to buy a book per Festival; last year she bought Smile), but it was all sold out. She got a chance to talk to Nate Powell himself, though, and his background in work with the Developmentally Delayed (both Mom and I have done support work in the past, and Mom's nephew is autistic) interested her enough that I'm sure she'll look up the book on her own.

TCAF: Reaching Out To My Mom Since 2009.

Which I feel is just so important. I always get a sense of New People when I'm at TCAF. That it's attended by people who find comics interesting or are attracted to arty things, but maybe don't read them much. It's a cool feeling.

Unfortunately I was not feeling well throughout the entire Festival. I spent most of TCAF struggling to clear the fog in my brain and croaking out conversation to people. I'd come down with a cold the week before and hadn't had any time to rest, so by the weekend I was exhausted, Nyquill my only friend. I'm really sad I was so sick, because I didn't really enjoy what was an AMAZING convention for me. It was my first time as a self-publisher with a webcomic collection and I was blown away by the response to my little book. I completely sold out, over 50 copies, and sold out early. Every copy of my Superhero Girl collection was gone by lunchtime on Sunday. I've never had a book sell that quickly, and to people who seemed to know it, too. It was really amazing, and thank you to everyone who made the show such a success for me. I really appreciate you stopping by, buying a book, and making my day. XD

Highlights:
-Going for supper with my First Second editor Calista and FS book designer (and awesome comic maker in her own right) Colleen AF Venable, two of my most favourite comic related people. Really wish I could see them more than once a year...
-Talking with Ross Campbell and a few other TCAFers in a hotel lobby and having an employee approach us and ask about the show. Are we that obviously nerdy? XD Survey says: Yeah, Kinda.
-Being a nerd in front of Becky Cloonan. And she'd kinda heard of me! I gave her a copy of Superhero Girl, which I nervously hope she likes.
-Seeing the huge pile of Superhero Girl books disappear rapidly. WTF people I love you so much.
- Meeting J. Torres and going to lunch with our new editor, Karen.
-Seeing the UGLIEST BABY IN ALL OF THE WORLD on the streets of Toronto. It had a receding hairline and an old man face. I am a big fan of ugly babies.

Disappointments:
-The sheer size of the show and my illness basically meant I missed out seeing a bunch of people I really like, both as human beings and as cartoonists. BAH. Curse you, body.
-Didn't get to meet Jillian Tamaki, whose work I ADORE. I wanted to give her a copy of the Superhero Girl book (she does these funny Magical Mutant Academy comics, so I thought she might like SHG), but by the time I got to visit downstairs, I'd sold out. BAH AGAIN. Next time, I guess.
-Saturday was so busy I opted to stay at my table rather than attend the Natsumi Ono panel, which I had tickets for. Oh well.

What I bought:
Not much, actually! My big purchase was a French comic called Pierrot Lunaire by Antonie Dode, who I'd never heard of before, but he has the most gorgeous style. Wish I could read French... I also swapped for Hereville by Barry Deutsch (haven't read it yet), who was very nice, and Galaxion vols 1 & 2 by Tara Tallan, which I read last night and really enjoyed. I also dug up a copy of 7 Billion Needles vol 2 at BMV Books after the show and LOVED it. It's like ... heartwarming, character-driven horror? I don't know how else to describe it, but it's amazing. It's only 4 volumes, so I think I'll have to grab the rest of that series. I also enjoyed the School of World minicomic by Megan Brennan and Rel. Really funny stuff. Also bought the Wolves minicomic from Becky Cloonan, which once again made me wish she wrote more of her own stuff... I like her self-written comics best.

May. 6th, 2011

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Where to find me at TCAF

Hey guys, here's a handy map that shows where you can find me at TCAF:

I'll be up there in the clouds with such luminaries as Raina Telegemeier, Dave Roman, Svetlana Chmakova, Becky Cloonan, Kate Beaton ... um, other people who are famous and better at comics than me, and I hope in your attempts to find them, you'll come and see me too. :) As I mentione before I will have copies of my self-published Superhero Girl comic collection, Zombies Calling, The War at Ellsmere, Brain Camp and fun extra stuff like prints and buttons. One note: I'm happy to do commissions if someone would like, but I have no paper on me, so you'll have to either get me paper or let me know if you want something drawn on Saturday so I can get paper myself Saturday night. I will also be away from my table for about an hour on Sunday at 1pm.

Also, apologies ahead of time for looking like this:

I've been sick with a nasty cold all week, and while I'm now getting better, I'm still very sniffly and snotty and have a bright red nose from blowing it and sound like I've been smoking for the past 30 years. I don't think I'm contagious, but still: very sorry.

I hope to see everyone there! Please come say hi. I love meeting readers, and it's great to talk about comics with real live people. As opposed to talking about comics on the internets. XD

Unfortunately TCAF conflicted with this year's Free Comic Book Day, so I will not be at Strange Adventures' annual hoopla. I hope everyone in Halifax goes, tho! Strange Adventures always puts on a great show.

Apr. 21st, 2011

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I self published a book! Buy it from me!

Hey everybodies, look what I made:

OMG I MADE MY VERY OWN COMICS!!!!1 So exciting! Yes, I have now ventured tentively into self-publishing, and put together a little book of Superhero Girl comics. The book contains the first 55 comics, plus an author's note, sketches and the original Superhero Girl comic. For the moment I'm only going to be offering the book for sale at conventions (the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, of course, and I will also be at Animaritime in Moncton and Hal-Con in Halifax later this year), and Strange Adventures has also offered to stock the book (yay!). So if you're coming to TCAF, come by my table and buy my very first self published book ever! Seriously, I've never even done a mini-comic...

Here's what it looks like inside:

Ooh, ahhh. The books about 8.5 by 6, with nice shiny black ink. I got it printed locally at Etc Press, and they were great to deal with.

One of two pictures where SHG enjoys a sammich...

Sketches n' stuff.

I'll also have other stuff I've never done before for sale at TCAF (and the other two conventions), like buttons! Here are the button designs I've done:

Yes, you too can be skeptical and have a button that proves it. Also, zombies making out. I dunno, they're cute.

I'm not much of a print person, but I've made three prints for the show. You can see them on my DA account here, here and here.

And of course I will have copies of my three graphic novels for sale! Zombies Calling, The War at Ellsmere and Brain Camp. If you're looking to get a copy of one of them, come buy it from me and I can draw you a nice sketch in the book as a thank you.

Hope to see everyone at TCAF (and everywhere else)!

Apr. 8th, 2011

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Working hard

So work has started up in earnest, and I'm no longer slacking and pecking away at spec stuff and internets/personal stuff. Thus I have been sucked into a black hole from whence only rambling twitter posts emerge .... anyway, have some pictures of my workspace where I'm working hard on comics:

This is my drawing desk. I've had it since I was a first year at animation school and it came with me when I moved from Ontario to Nova Scotia. Between Tim and I we have four desks (two drawing desks, two computer desks) and they take up most of the master bedroom in our 2 bed apartment (we sleep in the smaller bedroom. Hey, when you don't have a lot of space and you have a lot of desks, you make do). My kitty likes to sit behind my drawing desk on the windowsill, especially in the morning when the sun's coming directly through the window.

This is my messy reference board/space for art supplies, to the right of my desk. I keep character designs pinned to the ref board, so I can look at them while I'm drawing the characters in the actual comic. It keeps me on model (mostly). I collect bottles of ink and crappy watercolour brushes that I don't use, too.

Some pages I've been working on this week. I got to draw lots of crazy expressions and characters freaking out. It was fun. My originals are always a huge mess. I bought a lightbox recently and hope to eventually make it a part of my comic drawing process so I can get cleaner pages, and maybe cut out the incessant second guessing of my comic layouts that seems to be dogging me lately.

KITTY DOES NOT APPROVE OF COMICS.

Mar. 1st, 2011

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Fanart A Week (kinda): Monster

Hah, skipped a week or so in there. Sorry. ^^

And here we have Dr. Tenma from the very first manga to ever make an impression on me: Monster, by Naoki Urasawa. Now that I've read Pluto and 20th Century Boys, I don't think Monster is Urasawa's best work anymore, but it's still luridly charming, containing some of the most tense scenes I've ever seen in an illustrated work, and manages to be surprisingly mainstream. I feel that if there's any hope for manga to cross over into some kind of adult, mainstream market, its comics like Monster that would do so.

Monster's also an important comic to me because it was the manga that hooked me on manga. Where I finally saw a creator doing what, honest to god, I was trying to do in my own work (granted, with much less success, but still). Urasawa's grasp of facial expression, his ability to decompress a scene so that every conversational beat was drawn out in front of the reader, his stunning use of panels ... I don't know, it was a real revelation. Finding Monster was like finding manga that was made for me, both as a creator and as a reader. As a friend of mine put it "The way you draw noses really changed after you read Monster." Hah, yes. ^^

As for Tenma himself, I read a lot of online commentary about the comic once I started reading it (my first introduction to the manga blogosphere, too), and while I enjoyed the discussion, I always felt I read Tenma a little darker than everyone else. He comes off as a goody two shoes in the manga, a much-too-good-for-his-own-good doctor ready to drop everything to help people out, even to his own detriment. There's no denying he's a decent human being, but his saintliness in later volumes ... frankly, I think it was an act. Here's a character who's had everything taken from him: his prestigious job, his friend and status, and now he's such a good guy because that's literally all he has left. I also suspect his overly noble tendencies come down to him unconsciously trying to prove Johan (the kid-serial killer he saved in volume 1) wrong, that human beings are too capable of being awesome and good ... it's weird, because he comes off as bullheadly obsessed with being RIGHT (people are GOOD and KIND because I, Tenma, say so) as Johan does (people are CRUEL and BAD because I, Johan, say so), and the series becomes the ultimate oneupmanship contest, Johan and Tenma locked in an eternal battle of wills. Anyway, the point is that I believe he would've (SPOILER) Johan at the end of the series, if given the chance. Because he thought he was right, and if (SPOILER) his enemy was the way to do it, so be it. Tenma's a good guy, but don't screw with him, y'know?

And with this fanart, I'm done with my shelf! On to shelf #2! Here are some pictures:


Any opinions on which books I should start with? I'm probably not going to do fanart for the Ono books. I like her art, but her stories leave me really cold. Probably not Ikigami either. It was an interesting read, but I can't say I want to do fanart of any of the characters. Everything else is fair game. What should I draw a fanart of next?

Feb. 13th, 2011

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Fanart A Week: Ooku! ... and some more FMA.

Hey, whaddya know, fanart from a non-Fullmetal Alchemist series! A few people mentioned that they are enjoying the FMA fanart, so I'm going to continue to post what doodles I draw, in addition to continuing with my 'draw fanart from all my books' project. As I mentioned before, the point of this project is to draw characters different from the ones I normally draw, and also to bring attention to comics I enjoy. So let's continue on with that!

Iemitsu and Arikoto from vols 2 and 3 of Ooku by Fumi Yoshinaga, SADDEST COUPLE IN ALL OF MANGA. They kill me with their devastatingly sad relationship OMG why can you two kids just be happy? D: Ooku is a really interesting series, an alternate history of Japan's Edo period where a disease has wiped out about 3/4ths of the male population. Since there are so few males, women must step into positions of power, something which goes against the tradition of the country. Ooku's a pretty fascinating read. Yoshinaga writes brainy, damaged characters very well, and does a great job portraying a country in the midst of a potentially world-ending crisis. I'm always very impressed when an author can portray smart, desperate characters without, well, TELLING the reader that these characters are smart and desperate. I hate it when authors spend a lot of time telling me how smart some character is, and then the character goes off and does something dumb. Argh. Show don't tell, people. It's that simple.

And on the Fullmetal Alchemist front, here's Scar and Mai.

I'm a bit of a fan of the "giant muscley violent guy and tiny badass girl team up!" thing. And also, frankly, Scar was really dumb before he met up with Mai. I kind of hated him. I can't stand characters who yammer on about how they're on a mission from God and then murder their way through a bunch of people. UGH. If I wanna read about that shit, I'll read Hellsing. Scar even looked really stupid the first time he showed up, wearing some ugly jacket that got pulverized in the next volume (thanks, Gluttony! That thing was hideous), and as Arakawa's artwork refined as she drew later vols of FMA, Scar's character design was the only one that radically changed. He doesn't even look like the same guy from volume 3 or wherever he first showed up. So, y'know, I'm assuming Arakawa noticed how dumb he looked and adjusted accordingly. Yay!

On another "Fullmetal Alchemist is freaking great" note, I've never felt so conflicted about a character than I do about Scar. He's a pretty serious asshole. The jerkface killed adorable Winry's parents, bringing about the SADDEST PANEL IN ALL OF MANGA, and, like Winry, I find myself pretty unwilling to forgive him for that, even as he continues an impressive redemptive arc over the course of the later FMA volumes. I like that a lot about FMA: its got good people who've been corrupted into bad people by the horrors of war, bad people who discover the good person inside of themselves, and good people who complicity take part in horrible things. With the possible exception of Ed and Al (and Mai), everyone's ruined in some way. It's pretty amazing to read that level of complexity in a comic book made for teenage boys. I really hope someday I'll be able to confuse the shit out of the emotions of a reader, as I've been confused over the course of reading Fullmetal Alchemist.

In conclusion, here's a random drawing of Roy, who broke my damn heart in volume 15 of FMA. ;_;

Feb. 7th, 2011

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Fanart A Week okay this is probably getting old...

Okay, let's do one last Fullmetal Alchemist fanart before moving on to something new. I still have a bunch of FMA sketches in my sketchbook that I'd like to finish, but I'll do them in addition to some new fanart. Because, after all, this exercise is about learning, and one must push forward with the learnings and not get stuck in a learning rut or something.

Roy Mustang/Riza Hawkeye AAAAGH I LOVE YOU GUYS SO MUCH. Please don't die at the end of FMA? Please? D: (I also did a schmoopy OTP picture over at Deviantart if you are into that sort of thing.) Anyway, let's pretend that fire actually looks like fire, okay? I don't like drawing fire. And I didn't feel like doing a polished colouring job, but I think this works with the sketchy inking, so we'll just call it "artistic."

I was looking at reference pictures for Roy, and my boyfriend had some comments:
Tim: People always draw him snapping. It's like it's the only thing he can do.
Me: ... I drew him snapping ...
Tim: ...
Me: ... he looks so cool when he does it.

Anyway. Next week: Fanart from some other comic!

Feb. 4th, 2011

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Character designs + art dump

Arts! I'm getting all this blogging and posting out of my system before I get swallowed up by the impending wave of work awaiting me in 2011. Hm, alliterative.
Here's some character designs for my next graphic novel, which hopefully I'll be able to tell you about soon...

There's a whole subplot in Friends With Boys about characters who are twins, and how they're trying to establish separate identities ... but in this new book (which is an adaptation of someone else's work) we're just going with the Evil Psychic Twins stereotype. XD

I really like the character on the right, but I have a feeling people aren't going to like her in the actual comic ... she's not someone you particularly want as a friend, but I dig her in the book. I like ruthless teenage girls.
Originally she looked like this:

but I got notes she looked too old (fair enough. I was a little wrapped up in making her severe, to contrast with another female character), and I decided to change her hair on my own, so it wouldn't conflict with the black of her uniform. The uniform's staying the same. It's based on a real varsity cheerleading uniform, and I really like the cross above her chest.

And here is something I drew last summer that's not related to anything at the moment (but maybe will be someday? I hope so!). I've always wanted to do a character introduction where one character is upside down. Maybe a latent desire to draw Spider-man? Unlikely!


And a Zombies Calling commission:

Sonnet's just really sick of all the zombies. I don't blame her.

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