My latest blog post is over at GoComics. They asked me to write about my life and philosophy on comics. I had a lot to say!
Go read it! I talk about Calvin and Hobbes a lot.
Every Atticus & Glen comic strip, newly scanned, in order of publication.
Sadly, I was unable to find the original for the final Atticus & Glen comic strip. This is my best recreation, using cutting-edge technology (my lightbox). I did my best to follow the original lines, resisting the mighty urge to “improve” it.
It is a double-size feature, and stands as one of my favorite strips I’ve ever done. It’s not easy finding an ending to a comic. I wonder how much Bill Watterson struggled with the final Calvin & Hobbes strip. In my case, I wanted to show a future for the characters, since they would never really graduate from college, as well as sum up the philosophy I’d been refining for the past three years. This strip was, more than walking in commencement, turning in my final paper, or sitting for my last exam, my real graduation.
Rescued from the mean streets of Troutdale and adopted by us on December 23, 2012, Sophia’s prior life will always be a mystery. I can only assume it wasn’t an easy existence. We were grateful to have had two good years with The Soph. We gave her a place to call her own, and we were thrilled that she settled in with very little PTSD. Sophia was a walking contradiction: battle-ready and unbelievably gentle. I’m glad she was able to find some peace in her final years.
The past week was a very difficult one for all of us. I really wish this wasn’t the way the year had to end, but I’ll be forever thankful to have known this wonderful, mysterious cat.
I drew this comic years ago to facetiously answer the question “Where do cartoonists get their ideas?” Where else would we get our creativity but by making a deal with the Devil himself? I was kidding, of course. Old Scratch only deals with the Robert Johnsons and James Camerons of the world. If I had made a deal with Old Scratch, I probably would’ve come out with the next Garfield. As it is, I make do with Falling Rock.
Stumptown Comics Fest was the first comic convention I ever attended, way back in 2009. One year later, it was the first comic convention I tabled at. Located that year in the Lloyd Center Doubletree ballroom (really one floor of a parking garage with carpet installed), Stumptown set the tone for me for how comic conventions should be. It was packed with interesting people, some of whom I now proudly call my friends. It taught me about trading the comic I made for another comic somebody else made. I met famous cartoonists, who mingled with us self-published nobodies and didn’t even complain about our smell.Was Stumptown perfect? Heck no! Cartoonists love to complain as much (if not more) as other people. But I’ve come to realize that the “faults” of a show can also give it character. Make it special, even. MoCCA is held in a century-old armory that is stuffy in even the best weather conditions. Emerald City promoted Patrick Stewart every day for nearly a year but failed to mention all the cool kids in Artist Alley. SPX’s website crashed the second it was open to the public. In the end, these bumps bring us together, or at least give us fodder for in-convention sketches to pass around.
The last few years it was pretty clear that the directors of Stumptown had lost interest in the show. I can’t blame them for wanting to move on. Organizing a comic convention every year can be sweaty thankless work. If you’re not 100% into it, you shouldn’t force yourself. Having the mantle of Stumptown hanging over your head, while dreading the angry tweets from indie cartoonists if it doesn’t go well, is no way to live your life. Better no Stumptown than a Stumptown everybody hates.
I’m sorry to see Stumptown go, but am forever grateful for the world it opened to me. My path in comics would be quite different had Stumptown not existed. To use a handy metaphor, Stumptown is my George Bailey.
For over six years I have been posting robots here every Friday. Friday Robots have become, if not the bread and butter, then certainly the oil and gears of the blog. Lately, though, I’ve been feeling a bit hemmed in my my self-imposed deadline. Starting January 1st, Friday Robots will no longer be appearing weekly. Instead I’ll make them more of a spur of the moment thing. Whenever I’m feeling inspired to draw a robot, I’ll share it with you. Who knows? This could mean you’ll see even more robots than ever. And, when I’m in the midst of working on an issue of Falling Rock, like I am now, I won’t feel stressed about having to take time away from to draw a mediocre robot. It’s a win-win.
Have a great December and may all the robots you meet be benevolent.
David Byrne wrote a spot-on, depressing opinion piece in The Guardian recently.
This is how I feel about putting my work on Tumblr (or Instagram), except instead of a “pittance” I would get zero dollars.
When I first started shopping The Family Monster around, I got offers of “exposure” but none of real, actual money. I am glad I took The Colorado Daily up on their offer, because it led to me getting paid (however small an amount) by McClatchy-Tribune Campus. However, even after I was getting a regular paycheck, I continued to receive offers of exposure (not money) by other publications. Did they think I was so desperate for an audience, any audience, that I’d give my hard work away for free? The old metaphor about giving a plumber exposure instead of paying him for his work comes to mind. Artists, it seems, are easily exploited. It is true most cartoonists are somewhat masochistic, but there is a limit.
While I love posting pictures of Reed on Instagram, and have begun sporadically posting favorite single panels of comics I’m reading on Tumblr, I cannot see the point in doing to myself what others have tried to do to me in the past: make my work worthless.
I’m not even sure what Tumblr means. I’ve seen about 50,000 amazing images for less than one second each. Is the human brain able to process any of that?
Here on this blog you’ll find plenty of my work which I happily post. The difference is, I own this blog. I own this website. All the folks who visit are here to see what I’ve got cooking (sorry, no jambalaya today). With those other websites, I’m merely providing free content to help generate revenue for someone else. I understand that’s part of the deal: I get to use Instagram to look at everybody else’s pretty pictures, and they can look at the pictures I take. I’m just not going to mix that up with my comics.
I hope this doesn’t come off sounding too curmudgeonly. We are all figuring out how best to use social media. In 20 years we’ll all laugh at our hilariously dumbheaded efforts. In the meantime, I thank each of you for supporting me, for buying my comics, because each time that happens I realize the dream I’ve had since I was a kid.
As I was preparing to head off to SPX, I was reading with great admiration about my colleagues’ debut projects. On the Sunday before the show, I put to paper a comic I had long wanted to make.
You may know Nick Offerman as Ron Swanson on the show Parks and Recreation. A storyline on Parks and Rec had Ron building a canoe for a friend. I came to learn that was ripped from the headlines of Mr. Offerman’s life. He taught himself how to build canoes, and has even filmed an instructional canoe-building video.
Inspired by Mr. Offerman’s creativity, I built a foldy comic. If you see me at a convention, you can buy one for a dollar. For those of you who can’t make it, however, I made a little video, simulating the reading experience. It’s almost like being there. Enjoy!