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Falling Rock National Park, issue 6

issue-6-coverFalling Rock National Park #6 is at the printer right now, being printed! Real ink is being laid down on real paper, and when the process has completed I will have in my hands 500 copies of the greatest detective story ever told! Want to know who is the culprit? You’ll have to read it yourself to find out.

Subscribers have already been emailed, and I will be taking preorders for this issue at my Buy Books page.

If you live in Los Angeles, I hope to see you at WonderCon! March 25-27. I’m exhibiting at Small Press table 93. I’ll have #6, as well as previous issues, Tomb of the Zombies and Jack Ketch, prints, and maybe even a special surprise (involving dinosaurs).


high school art class

Since today is Throwback Thursday, I thought I’d throwback a little art from my high school art class. The first colored pencil drawing represents the first of many explorations of those mysterious Easter Island heads. The second is a portion of a final exam. Our teacher had us draw one picture for the final – whatever we could do in an hour. I went with comics. This is packed with in-jokes that I don’t remember and features all the people who sat with me for the year. We were a good group.


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park notes

These past few weeks I’ve begun work on Falling Rock issue 4. I have three longer stories which are all in various stages of completion. I think I’ll use whichever I finish writing first. Right now the top contender is a story involving a couple new characters, including a very famous cryptid.
This part of the process is always exciting. I have a few ideas which may or may not turn out, but everything I’m doing is pure creation.
In addition to the longer stories, I have a few single page stories (or “gags”). Maybe I’ll do a future issue comprised exclusively of these.
It’s fun to think about what a new issue will look like. I haven’t done anything too high-concept yet, but these are still early days. What issue will be my Sgt. Pepper? 100?

In other news, Cryptozoology News reported a sighting of a giant lizard-man in the desert. I couldn’t help but think it was the world’s first Ernesto sighting. Keep your eyes peeled, dear readers! The next time you’re hiking in the desert you may have a close encounter with a very tall lizard wearing a baseball jersey.

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issue 3 cover

Issue 3 of Falling Rock National Park is finished! Here is the finished cover:
issue-3-cover-lowSubscribers will be getting their copies as soon as they get back from the printer.
If you don’t subscribe, why not start now? Reading more comics is a great New Year’s resolution.

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goodbye stumptown love fest for comics

stumptown stumpStumptown 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.stumptown comics festWas 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.stumptown-table

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.

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falling rock national park trailer

I had this idea for almost a full year. I’ve always wanted to make a trailer for my comic, but I didn’t have the means until recently. Then I had to wait until I flew back to Tucson so I could film the desert landscape I draw so frequently. Finally, it all came together in this 85-second clip. Hopefully my next video project won’t have as large a gestation-to-production ratio.

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Tucson Comic-Con 2013

Tucson Comic-Con was a great way to end this year’s convention circuit. Tucson is such a welcoming town; I always love going back.

This year I noticed two big changes to the place I call my hometown. One was that Tucson now has a real downtown. Shops, galleries, bars, and restaurants fill the once-desolate streets. Streetcar tracks wind their way through a vibrant city’s beating heart. I am so glad Tucson has finally become the cool city it always aspired to be. The other change, unfortunately, was the traffic. Along with more to do in the city, there are more people out. With no real highway system to speak of, the city government has chosen to go the way of Denver: make the roads bigger. This does not solve the problem, of course. It only exacerbates. If I had free reign to redesign any city, I would pick Tucson.

The convention itself was a magnificent success. Thanks to Mike and Teresita Oliveras, the show was bigger than ever. I had the great fortune to be seated next to this handsome guy.

Henry Barajas has become ubiquitus in Tucson. He works for two newspapers, does stand-up, blogs, makes comics, and somehow has time to ride his bike all over town. It was an honor to have him beside me for two days as we greeted nearly every comic fan in the Old Pueblo.

Not only was Tucson a fun con, but I did better sales than Seattle, a much bigger show. I attribute that mainly to location and content. I was stationed very near the entrance in Tucson, so I got to see the crowds before they thinned and became weary. And my comics are set in the southwest, so there is a recognition in Tucson that I just don’t get elsewhere.

It is that, and the great Mexican food, that keeps me returning to my homeland. For the next four months I will retire to the Batcave to work on new comics. I want to have plenty to show for next year’s convention circuit. Stay tuned for new announcements, including the forthcoming publication of Falling Rock National Park issue 3!

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exposure, a dirty word

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.

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meet me in bethesda

SPX is just one week away! I’ve never been to this show before, but have heard glowing reviews from all my cartoonist friends.
I’ll be sharing table F12 with Reid, and we’ll be neighbors to Kenan and Neil.
Stop by and say hello!

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san diego comic-con in pictures

More to come in writing, but here is a visual log of my five days in San Diego. As it was my first time as exhibitor, I took some pictures of the booths without the huge crowds surrounding them. It is an unadvertised treat to be able to wander the convention hall with only my fellow exhibitors around.

For a minute-by-minute recap of Comic-Con, I highly recommend reading my Twitter feed, as well as those of my friends and neighbors Reid Psaltis, Jeff Schuetze, Victoria Ying, Mike Yamada, Tammy Stellanova, Chet Phillips, and Dave Kellett.