From the sketchbook. Two real ones:
and one imagined:
I drew this comic yesterday to loosen up and motivate myself. It did help. Click for full size/improved read-ability:
Throughout my childhood and adolescence I made multiple attempts to maintain a regular journal. Like, an everyday sort of journal. But it was always more of an every-other-day or once-a-week journal, and when I did return to writing I had this compulsion to acknowledge my absence and apologize (to myself?) for it. I won’t apologize anymore! But I will say: it’s been a while (clearly). Here is what I’ve been up to lately…
In September I wrapped up the third issue of I Cut My Hair, a project I’d been working on for the better part of a year. Unlike the daily journal format of the first two issues, this one is a self-contained story about a trip I took to Beijing last summer. (There’s some relationship stuff in there too).
Lots of backgrounds featuring classical Chinese architecture and dialogue in Chinese (a language I don’t speak or write) meant that working on it was slow-going, and I finished it over the course of a jam-packed sleep-deprived week just in time for the Alternative Press Expo. There are still some little things to tweak here and there for the second printing, but soon I’ll have more copies available for sale. Details on that to follow, but for now those in Portland can pick up a copy at Reading Frenzy. I expected that I would feel some degree of postpartum depression at finishing up this issue, but mostly I’m just glad to have it done!
Next up on my agenda is building the ol’ website. I’d like for it to function as both a comics and illustration portfolio and as a blog where I can post sketchbook drawings, works-in-progress, and one-shot short comics pieces. Plus some stuff about my life, I suppose. (I’ll keep it riveting). After working on this China story for so long I’m looking forward to fleshing out the thumbnails and ideas that have amassed in my sketchbook pages over the past few months.
For now, here is a sampling of doodles, some of which are keeping in line with the monster theme of my last post:
I decided to do a few little watercolors to sell at the upcoming Olympia Comics Fest and came up with these guys. Monsters tend to be my go-to doodle subject.
Making these paintings has been a really good exercise for me. I’m enjoying experimenting with watercolor–I’ve had a little set that’s been sorely neglected until now–and I like the ideas that come out when I improvise like this. In short, these pictures are fun to make. More to come. I think the monster in the cheesecake pose is my favorite so far.
Unfortunately the color looks much better in real life than these scans. (Watercolor scanning tips, anyone?)
My weekly drawing, a little late. Would you believe I even came up with this rhyme on the spot?
Also, after a period of long neglect, I have started to re-design my website with WordPress. Right now it’s looking like your typical generic blog, but I am teaching myself how to build it up with the extensive how-to section on the WordPress website. Stay tuned!
The 10th annual Portland Zine Symposium is coming up this August, and my artwork will be appearing on the show’s poster, website, and merchandise. The theme of the Symposium this year is “zine arcade”:
In case you can’t tell, the “Space Invader”-type creatures are scissors, glue, and long-armed staplers. The shooter is a Sharpie marker. Essential tools of zine-making!
This will be my third year tabling at the Portland Zine Symposium and I’m really honored to have my design representing the show. Registration is open as of today!
…it is, no kidding, a real comic. Really by me. Drawn in my sketchbook in June, before beginning a big project:
It is my contribution to the Bearfight! anthology published by Banner Year Press, an excellent collection featuring various artists’ takes on the titular theme. It’s available through the press’ website and will also be sold at the Stumptown Comics Fest here in Portland, Oregon.
I think I need to set up some kind of regular schedule for myself with this blog, so I have decided to post one new drawing a week, at least. As a super special bonus for this being my first post since November, here are two more pictures, featuring some favorite food combinations:
Happy spring, everyone.
OK general livejournal audience, I am hoping that you can help me clear up some confusion related to putting images in my entries. Basically whenever I upload an image it appears much smaller than I’d like. You can then click on this image so that it gets to be the size I want it to appear on the actual journal page, but I would like to skip that clicking step. For example, on this entry I wanted the comic to appear in the journal entry at the size it appears on once you click on it (about 600×550 or so pixels), but I can’t figure out how to not have livejournal turn it into a thumbnail. I tried altering the number of pixels in the little upload window but then it just made for a slightly larger, blurry thumbnail. It would be neat if, for example, I could have had that comic (and future drawings) appear as large as this comic in
On the topic of my general internet ineptitude, my friend Jenevive has been helping me get my website up and yesterday she gave me my first lesson in HTML, thumbnail-making, and uploading pictures and text. This is all totally new to me and thus it’s a bit overwelming, but the art section now displays the first fruits of my newly (mostly) aquired knowledge. For all my love of the 90s, I never really got into the whole website-making thing when it was new and exciting…but that’s all gonna change!
Today was one of the worst days I’ve ever had at my middle school job. As I drove home from work, feeling myself start to cry for the third time in twelve hours, I contemplated talking things over with someone. Usually that’s a good remedy for me but the idea seemed exhausting. Plus I had already called my mom earlier (first cry), and discussed my frustrations with my supervisor (second, less intense cry) at the high school program where I work in the afternoon. Still, I felt a need to process the events of the day, and writing here seemed like a good way to do so.
The middle school where I am an assistant math teacher introduced a freshman cohort this year. It’s an alternative school, full of kids who struggle, and in general there is a greater level of resistance and behavior issues with our kids than with the students at a mainstream school. These freshmen have been especially though. I was having a hard time with them for a few weeks now and today, with the head teacher out, they were really disrespectful towards me. It’s not worth going into all the details. I sent one kid home, sent another to the school counselor. But that’s not even the difficult part; what’s difficult is knowing that one reason they treat me this way is that I don’t send them home enough, I don’t respond strictly enough to their behaviors which, if they keep them up, are going to work against them in their lives. When I left I felt like a totally ineffective part of the school staff, not to mention hurt by the assorted comments of a bunch of angry, insecure fourteen year olds.
When I arrived at the high school it was just my supervisor and I in the office.
"How’s it going?" she asked.
"Terrible," I said, and proceeded to tell her about the events of the morning. She knows this middle school; it’s run by the same association of alternative schools that runs our high school program. She consoled me, told me that she knows how much the whole middle school faculty has been frustrated with the freshmen.
"When I have a day as bad as this," I told her, "I think to myself that I’m not actually any good at working with kids, that I don’t really know how to do this."
"No, no," she said, "just think of how far you’ve come since your first year!"
My supervisor is great and she’s watched me grow in my job and I totally appreciate her support, but all I could think in response to this comment was how in high school my friend Lisa and I used to make jokes to each other about the "most improved" award at our annual academic assembly. "It’s the ‘you don’t suck as bad as you used to’ award," we would say.
Later on we were discussing how another staff member is applying to masters programs for education, and I told her that I decided I don’t want to get a teaching degree anymore. After making sure that I wasn’t just saying that because of my crummy morning, she said to me that even though I’d mentioned wanting to be a teacher in the past, she thought I’d make a really good school counselor.
"Just the way you talk to kids, the way you work with them, is much more like a counselor," she said.
All I could hear was "you aren’t really a natural teacher."
So then I think–ok, I want to be doing some work in education, but I don’t want to be a teacher or a school counselor…what does his leave? And then I think, what is it that made me want to get into education in the first place?
Well, in high school I started to develop the idea, based on what I was learning in my classes as well as my own positive experiences in the classroom, that education had the potential to empower people. Anyone can get an education, I thought–anyone can learn ideas and skills that will put them on fulfilling life paths. I also thought that I related to people well, that I would be good at working with kids and young adults. But it wasn’t as much about wanting to teach as it was thinking that the education system would be the best place for me to effect change. So in college I spent a semester studying at a progressive graduate school of education, doing student teaching at a public school in New York City. And about a year after I graduated from college I got a job with this alternative school, supporting kids who haven’t always received adequate support. I love my job, I love what I have learned there, and I love working with the students there–I am extremely lucky to be able to do so.
But then, I think of the week-long summer camp that my high school program runs every year. It’s intense for kids and staff alike. In the main room where we hold activities and discussions we put up these posters with a whole host of motivational phrases. One of them says, "What would you do if you knew you could not fail?" And this summer when I looked at that poster I immediately thought, "I would be a professional cartoonist." Because I love telling stories with words and pictures, and I know that I need to make art to be happy. I also know I don’t want comics to be something I do on the side…I want to be able to spend a lot of my time on comics, I want people to see the comics I make. I want comics and writing and illustration to be part of my livelihood.
I have always loved to draw but it’s only recently that I’ve realized how much I want art to be a part of my life and career. That’s a part of why I don’t want to be a classroom teacher or a school counselor. I often feel I don’t have enough time for comics as it is with my cobbling together of part time jobs–with a full time education job I worry about how much comics would be relegated to the extreme background.
Still, I want to keep serving kids who have not had their needs met by the school system. And though I have my doubts about teaching, and don’t necessarily see myself as an art teacher, I think I need to figure out some way that I can blend these two things I care about so much. Because sometimes I think that the main thing you need to be a good teacher is something you are passionate about and want to share with others. And I have spent some time tonight thinking in more detail about a vision I have for a comics curriculum. I would love to teach teenagers how to make autobio comics, starting from this idea we have in my high school program that everyone needs to tell their own story. I imagine showing them all these different examples of autobiographical comics and graphic novels, having the kids talk about the different styles, and sharing their own life experiences in comic form. And I know that I would want this kind of teaching to exist alongside my own comics work.
This education/comics conundrum is something I often think about, but today’s struggles really brought my thoughts out with greater force and clarity. I just hope that I can find the stable success in comics that I want, and figure out some way to keep education solidly in my life too.