Errand of Mercy: The Potato Comic

Last week I finished that potato comic I was working on for the Massachusetts Historical Society! The official title is Errand of Mercy: The Irish Potato Blight and the Good Ship Jamestown, but you know, that's kind of a mouthful. In all its glory:

 
 

I started to fully tone it, but they were coming out pretty clunky, so I decided to keep it at inks. It kind of looks like a coloring book, haha; I may keep practicing tones on it. Anyways, teaching a comics workshop at MHS next week. They're always fun, and the kids are always way more productive and confident than the cartoonists teaching it: Ten pages a day, straight-ahead scripting? I cannot do this.

I'm updating my blog instead of working on my taxes, you're welcome.

Hello my friends, let's talk about me for a while. Let's be real, guys, you totally want to know what's going on in my life. I'm very interesting.

 
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Working on a few different comics projects right now (and by right now I mean I've got a couple of crazy tight deadlines haha). First crazy deadline: Minicomic for the Massachusetts Historical Society! They've been hosting kids' comics workshops over spring break for a few years now, and last year they started commissioning little comics about historical events to give out. I've been a workshop leader twice, and now I'm making the comic for this year's event. It's about the Irish potato famine, Boston's attempt to help, and the subsequent immigration. The cover will be graced by Cat Rufin's gorgeous watercolors. It's been refreshing to work from J.L. Bell's script, because it's crisp and detailed and you know I like drawing without having to think about what I have to draw, haha. But it's been kind of tough having less than a month to work on the thing! It needs to be done by the beginning of April! Please rescue me.

We had a blackout during Winter Storm Stella, so I tried for a while to continue drawing these dudes from the 1800s by candlelight. (I gave up pretty quickly.)

We had a blackout during Winter Storm Stella, so I tried for a while to continue drawing these dudes from the 1800s by candlelight. (I gave up pretty quickly.)

Teeny preview of some pencils; look at those appetizing potatoes.

Teeny preview of some pencils; look at those appetizing potatoes.

Second crazy deadline: Robot Camp is working on our second anthology! Campfire #2: Ghosts, with stories themed around ghosts, obviously. I'm working on a piece inspired by these mild bouts of dissociation I can get during a depressive episode; it involves a girl haunting her body. Lately I've been tending towards stories that attempt to depict one state of mind or another of my own depression and anxiety. The problem with this is that my writing process involves trying to shove myself into a mini-depression so I can accurately portray the feelings, and crossing my fingers hoping that my mental tether of 'well it's temporary and just for the art and I can get right out of it when I'm done' won't snap. Does that make sense? Anyways, I'm way behind on the process for this story because of that whole self-triggering thing. It is not best practices.

Concept art for 'House Full of Ghosts'. Guess which part I spent the most time on, because I am an obsessive.  

Concept art for 'House Full of Ghosts'. Guess which part I spent the most time on, because I am an obsessive.  

Speaking of Robot Camp, we've heard back from a couple of shows for the season! (When I talk about our convention season I'm generally referring from beginning of spring until whenever MICE happens that year, because it seems to be the last indie show on the east coast and because half of us are local and/or involved in organizing it.) So far, we know we'll be at MeCAF in Portland, ME (6/17), and at SPX in Bethesda, MD (9/16-17). Our name's in the pot for MICE in October, but they are getting swamped in applications, apparently; I'm super proud of them but also nervous for us, haha. I have at least three books/projects that'll be debuting this season, but I don't want to talk about them right now because it's stressing me OUT. That'll have to come next time I remember to write a blog post (and after these freaking deadlines!).

 Alright, the last Big Update of the night: I'm finally moving back to New York! It's been a little over three years, and I'm totally ready to be back in my goddamn heart-home. No offense to Boston - it took me in when I was floating around with no idea what I was doing and helped me figure out my shit - but hot damn is it slow here, or at least not fast and busy and crowded enough for my taste. Now, I always figured I would be getting back to New York eventually, but the reason for this particular timing is that I'm going back to school. Yyyyup, gonna finish my degree this year, because there's a master's program I want to attend but I'll need that bachelor's first. I don't relish the prospect of being a full-time student for another eight months - that feels like a phase of my life that ended a while back - but hey, I'll do it. I'm going to miss having a studio; I definitely won't be able to afford a working space separate from my living space back in New York, haha. I find it hard to get myself into an undistracted work mode at home, so I'm going to have to cordon off an area across the room from my bed and build myself an impenetrable wall made of bedsheets or something.

Guys, does this read like a diary entry? I feel like it kind of does, whoops. I mean, then again, that's basically how I've always treated blogs. A public diary. Anyways, that's it. The end. Back to work. ✌️✨

Old year, new year.

My parents are in the process of moving, so our holiday was spent packing up the house. I tend to take longer going through my things than the rest of my family; I'm afraid to throw anything away that has the slimmest chance of inspiring future work. Only twenty-five and I feel like my mind has become a sieve, and I don't want to give up external ties to my memories. Still, there's something refreshing about discarding unnecessary nostalgia.

I'm one of those people who'll say "I don't believe in new year's resolutions," but since my method of organizing myself includes making lists of goals to accomplish in the current day/week/month/quarter/year, I have what amounts to a very long collection of new year's resolutions after all. The majority are concrete results I can work towards, and know when I've achieved them, but there is one abstract concept I intend to pursue in the coming year: I want to find my voice.

I've been asked - and have asked myself - the same question a number of times over the last few months. What kinds of stories am I trying to tell, and to what end? This is something I never really considered before I ended up in art school; the piles of notes and sketches gathering dust in the closet of my childhood bedroom remind me that I was once quite comfortable churning out fantasy tropes and reforming fairy tales. Nowadays, I feel like everything I write is too self-referential, too self-indulgent. I'm uncomfortable saying anything that isn't close to my own reality, worried about getting it wrong. It's far easier to publish collaborations, while on solo projects I end up editing my work down into nothing. Perfectionism is a tough habit to break.

This year, I want to coax myself out of that shell. I want to learn how to keep the fear of showing flaws at bay, so I can show my flaws out in the open. I don't want to feel so frozen all the time that I can't let myself be vulnerable. I have things to say. This year, I'm going to figure out how to say them.

RIPE & MICE 2016

Our convention season is over! Here's my last couple of months.

Bostonian Robot Campers on our way to Providence!

Table setup on Saturday morning

Robot Camp had its debut table at this year's RIPE, which is run by the Providence comics and zines community and took place over the last weekend of September. It's a pretty low-key show, so it was a great chance for us to figure out how to organize the table. (Last year's RIPE, in March, was the first time I'd tabled at a show with my own work! Ben and I shared a quarter of a table to debut the first Gorgon book, along with a few of his minicomics.)

The first morning, I woke up with what I assume was con plague from SPX that had laid dormant for a week, so I was pretty much out of it all weekend. I only nabbed a couple of things from other exhibitors, but there was a lot of great stuff, as always.

What I got (no pictures):

A few hours into 24-Hour Comics Day

Last year I helped organize a 24-Hour Comics Day event at the Boston Comics Workspace, but this year we decided to have a Robot Camp get-together at Jordan and Neil's place. Those of us who were able to make it all used the time to make progress on existing projects rather than marathoning new projects from start to finish; we made goals for ourselves at the outset and spent the weekend getting through them. I thumbnailed and penciled Catstar #0 from Jordan's script; it was my first time working off a straight script that someone gave me rather than thumbnails or layouts, and the ridiculous deadline definitely helped push me along. We're planning to do more intense work sessions together in the future, although maybe a more reasonable twelve hours instead.

Neil and Michelle manning the Robot Camp table at MICE!

Aaaand MICE! MICE is my favorite show to table at out of all the conventions I've been to so far. This year it was the last weekend of October, right before Halloween, so a lot of exhibitors (and some attendees) were in costume. MICE is our home turf convention, since five out of eight Robot Campers live in the Boston area, and Jordan is one of the amazing badasses in charge of making the whole show run smoothly. All told, we had seven debut books on the table, four of which I had a hand in making, including the first Campfire, our group anthology. I was on the '10 Years of BCR' panel, marking the tenth anniversary of the Boston Comics Roundtable; it was interesting hearing people's experiences with the local comics community before I came along two years ago. MICE was a really great show full of friends and cool comics, and a good final table of 2016!

Books I got at MICE:

Other things from MICE:

Honestly, I'm really glad the season is over for me, though. The next show we've applied for is TCAF in May, so I'm going to use the coming six months to recalibrate and get some projects going without the strain of a convention deadline. Next on deck: Finish Gorgon vol. 3!

SPX 2016

Last weekend I attended SPX in Bethesda for the first time! It was incredibly fun and also kind of overwhelming; the weekend felt like five hectic days jammed up next to each other, probably compounded by the fact that I drove a total of over twenty hours between Friday and Monday. I love small press shows, the energy always hypes me up for my own work. And it's great to see all the people I only get to see a couple times a year at these things! I will absolutely be applying for Robot Camp to table there next year.

Books I bought (in order as best I can manage from this photo):

Some awkward photos of prints that I've already put up in the little print corner of my desk:

Print by Kate Sheridan

Print from Changing of the Guards by Z Akhmetova

Not pictured because they're at home and I'm posting this from my studio:

SPX exhibitor badge print by Rebecca Mock

Smut Peddler reprint from Iron Circus

Robot Camp has our first table at RIPE this coming weekend! After that, we're at MICE the weekend of 10/29-10/30, and then we're done with conventions for the year. I'll have Gorgon #1 and #2 and Boundless at RIPE, as well as some new enamel pins my brother and I designed (not pictured because they're waiting for me in the mailbox at home!). There will be a few things debuting at MICE, including a Gorgon minicomic and the first Robot Camp anthology, Campfire: Journeys, which I am laying out in InDesign as we speak!

New self portrait!

I wanted a new icon for social media, so I did a new drawing of myself! It has the added bonus of containing two of my most-used emoji. ✌️✨

Been tossing up a lot of peace signs lately. Some of our extended family visited Massachusetts recently, and my aunt commented while taking photos of my cousins and my brother and me that Max and I have gotten 'very Chinese' because of the peace signs thing, haha. I think I just feel weird when people take pictures of me so I automatically pull faces and put up my hands.

I've resigned myself to the fact that I'm going to get really obsessive with hair whenever I draw it. I'll start out pretty simple and then get really caught up in pulling out strands and end up with way too much attention on the hair compared to the rest of the person. Someday I'll evolve into Full Trungles and start rendering every single hair.