Side projects... and a kitten!

Happy Monday everyone!

This is more of a crafty post than an illustration sort of entry, but I do think it will be worth it. So if you think you can handle it, read on for overwhelming cuteness.

It has been quite a busy weekend... one spent, for the most part, squeeee-ing over a tiny, fuzzy, handful of kitten. On Friday, I adopted a kitten that a friend found on a walk around her neighborhood. After the kitten crawled out of the bushes, she brought him over to the vet, who, following a week of check-ups, gave him a clean bill of health. I went out to Long Island to meet him on Friday and just couldn't say no. With a face like this

how could I?!

I was out visiting my folks for my dad's birthday this weekend, so the kitten ended up hanging out with the whole family. He is super friendly and just wanted to be around people all day, so with a bit of tucking here-and-there I engineered a makeshift kangaroo pouch out of a belt and an apron. It left me free for frosting-making and birthday-cake assembly.

Later, when it came time to head back to Brooklyn, I realized that the little kitten had grown accustomed to sleeping on carpet and couches. My apartment has one rather uncomfortable, heinous love seat and no carpet at all, so I thought it might be nice for him to have somewhere comfy to catnap... when he's not sleeping in my lap, that is...

Anywho, if you can tear your eyes from the extreme cuteness above, there is actually a photo of the craft project just below. Using a discarded cardboard box, a bag of old fabric scraps, some polyfill, and a bunch of hot glue and duct tape, I engineered a makeshift bed for the little bear.

A little lumpy, but he seemed to think it was pretty swell.

Comics and Graphic Novels oh my!

Good afternoon dear readers.

Despite the gawdawful hot weather last week and a marvelous visit from out-of-town friends, I've been slowly but surely getting work done. The website work continues, and there will be further updates to come, of course. In the meantime, however, I want to tell you about my summer class.

I've always been interested in graphic novel and comic art and opted to take an eight-week course on comic illustration this summer. It's intense; we meet for six hours every Tuesday, and the goal for the course is to end up with a 10 page mini-comic in addition to weekly assignments. (The homework for this week alone was eight chapters of reading and ten pages of original sketches.) The first class was great - there were ten of us in the classroom: five undergrads, two grad students, and three teachers (Jessica Abel, Keith Mayerson, and Tom Harte - all amazing comic/graphic novel artists) - and after the requisite hello-my-name-is, we covered a pretty solid introduction to comic illustration. Finally during the last hour of class, we took a trip down to MOCCA, the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art (if you've never been, I definitely recommend a trip). It was a crazy intense but excellent first day.

Since last Tuesday, I've already been challenged a few times for taking the class. If I do picture books, why turn now to comics and graphic novels? Well, dear reader, I shall tell you. I decided to take the class because I've been searching for a way to tell older stories. Of course I'm still doing quite a bit of writing, but I had hoped to find a visual medium for these stories... as such, I turned to graphic novels, thinking that perhaps I could explore some of my ideas (for an older audience) in this way.

And yet... despite wanting to tell "older"/"more mature" stories, my first inclination and often my most coherent and developed ideas are for kids. Hmm...

Tom's advice was to go with our first instinct for the mini-comic. It was excellent advice, and I've been working all week on a comic geared for kids based on an idea that came to me in April. I thought it might be interesting to post some of the first early sketches.

On the subway one morning this past April, I drew this guy:

Which led me to this sketch:

That same day, I came up with a second character:

And I started to get to know her a little bit:

And then for whatever reason, I found myself doodling a couple pages of rats:

Which ultimately inspired the third main character in this particular story:

(this may be my favorite sketch)

Getting to know how my characters might interact:

And finally from these character sketches, a story started to emerge:

And the Storyteller wandered from my sketchbook onto the pages of my journal*:

And thus, The Peddler and the Storyteller:

All of the sketches posted above are from April and May. It wasn't until the class on Tuesday that I began to think that they might do very well as the subject for my mini-comic. Their story is ultimately going to be much longer than 10 pages, but this may very well serve as the introduction to the larger book. So I started attempting and experimenting some scribbly sketches of possible layouts:

I have the first eight pages of preliminary sketches done. Two more to go before tomorrow, so I shall leave you all now and return to my drawing board. Have a lovely week everyone. Until next time!

*That particular page of my journal features a marvelous passage from a book of short stories by Neil Gaiman:

"[It] occurs to me that the peculiarity of most things we think of as fragile is how tough they truly are. There were tricks we did with eggs, as children, to show how they were, in reality, tiny load-bearing marble halls; while the beat of the wings of a butterfly in the right place, we are told, can create a hurricane across an ocean. Hearts may break, but hearts are the toughest of muscles, able to pump for a lifetime, seventy times a minute, and scarcely falter along the way. Even dreams, the most delicate and intangible of things, can prove remarkably difficult to kill.
"Stories, like people and butterflies and songbirds' eggs and human hearts and dreams, are also fragile things, made up of nothing stronger or more lasting than twenty-six letters and a handful of punctuation marks. Or they are words on the air, composed of sounds and ideas--abstract, invisible, gone once they've been spoken--and what could be more frail than that? But some stories, small, simple tales of miracles and monsters, have outlasted all the people who told them, and some of them have outlasted the lands in which they were created."