Still here.

I've got a lot to say. A convention to recap, a crisis to recount, and a cluttered head to get straight. An all-too-brief summer to wrap-up. Something to explain to myself, which, put out into the world, might do somebody good, sometime, somewhere - so I'm going to. A new comic to finish and post, and a new mission starting tomorrow.

But just Date Palms and inking for tonight.

July = DUH/UGH



Today begins the summer comics class, and I am happily joined with my comrades Amaya and Jack. 

And thus today begins the no-sleep, all-work-substitute-play-with-more-work month of July. I'm feeling a little physically and mentally overwhelmed with it. A little damn overwhelmed. Two comic deadlines, in a WEEK and a little over a WEEK. Plus, convention planning, printing, and that damn thing called a  second job. 

See all of you on the flip.

Houses of the Holy

 New comic!


How to Walk Thru Fire.

"seek first to understand, then to judge"

And for those of you interested in back story, the working cogs, the spoilers of a thing - I started this 14 weeks ago, or so my time-keeper Instagram tells me. That was March. Just before I dove headfirst into printing the Xeric, and at a moment of really awful personal and emotional stress. The feeling I'd very nearly ducked at the end of last year was cycling back again. Overwhelmed by the enormity of the task ahead of me and feeling out of line with the values of people populating my days and out of favor of loved ones - not a pleasant feeling. It'd already been a long, drawn-out winter - and there was more to come, as I would soon find.

So again, I put my nose down on a stack of twenty sheets of paper one particularly shitty day while sitting at Le Spyhouse and hacked that feeling out. The only goddamn thing to do about it. This story was another one that seemed to unearth itself in large heaps. Had most of it fleshed out by that night, and my own unhappiness slightly eased. 

I'm a quietly a believer in moony-things. Stars, numbers, the works. If you do believe, using the stars to navigate yourself  is a seemingly obvious avenue to take. And I was fucking confused. About everything. Waking up meant rising out of bad dreams into visceral dread. I couldn't understand the actions or read my friends' intentions, and it scared me. So I read them wrong and got hurt. I turned to those moony-things to tell me what was wrong with me, why I was so out of step with everyone else. Whether it was purely exhaustion, bad stars, or simply reaching my fill of the cruelty of humanity I felt washing over me too often, I thought I was going through an emotional beat-down. In reality, more just an internal re-structuring. A hardware update.

I have always processed the world through my internal framework, taken in and processed against an invisible metric that, admittedly, I cannot articulate. A system of ideals and moral bracketing through which all earthly information had to pass, and pass judgement. A trait I also have not been fully aware of - and, until very, very recently, not aware at all that this is not how everybody functions. A reason why I might seem quiet or clam-mouthed, or why I look too intently when people speak, or withdraw from the over-stimulation of things other people consider so goddamn "fun." I'm taking in a shit-ton of information, only a fraction of it verbal, and running it through this cotton-gin brain. And it'll fry my circuit on a bad day. It's also why I have, now admittedly, high expectations of myself and everyone - but most of all myself. I came with pre-installed, ancient hardware of processing right/wrong, sometimes for better and sometimes for worse.

And the moment I seemed to realize that every other person on earth just functioned differently than I did, and that was simply the truth, without it being "right" or "wrong," I sort of freaked out. Lashed out for a while, withdrew for another while. Drew this story. And very slowly came to terms with it. Realizing that if I changed my mind, it was not destroying the integrity of this internal framework by taking out a crucial piece - and by extension destroying myself in the process, as I've always felt internally like one, unchanged and unchangeable thing - but just fixing one piece of that thing. A new spark-plug a different car does not make. And in this analogy it's not even a spark-plug. It's a fucking rear-view mirror I'm switching out, so why burn the car down for that?

That's one long-ass mixed metaphor about my head and heart being a computer and a car, but that's I guess how it is.

The summer of Hi-Balls and Eyeballs.



In the effort to be elaborate and detailed about what's happening with me this summer, I accidentally erased the original copy of this post. And in writing it all down, I realize I should not be making a goddamn blog post when I have 8 pages to finish inking at the my hot little elbow, waiting, waiting, waiting. So, the brief-ish run down of this stormy Minneapolitan summer to come.

 - Excimer - a show featuring local cartoonists part of AUTOPTIC this August, put on by Paper Darts Pop-Up in SooLocal, with a lot of my friends, a few real intimidating wall neighbors, and me.


- Sequence Now - another comics show, this time hosted by SooVac proper, and also, friends, intimidating ones at that, and me. Currently finishing a new 40-pager called "Houses of the Holy," and taking my sweet ass time on it. But, hopefully, a damn good one because of it.

- Mager's and Quinn is hosting copies of Sea Change as part of their notable books display for July, as curated by my friend, faithful champion, and keeper of the faith, Jim Keefe. Thanks to that wonderful guy, again and again.

- Rock Ink Roll - cooking a submission up for that. Involves a lot of layering and scanning. I'm goddamn excited to make it.

- MCAD PCSS Comics - being taught by Britt Sabo, with myself and my good friends Amaya and Jack Kotz as the loyal, whip-smart, Cowboy-Bebop-obsessed TA's.


- AUTOPTIC. yeah. That thing. At our Wednesday meeting at Jordan's studio, took our first pass at the seating chart for 2 1/2 hours. At the end, everybody rushed to take pictures on their fancy-schmancy iPhones, and I rushed to take a picture of them taking pictures.


And after a long, long harried morning today, staring into the dark heart of retail and the flinty faces of uncaring suburbanites for too long just for some stupid thing called money- after beginning to see smoke where there should be a spark behind people's eyes, and wondering why the fuck I bother, came to find my reimbursement check from the Xeric waiting in the mailbox. Like a bird sleeping in a nest, or some other beautiful, small benediction. Small mercies. God bless the Xeric.

Playing "Spirt of Eden" by Talk Talk on loop, too. I think it just happened to me. Beware.

CAKE 2013

Printing reports seem far simpler to relate than convention reports. But, this one is both - so first, to printing.

I decided to print a new book, Godhead #1, for CAKE. And I will begin by saying, yes, of course, I managed to screw it up. Which is more funny than painful to me now. You'd think I'd have learned to stay clear of simple, obvious mistakes, such as laying the book out incorrectly in the first place, but, hell no. I haven't. And each time at press there was a new issue I'd never encountered before rearing it's nasty little head. "Everyday a new problem," I'd say, before the frustration came boiling up my neck and I'd look for the nearest thing to kick as hard as I could. The only lesson I'd seemed to have learned from printing Sea Change was not to go wailing into failure, but square up and suck down my overreactive emotions, and stop. Still not easy for me.


Printing plates, while also burning my retinas on a loaner computer. 

Laid out the book for 8 1/2 by 14 sheets of paper, which I'd mistakenly picked up for make-ready for Sea Change, and just so happened to have 10 reams for 9 plates. One for each plate, and one left over for make-ready. Made for a square book, but not ugly. Seemingly perfect. Got some good-looking plates out of the HP, and found myself with two days off (in a fucking row, no less!). Two weeks from CAKE at that point. Seemingly smooth sailing. How could I possibly fuck that up? Oh, you...



I printed the plates incorrectly, and without noticing my mistake, went ahead and printed them on my stock. I printed half of the book on Thursday, the 6th. Had I done the odd-numbered plates first, things would have progressed more quickly, but ha! I didn't! I printed the incorrect ones that day (and even put the press out of commission for a hot minute, again, by simply not locking something down tightly enough) and they looked great. Came to press Friday and quickly realized my mistake. Hung my head and slunk out like a kicked dog. Spent the rest of Friday afternoon drawing away the awful feeling in my gut, and then continued into my five-day workweek slinging coffee and food at well-rested yups with all the gusto of a freshly-kicked dog.

But, picked myself up, and went at it again. After working straight through until Wednesday - now the 12th of June, and 3 days before CAKE, mind you - I spent the night trimming down cover stock. By hand, of course, because I'm apparently encoded with stupid that way.


I essentially started over with this book from scratch on Thursday morning, only two days from CAKE and only a day before I had to hit the road. Got out of bed nursing that same, low and persistent dread that I'd greeted so many times in April, looking out into the snow and down at the crumpled paper strewn everywhere. Picked up a new 10-ream box of paper from the old OfficeMax at 9AM, turned up the Replacements on the radio, and picked up caffeine at the co-op. Found another unopened Hi-Ball awaiting me, like angel scat, at the press. Armed with a new mock-up guide and fresh paper, off I went.

Again - a new problem, though mild. Vacuum for the powder on the delivery end was jammed, and didn't fix itself by blowing out the excess powder built up in the tube. Disassembled it, cussing through out, and cleaned it out as best I could before reattaching it and tightening the rig. Still didn't work, so I let the vacuum run and called my "press consultants." As soon as I hung up, having recieved no answer, the damn thing started working. Plowed onward.



Printed 15 plates that day from 9 to 5, like a real goddamn job, and put my cover stock on for the color - with a full bleed black on the back - and couldn't get it to feed consistently. Sheets were getting pulled in erratically, probably either because the 100# cover stock I'd picked up was too heavy? or I'd misdialed the settings? Still figuring that one. In any case wrestled with that issue until the machine had eaten up 10 sheets or so, and threw her into night latch and called for help.

That was lesson number two of Sea Change: ask for fucking help. Leigh again came through at 6PM and threw down a whoppingly prohibitive $0.66 to photocopy me 30 or so covers on the same stock, leaving me with viable copies for the show, and still not wasting the pretty penny I'd spent on French Paper, either.

I ate? I think I ate. Sometime between that and the night, I must have eaten? Jesus. Anyway.

(I remember now probably jamming my craw with some caffeine and caffeinated Clif bars. Probably that.)


Then came the folding and the collating, starting at roughly 7:30, 8PM? Took 30 pages of each sheet, my long-arm stapler, the cover stock and hauled them in my new suitcase du jour, a beat-up French Paper box, and settled at the light table of MCAD's fourth floor, intending fully to fold, collate, staple-bind, and face-trim 30 copies in that same area. Left the overhead lights off, hit the lightbox on, plugged in some Ink Panthers and Inkstuds, and listened to the rain pour down against the overhead glass as I worked.


Got through all those smoothly before going to face-trim on the public cutters. Did a copy on the cutter that'd been fine for trimming down Tits!, but didn't quite make the cut cleanly enough to be passable. Kind of ragged. Whether it was the combination of more pages and heavier stock that did it, or my relative strength or sharpness of that blade, it wasn't going to work. And the public guillotine cutter has never worked for me, so, as I stood staring at the damn thing and pawing the ragged edge of my book, calculating, Zak called for an update on how the trip to Chicago was unfolding and asked how it was going. At t-minus one day, all I had to do was trim the goddamn things and it'd be good. He, with more clarity of wit than me at that point, said, "Use my gulliotine cutter, dummy." That was at midnight. 

Trotted down to the studio to use said cutter and piled out of my car and across the lot just as, one, a guy seemingly jogged down Central wearing big winter gloves in the middle of the goddamn night, and Zak emerged from the side entrance on the phone with Grace, one of the CAKE organizers. He'd just had to call off the performance of Pretty Ladies (probably the only real let down of the show, in retrospect) due to a very sick drummer. I went to folding the covers, stapling the books together, and chopping them down on the guillotine cutter as he climbed through a metaphor-mountain of boxes to pack for the show. Managed to finish the books (and even salvage the one's I'd trimmed horribly at first) and get home to pack up myself and lower into sleep by 3 that morning.

Hauled out of bed at 7:30AM and before my alarm exhausted but awake, and met Alicia for coffee at the Seward Co-op. Then got on the road with Zak by noon and east down 94 we went.


CAKE 2: Electric Bugaloo was a great sequel to a great convention last year. Too many good things happened to recount individually, and too many good road trip stories on the way down (and on the way back in the dead of Sunday night with a tired pair of Zak Sally and Tom K. firing off constant conversation until Minneapolis came into view) but the show itself was a wonderful experience. My personal sales were way up from the year previous in Chicago, and better overall for me than TCAF, even. Godhead, which was originally the only debut for the show, got a little write-up on the CAKE site along with Sea Change, and I'd either sold out or traded or consigned all but three of my stock, and each copy of Godhead was off of my hands. At the busy points of Saturday and Sunday both I was backlogged on signing and drawing in books by a couple people for some time. Something I was not really ready for, as I thought I could spent more time putting meticulous drawings in each book. 

The venue was spacious, especially in the space within the rows for exhibitors. So roomy, in fact, both sides of exhibitors could comfortably store their bags, extra chairs, etc., without bumping into each other. Which meant the aisles for visitors sometimes got clogged past the point of comfort, but it was relatively manageable to move about without disturbing people trying to browse through books at a table. The Center on Halsted was beautiful, and apparently also a host to a gay cowboy line dance on the roof patio, which I sadly missed. The Whole Foods downstairs was like a revelation to have, as I was often reaching for an empty coffee cup that weekend. All the satellite events happening that weekend (the Deitch signing, comic battle at Quimby's, music at the Observatory, listening to Blackhawk fans squawk) were fun to attend, but meant I was crawling back to the couch cushions on Grace's floor as a barely-put together bag of bones in the night. Generally, there was a pretty happy and productive atmosphere each day of the show, though the definite trend among exhibitors was that those who'd gone to TCAF a month previous felt so-so on sales, and those who hadn't were pretty happy with them. Sitting in Minneapolis row, with Evan Palmer, Tim Sievert, Anna Bongiovanni, Hannah Blumenrich, 2d Cloud and Will Dinksi at the back of the auditorium didn't seem to pose any logistical problems, either, as traffic was pretty steady. Some of those along the walls of the auditorium itself mentioned a little lackluster attendance for their tables, but not all of them.

The organizers did a fantastic job. Having dipped my toes into that realm now, I see it is no simple, easy, or quickly-done feat. I owe all of them for the wonderful show and overwhelmingly positive experience I had, and especially to Grace Tran, who kindly let me crash on her floor and called me a "wood nymph," which I take as a high honor. 

CAKE 2013, as it grows increasingly small in the rearview, seems to me an up-note ending to the cycle of a year. At the 2012 show, I'd just recieved word I'd gotten the Xeric, and I'd sent in my expense report a week before the 2013, with a huge stack of printed paper and a whole lot of experience and support in the time between. I'd gone from putting out a small amount of work while living at my parents' house in rural Wisconsin post-graduation, to living in Minneapolis again, making as much work as I ever had and becoming competent with the printing press. And in the few days since CAKE, I've only felt buoyed by the experience and the new-found connections with other cartoonists resulting from the show. A lot of good news for my friends has also followed in its wake.

For me, it was good. It was great. It was one not to have been missed.



My tablemate, good friend and hardworking gal Leigh Luna, with none other than -- 


 -- Evan Palmer's back.



The view from the Observatory roof, which was obscenely cinematic.


Applications for Autoptic are open!



Applications are OPEN! 

You! Yeah, you there! Go on and check it out. I could not be prouder to be a part of the 'misfits-make-good' movie ensemble cast working hard to bring this to life, and I think it'll make the already fine city of Minneapolis fucking ELECTRIC come this August. I hope to see every one of you there - and APPLY! http://autoptic.org

New comic! - "xip"



"xip"

STUDIO YOLO is brand new artist collective and a collection of some pretty cool cats - I was invited by my friend and ye olde classmate George Folz to participate in this first string of collaborations. Different artists are invited to reinterpret a script written by one of the members. Jay Ragorshek, one of my favorite screen-printing whizzes and a visceral comic magician, were invited to join the collective on their inaugural project. I think re-interpretation is a really fun way for cartoonists to collaborate, and, in a way, very quickly revealing of each artist's point of view. I feel very honored to have been a part, and this comic honestly almost kicked my ass. 

And then I turned it around, faced its butt to me, and kicked it back.

But yeah. I'm very happy with the result - it was a lot of fun to draw - and now it's sitting in some very good company.

Go READ some!


("xip" is the band's name, for any of the wondering.)

Beware the Ides of November


I promise I'm not dead. I'm just working.

It's halfway through November, and the first issue of "The Godhead" is halfway inked. And I'm calling that as actually halfway, and not that point where I am halfway ready to burn it and throw that ash down a sewer drain. Which is want to happen when things don't go your way while inking. That stuff's goddamn permanent. If I don't manage to pick up the pace, I'll probably just have the Xeric book and Godhead issue 1 out by TCAF (knock, knock) and CAKE in May and June, respectively.

Because Minnesota gets cold in the winter, my printing season should officially be "over," but if the gods decide we're going to have November weather all season long like last year, printing will start on the Xeric book, Sea Change, in a month or two, as well as for Godhead #1, and the "Tiny Room" mini. I like to call the time between the first snowfall and the first 50 degree day in spring, "Cartooning Season," or "Drawing Season," and all the days warm enough to stand outside "Printing Season."

Hopefully, it'll be warm, and I'll print a lot, and draw a lot. Thank god for global warming, huh?

UPCOMING EVENTS!

     --> The Minnesota Center for Book Arts (MCBA) book festival is this weekend, the 17! I won't be tabling, but I'll be visiting and probably dicking around with Amaya at the Paper Tapir table, whose wares you should come pick up! Come get earrings that are tiny, viable books. Yeah. THOSE.

     --> Tom K. of the conquering Uncivilized Books is hosting a Defenders movie screening at the Trylon Microcinema in good old Southie (that's south Minneapolis, my heart, my home). Half of the proceeds from the screening go to the Comic Book Legal Defense fund, and the other half goes to you paying to see whatever awful-wonderful movie Mr. K has chosen, in the most wonderful small film theatre in the cities. So, win-win-win. BE THERE.

     --> and SAVE THE 16TH-18th of AUGUST 2013 for something very cool. You can't ask why yet, but you'll wanna do it, TRUST ME.





the first All-Maisie book



It's finished! Done! Whammo bammo! 350 viable copies!

--> <--

Unfortunately, due to me being press-inept the week previous to the deadline and pressed for time (ha!) to print in the first place, there were only blood, tears, and lots of scrapped paper to show for my efforts when the 15th rolled around. Oh, yeah. That deadline thing, Skaalrud. 

Thank you thank you thank you again to AE for allowing me to scurry in after the punch and turn in my 160 copies for the show. That is actually too nice to me - but I appreciate it all the same. They also posted a sweet little blurb with a few questions I'd answered before hand, which you can check out here

Printing round two was so goddamned easy, comparatively. So much better, in fact, that the second passes on each sheet were printing too well and were getting visibly better than the first pass. In order to have a similar baseline of print quality, I found myself trying to dial it down. Which was strange. But good. I didn't scream, or kick. I yelled once or twice. Sang along to the tunes mostly. I'm going to say it was because I'd gone in the second time not panicked, rushed, or frustrated. Or because she like the music that day better.



Maisie. On a good day.



The garage window above the work table.


Also. 

Knock on wood.

fast-approaching dead-line


Currently, in the studio, the temperature is a moderate 77 F, the air is still, and smells like burning rubber and polyester with a strong, distinct, inexplicable overcast of nursing home.

Between the clunk-whir of the inkjet printer jimmy-rigged to print the poly plates for my press, I thought it'd be a good time to go update.



I'd meant to be done printing said plates earlier today, but instead of actually rising after I'd hit the snooze button a generous eight or nine times, I instead dreamt - pretty linearly, actually - of getting up, checking my email in bed, then getting up and dressing and leaving for the studio - without having done so in the least.

Lutefisk Sushi is due Saturday. No sleep 'til booklet!

'Sea Change: A Choose-Your-Own-Way Story' - and now a Xeric winner, what?


I'm proud (and still surprised, honestly) to say that thanks to the Xeric Foundation, I've received a very generous grant from them to self-publish Sea Change. It'll be the first major printing project I tackle on my printing press, under the moniker of my micro-press, and I am just so goddamn excited for it. 



The Xeric Foundation started giving out grants in 1992 (as I like to call it, "Ninja Turtle Money") and this round in 2012, after twenty years, was the last of the grants in its current incarnation. Since print-on-demand and online-publishing has become widely viable, and changed the how print and book industries operate in a big way, they've decided to redirect how they distribute their charity and focus on other things. Which is great. Good for them. I'm incredibly happy to have been chosen to be a part of - which puts me in the company of some extremely wonderful cartoonists - and to have their support put behind this book. It was a year ago now that I started drawing this, in the rudderless feeling that came immediately after graduation. Which sucked. This mostly certainly does not.

I really can't thank them enough. It's wonderful.

I did wait a while before telling most people, but the press release for the May 2012 winners should be coming soon, so it's going to happen, whether or not I feel comfortable with it, or not.

Haha, wait, it is, out. Today. Have at, people. There are a lot of books coming our way.


(true story.)


My plan is to settle myself into Minneapolis this month, put all my printing dominos in a row, and move Maisie from home in Wisconsin back into the moony city in August.

And not drop her. (knock on wood)

POST - CAKE



From a room with a great view in the Windy City.


It. Was. Great.

I'm incredibly proud to have been part of this convention in its very first year - while I've heard reports from different 'toonists and publishers of less-than-astounding sales, mine were enough to at least fund my 'stimulation of the local economy' (read: BUYING COMICS FROM EVERYBODY) and it was a fantastic time in a fantastic town. And that line-up of exhibitors! UFF-DA, as my people say.

We all owe a huge debt of gratitude to the organizers, Neil, Grace, Edie, Max, and Jeff. I'll go every single year.

 Nate Beaty came by and snapped the picture below while Grace worked Ms. Park's table and I lurked off to the side (I guess I do that a lot?) and Grace rejoined with, "What the hell, man? I'm not Laura Park!"

credit: natebeaty

(SWAG PICTURES AFTER I UNPACK IN THE MOONY CITY.)

Summer, 2012

dec. 1990.  i was probably always doomed. my first word was 'batman'.

Well. It's officially been one year out from graduating. I don't feel like it has been, and that it's been five years out all at the same time.

I miss Minneapolis sunrises, though. 

This summer is shaping up to be pretty busy, at least this first month of it. CAKE is just a little over a month away, and I still have books to print, for Sea Change. Lots of books to print, collate, and bind. It's going to be a little crazy. Probably a lot of pictures of me up to my elbows in rubber black ink and desperation to come. But it looks like it's going to be an extremely fun time and the start of another great convention.

I've applied for the last round of Xeric grants. News will come in June, as I'm leaving for Chicago. 

Maisie James (AB Dick 360 printing press extraordinare) is also moving to Seward, in south Minneapolis, sometime this summer. She's going to Amaya's garage and our fledgling, teeny print shop, working-titled 'Milkshake'.  

Huh. That's a lot of 'm's, I just realized... (for anyone interested, here's her "handsy" previous owner looking dorky with her)

I'll turn 24 this August, too. 

And maybe get back to where I belong, too. 

here's to a productive summer.