Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Conversation Gardening Guest Artist #2: Zak Sally

Back in 1999 I was just beginning to flirt with the idea of getting serious about making comics. As part of trying to figure out what that might mean I found myself picking up something called Recidivist #2 at a comic shop in Minneapolis. It sort of bowled me over. There were three stories in the little book, all of which felt finely observed and patient and pointed to something I didn't feel like I'd quite seen before, but wanted to see more of. But the third story was more than that. The third story, You Won't Let Yourself Be Touched, left me with the feeling that the author had reached into the depths of my mind and was clearly describing to me some part of myself that I had never really been able to quite make out before. That comic left me with the same feeling that you have when you wake up from a dream that has been profound and powerful and deeply specific and yet... indescribable. I'm not sure I've ever come across another work of art or literature that has done quite what that story did.

That's what Zak Sally is capable of. He continues to make mysteriously specific, ineffable stories that needle at you in your soul. He's also a brilliant musician, teacher, organizer and friend. He's joining Eleanor Davis in taking over the Conversation Gardening project, and I could not be more pleased or more humbled.

For what it's worth one thing I love about this project is the very different takes people have had on it, even if the bottom line is essentially the same (Eleanor's take is here, mine's here). Zak's pissed, and he lays it all out. Go here and read what he has to say – it is a conversation, after all – then buy a book and send him a question.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Eleanor Davis: First Conversation Gardening Guest Artist

Eleanor Davis is one of those artists whose work just makes your mouth fall open. She makes virtuosic drawing and watercoloring look simple, effortless and fun, and she can also twist a corkscrew into your arm before you even realize what's happening. Her recent book How to be Happy is, predictably, beautiful and brilliant. None of the stories do quite what you expect, and it's a book that stays with you for days after you put it down. Her comics voice is utterly unique and compelling. So I couldn't be more excited to have her taking over as Guest Artist for the Conversation Gardening project. She's agreed to do 10 drawings, so click over to her site and get in on this. Those ten drawings are going to go quick.
Also: more announcements are imminent, so stay tuned.


I am officially no longer accepting new submissions for Conversation Gardening for myself to draw. I'm going to be enlisting more guests to take over for me. I haven't counted the ones I've gotten so far, yet, but there's a big stack. Many of you who have sent me questions have probably noticed that it's taking me a while to get to them all. Hopefully you find that they are worth the wait. But I promise: I am moving through them, so please be patient. Below are a few new ones. The first here is my initial attempt to answer the question in the one below (the opposite side of the paper). I thought it deserved a second go. The others are self-explanatory, I think... although perhaps it's worth saying – given that I'm not as good at drawing myself skateboarding as I was when I was 15 – that that's supposed to be a frontside 180 to fakie manual.

Coming soon: Big Bird

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Guest sketchbook

My friend Sara came to visit me last year around this time, shortly after returning from a residency in Colombia. She'd been busy drawing in her sketchbook while she was there, and showed me the results. Last summer I asked her about it again, knowing she was no longer keeping a blog, and hadn't posted the work anywhere. She said I could post it myself if I wanted, so I took these pictures, and they've been languishing on my hardrive ever since. I don't know if she'll keep drawing comics or not. She's doing video and puppetry and animation and singing pop songs as a statue. So she's busy with other stuff. It's all very much worth a look (especially this amazing video she made for Evan Hydzik). But so are her drawings. So I'm finally getting around to posting them.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

On the evolution of vertebrates

I recently finished (more or less) a collection of the drawings and strips from my sketchbooks that I've been posting on this blog over the last six or seven years. Below are a few pages I drew while figuring out what I wanted to put on the book's spine (I spent way too much time last week designing some bookmarks using some of the spine outtakes). Below these is the spread where I worked out a statistical analysis of the book's index. Yeah, it has an index. A bit more about the book here. It's due out in late Spring.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Charlie Hebdo

If you don't support freedom of speech for people with whom you disagree profoundly, you don't support freedom of speech. Whether you like what they had to say or not, institutions like Charlie Hebdo are the reason freedom of expression is so important. I can't quite say "I am Charlie Hebdo." But god dammit they had every right to say what they had to say without threat of violence and murder.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Holly's next record

Early last year I did a record cover for my friend Holly's first record. Somehow I never got around to blogging it, but she's crowdfunding the money for her second record now, ending today (January 5th), in fact, so maybe now is as good a time as any. Aside from Holly being one of my favorite people on the planet, I have an interest in the fundraising, because I'm slated to do the cover of the second go round as well. Here's an image of the first record, a gatefold with foil stamping:

And the inside:

Part of the connection is that one of the songs on this first record, written before I ever met Holly, was inspired by a piece in my book The End.

The cover of the second record will be a continuation of the visual ideas as the first, so they'll be something of a set. Also it's a double LP.

Holly's already been in the studio a bunch. The new record is being recorded at Tiny Telephone in San Francisco, produced by John Vanderslice. Alan Sparhawk (of Low) is playing on it, as are a few other great people you can read about here. Some of my sketches and preparatory drawings for the design are also on offer as rewards in the campaign. So go help a girl out.

If you want a copy of the first record you might be able to get one from her, but I also just put a few copies up at my store site, here.