Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Little Guy that Lives in My Armpit

Since I'm out of a job, I thought it might be fun to try and submit a design to Threadless. At this point I have put it up for critique here and it's not going too well so far. I'll still submit it for the official vote, so I'll keep you all posted.

In a completely unrelated note, I would like to thank all of my female friends that do not wear velour track suits.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Collateral Damage

I recently found out that, due to the Hollywood writer's strike, I'm going to be laid off from my day job as a Storyboard Revision Artist on American Dad on November 30th. God knows how long it will all last. When this all began, I found myself siding with the writers, but had to admit that there was a bad taste in my mouth knowing that I could be out of work for guys who are making a lot more money than I am. However, as this proceeded and I've learned more about the situation, it's become easier to support them even though I'm looking at some lean, lean times ahead of me. One reason is because I see this as a creator rights issue. I think most people would agree that the writers of these shows are entitled to get a bigger percentage than the .36% they currently get for video and DVD sales and if I'm not mistaken, nothing for internet downloads. That's about 4 cents for a DVD. They're asking for 8 cents. One example I've read is that the guys who manufacture the box the DVD comes in gets more than the writers of the show it's packaging. It's criminal.

The other issue that bugs the hell out of me is knowing just how much C.E.O's make at these corporations. According to this at the Los Angeles Times, Viacom paid their old chief executive Tom Freston a 60 million dollar severance package. That's how much he got when he was fired. That is more than what the entire industry paid in writer's residuals. That's just obscene and I can't imagine Viacom shareholders being pleased that 60 million dollars went to pay Freston, when a fraction of that could have gone to the writers and avoided a costly strike. Those are some odd priorities for business.

For more info on what this is all about, here is another good L.A. Times article. The writers have my support for as long as this lasts, but until the end comes, maybe someone out there can pass a little illustration work my way.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Podcasts have been a godsend in keeping me in my chair while drawing all day. However, I find that I often listen to my regular shows faster than they are produced. I'm wondering if folks out there would like to mention some of their favorites in the comments section so I can discover some new shows. Here is a list of what I listen to (all can be found on Itunes). Maybe you will find something new...

Indie Spinner Rack All about independent comics. The hosts are goofy. At least one of them is.

Also about independent comics, but with a different vibe.

NPR's Fresh Air
Terry Gross interviews subjects as diverse as Sarah Silverman, Alan Greenspan, and Alice Sebold.

KCRW's Left, Right and Center Political punditry that claims to not scream, but lefty Bob Sheer occasionally gets close. Not that I blame him.

The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe Skeptics take on everything from faith healers, to free energy, to acupuncture.

KPCC's Film Week Good film criticism with a rotating batch of critics. My favorite is Henry Sheehan.

Bill Moyers Journal
This never fails to depress and outrage me. Moyers covers stories that I wish others in the press would cover. We live in a corrupt world.

Astronomy Cast I just started listening to this one. Today, I learned all about various theories of dark energy. Rad!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


I’m always amazed that people are able to blog about a convention the day after it happened. The day following a convention, I am usually unpacking, washing clothes and generally exhausted. This year was even worse since Georgene and I drove from Portland to Los Angeles in one day and I went back to work the following day. It seemed like I was tired for a week and a half. With most of the indy comics world focused on SPX last weekend, I will finally get a small report out.

Our first day was spent looking at houses and neighborhoods in Portland (we’re considering moving there). While we were driving around we stopped by the amazing Powell’s bookstore where I picked up a copy of Bob Gill’s The Millionaires, from 1959. The Millionaires is a black and white picture book that was used by a university instructor of mine to teach us good design in laying out a book. We followed our visit to Powell’s with a trip to Floating World to check out the Al Columbia art show. The show was great and I picked up a Columbia poster as well as The Complete Universe of Dupuy / Berberian. This is a fantastic book filled with illustrations and drawings by two of my favorite cartoonists in the world. Their luscious, confident line work actually shares a little in common with Bob Gill’s.

The next two days were spent at the Stumptown show, which was much, much better than last year's. In 2006 I got the impression that the dealers were just selling comics to each other, with few real attendees making it to the convention center. This year was very different. The show was held in a much cozier location with more people attending. Something I found impressive with Portland is the strong DIY vibe there. I sold a lot of stuff wholesale to people that owned quirky stores / galleries. One of those stores, Tender Loving Empire, is also a music label and publishes mini comics (check out Pinwheel). It’s good to see and I wonder if it is a little easier there since residents are pretty successful at keeping large chain stores out of the city, allowing independent businesses to survive and thrive.

While making the rounds on the floor, I came across Papercutter. This anthology features 3 artists per issue and is only $3. In terms of format, it’s much closer to Zero Zero than Mome. I find this refreshing because with only 3 artists an issue, if a reader likes 2 of them then that is a 66% excitement ratio, which is pretty high for an anthology. Keep in mind that I have been in a few of these bigger anthologies and even edited and published some of them, so I’m no enemy of the bigger format, but it’s definitely a nice change to pay 3 bucks for Sarah Oleksyk, John Porcellino, and Vanessa Davis. Plus, I really miss buying pamphlet comics. It seems like a rare thing for me these days.

Other finds over the weekend include New Tales of Old Palomar #2 (which was great), the hilarious Krayon’s Ego, Superfuckers #279 (my favorite Kochalka comic), Super Spy, The Mourning Star Side Story 3, fellow CSULB alum Joshua Kemble’s Numb and some more things that still need to be read. It was a great show, we met some more great people, and I hope to make it again next year.

I’d also like to give a huge thanks to Top Shelf publisher Brett Warnock, his wife Lisa and rocker kid, Carter, for hosting us over the weekend.

The photo of Georgene and I is by Stumptown phototgrapher, Joshin Yamaha.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Hernandez vs. Malkasian
Here are some photos from tonights signing at Book Soup in Hollywood with Gilbert Hernandez and Cathy Malkasian. I got me a copy of Gilbert's Chance in Hell that I plan to read during the long drive from L.A. to Portland for the Stumptown Comics Fest.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Our Fighting Forces

Something I always do when I buy an old comic is check out the letters pages for familiar names. Every once in a while I'll come across letter whose author would go on to work in comics themselves. At the monstrous San Diego Comic-Con last July, I picked up a Jack Kirby issue of Our Fighting Forces (#160) from 1975. It was there that I read the letter above. I wondered if it could be the same Gregg Araki who directed movies like the Doom Generation and Mysterious Skin some 20 - 30 years later. After some quick IMDB research I found out that he grew up in Santa Barbara and that Goleta is in Santa Barbara County. He would have been 16 when this letter was published.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Etsy Store

Etsy is a website for people to sell hand-made wares. You can find things from toys to clothes to mini-comics. I've had a store on there for a few months and most of what I sell can also be found at my website shop. However, I do have some very limited, hand-made items like my cherry wood sketchbooks and the knitted Pentapus that my wife made from my character design.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

A Small Preview of Upcoming Work.

Over the next 6 months or so, I'm going to have a number of comic stories popping up in various publications. Up first will be 2 short stories in Awesome: The Indie Spinner Rack Anthology. If you are not familiar with it, the Indy Spinner Rack is a podcast showcasing the world of indie comics with some reviews and interviews. Included in the anthology are a lot of cartoonists they've either interviewed or discussed, including: Alec Longstreth, Al Columbia, Jamie Tanner, and Nick Bertozzi. For a full preview click here. My stories are A Question of Faith, which is about three ducks and bad judgement and All-American Funnies, a 1-pager about a wrong number. The book will premiere at SPX later this month and be in stores in October.

I have recently found out that the Danny Hellman edited anthology Typhon will finally see print sometime in October. I'm not entirely sure who else is in this one, but I do know it's in color and is an almost square format. I submitted a 1-pager called Pentateuch Funnies starring Abraham.

In January of 2008, I will be returning to the pages of Mome with issue #10. This one will have an Al Columbia cover and I'll have a 9 page story called The Ten Fools, that I originally roughed out for the Fables of India book that I wrote about here a few months ago. I'm glad I had an opportunity to finish the story and that it will see print in Mome.

At the moment, I'm about halfway through inking an 18 page comic called The Man Who Loved Breasts. This will be in a stand alone comic with some other stories and will probably be about 32 pages total, all by me. I'm hoping to get all of the work done by the end of the year and have it come out some time in 2008. I'll post more info as I know it, but for now, here is a preview page.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Charity Mini Golf

On August 18th, my wife, Georgene and I will be joining Keith Knight and his wife Kirsten play some mini-golf for charity. The charity is 826 Los Angeles which is associated with McSweeney's, and it helps kids with creative and expository writing. Each team is trying to raise as much money as we can, and each team is allowed to cheat in the tournament depending on how much they earn. It should be a lot of fun for a good cause, but I could really use the help of any readers of this blog to help with money for the kids. For more info go here, and if you would like to donate, go here. I appreciate any help we can get, and I'll add a small Comic Con wrap up in a few days.


Sunday, July 1, 2007

MoCCA Part 1

Georgene and I have returned from an intense 4 day weekend in New York and at MoCCA, the independent friendly comic show at the Puck Building in SoHo. Delta Airlines made our traveling unpleasant, but I won’t waste time on the details. We did arrive in New York by Friday afternoon which allowed us time to have coffee with Joy Kolitsky (In the Sea) in Brooklyn and also to see our friend Abby's play that night. I have to admit that after 2 hours of sleep and a glass of wine, the folks who put on the play deserved a more attentive audience than what they got in me.

Saturday morning was the beginning of the show and my table was on the seventh floor. I was nervous that since most of the show was on the ground level that people would not make it up to my table. In the beginning of the show my fears seemed to be coming true and I began to talk to some show volunteers about ways to get more circulation up there. However, after a few hours, the crowds started to find us and we remained pretty busy for the rest of the weekend. In fact, not only was this my most successful show in terms of sales, but the seventh floor had a fantastic panoramic view of the city, lots of natural light, and excellent air flow. None of these were available to the same degree downstairs.

That night I joined the Indie Spinner Rack dinner at the Golden Unicorn in Chinatown. Georgene and I ate with Charlito, Mr. Phil, Monica Gallagher and Matt (sorry, forgot your last name, Matt), Fred Chao with girlfriend Dylan, and Disney Adventures’ Jesse Post. We then went to the Top Shelf party and then an Irish Pub after party where I drank too much and paid a heavy price the next morning.

Sunday it was back to the show and I think sales were actually better on Sunday than Saturday, which never happens. During the weekend I met a bunch of cartoonists, including Jamie Tanner, G.B. Tran, Marcos Perez, Will Dinski, Joseph Lambert, Corinne Mucha, Pat N. Lewis, Matthew Swanson and Robbi Behr, and more that I simply can’t remember (sorry).

Something worth mentioning is that it seemed like I was constantly running into students from The Center of Cartoon Studies and I was impressed by the work I saw. I was on a limited budget so I only got one of their books but, from what I saw, the school is nurturing each student’s unique drawing style and most books were inventively designed and printed. I can’t comment on the stories at this point (except for the one), but I think they are worth checking out if you get a chance.

It also seemed to me that the there was a lot of quality comics out there. I’m going to post a second part of this report that will focus on individual books that I picked up, but beyond that, I saw many books where a lot of attention was put into how the book was designed in relation to the story. The best comics bring together a great story with great art and good book design, while not as essential, only helps the reading experience.


Now I’ll take a moment to showcase some of the books I picked up last weekend. I was on a limited budget of only $70, so there was a lot of things I would have liked to get but will have to wait. Books by Fantagraphics, Drawn and Quarterly, and Top Shelf are pretty easy to find, so they lost out this time. Some of the books below I got on a trade, which usually results in getting comics that don’t thrill me, but at MoCCA I got some nice stuff.

3 from First Second

I’m finding that one of the best deals to be found at a comic convention is at the table of First Second. They reduce all of their graphic novels to $10 at shows and will throw in a free one if you buy two. My $20 got me A.L.I.E.E.E.N. by Lewis Trondheim, Klezmer by Joann Sfar, and The Black Diamond Detective Agency by Eddie Campbell. The premise of A.L.I.E.E.E.N. is that Trondheim has found an actual alien comic left in the woods in the Catskills (I suppose in his native French edition, it’s the Alps). The comic reminded me a bit of Jim Woodring’s Frank in that it is told without words (at least not of any Earth language) and that it is both funny and disturbing. Trondheim is as masterful at storytelling as Woodring and is very skilled at creating a world with its own rules and relationships as well as communicating those rules to the reader without the need for words or exposition.

I think I’m going to start picking up everything Joann Sfar does, at least everything he both writes and draws; he has 100 books in print and doesn’t draw all of them. Klezmer is the first of a series about a Klezmer band in Eastern Europe at around the turn of the 20th century (I think). This book mostly focuses on how these musicians come together and their individual backgrounds. I know next to nothing about Yiddish culture so it was interesting to get some insight into how they lived and Sfar really stresses the constant vulnerability they felt. Sfar’s art never did much for me until I began to read his comics. His drawing tends to fade away and become a form of writing. The images are not meant to be lingered on, they are dashed off with some watercolor thrown over them and the reader takes the image in and moves on. Other cartoonists take a similar approach, but most don’t draw as well as Sfar. Although his drawings are loose and pared down, they still are very expressive and always communicate what is going on. I’ll be picking up the next volume when it comes out.

Eddie Campbell’s Black Diamond Detective Agency was based on an unproduced movie script by C. Gaby Mitchell. The book starts in 1899 with a bombed train and something mysterious taken from it. It reads a bit like a Hollywood movie, with a Harrison Ford type unlikely hero on the lam and climaxing in a literally explosive ending. That’s not to say it’s bad, though. If Hollywood made movies executed as well as this, I might watch more of them, but at the same time, it doesn’t transcend the formula too much. It’s good to see Campbell drawing the 19th century again, but it doesn’t have the inventiveness or rich characterization as something like Klezmer.

Are You Often Impulsive in Your Behavior by Will Dinski

This was the first time I have seen Will’s work. He had a table of different books including a hard cover made by hand (God bless him). I settled on Behavior for a few reasons. One is that it is about a subject near to my heart and apartment: Scientology. Living in Los Angeles, Scientologists are everywhere, and I live next to one of their larger complexes on L. Ron Hubbard Dr. (I can only imagine how much they paid the city for that honor). Will’s comic is about taking a Scientology personality test in Minnesota. The comic is on one large sheet of cardstock, folded over twice to the size of a .45 record sleeve. The resulting book adds up to 4 pages and folds out to a large scale reproduction of Will’s test printed on the back of the sheet. The comic uses a combination of pleasing panel design, using mostly small squares filled with either drawings or dialogue as well as a strong use of 2 colors. Basically, the comic is well designed, drawn, and written, using the questions of the test against the testers in an effective way. Definitely seek Mr. Dinski out. He’d be a great candidate for an anthology.

Recent Work: A Menagerie of Short Tales by Corinne Mucha

I first saw Corinne’s comics at SPX a couple of years ago. Her boyfriend Sam gave me a copy of her mini I Lived in Alaska, which was about working there over a summer. Recent Works is made up of short strips of her daily live (much like I Lived in Alaska, but without the Alaska). I’m not usually into slice-of-life autobio comics, but instead of going for finding deep meaning or poignancy in mundane things, Corinne goes for humor, and wins me over. She has a somewhat na├»ve style similar to the drawings of illustrator Keri Smith, with the whimsy and charm of Souther Salazar. Probably my favorite part of the comic is about how boyfriend Sam picked a big booger out of his nose and stuck it in hers, which she had to pick out. I thought I terrorized my wife - something like that never occurred to me.

I Will Bite You by Joseph Lambert

I saw a lot of work by Center of Cartoon Studies students at MoCCA and Joseph is one of them. I Will Bite You is a mini comic about a kid who bites everything around him. In both theme and drawing style, it reminded me of children’s books circa 1910. It’s not drawn quite as well (but those guys were masters, and Joseph is a student), but that’s not to say it isn’t very capable work. The wordless storytelling is strong and clear, his pages are well designed and the book has that creepy, dangerous quality those old cautionary children’s books could have. I’d love to see a version with some lithographic coloring. The school probably isn’t set up for something like that, however.

wewedodo and Lobo Caliente by Molly Colleen O’Connell

Next to my table was one with 3 printmaking students from Maryland Institute College of Art. This table had a swarm around it all weekend and with good reason. They had a bunch of hand printed books and prints that were just gorgeous. I settled on 2 books by Molly Colleen O’Connell that are entirely screenprinted with 4 colors. There is a bit of a story to wewedodo, but frankly, I bought it for its appearance. It’s beautifully drawn, designed, and printed. Both books are remarkable and I would urge you to check out her website.

There were other books I wanted to discuss that stood out like Monica Gallagher’s Boobage (this was the only comic my non-comic reading wife read), G.B. Tran’s Mobile, the work of Matthew Swanson and Robbi Behr, and more, but I’ve already written close to 2000 words and have comics of my own to draw. Forgive me if you gave me something and I left it out. The general feeling I got from what I saw is that the bar is being raised in mini comics and artists are taking advantage of what can be done with a book in terms of printing and design when only printing a few hundred copies. It also looks like the drawing and craft of storytelling is getting stronger than what I’ve seen in the past. This would be a good time to be an anthology editor with so many talented, underexposed artists out there.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

3 Conventions in 6 Weeks

It begins this weekend in NYC at MoCCA, an indy comic show put on by Museum of Comic Art. There will be a ton of great hand made comics with silk screen prints as well as other dealers like Fantagraphics, Top Shelf and Drawn and Quarterly. Next I'm in my home town of Los Angeles on July 15th for Felt Club. Its a craft show, but not one with needlepoint pillows with bible verses. Check out the link. There's lots of great hand made stuff being sold there. Finally it's off to the Mecca of Geekdom, the San Diego Comic Con from July 25th to the 29th. I'll be in the small press area.

In addition to the comics I've drawn or published, I'll have some new hand made screen printed plywood sketchbooks (some covers you can see below) as well as some little stuffed animals of my character Pentapus, knitted by my wife, Georgene (see above). I've also got some new wooden postcards done with Spitfire Girl. Come by and say hello.

Stuff Left by the Street on my Block 3

It's a little early for another visual log of things left on my block, but the offerings were too good to pass up. One in particular warrented two photos. They were all taken this morning, June 21.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Stuff Left by the Street on my Block 2

As I went to walk my dog, I realized that I had forgotten a poo bag. This didn't bother me, since there always seems to be some bit of trash on the block that I can use to pick up shit (and also clean up the block a little bit). So my dog decides to drop one and I look around for a bag or something. Within ten feet of where I'm standing, I find some 2 foot strips of toilet paper lying on the yard of an apartment building. Toilet paper! The block provides.

These pictures were all taken while walking my dog around my block last Saturday, May 26th.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Robert Gomez - Daytrotter

This is another illustration for Daytrotter; this time of Robert Gomez. You can listen to some of his first album at his myspace page. I actually heard a song of his on KCRW last week and it was kind of a weird experience. I knew that the song was very familiar, but I also knew that I hadn't heard it on the radio before. Then it all came back to me.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Fables de L'Inde Part 2 of 2

After another meeting to go over my story choices, I roughed out 30 pages of comics. One of the stories would be a new version of Monkey, but compressed to fit the French mainstream taste in storytelling. I’m not the fastest artist in the world and, then, I was even slower since drawing comics was still rather new to me. I spent a few months on the roughs and took them to the editor. He liked them. A lot. While I was sitting in his office, he made copies to give to the marketing department. He also asked me to think about what country I would like to do for my next book.

Life looked really good. Now I needed to color the pages so I could start getting paid. Our finances were getting low, so the timing was perfect. I decided to paint the pages because, in general, I’m not the biggest fan of computer coloring and whenever I tried it myself, it turned out terrible. The down side was that it took me about a week to paint one page.

I dropped off 3 pages to the editor and waited for his response (The images seen here aren't very good scans). If all went well and they didn’t want many revisions, I would get paid for those pages and could focus on doing as good and as fast a job as I could. I don’t mean to focus too much on money here, but things were pretty tight and we were getting desperate.

By now, summer had arrived. Our landlords had sublet the apartment back from us for two weeks and we were going to go to Nice for that time. If you’re going to be poor, it might as well be in the south of France. I still hadn’t heard about my pages, but decided to bring my work. I would paint in the morning and spend the rest of the day at the beach.

Every day we walked a couple of miles to check e-mail to see if my work had been approved. We fantasized about doing things we could not normally afford to do, like going out for a good dinner instead of cooking every meal ourselves, and maybe some shopping. Day after day, for two weeks, no e-mail came. I was getting a little nervous and scared. By this time, I had painted almost 6 pages.

I called my editor as soon as I returned to Montreuil. He had me come in, Georgene acting as my translator, and said the paintings looked too much like illustration. He wanted to know if I could computer color the pages. This was upsetting. I didn’t want my book to look like the other mainstream French books and felt computer coloring would take away a lot of its charm. However, we needed to eat and pay rent. In the face of this kind of desperation, I probably would have had the X-men guest star if it meant I could get some cash. I was also incredibly frustrated that all that time I spent painting in Nice was a complete waste. I’d have much rather wasted my time at the beach.

I quickly inked up 3 pages and tried my hand at coloring them. After e-mailing them in, I waited and waited. I continued inking more pages, again thinking that once they were approved, I would have that much more work done and would be that much closer to getting Georgene and I out of our financial hole. When I finally got a reply, I was told my coloring wasn’t up to snuff. No real big surprise there, I suppose.

My next step was to ask my friend, Nora Murphy Berden to color it for me. Nora has done coloring in animation for years. She tried 3 pages. We waited 5 weeks for the editor to return from the vacation the French take in August. He passed on Nora’s pages. I suggested using one of their house colorists to do the book. They must like him! My editor said that although my idea was a good one, the colorist I mentioned was busy. What about any colorist? I never got a response.

This experience left me feeling like I was crazy. Had I screwed this up somehow? I was never given any explanation for why my book was killed. One theory we had was that the two books they already printed had tanked. In fact, in searching their website, we never found any books in the series except the two that were already printed when we first met the editor. But if that was the case, why not simply tell me? The coloring issue didn’t make any sense, because I’m sure they could have found someone they liked to color it. It was a nightmare. Georgene and I ultimately went into debt and I returned to the animation industry for a little while when we moved back to the U.S. to get our finances in order. I did try a few other publishers, but a comic of fables wasn’t a very commercial thing to print. I was able to salvage one story, “Moon Lake” and had a color version (by Nora) of the story on I reworked it a bit for black and white and printed it in Apres-Shampooing.

In looking back on the experience, I’m somewhat haunted that I didn’t demand an explanation. I’m not sure why I didn’t. Maybe it was because I was in a foreign country and didn’t want to cause problems. I also think my confidence had completely crumbled. All of those stages of trying to make things work really messed with my head. Every day I thought today would be the day I’d be told everything was great and could continue. It was miserable. By the time it came to an end, I was spent, and just didn’t have the energy or the confidence to demand answers.

I never got a penny for any of it. I did learn a costly lesson about signing a contract up front. The whole experience was an absolute heartbreaker, but I’m sure many artists have something like this happen at one time or another. Fortunately, having a blog makes it possible to show some of the work to people. Hope you like it.

Notes: The computer colored pages on this post were done by Nora, not me. I'm not sure what happened to mine, but they weren't too hot.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Fables de L'Inde

I was looking over some old work and it reminded me of a rather long story that happened to me a few years ago. It's a long enough story that I'll have to tell it in parts.

A few years ago, my girlfriend Georgene and I decided to spend a year in France. As plans developed, we got engaged and the idea morphed into a year long, working honeymoon in Paris. I was a full time, burned out storyboard artist working in animation. Georgene was a full time, burned out producer of TV movies. The plan was to save our money so we could focus on our dreams: drawing comics for me, writing a novel for her.

Eighteen months before our trip, I had to leave my job for a variety of reasons. I thought I would quickly find more work, but that was not the case. Hollywood writers had threatened to strike and studios produced a surplus of shows in anticipation of the downtime. The strike never happened, but there was still not much work to be found because shows had been stockpiled for up to two years in advance.

Eventually, we did make it to Paris, or one metro stop outside of Paris in the town of Montreuil, but we only had money to get through six months. Georgene had done her part, but I had failed in doing mine. I needed to find a way to make some money.

Miraculously, France’s annual children’s book expo would take place right across the street from our apartment, two weeks after we arrived. I printed out some of my work and hand stitched mini portfolios in preparation for the show. Fortunately, one of my comics, an adaptation of an Indian fable called The Monkey and the Crocodile, had been printed in Switzerland, so I had a French language comic to show.

Georgene and I went to the show hoping to find me some work. This was exhausting for Georgene. I didn’t speak any French, so she acted as my agent/translator for two long days. Georgene’s French is pretty good, but there is a big difference between getting around town, and instantly translating multiple conversations.

We talked with 20 publishers or so over 2 days. No luck. On the last day, at the last publisher, lightning struck. This publisher printed both children’s books and comics. While looking at The Monkey and the Crocodile, the editor mentioned they were doing comic books of fables from around the world. They had already done Thailand and Vietnam and were looking for someone to do India.

A few weeks later, we met with the editor at his office in Paris. The book he wanted me to do would be a typical, European comic album; a hardcover, 32 page full color book. The deal he offered was a very reasonable per page advance against royalties. Best of all, the advance would be paid as I delivered the color pages – I would not have to deliver the complete book to see the money. After giving me a copy of one of the collection of Vietnam fables that they had just published, the editor told me to contact him when I knew what stories I wanted to use in my book.

I couldn’t believe my luck. Christmas was in a few days and I’d been given an early present. I’ve liked French comics since first discovering them in the mid-90’s. Now, one of these books would have my work in it and I would be getting paid decent money, especially when compared to independent American comics. It was as if some hand had perfectly guided me down this path. By dumb luck, I found a way to make a living drawing the kinds of comics I wanted to draw. I could do a slightly commercial book to bring in enough money to live on, and do quirky, less commercial (meaning non-paying) work on the side. It was a way to make a small living, retain some integrity, and do what I loved doing. I had found Jesus’ challis.

Part 2 of 2 will be posted on Wednesday.