On this Indigenous People’s Day, I’d like to share some pencils from Sarah Winifred Searle and Carey Pietsch’s story about Molly Ockett, an Abenaki woman who was renowned in the English colonies as a healer and sage. Sarah wanted to do a story about Molly from the day I first spoke to her (about three years ago – how time flies!), and we finally get to include her early history in the upcoming second volume of Colonial Comics. The page I’m sharing carries with it a great message that seems particularly relevant today. –– Colonial Comics
Just a heads up, email responses and communication in general may be slow between August 19th and September 6th! I’ll be on the opposite side of the planet for reasons that may have something to do with my Secret Loves comic. Thank you for your patience in the meantime! This animation from my sketchbook expresses just how gleeful I am at the prospect of this adventure.
Indoor nighttime Regency lighting is tough! They pretty much relied on fireplaces and candles, and since wax candles were so expensive, even those were at a minimum. It’s a challenge to portray those limits while keeping the characters and environments legible so Sarah’s scripts shine through.
This worked to our advantage in issues three and four, thankfully. I looked at it as “mood lighting” to visually enhance the emotional rollercoaster Catherine experiences on her wedding night. Exaggerating the dark corners of the Davener house only adds to its mystery. This draws our attention back to the characters, whose facial expressions and body language are a key part of these scenes.
The obvious solution from art training is to go cool with bluer tones through most of the art, then use yellow highlights to insinuate the warmth of the lighting. I wanted something more sensuous than that, though –– after all, we’re waiting to see how the consummation of their marriage goes –– so I gave her room deep pink wallpaper. The characters are enveloped in this rosy warmth, but it’s deepened and desaturated, so the golden firelight both maintains its cozy allure and draws our attention back to well-lit areas with its higher saturation and contrast.
I do line art in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, then color and finish in Photoshop.
- Get flats from color assist Justin, and they look great! I tweak the palette and clean things up a little.
- I add background lighting…
- Then foreground lighting in two steps: one to account for the glare of the candlelight on the vanity’s mirror, then another layer for the general environment.
- I add a radial gradient that deepens the corners of the panel, adding contrast and mood that draws our attention more intimately into the moment.
- Then I overlay some texture and adjust levels, which smooths out the gradients and reinforces an antiqued feeling in the art.
If you like this sort of thing, I share a lot more process posts over on my Patreon!
I now have a Patreon where you can subscribe to secret-for-now comics and a behind-the-scenes blog that will feature special sneak peeks of current projects!
My full contribution to The Secret Loves of Geek Girls (four days left to preorder!) is up on The Mary Sue as an exclusive preview, along with a little interview! Read the full story here (if image quality makes the comic hard to read, try this version).
I put together this process gif of the first page in case that’s something people are interested in seeing, as well:
This was my first time coloring someone else’s work and it was kind of way too much fun! I made sure everything was blushing, including the tree. Drawing credit goes to Yanick Paquette, and it features the main characters from Sarah Vaughn‘s and my Fresh Romance series, Ruined.
Did you know that Margaret Atwood draws comics? Neither did I, but apparently we’re in a book together! The Secret Loves of Geek Girls features comics, illustrations, and prose by so many ladies I admire and respect that you should probably just go ahead and check out the contributor list. It features Trina Robbins, Mariko Tamaki, Danielle Corsetto, Irene Koh, and Jen Vaughn, to name just a few.
“Better Than Fiction” is somewhat of a sequel to my Chainmail Bikini story. It describes my journey from relying too heavily on escapism through fiction to finding romantic fulfillment in reality. Here’s a preview of my rough-rough draft (yes, that’s Sailor Neptune and Sailor Uranus, and preteen-me’s terrible attempt at imitation):
Still very busy! The first issue of Fresh Romance (featuring Ruined) is on the verge of release, I’m steadily at work on the next issue, and it’s scripts and thumbnails galore as I plan my next few anthology contributions.
I’m also finishing up my comic for Dirty Diamonds‘ next issue, which focuses on the theme of beauty. My story is about my evolution as a person as reflected through the evolution of my hair.
I’m working on some other things, too! You can check out a frequently-updated list of all past, current, and upcoming projects over on my bibliography page.
Food Porn is the first print anthology by Filthy Figments (nsfw)! If you enjoyed Smut Peddler, this would be right up your alley. The content consists of lady-made, sex-positive, queer-friendly erotica, and this book has the added bonus of recipes with each food-themed comic. Cute, right?
My contribution’s called Seaside Sweethearts, and it’s about a couple who go on a beach picnic… but they’re more interested in each other than the scenery.
And here’s my “foodsona” (a fluffy pink cupcake, of course, and probably the sexiest I’ll ever draw myself):
I’ve barely been able to contain myself as I’ve worked on this over the past month! Fresh Romance is founded by the formidable Janelle Asselin and will feature Ruined, a no-nonsense Regency romance for the modern reader co-created by amazing writer Sarah Vaughn and myself. Alongside it will run two other stories by people I really admire, including queer content. I really look forward to Rosy Press’ future as an outlet for diverse creators and stories.
Did you know that I do cartooning workshops? Well, I do! Here’s a quick ashcan comic that I made as an example in a session I did with some kids a few years back. It’s about my dinosaur BFF.
Seeing this interview over at Diamond Previews made my day and I just wanted to share these kind words that Kathryn Immonen had about my work. Moving Pictures was a big deal to me when I started to pursue comics really seriously –– historical fiction in particular –– and it means the world that she thinks highly of what I do!
Love in All Forms is now up for pre-orders on Kickstarter! It’s an anthology of queer comics for and about children, and I had the honor of being invited to contribute. Deep Breaths is the story of a girl’s first crush at summer camp. It’ll be in full color, but here’s a preview of some inked pages:
We’re live and almost funded in just the first couple days! It’s a really fantastic book, I’m proud to be a part of it and I highly recommend checking it out. Here’s a preview of my contribution:
It’s becoming an annual thing that a bunch of cartoonists/illustrators ’round the web draw their “witchsonas” (witch personas). I’ve leveled up since last year as a person and wanted to make sure mine reflected that.
My witchsona specializes in the magics of love, creation, and renewal. Is spring here yet?
Figured I’d share a couple panels from current projects as teasers!
Chainmail Bikini is an anthology about women gamers. Keep your eyes out for a Kickstarter in the next couple months. My contribution is about play-by-post roleplaying, how it’s prepared me for a career as a cartoonist, the wonderful friends I’ve made through it, and despite how much I love it, how dudes are still gross on the internet sometimes.
And this is from First, which is debuting over on Filthy Figments (nsfw) this Tuesday! It’s a very sweet lady love story.
Oh goodness, so many exciting projects are rolling for the first half of 2015!
Chainmail Bikini: An anthology about women gamers. My story is about my experiences with play-by-post roleplaying –– creative writing for geeks, essentially –– and how it’s prepared me for a career as a cartoonist.
Love in All Forms: The big book of growing up queer! This is a kid-friendly anthology of comics, and my story is about a girl’s first crush at summer camp.
Colonial Comics Volume II: This volume will cover New England history between 1750 and the shot heard ’round the world. My contribution covers Molly Ockett, who was pretty much the coolest.
In other news, there are a couple other projects in the works that I’m not ready to share yet, but I have high hopes for 2015.
Here’s a postcard I illustrated to send out to friends to wish them a Happy New Year!
Colonial Comics is alive and well and in shiny print!
Here’s a blurb about my story: “Puritan America was, for women, a time of tremendous restriction. For those with an ‘entrepreneurial spirit’, their best bet was to marry a supportive man who would allow them a certain amount of autonomy, giving them the status to make such endeavors socially acceptable. One of these women was Mary Huntris. A series of court records chronicle her struggle for independence and the archnemesis she gained along the way.” More information can be found here.
And, I am proud to announce, you should keep your eye out for news about the second volume –– I’ll have a story in that one, as well!
Under the Apple Tree kicks off 31 Days of Halloween over on The Beat!
This October, I’ll be at two shows: Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo and Portland Comic Expo! Colonial Comics is launching at MICE, and I should have copies of both that and Smut Peddler for PCE. Super exciting!
Meanwhile, here’s a recent poster design that I’m really proud of and super stoked to see out in the world:
I’m very excited to announce my latest project, Drawing Conclusions! My colleague and friend Nicole and I are developing a graphic resource for the Dialogue of Cajamarca, an important (and particularly interesting) moment in the Spanish conquest of the Inca. We will work on the first chapter over the summer and will post our work online as an annotated web comic; keep an eye on drawingconclusions.org for updates, and head over there now to read our introduction (excerpt below)!
I sure have been busy so far this year! Any radio silence here has been wholly due to too much comics-related excitement (which, in all honesty, is always a good thing). If you’re looking for more frequent updates, check out my Tumblr.
So far I’ve exhibited at SPACE (Columbus, OH), TCAF (Toronto, ON), and MeCAF (Portland, ME). All three have been wonderful experiences and I’m crossing my fingers for at least two more shows in the fall. I’ll update the appearances list on my about page as I get confirmation.
I have three publications in 2014: a few pages of bonus content in volume three of The Dreamer, a story in this year’s edition of Smut Peddler, and a story in the first volume of Colonial Comics. Learn more about these on my projects page. Also upcoming with a TBA release is Then It Was Dark, in which I’ll have a story as well!
In the next few weeks I should have an announcement about a comics project that a colleague and I are doing in affiliation with Harvard University. Check back for news, I’m really excited to get it rolling!
Until then, here’s a poster I drew for the Smut Peddler Portfolio:
February 1st is Hourly Comic Day, wherein you make a little comic for each hour you’re awake. Here’s mine!
It’s shaping up to be a busy year and it’s barely even begun!
First, I’d like to direct you to the new “Projects” section on this website. I’m listing information there on my work in comics, including titles, publishers, and release dates (I can’t express how exciting it is to have added a “Publications” section to my resume/CV)! Go check it out.
One of the announced publications is for the bonus content I drew for Lora Innes’ The Dreamer (you might remember my mention of it a while back). She’s been an amazing mentor as I’ve worked my way into the comics industry and it’s an honor to be included in the print edition of her series.
The other announcement is for my Colonial Comics contribution. I can’t express how excited I am about that anthology!
Second, I will be at a lot of different shows this spring. I’ve never done this many in an entire year, let alone the span of a few months –– wish me luck!
Small Press & Alternative Comics Expo
Ramada Plaza Hotel & Conference Center, Columbus, OH
Toronto Comics Arts Festival
Toronto Reference Library, Toronto, ON
Maine Comics Arts Festival
Portland Company Complex, Portland, ME
It’s been a busy end-of-year! I finished the piece for Fulcrum Publishing’s Colonial Comics anthology (detail above) and am rolling straight into the project I worked on over the summer at the Center for Cartoon studies.
I’ve also received confirmation that I will be exhibiting at the Small Press & Alternative Comics Expo (SPACE) in Columbus, Ohio in April, as well as the Toronto Comics Arts Festival (TCAF) in Toronto, Ontario in May! I haven’t done these shows before but I’ve heard great things. If all goes well, I’m hoping to attend the Maine Comics Arts Festival (MeCAF) and Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo (MICE) again, too. We shall see!
The Library as Incubator Project interviewed me about my experience as Children’s Writer-in-Residence at the Boston Public Library! Go check it out, as well as the rest of their website. Libraries are awesome.
If you follow me on social media, you already know that I spent the past week at the Center for Cartoon Studies for the Graphic Novel Workshop. I shall record my experience here for, you know, posterity or something.
It all began Sunday evening. Coated in sand and salt from my aunt’s beach wedding that afternoon, I set out for the mythical land of White River Junction, Vermont. Two hours later I pulled into a spot in front of the Hotel Coolidge, across the street from CCS and my home for the next five nights. Luckily, I wasn’t the only one who was nervous:
I have to admit, after my first night at the Coolidge, I already felt a bit homesick. There’s something about having to share a bathroom with a dozen other people (and mysterious, alleged arrests) that put a damper on things. But as soon as I got to class and Judith sat down next to me, I knew it was all going to be worth it. The instructor, Paul Karasik, quickly set us to work, and there was no turning back. We did some exercises to break the ice:
The days consisted largely of intensive studio time when everyone focused on their projects. These long hours were interspersed by lectures, as well as group discussions and mini field trips. I’m probably biased, but I’m convinced I had the best cohort. It consisted of: Judith (who’s working on an incredibly meaningful memoir about “being a mother and not being a mother”); Steve Bissette (of Swamp Thing and badass dinosaur comic fame); Cara (a lovely young lady who took the workshop with her father, both with independent projects); and myself (the awkward one).
On Tuesday, we visited James Sturm‘s studio and heard about his process. He shared a handful of sketchbooks with us, and seeing the sheer volume of extraneous work he’s produced outside his main projects over the years was incredibly motivating. It reinforced something I’ve heard several times over in quotes from many authors/creators I admire: if you want to be a creator, then create. That goes for writing, drawing, unicycling, and yes, cartooning. You’re only a cartoonist if you actually produce comics, so stop thinking about it and just do it. Don’t stop.
Wednesday and Thursday nights featured film nights hosted by Paul and Steve. We watched He Walked By Night, which was quite good, but the second, Rashomon, really made an impression on me. As you’ll see when I start sharing my current project, I’m a huge fan of exploring the ambiguity of the subjective, and it explores that in a really fascinating way.
Jon Chad stopped by, just in the nick of time, to do a guest lecture on thumbnailing. That’s where I was at in my own process, admittedly a little stuck. He shared the dummies he made of his past projects and it was interesting to look through them, since it’s such a different method than I’ve used. I ended up switching things up in the end, departing from my usual all digital workflow, and made physical books for my thumbnails as well. I’ll end up redrawing them when I rough the pages on the computer, but it was a good exercise and they feel like souvenirs:
I loved seeing how much progress everyone made over the week, the energy always supportive without being competitive. Friday saw goals met and preparations complete as we readied ourselves to push forward with our work independently, outside the hive. Saying good bye was a bit emotional, at least for me. As someone who made the journey because I don’t have access to that kind of environment at home, I’ll miss it sorely. But I have a bunch of new tricks stashed away in my tool box, plus an envelope filled with moral support from classmates propped on my desk in case of emergency. I’m not one to covet, but this might very well become my precious as I push through production:
On the way home, as I drove toward a strange, golden moon, I had a sort of out of body experience. I saw myself, and I saw my life right now for what it really is: freaking awesome. Comics are my life, and I consider myself amongst the luckiest of humans to have realized my passion.
And thanks to this past week, I’m finally ready to make this ambitious little project happen.
To see some of the other participants’ work, check out these links:
Instructor, Paul Karasik
TA, Joyana McDiarmid
Here are a couple more sketches to tease my project (coming soon to a browser near you):
Edit: Check out the workshop’s coverage on the Schulz Library blog!
I try to keep things on here related to my work, but I’d like to share this piece by Ryan Woodward. It’s something I go back to watch again and again, it’s absolutely beautiful and inspiring. If you’re into animation, I highly recommend you check out the background of its making on his website.
I find it interesting to see what other artists choose for backgrounds on their computers and devices, so I figured I’d share mine. As you can see, I prefer kind of plain/patterned stuff so it’s not distracting while I work. I’m also pretty meticulous about keeping organized and I try not to clutter the desktop with lots of things.
Top is my main screen. I tend to use a lot of patterns by Lindsay Nohl, her blog has a ton of really beautiful ones. They’re just interesting/pretty enough without being distracting, I really love them. See the source for this pattern here.
The bottom image is my Cintiq’s background. I found this piece by James Jean in super high resolution somewhere, ages ago. Its colors are understated so I can work over it easily, but it still shows his sense of form and stylization that I drool over, so it’s inspiring to catch a glimpse while I move windows around. See the original on his site here.