Boston Globe Article

Last Wednesday was the annual Children’s Writer-in-Residence reception at the Boston Public Library, where last year’s fellow, Elaine Dimopoulos, presented her finished manuscript, and I was introduced as the new. It was absolutely wonderful, I met some positively lovely people, and I am even more excited for the next seven and a half months!

The reception was covered by the Boston Globe and I was surprised to see my face in the “Names” (celebrity) section on Friday, sharing the page with Sting and Hugh Jackman. I have to admit, this makes me feel pretty darn cool.

Read the article at Boston.com!

Also, Under the Apple Tree is going strong in its serialization online. The first chapter has finished and the plot is starting to pick up. Go read it, you know you want to:

MICE, UtAT

I will be an exhibitor at the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo on Saturday, September 24 in Cambridge! I’m not sure what I’ll be bringing with me, but rest assured I will be pimpin’ some Under the Apple Tree action.

Speaking of UtAT, twice-weekly updates have started. Read it, you know you want to!

UtAT is underway!

My Game Artist position with The Game Show Network wrapped up in July, and I’m using the rest of the summer to get a head start on Under the Apple Tree! It’s my goal to have the first chapter finished by the start of the fellowship in September so that my first day can coincide with the first update.

For those unfamiliar with webcomics (the format I’ve chosen for UtAT), the comic will be serialized on its own website. I will post 1-3 pages at a time, twice a week, until it is complete. The updates will hopefully start on Labor Day, but as soon as the website is finished the first scene will be available to read.

Stay tuned, within a week or two I will share the URL of the website!

Official Announcement!

The Associates of the Boston Public Library have put out the official press release, and I am now on their website!

I’m celebrating all over again, now it’s official! Also, T-minus eight work days until comics become my full time job. I think I’ll be staying at the Game Show Network part time for a little while, and I’m glad – working alone is going to drive me crazy enough as is!

Thanks to a Living Social deal, I have coming to me in the mail 2500 little cards to hand out with Under the Apple Tree’s information on them. Thank goodness for coupons! I’m hoping these will help spread the word; once the website is up, I’ll be leaving them at libraries, comic shops, etc, so people can grab one and check it out later.

I made this image specifically for that purpose, but the original is 11″x17″. Needs a bit of detail work, but I’m pretty pleased with the overall outcome. Say hello to the main character’s first appearance as Rosie!

Odd Coincidence

So, last week I came upon an interesting link. Faith Erin Hicks, talented creator of the adorable and entertaining webcomic Superhero Girl, has announced a new project called Friends With Boys that will be published by First Second. Here is the abstract:

Maggie, a teenaged girl just starting at a new school, finds herself haunted by a ghost and takes it upon herself to help him move onto the afterlife.

Sound familiar? Crazy coincidence! Read this article on Newsarama. Upon Googling I found it’s been in the works for a while, but this is the first I’ve heard about it. And, well, it looks totally awesome.

I’m not accusing anyone of stealing or anything, I can’t wait to read it and encourage everyone to do the same. It will be serialized online as a webcomic, too! (And of course, I’m not guilty of stealing either, if you just take a look at my Deviant Art account you’ll see development work for UtAT dating back to 2007!)

It’s just one of those strange things that just happens. The rest of the plots are completely different and I don’t imagine they’ll be much competition for each other; my project is very much a history-focused drama, and everything from the characters to the feel of the work seems to be polar opposites.

I suppose it’s a reason to change Maggie’s name, at the very least. I based her on my grandmother, but when I told her the character’s name, she immediately demanded it to be changed! I consulted with her, and she chose Rose. It’s a family name, and she feels it better reflects the fictional adaptation of herself (she illustrated this by comparing to “the lady with her boobs out in Titanic”… what is that supposed to mean?!).

Funny enough, Maggie was named after my favorite childhood pet, and Rosie was also the name of one of our cats growing up. I suppose it’s meant to be.

Here is Maggie’s first appearance as Rose (work in process, she has not lost her hands in the name changing process). I’m working on a new promotional/cover image, as I have a big credit toward printing that expires on Monday. I figure I’ll get some cards made up to pass around this summer as I start advertising UtAT!

Expression Practice

To prepare for the production of my graphic novel I’m doing a lot of planning. This includes acknowledging my weak points as an illustrator and taking steps to improve that now. Consistency is one of the most difficult things about making comics – a character has to look the same when it’s drawn hundreds of times – so I am making turnarounds and expression sheets of the main characters in my book to use as reference later.

I will post them as they’re finished, but for now, here’s a test of the heroine. Style isn’t quite spot-on, but I’m working on it.

The spring semester has ended and I have three weeks left of working full time at my day job before fully diving into this project. I am so ridiculously excited! This past Thursday I went to the Boston Public Library to meet the Associates, the current Writer-in-Residence Elaine Dimopoulos, and to see my future office. Everyone was so nice, September can’t come fast enough!

As part of my residency I will be doing some programs/events/activities within the community at BPL. I’m considering holding office hours in the teen room for aspiring cartoonists and maybe doing a couple workshops for young adults who want to make comics. I’m taking suggestions!

Maggie the Riveter

I’ve needed a new promotional piece for Under the Apple Tree and wanted to practice my refined style some more, so I decided to try out a chapter cover concept I’d been sketching for a while. This wouldn’t appear until Chapter 4, so it’s a bit premature, but as a promotional image the effect would be strong. It establishes the main character and the setting of the graphic novel.

Rosie the Riveter is a pretty commonly parodied image, but after careful consideration I decided there really would be nothing else that would get the point of that chapter across quite like that comparison. It’s really about expectations of the era. With Maggie’s father and brother in the military, she has a very strong sense of patriotism and duty. What better a goal than to go to nursing school and support her country and future?

This is where the theme carries over into something applicable today: Maggie has this goal, but it is not necessarily her dream, and herein she is tested. Teenagers today know the drill. It’s hard enough to figure out who you are and what you want to do, then you have the pressures and expectations of family, teachers and peers on top of that. Nothing’s simple, and while I’m sounding a bit like a guidance counselor, how you handle those troubles can really define who you are when you “grow up”.

Of course, Maggie is no different. Here she is trying to emulate what is idolized and expected of her: strength, decisiveness, ambition. But she isn’t really there yet, and the book follows her on her journey to become that person.

Click to view on Deviant Art!

The Dreamer Fan Art

The Dreamer is a web comic by the lovely and talented Lora Innes. I’m greatly attached to it in a lot of ways: it’s a great story that always keeps me excited for the next update, and the creator has been a mentor since it started and I gave my first shot at web comics almost five years ago! It’s crazy to imagine that it started in 2007 — I’ve grown a lot since then and Lora has supported me not just as a fan, but as an emerging artist.

I made her first piece of fan art back in the day:

Boy, that’s an oldie! I’m glad to say I’ve come a long way since then. Maybe someday I’ll post some of the art from my teenage years. I’ve grown up a lot, so it’s turning into one of those embarrassing stories that you can laugh about later even if it’s still a bit awkward.

Recently I’ve been working on developing my personal style, and it’s fun to draw my own characters over and over, but sometimes a good test is to try out someone else’s to see how it translates. It seemed fitting to do some new fan art for The Dreamer.

I’ve had an idea for a while that I’ve tried sketching out a few times but haven’t been happy with. The Dreamer is about a girl who dreams about a seeming “past life” during the Revolutionary War, and at this point in the story she is distressed because she’s getting so caught up in the dream world that her “real” life is suffering. I wanted to portray her as stuck in the middle, curled up in an 18th century dress with modern sneakers, looking a bit under the weather.

I did some sketches and decided it would be fun to pick a color palette from one of my favorite inspiration websites, Colour Lovers. I needed something that was a bit “blue” to show her mood, and browsing around gave me a starting point.

I ended up choosing “Be Kind“.

I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. It was great practice for my developing style and a nice update from my first Dreamer fan art.

Thank you, Lora!