Short Run Small Press Expo is this Saturday November 30th at Washington Hall here in Seattle. I am very excited for it and hope to see you there. Loads of my favorite people in small press/comics/animation will be tabling and taking part in the programming. I will be debuting a new mini. Here’s a sneak peek:
This Wednesday marks 6 years since my mom died. For the last couple years, I’ve made a comic in order to recognize the day. This time, a comic didn’t come out. Instead, what emerged is a poem. It’s an ekphrastic poem, though, so I’d like to think it in some way is tapping into the medium of comics. What I’ve noted, too, is that this poem is in a much different place than the previous two comics have been. The nightmares that usually spring up for me this time of year have been few and far between—or maybe they just don’t impact me the same way anymore? I’m not sure. I do miss her—but the pain has faded quite a bit.
Here is my poem:
Hanging on the wall
of the hallway
that led to the waiting room
of the treatment center
at the City of Hope
was a painting filled with wild animals.
That waiting room
made you nervous
made you nauseous.
Those others waiting
weren’t like you—
So you waited there
in the hallway
facing that painting
til the door opened and a voice said your name
(the nurses knew where to find you).
And over the weeks and months that you waited
you memorized the placements and gestures
of each of those animals—
leopard sitting, monkey scratching, toucan perching, rhino bored.
All those wild animals unnaturally piled together eased you
and from their strange, colorful, cacophonous world
they waited with you
in artificial calm.
The last month has been a whirlwind. Here is my attempt to capture some of the many many highlights (with photos!):
From Bristol we traveled to Brighton for the 2013 Comics and Medicine conference. As this post has already grown far too long with highlights (are you really still reading?), please stay tuned for the next: COMICS AND MEDICINE 2013!
Except for the printing and binding, I am done with the 20-page excerpt! Here is the inside cover:
The process of completing this excerpt was unusual. I had a vague idea of what I wanted to include in Tree Girl’s tale, but I was clueless in terms of how the narrative would unfold. Because of my time constraints, I needed to find a way past my writer’s block. I decided to take the six or so empty pages that I had left to write and simply (simply?? pah!) began drawing panels and images—allowing the pictures to dictate the story rather than having a specific dialogue or narration in mind (though, again, I had a vague set of ideas in my head and some notes here and there).
From there, I began considering the words. I spread all twenty pages (some still blank) on the floor and was able to see better what the narrative as a whole looked like and where there were gaps that I needed to fill. I re-wrote and re-drew plenty—and sometimes moved certain dialogue pieces to different panels.
I ended up switching a couple of the pages around, too, to make for smoother transitions between the drawn pages and the collaged ones. Hopefully it all makes sense! I am eager to print and bind it.
To close, here is what one of the unfinished hybrid pages looks like:
I’ll be at CAKE (Chicago Alternative Comics Expo) this June and am hoping to complete a 20-page book(ish) that will share Tree Girl’s origin story in time for it. Here is the mostly completed last page (I have 19 before it that are still in progress … ) featuring Kind Yeti placing the moon in the sky. After it, you’ll see some process images. Hope you enjoy! And, if you’re in or around Chicago on June 15th and/or 16th, please come see me! More on summer plans coming soon …
About a year before she died, my mom went through the boxes and boxes of photos we had collected over the years and began organizing them into photo albums. She made one album in particular for me. It collects photos from throughout my childhood—though now and again you’ll find a random photo of her alone as well. She captioned each one—names, dates, locations, etc. (though what information she chose to include is not consistent—and some of the years listed, I think, are incorrect).
These photos and handwritten captions are the basis of the section I’m working on right now. At the good suggestion of Paula Knight, I’ve decided to slow down my process. I’ve been struggling with completing pages and then not being quite happy with what the “finished” page looks like (a panel will seem to be missing—or an image will read differently than it did in my head). Although I do take notes and have sketched the images before beginning “construction” of a page, these templates aren’t as elaborate as they could be. Paula suggested that before moving to the art (which is time-consuming and so a little heartbreaking when a page doesn’t hold together right), it might be a good idea to storyboard big “chunks” of the narrative. I agree. Too, I think I’m at the stage where I need to see what the “big picture” will look like.
And so today I worked on some of the transition pages—pages that will connect the tree girl narrative to the “conversations with my mother” narrative—that are based upon the photos and captions included in the album my mom had made for me. I’m not mimicking her handwriting as well as I’d like to—reminds me a little bit of how I not-so-successfully attempted to write notes in her handwriting in order to get out of P.E. class when I was in the sixth grade (I was totally busted!!!). But these are just storyboards and I may go through at a later stage and scan the actual captions and add her writing to the images digitally. There is something haunting about seeing the words that she wrote (a couple weeks before her death, she sat with me and, with pen in shaky hand, relabeled all of her pill bottles). Her handwriting is very curvy and swoopy—kind of like the line that I’m using to represent her.
Here are a few of the sketches. Still working on the lines and the writing—and I’m planning on cutting the frames out of craft paper to create a layered effect.
Here is a page from a section I’ve been working on which, for now, I’m calling “morphine”—a section that will recount some of the uglier moments from the night my mom died.
Wishing I could have a month to devote to nothing but writing and storyboarding. As it is, finding an hour here and there has been, well, not ideal It’s been taking me about a month to produce a scant number of pages. When they’re done, I look at them and think, “That’s not right.” That’s not true for all of them, of course. And the whole story is coming together in my head so much more clearly than just a couple months ago. Still, I need to find a way to devote more time to it. I want what’s in my head to be on the page!! It’ll happen.
Plus, exciting things afoot. A new issue of Ivy coming soon. AND I’ll be going to CAKE in June!
A page from the tree girl project wherein tree girl finds uses for the branches growing from her chest. It is not terribly painful when she snaps off the branches.
from Redcat and Splat!