Monday, December 21, 2015

On Being a Good Parent

The End was just translated into French and published by Atrabile. The life of that book has been curious. The first half came out in 2007 to fairly limited notice as part of Fantagraphics' Ignatz series. I'd promised them a book in the series years before my fiancee Cheryl had even gotten sick. in 2007 my time was up and I had nothing to give them. So I turned to various scattered ruminations on grief I was filling my sketchbooks with. When The End #1 came out it felt very much like half a book to me, even then. Material already existed for the follow-up, but I just wasn't psychically prepared to wade back into the material for a second issue yet. So I let it languish. But as an author, there is something pretty uncomfortable to me in knowing I have a kind of crippled, half-finished child out in the world struggling to get by without my full care and attention. It's not really a fair thing to do to a story. Time passed. In 2013 I felt like I had enough distance to go back to it.

And it's done pretty well, without its handicap. It's an unusual book, even so. But people seem to respond to it. Voices as diverse as Zak Sally and my own mother have ventured that it may be their favorite book of mine. Which is saying something – it's probably also the piece most likely to make you dissolve into a puddle. It was nominated for an LA Book award, and now for the Selection Officielle at Angouleme (along with like thirty other books, it should be said). It's remarkable to see one's work grow up, leave home and have a life of its own out in the world. As someone who started out self-publishing in runs of 20 or 50 it still feels magical and inexplicable to me that something so deeply idiosyncratic, made for my own reasons without an audience in mind finds that audience nevertheless.

Anyway, I'm doing my best to help it out, now. I'll be heading to France a week before Angouleme to be in Besançon for Goat Without a Face an exhibition of artwork from PFC5, the residency I helped organize at MCAD last summer (see below). Then to Paris to be on hand for the opening of an exhibition at Galerie Martel honoring D&Q's 25th anniversary (January 26th, I'll have pages from Big Questions in the show), and do a signing at Super Heros (January 27th). Then to Angouleme, where I'll be doing some sort of talk or workshop or something, (exactly what is yet to be decided).

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Firelei Báez

Last Sunday before heading to the airport Bill K, Julia Gfrӧrer and I walked from the Book Fair over to the Perez Art Museum of Miami. Arriving under it's roof just as the skies opened up in a momentary squall. Miami is unlike most other US cities in many ways, but in particular it feels much closer to Latin America than to the majority Anglo cities I usually inhabit. The usual categories and hierarchies of class and race and cultural niche just don't seem to apply there in quite the ways one is used to in Chicago or New York, San Francisco or Minneapolis. There is as much Spanish being spoken on the streets as English and the English is, likely as not, accented with Spanish and Creole. It's refreshing. The Perez Museum reflects this difference. For one thing the work seemed to reflect more social and political consciousness than its sister institutions around the country generally do. That can of course be a good or a bad thing depending on the artist. There were a lot of romantic and nostalgic stacks of dusty old found objects, for example, meant to evoke lost innocence and absence. But there was also Firelei Báez. The time spent among her drawings were a highlight of the trip, and a revelation. The first two images are life-size figures drawn and painted in gouache and watercolor on giant sheets of paper:

The rest are from this giant conglomeration of small drawings, most on found paper or with collaged bits:

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Guest Sketchbook: Gabrielle Bell

In Miami last weekend I got to hang out with Gabrielle Bell and poke through her sketchbook. She doesn't normally post stuff from her sketchbooks, so I'm taking the liberty here, with her permission. You should go read more of her stuff here. We also started a strip together in my journal, which hopefully I'll be able to post sometime soon, once it's done. Gabrielle also prompted some group collaborative drawing with Julia Gfrörer, Leanne Shapton and Craig Thompson, who were also all in town. I'll hopefully be able to post some of that, as well.

Best American Comics on PBS in Miami

This made the rounds via Facebook, but here's a direct link. It's a twelve minute video interview with Bill Kartalopoulos, Julia Gfrorer, Gabrielle Bell and myself on PBS at the Miami Book Fair last weekend. I just re-watched it and was pleased to be reminded that so much of the discussion was about the importance of comics being uncategorizeable, and distinct from literature. As comics grows and accumulates mainstream acceptance it still can, hopefully, stay deeply idiosyncratic. Kudos to Bill and Jonathan for assembling such a diverse group of cartoonists in the most 'mainstream' of anthologies.

Friday, November 13, 2015

How is being an artist like playing basketball?

Ten years ago can feel like a lifetime past and then it can suddenly feel like the day before yesterday without any warning. Ten years ago today was Cheryl Weaver's last day on this planet, a fact that everyone who knew her will recognize as pitifully unfair. She was remarkable and beloved in too many ways to count. I've said plenty in other places about all that. For today I will just put down some images and pictures of her own. So, below are pages from a little book she made the year we met, at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She made copies of this book to give to each of the students on our floor of the SAIC artist's studios on the 15th floor of the Michigan building (more of her work can be seen here, here and especially here). Some of these people are lifelong friends now, all these years later, but others are long gone from my life. If one of these faces is familiar to you, pass this post along, they'll surely remember the book, I think. And if you knew Cheryl yourself take a second to raise a glass sometime this weekend, and spare a moment to remember a remarkable woman. Her time was way too short, but it was also very well spent. She's not forgotten.