Happy New Year, Everyone! My apologies for neglecting to post in January. Mostly I was bummed out to not be back on the drawing wagon as predicted. All of December and January were spent in recovery, including occupational therapy. But I’m reminded that there were similar months of recuperation after BLANKETS tour in 2004 (see CARNET DE VOYAGE).
The bad news is that I haven’t drawn any new pages since the last blog-posting, because of a hand injury. Prohibited from drawing, I’ve been obsessively combing over the thumbnail draft, thus further applying the Pixar model of endless rewrites. My New Year’s plan is to take off the splint and leap back on the drawing wagon. And the book will keep me busy through all of 2013. Aiming for a 2014 release.
Thanks for your patience with the confusion and delay around the art auction to raise funds for flood relief in the Philippines. The fund raiser is finally active on eBay and bids close in a week. Here’s the link:
Thanks for the reminder, Jordi. It’s been five weeks since my return, and I’ve finally started drawing the NEXT BOOK. Twelve pages are finished, but I’m still reclaiming the discipline & drawing muscles required to make final pages. It’s still a bit soon to reveal the details of the project, but I will say my focus is on the all-ages book. While brainstorming/writing (earlier in the year), I gave equal attention to three ideas, but the time-consuming demands of drawing have nudged the other two books to the backburner. Here’s some preliminary sketches of the new book’s hero – VIOLET.
In other news, here’s a link to the BLANKETS MARRIAGE PROPOSAL of Becca & Mike mentioned at the end of last month’s post.
A sweet moment and a great honor as an author to find one’s book connecting so deeply to readers’ lives. Best wishes to Becca & Mike!
During a two week stay, I conducted graphic novel workshops to three entirely different groups, each with their own inspiring dynamics. The first were deaf children (ages 5 – 20) at The Holy Land Institute for the Deaf in Salt, Jordan. These kids were a bit baffled by the concept of comics (perhaps even drawing) on the first day of classes, but by the third day, they were churning out comics with wild abandon. The institute is a boarding school, and the theme of missing one’s family was a common one in many of their stories, but the concurrent theme was that of gratitude towards finding an extended family they could actually communicate with.
Through comics, these kids proved quite eloquent with word balloons, sound effects and visual music. My favorite exercise was a pairing up of students – boy/girl, young/old – in which one student signed a story and the other translated it into comics form on a board in front of the class.
The second batch of workshops was with inner city youth – teens and university students – at the Princess Basma Youth Resource Center Computer Clubhouse. They channeled passions for music, graffiti, writing, architecture, and even computers into comics pages, collaborating on an anthology conceived and drawn in only three days — a pretty impressive display of constructive teamwork. If only I’d been so focused at that age! The girls (above left) are refugees from Syria and amazingly prolific cartoonists. They talked of creating a graphic novel to document their experience fleeing their war-torn homeland. The world needs this book to exist!
In the final workshops (below) held at Mlabbas – a hipster t-shirt shop on Rainbow Street in Amman – we gathered professional artists with specific interest in graphic novels. It was refreshing to be around like-minded, similar-aged peers without a language barrier, and also to witness the outset of a burgeoning comics scene. Every single meal we shared was an AMAZING FEAST! The media paints a bleak outlook for the region, but there is a visceral optimism around the arts and self-expression and the medium of comics.
Finally, despite the banning, we were able to organize a bookstore signing where I met HABIBI fans from Jordan, Palestine, Syria, and Iraq. These two fans (below right) had only recently left their homes in Iraq. Readers found the book’s ban quite arbitrary, and felt it corresponded with a time of public frustration towards increasing government censorship in Jordan. Many Muslim readers thanked me specifically for the reverent depiction of their faith in HABIBI.
It’s been a full year of touring with HABIBI, and this week takes me to what feels like a pinnacle – the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. While there, I’ll be conducting comics workshops with deaf children at the Holy Land Institute in Salt city, youth at the Princess Basma Youth Resource Center in Amman, and an elite group of Jordanian graphic novelists. This promises to be a life-changing experience; and I’ll be sure to bring home drawings/stories for the blog.
Enticing invites keep pouring in from all over the world; but I’m feeling growing pressure and obligation to get home to the drawing board and start producing new comics pages! My plan is to travel nowhere for October – my first month of not flying since this time last year.
Hello, Blog-Readers, and thanks as always for your patience. As you certainly can relate, the summer months are chaos.
First off, it was a treat to see many of you at San Diego Comic-con, and thanks to the comic industry for awarding HABIBI an Eisner for Best Writer/Artist. Here’s a con photo with a great group of fans from the Philippines.
The Philippines have recently been hit hard by monsoon season flooding, and members of the comics community have started a fundraiser for aid, relief, and medical assistance for the hundreds of thousands of displaced people. As part of this, the original cover artwork for the new edition of BLANKETS has been donated. Details HERE.
As all of you know, I never sell original artwork, so this a rare exception that any piece is available. 14’x17″ India ink on Bristol board. If I have a chance, I’ll personalize a note on the back to the donor. Please, look into bidding to help raise funds for this crucial cause. Thanks!
Thanks for the reminder, Jordi! The all-ages book is progressing, but still in its secret stages. What I can reveal is that I got last minute tickets to attend San Diego Comic-con this week. At 10:30 am on Friday, July 13th, I’ll be signing at the Top Shelf booth (#1721). That night, I’ll certainly be attending the Eisner Awards. And on Saturday the 14th, from 10am – noon, I’ll be presenting a writers’ workshop on ‘World-Building’ at TR!CKSTER (795 J Street, San Diego, CA). My plan is to hang around TR!CKSTER quite a bit, where they’ll be selling a super-limited-edition HABIBI screenprint – handpulled by Portland printmaking superstar Pete McCracken.
Speaking of Portland superstars, cartoonist buddy & psychedelic visionary Theo Ellsworth (above) is leaving town; so we got together for one last drawing day, and crafted an afternoon jam comic (below). FLOMGART’S DEPARTURE is inspired by Chicago’s Trubble Club sessions. For other surreal, half-baked jams on this blog, revisit those with Aaron Renier, Fabio Moon, and my brother Phil.
Finally recovering from promotional travel. A token of carrying home on one’s back is this handmade Chunky Rice plush from Raquel & Ferran in Barcelona. Thanks, you two! And to Jordi & the other dedicated Spanish fans that made it out. Accompanying Chunky is a classic casualty of travel – the drowned sketchbook – reminding me of the age-old lesson to sketch in archival ink. Appropriately, most of the drawings are of airplane interiors that literally bled together after so many flights.
Along the way, I meet so many amazing people – too many to acknowledge in this small space – but foremost you readers! Seen here is my Spanish/Catalan editor Laureano & a new fave cartoonist David Rubin. Also, the charming Elvis Mitchell – an incredible interviewer that sets one at ease & draws out an honest conversation.
Some of you may recognize Laureano from my 2004 travelogue CARNET DE VOYAGE. Below, the view a block and a half from Laureano’s apartment. On the right is a snippet from my 2004 sketchbooks that never made it into print. But it’s another good reminder…
Maurice was an artistic MASTER, a mentor, a friend, and a beautiful person.