Showing posts with label minicomics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label minicomics. Show all posts

Friday, August 03, 2018

Meet a Local Cartoonist: A Chat with Paul Hostetler

by Mike Rhode

DC Zinefest 2018 recently had a successful day out at Art Enables on Rhode Island Ave. I met at least six cartoonists who were new to me, and said hi to at least three I already know. (My photos are here). Paul Hostetler, illustrator and cartoonist, answered our usual questions.

What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?

Every year, for the past 5 years, I self-published a black and white mini-comic, sold pretty much exclusively at shows.  Occasionally, I'll have comics published in an alt-monthly or something, but my main wheelhouse is illustration.

How do you do it? Traditional pen and ink, computer or a combination?

Dark Ambrosia
I have a love affair with India ink, and there's probably not a method I haven't used with it, from sponges and quill pens to Microns and atomizers.  I always come back to the sable brush, though. The less time I have to spend on a computer, the better.  To me, computer coloring and shading is the dullest thing in the world.

When (within a decade is fine) and where were you born?

I was born in the 80s, but I only barely remember the first George Bush getting elected.  There was a giant turkey in his victory speech, so I might have that confused with the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Why are you in Washington now?  What neighborhood or area do you live in?

I moved to DC because my last job had me in a small town in Virginia, and I was going stir crazy with all the bluegrass music.  Right now my metro stop is Van Ness, and why the neighborhood is called "Forest Hills" instead of that is one of the things that I try to not have to think about.

What is your training and/or education in cartooning?

I was educated at the Savannah College of Art and Design, in illustration.  They have a sequential art department, but I figured the Illustration Department would give me a leg up when it came to working with a variety of media.  And it did!  Though I have to say, 80% of what I know about the comics/illustration business, I've had to learn on the job.

Who are your influences?

For writing, I feel you can't top Alan Moore. Jodorowsky was one of the writers who taught me that comics don't necessarily have to make a lot of sense.  And beyond comics, Terry Pratchett, John Kennedy Toole, P. G. Wodehouse, Agatha Christie, Michael Moorcock, Dan Harmon, and Clive Barker.  Far too many white guys, now that I think about it.
Our Dear Leader

For art, most of my biggest influences are people who have never done comics, like British illustrators Gerald Scarfe, Ralph Steadman, Ronald Searle, more recent Americans like Barry Blitt, John Cuneo, and international stars like Boulet and Tomer Hanuka.  I also dig John McLeod, Eddie Campbell, Sam Keith, Tradd Moore, and Craig Thompson, though I don't know if they count as influences.

If you could, what in your career would you do-over or change?

It's a cliche, but I would do everything sooner.  They best time to make mistakes is when you have nothing to lose, and NO ONE in the whole world has less to lose than an art student.  We are at the bottom of the barrel, right under war refugees and homeless vets.  I also would have made friends with more people, while I was stuck in a building with them every day.

What work are you best-known for?

My best-known work, sadly, is "Arkham Daycare," a Scottie Young-style piece imagining the Batman villains as toddles under the supervision of a very tired Jim Gordon.  I spent a good month chasing it around the internet and typing my attribution information in comments section.

What work are you most proud of?

I had my work put on the side of a city bus in Charlottesville, VA for a year.  I did a wraparound mural of various dinosaurs, life-size, WITH FEATHERS, so that kids who might not otherwise be able to go to a natural history museum could experience a little science.

What would you like to do  or work on in the future?

The huge majority of my time is taken up working on non-comic-related projects (hence why I only put out one mini-comic per year), but I am slowly drawing out the graphic novel I slowly wrote, which I imagine will take another few years to actually finish.  It's a murder mystery in the vein of Clue.

What do you do when you're in a rut or have writer's block?

When I'm in a rut, I watch TV and don't work at all.  I recommend it to anyone who doesn't have a deadline.  When I have writer's block, I usually think about the last thing I felt strongly enough about to comment on a website about.  There's usually an equally emotional response, and if you give those emotions to fictional characters, you can create a scenario that, in real life, would never be satisfactorily resolved.

What do you think will be the future of your field?

Print is dying, but hopefully it will last long enough that I will die first.

What local cons do you attend besides DC Zinefest? The Small Press Expo, Intervention, or others? Any comments about attending them?

Beyond DC Zinefest, I always go to SPX, though I've only won the table lottery once, and I try to attend the Richmond Zinefest in October and DC Art Book Fair in December.  A friend of mine, LA Johnson, helps put it on.  I tabled at Awesome Con once, and the Richmond Comic-Con once, and both were only slightly more pleasant than absolutely miserable.  No one goes to those for original art, only fan art and celebrity autographs.  I highly suggest trying the gyro platter at the Greek place around the corner from SPX.

What's your favorite thing about DC?

My favorite DC things would probably be Ben's Chili Bowl, and the Botanical Garden.  If they could combine the two, I doubt I'd ever have another weekend free.

Least favorite?

Could I be a true DCer if I said I hated anything more than my commute?  Also, the fat orange man who lives in the big house on Pennsylvania Avenue could go away at any time.

What monument or museum do you like to take visitors to?

I'd like to say the Renwick, because it's free and off the beaten path, but the last museum I actually DID take a visitor to was the American University Museum, to see the Ralph Steadman retrospective. They were handing out free bottles of that beer he draws the labels for.  I took a few home.

How about a favorite local restaurant?

I already mentioned Ben's Chili Bowl, so I'll have to run with Bakers and Baristas, on 7th St NW, solely for the butterkuchen.  That is the cake all other cakes want to be, fail miserably at, and die with regret in their heart for.

Do you have a website or blog?

You can find my business site at www.phostetler.com.  It includes a blog which is mostly just movie reviews, and a few digitized zines.  I'm also on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at @phostetlerart.

Monday, July 03, 2017

The Allure of Zines, a guest post by Anna Tecson



by Anna Tecson

While conducting a zine workshop at American University, fellow DC Zinefest organizer Anne Buckwalter (annedrawscomics.tumblr.com) and I demonstrated to a class of fine arts graduate students, simply as a matter of course, the fundamentals of folding a single sheet of paper into a pocket-size book. After which the students launched into shredding campus going-out guides for collages, Crayola markers and glue sticks flying.

Art students in particular might easily understand the symbiotic relationship of consuming and creating for a thriving cultural ecosystem. Yet, for this project on arts and activism, they’re also challenging any perceptions of art as a static work within the confines of a studio. In addition to covering basic zine production, the students watched a screening of Robin Bell’s documentary “Positive Force: More Than a Witness”, which features 30 years of punk politics in action. The students had the unique opportunity to meet Mark Anderson and his colleagues, Sarah Himmelfarb and Dennis, of Positive Force and We Are Family, DC-based organizations with extensive histories of activism, advocacy, and community-building. After which the students embarked on fieldwork to explore and participate in social causes meaningful to them as the basis for their zines. The art instructor at AU is Professor Naoko Wowsugi. She has headed several projects focusing on art and community involvement for social change: http://www.wowsugi.com.

Although these DIY pubs cover every possible topic, early zines stemmed from sci-fi culture and punk. In the 1930s, sci-fi zines emerged when readers of commercial magazines began engaging more with one another in discourse or fandom. “Letters to the Editor” submissions evolved into independent publications. Greater access to self-publishing technology in the 70s, concurrent to the counterculture spirit of punk, also boosted the genre. Since then, the same do-it-yourself practices and ethos have led to a stunning diversity of zine publishing in terms of subject matter, artistic presentation, and social causes. Zines, often in the form of mini-magazines or comics, can vary in technical production, from 4-color, bound and cloth-covered to photocopied and stapled. They’re usually hand-drawn or hand-lettered, consisting of original and collaged art, and are often produced in small batches. Production costs stay within a minimal range because zines are shared and swapped as freely as they’re bought and sold (usually averaging $3–$5, with some exceptions). Regardless of the current boundlessness of format, metadata, and reach of commercial publishing, zinesters maintain a sentient immunity to conventions and economies of scale and instead connect with and revere so many voices and perspectives through these hoardable pocket-size treasures.

This summer, DC Zinefest will host its 7th annual event, July 15, at St. Stephen and the Incarnation Episcopal Church. DC Zinefest provides a space for zine-makers, self-published artists, and writers to share their work with each other and the Washington, D.C., community.

Panel discussions will focus on arts and activism, topics relevant to people of color, and issues related to mental health. Tablers at this year’s DC Zinefest include DC publishers Swamphouse Press (promising “more Dungeons and Dragons content this year”) and The Doldrums (Unstuck, about feeling creatively and personally stagnant). Vinyl Vagabond features any and all matters related to vinyl music; creators Sara and Eric Gordon also make a variety of mini-comics such as Mr. Squibly, Adventures of a Terrified Pickle, Verse Scribble Verse, Thank You for Your Cooperation: Robocop 1987 Fanzine, Know a Ramen, and more. Zack Bly, a member of the D.C. comics collective Square City Comics, will feature his latest release, a technological thriller about a pig computer hacker. Kaila Bell’s (mostly) autobiographical Nun Comix draws scenes and stories from everyday life, with a special focus on LGBTQA issues, (a lack of) fitness, and living with anxiety. Her latest release, Someone’s in the Kitchen with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, is half foodie zine and half self-help.  JC, of Jenny and the Librarians, writes about disability and mental health. Tributaries shares her experiences related to juvenile rheumatoid arthritis; and Collide is a compilation zine on the intersection of physical and mental illness. Toni Lane will share her creations in Ghetto Girls Rule: “Ghetto Girls are personas from my memory and imagination. Their rules are what they give herself to live by. My rule is: Do Your Dream. Girls have always been the matriarch of most families. For this, strength is strong even when all seems lost. Ghetto Girls can be your sister, your neighbor, the girl up the way, in a place shared, where loneliness is not healthy and silence is a sound of trouble.” The Red Sweater Zine Collective promotes and distributes zines and handmade goodies from artists and writers, including zinesters who can’t get to zinefests because of cost, logistics, or other factors. Their works cover aging, mental health, the joy of dance, and also include thumb-size zines filled with enormous haiku. Other tablers include G. E. Gallas, writer and illustrator best known for her graphic novel, The Poet and The Flea, about William Blake, and her short film “Death Is No Bad Friend”, about Robert Louis Stevenson, and Team KK, who bring “silly pop-culture inspired illustrated zines inspired by bad movies, Nic Cage, The Rock, and anime”. Also, a limited supply of posters featuring this year’s commissioned art by Austin Breed will be available.

The organizers, all volunteers, hold fundraisers and promotional events throughout the year, most recently open mic readings at Black Cat and Pottery House and Zine Swaps at Fantom Comics. DC Zinefest also tabled at an event hosted by the National Museum of Women in the Arts, which featured a conversation with leading women in the comic world fighting for justice and dispelling traditional stereotypes in fiction and beyond. This year, DC Zinefest, through fundraising alone, had the means to grant stipends to underrepresented publishers (people of color, people with disabilities, people who identify as LBGTQIA+, and people who earn low incomes).

Some attendees who travel from out of town manage to find hosts among the DC zinester community and reciprocate in kind at events in Richmond, Philly, Boston, and New York, to name only a few (visit zinenation.org for the entire list of national and international zine events.) The DC and Arlington Public Libraries host zine-making workshops, and the DC Public Library Punk Archives and the University of Maryland D.C. Punk and Indie Fanzine Collection maintain repositories of works dating from the mid-1970s. Local events leading up to this year’s DC Zinefest include the following:


Zine Workshop
Friday, July 7, 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.
The Connection: Arlington Pop-Up Library
2100 Crystal Drive, Arlington, VA 22202

Zine Lab
Tuesday, July 11, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Mt. Pleasant Library
3160 16th St. N.W., Washington, DC 20010


Saturday, July 15, 2017
10:00–4:30 p.m.
1525 Newton St NW, Washington, DC 20010

Sunday, December 11, 2016

My mini-comics collection now at Library of Congress

by Matt Dembicki

On Friday, I loaded up the minivan and brought my minicomics collection to the Library of Congress. It wasn't easy to part with, because these are not just books, but momentos and memories. But in the end, LOC will do a much better job preserving it and allowing researchers and others to find those gems they're looking for. My collection is mostly from 2000 up to present (with a heavy does of Midwest and D.C. area cartoonists) but there are a bunch from earlier decades as well as from other countries. One that comes to mind was a mini done by Kevin Eastman before he did Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.


Monday, November 21, 2016

Meet a Local Cartoonist: A Chat with Lenora Yerkes

by Mike Rhode

I met Lenora Yerkes recently at a local art book festival where she was selling two minicomics.


What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?

I write stories inspired by my life--you might call it personal or observational narrative drawing. 

How do you do it? Traditional pen and ink, computer or a combination?

I'm all analog--pens and paper and nothing fancier than a nice Japanese pen and a kinda busted scanner. 

When (within a decade is fine) and where were you born?

My favorite Dolly Parton song (9 to 5) was a Billboard #1 hit the year I was born--in Los Angeles, CA. 

Why are you in Washington now?  What neighborhood or area do you live in?

This is my tenth year in DC and my seventh in Bloomingdale. I came for graduate school and stayed for love--of this weird place and its weird people.

What is your training and/or education in cartooning? 

Twenty Six Days
In cartooning? None at all. My drawing has always been narrative and it's always told stories. I've drawn comics over the years, along with big narrative drawings and prints, but recently I'm devoting more time to this "comix" format that brings writing and drawing together into more literal narratives. 

Who are your influences?

Lynda Barry, for sure, but also Vanessa Davis and Evan Dorkin and Kathe Kollwitz (OG narrative printmaker!) and the surrealist painters Remedios Varo and Leonora Carrington.

If you could, what in your career would you do-over or change?

I would have worked more. There's always room for more work. 

What work are you best-known for?

This season, I shared a lot of a mini-comic I made called "Hibakusha." An interesting thing happened in sharing that book that I didn't expect--a lot of young people were interested because of the ostensible subject, but a lot of older folks were drawn in by the title, which is a word not that commonly used anymore. Response to that story has been great. 

What work are you most proud of? 

"Twenty Six Days" turned out beautifully and was a bear to compose. The process of writing that one is something I hope to improve on and then bottle. 

What would you like to do or work on in the future?

Longer works! I'm a long-winded, round-about lover of analogies and metaphors, so I work a lot on making complex ideas concise. I'd love to build the patience to compose and draw a longer story. 

What do you do when you're in a rut or have writer's block?

Twenty Six Days page
These days, I go for a swim. My father-in-law tells me we get more ideas when we're in the water. 

What do you think will be the future of your field?

Comics or narrative drawing or cartooning--whatever you call it--can be used to tell any kind of story. We're situated to redefine what people think when they hear these words and move these kinds of drawings into every field. 

What local cons do you attend? The Small Press Expo, Intervention, or others? Any comments about attending them?

I tabled at SPX this year for the first time and was lucky enough to participate in the first ever DC Art Book Fair. It's a huge, diverse community of a lot of artists doing different things. 

What's your favorite thing about DC?

Hibakusha detail

DC is like no where else and every where else, all at once. 

Least favorite?

Rent

What monument or museum do like to take visitors to?

Actually, the view from the top of the 13th Street hill is one of my faves right now. 

How about a favorite local restaurant?

Meats & Foods at 247 Florida Ave NW--a beautiful simple store making great food. 

Do you have a website or blog?

The best place to see my work is Instagram @lenorayerkes, but you can also see it at lenorayerkes.tumblr.com









Tuesday, March 31, 2015

ComicsDC on the road: Mountain Top Comics and Collectibles of Cookeville, TN

I visit Cookeville, TN regularly to see my wife's family and off and on have visited local comics shops. I thought they were all gone, but last year for Free Comic Book Day, my in-laws heard about Mountain Top Comics and kindly stopped in for me. I took the opportunity to visit recently and met the owner Michael Hargis. It's the only shop left in Cookeville, which at one point in the 90s had at least three of them. The shop at, 1683 S. Jefferson Ave, has a good assortment of new comics. Hargis probably stocks more new floppies than the Big Planet stores around DC that I regularly shop at.  Hargis has a good run of the non-big two comics, including a reasonable shelf of indy graphic novels, and lots of Image and Boom comics. He also has a fun selection of comics-based toys, a decent amount of back issues and a little bit of games. If I lived here, I'd be perfectly happy with this as my regular shop. Today's purchases were Camelot 3000 chosen by my daughter, Batman 66 trade for me, and a Conan print and The Haunt of Wylding Wood minicomic by local cartoonist Matt Knieling (pictured below).













Back issues for sale in a side room


Friday, March 27, 2015

Emily R. Gillis on Jikosha and 24-Hour Comics

by Mike Rhode

Emily R. Gillis was a Smudge exhibitor, selling a collection of her webcomic Jikosha. She's a founder of the local cooperative, Square City Comics, and one-half of Wayward Studios. Her comics can be bought here.

What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?

I primarily do longform fantasy comics with a style heavily-influenced by anime I grew up watching. I also have participated in the 24-Hour Comic challenge for the past 4 years and like to turn those into minicomics.

How do you do it? Traditional pen and ink, computer or a combination?

Mostly traditional. All of my comics are first drawn with pencil then inked with microns and brush pens, though I've been experimenting more with brush and ink. Coloring and lettering are all done digitally though most of my coloring is done by the other half of Wayward Studios, Crystal Rollins. I've been practicing digital colors with her help, but she is a magician with them!

When (within a decade is fine) and where were you born?

I was born in '84 in St. Paul, MN (dontcha know), though I grew up near Denver, CO.

Why are you in Washington now? What neighborhood or area do you live in?

I moved to the Baltimore area to seek out more work opportunities and to move in with my boyfriend, now husband. Currently, we're up north in Cockeysville, MD. I'm down in DC every month though for events and for meetings with my friends in Square City Comics.

What is your training and/or education in cartooning?

I earned a bachelor's degree in graphic design back in 2006. I never formally studied cartooning, but I remember making comics as far back as the 4th grade when I turned my teacher into a superhero for a story. I mostly learned from reading books on the subject and just reading other comics.

Who are your influences?

Starting out, I was heavily influenced by anime like Sailor Moon, Magic Knight Rayearth, and Dragonball Z. Currently, my work is most influenced by other local creators I've met as well as webcomics I follow. Comics like Namesake, Sister Claire, and Stand Still Stay Silent are the first ones that come to mind for works I look to for inspiration and technique.

If you could, what in your career would you do-over or change?

Get serious about comics sooner. I went into graphic design since I figured I could both get a job more easily with that degree and I could apply what I learned there to comics, though I'd never really considered comics a valid career option. I didn't pursue it seriously until a few years ago and it's been a struggle trying to turn it into a full-time gig rather than something I have to make time to do outside of my day job.

What work are you best-known for?

I'm best known for my webcomic Jikoshia. I began writing the comics back in high school and rebooted it three times before bringing it to print.

What work are you most proud of?

I have two comics that I'm super proud of. Jikoshia has come so far and turned into a project I really love. I recently brought my latest 24-hour comic to print as well, All You Held Dear, and for being a comic written in such a short amount of time, I'm really happy with the way both the writing and the art turned out!

What would you like to do or work on in the future?

I just want to more time to work on personal projects. I have a "vault" of story ideas and scripts I have yet to finish and I'm anxious to get to them!

What do you do when you're in a rut or have writer's block?

That's when I refer to Crystal. Part of why we formed Wayward Studios was to help each other out when we get into blocks. We'll talk through problem scenes or give the other a kick in the pants if we slack off. Another trick I've learned is to go read another comic or play a video game for a while. It gives me a chance to step out of the worlds I've created and into another, helping me refresh my viewpoints.

What do you think will be the future of your field? 

With the advent of crowdfunding, I'm looking forward to seeing more creator-owned works come to life. A lot of great projects have come about because of this resource (including my own!).

What local cons do you attend? The Small Press Expo, Intervention, or others? Any comments about attending them?

I go to almost every one I can find! I regularly attend Katsucon and Small Press Expo and look forward to this year's Awesome Con. I've only managed to go to Intervention once so far, but would definitely like to again! I also make appearances at smaller shows like Tiger Con in Towson, Library Con in Petworth, and Nippon Con in Westminster. I'm currently planning a small show for a comics group I'm a part of called Square City Comics in June and hope to turn that into an annual gig.

SPX is my favorite event of the year and I recommend it to everyone looking to get into comics. Just make sure to set a budget for yourself otherwise you'll definitely spend your lunch money on books instead of food. Not that I've ever regretted it.

What's your favorite thing about DC?

I like that I don't have to drive to most places and that there's so much to do! Before moving to the East Coast, I was living in a very small mountain town and doing anything involved at least a 4-hour drive. Having everything I want to do be so close took some time to get used to and I love having so many options.

Least favorite?

Traffic. My sense of direction is a bit off and too much traffic really throws me for a loop! Plus one-ways are the bane of my existence.

What monument or museum do you like to take visitors to?

My parents came out to visit for the first time a couple years ago so I took them on a tour of the National Mall. My dad was like a kid in a candy store at the Air & Space Museum. Next time he comes out I'm taking him to the one in Dulles.

How about a favorite local restaurant?

District of Pi in Chinatown is my favorite, though I've heard there's a great ramen place in Rockville I need to try. That might unseat the pizza's throne.

Do you have a website or blog?

You can find all of my work and learn where I'll be next on waywardstudios.net. I also sometimes post work and news to my Tumblr (thealmightym.tumblr.com) and Instagram (@thealmightym).

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Meet a Local Cartoonist: A Chat with Chris Artiga-Oliver

Artiga-Oliver and son at Smudge
by Mike Rhode

Chris Artiga-Oliver attended the Smudge Expo 2015 last weekend selling his self-published comic book Coll: Yondering. Coll is a barbarian warrior, perhaps a Viking, who excels in combat in the three short stories in the comic book.

What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?

I write screenplays for a living but had always intended to direct films. As a result many of the stories I create pass through many other hands before be translated into images and the results can be frustrating. Comics has always been my other love so a couple of years ago I created the character of Coll and began making comics.

How do you do it? Traditional pen and ink, computer or a combination?

I draw out my Coll layouts in pencil and then finish them in traditional pen and ink and watercolor wash.

When (within a decade is fine) and where were you born?

I was born in 1970 in Burlington, Vermont to an artist mother who later married my stepfather who is a primatologist. We traveled a lot throughout my childhood and I was exposed to many different types of comics in many different languages.

Why are you in Washington now?  What neighborhood or area do you live in?

I moved to DC in 1989 to attend the Corcoran School of Art and Design where I met my wife. We settled in the Mt Pleasant neighborhood where we still reside.

What is your training and/or education in cartooning?

I studied photography at the Corcoran but left to pursue film. I am not trained as an illustrator but I have always drawn things since I was encouraged to start by my mother. Every day's work drawing Coll sees me trying something new and pushing the level of my ability and creativity and I love the challenge.

Who are your influences?

I was drawn in by the work of artists like Vaughn Bodé, Moebius, Philippe Druillet, John Buscema and Frank Miller.  I have been lucky to meet (online and in person) local talent like Nick Liappis, Jason Rodriguez and Andrew Cohen who are very supportive and encouraging. The online community has been supportive as well having received encouragement from Tony Moore, Aaron Conley and Grim Wilkins. It's nice to plug into a community of creators that are so generous with their time and support as I move forward into untested waters.

What local cons do you attend? The Small Press Expo, Intervention, or others? Any comments about attending them?

Through attending and showing at SPX I've been able to meet childhood heroes like Los Bros Hernandez and strike up friendships with Alexis Ziritt and Brandon Graham, two people who's work I admire. 
What monument or museum do like to take visitors to?

The American Art Museum is also a great place to go for inspiration and solitude. I've also mined the collections of the Freer and the Sackler museums for inspiration for the Coll stories. 

How about a favorite local restaurant?

I frequently thumbnail stories in my sketchbook in my favorite DC restaurant Zorbas in Dupont Circle. I have been going there since my first week in DC and in that 26 years the owner has become like a second mother to me. I lament the loss of another great hangout, Heller's Bakery, I hope the Duni brothers can find a new location soon.

Do you have a website or blog?

Currently if you want to follow along with work on Coll I post a lot of process work at @artoli70 on Instagram as well as pen-monkey.tumbler.com - there will be a dedicated Coll website soon.

Monday, March 02, 2015

International Ink: Smallbug Comics, the Avengers and Bone book reviews

It's been months since I've had the time to post any reviews, but some new material has arrived in the mail recently and it's prodded me to start again. I'll try to work my way backwards too, even if it's only a brief mention of the book and my thoughts on it. - Mike Rhode*


Charles Brubaker's minicomics, Smallbug Comics #2 (December 2014) and #5 (March 2015) remind me of the heyday of Harvey Comics. His characters Koko the Witch and her younger brother Jodo would easily fit into Casper the Ghost's world. In #2 Jodo accidentally acquires the Wizard King's crown and proceeds to enjoy all the attention he gets -- until the crown is reported stolen. In #5, Koko and Jodo take an 'enchanted' yet still horrible train ride for a break on their annual day off. Both stories rely heavily on physical humor and sight gags. Brubaker's storytelling is competent -- you can tell what's happening, and the words and text work together (this isn't always true of comics, even from full-time professionals).

Ask a Cat consists of 1-page cartoons from an advice column answered by a cat. They didn't do much for me, but a colleague at lunch laughed out loud at "What should I make for dinner?" and "Meow, meow, meow, meow. Meow?" The appeal of this zine probably depends on your interest in cats on the internet.

I think these minis would be good for teens, especially those interested in DIY comics. Brubaker's websites are www.bakertoons.com and bakertoons.tumblr.com Brubaker also writes on the history of animation at Cartoon Research.

Jeff Smith's Bone: Out from Boneville Tribute Edition (Scholastic Graphix, $15) is a very pretty version of the beginning of the almost classic graphic novel. An insensitive or suspicious reviewer may believe that this edition is an answer to the age-old question of "how to sell yet another version of the book to people who already have it?" I personally have the original comic books, Smith's b&w reprints, Smith's one-volume b&w reprint, and the Scholastic editions with Steve Hamaker's excellent coloring. This 'tribute edition' is for Scholastic's 10th anniversary of publishing the story; the comic books themselves began in the early 1990s. And what's the tribute one may wonder? In addition to a "brand-new illustrated poem by Jeff Smith!" one also gets "minicomics and artwork inspired by Bone, created by 16 bestselling, award-winning artists." The poem features the Rat Creatures and much of the artwork is from Scholastic's stable of cartoonists turned children's book authors. For the record, the sixteen are Kate Beaton, Jeffrey Brown, James Burks, Frank Cammuso, Nathan Fox, Jimmy Gownley, Kazu Kibuishi, Mike Maihack, Scott Morse, Jake Parker, Dav Pilkey, Greg Ruth, Dan Santat, Raina Telgemeier, Doug TenNapel and Craig Thompson. Snark about multiple editions aside, Bone is one of the great comics for youngsters, and this version is a good introduction to the series.



Marvel: The Avengers Vault (Thunder Bay Press, $35) is by noted comic book writer Peter David (who, according to the Grand Comics Database, never actually wrote the Avengers). As a wee lad, my favorite superhero team was the Avengers. I'd been given a copy of Avengers #8, introducing Kang the Conqueror, by a cousin, and I spent the next 25 years buying their comics. I can't really relate to the Avengers-centric Marvel Universe of today, but the movies are well-done and probably a good part of the reason this book exists. And honestly, the kid reading Avengers #8 would have loved this book. The 'Vault' part of the title is "ten collectible pullouts: a Thor poster, concept art for Iron Man, Captain America's Sentinels of Liberty membership card, original art by Jack Kirby, and more - perfect for the superfan's bedroom wall." The text of the book is quick summaries of the histories of the Avengers and its most famous members Captain America, Iron Man, Thor and the Hulk. David does a good job of summarizing almost 50 years of comic book backstory for each chapter, including the major supporting characters, and highlighting Marvel's post-Civil War history. Chapter 6 is a brief look at animated television adaptations, and then there's an appendix of Avengers members which splits into teams such as The Illuminati, the New Avengers, and the Mighty Avengers. It's too much for this aging fan's brain, but a tween who likes comics or the movies should love this book.

*'International Ink' is what Jonathan Fischer, my first editor at the City Paper, titled the column whenever I did book reviews.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Meet a Local Cartoonist: A Chat with Diego Quintanilla

Diego Quintanilla was a new face at the first Smudge Expo last month. He’s a college student who is studying animation and just getting into creating minicomics. I bought his mini, and he kindly answered my usual questions via email.

What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?

I mostly sketch in my book, I draw for personal projects and all that.

How do you do it? Traditional pen and ink, computer or a combination?

I use pens. Nothing fancy, just rollerball pens that you can get anywhere. Sometimes I'll use Microns though.

When (within a decade is fine) and where were you born?

I was born here in D.C. at some point in the 90s.

Why are you in Washington now?  What neighborhood or area do you live in?

Well, I don't really live in the D.C. area, unless you count Wheaton as part of D.C. I don't know why you would, but if you do, then there you go. As for why, our family was living with this other Latino family in a cramped apartment space back in D.C. and when my mom got pregnant with my sister, that's when my parents decided to find a nice place in the suburbs.

What is your training and/or education in cartooning?

I'm in school right now, learning all this on the go, trying to learn things in my spare time too of course.

Who are your influences?

I'm very influenced by films.  I like movies. Arthouse films like The Holy Mountain, Brand upon the Brain. Movies like Bad Boy Bubby and Irreversible. Like, I really love visuals, you know? Looking at interesting things and all that, images that provoke, something that makes you think what the symbolism behind it is. I also like animated films too; my favorite is The Triplets of Belleville.

If you could, what in your career would you do-over or change?

I've just started this career, having done my first Smudge Expo just recently, so can't really say I'd change anything.

What work are you best-known for?

I got this comic called Tough and Stuff about a boy with two moms. Almost half of my class knows about it (a lot of them skipped class the day I gave out copies) along with whoever bought it at Smudge.

How can people order your comics, or do they have to buy them from you in person?

People can buy them from me in person, there is no other way.

What work are you most proud of?

I've made three comics, two are creation myths that I made up and one a "how a jaguar lost its spots" sort of stories. I also liked the mini comics I made. I've just started so my options are limited here. That isn't to say I don't like my work - I just think I can go no other way then up.

What would you like to do or work on in the future?

In terms of comics, I've already got two ideas in my mind. One's about a horny lizard taking care of a fox and an episodic story about Nollywood. I'm real excited and I hope to put them on print real soon!

What do you do when you're in a rut or have writer's block?

I'm not sure, I guess my answer would be, "don't worry, it comes when it comes." That's my answer to a lot of things, it doesn't work with everyone, I know.

What do you think will be the future of your field?

Do you mean, what will happen to me in the comic book field, or what will happen to the comic book field? If it's the first, I'm not expecting anything grand. I imagine myself in my sixties still selling my comics. I think I'd be more focused on making animation, but I'm guessing I'm getting off topic.

What local cons do you attend? The Small Press Expo, Intervention, or others? Any comments about attending them?

I'm expecting to go to Small Press Expo, just as a guy looking around and stuff, not an exhibitor.

What's your favorite thing about DC?

The museums! I love The Museum of African Art, The Museum of the American Indian, and The National Gallery of Art are some of my favorites. I remember watching a whole bunch of Jan Svankmajer films which was fantastic.

 Least favorite?

This is just a personal opinion; I'm not city folk, I enjoy the suburbs. I love D.C. but I wouldn't be in the epicenter of all the political and social hubbbub, it would be overwhelming.

How about a favorite local restaurant?

I don't usually eat out, but I do enjoy Los Chorros which is in my hometown, Wheaton. Try the quesdailla or pupusas! Those are what I always get so I can't vouch for what else is on the menu.

Do you have a website or blog?

I have a tumblr, Essential Avant-Garde Noise, where I post sketches, digital drawings, animations etc.  as Scrinkle: http://scrinkle.tumblr.com/

I also have a deviantart page where I post as DickQuint: http://dickquint.deviantart.com/ 

(updated 3/27/2014)

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Meet a Local Cartoonist: A Chat with Kathleen Brenowitz


Kathleen Brenowitz was at this fall's Intervention con in Rockville displaying her work. She kindly answered my standard interview questions (all images except the photo are from Kathleen's websites).

ComicsDC: What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?

Kathleen Brenowitz: I'm a pen-and-ink illustrator who writes and draws my
own comics, along with taking commissions for illustrations.

How do you do it? Traditional pen and ink, computer or a combination?

Dip-pens with acrylic ink and sometimes watercolors are my usual tools of choice. Something about the scratching tremors I can feel up my hand and the smooth glide of ink is really very calming? I'm usually a ball of energy bouncing around but I like how traditional inking and painting allows me to still myself and focus. I've started experimenting with digital coloring though - I love the broad, even expanses of color you can get with digital, so experimenting has been fun!

When (within a decade is fine) and where were you born?

I was born in 1990, in New York (and you can hear it in how fast I talk).

Why are you in Washington now?  What neighborhood or area do you live in?

I'm actually more towards Baltimore, up in Towson. I went to Goucher College and still have friends in the area, plus the rent's cheaper around here. I've been enjoying my time here though!

What is your training and/or education in cartooning?

My mother's old college pals from her art school days are still close friends of the family, and taught me drawing tricks when I was younger, but for the most part I'm self -taught. I did take some classes in high school and college – life drawing (so useful!) - but I eneded up majoring in communications with an interest in film. I think film has aided me in telling stories more visually, and using panels as camera shots.

Who are your influences?

A bit of an odd mix for drawing – Aubrey Beardsley for his clean and sensual linework, Herge for his Tintin comics with their hyper-detail and lovely panel layouts, and Mobius for his beautifully weird designs. Writing is harder to track, since I devour books; I'd say Mr. Asimov had a hand in my love of sci-fi, along with Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett for warping my sense of humor at a young age.

If you could, what in your career would you do-over or change?

I'm just starting out but...I think I would have tried to get up my webcomic while I was still in college? Would have been nice to have that underway when I graduated so I had some more momentum.

What work are you best-known for?

My black-and-white inks and insane amounts of detail. If I had to describe my style for writing and drawing, I'd have to say 'fiddly'.

What work are you most proud of?

Right now the first issue of my comic series, Pertho. It's called High Hopes and I think it turned out rather
well!

What would you like to do  or work on in the future?

I'd love to have more published works under my belt, along with completing a visual novel.

What do you do when you're in a rut or have writer's block?

Sometimes I run errands on my bike – the movement helps to clear my head and remove any excess nervous energy that might be blocking me. Or at other times I try to get some new imput buy going to a museum or listening to a new band a friend recommends. You can't give good output without some input, and I've found usually writer's block is simply that I'm running myself dry.

What do you think will be the future of your field?

I have no idea – and that's what makes it so much fun :D

What local cons do you attend? The Small Press Expo, Intervention, or others? Any comments about attending them?

I went to Okatcon two times, but I've never been a major con person ; never really had the extra money to spend. But I enjoyed my time at Intervention - this was actually my first time tabling at a con and it couldn't have been more enjoyable! I'm going to be visiting SPX for the first time this year as well, as an attendee :)

What's your favorite thing about DC?

The museums! I still haven't seen all of the National Gallery and I probably never will – it's just that big.

Least favorite?

Well, I'd like it if the mass transit system got some more upkeep. The Metro might look straight out of 1960s French sci-fi, but both it and the buses could use some love.

What monument or museum do you like to take visitors to?

I love the Freer Gallery – it's an oddly intimate gallery, being that it was all one person's taste that collected the pieces. I love taking people through it and seeing if they get that feeling as well, of walking through another person's thought patterns made manifest in their taste.

How about a favorite local restaurant?

Sushi Hana, up here in Towson? Order the fire salmon with a side order of avocado sashmi – it's delicate slices of salmon that have been lightly seared. When you place one in your mouth you can feel them softly melt, the texture a perfect blend of resistance and submission – like a truffle of savory oils. Combine with the avocado, and the flavours of both are perfectly complemented, the avacodo carrying the salmon's inner sweetness but providing perfect contrast for the fish's outer shell of cooked flesh. Seriously, buy it and savor it – it's utterly delicious.

Do you have a website or blog?

Yup! I have an 'official' site at www.ksbrenowitz.weebly.com and a tumblr at www.puzzlinghappenstance.tumblr.com