Orignal Comics Art on Display in Winston Friday

The “5” Royales strip that I built a “frame” for in a recent post will be on display starting Friday at the 5ive and 40rty gallery here in Winston as part of the exhibit Seeing Winston-Salem: Contemporary Artists’ View of the City. Unfortunately, I’ll not be at the opening, since I’ll be en route to SPX, but here’s the skinny:

5IVE & 40RTY brings together works by more than a dozen contemporary artists living in or near the city in Seeing Winston-Salem: Contemporary Artists’ View of the City. The exhibition opens Friday, October 3 and will remain on view through November 29, 2008. A reception will be held Friday, October 3 from 5:40 until 8:40pm.

The show is presented in collaboration with Reynolda House, Museum of American Art’s Seeing the City: Sloan’s New York Seeing Winston-Salem: Contemporary Artists View the City consists of works that depict or otherwise reference Winston-Salem, individuals who live and work here, and/or other aspects of the city’s life. Artists represented include Shawn Beard, Scott Betz, John Blackburn, Carlos Gustavo, Hieronymus, Laura Lashley, Trena McNabb, Leo Morrissey, Phil Morrison and Angus MacLachlan, Elsie Dinsmore Popkin, Juie Rattley, Liz Simmons, Peter Spivak, Ben Towle, Holly Wilbur,  and Mary Ann Zotto. The show includes naturalistic cityscape renderings, boldly graphic image-and-text paintings, street photography, miniature architectural sketches, a mural-scale collage-based work, comic-strip imagery, and digital video. The exhibition is being curated by writer and independent curator, Tom Patterson.

This exhibition doesn’t attempt to illustrate or editorialize on the myriad issues that characterize contemporary life in Winston-Salem, but it does touch on at least a few of those issues. More importantly, it represents the singular, “on-the-ground” views of a few of the artists who live here and contribute to the city’s reputation as a “city of the arts.”


Certainly the Germans Have a Word for this

Everyone knows the famous Andy Warhol concept of “fifteen minutes of fame,” but surely there needs to be some sort of phrase applicable when you’re mentioned in a list of people or entities that are so utterly out of your league that your only reaction can be: “Well, that makes no kind of sense at all, but I almost feel famous by accident!”

In my case, that list would come from MAD artist extraorinaire Tom Richmond’s blog, where he’s hyping the new issue of Stay Tooned magazine and notes that it will feature, “Interviews with Jules Feiffer, Berke Brethed and Ben Towle.”

In other recent news, I recenty purchased a bottle of 1998 Dom Pérignon Rosé, a 1945 Mouton Rothschild and some Night Train.


Building a Cheap “Frame” for Original Comics Art

I’ve occasionally been asked to display some of my artwork in gallery shows or similar situations and this always poses some problems for comics art.  A page of original art can’t just be hung on the wall like a painting; it requires some sort of frame.  The problem, though, is that getting art framed can be really expensive and unless you sell the piece, you’ll be stuck with a framed piece of your own art–and unless you’re more of an egotist than I, that’s a pretty useless thing to have lying around.  Add to that the near-certainty that if you need to display your artwork again in a similar setting it’ll be a different page, and getting an original page framed professionally for display seems to be an even sillier prospect.

So, I decided that what I’d do is try to build a cheap, but hopefully decent-looking, “frame” (I use the term loosely) that would be reusable for different pieces of art.  Its construction was, in the words of Doctor Finklestein, exceedingly simple.

Here’s all you’ll need:

  • Two sheets of clear acrylic or Lexan.  I went with 18″ x 24″ Lexan, which is a little pricey at $14.00 a sheet, but if you work smaller than I do and go with acrylic, you’ll spend more like $8.00 a sheet.
  • Six 8-32 x 1/2 in stainless steel machine screws – about $2.00
  • Six 8-32 stainless steel wing nuts – about $2.00
  • Two “ring hangers” – These things for some reason come in packs of three, but they’re only about $3.00 a pack.  You can find them with the picture hanging hardware at a Lowes or Home Depot.

Once you’ve got all that stuff, you just drill three holes on each side of the acrylic, drilling through both sheets at once so they’ll line up nicely, and making sure to leave about a half-inch border so you don’t risk splitting the acrylic.  I set the middle holes slightly higher than center since this is where I’ll be mounting the ring hangers and it’ll hang a little better if there’s more weight toward the bottom.

Once drilled, you basically just clean the acrylic, slap your artwork in the center, and then bolt the two pieces together with your hardware.  Remember to add the ring hangers to the center two screws.  Finally, just use some regular old picture wire through those ring hangers.  Here’s the completed item.  The piece on display is a one-page story I did for Signal to Noise Magazine about the legendary ’50s R&B/Soul group The “5” Royales.



I don’t guess it’d pass muster at the Louvre, but it’s decent looking, functional, reusable and can be made for under $25.00.


25% Off Sale at SLG


My venerable publishers, SLG, are currently having a store-wide 25% off sale on everything in their webstore.  So, if’n you’re looking to pick up any of my stuff on the cheap, now’s a good time to do so.  Just type in “bigsale” in the coupon code field on the checkout screen to get your discount.

You can find all of my stuff conveniently grouped on my creator page, from old stuff like Farewell, Georgia to my most recent book, Midnight Sun.


Sketchbook 09/19

My next solo book (not this Ameila Earhart thing!) has a sea serpent in it and I’ve been doodling a lot of sea monsters as a result.



Drawing Words & Writing Pictures – WK3 Exercise

The in-class exercise for week three is the “wrong planet” assignment here.  We’re doing the assignment collaboratively, with each student tackling one section of the story.  My section is #2, “lands on the moon…”

This assignment has been around since well before this book came out, and has been posted over at teachingcomics.org for a while.  It’s from that site that I got the assignment when I tried it out in a classroom environment the last time I taught a comics class and, while the assignment looks fairly straight ahead, it’s actually pretty tricky.  Part of the challenge is that it’s not worded very clearly: specifically, it’s not made clear whether the moon was the wrong destination… or whether he’s returned to the wrong “home planet” after visiting the moon.

I assumed the latter when I did this exercise in class, but that creates a storytelling problem in figuring out how the astronaut couldn’t realize that he’s on the wrong planet until he’s actually on the ground.  I’ve been tempted to think that maybe what’s really intended is the former interpretation–that he was meant to go somewhere other than the moon–but the assignment very specifically mentions a wrong planet… and given that the only planet in the whole scenario is the home planet, I guess that’s the “wrong” planet in question.  Very confusing….

Anyway, fortunately for me, since I’m dealing with part two of the story, I don’t really have to tackle that confusion head-on.  Here’s what I’ve got:



Drawing Words & Writing Pictures – WK 3 Homework

Homework for week three was basically just a 3-5 panel newspaper-style strip.  I wound up making a list of a dozen or so possible “situations” to build a newspaper strip around, but ultimately got lazy and just went with something I know: musicians.

I think the main thing I learned from doing this is just how important it is to the newspaper strip format for the readers to really know and be familiar with the characters and settings.  It’s really difficult to come up with a single, isolated newspaper strip that really works well.  I regularly read and enjoy strips like Get Fuzzy, Mutts, Pearls before Swine, and Cul de Sac, but doing this assignment made me realize how much of my enjoyment of those strips is based on my knowing the characters.  The way this assignment is set up in DW&WP stresses gags and funny situations, which makes a lot of sense for a one-off strip, but really most newspaper strips (or most good ones, anyway) work more because they’re character-driven.  A prime example of this is Get Fuzzy, which rarely has a “gag” per-se; its humor is driven by the interactions of the characters, and it’s really at its funniest if you’ve known and followed those characters for a while.

Anyway, here’s my strip… Not particularly inspired, but certainly complete to the thumbnail stage as per the assignment.  If I had to develop this further, I’d concentrate on correcting and making consistent the head/body ratio of the two characters, and I’d try to simplify and make clearer the elements in panels one and four (the van, trailer, venue, etc.).



Book Festival Appearance: Bookmarks 9/13



I’ll be  making the second of my two book festival appearances this year at this weekend’s Bookmarks book festival here in Winston-Salem.  The festival is on Saturday and I’ll be at the “All That & then Some” tent (V-2) at 2:30 PM where I’ll be discussing Midnight Sun, comics-making, and comics and graphic novels in generall–followed by a Q&A session and book signing.  There’ll be lots of other interesting folks attending including local, national and regional authors.  Come check it out.  More info at the link above.


Conventions: SPX Table Layout



Table assignments for SPX 2008 are now posted online. For quick reference, the above map shows the locations of me and some of my “peeps” who’ll be attending the show.  Conspicuously absent, though, are the Wide Awake Press crew as well as the fabulous Josh Latta/Brad McGinty duo.  One hopes they’ll jump onboard last minute. 

1 – H3A – Me!

2 – H15-16 – Rob Ullman 

3 – W36-37 – Adhouse Books/Chris Pitzer

4 – W34B – Adam Casey

5 – A9-10B – Paul Friedrich

6 – W36-37 – Dustin Harbin

7 – W10 – Batton Lash

8 – H3B – Chris Reilly

9 – W27-30 – Andy Runton

10 – B1-2- Joey Weiser



Sketchbook 09/08


This is a potential character I’ve been playing around with for my next creator-owned book, tenatively titled Oyster War. I’ve had it in mind that I’d do this book entirely with a dip pen, rather than with my usual tool-of-choice, a #3 brush.  I’m having a really hard time weaning myself of the brush, though, and I don’t really think this “hybrid” technique, with brush outlines and “interior” hatching, really works.  Making the transition is probably going to have to start with drawing much smaller than I’m usually accustomed to.

Older posts «

» Newer posts