While I almost forget at times amidst the teaching, parenting, textbook writing, translating, and book editing–I am, in fact, a cartoonist. And sometimes I work on my comics. Here’s an overview of what’s cooking (slowly, at very low heat, like a succulent pork shoulder).
Drawn Onward is a 32-page I have been working on for longer than I care to say. The date on this early sketch post will give you some idea. It was meant to be a palate cleanser but has ended up being my main project these last years, partly because it is more difficult than I had anticipated but mainly because I have had precious little time to work on personal creative (as opposed to procreative) projects these last few years.
This is a page from towards the end and it’s about 90% finished.
I’ve posted a few times about Hiram’s Pantoum, a 4-page comic derived from a repeating, interlocking poetry form. I’ve been working extra-methodically on this one since I am using the page below (in tight pencils, with lettering and borders inked) as a demonstration of my cartooning process for volume 2 of Drawing Words & Writing Pictures.
For another example of a pantoum comic that I reverse-engineered from a Tom Hart comic, click here.
The Vestibule is a new project I’ve described here, one of a number of relatively portable comics projects I have underway. I’ve drawn about 25 panels and I’m happy with the progress, even if I feel like the character designs are still evolving.
Here’s a test layout as a 6-panel grid. I’ve tried 4 panels and 12 but I like this the best so far. It also works panel by panel, and if you’ve run into me recently I may have shown you a little slideshow version on my iPhone. I’ll be looking into phone/e-reader platforms for this comic once I’m a bit further along. Not yet sure if it’s a short story or a book length work.
Faraway Beach is an earlier attempt at a portable, sketchbook comic. I’ve been working on it very occasionally for a few years and only have 40 pages done. (I did a minicomic of the first 20 which you may have picked up at MoCCA Art Festival a few years back.) I follow a bunch of little rules here: 2-4 panels per page, minimal penciling with brush inking… I also have a little table of inter-combining characters, props, and locations whose appearances on a given page are determined by the toss of a 12-sided die. It’s Oulipo meets John Cage via Dungeons & Dragons.
Best American Comics 2010, 2011
We’ve all just finished looking through the proofs of the 2010 edition and it looks great. Guest editor Neil Gaiman is quite pleased with the results, which makes me and Jessica very happy. If you haven’t seen the cover by Michael Cho yet, well, feast your eyes:
As always, it will hit the shelves in October. All four previous editions are still in print and available. Meanwhile, we are reading comics furiously for our next ultra-top-secret guest editor.
Drawing Words & Writing Pictures
Finally, Jessica and I are forging along with the as-yet-untitled second volume of Drawing Words & Writing Pictures while also blogging and maintaining the revamped website, which I hope you will all visit and send your friends to.
When I write all of this down I suddenly feel very productive! That was actually one of my reasons for doing this: when you’re in the thick of cranking out lots of slow-moving work it can be very discouraging. Comics takes a long time. And I have that from a good source: I read a quote of me saying that over at my friend Paulo Patricio’s Quotes on Comics site.
"It's Oulipo meets John Cage via Dungeons & Dragons."
Matt Madden says
I'm afraid I'm overselling it. That description refers to the process more than the result.
But I love the process stuff.
Matt Madden says
I heart process too, esp when people like you two can make it really work. I've tried but I end up veering off into something else, which is fine.
I really like the idea of the 12-sided die method. Reminds me of Mark Tansey's elaborate wooden spinning table he used to generate ideas.
Matt Madden says
Thanks, Warren. I'd love to learn more about Tansey's wheel. I have a pretty high-res photo of it but I don't know how he uses it to get to his finished paintings.
I think there is some detail on the wheel in this book:
Freeman, Judi. Mark Tansey. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1993.
(per my post on Tansey's wheel: http://madinkbeard.com/blog/archives/mark-tansey )