Unpacking Book One – Ends 09/12

The first volume of my graphic novel “Unpacking” ends its serialization at Adultwebcomics on September 12. Although the story itself is not complete – there will be two more volumes – the strip will have arrived at a natural break.

That strip will also be my final posting at Adultwebcomics.com. The following week, I will be moving online serialization of my comics to Modern Tales , one of the first webcomics sites to come along back in the early part of the decade.

Because Modern Tales is a more mainstream (read: all-ages venue) venue, the sexually explicit content that’s been present in the work will not be present online. That doesn’t mean that sex will not be present, but it won’t be anything that couldn’t be seen on cable television. This isn’t going to compromise the work – its more or less how I’e been doing the strip for the past six months, anyway. If anything, I’ve been guilty of ramping up the explicitness of the work simply because I’ve been serializing it on an adult website, where sexual content has sort of been the requirement. This way I can have people spend six months chopping vegetables without feeling too guilty that there’s nothing hot going on.

I’ll be starting over at Modern Tales with a slightly revised/colorized serialization of my story “Unmade Beds” from SHIRTLIFTER #1, which will be officially out of print by the time it starts (I have 10 copies left, and I don’t anticipate that they will last past the Hairrison Street Fair: once the 5 copies that Amazon has left run, out, that’s going to be it). That will give me enough time to finish the revisions on Book One, and get a good head start on Book Two, which will start running in the new year.

Portrait – John

I going to try to start posting more art on this thing — if only because, in the absence of having anything substantive to say, I will otherwise only post on this thing once a month at most, which is not what people want or expect in the blogosphere. Besides, I am almost alwaysworking on new art so — why not make it easy on myself?

To begin with – a commission that I completed over the weekend. Will try to get something up once a week. Some of it will be beefcake…some not. You’ll just have to check in to see…

Bazaar Bizarre? Spectacular Spectacular!

This Saturday I will be returning for my second year at the Los Angeles iteration of Bazaar Bizarre. BazBiz is an alternative craft fair started by Greg Der Ananian in Boston six years ago, and which now has four locations around the country. “This ain’t your granny’s craft show” is one way that the show has been described, but its more about reinterpretation and reclamation than it is about rejection. There’s lots of goodies to be had — there’s a high amount of homemade jewelry and clothing, but lots of other things going on as well.

As for me, in addition to the decidely non-crafty things such as books and comics, I will have my usually assortment of greeting cards (including a few new ones); my infamous “Well Hung” Christmas ornaments (some repeating from lst year, in addition to a couple new ones), art prints, and a few hand painted t-shirts. Fun starts at 11 AM and runs until 7 PM. Note: the LA show is pretty popular, and the ATM ran out of cash last year, so I would be prepared.

Miss Cellanea

The ADL SF signing went really well. It was nice to see a few familar faces that I met at APE. I didn’t know it was going to be a READING though. Next time that happens I will be prepared.

* * * * * * *

Another store to add: It was posted in the comments last week that SHIRTLIFTER is also available through Comic Relief in Berkeley, which is a HUGE relief, since they’re such a good bookstore. I guess they must have stocked the book through Last Gasp (they definitely didn’t get it from me). If you happen to see it anywhere else that I haven’t listed on the blog drop a comment and let me know.

* * * * * * *

I’m going to be at the Los Angeles Erotic Art Fair in West Hollywood next weekend. This is sponsored by the Tom of Finland Foundation, and will be my second year there, last year being my first ever public appearance as an artist. In addition to copies of the STICKY hardcover and SHIRTLIFTER, there will be cards, art prints, and my special “Well-Hung Christmas” ornaments. Also, either at my table or his own will be Dave Davenport, with copies of the new Hard to Swallow (in which I have a story). October 8 – 9 at Plummer Park in WeHo — come on by if you are in town.

* * * * * *

The first story (such as it is) on the Roughs webcomic wound up on Wednesday. Although I’ll get back to more straightahead porn, the next two things are going to expand the palette somewhat. First up, starting Sunday I’m putting up a Duotoned and slightly-redrawn version of “Safe”, a comic that appeared in APLA’s anthology Turnover last year. After that, I will begin serializing the story which comprise Shiftlifter #2. While the webcomic will be x-rated, I wouldn’t count on all the explicit stuff making it into the print version. I also wouldn’t NOT count on it either. The point is that I revise a LOT – usually I wind up overwriting and then chopping things back. So don’t be surprised if the strip is a bit frustrating in “a two panels every three days” format. I am very much treating the webcomic as part of my process, rather than an end in and of itself. It is basically a deadline to get things done, but the final iteration is whatever sees print. I know that’s not very webcomixy of me, and I apologize. I never HAVE been very good at drawing in public.

* * * * * * * *

I can’t figure out if T-shirts might be a good thing to do or a complete waste of time. In my experience, people REALLY don’t walk around with gay erotic images on their shirts. I’d consider doing some less sexually charged images though – maybe faces or something? Anyone want to weigh in pro or con? Or know a good silk-screener in the LA area?

* * * * * * * *

Fun Home

Last night I went to a reading by Alison Bechdel from her new graphic memoir Fun Home at A Different Light here in Los Angeles. There was a pretty good crowd for the venue – maybe 20 or 30 people — and it was a pretty engaging reading, despite an air-conditioning system that at times made it difficult to hear what was being said. I’d never been to a comics reading before, and was curious how it was going to work. Since much of Fun Home is written in voice-over narration, Bechdel simply cropped out most of the text from her panels, and projected them behind her in sequence while reading the accompanying narration, which turned out to be pretty effective.

She held the floor for a good long while afterwards, fielding questions and talking about her process. I asked her a couple of questions about both the size of her originals and the constraints of working in a strip vs a graphic novel format, which immediately caused her to flag me as a cartoonist. We chatted a bit after the show, and it turns out that not only was she was familar with STICKY, but had actually bought a copy, which was a pleasent surprise.

One of the interesting things about the evening was hearing her talk about her drawing process, which is really similar to mine. We both construct panels as composites — roughly sketching out and identifying the panel composition, doing visual research to identify authentic details that match the scene being drawn, photographing ourselves in a variety of positions with a digital camera and a tripod to get the body language of the characters right, then pulling all these disparate sources together into a composite final image. Maybe everyone works this way, I dunno — since I work pretty much in isolation I don’t know too much about other cartoonists’ processes. So it was eye-opening to see that someone else works in a similar way, and gets such superb results.

I haven’t finished Fun Home yet, since I just picked it up last night, but I AM two chapters in, and loving it so far. Her drawing in this is amazing — its recognizably her, but she’s taken advantage of the open space to open up and luxuriate in detail. The drawings are added by a lovely blue-green wash that is wonderfully effective — if she’d used a simple flat color the way most cartoonists do (including myself), the results wouldn’t have been nearly so good — the variation in the tone gives the drawing a lovely, added texture, and adds to the period feel of the drawings. All in all, Fun Home is a real leap forward, and I hope she continues with this kind of long format work.

In Flux

I’m working on a six page piece for the fourth issue of the Los Angeles zine Fluxion. More precisely, I’m FINALLY working on a six page piece for the fourth issue of the Los Angeles zine Fluxion. I’ve had my idea for a while, and its been roughed out, but I’ve been blocked on it — haven’t seemed to be able to find my entry point into the story. But I think I’ve finally worked out a structure that works though, and can finally get into drawing it. Writing comics is always the most challenging part for me – it doesn’t come naturally, I have to really work and revise drafts to come up with anything I’m happy with. Which is one reason I’m so slow. But “Border Crossings” seems finally underway, so I’ll post bits of it here as it progresses.

The piece is going to be part of an autobiographical suite that will make up either the second or the third issue of my comic book SHIRTLIFTER — not sure which one yet. I suppose it will all depend on what I happen to finish first. In any case, looking at my schedule, likely that there won’t be a second issue for a while — probably not until the new year. Especially since I’m still working on getting the first one distributed, and currently in a “fuck comics” kind of mood. I’m sure it’s temporary — I’ve been there before. But since the only advantage of not being able to do this full-time is control over my schedule and only doing comics when I want to, I may as well take advantage and ride out the storm.