• The Idea Factory + PZF 2018

    Last weekend was a brilliant doozy here in Pittsburgh. I mentioned that it was a busy one, so you knew something was coming!

    I was programmatically double booked, with a cartooning program, the Idea Factory, from 10am-4pm at the Children’s Museum on Saturday and Sunday, and then as one of the head organizers of the Pittsburgh Zine Fair the zine fair’s annual mixer and reading from 4pm-7pm and the main zine fair event from 2-8pm. Combining the setting up, the striking, the picking up of a U-haul and tables Sunday morning at 6am… It was a lot. Thankfully, I wasn’t afraid to ask for help and got the much-needed assistance from the cartooning team that I scheduled at the museum, and my fellow zine fair organizers. Thank you so much.

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  • Comics Corner #1

    This activity originally appeared on BeetleToothRadish.com, a source for simple living and creative, frugal activities. 


    _Time to settle in and make some comics! _This should take a little over an hour and a half, so give yourself some time to be present!


    To start, here’s a thought: Comics is the visual language of encoding and decoding realities. Nibble on that for a little while you work on this week’s excercise.

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  • Inaugural Mini-market @ Pullproof

    PULLPROOF Studios - mini-market

    The weekend before last I sold and shared comics during the Penn Avenue _Unblurred _gallery crawl. I set up shop at PULLPROOF Studio’s inaugural Mini-Market. All in all, it featured zines, prints, and jewelry by a local crew of great artists. It was really nice company. Among us were Jenna HoustonLizzee SolomonCity Slicker PressMax Emiliano GonzalesJerome “Chu” Charles, Asia Lae, Lilian Kababa!

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  • what is a blog? (2018)

    Oh boy, the last post here is from, what, two years ago? Oof, these past two years have been a bumpy ride.

    Life has gone in a lot of directions and I’ve had to let go of a lot of things for my own mental and emotional health. I’m now 27 and the flow of time is getting weird. I’m not old, but I’d be lying if I told you I had the energy I had when I started this blog six years ago. Maybe that’s a blessing in disguise, though. The past 2 years have seen me double down on the things that actually matter. Not just pissing away tons of energy in 8 directions at once, to no noticeable effect.

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  • I Can See The Birds - 2015

    This one is my Yo La Tengo comic on the shoulders of the poetry giant, Mary Oliver. The words are excerpted from her poem, Wild Geese.

    Process post on this one to come soon. Lots of details to comment on this one! For now though, I’d like to simply share the comic.

    If you’d like to support my work and have a special book, order a copy for yourself or a friend.

    ** I Can See the Birds _(Juan Fernandez) **- 5.5”x8.5” - Color & Risograph - $6 postpaid (_International Shipping) OUT OF STOCK

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    I Can See the Birds **_(Juan Fernandez) **- 5.5”x8.5” - Color & Risograph - $6 postpaid (_International Shipping)

    OUT OF STOCK

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  • PCS September: Side B

    I worked this all out last August, but it never made it online! Here are some thoughts I had after reflecting on a series of library workshops that I did at several branches of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

    I’d like to talk to you a little about doing comics workshops with teens. If you’re like me, you can sometimes get a little bottled up in your art practice. You find yourself in artistic ruts that you just can’t seem to get out of for weeks. You want to be writing, drawing, sequencing, but nothing comes…

    One way that I’ve found to reinvigorate my personal art practice during times like that is to teach workshops with teens. In the longterm, working with their raw talents helps me to find new perspectives in my comics making practice. At the end of the day, they just want to have fun.

    Whenever I organize activities for them and they aren’t excited to engage I take note. There’s something missing from the activity. Their lack of engagement is likely due to me not thinking about the activity in a holistic enough of a way. What is it missing? Is it a sense of purpose? Is it spontaneity? Is it too confusing? Is it too collaborative?

    When I figure out what these essential elements are I often realize that they are missing from my regular comics making. Whether it’s blindly collaborating, drawing from life in silly ways, or just using color at every step of the way,I hop to it and do two things. First, I plan out new and improved lesson plans and then I start a new SHORT comics project that folds in that essential element.

    With a little patience, the joy comes back to my comics and the classroom. During the month of August I led a weekly comics workshop with Teens at several branches of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. It was a blast.

    As part of this months updates from the Salon, you’ve received a PDF copy of the zine that we collected highlights of our work in. It is called, The Cosmic Comics Lab. You can read our zine by downloading the attached PDF at the bottom of this page. It’s goofy, full of lots of energy and lots of learning by young comics makers from all over the city of Pittsburgh.

    One of the activities that students enjoyed the most and lost themselves in was adapting songs they liked to the comics page. I got this idea from advice that Pittsburgh’s talented Sophie Goldstein gave to comics makers online:

    I really want to tell stories with my art but I’m having trouble getting started. Can you give me some advice about how you start a comic?

    I would suggest starting small with a one to six-page story. A lot of cartoonists begin by doing autobio comics but really you can do anything with comics–movie reviews, journalism, fairytale adaptations, &c. I think adaptations can be really great because the story is worked out and you can focus on the mechanics of storytelling.

    Students often struggle when they are asked to come up with an idea for a story that will work on a single or a couple of pages out of the blue. Her advice got some wheels turning in my head and I was inspired to have teens use songs as jumping off points for their comics. Working in this way, we could focus on the mechanics of comics communication.

    We printed out the lyrics of the songs and then figured out what sections of the songs would make for good comics pages. The song functioned as a loose script that they could fall back on when they felt a little lost. It wasn’t a tight narrative script, though, which meant that they could do ANYTHING with their panels so long as they found ways to fold the images around the song.

    Because the students got to choose the songs they worked on they felt invested in the process and wanted to see the comics to completion.

    Here are some glimpses at their processes

    I will be leading more comics workshops this Summer, in libraries and DAILY at a summer camp. Who knows what we’ll get up to!

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  • PCS: September - Side A

    Daunted and Freed by the Script

    Every month I’ve been putting together a recap of the Comics Salon happenings for supporters of the Comics Salon Patreon. I’d like to start sharing those thoughts here with you. Let me know what you think, comes to mind while you read in the comments. If you’d like to support the ongoing efforts of the Pittsburgh Comics Salon, take a look at the Patreon page I’ve set up. Be a patron of the arts in Pittsburgh, whydontcha?

    The goal of the salon is to build solidarity, get new conversations started between cartoonists and comics makers in the area and to push the frontiers of comics making in an intimate and welcoming setting here in Pittsburgh, PA.

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    August saw Allison Strejlau, take the floor to lead an exercise in the handling of translating a tight comedy script to rough pencils. Allison has been the series illustrator for Boom!Studios’ Regular Show comics and illustrates for Papercutz’ Nickelodeon Magazine Breadwinners series, and has had work with the Adventure Time and Uncle Grandpa comics from KaBoom!Studios. Oof, has she got comedy and narrative chops! The idea here was to give local comics makers a very structured comics prompt where they were primarily encouraged to flex their visual sequencing muscle.

    The structure that one usually gets when working a work-for-hire artist can be daunting and hard to describe. Nevertheless for some cartoonists this can be an extremely freeing comics making opportunity. The “what” of the comic is already determined by the writers. The comics maker then gets to focus exclusively on the “how” of the comic. We wanted the Salon to have experience with this mode of creation. The page that was handled happened to be the page that Allison had to draw when she applied to the open call to be the main artist on the series for BOOM! Comics.

    Allison explained the demeanors of the characters Rigby and Muscle Man but did not give away what the characters looked like in the series. As a result, the characters look similar, but vastly different from page to page. It was funny to see everyone’s reaction when Allison revealed that Rigby was a racoon!

    The nuts and bolts of this exercise revolved around how the panels would sit on the comics page. How many panels in the first tier? How about the second and third tiers? Seven panels on a page provided an interesting challenge in that it asked the tiers of the page to have unequal numbers of panels. The meter of the page would therefore have to deal with that AND be sure to provide a good rhythm for the visual gags.

    This was Allison’s final page. For BOOM! Be sure to compare the convergences between the pages made during the Salon and Allison’s inks. Take note of where comics makers put the three tiers and which tiers they clumped together. What effect does that have on the reading experience? What differences do you notice from comic to comic?

    1) 2)3) 4)

    Needless to say, a great time was had.

    P.S. Check out these pages made with children using the same script. The children who made these pages were aware of what the characters looked like.

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  • GIF-Comics - Explorations

    I’ve been exploring animating comics. I’m above all in making comics that encourage the viewer to “read” animations. GIFs in comics tend to be a novelty, a background texture. These thoughts are rough. I’d love to hear what any one reading this has to say about the intersection of animation and comics.

    Instead of seeing animations in that way in comics, I want people to see the arrranging of animations as a practice where the animation is an essential part how meaning arises from the sequence. As comics makers we get to be architects of time and space. I’m trying to figure out how this kind of sequencing fits into that architecture.

    For example: Reading these sequences feel SIGNIFICANTLY different to me. (Click to enlarge for best experience).

    136-wayne-2 My big concern is that I want people to be reading animations as “words”. (I hope to find a better way of describing this). The animations that I put together occupy a physical space on the screen and their physical relationship to each other affects the way that those “words” are read. In video there is an ever forward moving timeline. By juxtaposing looping video sequences you can embed those timelines into a larger timeline.

    Embedding these animations in the grid frameworks conventionally used in comics, that larger timeline can be interacted with by a viewer along the conventionalized reading hierarchies of a given culture. That seems really cool and novel. It’s exciting to me and is the reason why I’ve been making these sequences.

    I hope that these comics can expand the 1-dimensional timeline into a 2-dimensional plane where there are co-existing timelines.

    (The idea of having gifs sitting side by side with unequal numbers of frames is an interesting idea to me when mixed with the idea of percieved timelines.)

    These are my recent animation collage experiments. This is how I’ve been playing around with this. Some are way more successful than others at playing around with this time-space idea! (my suggested reading practice for these comics is to move through them slowly.)

    tumblr_nihy0nRZaF1rc4waeo1_1280 tumblr_nm95o4sYOX1t8ifffo4_r1_540 tumblr_nm95o4sYOX1t8ifffo1_540tumblr_nm95o4sYOX1t8ifffo3_540tumblr_nm95o4sYOX1t8ifffo2_r1_500tumblr_nifp7stJaB1rc4waeo1_1280 tumblr_nils8kiLO61rc4waeo1_1280 let me know what’s on your mind.

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  • Building Visual Language - a lexicon of mark making!

    I’m having a blast working on this everyday. lo estoy pasando estupendamente dibujando en este librito todos los dias.*photo (1)

    At the moment I’m trying to build a visual language out of repeating really simple marks. Nothing fancy here, it’s just important for me to note that I’m being intentional about it and that I’m trying to create newer and larger structures of communication with very simple lines. Many people know that I tend to draw intuitively. This is me trying to build on that intuition. De momento estoy intentando de crear series de imagenes que crean su propio idioma visual.

    photo*spanish for my grandma

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  • PIX 2015 is coming up...

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    Let me tell you, Jenn and I are keeping busy. We’ve got some new books in the works that we’re really excited to be bringing into the world at the end of March at PIX, the Pittsburgh Indy Comics Expo.

    photo One will be a collection of Jenn’s diary comics from this January and February. She’s been working hard and I can’t wait for everyone to see where she’s taking these diary comics. I think they’re going to strike a really beautiful nerve with some people. Hope on over to her site to get a taste of some of her older comics!

    Jenn also has a collection of comics and doodles that she’s made over the past year and a half that are full of color and experimentation. It’s going to be a feast for the eyes. I’m excited about the production that we’ll be doing on this one. Jenn is hoping to make a facsimile notebook. Maybe we can even sew the book as a single signature!

    I’m going to be putting together my first book of the year! It’s going to be black ink printed on a bunch of different sheets of paper. I hope to make it a reading experiences that lifts the spirits and stays in your memory for a while! I’ve been soaking up the colorful zines that Monica and Souther Salazar have made over the years.

    The energy in those books is so refreshing and inspiring. I hope my little book comes close to making you feel that good! It’s going to be silly and experimental and fun.

    Here’s a peek at a book design I’ve been playing around with:

    photo (1) We’re also working on putting together an online store of Jenn’s books. You’ll soon be able to get your hands on them if you don’t live in Pittsburgh! More on that soon. For now, I’ve finished my day’s research, went to a teaching training and think it’s about time I put on my headphones to doodle…

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