A 2014 Recap in 2015
dear diary, I want to fill you in on what’s happened since the last time we talked.
I moved back to Pittsburgh to be by Jenn’s side. We’ve been making lots of little books and spending lots of time together.
As I type this I’m settled in Pittsburgh, I live and work here again. But something big happened before I moved back.
That’s right, I finished my studies at the Center for Cartoon Studies with this fine crew of cartoonists. Aaron Shrewsbury, Simon Reinhardt, Ben Evans, Josh Lees, Eleri Harris, Allison Banister, Will Payne, Mathew New, Tom O’Brien, Ben Gowen, Steven Krall, Luke Healy and Sara Sarmiento. (Not picture, but adored : Iris Yan)
So how did I graduate? My studies culminated in what you see below.
I challenged myself to make a book every month. and wouldn’t you know it from November through the month of May I churned 6 books. Every month I explored different terrain, but for the most part I held on tight to the 4 panel grid. I wanted to use my time at CCS to learn my comics scales. I wanted to learn first hand how rich a world of comics I could create on my own with only four panels. I’m really proud of the result. (I built 12 of these little drawer boxes.)
These comics ended up being ruminations on love, fantasy, and moments both big and small. I collaged, watercolored, doodled, and digital painted my way to my deadlines. I was hoping to create a work situation where I could blend playful experimentation with a committed publication schedule. I feel I succeeded in that.
The time at CCS was balanced between my thesis, two part time jobs and lots and lots of talking to Jenn over the phone. I missed her. I was extremely focused, but it’ll come as no surprise that by March I was getting worn down. A monthly deadline is nothing to sneeze. It can drain you. When my spirits were low I had friends and family that blew rejuvenating winds in my sails._ I couldn’t have done this without you. _
Since I’ve been back I’ve been up to a lot of things.
We’ve been going to a couple of little comics expositions.
We even got a chance to go back to Assemble to facilitate another comics making Crafternoon!
I’m so proud of everyone’s work in this box. It has been an honor to bring this work into the world.
We brought this issue into the world in style by celebrating its release at Copacetic Comics, along with the release of the third issue of Maple Key Comics!
I started organizing the Pittsburgh comics salon with Frank Santoro.
We meet up every month to do drawing and comics sequencing exercises, catch up with each others’ comics making, share what we’re reading/watching and drink hearty amounts of coffee. The goal of these salons is to help build solidarity across Pittsburgh’s fertile comics making community. I want to make a welcoming space where experimentation and playfulness in comics making are encouraged and fostered.
So, it’s been 8 months what are we up to now round these parts?
Well, I’m transitioning into new work teaching in the city. I’m focusing on linguistic explorations of visual language, using comics as the basis for those studies, soaking up all the work of Neil Cohn, planning some book making projects for PIX, the Pittsburgh Indy Comics Expo, traveling back and forth between Ohio and Pennsylvania to see my family and staying cozy by Jenn’s side.
That’s about it for now.
How about you, what are you up to?Read more >>
Comics Cloud Burst
Would you like a free copy of one of these colorful pocket collections? Send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org!
Don’t worry Mom and Dad, you’re getting the whole suite, beautiful box and all!Read more >>
Cuttin' the rug
My hands are zippin’ here and there as I finish my year of cartooning here in Vermont at the Center for Cartoon Studies. Can you picture the kinds of comics that these little bits and bobs will create?
Me neither, that’s why I’ve got to make them!Read more >>
Quick and Dirty Printing: PARAFIGHT
Last night I whipped up and printed these posters for my friend, Will Payne.
He’s working on an underground tape worm fighting ring comic right now. I thought I’d celebrate his story by making a 2 color boxing match style promo for his story, PARAFIGHT. I made 12 of these and gave them all to Will.
I used the Knockout type family for the majority of it and printed on a textweight yellow stock. Doing this, I learnt a little bit about typographic history. Particularly about the idea of how wooden type sets were designed as series before the idea of the rational typeface.
It was really fun to step up to the challenge of knocking this out, quick and dirty. I’m typically very finicky and careful when it comes to screen printing, but for this poster I let myself go to town and did away with registration marks all together.
It was nice to do this as quickly as I did, because it allowed me to learn first hand why these kinds of posters look the way they do in terms of the color interactions. With a poster like this, registration was, in the words of my printing teacher Jon Chad, like shooting fish in a barrel.
The tapeworm photographs come from Gregory S. Paulson’s online archive of electron microscope photography. The design itself is my attempt at recreating what you see when you do a simple image search on Google for “boxing match poster”.Read more >>
Flux and Meter
Behold, the poster for my thesis at the Center for Cartoon Studies. Hope you dig it.
In the coming months I’ll be posting loads of new 4 panel comics. For the moment, though I’m keeping to myself a little bit.
I’m trying to create a buffer between the work and the public eye.
The internet is weird and though I’m tempted to publish my comics immediately, I’m going to be spending more time with these dailies before you get to see them. It’s for the best.
I think you’re going to like the comics that I have up my sleeve.Read more >>
In Conversation with Sophie Goldstein
This post originally appeared on the Schulz Library Blog.
CCS Alum Sophie Goldstein (Class of 2013) is a comics powerhouse. Although she only graduated this May, Goldstein has had an extremely productive year of cartooning. Her work has recently been appearing in a host of reputable venues. It’s been quite a year for her in terms of publications.
A slew of her extremely polished work began to appear in the world upon her graduation in May. Goldstein self-published part 1 of her psychological sci-fi drama, House of Women _and exhibited it at the Toronto Comics Arts Festival and at the Chicago Alternative Comics Expo. After _House of Women‘s publication, Goldstein got right to work and began to craft Edna 2, the story of one man’s determination to resist the society around him. This October Edna 2_was published online by Study Group Magazine and in print in Irene 3, the comics anthology spearheaded by 2012 CCS graduates Dakota McFadzean, Dave Weinar and Andy Warner. If all that weren’t enough, in late October, The Good Wife, a short story written in 2012, appeared inThe Best American Comics 2013._
Just last week Goldstein launched a successful Kickstarter campaign to bring the 360 strip long web comics series that she wrote and drew with Jenn Jordan from 2009 to 2013, Darwin Carmichael Is Going To Hell, into print. The campaign was successfully funded in 4 days. Suffice to say that Goldstein’s work is getting the attention it deserves.
“Darwin lives in Brooklyn, the borough of choice for hipsters, artists, deities and an assortment of mythological creatures. Darwin has a problem. Due to an unfortunate incident involving some intense snogging, an unbalanced high chair, and a framed image of the Buddha, he acquired a massive karmic deficit. Long story short, he’s going to go to Hell. Darwin doesn’t particularly want to go to Hell, so he’s doing everything he can to save his immortal soul.”
The forthcoming print collection of Darwin Carmichael is Going to Hell(DCiGtH) will bring together the entire run of this series, along with behind-the-scenes commentary, concept art and other miscellanea. Those interested in copies should definitely check out the Kickstarter campaign to learn more.
I had the pleasure of sitting down to chat with Sophie about her adventures in webcomics with_DCiGtH_.
Juan Fernandez: You started DCiGtH in 2009 and kept it going until 2013. During two of those years you were a CCS student. Writing a webcomic of a high calibre without missing weekly updates is tough. How did you keep DCiGtH going strong while you balanced the work load at CCS?
Sophie Goldstein: When I first applied to CCS and I was having my phone interview with James Sturm to test whether I was insane, you know, as he does, I told him that I was doing this webcomic. He said, “Oh yeah, you probably won’t be able to keep that up while you’re here.”
So, in anticipation of that we went from updating twice a week to once a week, which caused endless consternation among our readers that we just never heard the end of! I worked up a big buffer so the first semester of the first year was buffered. After that it was very stressful, but I had been doing DCiGtH for so long that I could do it a little on automatic. We had written far ahead and I was thumb nailing it far ahead, which is itself a kind of writing. The drawing, coloring and inking I could do even when i was under a lot of pressure. I think we only missed one update and it was because I forgot to load the strip. It wasn’t that it wasn’t there. It was just that I forgot to upload it. That made me die a little inside because we went so long and it was just one update! I couldn’t ever say that we had never missed an update.
JF: Besides other webcomics, what kind of comics were you reading in college, before you started DCiGtH?
SG: Mostly Vertigo_._ That was probably because my friend Steve who lived across the hall had all the Vertigos. He had them as trades. He had a lot of single issue stuff but that doesn’t fit in your college dorm room. There’s only so many long boxes you can really house in an NYU dorm room.
Then I started reading more of the indie stuff, like stuff D+Q publishes and Fantagraphics publishes, Fantagraphics particulary. I was into Jaime Hernandez and Craig Thompson and I was really into Dave Cooper, which probably says something about me. Oh, Dan Clowes! I really loved Dan Clowes. And Adrian Tomine. The big names of indie comics.
JF: DCiGtH has such a strong central arc. Did you know how you wanted to wrap up the story from the beginning or were you just starting with an interesting premise and going from there?
SG:Well, vaguely, to avoid spoilers, I think that when we had first talked about it, I remember we wanted to start a story arc right away. That would be the one story arc and then we started posting and we had shorter story lines. Our first ones were 4 strips long then our next one was 8 strips long and they just grew and grew. We enjoyed it, so we decided, “Well, we’ll just play around in the world and you know we’ll get to the longer arc later.” We always had a vague idea of “Well, darwin’s on this redemption path. that’s the big story. Darwin Carmichael is going to hell. He needs to try to avoid that.” I think in the back of my head I knew how it would end. I don’t know if Jenn had different ideas, but in the end we agreed that the ending was the only one that could be satisfying from an artistic standpoint
JF: It seems that there was a really strong creative back and forth between you and Jenn in the writing process. How did the two of you split the creative responsibilities when working on the strip?
SG: Well, there’s some strips that are called “Skittles’ Owner” and those particular strips are drawn by Skittles in crayon. Those strips are drawn by Jenn, but really by Skittles.
I did all the art for the regular strips. In terms of writing, we really wrote it together. We used a shared Google document. We would talk about the plot and would figure out what was going to happen in each strip. We would divvy up the strips and then we’d check each others stuff. It was a really collaborative process to the point that a lot of the time I don’t know who wrote particular strips or who wrote particular lines. The lines that I really remember are the ones that Jenn wrote that I find hysterically funny because those really stuck out. There’s a strip that we have about these unicorns with some very lewd language and it was the funniest. You can watch someone type in google docs, which is very weird, and I watched her write the line, then erase it. I typed “NONONONO, we absolutely have to keep that line!”
JF: DCiGtH has an extremely strong and loyal fan base. How did you build this kind of audience?
SG: When we started, really early on, Project Wonderful was a thing. It was, and still is this thing created by Ryan North, who does Dinosaur Comics. Basically, you bid on ad spaces on other webcomics. That was helpful. When you’re readership is just your mom, any more readers is a bonus.
The other big breakthrough that we had was by doing guest strips. I got introduced to Yuko Ota and Ananth Panagariya (Johnny Wander) IRL. Then I ended up doing a guest strip for them. It was really great. Somehow Spike from Templar, Arizona found our comic and linked to it and that was really big thing. My boyfriend Carl read my strip before we met and he found it through spike. I met other people who found my comic through Templar, Arizona. So, this link did everything for my life! I think that having that was the first really basic thing. Then you hit kind of a point where things gather their own momentum.
JF: When web cartoonists package their web comics for print, it seems that many of them retouch their early art. Are you doing any touching up of colors or redrawing of any kind? Are you redoing any strips?
SG: Oh god, I don’t think I want to even start with that because, literally, where would it end? We’re doing some color retouching because the early strips were done in RGB and a book is printed CMYK. My ignorance of that is coming to fruition right now. Then we’re going to add white panel borders to all the strips. They’re not in the early strips. We were doing black borders, that now look tacky to me. And we’re copyediting because there are some serious spelling and grammar errors that need to be rectified. They’re not charming and they interfere with the reading experience.
JF: I heard you’re no longer actively seeking to make money off of illustration or work for hire comics. Could you talk a little more about what your current relationship with comics making is now that you’ve graduated from CCS?
SG: Well, when I first came to CCS I had an attitude, that wasn’t necessarily career oriented, rather a kind of knee jerk one where I thought, “If i’m making money, then I’ve arrived.” So the idea having people pay for my comics, pay for me to do comics seemed like the goal. That’s what I wanted in my life. And then, as I did some of that, it was great, they were paying me, they liked my art, but I wasn’t proud of those comics They were not rewarding to me. It’s a huge time suck. No matter how much they pay you it’s not worth the amount of time you spend and time is a finite quantity.
So my current thing is that I have the day job and I can count on my rent and everything else. When I’m drawing comics it’s comics that I’m doing specifically for me. I have done stuff for money but it’s the kind of thing where it’s not someone who doesn’t know my work. It’s someone who is familiar with my comics is approaching me because they like my comics, not just my art. So that sort of stuff I’m still into, but there’s not enough money to really compensate for not having the time to work on the stories that are closest to my heart.
JF: On that note, are you chipping away at House of Women right now, or have you put that off to rest for a while?
SG: It’s on the back burner. At the moment, I’m working on a 72 page science fiction, story that is unrelated to House of Women. It’s more related to some of the other stuff that I’ve done. The kind that could be set in the same world. It’ll be in six twelve page installments. Which doesn’t seem very long, but it’s good, It’ll give me a deadline to get things done.
JF: Wonderful, I can’t wait to see the story unfold. Thanks for your time, Sophie.Read more >>
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