Crinkled Dailies: Week 13
Helene was written using bibliomancy.
As per my instructor, Jason Lutes’, request.I cracked open a French dictionary three times. Every time, I chose the first word on the page and used that word as turning point for the story 2 pages in, 4 pages in and 6 pages in. This assignment at the Center for Cartoon Studies marks the moment that I actively began to pursue the use of oblique strategies in my comics making process. **
The words I got were the following: -to discover the world -to take flight
While working on this comic I was studying Dupuy and Berberian’s pacing. They use predominantly tall, narrow panels on a 3 tier grid. Because of this, their comics end up focusing on particular, seemingly unimportant moments. Though they’re often times depicting mundane events and arguably frivolous social dramas between their bourgeois characters, a reader can’t help but be hooked by their masterful pacing. The have an incredible handle on depicting city life.
Helene documents my first attempt at watercoloring a comic. This was done before I began daily watercolor practice. As such, there’s a coloring by numbers feel to much of it. I watercolored this using a light box, which presented an extremely unintuitive situation. The resulting colors were extremely light and often times to subtle. Because of that, I went in and worked like a dog in Photoshop to get the flow of colors to be more bold and dramatic.Read more >>
Crinkled Dailies: Week 12
Priming the pump. Hope to get back into the rhythm of things.Read more >>
Writing for the Schulz Library Blog
Located in the historic Post Office building in White River Junction, the Schulz Library stands tall, amassing an incredible collection of contemporary graphic novels, out-of-print and rare collections of gag cartoons, classic newspaper strips, an extensive collection of books about cartooning – both academic and instructional and a one-of-a-kind collection of handmade publications! Thanks to generous donations from publishers, artists, and collectors the world over, the collection is abundant and unique.
Given that the Library is so packed with zines, graphic novels, cartoon collections, and related ephemera, the blog allows the Library to share its enthusiasm for the incredible collection. Whether it’s book reviews, descriptions of new arrivals, student essays, or just updates on the goings on of the Library, you’ll find it on the Schulz Library Blog.
I’d wanted to write for the blog since even before I started studying at the Center for Cartoon Studies, so it’s a real treat to be able to do so now! Most recently, I’ve been by writing posts that showcase the newest arrivals at the Library.
In addition to highlighting new arrivals to the collection on a weekly basis, I hope to write about the myriad of visiting artists that come through the school’s weekly Visiting Aritist Seminars, highlight the work of current students and write short essays that shine a light on the many comics gems that reside in the Library. If I have the time, I’ll even try to do some in depth reports on some of the many Small Press shows that occur in the United States!Read more >>
Although I haven’t had much time to be making and publishing my own work, I’ve been knee deep in comics, while soaking up the summer in Pittsburgh.
Mary Hart’s Computing Workshop, located in Squirrel Hill, provides educational opportunities for students and adults on the autistic spectrum or with other differences or obstacles to success in traditional school settings. The CW offers adapted instruction across the curriculum, with particular emphasis on computing, technology, and the arts, along with social and communication skills, in a safe and supportive setting. I’ve been involved with the Computing Workshop for three years now and every summer it’s only gotten better.
Besides teaching comics, reading and programming at the Computing Workshop, I’ve been hopping across the city of Pittsburgh teaching comics workshops thanks to Paula Levin’s Literary Arts Boom program. If you don’t know anything about Paula Levin’s Literary Arts Boom [The LAB] here in Pittsburgh, I suggest you read this nice little write up by Marty Levine on Pop City Media.
The LAB offers free out-of-school programming to Pittsburgh youth, ages 6-18. Students practice and improve their inquiry and writing skills in a safe and unique space by participating in project-based workshops that incorporate art, technology, and communication. Mentorship and creativity inspire students to pursue their interests, find their voices, and tell their stories.
The LAB provides a space for collaboration, innovation and community engagement among youth, adults, and organizations focused on kids and creativity. Individuals, ranging from authors to zoologists, can share their talents, passion, and wisdom with local youth.
Paula, The LAB’s “head experimentalist” is focused building a culture of reading, writing, and creativity in Pittsburgh, giving youth the tools, support and resources necessary to bloom into critical minded and inspired thinkers.
Given the great divides that exist across the American public education system, it’s a real honor to be involved with a program as vibrant and ambitious as the LAB.
Photograph by Alessandra HartkopfRead more >>
Announcing: The Little Book Fair!
Have you heard about The Little Book Fair? It’s an exciting event that’ll be happening here in Pittsburgh in August that I’m involved in organizing! ** The Little Book Fair **will be a one-day celebration of the vibrant small-press and self-publishing community in Pittsburgh. The Little Book Fair is dedicated to fostering community and dialogue amongst independent artists, small publishers, bookstores and readers.
Read more >>
Submit to the Andromeda Quarterly
Have you submitted comics to the Andromeda Quarterly, yet? If not, now’s your chance!
Andromeda is a comics anthology based in Pittsburgh, PA. Published on a monthly occurrence for two years from 2010 to 2012, it’s now released on a quarterly basis.
Andromeda seeks out talented and dedicated individuals wherever they can be found (that means you!). The Pittsburgh based publication hopes to establish a creative platform in which to project expression and artistic experience. ** October 2013 Issue:** Release Date: October 1st, 2013 Submission Deadline: August 15th, 2013
Size: 6×9 (unless otherwise noted; i.e. theme issues)
Resolution: at least 200 dpi
Color Modes: B&W as well as COLOR images are accepted and reviewed
Preferred File Formats: JPEG, TIFF, PNG, PDF or GIF
Maximum Page Submission: 40 pages
All submissions can be sent to: email@example.com
Here’s hoping to see your comics in the coming issue!Read more >>
Storytellers' Studio this July!
Do you know any kids ages 5-13 who love writing and sharing stories? They might love to participate in Storytellers’ Studio: After-Camp Care!
Over the course of this five-day program, kids get to collaborate with other campers on a group story and adapt it into** plays, songs/raps, and comics**. I’ll be facilitating the comics making. I’m really excited to be part of this program and can’t wait to see what we all cook up comics-wise!
If you know somebody who might be interested in this, I’d love for you to pass this along their way.Read more >>
Pay Attention to This: Rachel Masilamani
This article orginally appeared in Dog City: Issue 1
There’s things you can’t do with words and there’s things you can’t do with pictures, that’s what’s so exciting about the form.
It’s constantly pressing against your limitations.
- Rachel Masilamani 2013
A veteran self-publisher, Rachel Masilamani has been making comics in the United States since 1997. Her first comics collection, RPM Comics #1, received a grant from the Xeric Foundation and was named “Best Comic Book” by the Baltimore City Paper. Since then, her comics have appeared in Meathaus, Street Runoff, Graphics Classics, The Indiana Review, in other anthologies and in her own publications.
An accomplished story teller, Masilamani is hard pressed to categorize her work.
Endlessly fascinated with people, Masilamani draws inspiration from her own life and the behaviors of those around her to create stories that burrow themselves deep into the minds of her readers. Her stories elegantly blend naturalistic storytelling with expressionistic visual representation.
In much of her work, Masilamani explores notions of local and universal truth by blurring the line between fact and fiction. In so doing, she makes her inner life palpable. She walks this tightrope in ways similar to the memoir work of Carol Tyler, Mardou and Gabrielle Bell.
Although Masilamani grew up reading newspaper comics, she didn’t start making her own comics until she was a student at John Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD in the late nineties.
Her first formal forays into the medium were under the guidance of Baltimore based cartoonist and instructor, Tom Chalkley. One of the stories made under Chalkley’s guidance, Pen Bandit, appears in Masilamani’s first collection of comics, RPM #1. Originally planned to be a short film that she wanted to propose to John Hopkin’s film club, Masilamani decided to make Pen Bandit a comic on her own to avoid the inevitable frustrations she foresaw of having to compromise her vision.
After she graduated from John Hopkins University in 1999 with a degree in Anthropology and a minor in Art History, she didn’t go looking for a job or head off to graduate school, rather she attempted to make cartooning a full time job.
For months she dedicated herself to improving her cartooning and honing her ability to translate her observations to paper. It was a bold move as a young cartoonist.
Her efforts paid off when she received the Xeric Foundation Grant. The grant provided her with $5000 to print and distribute her first collection of comics, RPM #1 in 2000. With the help of the grant, she hit the ground running.
The first issue of RPM featured uniquely original, personal stories, carefully rendered in pencil and pen & ink. Though the work might not have been fully developed, it was a promising collection of stories that offered a fresh perspective.
After continuing freelance work and putting out the occasional minicomic, Masilamani published RPM #2 in Baltimore.
RPM #2 retained the same ingenious sense of observation and personality that made RPM #1 stand out, but revealed the hand of an artist who had tighter storytelling mechanics and a greater confidence in draftsmanship. Comprised of memoir, folk tales, and urban fantasies, the variety of genres in RPM #2 placed Masilamani’s narrative chops center stage.
After publishing RPM #2, life caught up with Masilamani. Though she’d given the life of a free-lance cartoonist and illustrator a go, it wasn’t meant to be.
Masilamani returned to school to study Library Science and began a series of relocations that wound up taking her to Pittsburgh, PA. During this time, Masilamani slowed down her release of comics.
While it would seem that Masilamani had taken a hiatus from her cartooning, the truth was that she continued to work and re-work new comics privately.
This new period of cartooning saw Masilamani put out two self-contained mini-comics, Singing Contest and Las Cuerpas. While both stories take place in the same physical landscape, the Mexican-American border, Singing Contest and Las Cuerpas explore radically different emotional landscapes.
Singng Contest tells the story of a young woman who leaves her home to participate in a televised singing contest. The comic is a playful experiment that cleverly uses the iconographic power of the comics medium.
In Singing Contest, Masilamani allows the animals that aid the protagonist on her journey to speak in words, while all of Masilamani’s human characters speak in icons. As a result of this formal decision, Masilamani creates a smooth, but idiosyncratic reading experience that lends the story an air of heartfelt whimsy.
Las Cuerpas, which Masilamani published in 2010, is much heavier. It deals head on with the femicides of Ciudad Juarez Mexico. A wordless comic inked expressively in pen and ink, Las Cuerpas swiftly moves across the city of Juarez and builds to a feverish crescendo.
Las Cuerpas is the result of Masilamani living in New Mexico and experiencing first hand the constant news about women and girls being murdered in Ciudad Juarez with no discernible follow up.
Though at the time she felt powerless to do anything about the murders, Masilamani couldn’t stop imagining that something could make the femicides unignorable.
Las Cuerpas is her attempt at making the horrors impossible to ignore.
Since Las Cuerpas, Masilamani has self-published two more collections of stories, Odds Are in 2012 and No Words in 2013. The two collections document a graceful evolution in the poetry of Masilamani’s story telling.
Odds Are contains 9 stories, each of which, in their own way, experiment with the semiotic relationship between words and pictures. Comprised of explorations of sensory experience, feminine identity and gender politics, Odds Are shows Masilamani handle extremely nuanced material.
No Words consists of 3 longer stories, which focus on semiotics and trust, race and ethnicity, and urban disenfranchisement. In these stories Masilamani allows herself more time to slowly create dense, inhabitable yet challenging narrative spaces.
These stories, though rooted in traditional narratives, make one think of the comics poetry of Tom Neely and John Hankiewicz, mainly because of Masilamani’s mature poetic, highly symbolic, dense and at times abstract, language that takes readers out of their comfort zones.
Attentively tuned to the mechanics involved in the co-mixing of abstract languages, Masilamani achieves a certain alchemy with these comics. It’s thrilling to read.
One hopes to see more comics like these from Masilamani because it is a joy to see her revel in the liminal spaces of comics.
You can purchase Rachel Masilamani’s work online from her site, RPM Comics.Read more >>
Awesome Sound No. 001 & Modern Sketch
My friend Sean Knickerbocker has just put out a new 3-color risograph 28 page comics ‘zine! It’s called AWESOME SOUND. This is the beginning of a beautiful, beautiful thing.
If you’d like to pick up a copy, hop on over to Sean’s online shop. They’re just $5!
Chinese opera character drawn by a child (Chen Keyan) for this 1935 cover.
In a more historical vein, I’d like to share with you an amazing cartooning resource that I came across recently, Modern Sketch. I recommend you take a moment to acquaint yourself with this classic Chinese cartooning and illustration magazine!
Published in Shanghai monthly from January 1934 to June 1937, Modern Sketch conveyed a range of political and social commentary through lively and sophisticated graphics. Topics included eroticized women, foreign aggression—particularly the rise of fascism in Europe and militarized Japan, domestic politics and exploitation, and modernity-at-large as envisioned through both the cosmopolitan “Modern Girl/Modern Boy” and the modernist grotesque.
I urge you to take a moment out of your day to read John A. Crespi’s essay “China’s Modern Sketch: The Golden Era of Cartoon Art, 1934-1937” at MIT Visualizing Cultures. There’s a lot to soak up.
Every issue can be seen in high resolution at Colgate Digital Collections. What a treat!
Hu Kao, “Swimsuits of 1934” (issue 7, July 1934)
Crespi highlights a few comics of the era. Be sure to have a look!
Jin Mo “Smoking,” “Quitting,” “After Quitting”
Liao Bingxiong “A Wise Man” January 1936Read more >>