I will be at the Maine Comics Arts Fesitval next Sunday, May 22 at Ocean Gateway in Portland. I’ll have all of my awesome books, plus a kid-friendly version of Who is Amy Amoeba? I’ve met a number of parents and teachers who enjoy this story but hesitate to share it because of the language. So the swearing, while adorable, is getting cleaned up for the children of Maine. I don’t know if this will be a permanent change or not – the swearing is really minimal but still kind of funny.
Twice a week, Ray Howell has been posting original short stories on his blog, Tin Stories. Each story is just fifty words long (or in the nomenclature of snack manufacturers, FUN-SIZE). Here’s one story, titled Technical Masterpieces:
By 2052, with unemployment skyrocketing, it was deemed necessary to disqualify the robots. The MANPOWER Act outlawed hiring robot labor and we returned to the assembly lines. Ineligible to build things, the robots spent their time writing music. But we were too busy to listen, and they had no ears.
Some are funny, some are sad, some are mysterious. They are all thoughtful and satisfying. If you are the kind of person who like to snack on stories throughout the day, you should put some of these in your pants pockets.
Here is a fifty-word story I wrote just now about Ray:
I became friends with Ray Howell in high school and spent weekends in his basement. The fact that I don’t remember much about what we did down there gives you some idea of what we did down there. I’ve forgotten countless nights of embarrassing conversations, insecure provocations, and relentless creativity.
I will be at Boston Comic Con April 30 and May 1, and would very much like to see you! It’s at Hynes Convention Center, which is a bigger space than last year, and boasts hundreds of artists. You may even get to meet R2D2 or a Ghostbuster.
After Stumptown a couple of years ago, I drew this convention anxiety meter:
I’m now much more comfortable at these things, but I have to admit this one is making me nervous. I’ve never done a mainstream con before and I don’t know who will be interested in my little handmade comics. And the vibe, by the nature of the event, will be different than, say, a zine fair. But I was pretty nervous before my first zine fair too.
To those of you who suffer from anxiety (and it seems like there are many of us), I don’t have a solution, although I’ve definitely made strides in the past few years. I’ve found that if the anxiety is vague enough, it can just wear itself out. If I try to shoo away my comic-con anxiety, it doesn’t leave. But when I let it dance around, eventually it just runs out of things to say and exhausts itself. When it starts to come back later (and it will), I recognize it and say, “oh hello, we’ve met before,” and it slinks away. Now, this doesn’t work if your particular anxiety happens to be telling you something specific, like part of your brain is swelling against your skull and is about to kill you. It’s our daily worrying that I’m talking about – don’t distract yourself, don’t get upset, just stop and listen to what it has to say and eventually it will run out of things to talk about.
As the number of titles in the Manatee Power library increases, we spend more and more time throughout the year printing, cutting, stapling, folding, stickering, and stamping. Shortly after one book is finished, we run out of another. Although I do feel a strong sense of love and pride as I’m assembling the first physical manifestation of a new book – and the twentieth – my excitement fades by the 200th. So we tried to be a little smarter about minicomics production. My sister, Randi, joined Rebecca and I on Saturday for a massive stapling-and-stickering-and-stamping extravaganza in an ambitious effort to make all the minicomics we’ll need for the year. We… didn’t quite make it to the end. The world of bookmaking becomes a little sleepy if you order sake with your sushi. But we came close! A weight has been lifted by my generous family and I already feel a little lighter (and it’s not from the sake).
Some of these fine books are coming with me this weekend to the MoCCA Festival at the Lexington Avenue Armory in New York City. After skipping it last year, I’m excited to be going back! There are many great cartoonists at MoCCA and I always fall in love with something new. And, like at SPX, it’s so much fun to talk to readers and introduce myself to new ones. MoCCA runs Saturday April 9th and Sunday April 10th from 11am-6pm. If you go, please come by table E17!
While I’m in the city I’ll be staying with my good friend Ray, who I’ve convinced to attend Punchdrunk’s incomparable MacBeth-by-way-of-Hitchock theater piece, Sleep No More. Rebecca and I experienced it twice when it was in Boston and I urge anyone who can to see its new incarnation in New York. It warrants a blog post of it its own and, after we go, I’ll try to write one.
My wife Rebecca and I work in the same office, an arrangement that often bewilders people. “How can you work together all day without driving each other crazy?” we’ve been asked too many times to count. About a month ago, a co-worker asked her, “When you get home, do you ever tell him you’re sick of looking at his face?” Now we don’t work in the same department, and our individual work crosses paths only occasionally. But this does not sway people who are convinced they could never work in the same environment as their spouses. People, mind you, who are raising children together, which is the most intimate collaborative work anyone can do. (Is that how they know they can’t work together?)
I can’t share our secret. It is just too incredibly secret. If I told you how we did it, you would know too much about us. Instantly, you would be sick of looking at our faces.
We’ve recently been working together, outside the office, on comics. It’s a potentially delicate arrangement because we may want to push different things, and we live together and love each other and hurt feelings and all that. But so far it’s been satisfying and we’re hoping to continue experimenting this year, probably on this site. Debuting this weekend, as I write this, at the New England Comics Arts in the Classroom Conference in Providence is a new comics anthology about teaching and learning called Show and Tell. It includes a short comic drawn by me, written by Rebecca (she taught for several years). This is our second collaboration, and like the first, it’s full of talented cartoonists. If you don’t happen to be at the conference this weekend, it will be available at a bunch of comic shows this year, or you can order a copy from the Ninth Art Press website.