Winter visit to Falling Rock National Park

Last April I was given the rare privilege of drawing the annual April Fool’s day guest strip for Josh Shalek’s “Welcome to Falling Rock National Park.” Josh is a good friend and an awesome tablemate, and each year he hands over the reins to his pet project for the day. Given the vast difference in our drawing styles, I wanted to create a stip that incorporated the difference of imagery. They following was my creation:

Falling Rock April Fool's Day strip

The honor of filling in for Josh was made even more distinguished when he ended the run of Falling Rock as a newspaper style strip a few months later, making mine the last guest strip published. Josh has now taken his characters to a new format, full comic book size available by subscription, and I’m glad to report that he called upon me to contribute once again.

Josh liked the idea of the Uncanny Vally strip enough that he wanted to flesh it out as a full story to go in his first issue. When I drew my strip I had to edit down my ideas to fit into four panels, so I loved the idea of extending the story and getting the opportunity to render the other characters who couldn’t make it into the strip.

I’m pleased to report that we’ve completed the story, and that Josh has finished the whole book which will be available very soon. He’ll be debuting it at Emerald City Comic Con on March 1-3. I’ll be there too, though we won’t be at the same table. If you’ll be in Seattle come see us, if not I refer you to Josh’s website if you’d like to make a purchase. Heres a small preview of our story:

FallingRock3

FallingRock4

SPX: A Natural History

Another SPX has come and gone. This was my third (second as an exhibitor) and each year it has proved itself to be a class act amongst indy-comics events. This year’s guest list was star-studded, the caliber of exhibitors was expectantly high, and attendees proved to be friendly, eager, and well informed.

In spite of all these positives, I failed to adequately document the event in photographs, but with no intent of blogging about it without supplementary images, I’ve opted to substitute in other photos from my trip. So, without further delay, SPX in pictures!

Washington DC, as seen from the plane.

Exhibiting at a large event at SPX can be exhausting and lonely if you don’t have a constituency of good table mates. Thankfully I’ve managed to align myself with a steadfast crew of fellow artists as genial as they are talented. Taking his regular position by by side was Josh Shalek, making his first attempt (successfully, I might add) to familiarize the greater DC area with his line of publications, including this year’s releases “Falling Rock National Park 2012″ and “Tomb of the Zombies.” A table away were Kenan Rubenstein proudly displaying his long awaited effort “Last Train to Old Town” and Neil Brideau stepping up his game with “The Plot 2: Your Curiosity Will Get You Killed.”

Clockwise from the top: Neil Brideau, Josh Shalek, Kenan Rubenstein, and myself.

The four of us reside in three different cities in three different time zones, so events like SPX are often the only time we manage to connect. I’m glad to say that we made the most of out time. We shared several meals, had some good conversations, and spent a considerable amount of time waiting for/riding the metro.

Kenan (left) and Josh (right) discuss politics. It may not seem like it, but they agree more than they disagree. There’s no way around it, though, drone strikes are a divisive issue.

This was my fifth convention of the year, and the fourth I had to travel out of state for. When you do enough of these you start running into the same folks again and again. Meeting the people behind the art is one of the best parts of attending such an event, and it’s especially satisfying when their personalities and their work are of equally high caliber. SPX marked my third, fourth, or even fifth time this year exhibiting at the same event as some of such artists, though the pleasure is never diminished.

Tom Neely, Nate Powell, and Vincent Stall. Good dudes, great artists.

While the aforementioned guest list was highlighted many talented illustrators, aside from a shaking hands with Jaime Hernandez at the Ignatz party, I made no meaningful contact with the headliners. Josh ran into Chris Ware in the exhibit hall, but he too felt the encounter was marginal at best. Its hard not to feel dwarfed by such monumental guests. What can you really say to them? Admiration from afar seems to be the best course of action. Here are some of SPX 2012′s top attractions.

Dan Clowes

Gilbert Hernandez (upper left), Jaime Hernandez (lower right), Francoise Mouly (upper right).

Adrian Tomine

Chris Ware (above), as seen talking with Josh Shalek (below).

In closing this SPX was one of my best, and most memorable shows to date. I saw many friends, and made many more. My convention year is nearly over, and I can’t wait to do SPX again, but for now I’m just happy to be back in Portland’s loving arms.

Life just feel so much less complex in Portland.

Tiktaalik is dead.

(Insert extinction joke here)

Its been a long time since I’ve made any posts to Tiktaalik, my old blog. This is largely because I had very little to blog about (not a hindrance for most bloggers, I realize, but excuse enough for me). Tiktaalik was not meant to be my soapbox, but rather just an outlet on which to post new work, and, admittedly, there had been precious little of that. However, the root reason for the lack of activity was that I knew Tiktaalik was a temporary measure, an under-formed creature not meant to last. I admitted so much in Tiktaalik’s first post, where I explained the rational for the site’s esoteric and nearly unpronounceable name.

The bottom line was that fracturing my web presence into two sites (a blog and a portfolio/main site) made no sense, and as time went on it became harder and harder to commit time to something I was ready and needed to outgrow. The more time spent administrating Tiktaalik drew from time developing its successor, a task I proved all too happy to drag my feet on. As the case tends to be with these things, I had to take the plunge. I cast aside excuses, called in some favors (thank you Mr. Bremer), and dove into wordpress.

More notable than the demise of Tiktaalik was the replacement of my even more ill-fated html-based website, a four year long experiment in frustration and bad design. By replacing it with an incomplete wordpress site I finally had the incentive to develop a site that works. The result is the page you now see, still a work in progress, but a step along the way, and one that is much less of an embarrassment.

The banner is temporary. The animal columns on the side are here to stay. Portfolio pages will come. Updates should happen more frequently. Until then, enjoy a closeup of the background art.