Memories of ‘Miah

miahIt was almost four months ago that my brother Jeremiah passed away. My relationship with Jeremiah changed a lot over the years. When we were kids, we fought all the time and as we got older, we sort of just didn’t really talk to each other. It wasn’t until the last couple of years that we really forged a relationship and realized that despite spending all of our lives thinking we were so different, we actually had so much in common.

Looking back at some of my older work, I noticed that I drew him frequently into the comics I made before I started working on Americus. I didn’t realize the importance of this until looking back through my portfolio now after his passing. Even though we weren’t really close and didn’t really talk during those years, our silence or distance didn’t mean we didn’t love each other.

Here’s the pieces he starred in or had cameos:


He’s also in the story I did for the Popgun anthology, Sucky, Sucky. Here’s a sample page, and you can read the whole thing over at my portfolio page.


And lastly, here’s a piece of the three of us that I did for our Mom a couple of years ago:


I’m hoping at some point I’ll be able to take all the love and memories of him and turn it into something that I can put creative energy into to honor him. Until then, I thought I’d just share these comics where I was thinking about him those years we didn’t speak, even if he never knew.

Love you, ‘Miah. xoxo.

Insurance Pools

I got some ‘wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am’ work for the Willamette Week this week. [As in, I got it at around noon and it needed to be done by 3:30 the same day].

It was a pretty dry article, and the illustration wasn’t that exciting, but I still had fun because I approached the work in a different way.

Kind of going with the flow of the goofing around I’ve been doing on the computer with coloring and thinking more in shapes, I decided to just pencil the work and not ink it. Then I took it into the computer and used it as a guideline and just made color shapes and cuts like I would normally do when coloring an ink drawing.



Again, is it something that I want to keep doing? I don’t know. But it’s been fun to approach things in a different way. I want to change up and evolve my image-making and style, but I don’t really know how to approach that besides just throwing a bunch of things to the wall and seeing what sticks.

A Good Start

So a week of 2013 has passed, and I feel really good about it so far. I’ve managed to keep myself to a pretty simple schedule that’s basically involved me getting up early, free drawing in my sketchbook for half an hour and then setting out to tackle drawing projects throughout the day.


I’ve drawn more this last week than I have in the last four months. I forgot how good it feels, and how much I need it. How I didn’t realize part of me was missing until my brush and pen were moving again.

I’ve also gotten to experiment with coloring a bit. It’s not really anything drastically different than I was doing before, but I’ve really just been playing around with thinking of shapes and not relying so much on line. It’s been interesting to approach it in a different way.


Anyhow, outside of the doodling and the pieces I can’t share quite yet, I did do some quick character designs for a small project that MK is pitching that I figured I could tease.


Let’s hope I can keep the rhythm and momentum up!

Teeny Tiny 2013

Happy New Year!

I made Jen a calendar for 2013 for Christmas. I struggled a bit with what to put in the image part. After wasting like two days waffling about, I decided to bust out the macro lens and did a photoshoot with some of the tiny-tinys that live around our house. Here’s some of the better ones.


I had a hard time getting the lighting perfect in each of them. You’ll notice the background came out bluer in some of them and greyer in others. All in all, I’m pretty happy with all of them, and I had fun working in a different medium. Here’s hoping to do more of that and expand my creative horizons a bit in 2013!

A Sad & Beautiful World – 2012 Year in Review


It’s been a ghost town here at oneofthejohns for months. Let’s just get to it then, shall we? Here’s my year in review post for 2012.

To be completely honest, it’s been a tough, tough year. We lost our father this summer after a long battle against cancer, and five months later my brother Jeremiah passed away as well. The sickness and death and loss has been a lot to deal with, and it’s been a process that has affected my creativity and motivation. That’s not to say that there haven’t been positive things this year, but I had major plans for myself and where I wanted to take myself professionally, and they’ve stalled for various reasons.

Keep reading for the complete, long-winded recap of the year…

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Doubling Down!

It’s two weeks* into my full-time art making adventure, and I thought it would be a good time to check in and let everyone know how it’s going.

After some mulling around at the beginning, I’ve decided that I am going to double down on storytelling and narrative opportunities and put the illustration work on the back burner. I feel like I’m twice the storyteller than I am illustrator, and it’s what I’m really good at, and in a perfect world, it’s what I would love to be doing. Not that there won’t be time down the road to focus a little more on illustration, but for right now, it’s trying to organize and crank out some ideas I’ve had floating around in my head for comics and books. The real focus the last couple of weeks of which has been trying to get the writing wrapped up for what I would like to be my next graphic novel, The Searchers.

I’ve managed to write out two more chapters, leaving only the last two and the epilogue to write. After which I’ll thumbnail it all out and do a bit of editing and rewriting in the process. to break it up a little bit, I’ve done a little drawing of some characters and environments. Here’s some images of what I’ve come up with.

Some of the proportions are off, specifically in the camping scene where the character to the right’s head is super, super big [it’s supposed to be big, but not that big] and then the house in the final image is too small. That being said, the purpose of the drawings were to start to give myself a feel for the way things will look visually so I don’t have to come up with them on the fly when I start drawing.

So that’s where I’m at. I’ve had a bit of a hard time following the schedule that I had set up where I would be diversifying what I would be doing everyday, which I still think would be beneficial for me to be doing. Maybe once I get the writing done I will focus on that a little more. Stay tuned!

* this time frame of two weeks doesn’t count the week I took off for Jen’s birthday and then the last week I took off for camping for my birthday.

Thank You Strikes Again

So today was officially my first day devoted to freelancing! You wanna know what my amazing big project was – the one that was help me start off on the right track and really get momentum going?

Thank you cards!

Yeah, I know right? Not really exciting. Well, to be specific, I wanted to make thank you cards to send to all the family and friends that helped out when my dad was sick. It was a small project that I had been meaning to do since June, and I thought would be a good warm-up to get me into a little groove. It proved to be a little more difficult than I thought it would. You see, my first inclination is to make something funny and/or weird.

You may remember that this was originally drawn for the great folks at First Second after Americus came out to thank them for being so great to work with. I liked the lizard man one so much, I had some printed out for whenever I needed a thank you card.

But that card wasn’t going to cut it for this. I wanted to do something special for these folks because they really, really came through for me and my brothers for when we needed love and support the most. I needed these cards to be a little more subdued and classy.

After a long day of brainstorming, thumbnailing, drawing, and then scrapping ideas, these are the ones that made it to the final stages. I finished them up only to realize that I would scrap them, too.

I got this first one done and liked it, only to realize I was totally just copying my friend Meg’s visual style.

So I changes it to make it more simple, only to have it be too plain.

And then this last one just ended up looking like something you would give your doctor or dentist after you got an x-ray.

I actually really like the image, but I think it ended up looking too weird. The concept I was going for was some sort of ‘Thank you from deep inside’. Sigh.

Anyhow, after being completely, totally frustrated with all the false finishes, I came up with one last one. It’s might seem a little sentimental, but I think it strikes a balance of being heartfelt and classy, while still portraying the sense of gratitude towards the people that have helped us out.

The front:

And the inside:

I’m going to get these printed up tomorrow so I can send them out three months late, eek! Better late than never, right? And despite my frustration, it felt good to just be focuses and be working all day, and to play around with some hand lettering and design, even if it wasn’t super-successful.

If you’re interested, I’ve posted scans of some of the sketchbook pages of thumbnails and assorted drawings that came out of the whole process over on my Tumblr site.

Americus wins the Carla Cohen Free Speech Award!

Looks like I’m going to have to update this shelf-talker with the good news!

We actually heard about this awhile ago, but it slipped my mind to post it until this week. Anyhow, here’s information on the award from the NAIBA website:

The idea for this award came from a desire to not only honor an amazing bookseller and past president of NAIBA, but to honor Carla as would be most fitting.

The NCCFSA will be awarded to a children’s book, as awareness of constitutional rights needs to begin at the beginning of true consciousness. Educating children about their rights by putting the books into their hands that will allow them to question, imagine, and dream is essential to the survival of independent bookstores and dare we say, humanity.

Independent bookstores are the places where freedom of speech and anti-censorship are integrated into everything we do. We are spaces where difference-of ideas, sexuality, spirit, politics, and philosophy-is embraced and not feared. Politics and Prose has been exactly this kind of place for the past 27 years. Independent bookstores are essential to their communities and hence to a truly democratic nation. The survival of our bookstores relies on children becoming informed and engaged in our midsts. Only through the nurturing of this future community will we ensure having a customer base on which to rely.

You can read about it straight from the source here. Yay!

Taking the Leap

This summer has been pretty overwhelming to say the least. In early May I went to California to take care of my dad, who was pretty sick. About three weeks into it, he took a pretty bad turn for the worse and passed away shortly afterwards. It was pretty much the most sucky thing that has ever happened to me, and I’m still trying to navigate my life without him. I got back to Portland in mid-June and have been slowly getting myself back into the swing of things. It’s a bit cliche, but it has made me take inventory of my life and ask myself if I am where I want to be and questioning my priorities and where I am putting my energy.

In a lot of ways I am happy where I am at – like I mentioned, my friends are pretty much the best a guy could ask for, my family is tops, and I live in a rad city… but career-wise, particularly in my art, I’m not.

The last six years, I’ve been working at Powell’s and doing freelancing work on the side. I’ve accomplished a lot in that time – my illustration career got it’s start, and I finished Americus. There was peace in mind knowing that I had certain things like being able to go to the dentist, a steady source of income, etc. It was a good and important period in my life where I was given the time to get a foothold and build up a portfolio, but I’ve really felt like I’ve plateaued the last year or so. I think the comfort that it provided me also made me a total softie. My approach to getting new work was pretty much just waiting for it to fall on my lap. I would work really hard anytime work popped up, but because a job was taking up a lot of my time I had a hard time making time to do art or looking for work because I was just beat or it was easy to justify blowing it off.

With everything that has happened to me the last couple of months, I really feel like it’s time to turn to the next chapter of my life. It’s time to make the plunge and step up my life-game and make a go at being a cartoonist/illustrator/whatever people will pay me to draw full time. I feel like I owe it to myself, and I owe it to my dad, who pretty much gave me every opportunity to persue those dreams, but I’ve been a little bit of a wuss. I’ve been sitting in the shallow end of the pool so far, and now it’s time to just dive into the deep end and either learn how to swim or drown trying. If I don’t give it a shot now, then when?

I gave my notice at Powell’s and will be done at the end of the month. After that, I’ll be going through step-by-step and documenting the entire self-promotion process. If you’re in the same boat or just starting out your artistic career, hopefully you can pick up tips and learn something from the process. If you’re a professional, maybe you can drop by and leave some hints or share your experience. Maybe you’re an old nemesis, and you want to see me fail miserably. Either way, I would love to have you along for the ride.

Expect big changes, reorganization, and some new work to pop up. It’s going to start out slow at first while I lay the ground work, but I’m hoping in a couple of weeks I’ll be in a position to take off running.

Wish me luck!

P.S. Much thanks to my lovely girlfriend, Jen for all the support and encouragement, and to the incredibly talented Meg Hunt for giving me some much needed guidance to help me get started and to the always awesome Jason Rainey for the tech support and behind the scenes help.

Fall Classes at OCAC

OCAC just posted their Fall 2012 Community Studios and Pre-College Teen Classes. This time around, I’ve got three classes I’ll be rocking. If you register early, you can save yourself $30!

[The links in the titles will take you to the OCAC page where you can register for the class.]

Crafting Comics: Narrative and Technique
This introductory course will cover the basic fundamentals of visual storytelling for the comics medium. Students will learn how to use a variety of tools to combine concept, drawing, design, and basic storytelling. Emphasis will be placed on developing clarity, readability, and cohesiveness; all of which are critical strategies for making comics. As part of the course, students will be required to keep a sketchbook to record the creative process. Prerequisites: None, though basic drawing skills are beneficial.

[I would like to point out that it is now possible to take this class for credit! Whoo-hoo!]

Start Date: 09/19/2012
End Date: 11/28/2012
Days: Wednesday
Time: 6:30-9:30pm

Creating Comics (Pre-College)
This introductory course will cover the basic fundamentals of visual storytelling for the comics medium. Students will learn how to use a variety of tools to combine concept, drawing, design, and basic storytelling to tackle the various problem solving required when making comics. Focus will be on clarity, readability, and cohesiveness of design. Lectures will contain examples from comics that span throughout the history of the medium and all across the globe, such as manga, superhero comics, zines, graphic novels, etc. Prerequisite: None, though basic drawing experience is a plus.

Start Date: 10/08/2012
End Date: 11/26/2012
Days: Monday
Time: 6:30pm – 9:00pm

Character Design and Development (Pre-College)
Do all you characters tend to look the same? Do they stand out amongst a crowd? Whether doing comics, animation, or game design, this course will help students learn to develop and visually strengthen the characters that inhabit their stories. The course will focus on observational skills and attention to detail that help define and individualize characters and worlds. No prerequisites. Location: Community Studio

Start Date: 09/22/2012
End Date: 10/06/2012
Days: Saturday
Time: 2:00pm – 5:00pm

Hope to see you in class! Feel free to drop me a line if you have any questions –