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.

Major Changes!

As you can see I’ve restructured the website a bit and have the main page of go straight to my portfolio, while the blog is tucked away at here at All the links to posts are now defunct, but the post titles themselves should still be the same, but you just need to get rid of the ‘www’ and change it to ‘blog’. Hopefully this won’t cause too many problems.

There are still some kinks I have to work out, but I’m hoping to get the site completely pieced together in the next month. Thanks for your patience.

Creating Comics Teen Workshop Recap

So last week I taught weeklong comics workshop for teens over at OCAC. I was a little nervous going in for a couple of reasons: First of all, we had to cover the same amount of material that I did in the class I taught in spring in the same amount of hours, but with a compressed schedule. And then second, they were high schoolers, and I was afraid they would eat me alive. These issues turned out to be minor details, and the class turned out really well and I was super-stoked for the work that was produced.

Anyhow, after the cut is a detailed recap of the week, along with a selection of work that the students produced.

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Studio Away From Home

It’s kind of a lousy picture, but here’s what my makeshift workspace looks like at my Pa’s house while I stay down here to help him out. I’ve been down here a week, and I am only now able to get into a bit of a rhythm to draw. I think part of me was psyching myself out because I’m such a creature of habit and ritual, and in my head if I am not at my table in my studio with my supplies, I can’t draw. And then there’s just getting used our schedule and the other stuff I have to do around the house.

I have a lot of free time down here, and I’m hoping that I can utilize it and be productive. Fingers crossed.

Summer Comics Workshop for Teens at OCAC

With everything that’s been going on the last month, I’ve forgotten to mention that this July I’m teaching a week-long summer workshop for teens at OCAC. It will be a modified version of my Crafting Comics: Narrative and Technique that has been tweaked a little bit to accomodate the compressed schedule.

Class will be from July 9-13, 9:00am-4:00pm with an hour break for lunch in the middle.

Here’s the link to the OCAC website to sign up.

If you have any questions, please e-mail me, or leave a comment.

Spread the word!

Free Comic Book Day 2012!

Tomorrow is FREE COMIC BOOK DAY! Head on down to you local comic book stores and pick up the freebies that they have to offer. If you’re around Portland, might I recommend picking up the publication that the always awesome Tugboat Press put out for the occassion, Runner Runner. Below is a one-page comic that I contributed:

And also amongst pretty amazing company: MK Reed, Jesse Reklaw, Aron Nels Steinke, Aaron Renier, Alec Longstreth, Galen Longstreth, and Drew Weing just to name a few.

Don’t delay! Go camp out in front of your local comic book store today!


Stumptown 2012

The Stumptown Comics Fest was last weekend, and to sum it up: I had a super-rad time. I was table-buddies again with the most awesome Breena Wiederhoeft and I think we could both safely say that Stumptown was much more our kind of show compared to Emerald City. We weren’t flanked by print sellers of Babylonian demigods or cheesecake pictures of super hero women, the crowd was more interested in comics and zines, and there was a lot more space and the room didn’t feel as crowded or claustrophobic.

The short recap: I got to talk to a lot of great people that I haven’t seen in a long time or got to meet for the first time, sales were good and people responded well to Americus [I sold all but one copy!] and I was even able to sell some of the original pages, Breena and I got to hang out and shoot some ideas around for a potential collaborative project, and I got another jolt of inspiration to keep chugging away at The Searchers.

I don’t want to throw a wall of text up on the front page of my site, but keep reading for expanded coverage of this cartoonists experience at STCF 2012…

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Americus is a Junior Library Guild Selection!

I just got a package and a little certificate today letting me and MK know that Americus was a Junior Library Guild Selection for Fall 2011. There was a letter that basically said, ‘We’re wicked sorry that we didn’t send this to you like 6 months ago’ and a little pin to go along with the certificate.

It’s cool to get more recognition for the book, even if it’s late. I have forgotten that we could probably be doing a little more to promote it, although it seems the fall season and Banned Book Week will be a good reminder, as well as the upcoming ALA conference in Anaheim this June.

Also: I’ll be at Stumptown this weekend, sharing a table again with the totally rad Breena Wiederhoeft at A-23! Come by and say hi and buy a copy of the Junior Library Guild Selection book Americus or Breena’s Xeric Grant winning Picket Line!

Crafting Comics Recap

So this is a little late, but I wanted to write a post about how my Crafting Comics class went at OCAC this last term.

A short recap: The class went well. I got a little overambitious with a small amount of time and I should have assigned a little more work to implement the ideas we were discussing in class. The plus side is that I learned a lot and it will help me prepare for the next time I teach the class. My students were great and had a lot of really good ideas, I just forgot how long it can take to do things, and a lot of people didn’t get enough time to finish things.

For a more detailed overview, keep reading.

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