Monday, May 24, 2010

comic connections

I am bleary but satiated by the weekend's big event: the Maine Comics Art Festival!
First, a big bow to Casablanca Comics, for getting this plush ball rolling, and making Portland a destination for comic creators.

I pass this sign on my way to the Portland Public Library, scene of a full-day of speakers on Saturday, as well as an exhibit of comic art in the new Lewis Gallery.

I caught the tail end of Jay Piscopo's presentation on drawing comics from basic shapes. He makes it look easy!

Next up was John Shableski, who Kirsten Cappy introduced as the Buffalo Bill of the graphic novel frontier. John's a sales manager for Diamond Book Distributors, and knows his stuff on both the comic and content side of the coin. He gave a witty and informative presentation on the history of comics, from the caves of Lascaux to web comics, demonstrating the universal language of imagery. He had a pile of books for browsing, and excellent handouts for educators.

Here's the lovely Kirsten showing off her current fave book series.

Next up was the dynamic duo of David Roman and Raina Telgemeier, who talked about genres of comics, styles of art, interpretations, and influences.

Here Dave has drawn Garfield, a character he copied as a kid, learning to draw. Similar features can still be found in his current work.

They elaborated on the focus on features, showing tons of great images from all genres,
simple vs. detailed illustration techniques, inking and linework. For instance, Raina admitted that she'd been very attached to her set of Micron pens, using different sizes for thick and thin lines, until an art professor urged her to use a brush. Now, she uses one brush that can yield a broader line variety.

They emphasized "there is no wrong way to draw!" Amen!

Dave and Raina showed examples of comic mash-ups, such as blends of superhero styles with manga, for the X-Men Misfits. They discussed storytelling and layout, expression and acting, and ended with Raina drawing comic responses to words thrown out by the audience: exasperation, boredom, confusion, and greed.

Here Raina demonstrates emonata (spelling, anybody?):

After this, Robin Chapman from the Center for Cartoon Studies led the crowd in a panel and composition workshop.

I had to draw her lithe proportions and groovy glasses:

At this point, I had to run for the ferry. Houseguests back on the island, of course!
Missed the Steampunk discussion, and the readings by creators. Shucks.

But a brisk ride back to Peaks Island on the top deck, chatting with John Shableski, renewed my energies for the big day on Sunday. I headed back through foggy seas to join Patricia Erikson at a table for our History Comix Camp, recruiting middle schoolers for a weeklong day camp adventure in the art and history of Casco Bay piracy.

Tricia got into the part!

She walked the history talk while I sketched a few panels.

We did get to leave our posts and check out the amazing crowd of creators. So many, so little wallet, but I encountered some cool folks.

Here's Joel Zain Rivers, local impressario of graphic novels with a historical flair. He's also a cohort in the Maine Illustrators Collective, which will exhibit together soon at the Green Hand.

Here's the adorable Jen Vaughn, whose Mermaid Hostel was irresistible.

I was happy to find my soon-to-be colleague at Maine College of Art working his table in a dandy manner, Mr. Michael Connor of Coelacanthus fame.

Michael will be teaching a Graphic Novel class this fall in the illustration department. Currently his exquisite originals are on view in the Lewis Gallery exhibit mentioned above.

Back at the table with Trisha, we met many interesting kids, parents, and fellow educators like the enthusiastic media teacher all the way from Machias, Ryan Zlomek. The good energy among the crowd was so palpable. Kapow!

Again, it was time to catch a boat before I could really take it all in. Seeing the Gateway Terminal in the fog conjurs a vision of a slimy sea monster emerging from the mist....

My daughter and I compared our loot back home. She spent a little cash, but favored the free stickers and buttons, but was VERY proud of her caricature by Braden Lamb.

My stash was smaller, but just as loaded.

Sigh. What a way to spend the weekend! Thanks to Casablanca Comics and to all the talent that traveled to our town, and to the pack of local talent that makes Portland such a great place.

Back to the drawing board!

Friday, May 14, 2010

culminating events

With the heady fragrance of lilacs in the air, the season of fruition is upon us. Everywhere, there are culminating events. I've been to several recently. Recognition is a wonderful thing, after lots of hard work.

At King Middle School, the Windsor 7 class made a powerful presentation on their expedition called Small Acts of Courage. They interviewed local citizens on their personal involvement in the Civil Rights era.

Each student delivered one piece of an amazing story about the struggle for equality with tremendous poise and clarity. Besides transcribing oral history, writing many, many drafts, and speaking publicly, students also worked in pairs on a collage poster. Gotta love that visual arts engagement! Here is the collaboration by Daisy and Dustin:

Across town by only a matter of blocks, Maine College of Art showed off the parting works by the class of 2010.

Here, Katie Long exhibits some senior projects during the recent First Friday show.

Down the hall, fellow ninja Stephan Mallette exhibited an animation project alongside this graphic mural.

I had the privilege of sharing a classroom with both of these graduating illustration majors. Shine on, Katie and Stephan!

Meanwhile, back on Peaks Island, Fran Houston celebrated the publication of her book,"For the Love of Peaks."

Marty did the layout and design for this wonderful collection of stories by lovies: those elders on the island who can tell it like it was. Fran will launch the book with an upcoming exhibit at Addison Woolley Gallery on June 12.

The beloved Doug MacVane, pictured above, makes an appearance in the picture book I have been working on for months. He's an islander gone but always fondly remembered for his stewardship of Peaks Island. I passed him many times on the beach, walking with his wooden staff, and a broad smile.

Here I am starting the illustration under the lens of Peter Ralston. Talk about pressure.

That was awhile ago, when I was about halfway through the project. Soon, soon...I can blab about the culmination of that. And the feeling of utter relief and accomplishment on the sustaining of vision over a long haul.

Deep exhale,everybody...Congratulations on the pursuit of your goals!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

beneath the surface

I kinda fell off the blog rhythm, as I faced a perfect storm of tasks. This illustration from Nest, Nook, & Cranny is a good metaphor for feeling submerged.

Sure, it's field trip season at salmon hatcheries, but I've been way too busy with conflicting responsibilities, such as moving my 86-year-old mother into a local assisted living facility, wrapping up two classes, and completing a full-color picture book project. No wonder I am out of breath.

The good news is that my daughter, ever resourceful, keeps making her own discoveries.

While at the dock, eating ice cream with a friend, she noticed swarms of jellyfish.
The two pedaled madly back to our house to grab cameras.

If only I'd had this for reference when working on my piece for NPR awhile back.
In this detail from that illustration, my submerged mermaid was picking up signals, from jellyfish to seahorses.

It seems like only yesterday when Daisy was five, always inspiring me with her imaginative play. This piece appears in Seven Days of Daisy, where Ruby and Daisy have a tea party. They serve jellyfish sandwiches and seaweed soup.

No matter how frenetic life gets, there's always room for play, for looking beneath the surface.