News & Such

CAKE Frame 2: April 20

Chicago friends: I can't wait to see you all at the April 20 CAKE fundraiser, CAKE Frame 2, at the Co-Prosperity Sphere! There will be comics performances, live music, live drawing and a gigantic art auction. Cover your walls with affordable art and support an amazing show while you're at it! 30 artists from the Chicago comics community were generous enough to contribute original drawings or signed prints to help raise money for CAKE (which is coming up soon on May 31/June 1), including Chris Ware and Ivan Brunetti. All of the CAKE organizers are donating work too; I just finished the new piece I made for the auction, which I am donating along with the original drawing from this year's Zine Fest. Winter has finally passed, the sun is out and green is starting to tenuously emerge from the gray and brown, so I wanted to make something cheerful, something that everyone would want to bid on to take home, so I made a reminder that we're all gonna die. Happy happy spring!

Both the Memento Mori and the zine fest drawings are 11" x 14" pen and ink, with watercolor on the former. 

Both the Memento Mori and the zine fest drawings are 11" x 14" pen and ink, with watercolor on the former. 

In process

In process

Like Comics Without Panels

Friends in and around Philadelphia: take note! Brian Cremins, Associate Professor of English at Harper College and kind-hearted ambassador for comics in academia, is giving a lecture this Friday at Bryn Mawr on Edie Fake's Gaylord Phoenix and my minicomic Medusa. Brian is a wonderfully insightful close reader of comics (I've been an avid reader of his comics review blog since I first found it last summer): if you are in the area and free for a lunchtime lecture, please drop in! Details in the flyer below:

 

Life-Sized Transitions

Today is my birthday: I am 29 years old. This is the first day of the last year of my 20s. That feels pretty momentous.

Even more momentous: today is my first day working for myself.

Friday was my last day as designer for Muse and Cicada magazines, after almost two years of heart & soul engagement with my two publications. When I was hired on in early summer 2012, it was my dream job: I got to work with smart, hilarious, and deeply engaged people to create quality magazines for science & literary nerd kids. Be still, my heart! In my role as designer, I was responsible for everything from building raw files to hiring and art directing freelancers, collaborating with the editorial teams on pedagogical design philosophies and really excellent Beowulf jokes, overhauling and redesigning major features and making sure columns are aligned, project management and all manner of post-production work: every design step between receiving raw manuscripts and getting the magazine in the mail was in my purview. My husband has pointed out a tendency I have to say that I have made "nothing" the past two years, since my time to work on my books has taken a back seat to an increasingly consuming immersion with the magazines; it felt pretty wonderful to bring home and survey every issue I worked on to remember that oh yes, I've been pretty busy making things!

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With the support, feedback, and collaborative course-correction from the Cicada team, we redesigned the magazine; this process included countless rounds of iterations until we found a successful reinterpretation of the masthead logo, updating the cover and back cover features, and including a connected interior front cover comic by the cover artist:

"Before" on top, "After" below

"Before" on top, "After" below

We also adapted the existing "spot artist" feature to highlight and promote emerging comic artists, including a printed interview: 

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As a part of this process, we also redesigned the basic body page templates of the magazine, including updating the fonts, adding more photos and larger design elements, and flowing some of the longer stories to the back to make room for extra features:

"Before" on top, "after" on bottom

"Before" on top, "after" on bottom

I also had the opportunity to do a lot of illustration work, especially for Muse. This was my first (and still one of my favorite) projects, in a story about how plants communicate to each other via chemical signals in root systems:

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This included some really fun in-depth illustration projects, like the Muse census:

So many hours working on so many spreadsheets to make something so fun!

So many hours working on so many spreadsheets to make something so fun!

and a 4-page comic:

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I think my favorite part of all was designing splashy introductions to some ridiculously fun stories. Vat meat! Zombies! Robot dinosaurs!

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I learned so much in the two years working on Muse and Cicada. I feel humbled by the trust and support I was given in my time there, and grateful for how much richer my life is for the friends I made in my tenure on staff. I left for a healthy mix of personal and professional reasons; it was one of the harder decisions I've made in my adult life, but I'm confident it was the right one. Now is the time to take a big risk. I am re-investing in my own practice, diving in with a focus and freedom that I have never had before. Best birthday present a gal could ask for.