Sunday, December 14, 2014

No one's in the kitchen with Dinah. No one's in the kitchen I know.


Welcome to the latest update of "Saturday" the book, scooped fresh out of the industrial-sized cafeteria warming tray of my imagination and glopped onto the mostly-clean, still-wet-from-the-dishwasher, tray of your mind.

Fortunately, your tray has a series of square partitions, or "food dams" to keep the different sections separate. Because, really, is there anything worse than having your creamed corn reach its gooey tentacles over and touch that other thing on your tray that you actually wanted to eat? Anyhoo, feel free to skip any part of this meal you like and move on to the part you're going to enjoy the most.

First course: the progress report: I'm just starting the edits on page 6. The previous page (page five for the mathematically challenged among you) needed some fairly extensive edits. A little over half of the panels needed to be changed. Some of the panels needed to be thrown out entirely and re-cooked. They weren't inedible, per se. I think you would have eaten them. But they would have been bland and uninteresting and, in spite of the fact that I'm wearing a hairnet and a name tag, I still take my job seriously and I'm looking for consistent quality.  The good kind of quality.

Second course: The business of lunch. I'm still on the hunt for an agent and publisher. I have very little control over this part of the meal. All I can do is research companies and then send polite query letters. At this point, even receiving a "no" response feels like a victory. For the most part, all I get is the sound of silence. And in the naked light I saw 10,000 letters. Maybe more. To be fair, I've heard agents and publishers are all severely busy. I've also heard that it's pretty much useless to contact them between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I can't say that this is a particularly palatable process for me, but it will be tough for me to serve this meal to you without an agent and publisher.

Third course: The entree. This panel comes from page five of "Saturday", which is a Tuesday in India McGreevy's world. India's at school. It's a rough day, but she's not defeated yet. I'm usually not broken by the time Tuesday rolls around, either. I think, "Yeah, it's only Tuesday, but I've made it through Monday. How bad could the rest of it be?" Sometimes, depending on the week, it's best not to hear the answer to that. Or even to pose the question in the first place.

Here's the original panel:

Here's the new version:

When I was younger and I thought about the future (which was seldom), I thought I would be mostly making my own delicious food and then eating it. I thought I would have complete control over every meal and I would never have to stomach anything I didn't enjoy. These days, I figure I'm in the lunch line with everyone else. And most days, I'm happy to be in line. The meals are mostly good. But some days, man. Some days they make you wait forever to eat and then slap something on your tray that looks like death, smells like sadness and tastes like leftover, moldy depression.

Now I'm looking for my chance to be on the other side of the line, serving. But even that's not such an easy job.

The point is, I know you're probably hungry. I've been working on this meal for a long time. But it's coming. It's in the kitchen. But I need a lunch lady (or man) before it can be served. If I can't find one, I'll just have to work multiple shifts. But I'll get it to you. And I'll keep my fingers crossed that you like it.


Sunday, November 30, 2014

All Aboard the Germane Train. Stopping randomly.

Welcome back, strangers!

Did you have a good hiatus?

Things on this end aren't far from where you left them.  I'm still editing the book and looking for agents and publishers.  It's a slow process, but they say slow and steady wins the race (this strategy has never, ever won any race I've ever seen, but whatevs).  I'll keep at it and let you know if there are any developments.

If you're in America and don't work in retail, chances are you either just celebrated Thanksgiving or at least had a couple of days off.  I love Thanksgiving.  It usually means spending time with people I enjoy and eating traditional American foods like Doritos and things that come in casserole form.

Of course, moderation is a bit of a problem for me when it comes to said traditional edibles.  But then again, I live by the mantra: "All things in moderation including moderation", so stuffing my gob until I have the glazed over, lifeless expression of an Alex Trebek wax replica is no biggie.  Other mantras of mine include, but are not exclusive to: "Live free or don't", "Your Mother", "Death before the grave" and "I think I'd better not".

Anyhoo, I ate too much.  I don't know about you, but my food comas tend to last from Thanksgiving Day until around January 2nd.  They also tend to range in severity from "Food Malaise" to "Food Blackout" (one minute you're eating, the next you wake up in another state wearing a Cleveland Browns jacket you've never seen before).  Good food and time off tend only to exacerbate my cravings for both of those things, so between November whatever and January 2nd, my productivity is about as low as my cholesterol is high.  I'm surprised I even have the motivation to type this.

A germane train of thought can be as difficult to grab as a hard boiled egg when your fingers are covered with Crisco.  Where was I?

Oh, yeah, food, family, and "Saturday" edits.  This was the original panel from page 4:

And this is the edited version:


Sorry.  I fell asleep on the keys for a minute.

I'll keep at it and drop in periodically to check in and say hello.  Hope your holidays went/are going/will go well.


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Nose Job

Well, helloooo!

So glad you could make it to the latest episode of the "Saturday" update, which accounts for 24% of your recommended daily allowance of "Saturday" (according to the FDA, or Facetious Drawing Administration).  I've been considering a chewable vitamin that would double that dosage, but I'm just not sure about the legality or morality of such an endeavor.  But it would be snosberry flavored, so...bonus.

So, to fill you in briefly on the book progress: Still editing.

There.  How's that for brevity?  If you want more, continue reading this section.  If not, skip down to the bit with pictures.  Sometimes I think you only want me for my pictures.  Well, let me tell you something, Mister (or Missus): "Saturday" isn't just a pretty book to oggle, it has a brain and a heart.  Not LITERALLY.  That would be super gross.  But, I mean, there are jokes and hopefully some emotions.  I'm getting off track here.  I was supposed to be giving you an update on progress.  I'm editing one page and one panel at a time.  The process is going faster and will, theoretically, continue to speed up as I get further into the book where fewer edits are required.

I'm also still looking for an agent and publisher.  I can't say that's much fun.  It's mostly research followed by brief, polite requests made of very busy people followed by a long, uncomfortable silences.  Like the last time I asked Aunt Agnes for money (pulls at collar in Rodney Dangerfield-esque manner).

Ok: If you were skipping the progress update, jump in here:

There's a reason the edits are going faster lately: More experience.  When I started "Saturday" I thought I knew what I was doing and what I really wanted.  And I did, vaguely.

Think of it like cooking a meal with like, a thousand courses.  When I was making those first courses, I mostly had the recipe but didn't always have the ingredients I needed.  So if I didn't have sugar, sometimes I would just substitute salt.  They're both white and granular, right?  It'll prob be fine, bro.  Suffice it to say, whole courses had to be re-cooked because they were totes grody, as the French would say.

Now the whole meal is pretty much sitting on the table.  Don't worry: Most of it will keep.  There aren't many perishables in the meal (I managed not to reference "Wrecking Ball" or "Farmville" in the book).  Now it's just a matter of looking for and fixing small trouble spots, like dees:

Small changes to Elizabeth's character model.  That's it.  Just some minor face alterations (sounds like something a snooty bully would say just before he/she punches the crud out of you) and bigger hair.  Long, beautiful hair.  Shinin', sheenin', gleamin' flaxin waxin.  Here baby, there mama, everywhere daddy daddy.

So there you go.

Ok, I actually have to go ask Aunt Agnes for money.


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Hawk eyed doofus.


Welcome back to the best post-Halloween, pre-election update of "Saturday" the book you're likely to read.  Ever.  I know that's a bold statement.  The gauntlet has been thrown.  The line in the sand has been drawn (I'll draw just about anywhere on just about anything, so sand is no big deal).  But I stand by my statement.  If you can find a better post about this obscure, unpublished book anywhere today, bring it.

So, a quick update to bring everyone up to "Saturday" speed (or down to it, depending on how fast you were already going): I'm hammering away at the edits and searching for agents and publishers.  I'm still having a pretty good time with the former.  The latter, well, it is what it is.  Which is to say, necessary.  But not as much fun as a barrel full of monkeys.

Have you ever actually thought about how completely NOT fun a barrel full of monkeys would be?  If you're talking about the plastic kind with the loopy arms, fine.  But if you're talking about the real kind?  Dear lord.  Monkeys are really strong, very fast, loud, aggressive, wild animals.  And that's in the open.  Imagine how they'd feel if a bunch of them were stuffed into barrel and sealed up.  Then, anticipating slapstick, 3-stooges like fun, you start to pull the lid off the barrel.

"Oh, boy, this is going to be grea---".  Before you can finish the syllable, the monkeys are out of the barrel.  Like spring snakes.  Spring snakes with big teeth and opposable thumbs that are pretty miffed about being cooped up.

So maybe looking for agents and publishers is actually MORE fun than a barrel full of monkeys (the literal kind).

Anyhoo, here's one of the panels I edited recently:


(New and improved):

India's face needed to be updated from the earlier version.  The new panel is also a little warmer, color-wise.  You might also notice India's gone from left-handed to right-handed.  It's little details like that I'm working my way through.  Gotta have a sharp eye and get up pretty early in the morning to catch tiny things like that.  Most people probably wouldn't even notice.

Guy in my head: "You mean like how you didn't draw the paper in the new panel so India is basically just writing directly onto the desk?"
Me: "Crud."
Guy in my head: "Yeah, you got a real hawk eye for detail."

Seriously, I just noticed that as I was typing this.  I imagine India's expression is the same expression you, dear reader, often have on your face as you slog your way through these posts.  And now that I know I have to go back and edit the edit, I'm right there with you.


P.S.- Go vote.  It's more fun than a barrel full of monkeys.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Par for the course.

Good Morning, Kids!

Thank you for tuning in to the latest episode of "Saturday" the book updates.  When we last left off, our intrepid hero India McGreevy was patiently putting up with tedious edits that, while, necessary to make "Saturday" its spiffy-ist, aren't the most adventurous things to talk about.

It occurs to me that talking about edits instead of being able to share exciting new adventures is like tuning in to your favorite Saturday morning cartoon only to find a re-run.  Actually, it's probably more akin to tuning in to your favorite cartoon only to find it's been replaced by a golf tournament.  As a kid, golf tournaments on TV were as much fun as soggy vegetables and dental fillings.

Golf: Where fun goes to die.  Quietly.

It's Saturday morning as I write this latest interlude, and I'm trying unsuccessfully to not contrast my adult Saturday mornings with the ones of my childhood.  The current ones are entertainment bogeys; grocery shopping and floor mopping.  Back in the day, I would sit on the couch eating sugary cereal and watching every brain-rotting cartoon I could find.

Brief aside: My mom was overly concerned that I would eat too much sugar.  The most sugary cereal she would buy was Honey Nut Cheerios, which, on the Dr. Frankeberry Scale of Sugary Cereals ranks about a 2.  Then she would MIX the Honey Nut Cheerios with REGULAR Cheerios so I wouldn't explode from sugar overdose.

(Before & After)

Anyhoo, there I was eating cereal and watching cartoons and basking in my responsibility-free Saturdays.  What I didn't understand is that, while I was basking, my parents were bustling about doing all those adult things (by "adult", I mean the variety that includes tax returns and oil changes, not the kind that includes R-rated movies and beer) that currently bogart my weekends.  They might have even been happy to not have me underfoot for several hours.

In the words of Homer Simpson: "Man, the kids were a pain.  Then we figured out we could just sit them in front of the TV.  That's how I was raised and I turned out TV."

Well, I think I'll honor both kinds of weekend today: First, I'm going to do some unpleasant, responsible things like fill out a tax return and watch some golf.  Then, to wash the sour taste of golf from my palette, I'm going to eat some sugary cereal in my footie pajamas.

 Here's a delightful song by Z-Trip and Supernatural about eating cereal and watching cartoons.  It has adult language and themes (and I ain't talkin' about tax returns, neither), so listener discretion is advised.

Until next time, loyal viewers.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Makes cents.


Thanks for checking in on "Saturday" the book.  I'm still chipping away at the edits.  They're going pretty well.

Normally, this is where I would show you the before and after of a panel I've recently edited.  But how about something a little different this week?  What if, instead of an amuse bouche (or, I guess an amuse oeil), I served up something a bit more...filling?  Maybe you're not just plain peckish this week.  Maybe you're famished.  Hungry like...well, not like the wolf, but like a horse or a hippo.  A hungry, hungry hippo.  But it's not marbles you want.  You're so hungry you feel like you could eat a whole page.  Well, good news:

This is an entire page.  Page two, to be exact.  Or, as Thompson and Thompson would say, " be precise, page two."  It's one of my favorite pages in the book.  And this is the first time I've shown it publicly.

This is India, or Drawsalot Sarcasticus, as seen in her natural habitat.

It's chock-a-block full of all the things that make India the delightful little weirdo that she is: photos, drawings, toys and random objects she's collected like some kind of animal that squirrels things away.  It also served as kind of an ongoing reference for me as I made every page of "Saturday". 

From the very start (as I may have mentioned a million times before), I wanted this book to be as well-drawn, full of detail, and fun as I could make it.  I wanted it to be something that you would have to read more than once in order to see all the detail.  But more importantly, I wanted it to be something you would WANT to read over and over again.  And so I spent a lot of time on this page so I could use it as sort of a template for the craft and feel of "Saturday".

That's an interesting phrase, isn't it?  I "spent" the time.  I never really thought about it before, but it seems accurate, doesn't it?  They say time is money, and if that's right then you do spend your time the way you spend your money.  But time is way more valuable than money.  A friend of mine once said, "You can use your time to get money but you can never use your money to get time."

I've been thinking a lot about time lately.  I've been thinking about how valuable and precious it is.  And how I want to spend mine.  Mostly, that's with people I really like.  And it's also on this book and other things that are fun and interesting to me (and hopefully for you, too).  If time really were money, "Saturday" would have cost me like a gabillion time dollars.  And I don't regret a single penny of it.  Every time cent (red or otherwise) was well-invested.

I'm going to leave things there.  Thank you again for spending some of your time with me.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

More sob, less Schwab.


Ready for the latest on "Saturday"?  Of course, I'm using the phrase "the latest" fairly loosely here.  Admittedly, there's been a bit of a dearth of new information lately.  Mostly because I've been editing and looking for potential publishers and that's not a speedy process.

Writing and drawing "Saturday" was like a super fun, interesting road trip.  Every day there was something new to see, to think about, to explore.  And I was super happy to have you as my road trip buddy.  Remember how great it was?  We gawked at the unfamiliar surroundings flashing by outside the windows,  sang at the top of our lungs when that one Phil Collins song we both love came on the radio, and you were totally cool about bailing me out of jail after that thing that happened at Six Flags.  I loved every minute of it and was happy to spend it with you.

But if writing and drawing the book was like a road trip, editing and looking for a publisher is like taking the car in to the tire store and waiting in the lobby while they balance the tires.  There are, like, fourteen people in line ahead of us.  The place absolutely reeks of new rubber and burned popcorn, the magazines are all from eight years ago and the television is playing infomercials about hair plugs.

Suffice it to say, it's not quite as much fun as the first part of the journey.  The thing is, you can leave if it gets too awful.  But I have to stay with the car.

It's still kinda interesting, right?  For instance, check out the evolution of this panel from Monday morning.  Here's the original recipe:

And here's the extra crispy version:

Ah, Mondays.  Where the lovely serenade of weekend pleasure is obliterated by the staccato noise of obligation.

"Walkin' Around. Some kind of lonely clown.  Rainy days and Mondays always get me down."

I've added The Carpenters to the list of things I love un-ironically, along with "The Golden Girls" and Gordon Lightfoot.

Anyway, I'll just be here at the tire store if you need me.


Sunday, October 5, 2014

Edits, Charles Foster Kane, and the Bay City Rollers.


Thanks for stopping by the latest update of "Saturday" the book.

It's possible you're a stranger and have no idea what "Saturday" the book is.  Perhaps you stumbled into this tiny port from the mighty sea of the internet whilst searching for something completely different like "Saturday Night" by the Bay City Rollers.  But since you're here, let me give you the skinny: "Saturday" is the graphic novel I've been working on for a few millennia.

More specifically, "Saturday" is a graphic novel about a creative little girl named India McGreevy.  When India's creativity is poked, prodded, and taunted into submission by a dismal week, it takes her parents, a tattooed mechanic with a prosthetic leg, a traveling circus and the world's largest crocodile to put things into perspective.

Progress-wise, I'm pert near finished with the book.  Yes, most of the editing is still in front of me, but in the overall scheme of things, the editing probably only represents about 10-15% of the work.  Which is pretty cool.  Of course, those numbers don't take into account the work of finding a publisher and such.  But I'm taking the ostrich approach as far as that's concerned, so there's nothing to worry about.

In the meantime, here's an example of the editing process:



Subtlety tends not to be my forte.  "Saturday", after all, has dinosaurs, robots, octopi, jet packs, a circus, a mechanic with a prosthetic leg, and the world's largest crocodile.  But the changes in this panel are pretty subtle.

Why even bother with them, you may ask?  Well, before I began "Saturday", my friend Jedediah Leland and I sat down and wrote our "Declaration of Principles"  Crud, that was Citizen Kane.  Ok, then, I'm bothering because I have a dedication to my craft, respect for my audience, and a mild (severe) case of OCD.

So there you have it.  Looks like I'll be doing this for a little while.  Thanks for hanging in there with me.


Sunday, September 28, 2014

I can't believe I ate the WHOLE thing.


Welcome to the latest update of "Saturday" the book, which is brought to you by Dent Brand Toothpaste, the super-whitening toothpaste for men.  If you're a gent, use Dent.*

*Keep away from pregnant women, regular women, and children.

It's not going to come as a surprise to anyone who reads these regularly that I'm still in the editing process and will be for...let's just say for a little while.  I'm actually working on page three.  It's the usual deal: updating the characters, sharpening up drawings here and there, typing the same phrase over and over again into my Selectric while my long-suffering wife actually does the winter maintenance of the Overlook hotel AND makes dinner every night.

Wait, never mind.  That's from "The Shining".

But I am working on page three.  This page is probably going to need the most editing of any of the pages.  Mostly because it's the very first page I drew in the book.  That would have been at least six years ago.  I've had quite a bit of drawing practice since then and while I think the story is still sound, the craftsmanship needs some gussying up.

Much like looking into the sky and seeing the light of a star who's flame has long since extinguished, looking at this page is like looking back through time.  I can just make out a younger, naive version of myself looking at the page and brimming with the enthusiasm of an infomercial host showing off the latest innovation in non-stick footware.  That version of me is thinking something profoundly stupid like, "At this rate, I'd bet I'll be finished with this book in a year or so!"


But I kept at it even after I realized I had bitten off...well, a lot.  Not more than I could chew, but here I am six or seven years later and I'm still chewing.  But I can see the bottom of the plate now.  I'm pretty much just mopping up the rest of the entree with a piece of bread at this point.  Once the plate is clean, all I have to do is find a publisher who's willing to..uh..actually, I'm not sure I know how to continue this metaphor and doing so might make everyone throw up in their mouths a little bit, so I'm going to stop.

Anyhoo, speaking of page three, here's one of the original panels:

And here's what the edited version looks like:

Not too shabby, eh?  Well, I think it's an improvement, anyway.


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Ermagherd: berks!


Welcome back to the "Saturday" update.  How have you been?  Good?  Terrible?  I hope you've been doing well.  I hope everything has been coming up Millhouse for you.  But if it hasn't, there's some good news: This week on the update, we're going to be taking a trip back into my childhood.  It was a pretty great place (except for the occasional pants-wetting or user-error injuries that happen in most childhoods and some adulthoods).  Might be fun.

At any rate, I'll try not to make it too navel-gazey.

Yesterday, for the first time, I had the book actually printed.  Don't get your hopes up; I'm still editing and won't be done with that process for a little while.  But I wanted to actually have the book fully printed and bound for that thing this weekend.  Each page was printed individually and then bound with a simple plastic coil bind.  It cost me 70 bucks, which isn't a terribly feasible price for large-scale purposes.


I got it home and I realized it was the first time "Saturday" has been in actual book form.  Before now, it's only been loose-leaf.  Usually in a stack of prints crammed into my portfolio.  And now it's a book.  It looks like a book.  Or something close to it, anyway.  And I had this moment of self-aggrandizement where I thought, "I did this.  It's been years of hard work and struggle.  It's also been years of the most fun, creative project I've ever worked on.  And here it is, finally.  I did it."

And then I caught myself in the middle of that thought.  Because as much as I like to think I did it by myself, I didn't.  It took a lot of support and a lot of encouragement.  Both things I'm lucky to still be receiving.  A lot of it was from my family.  My patient, patient family.  And from you.  I've already thanked you a million times, so if you're sick of it, skip down a sentence.  Thank you.

But I also owe a debt to the authors who inspired me when I was a kid.  I'll never be able to list all of them, but I'll give you a couple (probably over more than one post):

"Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" by Judi Barrett and Ronald Barrett (feel free to imagine me as a boisterous young kid introducing this book at the end of "Reading Rainbow").

I have no idea how many times I read this book.  A gabillion times.  The premise was pretty simple.  Food falls from the sky.  At first it's great, then it's not so good.  The food turns into a series of natural disasters and everyone has to evacuate.

Look at these illustrations:

These are so crazy.  Beautiful, yes.  They don't get much more beautiful than this.  But look a the detail.  You know how I'm always yakking about detail that's so rich you can look at it again and again?  The illustrations in this book are a perfect example of that.  And within each page is a multitude of little stories, each of which made me wonder: "What else is going on OFF the page?"  That's a fully developed world, and it's one I spent a lot of time in when I was a kid.

There are so many jokes crammed into this illustration.  The expression on the guy's face in the foreground is phenomenal.  The fact that the proper old woman lost her dentures in surprise.  The fact that she's eating a hot dog in the first place.

When I was little, there was always something unsettling about these illustrations that I couldn't quite put my finger on.  Having drawn for several decades, I think I can put my finger squarely on its forehead now: There's almost no blue in any of these drawings.  Why?  Did the publisher say, "Look, it's been a lean year.  We can't actually afford blue right now. know...just leave it out.  No one will notice."?  I like to think it was on purpose.  Everything else in the book and the illustrations is so well-thought out, it's difficult to imagine this being unintentional.  And what's more, I like to think it was done to further the emotional tension of the book.  It seems like a fun premise.  Giant food falls from the sky.  But it's pretty dark.  The entire town has to abandon their homes.

I love that dark element.  I think a lot of children's books are too saccharine these days.  Kids aren't going to explode or turn into sociopaths if the books they read have a dark side.  It won't even traumatize them.  For a certain type of kid, it's just going to inspire them further.

It's hard to point to specific elements of "Saturday" and draw a direct line back to "Cloudy", but the influence is there.  It was one of my favorite books.  Still is.  And so I raise my glass to the Barretts for their spectacular book.

Hopefully a hot dog will fall in it.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

By the pricking of my thumbs...


Welcome back to the "Saturday" update, where the drawings are always on point and the commentary is all over the place.

Progress report:  I'm still working on editing the book.  It's coming along swimmingly.  Whatever that means.  I mean, I know "swimmingly" means "smoothly", but how on earth did that word come be used that way?  Seems like there are more appropriate synonyms for smoothly.  What's smooth?  Milkshakes...bowling balls...Ricardo Montalban.

"How's the editing going, Noah?"
"Oh, it's going Ricardo Montalbanly."

At any rate, the editing continues to go well.

In other news, it's fair season in this part of the country.  Late Summer and early Fall mean county fairs start to show up on the doorsteps of America, laden with manky stuffed animals, colorfully-tattooed employees and deep fried excellence.

I always look forward to wandering around the fair.  Rides with rusty hinges, chickens with hairdos, weird booths advertising god knows what, and food that shortens your life expectancy with every bite.  It makes me wonder why fairs, circuses and carnivals are so maligned in movies and books.  They always seem to be places where bad things happen to good people.

One of my favorite creepy movies to watch in October is "Something Wicked This Way Comes".  Jonathan Price (oddly assisted by Pam Greer) is the head of a carnival that comes to town one dark autumn night to prey on the unsuspecting townfolk and only Jason Robards can stop them.  Great movie, but also a perfect example of a pejorative depiction of carnivals.

Well, no more.  I aim to set it right, which is why there's a circus in "Saturday" that's more in keeping with my own experiences with fairs, carnivals and circuses (circusi?).  Ok, it doesn't have clowns because clowns are creepy and make me unhappy.  But there is a group of traveling performers who don't try to steal India's soul or anything.  In fact, they even help her out.  This is what their poster looks like:

The poster only appears once, in one panel for the briefest of moments:

So there you have it.  You heard it here first: Circuses, carnivals and fairs usually AREN'T filled with demons and murderers and people who want to feast on your everlasting soul like so many onion rings.

Maybe stay away from the food, though.


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Was Continental Drift the prequel to Tokyo Drift?


Welcome to the latest update of "Saturday" the book, where everybody knows your name.  You see, making your way in the world today takes everything you've got.  Taking a break from all your worries sure would help a lot.  Wouldn't you like to get away?  Well, good news: The "Saturday" update is a place where you can be distracted, mildly entertained, and references NEVER expire or go stale, regardless of age.

The editing process continues.  Slowly, but surely, it continues.  Patient.  Stoic.  Undeterred.  Like continental drift.  Or that one bead of honey on the lip of the jar from the last time you were spooning honey into your tea.  And now that bead is slowly making its way down the side of the jar toward the shelf, where it can finally fulfill its lifelong dream of creating a ring of sticky permanence that will attract all sorts of gross stuff that no amount of cleaning will defeat.

I guess what I'm saying is that I hope "Saturday" will have the same kind of permanence.  You'll try Goo Gone and 409 in vain, but eventually you'll just have to begrudgingly accept that it's there to stay and you'll justify its presence as "character".

I don't have anything particularly interesting to show from the most recent round of edits.  So, for absolutely no reason whatsoever, here's a sketch of India dressed as a Luche Libre Wrestler (a "Luchador"):

This isn't part of the story.  I just did it because I thought it would be fun.  And because India is the type of kid who would pretend to be in the Luche Libre.  You know: A weirdo.  But the endearing kind of weirdo.  Not the 'talks to herself in the canned cat food isle of the grocery store and smells like doritos' kind of weirdo.  More like the 'has an imaginary pet llama named Esther and wears galoshes with shorts' kind of weirdo.

What kind of weirdo are you?


(Get it?  "Cheers"?)

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Letter From the Editor

Oh, hi.

Last week's post was a wee bit wee.  Abbreviated.  Foreshortened.  Limited.  I was short on energy, patience, and apparently, words.  Rest assured, this week's post will not be so muzzled.  Get ready for a torrent of words.  I'm about to open the hydrant of my word makey thingy and douse you with its contents.  They will fill up the street to about ankle level.  Small children will come out of their houses and splash in those words.  Like in a Spike Lee movie, except with less racial tension.

If you're already worded out, you can skip to the pictures.  No biggie.  I know I'm going to.

 I'm still editing.  And what's more, I'm only just about to finish editing the very first page.  But it's going well.  I'm still excited to work on it every day.  I wondered if the editing process would be tedious, but it's actually really fun.

Like last week's panels, this week's panels also won't make the cut of my editing...umm...splicer?  What do editors edit with?  A marker?  That sounds weird.  Anyway, this panel isn't going to make the final book.  There will be a version of it, but it had to be completely re-drawn.

It's another of India's imaginings on the first page.  Here's the sketch:

And the outline:

And the final:

Here's the thing: The original version, the one that's being taken out?  It's actually cooler than the one I'm replacing it with.  It's got brighter colors, more detail, and it's probably better drawn.  But it just doesn't fit.  It didn't make sense the way it was and didn't help to explain things.  In fact, I think it confused things a bit.  Which is why I had to replace it.

Not every page will be as heavily edited as this one.  Most of them won't need much of anything.  But the first page is one of the most important in the book, particularly since it introduces the main character.  So, as with the rest of the book, I'm willing to take the time to get it as close to "right" as I can.

In other exciting news, I'm going to a conference in September and I have a brief meeting with the editor of a publishing house scheduled while I'm there.  I'm looking forward to it, of course, but I'm going to do my best not to get my hopes up or think about it too much.  Mostly because every time I think about it I throw up a little bit in my mouth.

To quote Marty McFly: "What if they say, 'Get outta here, kid, you got no future'?  I just don't think I could take that kind of rejection."

Actually, I'm pretty sure I COULD take that kind of rejection.  Here's why:

Every once in a while, people ask me what it takes to be an illustrator and I tell them it takes a healthy amount of stubborn and stupid.  I happen to have that last one in spades.  When they were handing out stupid, I got mine.  Then I got back in line for more.  The lady handing it out looked at me and was like, "Uh...don't you think you've had enough stupid?"  And I said, stupidly, "I'll tell you when I've had enough."  "Okaaay...", she said under her breath skeptically, dipping her giant serving spoon into the trough and slopping an extra helping of stupid onto my already-laden tray.

So here I am all these years later with at least double the Recommended Lifetime Allowance of stupid and probably the regular amount of stubborn.  And it's going to take more than a couple of rejections, common sense, basic human dignity, a living wage, the advice of sensible people and my own crippling self doubt for me to give up.

So there.


Sunday, August 24, 2014

"Fun Sized" Post


Short post this time around.  I've been swamped this month, which means less time to ruminate about weird non-sequiturs and then foist it onto you.  On the plus side, hopefully by next week I'll have something new to foist on to you.

I'm still working on editing the first page, which is going slower than expected.  But it's also more fun than expected, so...bonus.

In the meantime, here's a panel from the first page.  It's not actually going to be in the book.  Not this version, anyway.  It needed to be re-drawn for various reasons that will make sense once you've seen the new version.


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Catch of the Day

Oy Maties.

Welcome aboard the finest, most seaworthy post you're likely to read in the next ten minutes.  Well, let's say five minutes just to be safe.  I'll be your cap'n on this brief, odd electronic voyage.  You can call me Ishmael.  That's not my name, but whatever floats your boat, man.

Some years ago, never mind how long precisely, having little or no money in my purse and nothing particular to interest me by way of gainful employment, I decided to start a book.  Furthermore, I decided to call that book "Kittens Are Dumb and Nobody Likes You".  Then, thinking about the marketing implications therein, I decided to re-title the book "Saturday".

Long story short, I've finished the book and am now working my way through the editing process.  I figure a lot of people have probably given up on ever seeing the book at this point.  For those of you who have held on, I promise you it will come out.  Eventually.  For those of you who gave up and will never actually read this, I want you to know I never liked you anyway.

Speaking of fishing, check out this panel:

It's from one of the first pages and it's part of an explanation of how India sees the world.

I think a lot of people wonder about what's lurking in deep water.  For some, deep water is even a phobia.  I can totally understand that.  Could be anything down there: sharks, hypodermic needles, clowns, dentists, heights, enclosed spaces.  The ocean is a scary place.

India's musings probably have as much to do with boredom as they do with her fascination about the mysteries of the deep.  When I was little, I hated fishing.  It meant waking up early, being cold, and surviving extreme boredom.  I used to resort to just about anything to alleviate said boredom.  One time I found a dead fish and put it on the end of my lure just so I would know what it felt like to have caught a fish.


Of course, these days fishing is one of my favorite things ever ever.  It still involves waking up early.  And it often means being cold.  But I developed a taste for it.  Like coffee, olives, and Ken Burns documentaries, fishing is something most kids don't have the capacity to appreciate.  Only sophistercated, cultured adults like me.

Now I'm going to go eat some Rocky Road ice cream and watch cartoons.


Monday, August 11, 2014

The Once and Future India


Been waiting all week with bated breath for the latest update of "Saturday" the book?  Well, grab some mints and wait no more, 'cause this update has come a-round the mountain and pulled into the station of your inbox.

I'm still chipping away at the edits to the first page.  Like I said, the earlier pages will need a decent amount of revision.  I've been working on "Saturday" for like, a million years.  Back then I did much of my drawing in caves by the flickering light of this newfangled technology called fire.  Anyhoo, even though I always drew to the best of my abilities, a million years of practice has helped me improve somewhat.

Drawing technology has also improved in that time; cave walls smoother, charcoal blacker, and fires brighter.  Consequently, my drawings are different than they were back in the day.

Case in point:

This is a drawing of India from one of the first pages:

Not bad, but not exactly how India looks on the last page.  In the beginning, India had super pale skin, bigger glasses, and sharper features.  And this wasn't even the first model of India.  If you want to see how her look developed, check this out.  There are some really ugly ones in there.

Here's what India looks like today:

I suppose you could say that India and I have both done a bit of growing up in the last million years.  Actually, don't say that.  In fact, unread that last sentence.  What a bunch of treacle.  That sounds like something you'd read in Parade magazine.  India has changed visually, but her character is the same.  And I've gotten marginally better at drawing, but I certainly haven't grown up any.

Thank goodness.


Sunday, August 3, 2014

Zeppelin doesn't rule.


Prepare yourself for the latest update of "Saturday" the book.  I don't really know HOW you should prepare yourself.  It's not really my business in the first place.  But there's no wrong answer.  This is a safe place.  I want you to feel comfortable preparing yourself in whichever way you feel most accurately represents you and your spirit animal.

I'm still working on edits.  I'm actually re-drawing certain panels on the very first page.  Pretty sure I've said this before, but the older a page or panel is, the more likely it is to need a bit of gussying up.  So the first several pages of "Saturday" will need some heavy editing (at least in terms of the illustration), but the editing will probably be less and less severe as I get deeper into the book.

I may also go back and re-do the cover.  I haven't decided yet.  Something about it is kind of bothering me.  My illustrator-sense is tingling.  Although it's possible it's just fallen asleep like when you've been sitting on an airplane for too long.

In the meantime, here are a couple more rejected panels:

The idea with this first one was that India is sticking her head out the car window and imagining she's in a zeppelin.  I rejected it for a couple of reasons: First, it's not very clear that's what's happening.  I suppose I could have clarified the imagery somehow, but I didn't bother because of the second reason.  Reason the Second: It's not very interesting, either conceptually or visually.  The human brain is an amazing thing.  You can literally imagine anything you want.  And the premise of "Saturday" is that India's brain is particularly vivid.  And in this universe, we're supposed to believe that the best she can come up with is that she's riding in a zeppelin?  What kid would ever imagine that?

Reject number two:

The premise of this one is that India's in a spelling contest with a student who particularly dislikes her.  India imagines the contest as an old west duel.  I can't actually remember which page this was slated for, but I figure I rejected it because I thought up something better.  But I'm glad this one got the axe, too.  India dressed as Blondie is pretty fun, but the rest of it...meh.

Almost every panel in this book had multiple alternates (different angles, expressions, or different concepts entirely).  Fortunately, I didn't draw all these variations.  Most of these alternates were discarded in the writing phase.  The problem is that I do some of my best thinking while I draw, which means sometimes I don't think of a better idea until I'm already finished drawing a mediocre one.

Aw, well.  It's good practice, I suppose.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Saturday Goonies


If you've come looking for what's new from "Saturday" the book, you come to the right place.  If you come lookin' fer, I can't really help you.  If you're one of the many people who didn't, in fact, come looking for this update (or for trouble) but instead sat minding your own business only to have this show up unwanted like a canker sore or a J.C. Penny catalog...well, at least there's no trouble.

So, just to re-cap the contents of this post:

1.) "Saturday" the book update: Check
2.) Trouble: No
3.) Canker sore: No
4.) J.C. Penny catalog: No

I've tentatively finished the cover.  I say "tentatively" because there will likely be small changes made here and there.  When I finish any drawing or design, I like to "live with it" for a few days.  I'll put it somewhere I can see it and then look at it once in a while for a week or two.  Sometimes that process allows me to see things I didn't see while I was working on it.  It's like a "Magic Eye" poster except the only thing that emerges are screw ups.

"So...are you done?"

Ha ha.  Silly mortal.  Sisyphus never rests.  Now comes the editing.  Yes, I edited and revised the story dozens if not hundreds of times.  And continued to edit as I went.  Consequently, I feel pretty good about the story.  But some of the drawings need work.  I started "Saturday" several years ago.  The first pages are now several years old and some of them need to be touched up.  Some of them need to be completely overhauled.  I'm a better illustrator than I was three years ago and I'd like all of the book to be up to my current standards.

I'm not going to get too carried away.  The editing will take a little time, but I don't plan on constantly editing until I drop dead like some kind of artistic ouroboros.  I've said it a bunch already but I'll say it again: I'm excited to share this with you.  Probably more now than ever because it feels so close.

Speaking of editing as I went, take a look at this:

This panel was originally slated for the first page.  It was going to be part of series of panels showing the inner workings of India's imagination.  I must have gone through at least four different versions of this sketch.  And then I thought of a better idea and discarded this one altogether.  C'est la vie.

This panel illustrates something else, too: India's character model has changed over the years.  Not drastically, but noticeably.  It happens with any character who's drawn over and over again over the years (comic strips, cartoon characters, etc.).  But because early India and late India are part of the same book and not separated by years of different comic strips in a newspaper, I'll have to re-draw some of the early panels so everything's consistent.

Ok, that was a lot of blah blah blahing.

If you've been here for the whole thing (not just this post but since I started this fool's errand), thank you.  Thank you for being patient.  If you're just joining us, thank you.

I'll get it done.  I promise.  I don't know when you'll be able to hold it in your hands and turn the pages and smell it (I smell all my books), but it will happen.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

The DaVinci Load


Get ready for some non-stop*, roaring*, off-the-hook* "Saturday" ACTION ACTION ACTION*!

*It will stop, eventually.
*Actually quiet.
*I'm not sure what "off the hook" actually means.
*If you think of updates about a children's book as "action", then, yes: this will be action.  But of the lower-case variety.

I'm still working on the cover.  And it is still all manner of fun.  What manner, specifically?  The drawing manner, mostly.  Which is my favorite of the manners.  I'm debating whether or not to show the cover to you once it's finished or keep it a secret so that it's a surprise.  I've tried to strike a balance between how much to share (because I'm excited to share it with you) and how much to keep secret.  There are no Darth Vader-esque paternity reveals or anything, but I've only shared a fraction of "Saturday" here, which means there's still a ton of fun stuff to discover once the book finally comes out.

And speaking of keeping things secret, this strange little image is from a page that I've never shown:

It's one of the many odd things in "Saturday" that, taken out of context, probably seems completely mental.  It's meant to look like a DaVinci invention sketch.  Fedoras existed in 15th century Italy, right?

When I was a little kid reading Chris Van Allsburg books (The Stranger, The Polar Express, The Wreck of the Zephyr) and Holling Clancy Holling books (Paddle to the Sea, The Tree in the Trail), it never occurred to me that books like that were written and drawn by human beings.  Sure, their names were on the covers, but the books were otherworldly.  My favorite books seemed so good that I never imagined a normal human being could have created them.  A team of artistic robots?  Possibly.  Super advanced alien artists?  Also maybe.  But humans?  Nah.  Or, if they had been human, they must have been geniuses.

Certainly not real people who brushed their teeth and forgot where they parked.  To me, these books were perfect, and how could something that good come from regular old people?  And even as I got older, there was always a separation in my mind between me and people who created great stuff.  They could do it but I couldn't because I wasn't talented enough.  I was a regular, flawed person.

But the truth is that they were all regular people (Ok, DaVinci was probably a genius.  And he probably never lost his car and may never have brushed his teeth.  But I'd bet he worried about normal human things and sometimes farted when he thought no one else was in his workshop).  Granted, you have to be a little different to do this kind of work.  But you don't have to be a genius. 

 It's true, I've been called a genius many times.  But since it was always by gym teachers, other drivers, and anyone who's seen me do math, I don't think it counts.  And I'm also not saying that "Saturday" is a masterpiece or even that it's comparable to my favorite books as a kid.  But I'm a regular Joe and I wanted to write and illustrate a book.  And I did.  And, what's more, I think the fact that neat things can come from regular human beings makes those creations all the more significant.

I imagine that things come easily to a genius.  They catch a fly ball without thinking, compose music with ease, send rockets and satellites into space on a lark.  Me, I sweat and worry and curse and struggle.  But sometimes I can get through it and even have something to show for it in the end.


Sunday, July 13, 2014

There goes the neighborhood.


Walk right in.  Sit right down.  Daddy let your mind roll on.  Whatever the heck that means (if anyone happens to speak 1960s, drop me a line and hip me to the jive).  If "Daddy let your mind roll on" means "read this here update of 'Saturday' the book", well then...good news!  'Cause that's exactly what these words are.

Right now (as in "currently", not right this second of course) I'm working on the cover.  I've read that the author isn't supposed to do the cover because the publishing company will likely want to design it for optimal marketing stuff and nonsense.  But I always figured drawing the cover would be more fun than a bouncy castle full of puppies and margaritas,  and I wasn't about to pass the buck to someone else.  As luck would have it (I want to see how many colloquialisms I can cram into a single update), it is more fun than said bouncy castle.  And slightly less messy.

Aside from working on the cover, I'm also still researching agents and publishers.  And the more I read, the more I understand that it's going to take a while to see the book in stores.  In my mind, where I do the lion's share of my thinking, I would finish the book and then shortly thereafter it would appear magically on shelves.  However, this expectation turned out to be slightly unrealistic.  C'est la vie.

In the meantime, I wanted to share a little more of "Saturday" than usual.  So, I've mentioned that the book is huge, right?  It's 11" x 17".  Which is way bigger than most books you'll find.  That was part of the point.  I wanted a book in which you could get lost.  Most of the pages are made up of multiple panels, many of which I've shown you in these posts.  Some of the pages, though, are giant, full-page spreads.  You turn a page and there's just one massive drawing that fills the whole thing.

Sometimes Herge would do that (he wrote and drew "Tintin").  I still remember the feeling of awe the first time I turned the page and saw one of the full page illustrations in "The Crab with the Golden Claws".  Well, you've heard the quote "Good artists create, great artists steal?"  If stealing the idea for full-page spreads makes me a great artist, then man, am I talented.

This is the view from the McGreevy's front porch.  It's what India is looking at on Saturday morning when her parents kick her out of the house.

Here's the full, finished page:


Sunday, July 6, 2014

Through the Looking Glass


How have you been?  It feels like it's been a week since I talked to you last.  You know, a lot can happen in a week.  I mean, not that anything DID happen to/for me last week, but there was potential.  That's all I'm saying.  Things could have happened.  Well, I guess one thing happened: I finished the book.

Ok, that's an exaggeration.  I finished the last page of the book.  I still have some editing to do.  And the cover.  But finishing the last page felt...definitive somehow.  As I've said before, finishing the book makes me nervous.  And excited.  Like leftover three star chicken curry with broccoli.

Want to see some of the last page?  Well, I'm going to show you anyway.

As the book ends, the McGreevy family is just about to start a new week:

India's parents, accustomed to waking up earlier than their daughter, have come to rouse her:

When I was a kid, my parents always had to wake me up for school.  They woke up freakishly early every day, weekends included.  I'm pretty sure I was up before them once per year: Christmas morning.  Full stop.  End of exceptions.

School started at the usual time, but we lived out of town and the bus ride took an hour or more.  Hence the waking up at an indecent hour.  It was doubly excruciating to get up in Winter because it was dark and, as is the obnoxious habit of Winter, freaking cold.  I would fumble, bleak and bleary, to put on my haute couture Hammer pants and Hypercolor shirt (which never changes color when it's 25 degrees out).  And then I would have to be serenaded by the dulcet, swingin' 70's grooves of KVNI, my mom's favorite AM radio station.  I heard "Brandy" by Looking Glass more than most 6th graders care to.  Which is some.

But I guess that's why they call it the blues.

These days I wake up (modestly) early on purpose.  It's quiet and a great time to concentrate before the frenetic energy of the day begins.  It's part of how I was able to work on "Saturday" every day and still have a job.  I suppose I should thank the long bus rides, the cold mornings, and Looking Glass for the Shao Lin-like training that made it possible.

But I'm not going to, because Looking Glass is still gawd-awful and I never grew to like them.

Ok, fine.  I secretly love Looking Glass.  There I said it.  I have always told the truth, for I am an honest man.  And Brandy does her best to UNDERSTAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAND.

Do do do do do do do do do do do do.


Sunday, June 29, 2014


Hi There.

Welcome to the latest jibba jabba on "Saturday" the book.

Current events: I'm still working on page 35 (the lastest of the pages).  It's going well (I think), but I'm taking my time.  As always.  I'd prefer the book NOT to end with a whimper, so I'm working hard to keep the illustrations serviceable.

I'm also starting to look into the process of finding an agent and publisher.  At this point, mostly that involves reading and attempting to marginally inform myself about a vast, complicated arena.  If you happen to know anything or anyone about agents and publishers, please drop me a line.  I can use all the help I can get.

As for the rest of it:

How much do you think about art?  I think about it pert near every day.  And I love (most of) it.  I like that art can be beautiful or ugly.  That it can challenge you or comfort you.  That it can make you question long-held assumptions or introduce you to new ideas.

People sometimes call me an artist and I'll say, "I'm not an artist, I'm just an illustrator."  In part, that's because I don't think of my work as having the gravitas or aspirational qualities that ART has.  But there's another reason: There's a lot of stuff I don't like about art and I don't want to be associated with those elements.

The caveat here is that I'm painting art with a broad brush.  Using the word "art" is like using the word "people".  It's so general that it's almost meaningless.  But still.  It bothers me when art is purposefully erudite and snobbish.  It bothers me when artists purposefully make their work difficult or impossible to understand and then suggest their audience is stupid for not understanding it. 

Years ago, I went to a show in New York.  The gallery was showing a single artist whose art consisted of a pile of mannequin arms on the floor.  No artist's statement.  No explanation.  No context.  There was no way for me to access or translate that art.  There was no effort made to communicate with the viewer.  There was zero dialogue.  If there was a sign on the front of the building that said, "Frank's Mannequin Arm Emporium" I would have walked in, looked around and had no followup questions.  But this was a gallery.  One that invited people in and then punished them for their own curiosity.

Well, good news: There are no piles of mannequin arms in "Saturday".  There's a little bit of complexity.  Maybe even some subtlety.  And I think it's visually pretty.  But I'm relatively up front about what it is I'm trying to say.  I'm not sure if it's art, but "Saturday" is the book I wanted to see in the world, so I made it.

And if you don't get that, you're dumb.

(Kidding, kidding.)


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Julia's Child


Welcome to a freshly-whipped up edition of the "Saturday" the book update, straight from the lukewarm oven of my mind.

I'm still cooking up page 35, but it's starting to look decent.  I'm also beginning to look into agents, publishers, and all that other stuff that's necessary but not as much fun as drawing.  Then again, what is?

This little amuse bouche comes from page 33.  It's one of many "photographs" peppered throughout the book (by "photograph", I mean it's a drawing that's meant to represent a photograph.  Inside another drawing.  Inside a riddle wrapped in an enigma.  Inside a book.).

There were always lots of photographs around our house when I was growing up.  I figure that's pretty standard operating procedure for many families.  Most of the time, a photograph is a small record of some happy moment in your life.  And when you look at that moment, you can have a little bit of access to the memory and the emotion it captured.  Photos also act as a kind of very specific historical record.

Like this one:

Of course, if the photo has more than one person in it, it can capture more than one memory.  Don't get me wrong: I love me some happy photos.  They're like Cheetos and ice cream sandwiches: always enjoyable.  But sometimes I crave a little more emotional complexity.  Something that starts off as one thing and then blooms as you consider it.

Mostly, "Saturday" is a lighthearted, goofy romp.  But there's a little taste of dark and bitter in certain places.  Not much, but hopefully just enough to be unexpected and let you appreciate the sweet parts.