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.


Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Lonely Office, of course, of course.


Welcome to this week's edition of the "Saturday" update.

Progress Report:

I'm working on page 35 at the moment.  Making pretty good progress, too.  I've also started researching places I can get a short run of books printed (100 or less), which is turning out to be a little more difficult than I had expected.  Mostly because of the size of the book.

I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before, but "Saturday" is 11" x 17".  Closed.  Open, the book is 11" x 34".  That's pretty big, even for a children's book.  It's like a coffee table book.  The size was a creative choice I made early on for the same reason I made every other creative choice: I'm making the book I would have wanted to read as a kid and also one I would want to read as an adult.  But those choices may result in some...hiccups in actually getting the book published.  Many printers can't or won't handle that size.

At this point, I have no idea what's going to happen.  It's possible that, for one reason or another, no publishers will be interested in picking up "Saturday".  If that's the case, I'll scratch together the money, have the whole thing printed by my lonesome, and get it to you by hook or by crook.

Ok, enough on that.

Regular Part:

Today (the day I'm posting this, anyway) is Father's Day.  And what sums up the occasion better than a super-depressing poem by Robert Hayden?

Those Winter Sundays
Robert Hayden 
Sundays too my father got up early 
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold, 
then with cracked hands that ached 
from labor in the weekday weather made 
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him. 

I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking. 
When the rooms were warm, he’d call, 
and slowly I would rise and dress, 
fearing the chronic angers of that house, 

Speaking indifferently to him, 
who had driven out the cold 
and polished my good shoes as well. 
What did I know, what did I know 
of love’s austere and lonely offices? 

I hadn't read this poem since the 9th grade.  That was...a while ago.  But I always remembered
the line "love's austere and lonely offices."  In the 9th grade, I didn't really understand the poem.
And I sure as hell didn't understand the thing the poem was talking about, in spite of Mrs. Murran's
best efforts.
Poor Mrs. Murran.  You can lead a horse to water, but this horse was way too dumb to understand
Robert Hayden.
It’s kind of an old-fashioned poem, but since we lived in an old-fashioned house with a wood
stove, my father did, in fact, get up early to make fires.  And even with a one-to-one DIRECT
comparison between my life and the narrator’s life, EVEN THEN I didn’t get it.  And, after building
a fire, he would then go to a literal austere and lonely office and work for 9 hours.
And yes, I spoke indifferently to him at times.  And no, I never thanked him.
My dad and India’s dad (Fred McGreevy) feel similarly about their office jobs:

 These days, I understand a LITTLE bit better about those austere and lonely offices (the literal and
the metaphorical ones).  So on this, the most fatherly of days, I'd like to say:
1.) Sorry about the speaking indifferently thing.
2.) Thank you for polishing my good shoes.  And for everything else.
3.) Happy Father's Day.


Sunday, June 8, 2014

Legend of the Lost Panels...

Well, hullo there.

Welcome to this week's update of "Saturday" the book.

Progress wise, I've just finished page 34 and have barely started the layout of page 35.  Page 35 is the last page of the book.  THE VERY LAST PAGE.  It's a little scary and a little exciting.  Can't wait to be able to share the whole durned thing with you.  Of course, even after I finish the last page, I have to do the cover, edit the book, and then find a way to print it. But we're just a stone's throw away.  A breath.  A hair.  A hair's breath.  A hop, skip, and a jump.  We're close.  That's alls I'm sayin'.  Close.

In the meantime, this week's update is going to be a little different.  Normally, I would tell you what page I'm working on and then give you a panel or two from said page.  But having just started the layout on page 35 (did I mention that's the last page in the book?), I don't have anything particularly interesting to show just yet.

So, in lieu of more current material, I'm going to do something I would almost never ever do: I'm going to show you a mistake.  I know: you're shocked.  But I do make mistakes from time to time.  Having made a mistake of any kind, my standard operating procedure is to destroy all the evidence of the mistake and then erase the memories of any witnesses.  With a hammer.  But this mistake is kind of fun, so I'll share it.

It came from page 29.  On this page, India is just returning home from a day of adventuring.  She runs into Thelonius on the porch.  Thelonius has been conspicuously absent for most of the book and she asks where he's been.  This is his response:

Thelonius, it seems, was Shanghaied by an odd little man named Sheldon Snevily, a taxidermist and caterer.  Sheldon is partially based on a shop teacher I had when I was a kid.  This teacher had the thickest glasses I'd ever seen.  I'm pretty sure he could see through time with glasses that thick.  He also had no full fingers on either hand.  Keep in mind that this was the man responsible for teaching us shop safety.

Anyhoo, I ended up having to leave out this entire segment for a couple of reasons.  First, it didn't make much sense and didn't exactly fit in with the rest of the story.  But I wasn't actually all that concerned about that.  I liked the character and I liked how dark the little mini-story was.

The main reason this part got the axe was space.  Every comic, drawing, painting, or illustration is a negotiation with space.  It ends up being a little like a game of Tetris where every single piece is a different size and shape.  There was a lot more story that had to go onto page 29 in order to keep the book on track.  This little expository side bar ended up being, as a good friend of mine says often, "A long way to go for a taco."  (There was a lot of effort without much payoff).  I took up space I didn't have.  And no matter how I monkeyed with the layout, I could never make it work with everything else that had to go on this page.

So, Miles Snevily and the mystery of the disappearing crow had to be chopped off.  But don't worry: I dropped it immediately into a jar of embalming fluid.  Maybe someday I'll bring it back to life.


BTW: Here was the post script to this little adventure:

Cheers (for reals this time).

Sunday, June 1, 2014

LIfe is short. Fortunately, so is this update...


Welcome to this week's update of "Saturday" the book.

For those of you who look forward to and read the updates (maybe that should read, "For the one person who looks forward to and reads the updates..."), bad news: I'm feeling a combination of laziness and malaise this weekend.  Let's call it "malazy".  I'll be more talkie next time around.

If you're one of the people for whom these updates are a nuisance that fills your inbox with obnoxious clockwork regularity, great news: I'm feeling malazy (see definition above).  So, not so much wordifying this time around.

Here are three drawings of India's dad, Fred McGreevy.  They appear on page 32.