Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Closing Out A Banner Year

I know.  It's not even December.  But this weekend wraps up a year of pushing myself creatively, participating in some stellar festivals and celebrating the last two of the 5 or 6 comics publications that I've participated in that were printed in 2016.

Future Forward:  Extruder 2 Party and Kissing Coyote Goodbye

The cover of Extruder 2, by Ben Horak.
I am  excited to have been invited to participate in Seattle's own Extruder.  Extruder 1 was put out as a sort of "Best Of" anthology from former Seattle free comics paper, Intruder,  and presented as the cream of the crop of Seattle alternative comics.  Intruder sun-setted after 4 years, but a few affiliated artists put together an Extruder 2.  There's a different stable of artists with some cross over, and I think it's REALLY a good, fun sampling of Seattle cartooning! 

You can get a copy at the Extruder 2 Release Party this Friday, November 11th at Push/Pull Art & Comix.  Push/Pull is located at I created a one-pager for the anthology and will be at the party, which runs from 7 - 9.  A lot of Seattle's finest fringe creators will be there, and the copies of Extruder 2 that I had for Short Run literally flew of my table.  You'll have a good time if you come, and you'll leave with a great comic.

Love fresh takes on Fairy Tales and myth?  I'll be returning to Push/Pull just two days later, on Sunday, November 13th to celebrate the publication of Coyote and Butterfly Woman at Anne Bean's Modern Tales Party. This will be a more intimate affair, celebrating the comics written by Anne Bean, funded by Artist Trust, and illustrated by artists such as Ben Horak, Ted Closson and Laura Graves.

Cover art for Coyote and Butterfly Woman.
My own contribution to Anne's Modern Tales is the art for Coyote and Butterfly Woman.  I've already posted about it A LOT.  I did not know how all-consuming of a project it would be.  Not only did I become obsessive in my research for the story, I pushed really hard to create a cleaner, highly-graphic look to the story.  I've never focused so much on the spaces in-between the lines as I did with Coyote.

It's been great to work with Anne and I feel like I learned a lot in the process of drawing her vision.  We also sold a ton of these at Short Run.  So, it's a "Hello" to the world for Coyote and Butterfly Woman!  But I am somewhat sad to say goodbye to the story. 

If you are interested in the book, but can't make the party, you can purchase it on my ETSY at https://www.etsy.com/shop/NoelFranklinArt

Recap:  Rocking Short Run 2016


It's been a busy few months!  I'm grateful to everyone who came out to the Rock Is Not Dead party at Fantagraphics on October 22nd.  The anthology has been a long time in the making, and it was great to see my 5-page collaboration with Mark Campos in print.

Special thanks to Amy Denio for the music, Cait Willis for the inspiration and to Larry Reid, Lilly Beaty and Fantagraphics for hosting the party.

Anne Bean and yours truly at our table at Short Run.
Of course, the big event this month was Short Run Comix and Art Festival 2016.   I don't even know where to begin, except to say that it was hands-down the best tabling event that I've attended to date - including past Short Runs.  The exhibitor list was diverse and wildly talented, there was a steady stream of attendees throughout the day and everyone seemed to have brought their wallets. 

Truthfully, sales were so brisk that I barely was able to leave the table.  But every time I did, something wonderful happened.  Jonathan Horn handed me contributor packs for my drawing of Mirabai for his Supramystic Saga - Luminaries trading card sets.  The Ghosts of Seattle Past revealed the t-shirt they printed using a panel from one of my comics as part of their fundraising efforts.  Cullen Beckhorn delivered some art I left at BELCAF on accident. 

Fine cartoonist Annie Murphy, eating a donut, and
rocking my "Seattle, you have left me for a
wealthier woman" t-shirt design.
The sign to her right reads:
"God knows when you don't tip."
Looking at everyone's photos of the event, I sometimes ask myself if I was even there.  I'm seeing photos of friends and special guest artists that I would have loved to run into, but didn't even see.  I'm grateful to the friends like Margaret Ashford Trotter, Annie Murphy, Henry Chamberlain, Jennifer Daydreamer and other great cartoonists who came to the table to say hello, because I couldn't get away for more than a second.

Kudos to Kelly Froh, Eroyn Franklin, the board, advisory board and volunteers who make up the festival implementation team.  They make it look seamless, but I know how much work goes on behind the scenes.  What a great year!

Shout Out To The Press Peeps


There were a couple of great articles and blog posts that supported the flurry of activity this Fall.  Thanks to Paul Constant for publishing an interview in Seattle Review of Books (Talking with cartoonist Noel Franklin about her new award, Short Run, and her next book) and working with Kelton Sears to cover the Rock Is Not Dead show in Seattle Weekly (This Weekend, Seattle Cartoon Overload).  Gratitude to Henry Chamberlain for the ink in his Short Run recap for Comics Grinder (Short Run 2016: The Big in the Small) and to the Fantagraphics FLOG (What’s in Store: Rock is Not Dead). Much love to Sarah Galvin and City Arts for the listing.

Girl On The Road posts about comics, publication and community on Tuesdays.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

An Award, A Party & The Best Damn Comics Festival I've Ever Seen

Girl On The Road Garners Artist Trust GAP Funding

I am excited to report that my application to the Artist Trust Grants for Artist program has been met with success!  I am honored to be one of the 61 artists to receive funding in the 2016 grant cycle, including fellow cartoonist Sarah Rosenblatt plus cut paper artist and animator, Lauren Lida. 

I wrote about the process of creating this application back in May, including how I felt my work had been rushed but also sensed that the universe had sent me a positive sign after I finished my submission.  I'm so happy that I was not wrong.  Big thanks to Artist Trust for supporting me.  The funding they provide will be just enough to push the sample chapter of my graphic memoir into being.

October 22nd - Rock Is Not Dead!

It's here at last!  The Seattle project release party for Rock Is Not Dead will be happening this weekend on Saturday, October 22nd from 6 PM to 8 PM at the Fantagraphics Bookstore and Gallery. 

If you can make it, please come by.  Mark Campos created an excellent animation out of the comic we created for the printed anthology.  Come view comics in action plus a musical performance by Seattle Jazz Hall-of-Famer and punk rocker (yes, she does it all!) Amy Denio, who recorded a track for the project CD.

More on the anthology itself can be found on the 11th Dimension Press Website here. More on the event is on the Facebook event page.  And if you just want to purchase a copy, it's available at my Etsy store here.

An AWESOME New Festival:
Cartoon Crossroads Columbus

Sergio Aragones and Stan Sakai at the
Cartoon Crossroads Columbus opening reception.
 Cartoon Crossroads Columbus celebrated it's second year this year as one of the world's coolest comics festivals.  They are not a big-ticket super hero comic-con.  Instead they are celebrating comics as art, and putting the innovators of comics as art in the center of their programming.  They are not a standard tabling event.  The festival has a tabling component, yes, but its schedule is built around fairly intimate panels, workshops and lectures by the industries' leading creative professionals.

This may sound dry to you, but it's a blast, and a big part of that is because you get to meet and talk to people you would never normally get to hang out with at the Cartoon Crossroads Columbus receptions and parties.  
Me and Keith Knight talking
about the garbage public schools
he deals with in North Carolina.

Last year I spent almost half an hour talking with Jaime Hernandez, who was my main reason for attending, but then also got to talk with Art Spiegelman in the hallway of the Wexner Center for the Arts and Bill Griffith during his book signing. 

This year I informally talked about micron pens with Sergio Aragones and Stan Sakai at the opening reception, discuss racism and home schooling with Keith Knight and traded art and stories regarding our shared affinity for trilliums with Seth.  I picked up tips on script development from Raina Telgemeier and friended Carol Tyler and laughed until I cried at the antics of Lalo Alcaraz during a panel about political cartoons.

This is just brushing the surface of awesome experiences I've had at Cartoon Crossroads Columbus.  Mark Campos, who traveled with me this year, posted a small photo album here and wrote a blow-by-blow of our experience this year on his personal blog here.    But check out their website for yourself, and plan on attending next October!

Girl On The Road posts about comics, publication and community on Tuesdays.


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

New Arrivals

It's October already!  If you are a cartoonist living in or around Seattle, this means it's only a few more weeks until the Short Run Comix & Arts Festival, which happens this year on November 5th.  It catalyzes a lot of cartoonists and zinesters to create new work.  My goal was to have the sample chapter of my graphic novel, Girl On The Road, done by this year's event (WAY more about this next week!  I have astounding good news.) but I also have some long-term projects that happily just happen to be wrapping up right now.

Rock Is Not Dead - Available Now!

Me giving my super model, Cait Willis,
her contributor's copy of Rock Is Not Dead.
A large box of books and CDs arrived at my house last week, containing the finished Rock Is Not Dead project.  It is exciting to hold these in my hands.  When I heard about the anthology almost two years ago, I excitedly built a comic around the Throwing Muses song "Not Too Soon" with fellow cartoonist Mark Campos, and got Seattle's punk-jazz Seattle Music Hall-of-Famer Amy Denio to cover the song for the soundtrack.

Now that it's here, I'm happy to report we are doing a Seattle Rock Is Not Dead release party on Saturday, October 22nd at Fantagraphics.  All of the artists involved will be on hand to hang out and sign books, as well as the fabulous artist who was the model for my main character, Cait Willis.

The event has already received a sweet write-up in Seattle's "City Arts" Magazine.

You can find more details about the anthology and the event on the Facebook event page here.  https://www.facebook.com/events/387618274695843/

You can also order your copy of the book and CD at my Etsy shop, www.etsy.com/shop/NoelFranklinArt

I do a lot of drawing in my
leopard print pajamas.

Can't Say

I've been writing occasionally about working with anthologies.  I love anthologies.  They are like a comprehensive community in book form.  I've been lucky to be included in some really great ones, over my first three years of making comics, and now have a stack of stories created for anthologies and publications that I can compile into a new minicomic.

So, that's what I did.  Here it is.  It's entitled "Can't Say," based on an illustration I created for the Norway-based Outre Press.  It's a zine-style minicomic that includes 6 stories and 2 illustrations that I created for publications from Seattle's alternative weekly newspapers to international anthologies and online journals.

Can't Say is also available at my Etsy shop, and will be at my table at Short Run.

Coyote and Butterfly Woman

Sample page from
Coyote and Butterfly Woman.

I have been working for a year to realize Anne Bean's brilliant story, Coyote and Butterfly Woman,

I spent just over 9 months on creating Coyote and Butterly Woman, though it is only a 12-page story, and drew from over 300 source image files.

And it is finally at the printers!  The narrative is a modern feminist take on a tradition Nez Perce story.  I've never worked harder on a comic.   The writing itself is hard-hitting and dark, with some nuanced humor, and I wanted to do my very best to honor both the origins of the story and Anne's take on it through how I illustrated each panel.

These are arriving on my doorstep this Wednesday, and you can order these at my Etsy shop, as well.  For a mere $5, you can have the best comic I've created to date.

Next Week - Girl On The Road Gets Real

Check back in with me next week.  I have great news on my progress towards making the Girl On The Road graphic novel a reality. 

Girl On The Road posts about comics, publication and community on Tuesdays.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

ROCK IS NOT DEAD - A Tale of Two Collabs

Cover graphic for ROCK IS NOT DEAD.


I'll be hosting a book and CD release party for ROCK IS NOT DEAD at Fantagraphics Bookstore and Gallery on October 22nd!  The party will include performances by Amy Denio, Mark Campos and myself. Special Guests TBA.

ROCK IS NOT DEAD is an international anthology of comics and short stories inspired by rock songs. It includes a CD of indie musicians covering each song that the stories are based on.

The Seattle ROCK IS NOT DEAD team comic was conceived by Mark Campos (Moxie My Sweet, Places That Are Gone) and illustrated by Noel Franklin (me). It is based on the Throwing Muses song "Not Too Soon," which is covered by the Seattle musical virtuoso, Amy Denio (Kultur Shock, Tiptons Sax Quartet).

The story takes place entirely in and around the SIFF Egyptian Theatre and features Seattle artist Cait

Cait Willis models for a panel in
Not Too Soon for
as the model for the central character.

I'll be writing more on the backstory closer to the event!  Until then, you can check out the Facebook event page for ROCK IS NOT DEAD here:  https://www.facebook.com/events/387618274695843/

ALSO: for more information on the ROCK IS NOT DEAD project, or to order online, visit the 11th Dimension Press website at http://bookstore.11thdimensionpress.com/product/rockisnotdead-package-1/

Coming Soon: Coyote and Butterfly Woman

I've been writing about my collaboration with comics script creator and lover of fairy tales, Anne Bean.  She recieved a grant from Artist Trust to commission a handful of cartoonists to illustrate her updated treatments of folk and fairy tales from around the world.  I'm working with her on Coyote and Butterfly Woman, a modernized version of a Nez Peirce folk tale.

I love working with writer Anne Bean, but
she does introduce me to some
sketchy characters!  Meet Magpie
from Coyote and Butterfly Woman.
When Mark Campos and I created the story for ROCK IS NOT DEAD, we worked almost organically, to the point where he provided the impetus for the story but we ultimately co-created the script and I ran with the visuals.  Anne had a script, complete with panel breakdowns, already in hand, and getting my mind inside the story was half the battle for me.

I'm in the final stretch of completing the artwork, however, and I'm loving it.  The final comic is due to premier at the Short Run Comic and Art Festival in Seattle on November 5th.  (I may try to sneak a few copies to the Cartoon Crossroads Columbus festival in October, though.)  More on what's coming up for Short Run in the coming weeks!

Girl On The Road posts about comics, publication and community on Tuesdays.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

From Recession to Concession

The Original Artwork for my Seattle Weekly Comic.
You can see the completed story here.
I'm a big fan of the human eye.  I love how well-adapted our vision is in picking up subtleties and a lot of my decision-making in comics plays to this.  It's why I don't use panel borders on my pages, and why I very rarely outline anything in a scene.

Also, just this year I fell in love with white space.  I don't think I've ever used it as efficiently as I can.  As a woman who works exclusively in black and white, I've been neglecting half of my palette.

Today, I have a comic out in Seattle Weekly.  It's my second comic with them.  While it's my intention to do comics journalism about Seattle's music scene - like this one about The Crocodile - this week's comic is an autobiographical story about my decision to go back to school for web development.

The decision was driven by how expensive Seattle has become to live in, and is fueled by my disillusionment with the nonprofit sector.  There are several programs that the State of Washington offers that pay for job retraining, and I'm working with WorkSource to get my tuition paid.

I think the editor was excited about it because so many artists are having to make tough choices, now, in Seattle and a lot of them are choosing to leave.  I'm hoping it will resonate with people.

Finished panel, with text covering
up the signage.
What I am excited about with this comic is that it's the first time I didn't outline narrative boxes or word balloons.  I'm seeing how much I can pare away, visually, and still move the story.  I want people to feel totally and naturally immersed in the art.  It was a fun experiment, and Seattle Weekly didn't bat an eye at the missing outlines, so I'm assuming it worked ok.

I am pseudo-obsessed with making good-looking original art, and I draw entire panels even though I know I will be covering up a lot of the visual details with words, so I'm posting the orginal art here.  You can see the completed story at the Seattle Weekly's website, or pick up a physical copy from the stands before next Wednesday.

I do want to add that I totally riffed the art of John Criscitello and his Woo Girls in one panel.  Credit where credit is due! 

I'll be doing another comic for Seattle Weekly on the Macefield Festival in September.

Girl On The Road posts about comics, publication and community on Tuesdays.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

A Coyote Tale

Me and Casey Silver from 80% Studios.

Event News

I had a blast at the BLICK Artist Alley event on July 16th.  The event was organized by Ladykiller with fabulous comics artist Rhodora Jacob and organizer extraordinaire Danielle Davis on point.  

I sold enough minicomics to buy a replacement laserjet printer and got to goof off with my table mates Casey Silver of 80% Studios and cartoonist/illustrator Robert Tritthardt.

Also, I was accepted to be one of the curated comics exhibitors for the 2016 Short Run Comix and Arts Festival!  The festival happens at Seattle Center on November, 5th of this year.  I am REALLY happy that my application was accepted, as I am planning to debut some new work there, including my collaboration with Anne Bean, Coyote and Butterfly Woman.

Coyote and Butterfly Woman

I've only just met comics writer, cultural critic and raconteur, Anne Bean, in the past year.  In 2015, she was awarded an Artist Trust GAP grant, in support of the creation of four comics based on fairy tales from around the world, and a coyote tale that originated in Nez Pierce tribal mythology.

Magpie with a human eye.  That guy sees everything.
The coyote tale, Coyote and Butterfly Woman, centers around Coyote needing to subdue the powers of Butterfly Woman, who is standing in the way of his travels.  Anne revised the story to reflect modern power relations between genders.

We discussed the possibility of me taking the story on as it's illustrator.  

I have had experience updating the Bohemian folk tale, Jezinkas, and have ties to Indian country through both relations and through my work with Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center.  Anne's story is heavy on content, and I was attracted to the magical realism element of the project, so I here I am, illustrating a coyote tale.

Coyote hitches a ride in Eastern Washington.

I'll be honest - this has not been an easy comic to climb into.  I usually draw my own stories, so I automatically feel strongly about the ones I'm compelled to surface in my art.  Anne's writing is visceral, and I had to spend some time with it and process a handful of issues before I got to the mechanics of the drawings.  

There is a character sporting a confederate flag hat.  There are on-page depictions of violence.  The google image searches alone were daunting.

First, I had the idea to experiment in making ugly drawings to reflect the ugliness of some of the story elements.  No, no and no.  I drew pages of work that will never see the light of day.   I think, ultimately, it's a good thing.  I had to work through that as part of the process.

Butterfly Woman in the works.
Luckily, we have until mid-October to get the story done.  I'm a third of the way through, have worked through the major issues and drafted the main characters.  Now I'm working on the fun part - the inking.

In November, you will be able to pick up a copy of the story, along with other work by Anne Bean and me, during Coyote and Butterfly Woman's debut at Short Run 2016.

Girl On The Road posts about comics, publication and community on Tuesdays.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Come Up And See Me

The beautiful artwork of Stefari & Rhodora Jacob.
Come by BLICK and say hello.

July 16th @ BLICK

If you happen to be in the Seattle area this weekend, you should come see the amazing and diverse crowd of cartoonists who are participating in the Artist Alley, hosted at BLICK Art Materials this weekend.

BLICK is the hold-out arts supply store on Capitol Hill, and it's located in close proximity to Seattle Central Community College, on Pine and Broadway. 

I will only be tabling on Saturday, July 16th, so if you want to see me, come then.  But there will be artists there on Saturday and Sunday for you to visit.

I swore up and down earlier this year that I would table no events until I have new comics to sell.  Well.  I WILL have new comics in October, but I don't mind being at BLICK with Gone Girl Comics 1 & 2 plus Jezinkas.  It should be a new audience for me and I was part of the I Heart Comics Art awards. 

BLICK will be offering 50% Custom Framing discounts as well as other in store promotions. See you there! Special thanks to BLICK and Ladykiller for hosting.

Hot Off The Press: A Cool Summer Book Fair

A wide view of the event.  I'm hanging out in hot pink.

Me with cartoonist and poster artist extraordinaire, Pat Moriarity.
Behind us, wielding grilling tongs, is Seth Goodkind,
another fine Seattle cartoonist and co-founder of
Push/Pull Gallery.

The BLICK event will happen exactly one week after Hot Off The Press:  A Cool Summer Book Fair hosted by Fantagraphics Bookstore and Gallery.

I already knew there was a shindig going down at Fantagraphics last Saturday.  The Intruder, a free comics newspaper that I blogged about earlier here, decided to sunset their publication after four dedicated years and were throwing a sort of goodbye party there.  What I did not realize was that there was a mini tabling event featuring local independent cartoonists.

It was a sunny, sunny Seattle day and the artists were set up on the sidewalk.  I thought I was getting there early but the tables were full and I ended up setting up like a sunglasses salesman at a street fair (which I actually had fun with.  NO COMPLAINTS) between veteran cartoonist and illustrator Pat Moriarity and Eisner-Award winning cartoonist David Lasky

For Seriously.  Pat Moriarity and I both have stories in the Serbian anthology Skulptura? - though Pat did the cover!  I was thrilled to have such great neighbors.  Throw in the fact that we were also sharing space with the fabulous Fogland Studios and I couldn't have been in better company.

There were hot dogs, beverages, a ton of people, a lot of camaraderie, and I made enough in sales to buy a badly-needed new laser jet printer.  It's the kind of comics artist hang out you really want to be at - most of it most likely thanks to Fantagraphics heavy-hitters Larry Reid and Janice Headley.

The photos are by Mark Campos.  He's gotten good at the documentary thing.  You can find more event photos on the event Facebook page here.

Next week, I'll get back to the actual art.

Girl On The Road posts about comics, publication and community on Tuesdays.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Crocodile Rock

The original illustration for "The Crocodile's 25th Year"
before re-arranging and cutting imagery and covering
much of it with text.  View the completed comic here:

This week marks the three-year anniversary of my comics publishing adventures, and I'm happy to announce that I have a comic appearing in the Seattle Weekly.  The comic tells a brief history of The Crocodile, a Seattle music club that is celebrating its 25th year anniversary this year.

The image on the left is the original illustration before I tweaked things and covered a lot of it with text boxes.  You can acquire the original up at my Etsy shop.  You can check out the final story at Seattle Weekly - and feel free to share the link - here: 


The Barrett Martin Group is hosting one of several anniversary shows for The Crocodile on Friday, June 17th.  I write more about this below, and you can get full details on The Crocodile website here.

Because there is so much more to the story than I could fit into the comic, and because I was able to interview Scott McCaughey and Barrett Martin - two musicians who feature prominently in the venue's history - I'd like to share more of the story here.

Crocodile Cafe & Live Bait Lounge

It was the early 1990s, Seattle music was coming alive and a music-loving lawyer by the name of Stephanie Dorgan decided she wanted to open a rock venue.  She threw in with several other investors and procured the former home of a Greek cafe called The Athens, on 2200 2nd Avenue, which had stood empty for over a decade.  Renovations were made and the first show was played on April 30th of 1991 by The Posies and Love Battery. 

Crocodile Cafe management was devoted to supporting local music, as well as creating a welcome stop for prominent touring acts.  Seattle PI's John Marshall reported "A now-legendary Croc double bill, with a $3 ticket, took place on Oct. 4, 1992, and featured Mudhoney and Nirvana (billed that night as Pen Cap Chew). A 1996 gig by Cheap Trick included a surprise appearance by Pearl Jam."

Some of the fellows from Young Fresh Fellows.
Scott McCaughey went on to play with
REM, The Minus 5, The Venus 3
and The Baseball Project.
Stephanie started out as a hands-on owner, enlisting her sisters in the venture, including hiring Constance Dorgan as the venue Manager.  It's one of the details mentioned by Scott McCaughey.  "It was always great to have one of the Dorgan sisters around.  They practically lived there."  Scott's band, The Young Fresh Fellows, has been referred to as Crocodile Cafe's house band and he served as a talent buyer there for several years.

He said that management lived up to their claim of going out of their way to treat bands well.  "Bands received 90% of the door after a reasonable fee.  If you had any kind of draw at all, Crocodile Cafe was an oasis for touring musicians."  He also noted that if an act DIDN'T have a draw the first time you played at "The Croc," you'd likely have one the second time around.  "Guided by Voices is the perfect example.  They played their first show to less than 100 people.  The Crocodile Cafe lost money, but it was an amazing show.  Guided by Voices sold out every Seattle show they played after that."

Death and Rebirth of The Crocodile

Did I mention the Crocodile Cafe had art?  In the truly grungy back bar they sometimes rotated out art shows.  Last I was there, the ceiling was adorned by sheep that seemed to be constructed from spray foam, farting neon lightning bolts as they swayed from their wires.  I think the sheep were still there at the last show of the old Crocodile, a Saturday night set by Robin Pecknold (Fleet Foxes), J. Tillman (Fleet Foxes, The Lashes) and David Bazan (Pedro the Lion) in December of 2007.  

A tiny 2.5 x 2.5 inch portrait of Stephanie Dorgan and
Peter Buck that didn't make the Seattle Weekly comic.
There wasn't enough room to give it the context it deserved.

The next day, staff received voicemails from Stephanie Dorgan telling them that they were terminated, immediately, as the Crocodile was closed due to financial difficulties.  No formal statement regarding the closure was issued to the press, and this cartoonist doesn't have the story.  There's a good summary of the chain of events leading up to the closure on the 10 Things Zine website here, complimented by many other articles you can find on the web.

Of note, Stephanie had two children with REM's Peter Buck in 1994.  The couple divorced in 2006.  It's easy to imagine the rigors of family life taking energy away from a founder's original labor of love.  It's possible to believe that a spouse with considerable income might take the urgency out of budget balancing and penny pinching to keep a club operating in the black. 

Whatever the reason, Stephanie Dorgan was finished running the Crocodile.  She sold the business to a group of partners led by bar owner Marcus Charles.  The investing group renovated the facilities, bringing it up to speed with both Seattle's new codes for night clubs and Belltown's fancier feel.  The bar became a little more upscale (the farting sheep replaced by giant glossy performance photos from the Grunge Era glory years), and the show room was developed to be a more accommodating performance venue.  The sound system was improved, a lush green room added, and the bands played on.

Barrett Martin Celebrates 25 Years of The Crocodile

The Crocodile opened again in March of 2008.  One of the first performances was a semi-reunion
show by Soundgarden.  It featured Soundgarden with a notable exception: Seattle musician Tad Doyle standing in for Chris Cornell.  With the appearance of "TADGarden" it was clear that The Crocodile was still a place for local artist to perform, try out new things and showcase side projects.

Barrett Martin
Photo by Dean Karr
Barrett Martin was one of the musicians who performed during the early years of Crocodile Cafe as a member of Skin Yard and Screaming Trees.  In 1994 he joined musicians from Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains for a surprise performance at Crocodile Cafe that signaled the birth of their new band, Mad Season.   In 1996, Barrett worked with Peter Buck, Skerik and other musicians on a project they called Tuatara.  Tuatara expanded and changed over the years, eventually engaging Scott McCaughey.  (Note to reader:  I was not aware of this at the time that I decided to interview Barrett and Scott independently.  The more you know...)

Barrett is producing a 25-year celebration showcase to The Crocodile on Friday, June 17th.  "I wanted the show to engage old Seattle, new Seattle and something that is new to Seattle.  That's what The Crocodile is about." he said.  "Noelle Tannen, for example.  She's a singer/songwriter from Brooklyn, but with roots in Seattle.  She's opening.  Vaudeville Etiquette are a Seattle band and one of the best bands I've worked with as a producer."

An iteration of Tuatara will appear as well as the Barrett Martin Group.  While I am unsure of who will be performing in what constellation, you can expect to see some really good collaboration between musicians like Barrett with Skerik (Critters Buggin), Chris Ballew (The Presidents), Ayrone Jones, Tyan Waters (Prince, Sade's bands) Kathy Moore (The Guessing Game), Jen Ayers (Teatro Zinzanni) and more.

This was difficult.  I could only put the tiniest fraction of information in the Seattle Weekly comic.  But at least I got to draw some awesome artists and organizers and hopefully get people interested in a bit more of Seattle's music history. 

Girl On The Road posts about comics, publication and community on Tuesdays.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Answering to History

Issue #3 of editor and cartoonist
Shing Yin Khor's "Blood Root" anthologies.

 In 2014, I created Jezinkas, a 17-page comics adaptation of a Bohemian folktale about witches who stole people's eyes.  It was in response to a call for intelligent horror stories to be included in Blood Root #3 by Sawdust Press.  Blood Root is a really great anthology and, though the print version is sold out, you can obtain a pay-what-you-want digital download of the book HERE. 

Jezinkas is my only fictional comic in print, to date.  It was fun story to build because I got to draw things like people turning into wolves, owls without eyes and other visually astonishing scenes that don't occur in my life naturally.  The best part, though, was that I didn't have to check and double-check facts, scour and question my memories or consider the impact of my work on people who might be effected by my telling of a real-life story.   

Illustrating Rock History 

Enter comics journalism.  I love the Pacific Northwest's rich music history. When nostalgia drove me to illustrate the building that once housed the OK Hotel, lovers of the now-defunct music venue urged me to draw more.  

Panel from the history comic
of Hollywood's Club Lingerie.

I began interviewing people connected to the OK and drew my first history comic.  It was terrifying because I didn't want to misrepresent anything.  Not all details can be verified.  People had different versions of the same night or notorious story.  I chose to frame episodes as either my own personal take or in the context of "this source said..."

It's how I came to comics.  I created two more venue histories - for Albuquerque's Dingo Bar and Hollywood's Club Lingerie - and now I'm working on an abbreviated comics history of a 4th venue for publication soon.  I haven't been able to reach everyone I wanted to vet, but I'm doing my best to be true to facts and the spirit of the club's history.

My Story Is. . .Well. . .My Story.

Autobiography may share nonfiction status with comics journalism, but I'm coming to it with a little more confidence.

I don't have to research the plot points, for one thing.

Panels from my comic
chronicling the history of the
Chicago Picasso

I will proceed very, very carefully in choosing how to frame where my life intersects with others, though.  And I will never adopt the voice of authority in reporting on historical moments.  There are tragedies in my life, for example, that effected A LOT of people, and everyone involved experienced those events in their own way.  Or, as anyone who has been through a break-up can attest, different people have different views on shared experiences. 

The best thing I know to do is present my story as my story - personally impactful, potentially flawed and ultimately vulnerable.  But I feel that the insights I have encountered are worth sharing, and the story has been pressing me to be told. 

Girl On The Road posts about comics, publication and community on Tuesdays.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Night of the Crow


Quoth the raven...

I have friends who call me a synchronicity vortex.  My life is riddled with strange coincidences and deep irony.  It's why I say I'm spiritual but not religious.  I've seen too many things come together at once to know that more than human consciousness is at work in this world.

This week, I've been finishing a 4-page comic called "Night of the Crow."  It's a surrealistic bit of  autobiography from my life as a painter, after completing an exhibit of giant crow paintings at the Balazo Gallery on Mission Street in San Francisco.  The show got great reviews, my house mate installed the paintings in our space when I returned, and then things started to get strange.

Me and my housie, circa 2004

A Sacramento Side Story

One of the hardest things about putting together my graphic novel, Girl On The Road, is that there is no way to include everything that happened in the time frame that the story spans.  Paranormal crow activity may be interesting, but I think including this incident would take away from the story arc and make for a disjointed reader experience.  Sacramento is a featured location, but the events from Night of the Crow are probably not going to make it into the Girl On The Road script.

That is why I am super-psyched that I'll be able to tell the story in a different venue.  The anthology it will be published in doesn't go to print until 2017, so it will be really fun to file it away and forget about it.  When I finally see it in book format it will feel like a Christmas present.

Some nights are like that.

Home Schooling

My main reason for finishing Night of the Crow this week is that I wanted to
learn from executing the story.  I need more practice with both character development and the human figure.  I also have to get used to drawing myself, over and over and over again.  Just doing four pages of self portraits made me feel like a narcissist.  200 pages will take some getting used too.

So, Night of the Crow.  It was not directly working on the graphic novel, but I feel more confident returning to the big project having test-run some new techniques in a tiny story.

One More Awesome Side Project

I'll be working on one more awesome side project - a collaboration with comics writer Anne Bean.  She is one of the people who has already received an Artist Trust grant to build a suite of new comics with a different illustrator taking on each story.  We're creating a full-length minicomic adaptation of the Nez Perce story of Coyote and Butterfly Woman.  I'm VERY excited to work with Native themes and anthropomorphic imagery.  The story is under production and scheduled to be premiered at Seattle's Short Run Comix & Arts Festival. 

Short Run Is Accepting Applications

The Short Run Comix & Arts Festival is now accepting exhibitors applications, by the way.  Check it out.

Girl On The Road posts about comics, publication and community on Tuesdays.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Grants Game, Part 3 - Superstition

Time . . . Enough

Roy from Blade Runner.
That guy never forgets his deadlines.

If you're an artist looking for grant funding, Seattle is a pretty great place to be.  We likely have more grant sources for individual creators than almost anywhere else in the United States.

That also means more deadlines.  Today I completed an application to an agency called Artist Trust for their GAP (Grants for Artists Projects) fund. 

I'm not usually one to finish an application on the day it's due.  I keep this very exacting spreadsheet of deadlines--for anthologies, grants, whatever needs hitting--and I try to get things done ahead of time.  Especially for grants.  Even on a fairly easy application I schedule a minimum of 8 hours to complete it.  EIGHT.  Because, for me, it's not writing the narrative that gets me.  It's the time it takes to format files and upload them that is the killer.

If you are submitting 10 pages of comics, and maybe you have them in a PDF at 600 dpi for printing.  But the granting agency wants them in individual JPGs at 72 dpi but at a minimum of 1920 dpi on the long edge but with a file size no larger than 5 mb.  MATH!  My arch enemy.  This is exactly what I was up against today.  Then actually uploading and labeling the files is taking the grantmaker's online system forever.  Then I'm standing in the rain like Rutger Hauer, gripping my hand and pleading with the universe for more time.
Clocking in at a mere 4.7 MB!

Very Superstitious

Ah well, I did get everything uploaded and the submission is in.  

I had the exact same problem uploading files for the City Artist grant I submitted earlier this year.  I wasn't this hard up against the deadline, but I was having plenty of trouble with their online grants submission site.  I was cursing the screen while I watched the spinning beach ball of doom that is Macintosh telling me that it's processing something.  And I was listening to an album that I consider part of the soundtrack to my graphic novel - So Tonight That I May See by Mazzy Star.

The album hit it's last song and I got panicky.  "If my files aren't uploaded by the end of the album, I won't get the grant!" THAT is what my brain suddenly decided to throw at me.  It makes no sense.  I have no idea where it came from.  I tried to tell myself it was ridiculous.  But I was still deeply relieved when the uploads finished before the final strains of the song.

Even when I was grantwriting for agencies, everyone had rituals and superstitions.  There were grant dances.  Laying of the hands on the outgoing paper proposal.  Always the constant race to the post office.  (At least THAT part has been eliminated by online submissions)

It's Only Weird If It Doesn't Work

I'm not a huge sports fan, but when the Seattle Seahawks went to the Superbowl, they ran an ad campaign highlighting people's sometimes odd "lucky" game day traditions.  The catch phrase was "It's Only Weird If It Doesn't Work."

I was awarded the CityArtist grant.  So there's that.

I'm not encouraging superstition, but if you've got something that works for you, then go for it.

My lucky Star.
And, of course, give yourself enough time.

I really don't know how I feel about the application I turned in today.  I could have used one more
night to sleep on it and do a FINAL final review.  I'm just glad that I went through the process--don't ask don't get.  Extra score bonus:  I now have an updated artist resume and I also articulated a sub-theme of my graphic novel that I hadn't really pinned down before.

Also--true story--I took myself out to lunch to celebrate/recover and the diner was playing Mazzy Star, Fade Into You.

 Girl On The Road posts about comics, publication and community on Tuesdays.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Though I Walk Through The Shadow of Uncanny Valley . . .

Mark Campos at Bistro Montage in Portland,
featured here with Moxie, My Sweet.

Living with a fellow cartoonist has its benefits, particularly when they are a long-standing feature in the minicomics world.  My housie Mark Campos wrote the anthology Moxie, My Sweet - illustrated by some of the finest cartoonists Seattle has to offer - and has drawn stories for anthologies like Not My Small Diary and Fantagraphics Treasury of Mini Comix.  Mark is not only experienced in the practical aspects of making comics, his head is full of cartooning history and theory.

I'm not like that.  My comics tool kit contains little more than combining a disparate background in fine arts and poetry as an approach to telling stories.  I have limited knowledge of the medium and it's context and having seasoned cartoonists to turn to while I attempt creating a graphic memoir is invaluable.

Uncanny, Isn't It?

Panel with self-portrait on a Chicago train platform.
What is wrong with this picture?
Creating Girl On The Road hasn't been precisely "Write script. Grab pen. GO!"  I've had to make decisions as simple as page size and as difficult as fictionalizing elements of an autobiographical story.  Somewhere in between, how to stylistically approach drawing people is one of the hardest things I've wrestled with.

The book is partially travelogue, so I want backgrounds that deliver a specific location in the story. But the core story is relational, so I want characters that are expressive.

My attempts at marrying photo-realism and expressiveness have not gotten me where I'm going yet.

Back to Mark Campos.  As I sit cursing at the kitchen table over the fact that an image I drew straight from photo reference looks like a mutant, he factually chimes in "It's 'Uncanny Valley'."  And DAMMIT if he's not right.  It is.

Things That Look Almost Human Creep Us Out

Screen grab from Manly Guys Doing Manly Things
by comics blogger
Uncanny Valley is a term developed by people in robotics.  As certain corporations race to invent the humanoid robot that everyone will love, they keep running into the problem that robots that look like humans freak real humans out. 

There's a dry Wikipedia article about it, but I found an absolutely AWESOME blog about the Uncanny Valley effect as it relates to comics here.  Funny as hell.  References Soundgarden.  You should check out "Close But No Cigar" on Manly Guys Doing Manly Things and get a hard laugh out of it as well as some good information.

What I got out of it was reinforcement that I need to put my hands up and step away from the light table.  My just-slightly-off photo-realistic drawings of people are just-slightly-off-putting.  Even if I had an exact photo reference for every panel of the book, it wouldn't be enough to carry the characters.  But at least I have something of a measure to judge against when assessing my next crop of drawings.  It might keep my book from falling into the Uncanny Valley.

Thanks, Mark.

 Girl On The Road posts about comics, publication and community on Tuesdays.