Website Updated (AGAIN!)

Remember earlier this year when I refreshed my website?

Probably not, because the refresh lasted exactly one blog post… I’d given the site a fresh coat of Wordpress paint, but a few months later, Wordpress turned agin’ me. I’d lived too long in apathy towards it, and it lashed out, breaking here, breaking there - breaking itself everywhere. After installing numerous plugins taped on other plugins to address yet other malfunctioning plugins, I declared my old partner defunct, and gained further insight about myself. I do NOT want to be a web developer. A freelance whatever-I-am is too complicated already. So farewell, Wordpress. Hello, Squarespace. We’ll see how this goes! So far, so good.

Actually, that’s only half the tale of this month’s technological disasters. Just in October, I’ve had nearly ALL my technology fail, including my work computer, my old backup work computer, and my smartphone. At the peak of this chaos, I took a breather with Sarah and the girls and drove up to Washougal, WA to visit friends. Very restful. Then, on our way back to Portland, as we turned west onto HWY 14, we saw an old man in a truck. He was facing east, waiting behind several other cars to turn north onto the same street we were just departing. I don’t know why, but for some reason that old man, who was nowhere near us, felt the need to roll down his window and flip the bird to us while screaming profanities. We still can’t figure out what, if anything, we could have done to negatively impact his life. Maybe he just hates young families in blue Subarus. Whatever it was, the mystery of his breakdown shall never be solved, and although this man was flesh, and my computers, phone, and website are zeros and ones, I’ll always think of him as this month’s mascot.

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Moving forward to what’s positive - I’m excited that my new book, Over the Garden Wall: Distillatoria (BOOM!) will be out next month. Jim Campbell did a beautiful job drawing it, and I had way too much fun writing it. Somehow the script flowed out in a way that I’ve never had a script flow out before. Maybe it was working with someone else’s characters, or maybe it was the clarity I had on the story itself… Maybe you’ll think - FLOWED OUT, HUH? IT SHOWS! But I hope if you’re a fan of that show (and you should be!), that you’ll enjoy it. Here’s a link to where you can preorder. It comes out November 27th.

That’s it for now.

Website Updated!

So, a year went by (over a year, honestly) without me paying one bit of attention to my poor old website. It was high time I applied a new coat of paint and got back to semi-regular posts. So here I am, finally joining this decade's web aesthetic and generally cleaning things up. 2018 sees many fun bits of news for me, including a book deal for my next graphic novel, Little Monarchs. It now has a home at Margaret Ferguson Books, an imprint of children's publisher Holiday House. I couldn't be happier, or better supported!

Chere Creature

Dear Creature recently saw a French edition release, while The New Deal garnered a nomination for the Oregon Book Award (soon to be determined). Go old books!

Alongside my work on Little Monarchs, this year I'm writing BOOM's Over the Garden Wall graphic novels, with series' storyboard artist Jim Campbell doing a stellar job on art duties. Alongside THAT, I keep extra busy with watercolor covers for The Thrilling Adventure Hour, the odd McMenamins painting, illustrations for TEDx, murals, and a bunch of storyboard/illustration work. I'm sure I'm forgetting something... Oh, yes: Two incredible little girls, ages 6 and not-quite-9-months.

It's a beautiful handful, and somehow the work's all moving forward under deadline (editors, that's for you).

I'll go into more detail on all these projects soon, but for now it just feels good to dust off the site's cobwebs. I almost said website cobwebs, but that's too many webs.

Later!

 

Day 14 - Victory on Albany Hill

Albany Hill Yesterday, in the eucalyptus trees on top of Albany Hill, I saw monarchs. This was in spite of my timing being early for their arrival in this particular part of the Bay. It was a definite high point in my journey to bring The Guidebook to life, and one of many small miracles I've encountered on our trip.

Until last night I'd only seen one monarch in the wild, this summer on top of Portland's Mt. Tabor. I'd just finished the day's work on my rough draft from my mobile hammock+notebook studio. At the moment I closed my notebook I looked up and saw it fluttering ten feet directly over my head like a little spirit come to say, "Yes, grown man. You may perform your work in the woods, in a hammock. Good idea." I watched the monarch for two or three minutes before it shot west down the mountain. I chased its shadow through the leaf canopy for a few paces before it glided into a clearing, across a road, and out of sight.

Historically, I really try not to force meaning from these moments. I want to tell the truth as best I can, even through the complete fabrications that are my books. Then along comes this year with its tragedy upon tragedy and I find it just a little easier to embrace the big pile of schmaltz that's inside me. If I have to find gratitude in impossibly awful scenarios (and I do have to), acknowledging the miraculous in very small moments becomes natural.

Last night, when I finally found migratory monarchs on Albany Hill, there was no clear message like that time on Mt. Tabor. mexico day of the deadStill, I have to claim a growing bond to these creatures and all the mysteries they embody. Butterflies are a symbol across world cultures for those who've died before their time: Soldiers in war, lovers, and lost children. Mexico's Day of the Dead is rich with monarch iconography. Even Shigeru Mizuki, Japanese master of manga, recounted a spiritual experience with butterflies in his autobio and history of Japan, Showa. A vet of WWII, showaMizuki tells in one chapter of his return with war buddies to a South Pacific island and an old battlefield covered with decades-old bones from dozens of Japanese soldiers. After a restless sleep in the jungle, Mizuki and his friends share with each other that they all had the same nightmare: the bones rose to ask them why? Why did they return? How did they deserve to live? Shaken, the men decide to gather all the remains they can find, anoint them with sake, and hold a makeshift funeral. After praying over the bones for a time, they're shocked to see butterflies pour out of the jungle from all directions, then descend to cover the bone pile in a blanket of living color. Were they just attracted to the sake? Were they the movement of spirits? Shigeru asserts the latter. I think I would too.


Photos from Albany Hill, ordered to give you an impression of my hunt:

albany hill cross

I don't think it was the random giant metal cross that prompted it, but as soon as I reached the top of the hill, I prayed for a monarch. I'd spent a few minutes circling and climbing the park with no sign of any flying insects whatsoever, maybe thanks to the thriving robin population. But... robins don't eat monarchs.

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This little one appeared moments later, maybe sixty feet above me. I thought this might be the best photo I'd get. I lost the butterfly in the trees, then spent about ten minutes circling the hilltop looking for more. I gave up, grateful for the brief sighting, and headed back down towards my car...

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When I saw another! Just down the hill the same way I'd come up. Again, far off, even with the telephoto lens.

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Closer, but not better.

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I took a few dozen wasted pictures as I tried to follow one, then two butterflies through the tree limbs. Finally:

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Some color! Blurry, but now most definitely a monarch. Then I saw this:

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A whole cluster of them!

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Two clusters! Just 15 - 20 feet above me.

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Then another flash of orange...

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Then a slow fanning of wings. A gift.

With night about to fall, I celebrated this victory with a Japanese dinner accompanied by a giant Sapporo beer. Just me, Shigeru Mizuki, and the memory of two dozen little miracles.

Day 12 - Get Rhythm

the rhythm rig Now on day 12, the Cases have established trailer life rhythm. Roughly: Comics, eat, hike. Eat, drive, eat. Comics, read, sleep. Sleep more. Repeat.

The sleeping portion came easily. With Dorothy to bed at 7:30 PM, we're never far behind. Everyone more or less sleeps 'til 7:30 AM barring obedience to my 5:00 AM work alarm clock. Obedience has happened, twice. Taskmaster Jonathan wants a reasonable defense for that behavior, and I do have one... The quality and quantity of my dreams on this trip trumps early morning productivity. I haven't dreamed big technicolor d reams like this since college and they're much better creative fuel than the spoils of un-rested critical thinking. Someone in an old Italian art-house movie (La Dolce Vita?) said people who talk about their dreams are bores, but they were just trying to sound cool. No one writes better dialogue than dreams.

In spite of my justified lazing, work on The Guidebook progresses at a steady pace. I've gathered field data for about 50 locations according to my plus-sized Garmin watch, monarch mapand I've filled notebook #1 completely with rough draft pages. I look forward to this weekend and our arrival in Alameda County, where we just might start to see Monarchs in the first of their overwintering sites. Santa Cruz is a more certain bet. Either way we're very close, and we get to spend most of our remaining travel time in monarch territory. Just look at them there on this migration sighting map (thanks to learner.org). East of the Rockies they're lousy with monarchs, but in terms of our Western population, the Bay Area's the place to be.

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Dear Creature HCSigning at The Escapist Comic Book Store - OCT 29

Another upcoming event, also in Alameda county, is my Saturday signing at The Escapist Comic Book Store. Dear Creature's hardcover edition is the main deal, but they'll probably have a smattering of my other work, too. Looks like the trade of Superman: American Alien just topped the New York Times bestseller list for graphic novels, so...what else can I say? As one of the six contributing artists on Max Landis's retelling of Superman-history, I'm one sixth of a yooge deal. Come get yours signed. Get a quick sketch for free if you're a kid or really nice. Whatever you do, if you're in Berkeley on Saturday at 1 PM, come say hey.

american alien

Speaking of motivating a turnout: What do you think's required, decoration-wise, to invite trick-or-treaters to a trailer door when said trailer's parked on a random Bay Area street? Probably depends whether we're in the Tenderloin or Haight-Ashbury.

I'll let you know!

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Sanity Strategies

Last night we discovered an incredible method to keep energy-riddled Dorothy from tearing apart our trailer's interior on a dark and rainy night. Sarah asked her, joking, if she wanted to go outside and run around the trailer a few times.

"Yes!" said Dorothy.

We geared her up with her raincoat, rubber boots, and my headlamp and scooted her outside. I asked her, just before shutting the door against the elements and my child, if she could do 10 laps around the rig. She did, pausing only to comment excitedly on her progress or the imaginary obstacles she avoided (a forest of pooping butts was the standout). I really didn't think she'd make 10 laps, but she blew past every expectation. Visible only via the satellite orbit of her headlamp, Doro's running monologue bounced passed my window a full 100 times before she reentered the R-Pod, soaked and elated with victory.

She says she's going to be an astronaut. Sarah thinks maybe a proctologist.

She probably has a good shot at both.

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The Guidebook

The Guidebook Splash Today I want to share a very little bit about my next book. As we travel the west coast, dodging raindrops and making memories, I'm also gathering data and reference material for a young readers graphic novel, The Guidebook. Here's a snapshot from my proposal:

To survive in a world where mammals are nearly extinct, a little girl named Elvi and a brilliant naturalist, Flora, must follow and protect the monarch butterfly migration.

It’s 2260. Solar radiation, now lethal to mammals, has forced humans into underground bunkers while nature overtakes cities, roads, and landmarks. The only eight-year-old girl lucky enough to roam free on Earth’s surface is Elvira Jones. Flora, Elvi’s adoptive mother, is a brilliant naturalist who discovered a chemical in monarch butterflies that allows mammals to live in sunlight again. Against the wishes of important people, Flora escaped her bunker with a few supplies, a pigeon named Thoreau, and the only person she couldn’t leave behind - Elvi.

Now Elvi and Flora follow the western monarchs from north to south on America’s Pacific coast. Flora wants to make enough medicine so that every human can live above ground again. Along their adventure, Elvi and Flora rescue a mysterious baby boy, navigate considerable mother-daughter drama, and overcome a threat from five men who want control of the monarch’s secret. Elvi reflects on these and more important moments (like getting bit by a weird bug) in a journal she calls “The Guidebook.” Elvi’s journal pages pop up through the comics narrative to serve as a field guide. Sort of like Flora’s fancy naturalist textbooks, but much more fun.

On every page or two, in the corner of a landscape panel, there are coordinates and a compass heading. This allows readers to follow Flora and Elvi’s progress through real places and even travel their exact route themselves.

So we travel with Elvi and Flora. We're in our travel trailer rig and they're in an imaginary, heavily modified 1988 Toyota van (my dream rig - the one that never dies, even in a far fetched-future scenario). Our routes overlap as I map their fiction to our stops from Florence, OR to Big Sur, CA and beyond. These are the tools I use to merge our travels:

watch and compass

The big watch-like thing on my wrist allows me to get coordinates. It's early 2000s' tech, but it was cheap, it's durable, and it gets the job done. The little compass on the right gives me a rough heading towards whatever view I take in. Once I double-check these numbers, I tuck them into the corner of a Guidebook drawing and add in my fictional details... In the example below, I put Elvi and Flora's adventure van and an old driftwood stump I used to climb on as a kid in Pacific City, OR. Elvi hangs on it there in her red hammock.

The Guidebook

Adventure calls us down the road again now, so I'll leave more details for later. We're currently in Arcata, CA, headed towards the Avenue of the Giants - a place where my dad marathoned back in his wildman running days. After that, it's further down the coast toward the monarchs' overwintering turf.

Can't wait!

Day 5 - Nature vs. Blogging

Already five days into our adventure and just getting in a blog post now. I blame the wonder of nature. This is just the reality of all kinds of camping adventures taking over my time and energy. That and lack of internet. Oh, the joys and perils of the internet un-plug. I see you, (33) emails. I'll be with you in a while. It's hard to know where to begin for an update, but I'll just start with this picture, stolen from Sarah's Facebook wall:

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Look at that form! Not bad for her third time. I hope it's just a glimpse of things to come. Occupying Dorothy's a full time job, but we're keeping her busy with hikes, in-car/in-trailer artwork, and various candy bribes. Here we're sharing an art session, she painting with my watercolors while I rough out my next book:

artThese are the riches of dad-dom.

So where have we been since Saturday morning, anyway?

On Saturday, instead of getting away by noon, we left at 7:30 PM. Regardless of our underestimating the work required to launch, we were dead-set to sleep somewhere else, even if that meant our driveway. We ended up driving just a bit down HWY 99 to Champoeg Park. That marked our first night in the R-Pod as a family. All three of us collapsed into our transformable beds exhausted but thrilled to be really doing this crazy thing.

It wasn't until Monday that we felt our trip was under way. Honeyman State Park just south of Florence, OR gave us a shot of the coast's rugged beauty and our first fair weather day. When we decided to leave in October I knew that rainstorms would be an inevitable part of our mobile, semi-outdoor lifestyle, but theory differs distinctly from practice. When I shut my eyes now I see water, grease, and clinging pine needles. On the other hand, because of this season I also enjoy open roads, open camp sites, and warm tea with my girls in the morning. Speaking of the girls...

TEAM STATUS:

  • Dorothy's doing remarkably well as a travelling companion. I couldn't ask for better company in a four year old, in spite of the Princess and the Frog audio book. Currently sleeping.
  • Sarah's a born road warrior. I'm regularly surprised by her grace and patience in limit-testing moments (who knew the chaos one bunch of bouncing bananas could unleash in a travelling travel trailer). Currently yawning (9 PM is the new midnight).

We're now a few hours north of the redwoods, bearing down on one of our two time-and-place commitments. I have a short talk and signing in Arcata, CA for the Dear Creature hardcover at Northtown Books on Saturday. I promise to shower.

That's all I can muster at the moment. Next up, I hope to have the pine needles and water cleared from my brain so I can share a bit more on the new book. For now, it's scotch with Sarah (and whatever she's drinking) and a moment of quiet while our child is OUT.

Day 1 - The Limits of Planning

Planning.

You try your best and God/Nature/Life does the rest. For example: When an 'historic' storm blows into the NW United States on your travel trailer rig's departure date. Right now that storm's battering Pacific City, Oregon, my hometown and first planned stop, with wind and rain. They even had two tornadoes up the coast in Manzanita, and tornadoes are not Oregonian. They are just not done. All this to say, we may have to revise the plan before we even really begin.

 Manzanita Tornadoes

Manzanita Tornadoes

That's adventure for you.

Last night I spent several soggy hours doing trailer prep, much of it for the first time and without the proper tools (favorite scenario). I figured that since I didn't know the water tank's recent history I should give it a good cleaning pre-launch. If everything else in the Pacific Northwest was getting flushed out, why make exceptions?

Humorous scenario #1: Rolling in the dark of night on a half-working creeper under your trailer in a record-setting rainstorm to find the low point drain locations, failing to do so, then exiting slowly and awkwardly from under the trailer as rain pummels your face. At least I had my trusty waterproof+rechargeable headlamp. I endorse it here with no expected compensation from its manufacturer: It's this one.

Humorous scenario #2: A trip to Home Depot and its flooding parking lot to get the right socket to open the hot water tank, then a second trip to get the required 1/2" driver. Exiting the store a second time, you note the white sedan halfway underwater in the parking lot. You drive a white sedan...

BUT NO! It's not your car, it's some other poor schmo's. You win one.

I did eventually succeed in my mid-storm mission to flush the tanks. After I came in at 10, Sarah and I made a last few feeble efforts to pack, then collapsed. Whether to the Oregon Coast or not, we were determined to go somewhere on Saturday. Final packing would just have to wait for the morning of.

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Waking on launch day to the sound of rain and the sight of our upended house, I thought of my son, Otis. I had a plan for him too. It involved hiking through the Oregon woods together, teaching him archery, video games - the boy stuff. We bought our current home with the intention of having more room for a family of four. Our family car, too. So many decisions based on our best plan - all upended in January of this year, when Otis died of seizure complications. He was 20 months old.

I want to share a little about my boy and who he was (and continues to be) to me.

 Otis in adventure gear

Otis in adventure gear

Otis was full of love and enthusiasm for people in a way that strangers readily noticed. His big sister, Dorothy (now four) is very bright and focused on the mysterious world and how it works (plus making art and stories out of it -good girl). This is in contrast to Otis, who was chiefly concerned with the world's people. He was generous with smiles, greetings, toys, and kisses.

He didn't have nearly as many words as Dorothy commanded at his age, but he had a startling sense for relationships. One of my favorite memories is of sitting and talking with him in the dark on our big bean bag in the early morning, waiting together for the world to wake up. We 'hid' under a blanket and he ran through lists of names this way: "Mimi, Papa (my mom and dad), Daddy son. Mama, Daddy, Otis son." To be snuggled with him there, knowing from his simple words that he had a clear picture of his family - that was a universe-expanding pleasure.

In his general health and development, Otis was an ordinary boy. He had a total of three seizures in his life, two of them a month apart, but those two occurred almost a year before his last. After the first two events we put him on an anti-seizure med, Keppra. After putting him on Keppra, we saw no further signs of seizure activity. His neurologist was optimistic, and we hoped he was in the clear.

Five percent of young children experience seizures, many of them fever-related. Most of them grow up to lead ordinary, healthy lives. Even those with seizure disorders (which we could never prove Otis had) can see great, normalizing effects from a drug like Keppra. The night of Otis's last seizure, Sarah, Dorothy, Otis, and I were at the dinner table together when it hit. We'd been through the shock twice, so we knew our action plan and followed it to the letter. The difference this time was that he aspirated some food, and in spite of my attempts at CPR, his heart stopped before the paramedics could arrive. They restarted his heart, but after a night in the hospital, the doctors determined that Otis had been without oxygen for too long. That morning someone showed us a little glass vial with the piece of macerated apple they took from near his collapsed lung. It was such a small thing to make such a difference.

 Christmastime

Christmastime

We said goodbye to him in that hospital as they wheeled him away, strong little heart still beating, toward surgery. We chose to donate his organs to whomever would benefit. Hard as it was, we're grateful we chose that path, as his body gave new life to two people. A fitting legacy for a boy who loved others so well.

It's now nine months since that goodbye in the hospital. The difficult images are still with me, but they've dimmed some and are now in better balance with the joys I shared with Otis when he lived. We did hike the Oregon woods, even in his first week of life. We did play video games - or rather I did in the middle of the night while he slept next to me on the couch. And this week, I gave Dorothy her first archery lesson.

One of the many things Otis left me is a commitment to shared adventure: To pursue awe with Dorothy and Sarah and to love as best I can whoever I meet on my way. That's a sort of manifesto for this trip of ours. Whether we head out today towards the wind-battered Oregon Coast or along a more serene inland path, we're ready to step out and encounter God/Nature/Life, however it presents itself to us.

As soon as we finish packing.

Readying to Launch Our Adventure

Let's adventure together.

Get out on the road, into the woods, under the waterfalls. Hang in hammocks, cook over fires, draw and paint. Try to stay patient even after hours in the car with all time-passing games exhausted. Find many, many weird bugs.

This is my family's dream for fall. On Saturday, the Cases head out with a little travel trailer for a five week road adventure/book research trip/book promotion extravaganza. 14212787_10155176517669027_4716131817795996338_n

Characters and Plot

Meet our three-headed team:

  • Jonathan (the dad), driver of rigs, book-maker, eater of plants.
  • Sarah (the mom), master schemer, keeper of peace, dancer of swing.
  • Dorothy (the preschooler), hiker of hills, candy-consumer, absurdist.

...And our three-pronged plan:

  • Meander through fascinating outdoor places and ultimately reach the overwintering sites of the migrating monarch butterflies in California. Make and take pictures, jot coordinates, gather field data for my next graphic novel: The Guidebook --- A kid-friendly, outdoorsy-future-earth-adventure which follows the monarch's migration from the Northwest states down to the bugs' forested sanctuaries in Monterey, Marin, Santa Cruz, and surrounding counties. I'll finish my rough draft of The Guidebook while we're on the road (mostly from my hammock-office, pictured below).
  • Promote the new hardcover release of Dear Creature with bookstore and school stops along the way - do sketches for kids (and grownups, I guess), talk about graphic novels, share of our adventures. See the sidebar for our evolving tour schedule.
  • Blog it all so someone will know where to find us if we get lost in the woods.

Adventure

 

We'll take this wild ride in a 1998 Lexus LX470: also known as the fancy-person's Land Cruiser. I selected this vehicle for its reputation to not break, pull stuff, and go where others fear to tread. Example:

These things are scarce like Donald Trump at Hip Hop Fest Northwest. Still, I managed to wrest one from a local used car dealership (shudder). It guzzles gas but it'll probably outlive me. Maybe one day they'll make a retro-fit Tesla battery pack to shove this truck's 5,500 lbs across the land. As long as I'm dreaming.

Right now we're battening down the hatches at home and doing our best to maintain focus as launch day nears. We're really excited to share more on our adventure. I'll try to post updates with every place we visit, taking the 2/2/2 approach to the RV life: Never drive more than 2 hours, never stay less than 2 nights, and always arrive by 2 in the afternoon. I haven't tried such a relaxed pace to travel before, but I hope it avails us plenty of time to explore, create, and make waffles over campfires (you have to try them):

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For now, on to packing! More soon. It's time to explore the earth.

Dear Creature Hardcover - In Stores Today

Dear Creature Hardcover DEAR CREATURE HARDCOVER - IT'S HERE

Head down to your local comic shop for the new hardcover edition of Dear Creature, now published by my friends at Dark Horse Comics. It'll look smart on your coffee table. You'll look smart too. Promise.

Paste Magazine says:

Dear Creature may be his most heartbreakingly perfect work to date... A meditation on humanity as much as an ode to ‘50s b-movies, Dear Creature says more about the human heart’s failings via a gill-man and his reluctant rampages than any rom-com’s leading man can manage to articulate. -- Steve Foxe

 

Preorder - Dear Creature Hardcover (Signed)

I'm excited to announce that preorders are live on my store for signed copies of Dark Horse's gorgeous new edition of Dear Creature. Dear Creature HC

Here are several reasons this hardcover brings me special joy:

1. In 2005, just before I moved to Portland to pursue comics and begin work on Dear Creature, I read Craig Thompson's 'Blankets'. It's a beautiful book that I related to as a Christian wrestling with church, self, and finding a new way. I hoped at the time that I'd get the opportunity to meet him someday. Like all stalkers, I felt we had kindred spirits.

In spite of my paralyzing respect for Craig's abilities, we're now good friends. And in spite of HIMSELF, he's given me the gift of a beautiful drawn introduction for this new edition. Thank you, Craig!

2. From the beginning I wanted this book to feel like it came right out of the sixties. I wanted that canvas hardcover feel, good quality paper, and all the things that make you happy to have a book on your coffee table. Now I have it!

3. Dark Horse and their editorial staff have been terrific collaborators throughout my first years as a comics creator. I couldn't be happier to give this book a new life through their efforts.

In sum, I'm tickled. The book comes out on Sept. 28th in comics shops, and October 11th for the book market. Rose City Comic Con attendees, watch for my signing at the Dark Horse booth, Sunday, Sept. 11th from 2 to 3 PM - we may get early copies.

My San Diego Comic Con Schedule

 

 

 

 


San Diego Comic Con has seen fit to ship me down (crated?) as a special guest. This means I'm paneling and signing and tabling and meeting and schmoozing for many hours, starting Thursday, July 21st.

Special attention to be directed to my Saturday spotlight panel where I tell everything the young me wanted to know when I first embarked upon making books that humans read. Things like, "How can I get people to read my books," and "Why won't that editor look at me with affection?"


Here's the full scoop on where you can find me:

Thursday, 11-12 PM. Room: 5AB
Celebrate the Publishing World of Jim Henson’s Labyrinth with Archaia: To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Jim Henson’s Labyrinth, publisher Archaia (an imprint of BOOM! Studios) has several books set to come out this year! Join BOOM! Studios Senior Editor Sierra Hahn and artists Eric Powell (The Goon, Big Man Plans), Joëlle Jones (Spider-Woman, Lady Killer), and Jonathan Case (The New Deal, Batman ’66) as they give fans a sneak peek into these titles, which include original comics, a children’s storybook, and an artists’ tribute collection. Moderated by Nerdist Editor-in-Chief Rachel Heine.
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Friday, 1-2 PM. Dark Horse Booth Signing
Jonathan Case signs all the books and maybe some other things? We'll see.
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Friday, 3-4 PM. Room: 7AB
Dark Horse Originals: Comics literature has become the voice and visual for our changing generation, and Dark Horse Originals has it all—from underwater mystery in Jonathan Case’s Dear Creature to the surrealist return of Dave McKean in The Dreams of Paul Nash. Join panelists Dave McKean (Cages), Fabio Moon & Gabriel Ba (Two Brothers), Peter Hogan (Resident Alien) and Jonathan Case (Dear Creature) as they discuss pushing the boundaries of what comics can accomplish in literature.
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Saturday, 6-7 PM. Room: 9
Spotlight on Jonathan Case: The Triumphs and Trials of Creating and Publishing a Graphic Novel— Join Comic Con special guest and Eisner award-winning cartoonist Jonathan Case (The New Deal) for an in-depth look at creating and publishing your first graphic novel. Explore one book's tumultuous journey from conception to delivery as Case offers anecdotes about the creation and promotion of his first book, Dear Creature (returning to print this fall as a deluxe hardcover from Dark Horse Comics). Q&A available— all ages and levels welcome!
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Sunday, 2-3 PM. Room: 25ABC
Cover Story: The Art of the Cover: This panel will include Jonathan Case, Howard Chaykin, Paul Gulacy, Scott Shaw and Babs Tarr. Panel will be moderated by Mark Evanier.
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Whew! I think that's everything, minus the breather I always take at the Old Globe (they do such good work!). Sarah and I are going to see Sense and Sensibility to regain our equilibrium after the pop culture barrage! Should be fun.

See you at the thing!

Original Art and Gift Package Now In Store

Green River Killer Cover Original Art  

Hello from the long drought, friends.

I'm happy (and vulnerably twitching) to announce I just added some newly-for-sale original art to my store, along with a gift package that includes Dear Creature, The New Deal, and an original sketch (you get to choose from a few different options on the sketch, too). I'm also offering 10% off on orders over one hundred bucks (those originals, say) with the code '10PERCENT' through Sunday, so the devoted among you can snag a deal.

Jonathan Case Gift PackThe current pieces include work from Superman: American Alien, Green River Killer, Batman '66, Eerie, and a few others. I'll rotate stuff from time to time, so check in down the road if you're hunting for something in particular. You can also always contact me about specific art requests or commissions here.

Thanks for checking out the new stuff, and have a good weekend!

Superman: American Alien Original Art

Launch Party at Ex Novo for The New Deal

You, you good-looking, comics-reading person, are invited: Next month, I'm launching The New Deal at the Ex Novo Brewing Company (minors welcome!) on September 26th, here in Portland, OR. Hit the Facebook event here to get the details. We'll have free food, plentiful beverages (including a 22 oz. beer with my art on the label), original art on the walls, and me there somewhere, signing copies. Should be a blast! It falls the next weekend after my appearance at Rose City Comic Con, so if you're traveling for that show, you really should just take the week to enjoy Portland. Right? The New Deal Launch Party Ex Novo

If you're unfamiliar with Ex Novo, they're an impressive local brewery that operates as a non-profit. From the Ex Novo site:

We are committed to donating 100% of our net profits to organizations that are working to affect positive social change both in Portland and around the world.

Ex Novo is the brainchild of my friend Joel Gregory (also good-looking), and the site of the largest mural I've ever done, so it's the perfect venue for my launch. Whether you like books, beer, or both, come help us celebrate!

We'll have these at the signing.

Preorder The New Deal for a 1930s Crime Caper Fix

The New Deal by Jonathan Case Big news! Dark Horse and I just put the finishing touches on my next original graphic novel, The New Deal, coming this October.

It's available for preorder through your local comic shop and wherever books are sold (you'll find a big list of options on the Penguin/Random House page). Shop owners, let me tell you: Dark Horse did an amazing job on making this a beautiful object for your shelf of choice. As a creator, I couldn't be happier, or feel better supported by my publisher (thanks, team!).

Here's our scoop on the book:

The Waldorf Astoria is the classiest hotel along the Manhattan skyline in 1930s New York City. When a charming woman named Nina checks in with a high-society entourage, young Frank, a bellhop, and Theresa, a maid, get caught up in a series of mysterious thefts. The stakes quickly grow perilous, and the pair must rely on each other to discover the truth while navigating delicate class politics.

Eisner Award-winning artist Jonathan Case (Green River Killer, Dear Creature) writes and draws this brilliant graphic novel of petty crime, comic predicaments, and vast heart in a story that speaks to class, race, and gender barriers.

To me, the '30s is one of the most fascinating periods in American history, with its industry and poverty, arts movements, social reforms, and on and on. In The New Deal, that history serves as a rich backdrop to what I hope is just a fast, energetic read: Unlikely friends, high jinks, danger. The stuff of comics.

Over at Publishers Weekly, I go into more detail about making the book, including many images of fancy hats, so check that out if you're curious. It was the love child of traditional and digital methods, drawn from (I hope) the best of both gene pools. Ew? Maybe not the best analogy, but what am I, a writer?

Moreso now than in recent years, which makes me happy. This is my first solo written/drawn book since 2011's Dear Creature. Too long. Like any job you do as well as you can, writing and art brings at least as many hard days as fun ones, but the fun ones have a special magic. Making books and raising kids might be the only experiences in my life where just a handful of highs can supersede the miles and miles of thankless trudging/feelings of I want to leave you in the rolling hills and just drive away.

So there you have it: Late September for comics shops, early October for bookstores, and debuting at Rose City Comic Con in my own Portland, Oregon. The cover says ages 14 plus, but for those mature middle-schoolers out there, you know who you are. Or at least, you have some idea, and your parents think they know who you are.

Preorder at will!

The New Deal Page

Before Tomorrowland Out... Tomorrow!

Before TomorrowlandSave me from a bad joke, but yes, tomorrow, April 7th, my latest work, Before Tomorrowland, hits bookstores, Amazon... even Walmart, apparently. Sharing credits with Jeff Jensen, Brad Bird, and Damon Lindelof gets you into the 'mart, you see. Here's copy from the back, to tell you what it's all about:

Based on the spellbinding world of the Walt Disney Studios film, Tomorrowland, this original prequel novel features a 20-page comic book and unlocks a place of unfathomable science and technology and the famous people behind it.
The year is 1939.
A secret society of extraordinary geniuses is about to share an incredible discovery with the world.
A misguided enemy--half man, half machine--will stop at nothing to prevent the group from giving this forbidden knowledge to humanity.
And a mother and son on vacation in New York City are handed a comic book infused with a secret code that will lead them straight into the crossfires of the conspiracy.

Jeff Jensen, whom you may remember from our collaboration on Green River Killer, co-wrote the screenplay for Disney's Tomorrowland with Brad and Damon, and brought me aboard to create the illustrations, the comic book segment, the cover (so wild about that retro gold leaf), and in a wild turn of events, to share authorship on this, our book. We produced it during a very hard season, at a pace and intensity that, to paraphrase Jeff, "kicked our butts". I think (hope) the result is something special. It's a wild hybrid of so much: Retro sci-fi, intense family drama, prose, and comics. I'll clam up and let you be the judge of it, but I hope that you (and/or your kids) give it a whirl.

The book's out tomorrow, but signings are coming up next month. Jeff and I will be at Powell's Books in Portland on May 2nd (Free Comic Book Day!) and the University Bookstore in Seattle the following day. I've also heard rumblings of other events, online and offline, but I imagine more will be revealed post-release.

In a bit of serendipity, I'm also working this month with local TED Talk, TEDx Portland, to supply illustrations for their Tomorrows-themed event coming up in May. I get to draw various futuristic visions of the Rose City, both fun and scary. It's really a hoot. They're talking about a gallery show and some other things, but again, no exact details yet. If I can, I'll find a way to bring Before Tomorrowland into that mix somehow. It just seems like a natural match. In the meantime, keep a watch for more signings on my appearances column, and on my store for autographed editions of Before Tomorrowland.

Now, back to the madness. The New Deal, my next authored/drawn graphic novel with Dark Horse, is ridiculously close to deadline, so you go, read other book, let me know what you think (except for first-edition typos, don't tell me any of those or I'll never sleep) and I'll keep making the other new book.

Books!

The New Deal Before Tomorrowland

Funny how those two titles run together and still work. I'm back from the depths. They said it couldn't be done, but here I am, writing a blog post. I put a number of things on hiatus over the last year -- public appearances, my web store, sleep. It all comes, as Christopher Robin says, of (doing) eating too much.

Being busy, for me, is not a life goal anymore. It used to be. Now it's the old aunt who won't leave unless you tell her, rudely. By way of catch up, here's a short version of what I've been up to since my last blog post, lo these nine months ago:

  • May: Wife graduated from grad school (Go Sarah!) and had our second child, Otis (Go Sarah!)
  • May: We moved to a new home, two weeks after having the kid. What, past-self? How did that make sense?
  • May (notice a lot in May?) to August: Started and finished art + first draft of crazy, hybrid-enhanced-YA-novel Before Tomorrowland for Disney. Realized a dream of seeing my name next to Brad Bird's on a thing.
  • July: Did illustrations for Aloof, the latest theo-lit book from Tony Kriz, out at better bookstores now (Just got back from Tony's reading at Powell's!)
  • Somewhere in there: Completed 50% of art on my next graphic novel, The New Deal (coming soon from Dark Horse). I ramble about it here, at CBR.
  • Somewhere else in there: Played stay-at-home-dad a couple days a week while Sarah got her counseling business up and running (Go Sarah!)

Before Tomorrowland Case

It doesn't look like that much to me, seeing it written in a few sentences here, but boy. I'm just now learning to walk and talk again. In the next few weeks, I'll dive into a bit more detail on these and other fun projects I have under way. For now, Happy Sunday. It was, by and large, a day of rest.

More please!

April 2nd is Batman '66 Day

You know why it's Batman '66 Day tomorrow? Three things. 1. I return to the series with the first of 3 loaded new chapters, enhanced for digital. This one has it all, as Jeff Parker says:

For our latest story, artist Jonathan Case who kicked off the series, is returning for another big three-parter where The Joker and Catwoman bust out of confinement and turn Gotham City upside down.

It's wild and crazy, and I'm doing the primary cover for this issue (#11) when it's all collected for print. Here's the original cover art (for sale, and still in support of trafficking survivors).

Joker and Catwoman

2. Tomorrow's the release of the first snazzy hardcover collection of Batman '66. It really turned out beautifully, and includes art from fab people like Colleen Coover, Joe Quinones, and more! Buy a signed copy here.

 20140401_165945

3. The incomparable Jeff Parker will sign the above next to yours truly at Cosmic Monkey here in beautiful Portland, OR. 5PM-7PM, Wednesday April 2nd. Head over here for event details. Visiting comics stars Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire will join us too and sign their hit book, Moon Knight.

And we may get burgers at Sassy Burger if I can convince them. Those are good burgers.

I'll also bring some of these Julie Newmar Catwoman prints:

Catwoman

I rest my case. Batman '66 Day.