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 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!
--
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.

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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.

Where Monsters Dwell Interview

Tomorrow I have an interview on radio/podcast Where Monsters Dwell. I'm going to do my best to rally through this cold. Get ready for some sweet, sweet, frog-voiced action. Looks like we're talking Batman '66, SARC donations, and about Jeff Parker (because I like to link to his blog). If you want to ask me a question, it looks like they even have a section for that. I'm prepared to tell all.

Original Art for Survivors

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sarc

Today begins a new partnership with some people I really admire. Here's the plan:

Every month, I'm donating a portion of my original art sales to SARC (The Sexual Assault Resource Center), my favorite local nonprofit serving survivors of sexual exploitation and violence. This month, I've already contributed $535 out of a possible $1,000. For December, I'll do the same, up to $1,000. Whether it's a couple pages of Batman, a color cover, whatever, the first $1,000 goes to SARC. Pretty simple. I'll start with this model and see how it goes. My intent is to raise funds and awareness for their work throughout next year.

Browse my Original Art section here.

(UPDATE: In less than 24 hrs, I've met my goal of $1,000 raised for SARC. Thank you!!!)

SARC's been around since 1977 (they're featured in this year's Willamette Week Give! Guide). Begun by two assault survivors, its staff works in the Portland metro area with a current caseload of almost 300 kids at risk for sex trafficking. It's the same population the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children talks about when they quote stats like this:

Every year in America, there are between 100,000 and 300,000 children at risk of being sold on the sex-slave market. The average age of the victims is between 12 and 14.

Globally, human trafficking is the #2 most profitable illegal business; just ahead of weapons and just behind drugs. It's really difficult to let that sink in. I'll leave it to you to follow the sources below if you want detailed information; suffice to say, I can't think of an issue that needs more support, and has less. Nationally, there are fewer than 100 beds in treatment facilities equipped to help heal and care for these kids. One of the social workers at SARC said that for every girl they take on, that girl can name six or seven others being actively prostituted. It's staggering. Nonprofits like SARC are on the front lines providing care, services, and protection, but they're hugely under-supported, especially from your average American guy (hello).

I've supported SARC financially for a few years through the Epik Project, and I want to do more. Because of who I am and what I do (an artsy guy with limited real-world skills), my options for helpful involvement are limited. This also just isn't a topic that comes up naturally in any social setting. Believe me. I've tried. Taking stock of my options to do more, I landed on art sales. Original art income is totally unpredictable; I can't depend on it to pay bills, but I can use it strategically. It's a natural fit for donation.

If this all seems a little bizarre and non sequitur coming from a comics creator, have a look at this: other cartoonists like Lora Innes and Crystal Yates are already at work on this issue. Their organization, Comics Creators for Freedom, has already raised over $20,000 to assist survivors. They've set their latest fundraiser for December 2013- it's inspiring stuff.

If you want more info on human trafficking, check these out:

Government info pages/resources

Nonprofits on the front lines (some local to me)

Donate directly to SARC here: 

 

 

Batman '66 Original Art - #1 Variant Cover and More

Batman 66 Launch Art Previews Variant

I just listed all my remaining pages of Batman '66 #1 on my original art section, including something special:

This is the series' launch art, also used as the cover for Previews (May, 2013), one of the two variants for issue #1, and who knows what else. Seems like it was everywhere for a couple months. Also up for sale are a few of my favorite pages featuring Julie Newmar Catwoman kicking Frank Gorshin Riddler's butt. Check 'em out.

Speaking of Batman '66, Jeff Parker just sent me script, so I'm officially on board another 30 page installment. I start layouts next week! It's going to be packed with everyone's favorite villains, celebrity cameos, the works. I can't wait to get under way.

If you'd like to purchase any of the listed art (or even something I haven't listed yet), drop me a line on the Contact page.

Cintiq Companion Review -Surface and Note 10.1- FIGHT

wacom-cintiq-companion Techno-nerd-wise, this was an interesting month. Our neighbors to the north, Wacom, (in Vancouver, WA), got in touch with me to test their Cintiq Companion for a few weeks and give them feedback/bug reports. At first I thought they'd given me a prototype, but it turns out mine is one of the production models. The fact that it's now my own, my precious, and that it's the same hardware that you, gentle reader, would be purchasing, means the flood gates are open, and I can tell you all about it. How it compares to my faithful Surface Pro, and even a little reference to the new Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition (jeepers, that's a mouthful), which Samsung sent me (thank you). There are a surprising number of people asking for comparisons between the Note and these full-powered PCs, so I'm happy to tell you what I think.

Let's talk Cintiq Companion. When Wacom finally announced it, the first thing people said (as they do) was, "Wah, $2,000+???" Let's look at it this way, and move on: any manufacturer, be they Sony, Microsoft, Fujitsu, etc., charges a premium for a premium spec machine that will not offer drastic real-world performance gains (for most people), over something like the baseline Surface Pro (2), which starts at about a grand. If you load up a comparable Sony machine like the Duo 13 with an i7 CPU and 8GB of RAM, guess where your price point lands? North of 2 grand. And for those who feel they need 8GB of RAM to make their work lives easier (me), just having the option is huge. With the Companion, you're paying dollaz for a pro-spec machine, and one with some serious user-interface advantages for art creation. That's the gist of it.

That leads me into the heart of things; the machine and its interface. Some of what I like:

The build quality is very good. It's heavier than the others I mentioned, but it feels solid in your lap, and the surface area/bevel really works well for its primary purpose as a drawing device. The funny thing about the Note 10.1, by contrast, is that it's lighter and slippery(er), and I really need to set it on something solid for drawing. The Companion stays in place, thanks to rubbery grips, and yes, its almost-four-pound weight.

The surface of the screen also has enough tooth to make drawing a more controlled experience. It's hugely helpful to getting a stroke right the first time. The pen itself is comfortable, and obviously better suited to extended use than the stock Surface or Note 10.1's pen (or the Bamboo Feel I bought for the Surface Pro). Plus, you get additional control with the Companion Pen (buttons, tilt, pressure sensitivity). Tilt, I don't really use (it's often too processor-intensive for my canvas sizes... lag city), but the extra button and the pressure sensitivity are definitely helpful.

Other things that add up:  Battery life is surprisingly good (6-7 hours for twiddling your internet thumbs, about 4 for drawing/working). Two USB 3.0 ports instead of the usual one. The optional bluetooth keyboard has great key action (much more accurate/comfortable typing experience vs Surface Pro), is quite low-profile, and it's USB rechargeable (nice). I've actually spent more time writing script for my next book on the Companion than doing anything else (SUE ME), and I've really enjoyed the little keyboard. The Companion's included tote bag is also very nice (look for it hidden in the packaging, I missed it the first time).

Yeah, but can he do THIS?

The physical buttons on the bevel and pen go a long way to getting work done efficiently minus a keyboard. For pro applications like Manga Studio and Photoshop, that's a big consideration for those who want real mobility with a device like this. I previously never strayed much from keyboard shortcuts, even with my old Cintiq 21", but because I lacked a keyboard for a while with the Companion, I took time to configure everything and learn what I could do with Wacom's buttons, Radial Menu, and software touch-strips. I came away impressed, and happily efficient in my workflow. That's something you can't do as well with the Surface Pro, the Sony Duo, or the Note. Yes, I made that lovely lap-board to support the Surface's keyboard (wistful sigh), but then its overall weight and footprint is as much or better than the Companion's. I still like my homegrown solution, but the fact is that Wacom designed their Companion with art creation in mind, and the others really did not. There's an appreciable difference in both the feel of getting work done, and in the speed of getting work done when you're on the go, without your keyboard.

The screen is very good. 13 inches is a good compromise for portability/usability, and its resolution is just as sharp as you'd want it to be for graphical interface use (something of a struggle on the Surface Pro). A quick side note: Manga Studio's latest iteration (5.03- free update for people who own 5.0+) has a scalable tablet-friendly interface option that's worth checking out). Colors on the Companion are more accurate than my Surface Pro (not sure about the Pro 2, I know they've made big improvements in their color fidelity).

Those are a lot of the good things, and they make the Companion a great solution for my needs. That said, I've been testing this thing for a month, and I have a clear sense of its faults, some of which may be fixed with software updates. Bear that in mind as you journey with me, into the realm of Nit Picks.

Things I don't like:

The stand functions well for what it is, but what it is is hardly mobile, or very well designed. It seems to me that in V2, Wacom could easily incorporate a multi-stage stand into the device itself without adding much weight, and still retaining the rigidity and strength needed to rest your arm weight on the thing and have it stay put. It's a design challenge, but not an insurmountable one, especially as the computer components themselves shrink with future generations.

I dunno, man.

Another weird bit is the power button. It's placed right where I touch the device to shift it in my lap, and because of the button's design, it's easily depressed, putting the Companion to sleep (by default- you can change it in the Power Button options in Windows 8, but your shouldn't have to). There's a handy spring-button on the other side of the Companion for locking screen orientation. Making the power button something more like this would solve the problem. It's a weird oversight.

Also annoying is the inability to use this machine as a drawing display for a different computer (ie, a much more powerful workstation). Wacom EU's FAQ on the device says it's a limitation of Windows hardware, lack of interest from consumers, yadda and yadda. I really think this could, and should be done. It's not even about being able to use the device when its hardware is out of date, it's about using the device right now for applications that need more power than it can muster with its own internals. This uses a ULV processor, of the same ilk as the Surface Pro. The i7 vs i5 means you'll see maybe 10% additional horsepower. That's not as much as some people may be expecting. These machines are plenty fast for most illustration purposes, but just as I run into limitations on the Surface Pro, I run into similar limits with the Companion. They both comfortably process 11x17 600 dpi color files with a good number of layers. Double the canvas size, though, as I need to for Batman '66's digital edition, and things bog down. Again, that's a fairly small fraction of my work, but it's an important one. I'd like to either have a full-voltage chip inside this thing, and/or the option to hook it up to a much more powerful PC when I need to cut through a jungle of giant art files. Quick note: If you find brush strokes lagging on the Companion, make sure you have its power mode set to 'High Performance', not 'Balanced'. Click the battery icon and select 'More Power Options' to find it. 

Finally, there are a few quirks with drivers and software that could be improved. Touch and gesture support is the least configurable of the Companion's typically robust control-set. It's also the most finicky. Bringing up the software keyboard, for example, often de-registers the cursor in a text field, forcing me to bring up the keyboard, then tap the text field again to start entering text. A small annoyance, but it's there until they fix it in future drivers.

Driver and software issues may not happen to everyone in the same measure they happened to me, but they're part and parcel of a first-gen device like this (and, let's face it, most Windows devices), so you should approach a purchase knowing you may need to sort through a few more software woes than you would with something like the Surface Pro, which comes straight from Microsoft (still, that machine isn't perfect either).

---------------------------------

So there you have it: the good, and the not-so-good. In the end, I feel the good of this machine far outweighs its faults, and I'm very happy with it. My wife now has the Surface Pro, and I'm forging ahead with my digital art creation using the Companion. It feels good, it functions well, and it's by and large a thoughtfully designed art tool. It has plenty of room to improve, but so do the other options. If you're a professional, the Surface Pro 2 with 8GB of RAM is a compelling option, but one lacking the interface and form factor considerations of this machine. With the Surface, you really have to get the keyboard and find a way to use it on a flat surface, whereas the Companion can function pretty well without one (for art). Comparing them that way, you're looking at saving about 500 bucks if you go the Surface route, barring warranty and some extras (these mostly in Wacom's favor). To me, the Companion is worth it. If you're like me, and your file sizes are too large to make the cloud a viable means of working in the studio and at home on multiple devices, the Companion may be a very good solution for keeping everything with you, anytime and anywhere you need to work.

Note_10_Samsung

Then there's this little guy. Isn't he darling? That lovely screen, that lightness. It's a nice tablet.

The Note 10.1 is less money yet than the Surface and Companion, and also less useful in its capacity for getting work done, or drawing something easily/accurately. It's a totally different piece of hardware, nice for media consumption and a doodle/rough, but in no way capable of being your only computer/digital art device. Drawing on it is a bit laggy and inaccurate; I was surprised given its specs, but my Galaxy Note 2 phone actually draws and navigates with less lag. Weird.

If you have questions about the hardware I'm reviewing (and I know you do, based on my Surface Pro review), I'm glad to help. Google probably knows better than I do (and is faster at responding), but I'll do what I can.

Til next time!

Batman '66 Original Art For Sale

 

Batman '66 Original Art

What a lovely Wednesday morning.

Last night at midnight, two things went live: My last Batman '66 story of the year (Mad Hatter Part 2) and a new sales section for original art, with the first few pages of Batman '66 Issue 1It looks like the first two of six sold while I slept, so cheers to all you Bat-fans. I've had tremendous interest in the original art for this series, but it's taken me a while to feel alright parting with the art. It's sort of become one of my babies.

Batman '66 Mad Hatter Part 2

All that said, I'm excited to share some of this terrific book with you. I'll post more pages throughout the next couple months while I start my next graphic novel for Dark Horse (Yes!)--- then it's back to Batman '66 in November, and more exciting developments in the new year. If it sounds like I'm pleased... I am.

Also, Rose City Comic Con's coming up fast! I'll be there, next to everyone's favorite down-home mastermind and Batman writer, Jeff Parker. I'll bring more original art, and will be taking commissions too (already filling up my queue, so contact me to get a spot early, just in case).

Happy Wednesday, everyone! I hope you enjoy today's Batman, or as my baby girl calls it, 'That-man and Christopher Robin'.