The Right Number

Hello, long-neglected blog. I hope the tumbleweeds and bits of lint accumulating in the corners of this platform have been keeping you warm, even if they’re singularly unable to keep you company.

I’m back because I launched an odd new project on my birthday last month and I wanted to talk about it here to break my long silence and maybe goad myself into blogging more often on a website I actually own.

So: the new thing!

A navy square with elegant gold lettering that reads "The Right Number: a place to speak and be heard." Underneath it is a number: 503-673-6267

The Right Number is basically a secular confessional housed in a voicemail box. Dial (503) 673-6267 and you’ll hear a brief prompt, after which you can record a response for up to three minutes. All messages are confidential, prompts rotate every two weeks.

The first two prompts (“What’s something you wish someone would say to you right now?” and “What’s something you wish you could say to someone else right now?”) both elicited a wide range of thoughtful, heart-wrenching, funny replies. I’d say it was working as intended if I’d had any real sense of how this was going to go ahead of time, but I didn’t.

As it stands, I’m very happy with the project so far. The user base is still small—an intimate crowd of willing weirdos—and I’m perfectly content for it to stay that way. Recording freewheeling audio updates over on Patreon every two weeks for the last couple years has taught me that sometimes the quality of conversation and connection I’m hungry for online is best cultivated through sustained, vaguely directed projects over long periods of time.

So: that’s the thing!

If you want to play along, you can sign up for this tiny newsletter that’ll send you an email reminder every time there’s a new prompt (usually on Mondays, but I make no promises).

I’ll see you in the voicemail box,

L

Redwood Live Sketches from Portland Center Stage

Every so often the cartoonists of Portland get an open invite to a local theatrical production. Sometimes it’s the children’s theater, other times the opera. Occasionally it’s something with extravagant puppets. We get free tickets to whatever’s on in exchange for producing a batch of frantic live sketches, which  then get used to promote the production. 

This month the call was for a world premier play called Redwood, a story about race and heritage and relationships, intergenerational and otherwise. I’d gotten a mailer for it a few days earlier and really wanted to go, so when the invite to live sketch a dress rehearsal came in I was all over it.

Lucy holding a pair of clip lights up to her head like a pair of antennae.
Thank you JJ for this very good photo.

They issue all the cartoonists with these goofy clip lights and send them to sit in a row towards the back of the theater. We then have to do our darndest to draw like the wind throughout the entire show, capturing gestures, faces, moments, scenery—whatever we like. Here’s what I came up with! These sketches were all done straight to ink with a Pilot Carbon Desk Fountain Pen (the least well-named implement in my arsenal).

It’s a challenge for sure, but one I always come away from feeling surprisingly accomplished. It’s also nice to be drawing for folks who aren’t visual artists themselves, because anything you produce seems like wizardry.

I’m really glad I made time to go see this production—it was powerful and moving and laugh-out-loud funny. You can catch it at The Armory here in Portland through November 17th!

New Comic: Federated Learning for Google

Hello, blog friends!

I know things have been pretty quiet around here lately, but that’s mostly because I’ve been tied up making this new comic for Google!

A header image titled “Federated Learning: Building better products with on-device data and privacy by default. An online comic from Google AI” A smiling woman and an excited corgi flank a row of smart phones.

Federated Learning is a new field of machine learning research that just hit the big-time at Google’s developer conference this week. I landed a gig working with Scott McCloud and an internal team to translate the basics of the field into an explainer comic.

Most importantly: it’s got a Moby-Dick joke in it.

You can read the whole thing here.

There’s a lot to talk about with this gig, and I’m going to be diving into what I learned from my first major corporate client experience over on Patreon. This job is the most lucrative freelance contract I’ve ever taken, and I want to talk about how that’s felt (Complicated! Emotional! Empowering!) and what other folks can do to pursue similar gigs. I’m really proud of what we produced, and I think it does a good job of explaining something I would’ve never otherwise learned about.

I also took lessons learned from building the accessible edition of 100 Demon Dialogues and made sure we had functional alt-text throughout the comic. If you use a screen reader to browse the web, do let me know how it works for you. I’m still trying to get better at making this site and other projects I work on accessible for folks who traditionally get left out of the digital comic-reading experience.

Hourly Comic Day 2019

It’s here it’s here! My very favorite comics holiday! February 1st AKA Hourly Comic Day is a group activity where creators around the world illustrate the minutiae of their lives in hasty panels and sketches. Head to Instagram or Twitter and you’ll be bound to see some lovely entries under the #hourlycomicday tag.

I participated for the first time in 2011, which makes this my ninth contribution to the series! (I’m going to do a little print collection next year for #10.) In the meantime, you can read on for a brief window into my life right now:

You can check out my previous entries for Hourly Comic Day at the following links: 20182017201620152014201320122011.

Thanks to my stalwart crew on Patreon for making this work possible!

 

Hourly Comic Day 2018

It’s time for another installment of my favorite comics holiday: Hourly Comic Day! Every year on February 1st, creators around the world draw a panel (or panels) for every hour they’re awake. This is my eighth year participating, and I love it more and more each time around. It’s a great opportunity to reflect on where I’m at in my career, what’s changed in the past year, and how I’m feeling about the future.

(Full disclosure: while I penciled all eight of these pages on February first, I inked and painted about five of them on February second. I always want to watercolor my hourlies and never let myself do it so this year I got indulgent. Worth it.)

These were all drawn on 6×9″ Strathmore mixed media paper with a mix of Kuretake and PITT brush pens, Daniel Smith watercolor, and a 2H pencil.

Thanks for reading! You can check out my previous entries for Hourly Comic Day at the following links: 2017201620152014201320122011.

To Feel Strong

I’ve been thinking a lot about bodies and strength and power and how we look vs. how we feel and what it means to love yourself, so I distilled all that thinking into a little autobio comic. It’s been a slow, fascinating journey to where I’m at now, and I’m far from finished. It’s just good to feel a change. Enjoy!

Inktober 2017 Skyline Watercolors

If you follow me elsewhere on social media, you know I’ve got a massive penchant for drawing challenges. Inktober is a perennial favorite, so this year I tackled 31 6×6″ watercolor paintings of sunrises and sunsets. Each image was painted from life wherever I happened to be on each day of the month, starting with a basic silhouette of the sky at dusk or dawn.

The final result spanned Portland, Long Beach (WA), New York, and Richmond, and looked something like this:

While prints of all these images are available in my online shop right now, I’ve also decided to sell off the original paintings themselves to help raise some end-of-year cash to help with book printing in 2018.

Buyolympia will be listing the originals (unframed) in batches of 5 over the next few weeks every Tuesday and Thursday. If there’s one you’ve got your eye on, be prepared to act fast! The framed pieces that pre-sold at Portland’s tiny llama gallery earlier this week went real quick.

You can check out the current selection at Buyolympia and take advantage of their free shipping promotion to snag some other gifts for the holiday season while you’re at it. Happy shopping!

Announcing: 100 Demon Dialogues

Hi friends,

Big, big news today! My latest project, 100 Demon Dialogues, is now live on Kickstarter!

For the past three months, as part of the 100 Day Project, I’ve been illustrating a daily dialogue with the little voice in my head who tells me I’m no good. (You might recognize him from my Inktober drawing challenges from the last couple years.)

I just drew the 100th entry this morning and I’ve been so overwhelmed by the response to the project. Hearing from people who see themselves reflected in these drawings makes my heart swell. I’ve also heard from a lot of people who want to own these comics for themselves! So here’s what we’re gonna do about that:

  1. The Books!
    • Today’s Kickstarter launch will fund both softcover and hardcover editions of the book. I am very excited about the whole thing. Here are some of the special features I’m aiming for: 
  2. The Plushies!
    • The Kickstarter will also be funding a run of PLUSH DEMONS to keep you company as you do battle with your own voices of anxiety and self-doubt. This little fella will measure about 15″ from tip to tail, and can easily sit up on any surface you care to place him on. (If you’d like to read all about what it takes to produce a plush toy from start to finish, I just did an in-depth blog post about it over on Tumblr.) Here’s a look at the prototype:
  3. The Print Shop!
    • Lots of folks asked for prints of particular demons, but since producing, stocking, and shipping 100 different print types is a massive headache for a long creator like myself, I’ve partnered with the fine folks at Buyolympia to provide archival-quality prints of any demon your heart desires. The store is almost ready, and I’ll be sure to link to it here on the blog once it’s up.

So there we go! You can read all the entries in the series here on the site, head to the campaign page to preorder books and plushies, or buy prints (very soon, I promise) from Buyolympia!

Thanks, as ever, to my amazing supporters on Patreon, who gave me the stability to devote so much time to the this project over the last three months. Y’all are the best.

LET’S GO MAKE SOME COOL SHIT.

New Comic: Who IS Wonder Woman, Anyway?

Greetings, friends! I’ve got a new comic in the world!

There’s a lot of talk about Wonder Woman in the world right now, thanks to the new film about her opening this weekend, but who is she really? You can head over to The Nib today to read all about her history as a feminist icon, patriotic symbol, and modern warrior thanks to writer Sarah Mirk, colorist Joey Weiser, and myself! I’m really pleased with the final result of our efforts.

If you dig these comics, you can keep ’em coming by supporting my work on Patreon. (And biggest thanks to those of you who do so already!)

Use your strength for good,

Lucy