I love being on Patreon for many, many reasons, but chief among them is the platform it’s given me to record more conversations with creators I admire. I already keep an extensive archive of panels, talks, and classes on my SoundCloud page, but the support and enthusiasm of my Patrons has allowed me to add candid monthly interviews to the mix. Typically these conversations go up for Patrons first, and then (if the artists are comfortable with it) on the public feed a few weeks later.
Back in September I spoke to Tessa Hulls—a dream interviewee of mine for some time. Tessa’s work defies categorization, but it often encompasses notions of heritage, independence, wilderness, and community—all things I am endlessly fascinated by. She did a staggering number of residencies in 2018, all while juggling enough concurrent projects to make my head spin. I am deeply in awe of her energy and dedication.
In this 90-minute conversation, we discuss merging identities to create powerful new selves, balancing finances as a traveling artist, the transformative power of alternative community gatherings, coming into one’s own as a vulnerable communicator, navigating fine art spaces, “pathological independence,” and the current cultural crucible of female rage. Notes on our conversation below:
If you want to see more of Tessa’s work, I’d highly recommend starting with…
I’m back from a frankly ridiculous month of touring across the Midwest and down the East Coast, which means it’s time to announce the dates for Leg 2 of the 100 Demon Dialogues Tour. But first, some stats about Leg 1:
PRETTY HECKIN’ COOL, RIGHT? I feel very accomplished. Also very tired. Turns out moving house every 1.8 days will do that to you. Check out these lovely smiling faces from the many bookstores, comic shops, and venues I visited in June:
I was especially grateful to how many people participated in my experimental Guest Book idea, where folks filled out name tags about what their demons said to them. Here’s a selection:
Even though the resultant volume is pretty heavy reading, my hope is that people found it helpful to see visual proof that they weren’t alone in their fears. We can get through this together.
If you’re on the West Coast or hanging around the Southwest, I’ve got a slew of stops for the next few months right here (also a bonus visit to the UK and back to the East Coast for a couple comics festivals):
Here are those stops with RSVP links, in case you’d like to invite any local friends to tag along:
826 Valencia‘s Pirate Supply Store (with special guests Rose Eveleth, Molly McLeod, and Anxy Magazine) – 6:30-9pm, July 25th, San Francisco, CA
Thanks for keeping up with this wild and crazy endeavor! I’m looking forward to visiting some new places and returning to old haunts over the next few months.
A note on actually PURCHASING copies of 100 Demon Dialogues:
Due to Some Nonsense, the official in-store release date for 100 Demon Dialogues got pushed out to July 19th (although I heard some comic shops got their copies this week). If you’d like to encourage friends and family to buy a copy in the meantime, you can get both soft and hardcover editions (and Demon Plushies, stickers, postcards, and prints) from my own online shop. This is actually the best place to send folks, because more of the profit goes back into supporting my work, but I also want everyone to be able to get the book from their local shops if they so choose. Keep your eyes out next week for wider availability in stores!
It’s been a busy week here on the island of O‘ahu. After completing our three-week ocean crossing aboard R/V Falkor last Monday at 8:30am, the ship immediately went into prep mode for a host of different events to help promote the results of our cruise. Chief among these was getting the gallery show at The ARTS at Marks Garage open, which meant getting my land legs back as quick as I could in order to hang all my completed pages from the comic I’d just drawn at sea.
The opening party on Friday night was a truly fantastic time, and I’m so grateful to everyone who came out. It was also Chinese New Year, so we had a visit from some dragons!
If you happen to be in Honolulu, the show is up through February 3rd, and features all the original artwork from my comic and work from all the other Artist-at-Sea participants from the last three years. There’s painting, animation, fiber arts, music, and (my personal favorite) A KNOT BOARD MADE OF ETHERNET CABLE.
My inner fancywork nerd is screaming with glee.
SO: now that all that’s over, and I’ve taught a variety of classes to high schoolers and kindergarteners at local schools, it’s time to release the finished comic online. CUE TRUMPETS:
You can read the entire comic and learn all about multibeam mapping right here, and the PDF is free to download on Gumroad (just enter $0 at checkout and you’ll be able to download it without paying a dime). In keeping with Schmidt Ocean Institute’s open sharing of information policy, the comic is licensed under Creative Commons Non-Commercial/Attribution, so you can print it, color it, share it—whatever you want, as long as you aren’t turning a profit and you provide credit to the original source.
Physical copies of the comic will be available in the next few months. If you’d like to be first in line to know when that happens, you can sign up for my email list here (I send out updates once a month).
Thanks, as always, to my stalwart supporters on Patreon, who directly enable me to take these trips and bring back educational comics for you all to read and enjoy.
I’m writing today from the outer lounge of R/V Falkor, the research vessel I’m currently working on as an artist-in-residence. At this very moment we’re motoring through the middle of nowhere, but thanks to our Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) there’s satellite Internet on board!
The science team on board are surveying the ocean floor using multibeam mapping, and I’m doing my darndest to learn all I can about their methods and draw a summary comic for the Schmidt Ocean Institute during our 3-week transit from Guam to Honolulu.
We’re collecting data all the way, but our specific area of focus is the seafloor around the Johnston Atoll, which has never been mapped using this particular technology.
So far the trip has carried us across hundreds of miles of the Pacific, with roaring trade winds tossing the spray into white crests around the ship. I’ve never done an open-ocean crossing like this one before, so it’s been even more of a thrill than usual to scramble up the companionway every morning to drink in the view.
The crew are very welcoming and ready to assist with the science operations, and we’ve been having daily lectures on subjects like the Mariana Trench and its surrounding islands, the history of sonar, and the intricacies of multibeam data.
Since it’s not every day you find yourself on a state-of-the-art research vessel, I thought I’d answer some general questions from Twitter! Here’s what everyone was curious to know:
How loud are the engines?
Quite loud on deck! My berth is two decks down, so it’s fairly insulated from the noise when I’m sleeping at night, but there’s a general rumble at all times. Between the rush of the wind and sea and the roar of the engines, you have to speak up to be heard when you’re outside.
How are day-to-day tasks different here than on a sailing ship?
Unlike previous trips where I’ve been embedded with a tall ship crew, there’s not much for me to do here from a vessel maintenance perspective. There are no lines to haul or sails to furl—the crew generally keep themselves occupied with navigation, engineering work, and watchkeeping duties. There’s still lots for them to do, but a lot of it is outside my area of expertise, so I’m getting on with the drawing work.
The science team is monitoring the control room as we map the ocean floor to get a sense of what we’re passing over, the marine technicians are processing data and making sure the systems and sensors stay online (you can even follow live cruise data here), and the housekeeping staff do an amazing job of keeping everything spick and span. The vessel is more of a floating research station than anything, so there are more departments with greater specialization, rather than a collective team who all take turns handing various tasks.
This leaves me somewhat at loose ends—I’m used to being more active—but I’ve got my work cut out for me when it comes to creating this comic, so I’m taking all the time I can to draft blog posts, work on outreach projects, and script the story that will explain our time here to the outside world.
How does the vessel handle?
Given that we’re motoring against the trade winds, the ride has been a little choppy. We did adjust our course to a lower latitude so that the wind is coming at us aslant rather than right on the nose, which means we’re not being slowed down quite as much. In the next few days we’ll turn north toward the Johnston Atoll.
There are stabilizers on board, which help keep things relatively level, but we still make liberal use of Non-Slip Shelf Liner—just like I do back home on my angled drawing board!
How are you getting along with the scientists? Was there any friction to start?
The science team are fantastic! We have a wide range of specialties, so I’m learning a lot about the terrain we’re covering from various angles (oceanographic, geologic, etc.). They’ve all been very patient with my barrage of questions about how things work and the lengthy time it takes for me to work out anything mathematical.
Is there a lot of turnover in the research crew?
Different research teams join Falkor every time there’s a new cruise. This particular trip is unique in that it’s a hybrid Transit Cruise. The ship needed to get back from Guam to Hawai’i, and John Smith (our lead scientist) applied to piggyback some of his mapping research on top of the already-scheduled travel days. All three of the science crew have been aboard Falkor before for various other research trips, so while there’s a high turnover from trip to trip, the overall pool of people associated with the vessel is pretty well-connected.
There are five of us “outreach” crew members: myself, Andrew (Graduate Student from Guam), Brocks Jr. and Sr. (Ambassadors from 11th Hour Racing, a program of the Schmidt Family Foundation, and Sail Martha’s Vineyard, a maritime training program benefitting underserved populations on the island of Martha’s Vineyard), and Jena (High School Teacher from Hawai’i).
Is there an initiation rite for new crew?
I’ll get back to you. So far nobody’s covered me in krill.
What’s the best part? What’s the worst part?
Best: Working on deck with the whole world swaying and the air whipping around like warm silk—especially after months of Pacific Northwest winter.
Worst: Trying to draw straight lines in a rough seaway.
What’s everyone eating?
Our chefs, Peter and Greg, are magnificent. Before I arrived a lot of the shoreside support team were cooing about how lucky I was to be going aboard because of the food, and now I see what they were talking about. In addition to a steady supply of snacks and treats, we get really magnificent meals three times a day (with an extra late-night meal for those standing watch). I mean, just look at this New Year’s Day feast:
Wait, I thought pigs were bad luck on boats?
I hadn’t heard that one before! (Most of my interest in pigs has been around their history as a good luck tattoo.) A cursory Google suggests that pigs are considered bad luck specifically on fishing vessels, which might explain why I hadn’t heard of the notion before. If anyone has anecdotal evidence: leave a comment!
What are the bathrooms like?
Ahh, the perennial question. Like everything else on the vessel: SUPER NICE. I’m so impressed by the standards of cleanliness and design everywhere on this ship. The heads (that’s what they’re usually called on board) are relatively small, but well cared-for, clean, and modern. I’m used to the old torture-chamber-type pump action heads, but these ones flush with the touch of a button like a standard toilet.
The major restriction: only toilet paper can go down them—absolutely no chemical cleaners—because the waste system is biological! The bacterial colonies responsible for breaking down waste in the blackwater tanks are very sensitive, so we can only use a special cleaning solution for the toilet bowls. I’ll see if I can’t snag the chief mate and find out a little more about how this specific system works, since I’m curious myself.
That’s probably enough for today, so I’ll get back to sketching this very complicated-looking hydraulic sea crane. If you have more questions about life at sea, drop me a line in the comments or on Twitter at @LuBellWoo! You can also read up on the rest of the cruise outreach by following #MappinTheFloor on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
Ahoy, friends! I am so, so excited to announce that Baggywrinkles: A Lubber’s Guide to Life at Sea will be hitting Kickstarter July 20th.
What is Baggywrinkles, you ask? Why, it’s my educational, autobiographical comic series about living aboard an 18th century tall ship! You can read the first five issues online for free, and check out new content from the series every week on Patreon. I’ve been working on these short stories intermittently since 2010, and I’m finally ready to bring the whole bundle together under one cover.
So next Monday (July 20th) I’m launching a campaign to fund the printing of a 100-page, 6×9″ softcover collection featuring Issues 1-5, the never-before-seen-in-print Issue 6 (all about the history of scurvy), and a host of other exclusive goodies. Take a look at the finished cover design!
I’ve been hard at work with a team of stellar professionals to make this collection something you’ll all be proud to own—we’re talking French Flaps, patterned endpapers, high-quality matte paper stock, and deliciously thick covers.
I’ve also got some really neat extra rewards. Like remember this giant guide to sailors’ tattoos I drew for the Vancouver Maritime Museum?
Well, I’m gonna turn it into a super fancy two-color, limited edition letterpress print in collaboration with the fine folks at Twin Ravens Press in Eugene, OR! And there’s more extra rewards to come.
This post is your official warning to watch this space (or follow me on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and Instagram) for the campaign launch next week, and to keep your eyes peeled because I’ve got a very special stretch goal that I’ll be announcing once the book goes live.
Hello loyal readers! Sorry things have been rather quiet around here lately. I’m working on a bunch of projects that I can’t say anything about on the Internet, so there hasn’t been much to discuss. HOWEVER! I’ve just released a new, high-res comic for you on Gumroad, so let’s talk about that.
Grand Adventure, my 29-page diary comic chronicling a rowing trip through the Grand Canyon, is now available in PDF form. I’ve rescanned and cleaned up all the pages and couldn’t be happier with how the colors turned out. There’s a even a couple bonus pages of illustration and comics from our trip prep! $3 bags you the whole package. Check it out here.
To those of you holding out for a print edition, never fear. I’m getting quotes from printers as we speak and should have those ready to roll in mid-November at the latest. I think they’re going to look fabulous. If you prefer to read your comics digitally, though, today’s your lucky day! Proceeds from the PDF edition will help fund the cost of printing all these full-color booklets, so be sure to share this with your digital comics buds.
Here it is, friends: the final installment of Canyon Comics! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading along and experiencing the adventure secondhand — it’s been great to share it all with you. You can now find the whole thing in sequence on the Other Comics page for easy access.
I’ll be rescanning all these pages on the fancy new watercolor scanner at Periscope in the next few weeks so the print edition will really shine. I’m looking forward to making some quality full-color minis for you all.
More comics! For you! Here’s the second installment of pages from my Grand Canyon trip last month, covering the Adventure with the Flash Flood and our run through Lava Falls. The last batch of pages will go up on Wednesday due to a Leaving My Sketchbook at Home Like an Idiot error.
For the many of you who have asked about a print edition, never fear. Your wild cries have been heard and I’ll be putting one together before the end of October. Thanks for convincing me to make ’em!
What ho, faithful followers! I’m finally back in the land of civilization after 21 days of hiking, climbing, rowing, and getting dunked repeatedly in very cold water-ing. I don’t have adequate words to explain what an extraordinary time I had, but here’s a picture from Day 5.
I know. It’s ridiculous.
Despite my near-constant sogginess, I did manage to draw a page(ish) of diary comics every day during the trip as a sort of personal experiment. They’re a little grubby in places since my sketchbook was subjected to many indignities (most of them involving water, sand, or some silty combination of the two), but I hope they capture a small slice of what things were like. I’ll be putting that up for download tomorrow once I get within reach of a scanner.
In the meantime, here’s some exciting stuff that’s worthy of note:
1. I’ll be tabling at Rose City Comic Con THIS WEEKEND! Come by Table G-03 to marvel at my fabulous sunburn and get your hands on some thrilling new comics. The show takes place at the Oregon Convention Center and runs 10am-7pm on Saturday and 10am-5pm on Sunday. I’ll have several standard titles on the table, including Baggywrinkles 1-4, True Believer, and the last, rare copies of Tales from the Fragment, but I will ALSO be debuting the following new n’ shiny books:
WATERLOGGED: TALES FROM THE SEVENTH SEA features 200+ pages of two-color nautical comics in a gorgeous hardcover package. I’ll be seeing the book in person for the first time on Saturday, so if you come by for a copy don’t be surprised if I’m clutching one to my breast and weeping tears of joy. Inside you’ll find stories by many fantastic Canadian creators, as well as my piece with Shannon Campbell: Navy Ink. By all reports this thing is gorgeous. It’ll be going for $25.
Meanwhile, CARTOZIA TALES is now on its second issue and I absolutely cannot wait to show both of them to everyone who stops by. I’ll even have the paper doll postcards I designed on hand, so you can take a couple and create your own Cartozian Battle Contingient. Or Peaceful Hunter-Gatherer Tribe. Whatever floats your boat.
Each Issue is $6 and includes 40-pages of all-ages fantasy and adventure. (You can find the wardrobes I designed for our two paper figures in Issue 2.) If you really like what you see, I’ll have flyers with rewards and a QR code for our very-close-to-finished Kickstarter Campaign, so you can be sure to sign up for a full subscription and guarantee an issue in your mailbox every five weeks!
2. Speaking of the Cartozia Kickstarter, the campaign is roaring forward and we’re entering the final 5-day push. We have about $14k left to raise, so it’s down to the wire! If you haven’t yet pledged some bucks, now’s the time. Remember: any pledge gets you access to PDFs of Issues 1 and 2, so you can get a sense of what we’re about before you subscribe.
We’ve added some stellar new rewards over the past weeks, including a special package for retailers. If you’re affiliated with a local comic shop, or would like to see Cartozia at a store near you, do check out the $122 Retailer Special tier.
Additionally, one of my absolute favorite creators, Kevin Cannon, has been hard at work on his story for Cartozia Issue 3. The previews he’s posting are making me weep with envy and excitement (THE LETTERING! THE HATCHING! THE PIRATES!), and you can purchase the entire set of original pages through the Kickstarter. The reward even includes a full subscription! Just be careful I don’t save up enough to pledge for it first. I’m sorely tempted.
Thanks to all of you who were patient with orders and emails while I’ve been gone. I promise I’ll be catching up on all that in the next few days. For those of you in Portland area, I hope to see you this weekend at Rose City!
You’ve heard me shouting about it for months and end, and now the day is finally here! The Cartozia Kickstarter Campaign has launched with an incredible outpouring of support from fans all over the world. I’m so excited to share it with you.
In case you’ve missed it the last fifteen times I’ve gushed about Cartozia on the web, it’s an all-ages fantasy series set in a shared world and brought to life by a core team of eight indie cartoonists. With the guidance of our fearless editor Isaac Cates, we’ve published the first two issues on our own dime, and now we’re aiming to fund an entire year’s worth of 40-page issues. It’s an audacious campaign, but I have faith that we’re going to knock it out of the park.
From story to story and issue to issue, we swap characters and locations via a game of chance, building on one another’s ideas to create a dynamic narrative landscape. Two guest stars per issue help keep things fresh, and we’ve got some incredible names on the project (James Kochalka! Brittney Sabo! Evan Dahm! Eleanor Davis! Dylan Horrocks!).
I’m fairly certain this type of storytelling has never been done before on such a scale, and the results so far have been fantastic — immersive and playful for kids, engaging and complex for adults. We’re making Cartozia Tales because we think the world needs more comics that will attract young readers and let them celebrate adventure, curiosity, exploration, and fun, but we can’t make it happen without your help.
If you want to dive in and make this thing happen, here are some ideas to get you started:
I’ll be posting more news as I get it, but right now the biggest goal is setting this campaign off to a roaring start. I can’t wait to see where it goes. As an added incentive, here’s a full gallery of all the ridiculous dances I was giving away earlier this week to celebrate early subscribers to the series: