Night Owl

I’m lying in the dark, brain whirring. Too much Borges before bed.

There’s a dog baying at regular intervals somewhere down by the river—a canine foghorn. There are crickets, and the wash of cool night air already filing the room. I’m on the edge of going under when I hear the faintest echo of a Great Horned Owl.

It jolts me awake. Ears pricked. Eyes wide. After a moment’s hesitation, I climb out of bed, unlatch the window, and slip into the garden.

There’s no moon in the sky—just a riot of stars, all dull amber and icy blue. I pause, the night chorus seethes around me and then: the owl. Resonant and distant. A warm, mournful sound from the end of the drive.

I pace the gravel in the dark and I am eight years old, flush with the freedom of having snuck out after bedtime, certain I am running away to go on adventures only to stop, as I do now, at the edge of the road. I am wrapped in the scent of pepper trees and dust, soles pricked by scalloped oak leaves. The owl sounds again, but it’s across the street, lost in the tangle of houses that was once an elaborate bed and breakfast.

I remember hovering on the edge of this curb, young and dreaming, aware that everything in the dark was held in a kind of suspended animation. A sacred in-betweenness. I wanted to go further, perhaps even knew that I could, but I was too enthralled with what was here. Every time I’d walk back to my room, or whatever part of the property I was nesting in at the time, and return to bed, as I will now.

Perhaps that was what I came looking for in the dark. Not the owl, but the reassurance that slipping out would still grant entry to this surreal and weightless darkness. Would let me pass my former selves in the drive, circling farther and farther from the cradle, always coming home before dawn.

Rage, Liberation, & the Adventurous Life with Tessa Hulls

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…

• This essay about bike touring, weddings, and personal freedom

• This glorious series of paper cut paintings

• This comic about rage

• And, really, everything on Tessa’s website and Instagram. Her graphic memoir, Hungry Ghosts, is definitely a project to keep an eye on over the next few years.

If you liked this conversation and want to help support more things like it, you might also like supporting me on Patreon! I am deeply indebted to the folks there for making these talks possible.

Thanks for listening!

Thought Bubble This Weekend

Greetings from England, everyone!

I’m back in the UK for my biennial pilgrimage to table at Thought Bubble (and catch up with English friends and family in the process). Since I was last in the country they’ve changed the date of the festival to September, which has been an enormous improvement so far. The weather is just beginning to turn autumnal, with a good few sunny days still in reserve.

If you’re planning on heading to Thought Bubble in Leeds this weekend, you can find me in the Ask for Mercy Marquee at Table 43. Thanks to some cunning distribution work, I’ve got a TON of 100 Demon Dialogues books and plushies already in the country, plus copies of Baggywrinkles and fresh sets of watercolor skyline postcards!

A selection of vibrant postcards featuring watercolor paintings of sunrises and sunsets with silhouettes of trees, tall ships, mountains, and other organic shapes in the foreground.
A third of the new postcard designs I’ll have with me. There are 18 new cards total!

As per usual I’ve made a goofy graphic to help you locate me at the event. Here’s a map:

Map of Thought Bubble venue including table location. Lucy’s Demon screams “It’ll be awful!” From the lower right-hand corner.

Being in the country a week early has left a lot of room for acclimatization and a bit of exploration. I’ve been going on six-mile rambles near Egham with my current host, cartoonist Dave Whiteland. We’re not far from Runnymede, site of the signing of the Magna Carta. Interestingly, it’s a landmark more beloved by Americans, who tend to view the Magna Carta as the precursor to our written constitution, but there are also a number of beautiful memorials and installations by local artists scattered throughout the open meadows.

A circular space with a pond in the center and an open circle in the roof. Text written upside down around the rim of the pool is reflected right-side up in the water. The walls are pale and rough, the sky is blue.
Writ in Water by Mark Wallinger

I have so many childhood memories of England coming into view out a plane window. It’s a patchwork quilt in hundreds of shades of green. Each border is picked out in dark hedgerows like raised lines of embroidery. After the rigid grids and circles of American crops seen from the sky, it confirms this sense of being somewhere other.

England is walking through fields and turnstiles and picking up fossils from beds of flint. It’s the particular smell of petrol and peat and cold air and river water. It’s tea and smooth wood floors and the familiarity of gentleness. It’s not perfect here, but it brings me back to a part of myself that feels foundational and true.

An imposing brick building under a blue sky. It has many chimneys and turrets.
Royal Holloway

After the chaos of touring all summer, I decided to forego scheduling a separate last-minute event in London or Cambridge. It’s enough to be here, and to see friends, and to have the festival to look forward to. I hope to see many of you there in a few days.

Be well,

Lucy

100 Demon Dialogues Tour: Leg 2

Hi everyone!

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
  • Local Color – 6:30pm, July 28th, San Jose, CA (followed by Mighty Mike McGee’s Spelling Bee/r!)
  • Bart’s Books (Hometown Shindig, come meet my adorable parents) – 7-9:30pm, August 3rd, Ojai, CA
  • Other Books – 6-8:30pm, August 12th, Los Angeles, CA
  • [Venue Forthcoming] – August 16th, San Diego, CA
  • San Diego Writers, Ink: Generative Demon Workshop – [Event Page Up Soon], August 17th, San Diego, CA
  • BookPeople – August 20th, 7pm, Austin, TX
  • [Colorado: TBA for Boulder/Denver]
  • Thought Bubble Festival – September 22nd & 23rd, Leeds, England
  • MICE – October 20th & 21st, Cambridge, MA

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!

Hope to see you on the road,

L

Your Book Tour

Here’s what happens when you tell people you’re going on book tour:

Their eyes widen like they’re picturing private jets and limousines, booksellers laying stock to be signed at your feet, adoring fans queued up out the door. They congratulate you—assuming you have “made it.” You try not to let the lunatic edge invade your laughter as you thank them, unable to explain that they are wrong.

The truth is, you’re about to spend two months sleeping on couches and washing your underwear in the sink. You’re three months past the date any “real” author would’ve had their tour stops booked by a publisher, but you’re emailing venues anyway because you got yourself into this glorious mess, and you love it, and it’s time to go big or go home.

You fill pads of paper with train times and bus lines—an endless game of Cheap Travel Tetris.
You schedule posts on every social media platform known to man, but still manage to avoid updating your own website.
You learn that the barcode doesn’t scan properly on your entire print run of books. You make a lot of phone calls and hope you can fix everything before the ship date.

You whoop with delight whenever a venue confirms, then falter when you see all the other, more impressive authors on the week’s lineup.

You realize those authors may feel just as fraudulent as you do.

You set up endless Facebook events, cripplingly aware of how often you ignore invites from everyone else.
You find out exactly how many of your friends live in Minneapolis.
You worry nobody will come.
You worry everybody will come.

You throw yourself on the kindness of the Internet—your people, your tribe, your network. They offer rides, couches, venues, connections. You recognize, again and again, that you are nothing without them.

It will feel like a miracle any time you meet a flesh and blood human being who knows your work. These moments of connection will pile up behind your sternum. They will turn your abstract Twitter followers into live heartbeats.

Two months from now you know you’ll come home changed.

SPX Comin’ Atcha

This is it, friends! My last convention of 2017! If you’re in the D.C. area, come on out to Bethesda, MD for the Small Press Expo this Saturday and Sunday. SPX boasts an amazing roster of indie comics folks, and I’m so excited to be returning this year. I’ll be camped out at Table K9-A alongside the team from Cartozia Tales. You can check out the full exhibitor list and floor map here.

I’m also appearing on a panel on Sunday at 12:30pm:

Balancing World-Building and Character In Kids’ Comics

Laura Terry, Ben Sears, Janet Lee & Lucy Bellwood all create elaborate worlds for their colorful characters to dwell in. They will discuss how to balance the immersive quality of world-building with the development of character and story, particularly as it pertains to comics for kids.

Sunday, 12:30pm, White Flint Room

So what am I gonna have on hand? WELL.

I just picked up these extra shiny ✨new sketchbooks✨ from my time in Iceland. If you want 24 pages of watercolor studies, life drawing, and landscapes from two weeks in a totally unreal and gorgeous country, this is the book for you. (It’s also available as a PDF if you swing that way.)

Here’s a look at some of the artwork inside:

If you’re not going to be at SPX, these books will go up for sale in my online shop around the end of the month. You can keep an eye out on Twitter or sign up for my monthly email newsletter to get the drop on that.

I’ll also have a limited selection of miniprints from the 100 Demon Dialogues series, and the plush prototype for folks to get a handle on.

If you missed your chance to order a book or a plush toy through the Kickstarter campaign, there’s now a pre-order store where you can do all of that! No deadlines needed. Just for kicks, here’s a look at the letterpress print design I’m working on for the campaign:

In addition to these new treats, I’ll have gold foil box sets of my first 100 Day Project, A Life in Objects, which sold out in record time at last year’s SPX. (Don’t worry, I’m bringing a lot more this year!)

I’ll also have assorted travelogue minicomics and softcover copies of Baggywrinkles, if you somehow don’t own a copy yet. PHEW. Lots of goodies. Oh! AND. I’m also giving away copies of Mappin’ the Floor, the comic that came out of my three-week stint in the Pacific aboard R/V Falkor. Learn some stuff about oceanography in 12 bright and charming pages—fo’ FREE.

Okay, I think that’s legitimately it from me. SEE YOU AT THE SHOW!

VanCAF 2017 is Here!

It’s time, once again, for everyone’s favorite West Coast Canadian Comic Arts Festival: VanCAF!

Yes indeed, I’ll be appearing at the Roundhouse Community Center in Vancouver, B.C. this weekend from 10am to 5pm (both days). You can find the Bellwood Comics Empire at Table I2 in the Gymnasium. I’ll have a bunch of Baggywrinkles books, Life in Objects boxes, minicomics, and SUPER SECRET copies of Mappin‘ the Floor in advance of its official release in June! If you say the secret password, you can have one for free.

Photo Credit to Dan Turner from Free Comic Book Day in Berkeley—thanks, Dan!

If you’re attending with a young person who wants to learn more about making comics, they can come to a special comics-making class with myself and Mariana Yatsuda Ikuta on Sunday at 2:30 in the Arts and Crafts Room. There are free workshops for kids happening all weekend, so check out the schedule here and go draw with your favorite cartoonists.

I’ll also be moderating a panel called “Hash Out Your Cash!” with Steve Lieber, Hope Nicholson, Jeph Jacques, and James F. Wright (WHAT A LINEUP) on Sunday at 10:30am in the Performance Center. We’re gonna talk all about money which a topic I’m getting more and more jazzed about discussing with cartoonists, so I hope to see you there! (And be sure to check out the whole panel lineup on the VanCAF site.)

Okay, phew, that’s all for this weekend! I’ll see you across the border.

Hourly Comic Day 2017

Hey friends! I’ve got a new comic for you today:

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This is my seventh year doing Hourly Comic Day, and it’s really such a delightful thing. For those that aren’t familiar: it’s a global art project where folks draw a panel for every hour they’re awake on February 1st. It’s a wonderful way to discover new artists, take a look at what everyone’s up to, and chronicle a day out of each year. This year I just happened to be wrapping up a couple weeks in Hawai’i, so there’s a bunch of tropical escapades in here.

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You can read the whole comic over here on Medium. I love having these annual visual check-ins that remind me of where I’ve been every February since I was a junior in college—especially if this tropical trend continues. Wonder where I’ll be in 2018…

Did any of you participate? I try not to read people’s till I’ve posted my own, since it wigs me out and I get self-conscious, but now I am FREEEEEE. Link me to your entries in the comments or on Twitter.

You can also read all my previous years’ entries here: 20162015, 2014, 2013, 2012, and 2011!

New Comic: Mappin’ the Floor

Hi friends!

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.

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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!

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Photo: SOI

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.

Ethernet Knotboard by Colleen Peters
Ethernet Knotboard by Lead Technician Colleen Peters (who supported Baggywrinkles on Kickstarter and led to my joining Falkor in the first place!)

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:

mappinthefloor

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).

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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.

Join me for Comics Camp!

One the best things I did last year, hands down, was attend the Alaska Robotics Mini-Con and Comics Camp up in Juneau, AK. In addition to a super-sweet one-day con in a quirky, beautiful town, it also featured three days of camping with a host of incredible creators—cartoonists, musicians, writers, financial advisors, and A LAWYER (not just any lawyer, either, the Katie Lane, dispenser of exceptional wisdom to the creative stars). We all got to sit around the campfire, play games, share experiences and advice, learn about each other’s hidden talents, and explore the Alaskan wilderness. It was a dream come true.

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Khail Ballard, Dylan Meconis, Katie Lane, BearHat!Lucy Bellwood, and Tony Cliff at Comics Camp 2016.

I’ve been yearning more and more for these kinds of experiences—the ones that tend to happen around the fringes of commercially-driven conventions—and Pat and his team have really hit on something special. I learned so much last year, and gained so many new friends. It was also fantastic to have newer creators rubbing shoulders with some of the industry’s most incredible and prolific superstars—just a really nourishing, humbling week all ’round.

Jeremy Spake leading a workshop on making your own leather journal-holders.
Jeremy Spake leading a workshop on making your own leather journal-holder.

So here’s the deal: you can send in an application here. Trip dates are April 21st-25th, 2017. You don’t have to be a cartoonist to come. There’s FINANCIAL AID (which totally made the difference between me being able to go and not last year). It’s going to be great.

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SEE YOU IN ALASKA!

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