Finally remerged back to life right before Labor Day weekend, otherwise known as another American excuse to grill meat and watch sports. Neither of which I did, but rather O got to tend to some lingering house issues (some of which involved power tools, so yeah, still very American).
Have also been working on multiple comix projects, one of which is pictured above; an Arabic edition of a short autobio thing called SELECTIVE MYOPIA which I did for The Nib many moons ago. Because it'll be running in B&W, I had to mess with various attempts at tones to replace the colors, which is what you're seeing in the print-tryouts above. Although the color palette in the original is very limited, it is utilized as an integral part of the storytelling. To get the same effect with halftones meant needing to be able to easily differentiate between the different tones while also making sure the tones aren't awfully distracting and are 100% print-friendly.
Been working on another comix gig in addition of course to THE SOLAR GRID (will it ever end?). And actually, there was yet another short comix thing I worked on a little while back. It's called MOUTHFAIL, currently being serialized on my substack.
Actually now that I think of it, this year really has been the year of comix for me. Usually my time is taken up by projects of a very different nature, and I have to literally carve out little nooks of time to do comix, but this year... it's been mostly comix so far. Not entirely, but mostly.
#journal #work #comix
I clearly spoke too soon. Tested positive for Covid last week and again this week. Throughout I haven't experienced anything super acute, no high pitch fevers or anything like that. Instead it's been a kind of lowkey misery throughout: phlegmy cough, shortness of breath, crappy appetite, foggy head, fatigue and weakness, and a generally sour attitude. Every once in a while I'll think I'm getting better, but quickly realize I'm not. In that sense, it's not a case of feeling something at the onset and then letting it gradually dissipate as you would other sicknesses. It's like the sea, waves crashing onto shore, some bigger than others, but it's the sea's forever state of being.
Triple-vaxxed though, so I hope that counts for something.
After over two years of dodging it, our blessed household has finally succumbed to the plague. Wife and kid are down which left me with the responsibilities of holding the forte for a couple days. But as soon as wife began to recover, I was struck by fatigue and a most ghastly cough, all while continuing to test negative for the particular plague bug. Which is curious, but I am very much thankful for.
Luckily also, child's spirits are up and he maintains a generally playful demeanor. With the house turned into a quarantine facility though, workflow is taking a huge hit this week.
I too have little tolerance for excessive branding, so when I discovered that Moleskine puts out blank memo books with the exact same trim size as Field Notes', I opted to give them a try and I'm sure glad I did.
Blank brandless cover aside, these Moleskines are thread-bound compared to Field Notes' cheap saddle-stitching (staples). The interior paper is quite superior with the ink from my fountain pens never bleeding through as much, plus it is a serene cream tone which is much easier on the eyes. Half the pages are perforated which I imagine will come in handy if ever I need to slyly leave someone my number (haha, no but y'know, sometimes you want to write something down for someone). Cover stock is heavier than Field Notes' so it doesn't curl up and get that worn look as quickly, and it comes with a back cover pocket thingy which I find is always very useful.
And honestly, if it didn't have all these advantages, just the absence of obnoxious branding alone would've been enough to win me over.
Moleskine Cahier Journal (3.5” x 5.5”) Plain/Blank 64 Pages
In Mexico City you will experience a full year worth of seasons in a single day. Mornings start off cold under a thick blanket of gray, which rips open just before noon, allowing the hot hot sun to peer through. You will sweat and squint your eyes, even behind mirrored-sunglasses, and this will last for a good few hours until the clouds return and decide to come down on you with thick fists of hail. The sky in Mexico City will seem so awfully close to your head, which will make absolute sense once you discover that the city is even higher than Denver, America’s touted “Mile-High City”. Why isn’t this fact so popularly known, you will wonder. Until you realize that Mexicans care little for too much branding.
The above is from a short reflective thing I wrote about my time in Mexico City. It can be read in its entirety: here.
Off to Oslo in a couple days which leaves me with the impossible task of attempting to ink 7 pages of comix in less than 48 hours. Get the entire batch of 14 pages scanned and ready for [digital] lettering on my flight (and maybe a little in my eventual hotel room) so I can send this project out and be done with it before prepping my keynote presentation, which luckily isn't until day 4 of the conference (June 30).
I've been riding the 1000mph wave for a good few months now and it looks like it is bound to continue for the remainder of the summer. It'd be nice to sit under a tree and watch the birds sometime.
#journal #work #comix
I recently learned that Alaa Abd El Fattah is really into comix. Not only that but he seems to have impeccable taste in the medium. One of his all-time favorite series is 90's era THE SANDMAN for example.
He is now on day 83 of hunger strike. The internet tells me that the human body can survive without food for up to two months. This puts Alaa's health well beyond the critical zone.
Here's a recent BBC article on Alaa's situation, and here's one from The Intercept. And here's a link to his book containing much of his insightful and incredibly clairvoyant writing from prison.
He is of dual Egyptian/British citizenship and has been denied access to a consular visit.
Those interested in helping and believe they live in a democratic society can contact their representatives. Alternatively (or simultaneously) you can raise hell on social media using the hashtag #SaveAlaa
I hope he doesn't mind my less than accurate depiction of him in this shortish piece of comix I've been working on, but more importantly: I hope he gets to see it at all.
New bike arrived and have just about finished assembling and adjusting everything that needed assembling and adjusting. Very different from my older bike which was a race bike (Gitane) customized for long hauls. But realizing that I actually haven't done any long distance biking in over a decade and don't see myself doing so anytime soon, figured I might as well get me something better designed for inner city commutes.
Enter The Dutchie from Sole Bicycles out of Venice Beach, California. Many many moons ago, I spent two summers in the Netherlands, one in Rotterdam and one in Amstersdam during which I became quite fond of the Dutch bicycle. In particular, the girl's Dutch bicycle which comes without the top tube and instead allows for super seamless mounting and dismounting. Why it has to be demarked as a girl's bike I'm not entirely sure, but if you are a man and caught riding one, chances are a Dutchman is likely to point it out to you. But, this is all a digression; Dutch bikes—be they the ones designated for male or female—are the most practical city bikes I've ever been on, so I was quite pleased to see an American bike-maker have something Dutch-like on offer, complete with back-pedal breaks.
Of course, the “cool” factor will have one typically leaning towards a fixie or somesuch, but fuck cool. I'm an old man now and appreciate efficiency and anything that will promote an upright back.
Start at 8:00am, end by 9:00pm. The time in between is spent drawing pages and little else more because my lost pages have been retrieved and I am now playing catch up. And although each day ends with a couple of pages penciled in, I find myself retiring to bed feeling frustrated because I know I still have quite a few pages ahead of me and still the entire lot to ink, and I'm so terribly behind schedule.
This is for a 14-page comix-essay thing (an essay told in comix format), which I'm now wishing I would've condensed into fewer pages, because working on it means time away from THE SOLAR GRID which I am also terribly behind on.
When you're behind, you find yourself working round the clock and never being satisfied with your output because no matter what you produce, you will still be behind schedule. It's an awful anxiety-ridden situation to be in and the only remedy in my mind is to develop better assessment abilities of how much time making something will require, in addition to accounting for potential mishaps/illnesses/special-circumstances that could delay production, and design your deadlines as such. Yet, I still plan everything according to best case scenarios which is wrong.
Also, one must account for doing other things. Ideally, you shouldn't have to spend your entire day at the drawing table (or writing table/computer desk/etc.). You want your day to be a good mix of work/exercise/reading/cooking/socializing, so best plan your deadlines with the idea of having only a handful of work-hours per day and definitely take weekends off. Be very vigilant about that.
Wife and kid in Mexico City for the summer. She made plans with the idea that I might be able to work remotely, which generally speaking is true (after all, this comix essay doesn't require me to be in Houston), but I do need my setup to be able to do what I do. Things like: drafting table, scanner, and all my tools and paperboards. But my plan is to catch up with them next month in time for my son's birthday. In the meantime, I have this comix essay to finish before Oslo which I still have to prepare a presentation for.
I won't get deep into the details because I'm not big on ranting, but it is worthy to relay that the day started at 5 in the morning with plans to arrive at our final destination at 3:00pm, which actually would've been 5:00pm our time so all in all a 12-hour ordeal. But no, we only made it by midnight so more like 2:00am our time, and did so missing our checked luggage.
Because I'm not at a point where I can take a week-long trip away from work right now, I decided to bring my work with me; namely a handful of penciled comix-essay pages I've been working on for an exhibition catalogue, and those pages being 11”x17” and kept safely in a sturdy portfolio of larger size, didn't quite fit in my carry-on and so into the checked luggage they went (and I sweeear I felt something bad was destined to happen right then and there).
So yes here I am all super prepped with my special portable Da Vinci kolinsky sable brushes, my Saiboku Aya Ink Stick, my porcelain ink stone, in addition to an assortment of fountain pens acquired specifically for inking on the move, but without the pages all said tools were supposed to be used on, pages that are at least a week's worth of work onto themselves.
I stare at all these tools and silently eat all the words I might've ever said against working digitally.
Keeping my fingers crossed that lost luggage may be found and returned before the end of our trip, because otherwise I'ma have to pencil aaall those pages all over again, and there's nothing I hate more in this world than backtracking.