Monday, June 10, 2013
Hi everyone, just a quick post to remind you pros out there that June 12 is the deadline for voting for the Eisner awards and our second comics textbook, Mastering Comics (with Jessica Abel, of course), has been nominated in the "Comics-Related Book" category! If you’re a professional I’ll hope you’ll vote for us by June 12. Register here.
As for the rest of you, wish us luck!
Thursday, April 04, 2013
The next 6 weeks see the culmination of "Stage One" of my stay at the Maison des Auteurs in Angoulême. After doing a bunch of workshops and events here in town, I'm hitting the road, going to two festivals this April, plus a special evening in Paris as guest of the Oulipo.
This afternoon I'm off to Corsica for BD à Bastia where I'll be participating a repeat version of the OubapoShow (with several exciting changes to the lineup). There's also a staggering amount of high-caliber talent that's going to be there, just check out that guest list!
The following weekend, April 12-14, Jessica and I will be at the Rencontres du 9ème Art in Aix-en-Provence along with our two children. If you want to find us, a good place to start will be the merry-go-round.
On April 25 I'll be heading up to Paris for jeudis de l'Oulipo at the BNF. This is really exciting as Oubapo has been invited to perform in Oulipo's weekly reading/performance series at the national library.
Meanwhile, back in Angoulême, there's a small Oubapo exhibit going up at the Musée de la Bande Dessinée featuring art from me (well, printouts of 99 Ways), Lécroart, Ayroles, Trondheim, Killoffer and maybe more.
The whole season comes to a climax on May 18, which is La Nuit des Musées. I'll be at the museum all evening long talking about Oubapo, playing an oversized game of Scroubabble, doing a 4x4 session, and more. I'm hoping we can get Ayroles and or Lécroart down for the evening as well.
There's actually at least one more festival on the horizon, Amiens at the beginning of June, but I think this is enough info for now, don't you?
Oh, one more thing: if you didn't catch it on April 1, please take a look at the excellent April Fool's Day prank (Poisson d'avril in France) that La Cité's director Gilles Ciment invited me to be a part of.
Monday, February 18, 2013
At the end of January I hosted and participated in the seventh annual 24-hour Comics Day event at la maison des auteurs. I didn't finish the whole comic in 24 hours—I only got to page 16—so I devoted another seven hour day to finishing the remaining eight pages. You can read the comic and learn a bit about it after the jump.
To quickly review: the 24-hour comic was invented by Scott McCloud in 1990. The goal is to write and draw a 24-page comic from scratch in a 24-hour period. (The original instructions stipulate that you also need to lay out a minicomic and get it printed in that time!) And additional rule added over the years is to announce a starter constraint—a keyword or some kind of rule—that all participants need to observe. At the maison des auteurs event (founded by Lewis Trondheim in 2007 when he was president of the Angoulême International Comics Festival) these starter constraints have included:
- the first and last panel must include a snowball
- the comic must be completely wordless
- there must be a family dinner scene in the middle of the story
This year, I was invited to come up with the starter constraint. I thought long and hard about it and consulted with previous 24 hour MCs Lewis Trondheim and Etienne Lécroart. I'm very pleased with the constraint I came up with and I'm happy to say that most other participants have been as well:
Your story has to take place in the duration of 24 units of time: seconds, hours, days, years, etc.
The time frame must be directly related to the story. Time must be distributed equally throughout the story. That is, if you are doing a 24-year story, each page takes place during one year.
The story must be 24 pages long. The first page must contain a title and the 24th page should have "the end" at the bottom.
All the pages must be numbered from 1 to 24.
I wanted to participate myself but not have a leg up by already knowing what unit of time I was going to use so I invited the gathered crowd at the opening to give me a unit of time to work with. Lewis Trondheim spoke up immediately—almost as if he had set a trap!—and proposed: decades. Meaning every page has to cover ten years and the final story will be 240 years long...
(You can watch a video of me announcing the constraint (and Lewis pouncing on me with his tricky challenge) here, part of a very nicely-done series of benind-the-scenes videos shot and edited the same day. See them all here.)
The ten-year-increment structure was not a possibility I had even considered but after a few hours interrupted by various media people I had a solid story worked out. I did less well with the planning and time management and at a certain point I realized I would not finish all 24 pages so I aimed for page 16, end of the second of three parts (roughly corresponding to three eighty-year lifespans). On Friday, February 15 I sat down and cranked out the remaining eight pages in seven hours. So, not a perfect 24-hour record but I was pretty proud of myself anyway. And to top it off, I think it turned out quite well. Here's the comic in its entirety (click on it a second time to view in full-screen mode):
You can read the rest of the finished comics here. It's too overwhelming to read all in one go but check back regularly because they feature comics at random in the top right corner where it says "à decouvrir aujourd'hui".
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
After the jump you can learn about the constraint and see all the comics audience members turned in.
Lecteurs francophones: dans ce blog je vais montrer tout les strips qu'ont fait les participants du publique (dont certains d'entre vous sans doute) de l'OubapoShow pendant le FIBD 2013. N'hesitez pas à laisser un commentaire si vous voudriez que je mets vos noms sur vos strips. Continuons en ingueliche un peu...
The challenge I proposed was based on sets of four: four panels (which I drew years back for a different project), four sets (seasons, colors, emotions, shapes) of four words each. The idea is to choose one word from each of the four sets and make a comic strip using the four panels and the four keywords, adding dialogue, sound effects, narration, etc. You can also alter the drawing to whatever degree necessary.
I handed out colored cards to random audience members (not very rigorously oubapian, I'm afraid) and had them choose the four words based on which cards they were holding. The results we came up with were:
I also handed out about 20 envelopes containing copies of the four panels and a little sheet with instructions and the four categories. While other Oubapians did their presentations I worked at a table on the side of the stage for 20 minutes, writing a strip, showing it to my neighbor Alex Chauvel to revise the French, lettering it, pasting it up, and coming up with a title using all four words.
When I was done we collected all the finished strips and brought them onstage. I showed my strip to the crowd using the overhead projector. Not my best work ever but I got some cheap laughs out of the audience (you can make it out in the opening image). While I was doing that, the other Oubapians were quickly sorting through the collected strips to find a few more to put up on the screen.
Since there wasn't time to show them all, I offered to put the remaining strips on my blog, so here we are.
Merci d'avoir supporté tout ce 'nonsense'. Voici les strips 4x4 faits par la publique de l"OubapoShow. Et Bravo!
Et voilà. Merci à tous de la collaboration.
Wednesday, February 06, 2013
I translated three short comics by members of Oubapo and wrote an introduction to the group and its principles for the International Graphic Novels issue of the literary translation magazine Words Without Borders.
The comics I translated are a palindrome comic by François Ayroles, an acrostic comic by Killoffer, and a 4-page elegy* by Etienne Lécroart to his sister, structured on a decreasing number of words and lines from one panel to the next. This last comic is on my short list for the most innovative and powerful comics I've read in recent years. I was lucky enough to drop in on Etienne a few years ago and see the original pages right after he had finished drawing it. I wrote about the visit here.
*I had a moment of doubt about whether 'elegy' is the right term here or if it should be 'eulogy'. I think they are both applicable: an elegy is usually a musical or poetic composition in remembrance of someone while a eulogy is usually a prose reminiscence written by a loved one. Though the comic is written in prose and by a loved one, the rigor of the composition and the melancholy tone make me think that 'elegy' is the more proper term to use.
Sunday, January 27, 2013
Here in Angoulême the whole town, from cartoonists to boulangers, is getting ready for FIBD 2013, Festival Internationale de la Bande Dessinée, the massive comics festival, now in its 40th year, that put Angoulême on the cultural map. Jessica and I will be very busy at the festival itself as well as with parallel programming at the Cité After the jump, a schedule of all my planned activities.
Tuesday January 29, 3 pm – Wednesday January 30, 3 pm
This is the Cité’s take on the international phenomenon that is 24-Hour Comics Day. It was established by Lewis Trondheim when he was president of the festival, and each year a guest artist acts as MC, which mainly consists in introducing a surprise starter constraint that everyone needs to follow. This year, I'll be presenting the constraint and I’ve got a good one in store!If you're looking for some strategy pointers be sure to check out 24h veteran Dan Berry's blog post that he graciously allowed us to post on dw-wp.com.
Thursday Jan 31
2PM roundtable on teaching comics
Vaisseau Moebius, salle Nemo
L’enseignement de la narration graphique, témoignages internationaux
avec B. Hinriksson, N. Boucher, M. Madden, G. Gorridge et l’EESI
I'm participating in a round table discussion on the state of comics instruction in Europe and overseas along with teachers and students from Angoulême’s local art school.
5-6:30 pm Oubaposhow
Vaisseau Moebius (Salle Nemo) (That’s the new name for the former museum building with the glassy front)
I'll be taking the stage with my Oubapo co-conspirators for a performance of/about Oubapo (Workshop for Potential Comics). This is a don’t-miss! Four men drawing on Post-Its! Lécroart’s comics-generating program! Tony against the mouse! Me trying to make up comics in French in 15 minutes!
featuring me, François Ayroles, Alex Baladi, Killoffer, Andréas Kündig, Etienne Lécroart, Lewis Trondheim, and more.
Maison des Auteurs gallery (regular gallery hours 10-7 Jan 31-Feb 3)
3 avenue de Cognac
Jessica and I and 42 other cartoonists who are (or have been) in residence this past year all have a few pages up on the walls. It’s a rare peek into who and what actually happens in this building. There’s also a new book out, documenting all the authors who have been in residence in the second 5 years of its existence (2007-2012). I’ll be in the next book, in case you’re wondering! cinq ans de résidences, 2007-2012 (scroll down)
Saturday, February 2
Time TBD: Matt Madden and Jason Shiga in conversation with Bill Kartalopoulous
Espace Franquin – Salle Bunuel (Durée : 1h30)
I'll be taking the stage with Jason Shiga to discuss comics, constraints, and book forms along with moderator Bill Karatalopoulous
4:30-5:30: rencontre : en résidence avec matt madden et jessica abel
auditorium du musée de la bande dessinée
Jessica and I will be talking at the Musée de la Bande Dessinée about our careers as cartoonists and teachers and their time in France so far. The moderator will be our new friend and the “conseiller scientifique” of the museum, Jean-Pierre Mercier (oh, he also translates an American guy called Crumb).
That covers the official programming. Otherwise, we'll be spending some time in the international rights tent trying to move some merch, walking the bulles, and carousing until late at the Chat Noir, Hotel Mercure, and other TBD locations. I hope to run into you if you're there--if you're a friend or colleague or just want to say hi in person please contact me privately and I'll give you my cell phone number.
Monday, January 21, 2013
"So, are you scared?"
I knew exactly what Lewis Trondheim was asking me, even though he said it out of the blue during a dinner at our house in Brooklyn last August. I was about to take a year's sabbatical leave from SVA and move to France to do a residency at the Maison des Auteurs in Angoulême. A year-plus of theoretically open schedule to work on whatever I want and the only thing I have to do is: not screw it up or, worse still, fail to produce anything. The pressure has been on as of August 29 when we (Jessica and I and our two children, Aldara and Jasper) arrived—barely intact—at the Angoulême train station to start this new phase of our lives. (You can read Jessica's account of the adventure here.)
So: yes, I'm scared.
And to lead with the discouraging news, I've been quite unproductive these first four months, at least when it comes to producing any new comics. The nadir came when I recently backed out of an anthology project I'd said I'd contribute to. I wasn't finding enough time to work on it (though it was only a page) and when I did I was creatively stumped to a point where I just had to cut it loose because it was depressing me as well as distracting me from other projects. All of which is particularly humiliating because I thought it would be a quick amuse-bouche to get myself geared up for longer, more ambitious work.
It's a rude way to begin this residency since in fact I've produced very little of my personal work in recent years and there are all kinds of muscles and reflexes that have become dull and stiff. So the small set-backs that happen in every artistic endeavor feel more devastating right now because I feel like an awkward combination of has-been and rank beginner, trying to find a foothold.
I was fully expecting to lose a month or so to paperwork and getting the kids set up in school and that sort of thing but everything got compounded and time flew by as it tends to. All that said, here we are in early January 2013 and an end (not THE end, no, never) is in sight. So rather than linger on my failures thus far I'm planning for the open swaths of time in the coming months when I'll achieve some real momentum. (And you can bet I'll be posting about it here.)
I've had a lot of encouragement: from Jessica of course, as always, but also from friends here like Lewis, who despite his impish pleasure in making me squirm has prodded me regularly, going so far as to make me and Jessica sit down with him over the course of an afternoon (New Year's Eve, in fact) to crank out a book of drawings (about which more some other time) just to show that it could be done (well, and also because Lewis Trondheim can't help but draw and create things all day long).
I also got to have dinner recently with one of my heroes, Edmond Baudoin, and he reminded me that he didn't start drawing comics until he was 30 and had his first book published at 40—which puts me 2 books ahead of him at the same age. Now if I can keep up with him and make 60 more books in the years to come... (Not incidentally, this is one of the many reasons I wanted to live in France and in Angoulême in particular: comics luminaries come through town regularly and you get a chance to spend real time with them, not just shake hands at a festival or big city bookstore opening).
Last but not least: I love my new life in Angoulême at la Maison des Auteurs! Here's a shot of my studio, where I would happily lay down a futon and spend most of my time if I wasn't a good family man:
The MdA (as everyone calls it here)is an amazing resource, something that I'm not sure anyone could pull off in the US unless it was some kind of for-profit venture or lottery-winner indulgence. Pili and Brigitte, the director and administrator of the MdA, have done an amazing job in facilitating our move. We were both able to get well-appointed individual studios (there are also group studios for anywhere from two to six artists) and I'm relishing private space and the quiet—or the noise—in which to draw, write, and get lost in reverie. Jessica has a bit of a different take on the new set-up here. I haven't gotten to know my fellow residents well for the most part and I hope they don't think me too antisocial but with the kids to run home to all the time I have neither been able to go out for drinks much nor willing to spend much time hanging out while I'm at the studio. There's a nice camaraderie, though, and I'm forging friendships one at a time.
So I'll end with a photo I took in a moment of optimism but which now taunts me a bit. It's an empty art box I'm planning to fill with new pages in the year(s) to come. Well, it is hungry and I am going to feed it: