Archive for November, 2010


My Atlantic Center for the Arts Experience – Part 4. 

As if hanging out with PaulCraigSvetlana and the other associates wasn’t enough, we had a almost a dozen guests stop by to visit us at the ACA. Craig brought his girlfriend, Sierra Hahn (who also happens to be an editor at Dark Horse, pics below left and center), with him for the first week. Sierra has worked on a couple of my favorite things coming out of Dark Horse the last few years:Umbrella Academy and Mesmo Delivery. Besides having awesome taste in comics, she was super nice and a lot of fun to hang out with for the short time she was there.

Svetlana brought JuYoun Lee (senior editor) and Kurt Hassler (publishing director) of her publisher, Yen Press, down for part of the first week as well (pic below right). JuYoun and Sierra hosted a great Q and A with us about editors in comics and manga. Awesome to be able to ask them those questions you’ve always had about editors (what to do if they don’t email you back, what’s the best place to pitch a project, what percentage of your property they’d take etc.)

Paul really wanted this residency to not be just good, but extraordinary. So he asked several of his friends to come down and be a part of it: Sam Hiti (creator of Death-Day comic), Jimmy Palmiotti (writer of the Jonah Hex comic), Amanda Connor (penciler for The Pro and Power Girl), Jeff “Jah Furry” Newelt (editor of thePekar ProjectAct-i-vate), Kostas Seremetis (painter and filmmaker), Harvest King (Paul’s girlfriend and burlesque performer) and Luana (Paul’s mom).

Jimmy and Amanda stopped by for a couple days on their way back to their Florida home after spending time in NYC for the New York Comic Con. It just so happens they were bringing some of their art collection back with them from their place in Brooklyn. So we got to see some of the originals from their amazing collection. Pieces byManara, Moebius, Darwyn Cooke, Alex Toth, Massimo Carnevale, Jamie Hewlett and Joe Kubert (complete short story “Tide!” from Two Fisted Tales #32 – April ’53). Plus Amanda had a box of her originals from various projects, including her pages from The Pro. We spent an entire afternoon pouring over this stuff, soaking it in, discussion the various techniques and approaches. Such a fun and inspiring day.
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My Atlantic Center for the Arts Experience – Part 3. 

One of the real highlights of the whole ACA experience for me was seeing work from Craig and Paul’s upcoming projects. Svetlana had just finished her most recent volume of Night School, so she was just in the beginning stages of her next project (an adaptation of James Patterson’s Witch and Wizard for Yen Press). Craig and Paul, on the other hand, were just at the tail end of their work, so we got to see near complete versions of their current projects.

Craig had the entirety of his next graphic novel, Habibi, in his group’s studio for anyone to flip through and read (he also had a few originals pages and layouts from Habibi and Blankets in the studio). Habibi is complete (minus final revisions) and clocks in at almost 700 pages. Even though it’s done, Craig said it’ll still be about a year before it’s actually published. Craig’s virtuosity is on full display in Habibi — his mastery of every narrative art technique, his lush brush work, his delicate sense of design, not to mention the sheer force of will to complete a project of this nature. Saying it’s an incredibly powerful work of art — and make no mistake, it’s not just a “comic” but a transcendent work of art — doesn’t even begin to do Habibi justice. Having that kind of access to it — I remember spending two or three hours one night just comparing his layouts for one chapter of Habibi to the finished page, which often times were radically different — is really an incredible experience. I feel honored, privileged and eternally grateful to have had the opportunity to read it in that manner.

Paul shared probably 100 pages of one of his current projects with us. I’m gonna stay vague on exactly which project it was, as Paul has a few of them going on at the same time, and some publishers and movie studios aren’t excited about the idea of Paul showing anyone anything from them. So use your imagination as to which amazing project it was. He talked us through 30+ pages of pencils and inks, page by page as he described his thought process and the story/art problems and solutions that arose during the making. It was kinda like the director’s DVD commentary. Except that it was live with the director in the middle of the project instead of at the end. Another once in a lifetime experience.
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My Atlantic Center for the Arts Experience – Part 2. 

The plan for Svetlana’s group was to conceive and execute a short story that would be collected into a group anthology while at the residency. So her group wrote, penciled, inked, toned and lettered 10-15 page short stories. Svet’s group was usually working into the wee hours of the night to make their deadline and their studio became the late night hangout of choice for some of us night owls. I’d hang out with Lilly MooreMojgon VatanchiAngi Mauri andSalina Trevino — who were affectionately dubbed “the manga girls” — and got a pretty awesome education in manga and anime. Not that I was totally ignorant, but these girls had like Manga Ph.D.s! They knew everything — proper pronunciation for every creator, character and phrase, the minute differences between each specific genre and sub-genre’s, the best places to read, buy or watch anything. I was exposed to all kinds of new stuff — for better or worse! Soul Eater, Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt, Princess Tutu, weird videos of flying panties, Shojo sparkles and an explanation as to what the attraction to Yaoi is for some people (though I still don’t really get it).

Svet’s group finished their pages on a Monday morning (the manga girls just got their pages in under the wire, while the “grown ups” — Leslie Harris, Alka JoshiDebbie Jenkinson and Matt Taylor — finished with time to spare) and had their printed anthology, Riding with Strangers, in hand on the final Thursday of our residency! Her group worked really hard and it was great to see how proud they were of the finished book.

For our group, Paul described us as more of a symposium on comics. Discussion of ideas, theories, and techniques. Then exercises designed to explore the topics we’d discussed. A lot of the subjects Paul wanted to talk about were in some fundamental way, extensions of his work and style. I think you when you really take a close look at Paul’s style, the origin’s to his approach are fairly obvious. He takes his favorite elements from European, Manga and American comics (throw in some pop art as well) and combines them into his own unique style. Equal parts Moebius, Crepax, Kirby, Caniff, Toth, Egawa Tatsuya and Tadanori Yokoo. It’s true “world comics”. I don’t think it’s any surprise then that his work has such strong worldwide appeal.
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My Atlantic Center for the Arts Experience – Part 1. 

As many of you know, from October 11-31st, I was in New Smyrna Beach, Florida attending a Graphic Novel Residency at the Atlantic Center for the Arts (ACA). Three Master artists were in residency there during that time: Paul PopeCraig Thompson and Svetlana Chmakova. Each master artist had eight associate artists and I was one of the fortunate few to be accepted into Paul Pope’s group. Going into this, the only thing I knew for sure was that we were all going to live down in Florida for three weeks and that my group would meet and work with Paul for at least two hours every day. I had high hopes, but no idea what I was really getting myself into. What I experienced was something beyond anything I could have ever dreamed of. Since I know a lot of people are curious what this experience was like, I thought I’d go pretty in depth with posts on it. Try and cover a bit of everything.  This is part one of four.

Let’s start with who and what the ACA is. The ACA is it’s own little art center carved out of the middle of the Florida jungle. And I do mean carved. Every building and pathway was completely surrounded by palmettos, pines and other flora. Not to mention all the fauna. I saw all kinds of critters on my way to sessions — lizards, turtles, raccoons, and even my first ever armadillo (which if I’m being totally honest, creeped me out quite a bit).
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