Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Hello and welcome to November! I've actually only got a handful of spreads left to do in pencil, then it's on to editing, coloring, inking, all that good stuff. But for now, I thought I'd share two of my most important influences in the world of independent comics.

I first discovered Scott McCloud freshman year of college when one of my professors gave us an excerpt from one of his books, Understanding Comics, as a part of a homework assignment. I loved his style-- the way he used comics to explain comics. That same year for the holidays, I got Making Comics (the third in his explanatory comics series) and read it cover to cover, and have read it many, many times since then. Aside from one class I took here at Syracuse called Narrative Drawing, I have not had any real formal sequential art training. Most of my understanding about comics as a storytelling medium comes from Scott McCloud. Also, fun fact: my freshman year, he came to speak to some students for a symposium. I couldn't go because I had a class at that time, but that same night, Art Spiegelman (who is certainly an inspiration as well) came to speak on campus, and Scott McCloud stayed to see him speak. So while I didn't actually get to meet Scott, I was in the same audience with him. Just a funny little circumstance.

While Scott McCloud serves more as a technical and formal inspiration, my most significant creative inspiration comes from Craig Thompson. I can't remember what I was doing before I read his graphic novel Blankets, but it really couldn't have been that important. Blankets is hands down one of the greatest books I've read of any genre. It really opened my mind up to the possibility that comics and graphic novels were more than just a medium for kids and superheroes. Craig Thompson uses the medium of comics to tell painfully and beautifully personal stories. His visual language and his visual problem-solving skills are amazing, and showcased wonderfully in Blankets. (He's got some other great graphic novels, too-- his first, Goodbye Chunky Rice, made me cry, and I've been trying to get a copy of his travelogue Carnet de Voyage for some time now, but it always is out of stock wherever I look for it. Also, he's got his longest graphic novel to date, Habibi, coming out in about a year or so. I can't wait!) Sometimes I worry that I am getting too personal in my own work, that I am too much in my own head and that no one else will be able to relate to what I'm putting down on paper. Re-reading my favorite passages from Blankets reminds me that even the most personal, intimate things can resonate with others. And if I can make something half as good as Craig Thompson can, I will consider it a great success.

And, because I think it would be a shame to post on this blog about my inspirations and not post something from my time abroad, here is a photograph of trees lining the edge of Dublin Port, decorated in shining blue lights. These felt so magical to me.

Please check out the links of the artists I mentioned, and please tune in next time for some more graphic novel goodness.

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