Tag Archives: paul swartz

Getcher Chanukah blog posts here!

10 Dec

A few weeks back, Paul was teaching a weekend class about early Jewish immigrants to the United States, focusing on their experiences as peddlers in the mid-19th century. As part of his lesson, he designed an activity in which his students pretended to be peddlers in order to better understand the challenges that many new immigrants faced. Each student playing a peddler was assigned a particular product to sell–engine oil, medicine, rat poison, or makeup, for example–and had to convince their customers to purchase it without using a common language. As an added layer of difficulty, the students’ products all looked the same, so they had to communicate that difference as well (to prevent their customers conflating rat poison with medicine, or some other tragedy). Paul was pretty busy prepping the other facets of the lesson that weekend, so I threw together a little illustration of the peddlers’ products to help him out.

Long story short: Paul designed a cool history lesson, and I designed a (hopefully) cool bottle:

kidschool_bottles

This was a fun image to make because it’s not something I’d normally work on–my sketches, as you can probably tell, tend to be of human figures. I don’t usually draw inanimate objects unless I’m purposely challenging myself to draw something that’s in front of me. It was also a way for me to test my Illustrator skills. I had to do it pretty quickly (since I had other projects I had to work on), and I tried to do it without a reference. I had the most fun making the cork–there’s just something profoundly satisfying about using the compound shape tools to punch holes out of other shapes. It’s not the flashiest drawing, but it got the job done! All in all, I feel pretty good about it.

(Also, in case you were wondering, the Yiddish on the label says “Swartz’s”.)

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Latke love!

9 Dec

Paul and I went to the City Congregation’s Chanukah party this afternoon, which was pretty exciting. Not only did I get to meet some fun new people, but we also got sent home with about two pounds of leftover latkes (in multiple flavors–be still, my heart!). I have some very strong feelings about latkes that can only be truly expressed through interpretive dance, but I tried to capture the essence in the drawing below:

Tell us how you really feel.

I’m having fun with this Chanukah palette! I think I’m going to stick with it for the rest of the holiday posts. I just love me some thematic colors!

Pop goes the sonnet!

13 Nov

I post an awful lot of drawing to this blog (perhaps because, I dunno, it’s called a sketchblog?), but today I have some news about a writing project I’ve been working on! Check this out:

Pop Sonnets: First Folio Cover

I’m part of a writing group called Dilettantes’ Ball, whose other members include Paul Swartz, Mike O’Malley, Zachary Garrett, Tim Becker, Emily Curran, Christine Elliot, and Rhett duPont. This is the cover design for Pop Sonnets: First Folio, our debut zine. Pop sonnets are today’s songs in yesterday’s words, combining Shakespearean rhythm and vocabulary with the delightful inanity of top 40 hits. They’re fun to write and (we hope) fun to read!

If you’re interested in reading some of these pop sonnets, you’re in luck! We’re launching our tumblr tonight, so you should go check it out. If you’re interested in hearing some pop sonnets, you’re in even more luck! We’re hosting a reading/release party this very week! Come by the Brooklyn Launchpad at 8:30 pm on Saturday, November 17th to hear us read some sonnets, see our lovely new book in person, and taste some drinks and snacks! Admission is $3, and it’ll go towards supporting the Launchpad (which is a fantastic new event space in our very own Crown Heights) and towards printing more books. You should definitely come check it out! I’d love to see y’all.

Fanart Saturday: A Very Sweet Yeti!

13 Oct

I hope y’all can forgive me for being late with this blog post. I swear I have a good reason! You see, last night, this happened:

OMG YETI CAKE

That’s right. That is a cake with my yeti on it, you guys. It’s like Paul took two of my favorite things–dessert and cryptozoology–and fused them into one magnificent creation. Understandably, for the rest of the night I was unable to do anything but gaze at the cake in wonder…and then carefully begin eating around the yeti.

Anyway, that’s all for me today! Paul and I will be walking around the New York Comic Con this afternoon! If you’re there, keep an eye out for a short, sleep-deprived brunette with glasses (because surely there’ll only be one of us there) and come say hi!

Aside

Writing Wednesday: Cartoon College and the Newport Beach Film Festival

3 Oct

Welcome to the very first Writing Wednesday on the sketchblog! From now on, I’ll be updating every (you guessed it) Wednesday with some (you guessed it again) writing about something I’m working on, news from the comics world, books I’ve read, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. It’ll be comics-related for the most part, but I’ve also been embarking on some exciting writing journeys, and I can’t promise I’ll stay quiet about them.

My subject this week is…(drumroll, please)…

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 Cartoon College, the fabulous documentary by Josh Melrod and Tara Wray! It’s all about the Center for Cartoon Studies, the Vermont-based comics school. Maybe y’all have heard of it? I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it before, but I graduated from there last year and it changed my life. And not just in the discovering-lolcats-for-the-first-time sense, but in the redefining-your-life’s-direction sense. What I’m trying to get at here is that I totally loved it at CCS, and I graduated a better artist and storyteller and all-around person. (If you want the down-and-dirty about my time at CCS, check out my post from CCS Awareness Week last year.)

Josh and Tara spent years interviewing not only students and faculty from CCS but also comic artists and scholars from all over the country. The result is a great introduction to the world of indie comics. Comics aficionados will recognize a lot of big names (why, hello there, Art Spiegelman and Lynda Barry!), and you may also learn a few new ones.

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Speaking of new names in comics, Josh and Tara made sure to include conversations with students from several different years at CCS. As you can see from the above image, I made the cut! They also chose to specifically follow five or six students, mostly from years previous to me. I thought this was an interesting approach. While I’ve obviously got some narcissistic tendencies and would have loved for my class to be the main focus, I also learned a lot about the classes before me. I even learned some new things about alums that I’d spent a fair amount of time with!

I got a chance to see Cartoon College for the first time at the Newport Beach Film Festival at the Orange County Museum of Art. Josh, Tara, and Leslie Feibleman, the Director of Special Programs and Community Cinema, kindly invited me to attend the festival’s showing of the documentary and to give a Q&A session afterwards. It was basically the best night ever (sorry, prom night). I got to visit a great museum, watch a cool movie (that I’m totally in! Did I mention that yet?) while eating delicious food truck fare, and talk to a captive audience about the things I love most in life: comics, the Center for Cartoon Studies, and RuPaul’s Drag Race.

…Okay, I’m joking about the last one. But it was still a fantastic time.

Image

I also gave an interview with Kristy Kircher of Newport Beach TV. She and I discussed some stuff you guys probably already know about from reading this blog (such as what got me into comics and how I ended up at CCS) and some stuff you might not (like what being a comic artist actually entails these days, and why the moniker “funny books” isn’t always relevant). You can see the full interview here.

All right, I think I’ve written enough for tonight! Plus, it’s nearly midnight, so I gotta get this uploaded before I have to change the name to Writing Thursday. If there’s anything you guys want to know about Cartoon College, the Center for Cartoon Studies, or how to get your shirts to glow red-and-green on camera, just leave a comment and I’d be happy to answer it!

(Also, if you guys enjoyed the first installment of Writing Wednesday, why not head over to Paul’s blog? I have it on good authority that he’s also posting some writing tonight, and it’s definitely worth a look!)

Press Start!

25 Oct

The excellent Mr. Mike O’Malley came to visit this weekend. (Have you checked out his album yet? If not, you should!) One thing led to another, and of course we ended up talking about what our stats would be if we were characters in a fighting game.

…well, what do you talk about when you’re on the subway?

Fighting Game LenaI think the watercolors work like a poison attack: they do a small amount of damage, but the effect lasts for a long time and can really add up. I don’t know that this is a very good caricature of myself, but I like how the paint blobs and the pose turned out. I’d like to say it’s the pose that I usually paint in, but I can only hold it for a few hours before my back starts to go out.

Fighting Game PaulPaul’s cougar impression is pretty fantastic to hear, but I’ll admit it’s hard to draw. I think I got his hair right, though.

Fighting Game MikeThis was my first attempt both at drawing Mike and at drawing a bouzouki. I think both of them came out pretty well, considering.

Overall, I like this set. If I have the time this week, I think I might add some color to them and see where they go. :)

Something’s a little sketchy here.

20 Oct

Lately, it always seem to rain the most on days when I have to run a bunch of errands. I’ve had some umbrella-related technical difficulties lately, though, and I had to upgrade to a newer model–namely, one that works.

Old Umbrella, New Umbrella

I know, I know: I live a glamorous life.

While scouring the archives of Natasha Allegri’s blog, I found a link to Stumpy Pencil, which is a fantastic resource for Photoshop brushes. I’ve been fooling around with their pencil brushes, and it’s been really fun! I used it for just about everything in the above drawing.

I also tried a little life drawing. Here’s Paul during one of our late-night drawing sessions/Home Movies marathons:

PaulIt’s funny, but I find it way easier to draw on a tablet with a brush that mimics pencil texture like this. Something about the way it handles makes sketching feels much more natural, and I’m able to relax and focus on the actual drawing instead of the brush. I’m probably going to use it a lot in the future. If you have some spare time, I’d definitely recommend downloading the brush and giving it a try!

As far as the color scheme goes, I was inspired by Julie Delporte‘s work. She’s one of the CCS fellows this year, and I met her for the first time at ICAF earlier in the month. She does some fantastic color work–mostly in crayon, I think. I used a more muted palette in the above drawing, but it was a fun aesthetic to keep in mind. Maybe I’ll try something a little brighter for the next update…

It’s not quite “Ebony and Ivory,” but it’ll do.

17 Oct

For our last Drawn Out Storytelling show, Paul and I collaborated on illustrating a story told by Aaron Wolfe and Naomi Azar. Check it out!

Aaron & Naomi's story, part 1Their car breaks down outside Falls Creek, PA, a small town near Punxatawney.

Aaron & Naomi's story, part 2Aaron and Naomi outside their motel.

Aaron & Naomi's story, part 3A previous stop on their road trip: Katz’s Deli, a raw foodist’s delight.

Aaron & Naomi's story, part 4Their destination: the Azar household.

Aaron & Naomi's story, part 5Naomi’s mom gives them a very special gift.

Aaron & Naomi's story, part 6Aaron and Naomi reminisce about their Falls Creek morning routine. First stop, the local diner.

Aaron & Naomi's story, part 7Next, the courthouse.

Aaron & Naomi's story, part 8Finally, the mechanic.

Aaron & Naomi's story, part 9Aaron and Naomi have different ideas about post-coital meals.

Aaron & Naomi's story, part 10Aaron engages in a high-stakes game of chess with Naomi’s dad.

Aaron & Naomi's story, part 11A really, really high-stakes game of chess.

Aaron & Naomi's story, part 12But in the end, it all works out okay.

The story centers on Naomi and Aaron’s inherent differences and their attempts at compromising. To emphasize this, Paul and I drew the pair in very different styles with very different palettes. Paul always draws Aaron in purple, without any outlines, and I always draw Naomi in orange with a black brush pen outline. The locations they visit–specifically, Katz’s Deli and Naomi’s parents’ house–also take on these characteristics. However, in places where they are able to reach a compromise, the styles and palettes blend a little bit. It was challenging to do (especially since I don’t often use a monochrome palette), but ultimately I’m very happy with the result.

If you missed hearing (and seeing) this story live, don’t worry! We’ll include it in a later episode of our podcast. In the meantime, if you’d like to hear more about this story, you can check out what Paul has to say about it on his blog. :)

24 must be my lucky number!

10 Oct

‘Cause today I (a) turned 24 and (b) got a bunch of great news! If you’ll allow me some birthday narcissism, let me tell you all about it!

First of all, the Minneapolis Indie Xpo (or MIX, as we affectionately call it) announced its programming schedule! I’m going to be part of Salon Saloon: The Comic Show, and I was totally psyched to find out that my co-panelists are Danno Klonowski, Corinne Mucha, and John Porcellino! MIX will take place on November 5-6 this year, and my panel is at 3:30 on the 5th. I’ll also be hanging out at the CCS table with Andrew James, Max Mose, and (of course) Paul Swartz. (Rumor has it that one Miss Beth Hetland might drop by, too!) Hope to see you there!

Secondly, I’ve been working my butt off lately doing a Very Special Project for a wonderful show called Story Collider. For those unfamiliar with it: shame on you! This podcast (and live show) is so good that you should be listening to it as we speak (er, write. Or read. In fact, nevermind). Story Collider features 10- to 15-minute stories about people’s experiences with science, both mad and otherwise. Erin Barker, Ben Lillie, and Brian Wecht (the show’s creators/sustainers) are awesome, and we’ve had the pleasure of working with Erin and Ben a few times in our Drawn Out Storytelling shows. They pay for Story Collider out of their own pockets, which is a sizable expense, so they’ve started a fundraiser to not only keep Story Collider going but to improve it as well. They have a lot of great incentives for donating money, aside from the standard warm fuzzy feeling of doing a nice thing. If you donate $50 or more, you’ll get an exclusive book featuring four comic adaptations of Story Collider’s greatest hits! It’s totally worth it, if I do say so myself. It has stories by David Dickerson, John Rennie, Erik Hofer, and Margot Leitman, with art by Joe Wierenga, Maki Naro, Paul Swartz, and myself, respectively. Here’s a sample of my piece:

The AIDS Cookie (adapted from Margot Leitman's story) Page 1

There are four more pages where that came from, but you can only find them in the exclusive Story Collider: Science in Comics book. Any donations you make are also tax-deductible, so why not give a little?

Speaking of comics work, I also have a piece in another anthology! I have a four-page story in Lies Grown-ups Told Me, edited by Nomi Kane, Caitlin McGurk, and Jen Vaughn. It’s called Earth Girls Are Easy, and here’s a sample page:

Earth Girls Are Easy Page 1If you’d like a copy, come see me at MIX or contact one of those fine ladies!

Long time, no see!

16 Sep

Hi, guys! I missed you! The reason I’ve been MIA lately is that I’ve been hard at work (along with Paul and Nisse) on Drawn Out Storytelling.

…What’s that, you say? There’s a link there? Why, yes there is! We launched our brand-new website just a couple days ago! It’s already got a few videos up for your viewing pleasure. We’ll be adding one episode of our video podcast at the end of every month, each of which will feature two brand-new stories (paired with, of course, custom artwork and music) plus some commentary and bonus artwork from myself, Paul, and Nisse. The site also features artwork from previous shows, producer bios, and information about our upcoming shows. LIKE THIS ONE:

Drawn Out Storytelling: Experimenting with Exploration (version 1)This poster actually comes in two different color schemes. I wanted to experiment with using non-literal color (e.g., not always coloring the sky blue and the grass green), and I couldn’t decide which version I liked better, so I printed them both! Here’s the other:

Drawn Out Storytelling: Experimenting with Exploration (version 2)Yeah, I know the grass still turned out green in this one, but I tried, okay? :P I’d be interested in hearing which poster you guys like best. If you have a strong preference, feel free to let me know in the comments.

If you like what you see, you should definitely come to the show! Paul and I will be collaborating on Naomi Azar and Aaron Wolfe’s story, plus I’ll be doing some artwork for Mimsy’s excellent experimental segments of the evening. It’s gonna be a really great show, so I hope you guys can make it! If you can’t (or, heck, even if you can!), you can also follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook. That’s almost as good. :)

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