the Great Pretenders

Hey pals! Just a quick note to let y’all know that I have a new mini comic for sale. It’s a 32 page collection of five childhood stories about imaginary siblings, death, sex, killing Jesus, nintendo, Chuck E Cheese, and flying monkeys. Please go to for previews and purchasing options. I’ll also have it at TCAF in Toronto next weekend, May 7th and 8th, where I’ll be tabling with Sarah Glidden. Next week a few more Islanders will be posting about new stuff for sale as well.  Get out yer wallets, you beloved bums!

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new comic on Cartoon Movement

I’ve spent the past month and a half or so working on this 20 page comic on Iraqi refugees living in Syria. It’s now up to read on the Cartoon Movement site. Go read if you wish by clicking the image! Also, if you want to read a little bit about what went into making this, I wrote a little about it on the Graphic Journos blog here:

click the image to read the comic!

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Pizza Island at the MoCCA Fest

Pizza Island is going to be in full effect at MoCCA this weekend! Well, no, I take that back. We will be in 5/6ths effect. Domitille is just weeks away from her deadline so she will be hard at work in the studio. But we will have copies of her minicomic–“What Happened Was”–for sale at our table (table M5) as well as:

(we are listening to the Audiobook of Empowered)

Yes, we made a minicomic. Twenty eight pages of  little something special from each of us. We hope you like it!  Meredith, Julia, Lisa and I (Sarah) will also be selling books, prints and original artwork.

On Sunday we will steal Domitille away from her drawing table for an hour so that all six of us can be on our panel which is called “Pizza Island: The Panel.” Brian Heater will be moderating. That’s Sunday at 2:30.

Individual Islanders will also be participating in various other panels and readings. I will be part of a panel on non-fiction comics at 12:30pm on Saturday, and Lisa and Kate will be reading comics as part of a very special Carousel on Saturday at 5pm.

Come by and say hello!

Posted in conventions, Events, minicomics | 5 Comments

From the Desk of #6: Julia Wertz

I’m the last one to post my workspace, so I feel a lot of pressure to be fancy. I should have dressed my desk up like I was gonna take it to prom and get it pregnant. But fance ain’t part of my repertoire so instead the walls resemble a hoarder’s aesthetic paradise. So, on with the tour, intrepid voyeurs!

As far as I’m concerned, I have the best corner at Pizza Island. Sarah had it for year before I gleefully took it over. There are a few hours of afternoon sunlight that come in through the window just right so that it illuminates the thread in the paper and makes inking soooo satisfying. Also, torture on my back. Future riches are in wait for anyone who develops something to help cartoonists’ posture without actually making them change it!

These are the very simple tools of my trade. I’ve tinkered with extravagant things like nib pens, dip ink, brushes and other such artistic fanfare, but eventually realized the type of work I do is simple, and so need be my materials. I draw on Strathmore windpower with plain ole’ #2 pencils and sometimes mechanical pencils w/lead from Muji. That lead is about as complicated as my stuff gets, ever since the Pentel lead ingredients changed and got all waxy and stiff. I like soft, messy lead. I ink borders with a S Faber Castell and the comics with a .01 Micron. Microns are crap and the ink is subpar, but the felt tip is perfect so I compromise. Since I do only black and white, a cheap scanner works just fine.

Alright purists, get ready to soil your knickers…I don’t fill my blacks in by hand! Yup, that’s right, I only outline the art and then I fill all solid blacks in on photoshop. (unless I’m selling pages or panels or other artwork, obviously) The idea of doing this makes many a cartoonist churn in their grave, but I sleep just fine at night.

I spend a lot of time wasting time on the interent during the work day. Some of my favorite sites are the Comics Curmudgeon, Scouting NY, and, as of recently, Twitter. I used to be all “I haaaaate it” but now I’m like “I loooove it.” I also do the Set daily puzzle every morning but you don’t need to know that. (I can solve it in 50 seconds!) I also spend an inordinate amount of time daydreaming about Peter Pan old fashioned glazed donuts, but that doesn’t have anything to do with the internet. Sometimes I try to subconsciously persuade Domitille to bring them to the studio by beaming it into her brain but she’s not very receptive.

Enough art babble! Now indulge me as I tediously comb through my bulletin boards and surrounding wall hangings.

This is part of my “idea” board, or at least the part where I pin up ideas I scribbled on bits of napkins, receipts and paper. The one that consistently cracks me up is a little doodle of my brother saying, “you know what I hate? Things that are CRAP!” because when he said it in real life, he built it up like he was really going to blow my mind with something he uniquely despised, and then he said that and I was like, “who doesn’t?” That story was anti-climactic. There’s also some Tessa Bruton mice, a photobooth strip of Laura Park and me, a doodle my lil’ brother made of us jamming in the living room. He says I can’t say “jamming” which means I have to. Atop there’s Domitille and Tunde’s wedding invitation, which is so cute it hurts my tiny, cold heart. There’s also a hilarious poem from the Onion “by Dr. Suess,” as well as a smattering of water colors I did last year. 

This corner is full of sketches of my apartment from various angles, not because I need them for reference, but because used to never leave my apartment. Haha that’s sad. On the left there are some old timey illustrations ripped out of a book about the Gold Rush. Some of them are actually structured like comics and the art is pretty amazing, it’s very intricately detailed and crosshatched. I want to crawl inside those sketches and relapse on bathtub gin. 

I get some pretty entertaining fan mail at the studio and sometimes I pin them up when they make me laugh, like the postcard with cat stickers that just says “fuck you and your cat. Fuck it!” In the frame is a sketch from Al Columbia from his amazing book, Pim and Francie. To the left of that are some quick inkwashes I did for a kids book I’m slooooowly working on that takes place in New York and San Francisco in the late 1800’s. Once our landlord, whom we affectionally call Rad Dad, was snooping around and said, “ooooh, Muscle Boy!” and it was weird.

And to wrap it up, here’s an awesome ice cream box that housed some delicious red velvet cake bombs that someone sent to us. Also, I pick flowers from the public park and I spend a lot of time staring out my window at the lovely New York scenery. The end!

Posted in desks, Photos, studio, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 12 Comments

From the Desk of #5: Sarah Glidden

Aw, all of my studiomates are so funny! I hope you weren’t getting used to funny blog posts about desks. As “the serious one”, I see my role as studio downer as a great responsibility. So hopefully this desk tour will make you depressed about something.

Well, here’s something depressing for you: this is what I consider to be a pretty tidy work environment:

a fresh day, a fresh start!

I usually get to the studio around 10am and spend the first half hour or so listening to/getting annoyed by NPR and cleaning up the previous night’s art-carnage (you’ll see).

This includes my most hated chore: doing the dishes and cleaning out my water jars:

I have about six jars of water for watercoloring. I like to keep them, along with my coffee mug, uphill from my work because it adds a sense of danger and risk. Living on the edge, thats how I live. I have six jars because with that many jars of water I can go all day without changing the water, which involves going alllll the way down the hallway.

so far, its annoying

Ugh. Its so far away, the bathroom. And sometimes I have to pass by that one artist two doors down who makes giant sculptures out of plywood and fiberglass and never says hello back and he just goes back into his studio and plays the new Black Crystal Wolfspider album really loud. Too cool to say hello I guess. So I go back into Pizza Island and turn the Brian Lehrer up to 11.

Anyway! What else is here? Here’s Domitille’s adorable wedding invitation:


The whole island is going to this wedding. I’m going to cry because I always cry at weddings. Wait, thats sexist!

I script my comics before I draw them and I use Scrivener to do this now. It is the best writing program! It has so many great features that I dont know how to use but I love it because you can have many documents within one larger project and arrange them to your liking. Its also great if you need to do a lot of transcribing. I have hundreds of interview audio files I need to transcribe (thats them on the left there) and you can drag an audio file into your document and then start and stop it with a keystroke while you’re typing. Also, when I use Scrivener I’m much less likely to be startled by animated paperclips (resulting in knocked over water jars) or enraged by the dreaded autoformatting. I don’t want to name names but I am referring to a word processing program that rhymes with “turd.”

This is all for the comic I’ve been working on for the past month or so for the website Cartoon Movement. They feature mostly editorial cartoons but they’re running one longer piece of comics journalism (journo-comics? graphic journalism? I dont know what to call it) every month. Mine’s going to go up next wednesday and its a 20 pager about Iraqi refugees stuck in Damascus waiting for a chance to resume their lives.

I put an extra glass of drinking water there for an extra boost of that risk-taking adrenaline. And an apple for health:

I should probably take better care of my originals

I decided to try something different with this comic and cut out the inking step. For my book I would watercolor and then ink with a tech pen on top. But now I’m experimenting with using paint only and I am kind of loving it. I dont think I’ll ever ink again! Goodbye, Rapidographs!

I was partly inspired to try drawing without ink by looking at Persian and Ottoman illuminated manuscripts. Have you ever looked at this stuff? Its amazing. Try doing a google image search for the Shahnameh (which is THE Persian epic poem) and you’ll see what I mean. Its basically comics. So great. I put some up on the wall for reference.

I like using tube watercolors because I can set up my palette to mix colors just like I used to when I painted with oil paint (I went to school for painting but never thought I would actually use that BFA for anything except self-deprecating jokes). Just like the rest of my life desk, my palette is pretty messy. But its an organized chaos.

Those are my two favorite pencils. The blue lead pencil is what I use for pencil pages. Its not photo-safe blue or anything, just a regular Col-Erase blue pencil. I just like the way it draws and I got used to it and now I cant pencil with anything else. I usually buy about 20 at a time and if they ever discontinue them I might have to give up comics and do something dumb and impulsive like go to grad school. The other pencil is a Staedtler Mars Lumograph 6H. I trace the blue pencil page onto a sheet of watercolor paper on a lightbox with that pencil because it leaves a really light line and then I can watercolor over it. A 6H lead means that this pencil lasts forever. You only have to sharpen it every once in a while. I think I bought this pencil two years ago and penciled most of the 200 pages of my book with it.

By the end of the day I’ve completely destroyed any semblance of order my desk once had. Geological piles of originals, books, T-squares and notebooks start sliding down the desktop and sometimes fall off the edge. When this happens, I like to take photos of the formations they take once they hit the floor to present to my Wednesday night Fluxus club meetings. Time to go home and do it all again tomorrow!

so depressing.

Posted in desks, Photos, studio | Tagged , | 9 Comments

From the desk of #4: Kate Beaton

Look at this mess!!  Whose garbage can is this??

Aw nuts, it’s mine.  A hundred water bottles and other trash plus some art I guess!  Well let’s go through it anyway.

So what is Kate up to today?

shhh no, not that, don’t look at that!  Just busy yourselves for a second, I’m gonna close the laptop and..  pk.  phew.  ok:

Here are the things that I am never without, wherever I go.  Even if I am not going somewhere to work on comics, I usually take them with me, just in case.  Bristol paper, clear ruler, laptop, ipod, pencil case with all my pencils, erasers, pens and brush pens.  I got so used to being mobile with my work before I had a studio that I can’t help but minimize the amount of tools I use and am loathe to get into the habit of needing more space or using more tools.  But I should.  Hopefully I will.

I ink with brush pens.  This is because inking with brushes takes patience and practice and is altogether more visually appealing and beneficial to the artists, BUT, I am too lazy and I like to carry brush pens in my purse so I can ink wherever and whenever I darn well please.  Professional!  The black one is a Pentel brush pen and can be found in most good art stores, and the blue one can be ordered from “jetpens dot com.”

Here is some more “art supplies!”  I shade comics with a mix of watercolor and greyscale markers, depending on the day.  There is a scanner in the background and a pile of books which is anything from reference to something I picked up and never read.  Piles of books follow me around, I have a weakness for books but I do not have a weakness for bookshelves.

Until Pen Ward visited last week, the only thing on my wall was an angry message telling me NEVER TO FLIP THE SWITCH.  I have not yet flipped the switch, it is very sinister.  Bare walls are a thing I should probably be ashamed of, I never have anything on the walls of my studio or my bedroom or my apartments in general, what the heck is my problem?  Send any ideas you like.

Posted in desks, studio, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 23 Comments

Pizza Island Livestream #1

Sometimes we get questions on our Twitter feed (by the way, did you know you can follow us on Twitter? Its @pizza_island). We want to answer questions! So we decided that we will periodically have a live Q+A on Ustream where we A some Qs and talk about comics, our studio..etcetera.

We’ll announce the next Ustream session on our twitter and on our Facebook page . We may very well have one on Friday night before MoCCA while we lay out our minicomic. But until then, feel free to check out the recording of our first Ustream session here:

You will have to fast forward through about 5 minutes of nothing. Sorry.

Ok see you on Twitter, Ustream, Facebook or some other social networking site! Like, Orcut? That’s a thing right? We hear its popular in Brazil.

Posted in livestream, studio | 1 Comment