Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Big Time Attic: The Comic by Guest Artist Lupi Miguinti

Thanks, Lupi!

If you'd like to submit a BTA comic, read more here.

[by the way, check out the comics Lupi brought back from a trip to Iceland!]


"Grand Re-Opening" Reviewed on Daily Crosshatch

Check out Brian Heater's review of "The Grand Re-Opening." This is the mini-comic I produced with my friend Sam Fellman, and can be found in the Lutefisk Sushi C box.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

San Diego Diary: Wrap-up

I'm back, I'm back!

This is what I was seeing, while relaxing, post-con, at the Tiki Bar at the Marriott. My plane reservations kept me in San Diego for one day after the show, so I got to chill and think about stuff before rushing home and getting back to work.

Then a trip out to Coronado Island and lunch at the fancy hotel.

It was a fantastic show; lots of fun and I saw lots of friends, none of whom I apparently photographed during the weekend. I was pretty much bolted down to my table in Artists' Alley all four days (I had to get up early on Thursday to get my seller's permit at the California Board of Equalization, so I wasn't going to waste it), but you get to see a pretty good cross-section of humanity right there in front of you even if you don't move at all.

I ended up doing a lot of sketches, selling a lot of books and mini-comics, and talking to a ton of people, mostly telling them that there is a new Top Ten series coming out in October.

And I got a beautiful extra day in San Diego, too. Perfect weather, beautiful ocean; just one drawback as far as I could see:

Count your blessings, Minnesotans!

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

San Diego Diary: Day Four

SUNDAY, JULY 27, 2008

Dear Diary,

As the great social experiment known as Comic-Con comes to an end, we're treated with a handful of final photographs from man-in-the-field Zander Cannon.

The Owlship!

This is Jim Ottaviani's hand.

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

San Diego Diary: Day Three


Dear Diary,

We sure miss Zander back here in BTA headquarters. Fortunately he's sending these hilarious and often very touching snapshots:

Dinner with Berni Wrightson

Melissa and Chris

Ten minutes after the show opened.

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Friday, July 25, 2008

San Diego Diary: Day Two

FRIDAY, JULY 25, 2008

Dear Diary,

It's raining water here in Minneapolis but I bet it's raining FUN out in San Diego!

I found her! Attention all computer game players of the 80s, SHE IS AT COMICON.

Aisle 5000, Friday, 9:15 am

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

San Diego Diary: Day One


Dear Diary,

Zander jetted off to San Diego yesterday to sell a few books, ink a few deals, and crash a few parties. Fortunately he's got his cell phone camera and my email address. So while I'm back in the office "working" I'll keep relaying his Comic Con snapshots and his (hopefully) witty text messages.

The view from my table.

The Owlship!

The hostel has themed rooms!

Willy wonka shall be last off the plane!

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Not as Controversial as the New Yorker Cover...

...but still worth getting fired up about.

Eli Zigas and I submitted a cartoon to the "Science Idol" cartoon contest and made it to the final 12! Now we need your vote! You can read more about the contest on Grinnell College's website, or head directly to the voting booth.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Zander Will Be at the San Diego Comic-Con 2008!

San Diego's coming! San Diego's coming! I'll be there at the show all four days (and preview night if I can get myself situated early enough) in Artists' Alley, number CC-02. I'll be next to Peter Gross and Moose Baumann. Ooh! and Philip Bond! Bring your Scott Pilgrim Book 4s and Philip and I will sign the pinups!

It's easy to remember-- CC for Comic Con, and 02 because there are two Cs.

If you're new to the Comic Con experience, Artists' Alley is on the far left side of the center, if you're facing it from the front. It's surrounded by all the toy people and the T-shirt people and a few booth-collections of popular artists. It's separated from the publishers and the small press by a huge impassable ocean of movie studios and video game companies.

They're only giving people in the alley one chair this year behind the table, but if you give me a dollar, I'll let you sit in it for 3 minutes.


Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Tips and Tricks: Constructive Criticism, Part I

Being a creative person frequently puts you in the position of critiquing someone else's work, either because you're collaborating, or because you've been asked, or simply because you are part of a group of creators and you're invited to express your opinion here and there. It's easy to go one way or another when criticizing, either becoming a joyless, cynical pedant whose approval is an ever-moving (and possibly imaginary) target, or an airy-fairy omni-acceptor who gets teary-eyed whenever anyone suggests that the undiluted fruits of someone's creative mind are perhaps not up to snuff. Neither is much fun all the time, though the best aspects of each can sometimes come in handy. There are numerous situations you'll find yourself in, criticism-wise, and often you can save yourself a lot of headaches if you keep in mind who, what, when, and how much you are criticizing.

Part I: Collaborations

In collaborations, the two main times that critiques are solicited (or you think they might be) are in brainstorming sessions and while fine-tuning a concept in readiness to start the work (what I like to call "Nuts and Bolts"). These two sessions are distinct, and it's important to make sure that their purposes are not confused.

Brainstorming: Just Coming Up With Ideas
This is pretty widely known, but DON'T criticize an idea when people are brainstorming. C'mon, you're just throwing things at a wall. You're looking for half-ideas and quarter-ideas that you can sew together later into something halfway decent. So some of the ideas are going to be lame. You think people are coming up with dumb ideas? Then come up with something better. Because if you keep cutting everything down, the room is going to start getting eerily quiet.

For the most part, the reason that brainstorming sessions go awry is not that people don't know that you're not supposed to criticize at a brainstorming session, it's that they aren't aware that this is a brainstorming session. They think that the final answer has to be arrived at by the end of the meeting. This is not productive. If people think you're settling on an idea in this session, they start getting worried. When people get worried, they get critical. So it's good to make a general announcement at the beginning that you're all just brainstorming, and someone's writing down the ideas, and they'll all be digested later. Nothing is decided at the end of the meeting; there are just a bunch of half-ideas and quarter-ideas lying around for someone to figure in the Nuts and Bolts session.

Nuts and Bolts: Filtering Through the Ideas.
This is when you can start being critical. If you're getting down to brass tacks, and starting to figure out how something's going to be done, you've probably already narrowed the big ideas down to one or two. This is when ideas start getting implemented if they're approved, so you want to start getting choosy. While in the Brainstorming session, you have only a vague idea of where it's going, here you are thinking about the actual experience someone in your audience is going to have. Now, a key element to this part is that you decide who's doing what. That could mean dividing and subdividing the work into departments so that everyone knows exactly who does what, or it may be as simple as merely defining one person as the "funnel" through which everything goes. Usually this funnel is the person who cares about it the most, and it should definitely be the person who wants to take responsibility for it.

Once the Nuts and Bolts session starts, there should be a moratorium on new ideas that are not basically implementations of existing ideas. This keeps things from becoming disorganized, keeps people's egos from being kicked around, and it keeps the process narrowing down until it gets to the core idea.

This is all tricky stuff, but it's worth it when you create a brainstorming atmosphere in which people are shouting out funny ideas and even the most bizarre, out-there stuff will contribute a germ of an idea that leads somewhere. And when people feel like their ideas are being heard, they bring better and better stuff into the mix.