Archive for ‘Blog Entries (w/o Artwork)’

Trying On a New Blog

To the outside world, this isn’t that exciting, but to me, it’s pretty great; I’ve finally figured out how to have a separate blog running underneath the comics pages on! Turned out it was just a matter of fiddling with the this and that and the other thing. Thanks to Larry Latham, creator of the great webcomic Lovecraft is Missing, for helping me figure it out!

So now that I’ve finally gotten the blog aspect of to work — without each blog entry being tethered to a comics page — I can finally move all my personal blogging to This means, I can finally get rid of my livejournal, good ol’ faithful

Livejournal served me well for many years since I got my account in 2006 (years after everybody else, I know). Unfortunately, the site has turned into nothing but a rubbish dump for a lot of spam — and not even semi-plausible spam, but tons of Russian-language spam. Dudes, program your robots to at least only spam sites in the target language! The site in general has just become ancient and decayed and its only appearance in even remotely recent public memory is at the beginning of “The Social Network” when it showed what Jeffrey Zuckerberg was using for blogging software a decade ago.

Anyway, I’m thrilled that things are finally working. More news and changes real soon!

Kickstarter and 10 Best Comics

So, Kickstarter approved our project for the Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath graphic novel! The actual Kickstarter page isn’t up yet, but we’re working on it and now working on the next steps for the book publication. Please check back soon for more information!

On other names, The Hooded Utilitarian posted my contribution to a poll of the 10 ‘best’ comics in the opinion of various comic folk. Looking back on the list, I have to admit that I was rushed and I feel bad for picking obvious ones like Tintin, Pogo and Peanuts (but I do like them!). They’re such safe answers. It reminds me of the time a friend asked me what one comic I would take with me to a deserted island and I answered “Doonesbury.” As he looked at me with a disgusted gaze, I explained that it was the longest comic I could think of that counted as a single story under the question and was of relatively decent quality.

Here’s my original list in no particular order:

* Achewood, Chris Onstad
* Beirusayu no Bara [The Rose of Versailles], Riyoko Ikeda
* Cerebus, Dave Sim & Gerhard
* The Doom Patrol Stories, Grant Morrison & Richard Case, with Scott Hanna, et al.
* Jojo no Kimyô na Bôken [Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure], Hirohiko Araki
* Meanwhile, Jason Shiga
* The New Yorker Cartoons, Roz Chast
* Peanuts, Charles M. Schulz
* Pogo, Walt Kelly
* Tintin, Hergé

If I could add 10 more comics, these would probably be the next four… they’re all wonderful ones that I somehow failed to list…

* Donald Duck & Uncle Scrooge, Carl Barks
* The Cartoon History of the Universe, Larry Gonick
* Maison Ikkoku, Rumiko Takahashi
* American Born Chinese, Gene Yang

And now things get fuzzy again… like the feeling that there are webcomics and recent works I’m forgetting…

* Palestine, Joe Sacco
* One Piece, Eiichiro Oda
* Antique Bakery, Fumi Yoshinaga (but its ending is weak… I’m not sure which is her best work…)
* Scott Pilgrim, Bryan Lee O’Malley
* The Drifting Classroom, Kazuo Umezu (I have a problem here. I want to include Umezu because he’s such an insane outsider artist with a powerful work ethic. But I’m not sure which of his stories to list… I would’ve listed Fourteen but, after reading it, I’ve discovered it’s actually too demented to actually be enjoyable, it goes past the border of lunacy and over the edge into childlike babbling. But he’s still great…)
* Black Jack, Osamu Tezuka (although this feels like an obligatory “I have to include something by Tezuka”…)
* Understanding Comics, Scott McCloud (though I feel weird including it)
* Li’l Abner, Al Capp (…or should I include Little Orphan Annie? Or Little Nemo in Slumberland? Or Popeye/Thimble Theatre… but I have to admit, I spent the most time in my childhood reading Li’l Abner. I think he introduced me to the concept of fanservice, and also of comic artists who become grouchy right-wingers as they get older. But it’s hard to honestly nominate Li’l Abner due to his slavemaster-like use of assistant labor.)

Then the list peters out again into conflicting impulses. There’s lots of really good comic artists I haven’t mentioned… Ariel Schrag… Gabrielle Bell… Felipe Smith… Shaenon Garrity… Chester Brown… I should probably even get Neil Gaiman in there….

Kumoricon Schedule

For those in the Pacific Northwest, I’m going to be exhibiting at Kumoricon in Portland, Oregon on September 2-4! Jay and I will have a booth in the exhibit hall and I’ll also be doing a ton of panels and gaming events.

8 PM-midnight (or later)
Chibi Room/Ash
A D&D 4th edition tournament torn from the pages of the “manga meets tabletop gaming” graphic novel series King of RPGs! The great city of Gharazak is besieged by an army of ferocious lizard men. Only a group of brave heroes has the chance to save their city from unimaginable horror… or just loot the place before it collapses. Featuring pregen characters from King of RPGs and King of RPGs 2, it’s a bloodsoaked roleplay-and-slash adventure! For 2-8 players.

10:30 AM-11:30 AM
Discovery Room B/C
(aka The Manga Censorship Hall of Shame)
In 2011, an American was charged with possession of child pornography for bringing dojinshi into Canada on his laptop. In 2010, Christopher Handley, a manga collector in Iowa, was sentenced to six months in prison for possessing obscene manga. In 2009, Dragon Ball was pulled from libraries after a city councilman complained about inappropriate content. Censorship is a fact of life in mainstream manga and anime, both in Japan and America, affecting everything from the “Harem no Jutsu” in Naruto to cigarettes in One Piece and pot leaves in Shaman King. Why is manga censored, and what do the laws really say about what you can and can’’t show? Discussing the legal, moral and business aspects of this complicated issue,… with tons of before-and-after artwork! Ages 18+.

12:00 PM-1:00 PM
Discovery Room B/C
When many people today think of “comics”, they think of webcomics, but Japanese comics still seem like a faraway world of print-based graphic novels and tattered copies of “Shonen Jump”. But the manga world in Japan is changing fast due to competition from ebooks, cellphones and online comics. How are Japanese artists today publishing their works? What will the manga of the future look like, in a world without Tokyopop and Borders?

1:30 PM-3:00 PM
Workshop: Pine/Spruce
It’s every otaku’s dream: being a manga artist in Japan. Now YOU can walk the road of the heroes of Bakuman, Genshiken and Even a Monkey Can Draw Manga in the world debut of MANGAKA: THE ROLE-PLAYING GAME! Go from a struggling dojin artist or an assistant and become a professional mangaka working in shojo, shonen, seinen or perhaps the dark underworld of ero-manga and yaoi. Face malnutrition, angry fans, carpal tunnel, the disapproval of your parents and the brutal terror of… the Editor!! Will you become the next Tite Kubo, or end up in the gutter babbling about maid cafés? Yes, this is an actual RPG, featuring music and audience participation. DMed by Jason Thompson (King of RPGs). Actual drawing ability not required.

Anyway, those will be my public appearances at Kumoricon, or just come on by the booth any time and say hello. We’ll have King of RPGs books, jewelry and T-shirts and I’ll also be announcing the official beginning of the Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath Kickstarter project!

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The Best H.P. Lovecraft Quote Ever

This is something he wrote in one of his letters (collected in the old Arkham House Selected Letters books):

“If I were ever to try to be a ladies’ man, I fear I would upset all my charmers at the outset by weaving them into weird and horrible tales! But fortunately, horror writers are not often ladies’ men.”

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Dream-Quest Kickstarter Update, 9/21/2011

It’s been almost two weeks since we started the Kickstarter project, and we’re off to a great start! I’ve got my fingers crossed that we’re going to meet our goal. If you’re reading this out there, thank you so much for your help in pledging and sharing the Kickstarter on facebook, twitter, forums and wherever!

For the last few days I’ve been scanning and retouching the old pages of Dream-Quest, while working on the cover of the graphic novel. Among the stacks are many images I drew for advertisements and things, many sketches, and many revised versions of pages or panels I drew for Edward Martin III’s Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath movie. The piece at the top of this page was drawn for a Dream-Quest flyer I sent out to comic shops. I’ve got tons more random bits of art like this, but there’s so much I’m not sure what to post up. Some of it will go into a gallery in the back of the book; maybe I’ll put the rest up on this blog.

Lately I’ve been rereading my Lord Dunsany and Gary Myers and struggling through the classic hollow earth novel Etidorhpa. I’ve also been listening a lot to the HP Lovecraft Literary Podcast, which most folks reading this blog probably already know about. This site is incredible. It’s really refreshing to hear a Lovecraft podcast that goes back to the original writing without all the later pop culture mythology added by August Derleth and Chaosium and everyone (not that I don’t own and adore the Chaosium books myself). The show has great production values — music and foley and all — and most importantly, Chad Fifer and Chris Lackey are hilarious. This show manages the wonderful feat of viewing Lovecraft simultaneously through the lenses of literary critics, historians, enthusiastic monster/sci-fi/horror fans who love this stuff and take it seriously, and snarky adults who don’t let Lovecraft off the hook for his occasional bad writing and frequent racism. I’d recommend this podcast to anyone, and it’s great to listen to in the background while you’re drawing Lovecraftian comics. I’d like to listen to it in bed, too (although I’ve already listened to all the dream story podcasts, so I don’t think I could use the podcast to mystically transport me into the dreamworld), but Jay prefers to fall asleep while watching Star Trek: The Next Generation on Netflix. (We both love Doctor Who, though.)

A quick announcement — I’ll be at the Jet City Comic Show this Saturday, September 24 in Seattle! Please stop by the table, I’ll probably have the cover of the graphic novel there, and hopefully some other new stuff. Speaking of which, I’m going to be drawing another 8-page Lovecraft comic very soon, possibly before the end of this year. Which one? That’s up to the person who pledged for it to decide. I’ll post when I find out!

Dream-Quest Kickstarter Update, 9/27/2011

Thanks to everyone’s generosity — thanks to everyone’s shares, tweets and spreading the word — thanks to everyone, the Dream-Quest Kickstarter has been funded! We did it, and there’s still six weeks to go! I’m so amazed and grateful, I don’t know what to say.

Today I finished scanning all the pages of the original Dream-Quest comics. Now I have to go over them, clean them up and make whatever changes and tweaks are necessary and I can fit in in time for publication. Most of this will be simply redoing the lettering in the early issues, straightening the panel borders, cleaning up white-out stains and other necessities. The screentones which I bought at FLAX art supply in San Francisco back in the ’90s and used for gray effects in the original comic (which was filmed photographically, not scanned) have yellowed and in some cases fused inextricably with the Bristol board they’re stuck on. This isn’t necessarily a problem if the tone still looks good and will reprint properly, but in some places the tone has crumbled off selectively, or gotten so muddy I’ll need to redraw sections. I’ve also got to make some changes to The Strange High House in the Mist and Celephais from the versions that are currently online. One of the pages of Strange High House has to be redrawn completely since I lost both the original art and the high-res scan through a series of misadventures.

What I’m really enjoying right now, though, is working on the cover and on the map which will go on the inside endpapers of the book. The cover lineart is drawn and Jay and I are working on the colors now. I’m still pencilling the map but I hope to have something to show at the Alternative Press Expo in San Francisco this coming weekend (Oct. 1-2). I’ll be at the Couscous Collective booth with my friends Shaenon Garrity, Andrew Farago, Pancha Diaz, Liz Conley and Konstantin Pogorelov. If you happen to be on the American West Coast that weekend, please come by and say hello!

Anyway, lots of work to do over the next few weeks, and more posts soon! And again, thank you! I couldn’t have done it without you!

Map of the Lands of Dream (B&W Version)

One of the things I’ve been working on for the Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath graphic novel is a map of the Dreamlands, as described in Dream-Quest and other Lovecraft stories. The results which will appear in the book are here, or here if you want a closer to full-size version.

Just to reassure everybody, this map *isn’t* the same as the poster map which will be included for “Journeyman Dreamer” and up level backers — that map will be a 24″x36″ color map which will more or less look like a color version of this but will also include some other stuff off the edges of the map, including some locations I couldn’t squeeze into this version. But for this book version I tried to include all the important stuff from “The Doom That Came to Sarnath”, “The Quest of Iranon”, “Dream-Quest”, “The Other Gods”, “The Cats of Ulthar,” “Celephais” and some of his shorter stories and poetry. I’ve also included some areas described by other authors who inspired or were inspired by Lovecraft — the incredible Lord Dunsany and the great Gary Myers — or in some cases, authors I had to include just because.

The most famous map of the Dreamlands is probably the one included in Chaosium’s “Dreamlands” supplement for Call of Cthulhu, of which the most recent version was drawn by Andy Hopp, but I didn’t look at that one so as to try not to copy it. If this map still has similarities to that one, hopefully it’s from following the same text, although I’ll never be able to forget all my years playing Call of Cthulhu. It’s interesting how the continents of the Dreamlands mimic that “T-O” shape used in Medieval European maps, which usually depicted the world as a circle with a T-shape drawn in it, with the world divided into three parts: Africa, Europe and Asia. Here, that would be the North, the West and the East, all of which have their own character, from the jungles of Parg to the vast and dusty deserts of the east, from the Basalt Pillars of the West the fearsome icy heights of the North. I’m looking forward to coloring it and expanding the map out to the southern edge of the Earth and beyond. This is fun! Hope you like it!

Redrawing Pages – Strange High House in the Mist

I’ve scanned all the pages of Dream-Quest and am working on getting the book into shape. I’m making some little tweaks to the old artwork, and a few pages have been particularly messy, with crumbling whiteout, liquefied screentone and other disasters that can happen to Bristol Board pages stored in a box for 10 years. (Actually, they were in nice light-blocking photo-sleeves, but…)

I lost all the pages to “The White Ship” and most of the pages of “The Strange High House in the Mist,” but I had most of them in digital format, so it wasn’t a problem. However, there was one page of “Strange High House” I only had in low-res and so had to completely redraw. The original version is here, but the new version is the one that’ll be going into the graphic novel. Click on the image for a bigger version!

Redrawing Pages – Celephais

I redrew some panels of Celephais page 10 for the graphic novel edition. You can see the original version here, but I was never really satisfied with it and I’m glad I had time to redraw it. Perhaps the new version telegraphs the ending a little more, and certainly the mood is different, but I like it. Ultimately the change was made for layout/balance reasons.

(Note from February 6, 2012: I eventually drew the page even more for the graphic novel: the final version is here.)

Randolph Carter Dream Dolls!

After weeks of behind-the-scenes work, I’m able to announce a fabulous new Lovecraftian (Kadathian?) toy… Randolph Carter (Dream-Form) Dolls!

These huggable soft dream dolls are based on Randolph Carter’s form within the Dreamlands as seen in my comic adaptation of Dream-Quest. Hand-crocheted and designed by French-Lebanese artist Katia Farage, each doll comes with a nightgown and sleeping cap sewn by my wife, Jumana Al Hashal.

There are only five handmade dolls, available to backers of the new “Cosmic Entity of the Freedom of Dreamless Sleep” level on Kickstarter. Put them on your pillow to guard your dreams! Take them to tea parties! Enjoy some Lord Dunsany together! Photoshop them into pictures illustrating scenes from “Dream-Quest”! The possibilities are endless!

Yes, this is a real thing! Thanks to my friend Katia and my wife Jay for their help and long hours of crocheting!