Thursday, October 2, 2014

MICE 2014

Hey Friends! I'm going to be at the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo (MICE) this weekend at table C119 with Jennifer Jordan, Carl Antonowicz and Jon Chad

 I'll also be appearing on a panel with Jon Chad, Jerel Dye, and Branden Lamb discussing science fiction in the indie comics scene (Sunday at 11:30)! 

If you're going to MICE please stop by! I'll have loads of copies of Darwin Carmichael is Going to Hell and some other items of interest, including a MICE-exclusive table zine with short comics by myself, Jon and Carl.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

FYI:


House of Women, Part I won an Ignatz Award for Outstanding Minicomic!

It's taken me awhile to process this event (which is why this post is a week and a half after SPX) but of course I'm exceedingly glad.  Winning an Ignatz award is both a dream come true and a slight disappointment since upon coming home I found my life exactly as I had left it with its various challenges and problems unfazed by my new brick.

The brick now sits on my mantle.  At dinner after the show I had a bunch of my friends sign it, transforming it from an anonymous chunk of rock into a constant reminder of the supportive and wonderful community I have found in comics.


Moral the story:  Awards are nice but they aren't going to wash the dishes for you.

Cheers,
Sophie

Thursday, August 28, 2014

House of Women Now Available on Gumroad

Hey cartoonists and readers! Following my Ignatz nominations I decided to get my butt in gear and now "House of Women, Part I" is available as a digital download from Gumroad!

SPECIAL NOTE TO SPX ATTENDEES & EXHIBITORS:

If you are interested in reading "House of Women" I can give you a promotional code so you can download it FOR FREE. Just e-mail me at redinkradio (at) gmail.com.


Monday, August 18, 2014

Hooray hooray

I learned from twitter this morning (ah, modernity) that I got nominated for an Ignatz Award in the Outstanding Artist and Outstanding Minicomic categories!  Obviously I could not be more cheesed about this but I also wanted to congratulate my fellow nominees and to highlight some of the works I can personally recommend (which is everything on this list I have read):

Outstanding Artist
* Sam Bosma, Fantasy Basketball
I picked up this comic last year and was really blown away by sheer power of imagination and raw FUN going on inside.  A welcome spot of light in the minicomics scene which can sometimes lean towards the dark n' tragic.
* Kim Deitch, The Amazing, Enlightening and Absolutely True Adventures of Katherine Whaley
* Sophie Goldstein, Darwin Carmichael is Going To Hell; Edna II; House of Women
* Ed Piskor, Hip Hop Family Tree Vol. 1
* Jesse Reklaw, Couch Tag

Outstanding Anthology or Collection
* Amazing Facts and Beyond, Kevin Huizenga and Dan Zettwoch
* The End, Anders Nilsen
Nilsen's Dogs and Water has always been a touchstone for me.  Another great comic from a massively talented cartoonist.
* Eye of the Majestic Creature Vol. 2, Leslie Stein
* Sock Monkey Treasury, Tony Millionaire
* QU33R, Various (Edited By Robert Kirby) 
My awesome bud Sasha Steinberg is in this!  A really great anthology.

Outstanding Graphic Novel
* The Amazing, Enlightening and Absolutely True Adventures of Katherine Whaley, Kim Deitch
* The Boxer, Reinhard Kleist
* Boxers and Saints, Gene Luen Yang
* This One Summer, Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki
Probably my favorite thing that came out this year.  Utterly breathtaking.
* War of Streets and Houses, Sophie Yanow
A talented cartoonist who brings a welcome sense of space and poetry to her art.  Also the new fellow at CCS this year!  They certainly lucked out.

Outstanding
* "Brownout Biscuit," from Octopus Pie: Dead Forever, Meredith Gran
Octopus Pie has been my favorite webcomic since I started reading them and has always been a huge inspiration to me.  I'm happy to see it get the recognition it deserves.
* Destination X, John Martz
* The Grassy Knoll, Nick Drnaso
* "Jobs" from Life Zone, Simon Hanselmann
* "Mom" from Viewotron #2, Sam Sharpe

Promising New Talent
* Luke Howard, Trevor
I think the common joke about the Promising New Talent category is that it always includes cartoonists who have been laboring in comics for decades.  Contrary to that, Luke only started drawing four years ago and is already beating the pants off many of his peers.  What an asshole, right?  Go check out his website!
* Cathy G. Johnson, Jeremiah; Boy Genius; Until It Runs Clear
* Nick Offerman, Orange; Onions
* Keiler Roberts, Powdered Milk
* Daryl Seitchik, Missy

Outstanding Series
* The Black Feather Falls, Ellen Lindner
* Demon, Jason Shiga
* Powdered Milk, Keiler Roberts
* Sky in Stereo, Sacha Mardou
* Towerkind, Kat Verhoeven

Outstanding Comic
* Blammo #8, Noah Van Sciver
* Cosplayers, Dash Shaw
* It Will All Hurt #2, Farel Dalrymple
* Misliving Amended, Adam Buttrick
* Wicked Chicken Queen, Sam Alden
Two words: RAW TALENT.

Outstanding Minicomic
* The Grassy Knoll, Nick Drnaso
* House of Women, Sophie Goldstein
* Never Forgets, Yumi Sakugawa
* Test Tube #1, Carlos Gonzalez
* Up to the Top, Ian Sampson

Outstanding Online Comic
* Band for Life, Anya Davidson
* Big Dogs at Nite, Dane Martin
* Demon, Jason Shiga
* On Hiatus, Pete Toms
* Vattu, Evan Dahm
I've read Evan Dahm's collected edition of Rice Boy several times and I plan on buying the physical edition of Vattu at SPX.  Really great, imaginative and original science fiction.


As a final note, thanks are due to this year's judges: Darryl Ayo, Austin English, Melissa Mendes, Thien Pham and Whit Taylor.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Productivity vs. Happiness: The Rest of Your Life

I've spent a lot of time recently thinking about my life before The Center for Cartoon Studies, or, more accurately—my state of mind.  Before I moved to White River Junction, Vermont in the summer of 2011 I was living in NYC struggling to make ends meet and publishing my webcomic Darwin Carmichael is Going to Hell twice a week.  A year before that I was working as an English teacher in Taebaek, South Korea (still publishing DCiGTH) and a year before that I was working as an administrative assistant at New York University just starting out on my long road to CCS.  I was to all intents and purposes a newbie—I had few pages of comics under my belt, virtually no readership, and (I think) I was happy.

The year following my graduation from CCS has been the most successful of my short career.  I had a comic included in Best American Comics 2013, I ran a successful Kickstarter for a book edition of Darwin Carmichael is Going to Hell with my friend and co-author Jenn Jordan and I also pumped out a decent number of pages for an assortment of anthologies.  It was a red-letter year and yet I felt some of the blackest depression, stress and anxiety I have ever experienced in my life.  My days were busy and my to-do lists were never done.  I frequently felt isolated, angry and unproductive.  I distanced myself from my friends and family (some because of my perpetual bad moods, some through sheer neglect). Clearly, I was doing something wrong.

One of the benefits of entering a program like CCS is that it pushes you to excel in the quality and quantity of your art.  There are comics I simply would not and could not have made without the guidance, feedback and encouragement of my teachers and peers.  I am undoubtedly a better cartoonist for having gone to CCS and I do not for one minute regret my decision to attend that school.

Now that I'm a graduate though and am facing the long corridor of "the rest of my life" I feel it's time to reevaluate some of the lessons I learned over these past few years.  Here are a couple thinks I have been mulling over recently:

1. You are Not Your Career

When you are a regular participant in the comics community it's easy and natural to equate your value as a person with your value as an artist.  Comics are the air you breathe and the grounding for your relationships with your friends and teachers.  Failure to excel as an artist often feels like a personal failure.  "My comics aren't good enough" becomes "I'm not good enough". 

This leads to some questionable behavior and choices.  A balanced life that includes friends, family, physical health and leisure is no longer seen as valuable.  Productivity—pumping out pages, getting published, getting reblogged and liked and noticed—is of primary importance. 

I think those of us who are especially ambitious, who have always chased good grades and approval (and this certainly includes me) are especially susceptible to this.  It has taken me an entire year to see that the problem here is not that I am not productive, recognized or talented enough but that I see these things as more important then being happy.

2. No One is Watching


I have had numerous conversations with my classmates and friends over the internal pressure we feel to be "visible" online and in the world of comics.  If we are not constantly putting new work out into the world we feel like failures and no matter how much we try to keep up a steady stream of work it never feels like enough.

I think the reality though is that in all likelihood no one cares if you publish once a week, once a month or once a year.  Even if there are some readers out there constantly demanding more (and there are)… fuck 'em.  We are the main audience for the dog-and-pony show that is our lives.  Please yourself first.

3. Success Does Not Equal Happiness

I've found the media circus surrounding Robin Williams' death to be unsettling and I hesitate to add to it, but the lesson I've learned from his suicide is that all the success in the world can't make you happy.  Happy is a state of mind—not of place or position.  You could be happy today if you wanted to—if you actually chose to seek happiness instead of the things we commonly believe are its harbingers: recognition and success.  Be happy today because "tomorrow" might never come.

In light of these musings I've made some adjustments in my life.  I moved from White River Junction, Vermont to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  One major reason is for the more affordable cost of living and city amenities but I was also eager to leave behind the pressure of the comics-is-everything CCS environment.  I've also made a pledge (to myself) to choose happiness over productivity and cultivate hobbies that have nothing to do with comics and enrich my life in other ways.  Finally, I will try to see my guilt and anxiety over productivity as the problem rather then the perceived lack of productivity itself. I am going to try to embrace the philosophy of "good enough" instead of chasing some unachievable ideal.

I hope that by sharing this I can find a few like-minded friends who have also struggled with these issues and that we can all move to a healthier place together.  I guess time will tell.

Best,
Sophie

PS:  I in no way mean to blame the Center for Cartoon Studies for any of the above.  It's a great school and I'm very happy with my experience there.  I think the pressures I've discussed above are the kind that can breed in any environment where a number of highly creative, ambitious and slightly unstrung people are all focused on a single absurd pursuit.

PPS:  I am not quitting comics!!!  I'm a lifer. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Book Release Party This Saturday, July 19th!

This is just a quick post to announce/remind everyone that the book release party for Darwin Carmichael is Going to Hell is happening this Saturday at 7pm at Bergen Street Comics!

It's a co-release party with my buddy Jon Chad, whose really excellent book The Bad-Ventures of Bobo Backslack was recently published by Adhouse! There will be alcohol and live readings!

You can RSVP on Facebook here.

To whet your appetite you can read reviews of DCiGTH on Fleen.com and This is Infamous.

If you can't make the party you can still buy the book from our webstore!  Your support is deeply appreciated.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Writing Process Blog Tour

Hello Friends,
 
A few weeks ago my cartoonist-buddy Laura Terry invited me to take a leg of the Writing Process Blog Tour where we discuss things like writing and, well, process.  If you are interested in those sorts of things and, more specifically, how I approach them, then READ ON!  I also urge you to take a look at Laura’s post and her beautiful work.  

So, here we go:
 
1)     What am I working on? 
 
Currently I am finishing up part three of my six-part story The Oven, which is being serialized in Maple Key Comics.  It’s a sci-fi story about a couple that leave their bubble-city in order to escape strict procreation laws and start a family.  They find their new home, a community of outcasts and outlaws in the sun-baked desert, is not really what they were expecting.  
 
The whole story is already written and thumbnailed, thank God, so really the heavy lifting is over so far as that goes. (If you want to see some preview pages you can check them out here and here.) 
 
I’m also brainstorming and writing snatches of dialogue for the long-overdue House of Women, Part II and occasionally chatting with Jenn Jordan about our follow-up project to Darwin Carmichael is Going to Hell.  Unfortunately I have a hard time working on multiple projects at once so progress has been slow on most fronts.
 
2)     How does my work differ from others of its genre?  
 
Most of my work is science fiction so I’d say… well, it depends on where you’re standing.  I don’t tend to focus on the minutia of future technology (AKA: hard sci-fi), partially because I hate drawing machines.
 
I think I share an interest in gender and the female experience that’s been rich territory for SF authors like Ursula K. LeGuin and Margaret Atwood, but I also have an interest in corporatocracy and consumer culture like George Saunders, Don DeLillo and Neal Stephenson.  I feel a sense of genre-camaraderie with fellow cartoonists/idols Carla Speed McNeil, Eleanor Davis and Sophia Foster Dimino.
 
I’m less interested in thinking about what the future might actually be like and more interested in exploring human experiences and relationships through the lens of genre.  I’m a big fan of sci-fi films like Moon, The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Timer, Splice and The Robot and Frank. I also enjoy more fun, pulpy fare like Gattaca, The Hunger Games and The Fifth Element.
 
Basically I’m a sci-fi omnivore.
 
3)     Why do I write what I do?
 
When I shake the tree this is what comes out.  I’ve been reading and watching SF and fantasy since I was little—when I would read literally any book with a dragon on the cover.  I guess that must have shaped my imagination in some deep way.
 
Sometimes I can see in retrospect why I wrote a particular story or what it means in relationship to my own life, but I can never see it at the time.  I don’t think it helps the process to try and play critic and biographer to yourself.
 

4)     How does your writing process work?
 
I get an idea that feels intriguing and exciting and right in a way I find impossible to explain.  Then I look at a ton of visual inspiration. In the case of House of Women, Part I it was Aubrey Beardsley and Japanese Ukiyo-e prints, and with The Oven it was pictures of Slab City and its residents in Colorado.  
 
When I’ve procrastinated enough I’ll try to create a story outline and/or write down bits of dialogue and ideas for scenes as they come to me.  Eventually those will be knit into a narrative which I’ll thumbnail and (time providing) run past a couple of trusted readers for feedback before proceeding to pencils.
 
When things are going really well with writing I’ll get sudden ideas for scenes or dialogue or plot that’ll come to me while I’m doing something completely unrelated like taking a walk or driving or trying to go to sleep.  Not to get touchy-feely here but I do sometimes feel like it’s a deeper part of my mind that’s doing the hard work and I’m just trying to be patient and make room to let it happen.  
 
It’s not at all like drawing or inking which feel more rote to me.  I can listen to the radio or watch/listen to TV while I draw or ink but I need total silence for writing.
 
It can be very frustrating but also very rewarding.
 

 
For the next section of the blog tour I am handing the reins over to Carl Antonowicz, Joyana McDiarmid and Luke Howard!  Be sure to check their websites out next week for some excellent process/writing action.