What a week! Full days spent working on Hieroglyph chapter one, punctuated by freelance work and taxes (yes, we’re still trying to get things squared away with our renter’s rebate– may it be over soon…), and Tim was away in NYC meeting editors and doing informational interviews. Everything is going well, but we find ourselves very busy. Today it’s time to catch up and get a little work done, and clean up our much neglected living room.
Some week highlights:
On Thursday I had the privilege to be the in-house documentary cartoonist for the Vermont Arts Council Annual Meeting at the State House in Montpelier, VT. I drew everyone I could, as fast as I could, and then my drawings were displayed during the reception. I had so much fun!
And yesterday, Saturday, Tim and I drove down to the Eric Carle Museum to visit the “Celebrating Dogs in Picture Books” event, attend Jules Feiffer’s talk, and meet Norton Juster, author of The Phantom Tollbooth and long time friend of Jules’. I was SO excited to meet Norton and take a photo with the two of them. Their book has meant so much to me both as a kid and as an adult, and was a strong inspiration for my interest in picture books and cartooning to begin with. Their only other book together, The Odious Ogre, comes out this Fall. From my sneak preview the book looks just beautiful. I’ll be first in line!
This weekend Jules Feiffer hosted his long-time friend Margie King Barab as his guest at the Montgomery House at Dartmouth College. Margie is the widow of Alexander King, author, memoirist, famous media personality of early television and editor of Americana Magazine, a Depression era humor publication. Margie visited Jules’ class “Graphic Humor in 20th Century America” and told the story of her move to New York City from Nebraska, and how she met and fell in love with Alex King, her super (and 33 years her senior), and of their marriage and his rise to fame. On Sunday night we watched the first of 13 episodes of Alex’s show called “Alex in Wonderland,” in which he reflects on art, literature, humor, Africa, and love, among many other things. A young Margie King is seated next to her host and husband, offering prompts, laughter, encouragement, and an occasional song. Margie still sings around the house at 77 years old.
This week I had the privelege of attending the Politics of Cartooning panel discussion at Dartmouth College, with guests Jeff Danzinger, Jules Feiffer, Ed Koren and Ed Sorel. What a group! I loved them. But more fascinating than the work that they showed and their conversation was the audience’s attitude toward the future of cartooning—and publishing in general—as all but extinct. “You’re all of a certain age…” one woman began. “Just what the hell does that mean?!” came the response. But many audience members were nodding in agreement; are these cartoonists the last generation?
The Center for Cartoon Studies couldn’t exist without a new group of visual storytelling enthusiasts rising to the occasion to step into the giant shoes of past creators and continue forging new ground in the medium of comics. Graphic novels and comics format picture books are turning literary heads, snowballing onward as more titles are published every year. The new future in cartooning won’t rely on newspaper syndicates, but instead on book deals and digital media. Fingers crossed!
Jules Feiffer’s pets Lily and Daisy are up here for the week while his daugther, Kate Feiffer, and his granddaughter Maddie stay as his guests in Hanover. Lily is “the dog that winks” in their book Which Puppy?. She was terrific fun to draw.
Jules Feiffer has offered to looked through some of my past work this week to see what I’ve been doing during my time at the Center for Cartoon studies along with some sketchbooks from RISD. He has responded best to the drawings and stories I love while instinctively critical and unimpressed with the work that I, too, am unhappy with, or fought my way to complete. He can see the inspiration—or the lack thereof—however much I try to hide it. I never knew it was so transparent to the outside world. So where can that come out next year? How? How do you bring yourself to be inspired? Show up, do the work, commit to putting in the hours as your desk. We’ll see what happens in the fall.
I first met Jules Feiffer when he spoke at the Center for Cartoon Studies with Jeff Danzinger in April. He was charming, enthusiastic, and quite the ham in front of a crowd. He liked my sketchbook, which later resulted in the opportunity to be his teaching assistant for the summer during his Montgomery Fellowship at Dartmouth College, just a few miles away from White River Junction. He arrived yesterday. I’m already having a blast!