Monday, June 18, 2018

The Middlebury Diary, Part 2

I updated the first blog post with the photos, so take a look at that one HERE.

Saturday was the BIG event! The Non-fiction Comics Mini-Fest at the Vermont Folklife Center in Middlebury, VT. I was surrounded by amazing cartoonists!

Marek Bennett (in the hat) was responsible for telling me (MANY years ago) that there was a little school in Vermont devoted to teaching comic creation, and I should go there... Steve Bissette, in the center, was one of my favorite teachers there (at the Center for Cartoon Studies), and Andy Kolovos, on the right, invited me to the Vermont Folklife Center for the mini-fest!

Steve signing his new dinosaur books...

Isaac Cates - oy! If you haven't seen the Cartozia series, they are AMAZING! Literally, some have mazes. And maps. a whole mess of amazing cartoonists creating a round robin type of comic - working off each others characters and story lines.

To the right of Isaac is Dana Walrath. She was a visiting artist at the cartoon school and is known for her book "Aliceheimer's: Alzheimers Through the Looking Glass".

Seated is Joel Christian Gill who was also a visiting artist at the cartoon school. He creates a comic of "Uncelebrated Narratives from Black History" called "Strange Fruit".

Sarah Rosedahl (left) is ALL about chicken comics - comics ABOUT chickens... not FOR chickens. "What the Cluck?" love the title! And Stefanie Zuppo (right) - juggling comics, The Ladybroad Ledger comics newspaper, AND a new collaborative art studio in Essex Junction, Words and Pictures. Whoa. Superhero.

Robert Waldo Brunelle Jr. - his comics Explain it All!

Below: Kevin Kite (left) was my tablemate - he does science comics with very cute characters.  And Gregory Giordano - with the cool mustache - who created the Vermont Comic Creators group (I'm a member!)

Not pictured, but also awesome, is Bryan Stone - who has been emailing me advice on how my daughter can get started in the world of Dungeons and Dragons! It was fun to finally meet in person.

Oh yeh, and then there was MEYes - I know I look a little... perplexed...
I brought my dummy for the picture book I just finished, "Ready, Set, Gorilla!" and the new science comics - also JUST finished.

Photo by Robert Waldo Brunelle Jr. 
I want to take this house home with me!! It’s so quirky - looks like the house of a cartoonist, right? Or a tiny house for the Addams Family. One of the best parts of driving through these Vermont towns is seeing the amazing houses! I would never be able to choose just one.

As you can imagine - my brain was fried. By Sunday morning, the social hangover was kicking in hard! I slept through 8 alarm snoozes and decided to go "walk it off" at The Montshire Museum of Science.

It was nice and quiet there until later in the afternoon when folks realized that 90 degree weather is the perfect reason to take advantage of the science waterpark. I walked out to the other water features...

I’d walk for a while, then sit and “think”. I usually do this by the ocean, but this waterfall had to do the job. And then a lake... I’d think of a subject that was giving me trouble, and ask for a sign. The Studio? Money? The Fireman? Etc. I had no answers, but I was feeling a lot calmer than I had in...months.

I was deep in the forest when my phone buzzed - with a text from The Fireman. Seriously? Does that count as a sign? What does it mean?

I turned my phone off. And kept walking.

I had my lunch under a tree and when I couldn't put it off any longer... I finally drove home.

Minou let me know that she had been very well taken care of by Laurie - and I admit - for a minute or two - I thought about getting back in my car, and returning to Vermont!

Friday, June 15, 2018

The Middlebury Diary

The drive up to Middlebury has been a literal roller coaster of emotions and hills and hairpin turns and combine harvesters and overpacked bicycles on steep roads with NO shoulder. Exhausting. Plus I got lost. Twice.

I start to fall asleep at the wheel after about 35 minutes... so I finally stopped at the Sharon rest stop (way more than 35 minutes!) it’s a gorgeous place with a stuffed bobcat, a war memorial and a hydroponic greenhouse exhibit. I’m sitting in the sun, on the hill, looking out at the mountains... and it smacks me in the head, “no one knows where I am right now. And does anyone care?”

One minute I’m thinking how it’s nice to be on my own and not have to worry about someone else’s opinions and moods, and the next I’m feeling desperately lonely since I’m driving through an adorable village and I’m too chicken to stop and explore on my own.

I try to reassure myself that if I hadn’t driven half an hour in the wrong direction... I wouldn’t have seen that gorgeous village where almost EVERY house had a huge round tower on it! (I’m obsessed with towers)

When I was finally sure I was going in the right direction, I rewarded myself with an ice cream (it was actually kiddie sized, so don’t freak out, mom!) while staring at a sign that read “Sandy’s Books and Bakery”, and considering how my life would be different if that were my sign. Then it occurs to me, how many times in the past few days, I’ve asked The Universe/god to “send me a sign!”

Now, I am desperately lonely again.

Blog post, part 2
I had a little trouble finding my motel... in the few hours I’ve been here... the sign has changed three times!! I kid you not!

Blog post, part 3
So. I’m staying in a VERY odd little motel! I think they may be assembling it as I type.

It’s very noisy... between the busy road into Middlebury and the saws building something... I saw a big pile of lumber out there.... and the whole place is candy themed! My room is the Reeses PB cup room.

They must have had a grand time eating all those PB cups to decoupage the lamps! I am SO craving chocolate...

If the Fireman were here, he’d slam the door and find a fancy Inn. This place does NOT smell like dirty socks (Super 8 in WRJ!).
It’s tiny, but clean.

If Lilah were here... she’d say, “let’s get some Reese’s PB cups, and lie around reading The Fog Diver (by Joel Ross)!” Ok, kiddo, you have great advice!

Thursday, June 14, 2018

NH CZT Gatherings at The BeeHive

We've had a few of the CZT (Certified Zentangle® Teacher) gatherings at The BeeHive and they keep getting bigger and better!

Everyone works on their own projects (or just chats and relaxes), but Bette Abdu brought a project to share.

Once it is cut out, the shape folds into a 20-sided, jumbo-sized, tangled die!

I started filling my shape in with organic tangles that I might use for the wall mural around the trees on the studio's walls. I didn't finish during the meet-up, I work slowly and talk too much!

I've been working a little bit each time I am at the studio, and then I started adding shading...

I am really enjoying easing back into the Zentangle world! Meeting new friends too.

If you are a CZT in the New England area - or a visiting CZT - let me know and I'll give you more details about the next gatherings (there's one this Saturday, and two in July) - we'd love to see you!

The BeeHive!

If you'd like to see more pics of The BeeHive, take a look at the BeeHive's website.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Kids Con 2018

Lilah and I headed down to Nashua on Sunday to roam around the Kids Con comic convention. She had her "Go Away So I Can Read" t-shirt I designed for her, and I had on my Lego Batgirl Earrings and my comic leggings:

Yes, my mom actually asked me if I planned to wear them out of the house! It's a Comic convention! Where ELSE would I wear them?!

It was chaotic and colorful and serious overwhelm - but SO fun!

I really prefer walking around and "networking" to standing behind a table all day. I had made some flyers to hand out - I'm trying to get a comic creators group started at my studio in Concord:

And we talked to a lot of really cool people! Many live in Massachusetts or New Jersey - so they probably won't join our club, but I kept all their biz cards (which are amazing too!):

I'd show you some photos of the comics, books, and prints that we bought - but they are already dispersed around the house!

If you want to hang out and talk to cartoonists - don't forget - this Saturday is the Non-fiction Comics Mini-Fest in Middlebury, VT.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

...And it Got Worse

"Cheer up," she said, "things could always be worse."
So I cheered up... and sure enough... things got worse.

I'm not going to whine about stress and panic attacks (at least not in this post), but I do keep working myself into a tither trying to "figure stuff out" and "make everything work". But when it all shakes down, I never seem to pick the right thing to worry about.

I've been distracted these last two days from my plans to get the new Studio open - by two new really big opportunities - which will have to go in another post. So - distraction upon distraction and I can't seem to focus, make any decisions, or get people to respond to me.

My daughter kept coming up to my studio to see if I would come watch tv with her and she started to lay in the guilt "Can't we do something interesting together?"

Eventually, we're relaxing on the couch, watching the Flash on TV (my mind is still doing research on my computer and trying to work stuff out...) and the bad guy, on TV, is releasing deadly gas into the police station... my Mom says "Do you guys smell something? Is something burning? The toaster? What is that?"

And then we are all running around sniffing... the basement, the attic, every single room... and suddenly my head is throbbing and I have to get out! Mom said she was having trouble breathing and she was going to call 911. My kid and I threw on our sneakers and went to take a walk and clear our heads.

The fresh air felt good, but I couldn't think straight. As we came around the first corner, we saw the lights of an ambulance go by. As we rounded the second corner we saw two fire trucks with the ambulance, and then a few more in front of my house:

It was really weird and disturbing to walk home past all our neighbors and the big, glowing trucks.
This was as close as they'd let us go:

They made me go to the ambulance to be checked because of the pain in my head. I remember thinking how strange that was. I've spent so much time in hospitals and yet this was the first time I'd been in an ambulance. Then they brought my mom in and things took their usual turn. She's a retired medical examiner and particularly chatty with firemen and police. By the time Lilah joined us (she was fine, just wondering what happened to us), we were all laughing hysterically.

They scoured the house and suggested I have all the electrical work and the heating system checked out... damnit... that's bad timing... (but I promised not to whine). They did find some very scary, melted lightbulbs, but I still have no idea what actually happened. My mom started to suggest some terrifying scenarios.

I preferred the hysterical laughter. I commented to Laurie, "If I'd known we'd be surrounded by 50 good looking firemen - I'd have taken a shower and put on some real clothes!"

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The Non-Fiction Comics FEST

I am so excited to be a part of the Non-Fiction Comics Mini-FEST sponsored by the Vermont Folklife Center in Middlebury, Vermont!

Here's the info from their webpage:

Join us from 10am-4pm on Saturday, June 16, 2018 at the Vermont Folklife Center in Middlebury for the second Non-Fiction Comics Mini-Fest!

From science to politicshistory to health care, cartooning has exploded as a legitimate medium for exploring non-fiction topics and the textures of lived experience. 

The Vermont Folklilfe Center's Non-Fiction Comics Mini-Fest is a day-long event presenting a diverse assortment of Vermont and regional cartoonists engaged in non-fiction work - including discussion panels at 11am (Stephen R. Bissette Presentation: THE PALEO PATH), 1pm (History and Historical Fiction: A Conversation with Jason Lutes) and 3pm (Ethnographic Cartooning).
So stop in and meet some local cartoonists, check out their work, and learn about how comics can describe the world around us and tell stories of everyday life.
Best of all it's ABSOLUTELY FREE!

Oh, Hey! 

Also! On Friday, June 15, 2018 we are hosting a special workshop: Drawing from the Past: A Nonfiction Comics Workshop. Taught by NH cartoonist, Marek Bennett, Drawing from the Past will introduce participants to the basics of making comics from primary source historical materials!

Steve Bissette and Jason Lutes were my teachers at the Center for Cartoon Studies, and Marek Bennett was the person responsible for telling me there WAS a cartoon school!

The other cartoonists displaying their (our!) art is also quite impressive:

I'll be bringing a few of my Thesis comics - the Begin Again Comics Magazines, We Will Never Leave You - comic interviews with my inner demons, some of the Science Comics and Kits I created for the Montshire Science Museum, and some of the Tangle Cards too.

Unlike a comic-con, there's no cosplay and licensing insanity. Just all-natural, gluten-free, preservative free - COMIC CREATORS!

Good stuff - totally worth the trip!

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Looking for My BEES!

I know you've been reading this blog, drooling over the photos of the new studio and wondering, "WHEN will I get a chance to get in this space and snoop around!?"

OK! OK! How about Sunday?

I just created a Patreon project for the studio - Patreon is kind of like doing a Kickstarter (crowd-sourced funding) - but it's spread out as a monthly pledge rather than an all or nothing mad dash. As a (crazy?) incentive to get you folks to take a look at the Patreon for The BeeHive Studio (I could really use some feedback!!) I'm adding an extra, sorta-secret incentive... since Patreon processes the pledges on the first of the month - anyone who places a pledge (for any amount), by June 1st, will be invited to a private [Open] Studio on Sunday!

The best way to find out what's going on is to come and see and ask me questions in person! I know you'll love The BeeHive as much as I do - and you can be a part of molding this studio into the creative, buzzing, art clubhouse that we have all be searching for!

Here's some links:

The BeeHive Patreon project:
The BeeHive website:

My comics Patreon page:
My website:

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

What if I were...?

Well - I MIGHT be... definitely the "muffin-top" looks familiar...

I've been bringing furniture, storage stuff and lots of books and art supplies... one carload at a time... up to the new studio. The BeeHive looks like a real studio now, but it still needs murals and I've been missing the quotes from the previous space.

Today I cleaned and organized and got my first quote up on the chalkboard! Hurray!
I hope to invite some folks over to help me tangle the walls! If you'd like to be part of the Art Tribe, I'll let you know really soon how that will work. Still trying to decide if I should do a Kickstarter - I've just been so busy with Science comics I haven't had a chance to think it through. It's getting there though...

Oh! And that good looking... guy... creature... Boodle... is a paper-mache creation from a picture book I wrote and illustrated as my Senior AP Art project in High School! OMG. His name is Benji Boodle and I'd been meaning to redo his book for, ummm, a very long time. Turns out that at some point I actually started reworking it, but I have NO memory of doing it. Must have been when I was pregnant with Lilah.

My Mom had kept Benji through all her moves and he recently moved back home when Mom moved off to Bar Harbor a few weeks ago.

Welcome back, Benji! He is also, officially, the second Artist-in-residence at The BeeHive.

Friday, May 11, 2018


Back in October, I was contacted by one of my teachers, Luke Howard, at the Center for Cartoon Studies to see if I'd like to participate in The Secret Berlin Project. He wanted to celebrate the completion of Jason Lutes' epic comic, Berlin, which had taken 20 years to complete! Jason was another of my teachers at cartoon school and a fellow classmate (many, many, MANY years ago!) at Rhode Island School of Design.

I was honored and excited to be a part of this Secret Undertaking as Jason had been the teacher who had influenced me the most. He put so much extra attention into his class presentations and pushed us students to dig deep. He took time to meet with me and argue about school, family, publishers, or whatever I was obsessing over at the time. And, most importantly, he helped me cut and assemble the boxes that held my Thesis comics (Begin Again). ;-D

Major admiration aside, this project was really HARD!!

We were each assigned one random page from the first 6 issues of the comic. Our task was to recreate the page (not changing the text or intention)... in our own STYLE! Yowza! It's not easy to "redraw" the work of a master!

I agonized over it for a few days until my daughter, in her typical "mini-art-director" fashion, started to comment on what she thought were mistakes and bad design. "But what does that MEAN?!" and "the weird guy is just talking, he's not doing anything," and "it's the same picture of a weird guy from different directions..."

Here's the original page that I was assigned:

(comic art by Jason Lutes)

Huh. Yes, she was kind of on to something... What would Jason do? and more importantly, if I was to interpret the page in MY style, What would I do?

As we analyzed the page, I jokingly said, "that weird looking guy looks like my bride-of-Frankenstein Lilah Bean! But with five o'clock shadow and a cigarette!!"

my bride-of-Frankenstein Lilah Bean, with bat wings

And then we KNEW that we had a plan! Lilah (my mini-art-director and layout artist) sketched out the panels with her vision and interpretation of what the typed text really meant. I had the idea for the final panel, with the newspaper-reading-Lilah-Bean-editor-guy sitting on the pile of stones. I contacted my son who speaks a gajillion languages, and he told me how to write "pile of stones" in German, for the paper's masthead. I did all the inking, coloring and lettering.

Well... it's definitely recreated in my style.

It was agony to wait to see everyone else's pages - and to keep it all secret! But the original artworks were collected from 159 artists and bound into huge volumes housed in a handmade wooden box - and presented last week (at the graduation dinner) to Jason. I think he was pleased...

from Center for Cartoon Studies, Instagram
The complete hardcover collection of Berlin comes out this fall, but you can still get the individual issues on Amazon (and other places), as well as Jason Lutes' other graphic novels.

Friday, May 4, 2018

It's a Sign!

I've been sick in bed for two weeks, but I did get one day off to bring some more Stuff to the new Studio in Concord. And my door had a beautiful new sign!

Here's a closer view of it with the studio behind  it...

I was blown away by all the detail that Christa was able to put into it - each color is another layer of vinyl! This sign, and the previous Bumblebat sign, were both cut by Christa who runs The Place. The Place is now one of my neighbors since I am on the second floor at the Concord Community Arts Center!

When I'm feeling a bit better, I promise to plan an Open Studio so you can come see for yourself how COOL all these studios are!

Monday, April 23, 2018

The BeeHive!

It's starting to look like a real studio!
Even divided up, with furniture, it's still really spacious.

The classroom area...

The Shop area...

The resource area...

The Mannequins have new aprons (tangled, of course)...

My mini studio...

Part of the storage room - with a big die cutter and tons of dies...

The rest of the storage room (and the big cabinet I painted)...

I had a test run with the space on Saturday. I invited the NH CZT (Certified Zentangle Teachers) Meet-up Group to the Studio and everyone was very enthusiastic! We're looking forward to planning classes and Playdays.

I still have a lot more art materials and books to bring to the studio, some lighting and murals too... but I got slammed with a virus and I'm stuck in bed for a bit. After my next nap, I'll do some more research on maker spaces and collaborative art spaces.


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