Tag Archives: Illustration

Review: MANIFESTO ITEMS #5 by David Lasky


Even in what would seem to be the carefree world of alt-comics, there is a creeping feeling of “self-publish or perish” that can nag at many a cartoonist. This can be a good thing as it helps to motivate many who must rely upon their own self-imposed deadlines. Despite all the interest that is supposed to be heaped upon the DIY world and a myriad of other endeavors conveniently labeled as “hipster,” “quirky,” or the grand ole workhorse, “geek,” there’s really no money, let alone a livelihood, to be expected from all the scribbling in notebooks and sketchbooks. Maybe, for some, there’s at least a real feeling of accomplishment from one’s efforts, not just a pat on the back. And, for a relative few who keep honing their craft, and especially at the alt level, each year brings a little more recognition. Each year makes the big picture more clear. This is certainly the case with cartoonist David Lasky. Here’s a look at a special annual publication that he’s been putting together to coincide with the Short Run Comix & Arts Festival in Seattle.

David Lasky Cat Comics

David Lasky and I are of the same vintage. I consider him a good friend and a fellow cartoonist that I’ve always admired. We’re both in Seattle and share a certain sensibility. So, of all the people who take a moment to read what I have to say, he’s one of my readers who I will hope to especially resonate with. Let me put it this way: I appreciate what he’s doing on a deep level. I believe there’s this chasing after the brass ring that was drummed into folks from our Generation X. People like us will make good on the dreams we’ve envisioned since we were little kids, as corny as that sounds. I know that makes sense to David, and probably, I would hope, to everyone reading this.


What we find in “Manifesto Items #5” is special indeed. David Lasky highlights his creation of comics from the past year. It’s a fascinating window into the creative process. Like I say, there’s that “publish or perish” mantra that can dog cartoonists. If a tree falls in the forest, and there’s no one around to hear it, does it make a sound? That’s the challenge that many creators must contend with. They can certainly opt to work alone until a project is complete and many are just fine with that. But some want to keep stoking the fires in between significant work and so they need to hunt down viable options such as anthologies, local publications, and comics jams. In the case of Lasky, it is this short form work, with its room for experimentation, that he loves the most and that he can raise to the level of significant work. We get a nice sampling of all of that, notably a sci-fi satire that appeared in The Intruder.

David Lasky Poetry Comics

Perhaps most revealing are a couple of things that feel very natural. One is a father and son comics memoir. David is visiting his dad. And his dad gives him some advice: Rid yourself of clutter! He then proceeds to unload a bunch of books and DVDs on his son who gladly accepts each and every one. I think that speaks to a particular Gen X mad love for all media.

The other is a prose essay recollection of David visiting the Hirshhorn Museum as a little boy to see a Saul Steinberg retrospective. David was fascinated by Steinberg on many levels not the least of which was his noncommercial approach to cartooning! Here you had Steinberg creating cartoon characters without a comic strip or any scent of franchise. Ah, that’s fodder for Gen X rebellion! And to make the point, David emulated Steinberg’s penchant for drawing cartoons directly onto the envelopes he sent off in the mail. How unconventional back then and even today.

Be sure to visit David Lasky right here. Find David at Etsy right here.


Filed under Alternative Comics, Comics, David Lasky, mini-comics, Short Run, Short Run Comix & Arts Festival

Mini-comic Review: ‘The Secret Life of Plants’ by Sarah Romano Diehl

"The Secret Life of Plants," by Sarah Romano Diehl

“The Secret Life of Plants,” by Sarah Romano Diehl

In the 1932 short story, “Green Thoughts,” by John Collier, we are treated to some dazzling horror but we are also invited inside the mind of a giant orchid. This unique plant’s point of view is what we find in this recent mini-comic, “The Secret Life of Plants,” by Sarah Romano Diehl.


Collier’s work most likely inspired the cult classic movie, “Little Shop of Horrors.” Diehl’s work takes a more mellow approach. In fact, her inspiration was a song by Stevie Wonder, “Journey Through The Secret Life of Plants.” You can listen to it right here.


This is a beautifully rendered little book in the true spirit of mini-comics. It’s like a little calling card for a new cartoonist. You present yourself at the party, you do a little dance, and finally you leave and go on about your business. And then maybe you wait. Someone like me might pick it up, set it down, and then return to it.

What’s interesting here is a sense of determination and an adventurous artistic spirit. This comic is alive, like a bee making its way into a flower! There’s a good deal of interesting ambiguous imagery. I really have no idea what the colorful flames represent at the end but I don’t believe you’re supposed to know. From what I see, Diehl is an accomplished artist and this little book is a fun and open-ended work that is very enchanting.

You can find Sarah Romano Diehl right here.


Filed under Alternative Comics, Comics, Illustration, mini-comics, Minicomics, Short Run, Short Run Comix & Arts Festival

Review and Interview: Koren Shadmi, creator of THE ABADDON

THE ABADDON by Koren Shadmi

THE ABADDON by Koren Shadmi


“I’m going to smile, and my smile will sink down into your pupils, and heaven knows what it will become.”
― Jean-Paul Sartre, No Exit

THE ABADDON is a very popular webcomic and is due out as a collected work on November 12th from Z2 Comics. It’s my pleasure to share with you some observations on the work and to share with you an interview with its creator, Koren Shadmi.

You’re this young guy in a new city who is desperately looking for a room to rent. You just happen to find what looks like the best deal you could hope for: cool roomies, one a potential romantic interest, a spacious loft, and you can pay what you want on rent. Huh? How does that work? Before Ter can ask too many questions, he’s voted into the group. Little does he realize he forgot to check if he hasn’t just made the worst mistake of his life. And so begins Koren Shadmi’s very quirky graphic novel, THE ABADDON. It is loosely based on Jean-Paul Sartre’s play, NO EXIT, and is due out November 12th from Z2 Comics.


I took notice of Koren Shadmi’s artwork with the recent graphic novel, MIKE’s PLACE: A TRUE STORY OF LOVE, BLUES AND TERROR IN TEL AVIV, published by First Second Books. You can read my review here. Shadmi has a very appealing style that truly brings each character to life. In the case of the character-driven THE ABADDON, he runs the spectrum of personalities, all of which are quite dysfunctional. Poor Ter never had a chance, although he may beg to differ. Shadmi does a masterful job of taking us on Ter’s surreal journey. Even if he were to escape his roomies, does he seriously think he can escape The Abaddon?


Shadmi is the sort of artist/writer who is at home with asking the big questions. With a cartoonist’s instinct for concise and precise communication, he distills those big ideas into accessible and entertaining content. He’s not taking anything away from the integrity of the subject at hand; even existential matters are fair game for comics. In fact, what better subject to tackle in the comics medium that questions of why and how we exist? The Abaddon proves to be a highly satisfying read.


In our interview, we touch upon existential matters, what led to the creation of The Abaddon, and what lies ahead for this up and coming illustrator and cartoonist.

GOD by Koren Shadmi

GOD by Koren Shadmi

I begin by asking him about one of his most compelling illustrations: a museum exhibit with a display for God. It’s one of the illustrations that you can purchase through his website right here. Click below to listen to the podcast interview below:

THE ABADDON is available starting November 12th from Z2 Comics. You can also find it at Amazon right here.


Filed under Cartooning, Comics, Existentialism, Illustration, Koren Shadmi, School of Visual Arts, Webcomics, Z2 Comics


The zombie book of the season!

The zombie book of the season!

It is ingrained in our DNA to thirst for bloody horror. Oh, wait, I think I just used that opening line recently. Well, it’s a good one and it certainly applies to The Walking Dead. I firmly believe that, when you strike the right balance of evenly spaced blood splatters and evenly paced plotting, it will resonate with an audience. It’s the next phase a horror creator wants to get to and fast just like Robert Kirkman has succeeded in doing. In tribute to horror done right, behold “The Walking Dead: The Pop-Up Book,” published by Insight Editions.

Lots of details and hidden goodies

Lots of details and hidden goodies!

This is no mere pop-up book! Look it over form every angle, there is plenty to look at and marvel over. This masterful work is created by paper engineers David Hawcock (Journal of Inventions: Leonardo Da Vinci) and Becca Zerkin, with text by Stephani Danelle Perry, and illustrated by Sally Elizabeth Jackson.

AMC Walking Dead Insight Editions

Zombie Surprise!

Zombie Surprise!

Based on AMC’s hit television series, “The Walking Dead,” this has got to be the ultimate gift idea for many a friend and loved one into zombies, horror movies, or pop culture in general. It’s big but also compact enough to fit comfortably on your coffee table or wherever you like to keep groovy ghoulies.

THE WALKING DEAD: THE POP-UP BOOK is a hardcover featuring five glorious page spreads and over 20 pop-ups. For more details, visit our friends at Insight Editions right here.


Filed under Books, Gifts, Holidays, Insight Editions, Television, The Walking Dead

Review: ‘Game Art: Art from 40 Video Games and Interviews with Their Creators’ by Matt Sainsbury


With holiday shopping fast upon us, Comics Grinder is ready to start making some holiday gift suggestions. Let’s start with this beautiful book, “Game Art,” published by No Starch Press, a collection of interviews with 40 top video game designers including page after page of eye-popping video game art. And, yes, this is art. You’ll find a wide variety of gorgeous work that would be suitable for framing. This is easily the perfect gift for virtually anyone. Here are some samples:

From "Fatal Frame 4"

From “Fatal Frame II” (Koei Tecmo Games)

From "Fairy Fencer F"

From “Fairy Fencer F” (Compile Heart)

From "Never Alone"

From “Never Alone” (E-Line Media)

From "Gamebook Adventures"

From “Gamebook Adventures” (Joshua Wright)

“Game Art” presents awesome game art that will inspire gamers and aspiring designers alike. Featuring major studios like Square Enix, Bioware, and Ubisoft as well as independents like Tale of Tales and E-Line Media, “Game Art” explores and celebrates the creative process that turns a video game into art. For more details, visit our friends at No Starch Press. You can also find “Game Art” over at Amazon right here.


Filed under Art, Art books, Games, Illustration, No Starch Press, Video Game Art, Video Games

On Being Freshly Pressed and a Fair Depiction of Steve Jobs


Comics Grinder was recently bestowed the honor of being Freshly Pressed by the WordPress community. What does that mean, you ask? For those of you not familiar with WordPress, it means that Comics Grinder has found its place under the sun and joined the honor roll of Freshly Pressed blogs worthy of note. This is a grid that displays a total of 27 entries from various blogs published on WordPress.com. Each day, three more blog posts enter the ring and move the line along.

Okay, so why should you care? There are a number of good reasons. For one thing, to be Freshly Pressed is sort of a seal of approval. You shouldn’t let it go to your head or take it too seriously but, if you should be Freshly Pressed, you should feel pretty good about yourself, and your blog. A happy and self-confident blogger means better blog posts! Yes, it is a great motivator to keep on carrying on.

Once Freshly Pressed, you never go back.

You feel a stronger sense of community. You cannot help but bask in the glow of acknowledgment. You know you must have been doing something right.


A lot of factors go into being chosen to be Freshly Pressed. I believe it has to do with the overall quality of your blog: its consistency, its sense of style, and its relevance. Ah, yes, relevance. Often, a blog post that is chosen for this honor is reflecting something that is currently going on in the world.

The post that was showcased from my blog is an interview I conducted with illustrator Jessie Hartland about her new graphic novel, “Steve Jobs: Insanely Great.” Now, the new movie is out, “Steve Jobs,” with a screenplay by Aaron Sorkin. Here’s the thing, Jessie Hartland struck a balance with the multitude of facts about a most exceptional person. In this new film, it is well understood that Aaron Sorkin takes no prisoners and goes straight for the jugular in attempting to cast Mr. Jobs in the darkest light possible. I am curious about seeing the film but I don’t have to see it. Maybe I’ll wait until it’s on DVD or not see it at all. I think Mr. Sorkin is prone to overkill in the same way as Oliver Stone. And I wonder what sort of treatment Sorkin would get in a Sorkin-like screenplay.

Mr. Sorkin should be ashamed of himself, if that were even possible for man with such an outsized ego. He has written a story about Steve Jobs that robs him of his humanity. An analysis in Fast Company of the real Steve Jobs and Sorkin’s sad, sad portrayal is well worth reading. Here’s a quick excerpt from the essay by Rick Tetzeli, Executive Editor of Fast Company:

The real man was a real man. He was complicated, and therefore could be mean, pig-headed, and wrong even on his best days. But he only became truly great because he was able to learn, grow, harness his strengths, and mitigate his weaknesses. Sorkin’s vision doesn’t capture any of this.

So, I’m very happy to have helped in my small way to spread the word about Jessie Hartland’s fair and thoughtful depiction of the life of a man who we can all, warts and all, look up to.

If you’re considering seeing the Sorkin movie or are curious about getting a good look at Steve Jobs, then seek out Jessie Hartland’s book.


Filed under Comics, Freshly Pressed, graphic novels, Interviews, Jessie Hartland, Steve Jobs

24-Hour Comics Day 2015: HOTEL HOTEL and The Fremont Troll!

My 24-Hour Comics Day Adventure at Hotel Hotel hostel has been accomplished!

One of the flyers promoting my 24-Hour Comics Day drawing marathon at HotelHotel PizzaBar

Here is my 24-hour comic for 24-Hour Comics Day 2015. I hope you enjoy it and get a kick out of what I call “24-Hour Comics Logic.” It kicks in just when you need it. I’ll have more to say in another post later this week about Hotel Hotel, the venue for this year’s 24HCD. For now, thanks so much to the support of Hotel Hotel hostel and our friends at Comics Dungeon.


























Filed under 24 Hour Comics, Comics, Fremont, Hostels, Hotel Hotel, Hotel Hotel Hostel, Hotels, Seattle, The Fremont Troll, Travel

Seattle Focus: Joshua Boulet illustration for Seattle Weekly Homeless Cover Story

Joshua Boulet illustration for Seattle Weekly

Joshua Boulet illustration for Seattle Weekly

There are those times when everything seems to fall into place. I sat down to a cup of coffee at Zeitgeist Coffee in Pioneer Square when a friend handed me a copy of Seattle Weekly with a cover illustration by Joshua Boulet. “You’re the dude that reviews comics on Comics Grinder. You gotta give Joshua Boulet a shout-out!” Yes, indeed. Happy to do it. In fact, the cover story is a very compelling piece that offers our city a viable plan to address our evergrowing homeless population. I enjoyed my cup of coffee, a first-rate cover story, and a pitch perfect illustration from our local hero, Joshua Boulet.


Filed under Illustration, Joshua Boulet, Seattle, Seattle Weekly

Interview: Jessie Hartland and Telling the Story of Steve Jobs


Steve Jobs, we feel we know him and yet he is something of a mystery and there is an enormous amount to cover. Jessie Hartland has created an illustrated work, a “graphic biography,” that brings the public figure down to a human scale: “Steve Jobs: Insanely Great,” published by Schwartz & Wade Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Read my review here.

Jessie Hartland is the author of the highly acclaimed graphic biography, “Bon Appetit: The Delicious Life of Julia Child,” described by the New York Times as “bursting with exuberant urban-naif gouache paintings and a hand-lettered text that somehow manages to recount every second of Child’s life.”

For her book on Steve Jobs, Ms. Hartland provides us with an engaging and comprehensive look at one of the great technology trailblazers of our time. “Steve Jobs: Insanely Great” is another wonderful example of an all-ages book providing a significant amount of information in a concise and entertaining way. While Jobs is a problematic role model at best, he remains a most intriguing individual.

The full interview with Jessie Hartland follows and includes the podcast at the end.

Jessie-Hartland-Steve-Jobs-Schwartz-Wade-BooksHenry Chamberlain: Do you believe that your book has brought Steve Jobs down to a human scale and made him accessible to readers? What would you say is your purpose in bringing this book out?

Jessie Hartland: I think more people are reading my book than would normally sit down with a 600-page biography. So, more people are learning about him. He’s such a fascinating guy. I had just turned in the book on Julia Child, which was also a graphic biography, this one was in color. And I was searching for who to write about next. I was considering a scientist or an artist. And then Steve Jobs dies. He seemed like just the right person to write about. It had begun as a picture book, more like the Julia Child book I’d done, for younger kids. The more I read about him, the more I wanted to write about his whole life. My editors had originally envisioned the book ending with the Apple I computer. Only 200 of those computers were sold and that’s not what he’s known for. So, I went back to my editors and said I really wanted to cover his whole life, I want to do it in black and white, and just run with it. I didn’t want to limit the page count and I wanted it to be more for middle grade or teenagers.

HC: What was your thinking with going with black and white? Was that to instantly signal the reader that this is more serious content?

JH: I think a lot of the graphic novels out there are black and white. I like the stark quality of black and white. I like Marjane Satrapi’s “Persepolis.” I could have used color. It wasn’t really discussed. I think I wanted it to be more about the drawings, the lines, and the words rather than these gauche paintings. If I had done gauche paintings for this one, I probably would still be working on it.

HC: This must be quite pleasing to have these two major films coming out coinciding with your book. That didn’t turn out that way with your book on Julia Child.

JH: Yes, that’s a funny story. I came up with the idea for the Julia Child book years ago, probably two or three years before the film, “Julie and Julia.” I had different editors then and they were saying that no one cared about Julia Child anymore. And so the book ended up without a home. Only later, with my editors at Random House, did the book find a home. The 100th anniversary of Julia Child birth was coming up and there would be press for that. But, had we moved forward earlier, my book would have coincided with the film.

HC: But now you’ve got two major films. The new Alex Gibney documentary, “Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine,” comes out this week, September 4th.

JH: Oh, really?

HC: And then you have what I can only imagine will be a very important film, with an Aaron Sorkin screenplay, simply entitled, “Steve Jobs,” coming out next month, October 9th. There have been all the books, these two major films. I can’t think, in recent memory, of so much notable work springing forth from one public figure.

JH: He’s such an interesting character. Here’s this guy, this rebel, this iconoclast. He dropped out of college after only one semester. And then he takes a calligraphy class. He starts a little company in his parent’s garage with Woz and it grew to become the world’s most powerful company. It’s just amazing. Who wouldn’t want to know more about him?

HC: We’re at a very interesting turning point with graphic novels. More and more people are understanding that they aren’t just for kids, if they ever were, really.

JH: Yes, that’s right.

HC: You create a perfect all-ages book with issues that can be discussed between a parent and child. You bring in the issue of his experimenting with drugs. You bring in the issue of his not ready to be a dad the first time around. These are big issues but kids can appreciate the realities of life and these are things that are fair game to include.

JH: I didn’t want to leave out the low points in his life. His denying the paternity to his first child with his high school girlfriend. And, of course, the drug use. He said so much about how important that was. He really liked these psychedelic drugs and they gave him a different viewpoint of the world. For him, it was like looking down from another planet and seeing the big picture. It helped him with his intuition and imagining what kind of products people would want in the future before they knew what they wanted. He didn’t like to do market research. He liked to quote Henry Ford, another great businessman. Ford would say that, if he left it up to the public to decide what they wanted, they would have asked for a faster horse.

HC: I wanted to ask you about your process. You do a variation on storyboarding. I imagine that you work larger than print size and then reduce your pages to fit inside your binder where you can then shuffle them around as you need.

JH: Yeah, I work a little bit bigger than print but not by too much. Those binders are really important. This book took up two of them since it was so long. The pages let me shift things around. It’s really important to organizing the material. It took two years to siphon through that quantity of material, to winnow it down, and get everything in order. It took a while to wrap my mind around the fact that iTunes came around before the iPod. And then the events involved with Pixar were complicated to sort out.

HC: Where did his catch phrase, “Insanely Great,” originate from?

JH: Oh, I think that goes way back to when he was a teenager. Yes, I love using that in the book. Woz had the idea for a home computer and his employer, Hewlett Packard, wasn’t interested in developing it at that point. And then Woz showed the circuit board to Steve and Steve says, “Insanely great! Let’s start a company!” Jobs was the great salesman with the big picture. Woz was this engineering genius.

HC: Steve Jobs was at the right place and at the right time in so many ways.

JH: Yes, he grew up in and spent his whole life in Silicon Valley. It used to be known simply as Santa Clara Valley. His father was a machinist. He was adopted. His biological parents were graduate students at the time. One of the parents objected to the marriage on religious grounds. Steve was adopted, grew up in the suburbs of Santa Clara. His father worked in the tech industry. He didn’t go to college but he was a tinkerer and he and Steve would go to the local junkyard, fill up the truck with things, and do projects together. They’d put things together. There were tools all around. And the neighborhood was just swarming with engineers. Steve got to know a lot of the neighbors and how things work and what was going on. It was a very exciting time in what was to be known as Silicon Valley.

HC: Steve could just pick up the phone and start talking to the founder of Hewlett Packard.

JH: Yes! That’s right. He needed some parts for his frequency counter, a device that measure the pulses per second in an electronic signal. He had some of the pieces he needed but he was missing some. He knew that the head of Hewlett Packard lived nearby. So, he looked up Bill Hewlett in the phone book and called him up. Bill was so impressed with the young Steve Jobs that he offered him a summer job.

HC: I am looking at a page from your binders. And I was thinking last night, what if Steve Jobs was standing beside you and looking at your process. He might say to you that he had an “insanely great” way to speed up your work flow. However, I am not sure that I would classify your system so much as “low tech” as “hands on.” I don’t believe that there would be a satisfactory alternative for how you work.

JH: I like having little bits of paper around. I like sketching in a cafe and then slip that work into a binder. It is so hands on. And I love painting, working in gouache. This whole book was done in pen and ink. I went through six bottle of India ink and 24 Prismacolor pencils. It’s all hand-drawn. And people will snicker that I didn’t use a computer. But I did. With the gray tones, I had an assistant help me prepare all those files.

HC: Thanks so much for this chat. I know you want to pursue more graphic biographies. You have the one about pioneering computer programmer Ada Lovelace.

JH: That one, the Ada Lovelace book, is written by someone else and will be a picture book for younger readers. Currently, I am working on some art for a local show here on Long Island. The art will resemble totem poles. These will be called, “floatem poles.” They’re made from the flotsam and jetsam that washes up on the beach. And I’m working on some other books. I’m working with an entomologist on a book about insects. And I’m working on a book that features Tartufo, a truffle hound and that will be set in either Italy or France. I am going to Europe in a week to research that.

HC: I wish you a great trip. And thank you for your time.

JH: Thank you.

The podcast is below:

You can find “Steve Jobs: Insanely Great” at Amazon right here. You can visit Jessie Hartland right here.


Filed under Biography, Comics, History, Interviews, Steve Jobs, Technology

Review: ‘The Realism Challenge: Drawing and Painting Secrets from a Modern Master of Hyperrealism’


You may know Mark Crilley from his manga series, “Miki Falls,” or his series with Dark Horse Comics, “Brody’s Ghost.” Or you may know him as the internet viral sensation. Crilley’s drawing demonstration videos have received well over two hundred million views on YouTube. You’ve probably seen them. The challenge is to create hyperrealistic versions of common objects that look just like the real thing—something humans have been trying to do for thousands of years. The French call it “trompe l’oeil.” And now the secrets behind creating this art have been collected in one book so you can see for yourself what it takes to do your own hyperreal drawings.

The Realism Challenge is easy in a lot of ways. Just follow the step-by-step instruction, and you’ll be amazed at the results you can achieve. Even if you don’t fancy yourself an artist, getting to see the process is fascinating. But chances are that, once you become familiar, you’ll want to try your hand at it too.

Toast--from The Realism Challenge by Mark Crilley--2015

We hear a lot about the hyperreal world we live in. The realistic work of Mark Crilley is perfectly in step with a zeitgeist that revels in intense, vivid, and urgent reality. That said, realistic art is as timeless as the pursuit of realism.


“The Realism Challenge: Drawing and Painting Secrets from a Modern Master of Hyperrealism” is published by Watson-Guptill, an imprint of Penguin Random House. It is a 160-page trade paperback, with 200 illustrations, priced at $19.99 (Can $23.99). You can find it at Amazon right here.


Filed under Amazon, Art, Art books, Comics, Hyperrealism, Illustration, Mark Crilley, Penguin Random House