Old Men Sketches


Sketching old men while I work on comic pages. Except for that one on the upper right. I’m not sure how he snuck in there. Never really focused on how the face wrinkles with age before. :)

Lately, I’ve been working mostly with making test pages for color. Takes a very different mindset to ink with color in mind instead of black and white. I have to berate myself every few minutes to back off from the detail; too much and the colors will be pointless.

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If it hurts, you’re writing it right.


I found myself grinding my teeth while I was writing yesterday. I had to call my dad just to chat and calm down. I’ve been going nearly every waking hour on the script for this book, and it’s been seriously affecting my mood. I alternate between irritable and depressed, and Matt patiently puts up with all of it. Last night, curled up on the floor and sobbing while he held my hand.

You’d think ten years would be enough time to put a bad relationship behind you, but writing about it, having to form a coherent story has made things I’d thought–I’d TRIED–to forget bubble to the surface. I feel like I’m going through that same horrible scenario at twenty times the speed, and it’s making me a nervous wreck.

But I’m pushing through. I feel like if I don’t finish, I’m going to be stuck in this gray limbo until I do. And it’s LONG. I swear this book is going to be about 800 pages by the time I’m done, and I can’t really cut it more than I am already because corruption is a slow thing, and it needs to happen naturally through the book instead of suddenly for the reader to understand just how EASY it is. How even the best of us can be twisted and manipulated and led to do things we hate ourselves for.

Anyway, in the meantime, I have left over bits of tortilla soup with leftover delicious bits of chicken verde enchiladas in it to pull me through. Oh yeah. And a stable relationship. Let’s not forgot that. I wouldn’t even be working on this book if I weren’t with somebody who held at least one of my feet anchored upon land. Otherwise, revisiting the past could quickly drive to insanity.

And there’s God. There’s always God. It’s the only reason I even survived those two miserable years.

So much more still to go …

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Everything I Love About Sunset Park


Matt and I just got back from our favorite cart in all of Brooklyn (and mine in all of NYC so far). It’s a Mexican food cart that makes homemade tortillas with various meats and toppings, our favorite by far being the huaraches de carne (beef!). They make two tortillas, spread black beans between them, merge at the edges, griddle up, and then top with beef, verde sauce, and queso fresco and it is … the most amazing thing you’ve ever put in your mouth. EVER. The stand’s at 49th Street and 5th Avenue, btw. You know. Just in case you ever feel like trying them.

Paired off with a delicious Korean melon from the Chinatown over on 8th Ave (that yummy looking orange-yellow and white striped fruit on the right of the table. it tastes like somebody crossed a cantaloupe with a cucumber), and it’s the damn best meal I’ve had in NYC for under $5. OMG. The produce on the 8th Ave Chinatown is AMAZING.

NOMNOMNOM. Sunset Park rocks my Brooklyn world. :)

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Memoir-style comics.


Writing memoir-style comics is a freakin’ pain in the butt. Also, my carpel tunnel is trying to come back from too much writing. ;_; My latest temp gig finished up on Wednesday, and instead of taking the next job like I usually do, I said no this time and have been writing pretty much non-stop. It’s giving me a headache though, and it’s making me depressed. This book reflects a time in my life where I suffered more than any other, and looking back on it as a memory doesn’t make it any easier.

Also, I’ve been reading and re-reading a lot of BLANKETS lately. Not because I’m trying to emulate it, but because Craig’s storytelling style is so unconventional, it gives me heart. BUTLER, P.A. jumps and leaps and dives about a very non-linear narrative and it takes a lot of side trips and rest stops a long the way, which isn’t my usual storytelling style. I like a narrative that is linear and concise and doesn’t wander. But this is what works for the story, so wander I must.

Most challenging of all, however, is figuring out the parts to leave out and what to change outside of reality. I’m not putting down events verbatim, but rather taking the most significant bits, cutting out the lesser bits, and attempting to stuff them together into a new story that isn’t exactly how real life went, but more perfectly lays out the emotions and feelings better than telling it straight-up ever would. This book would be a million pages long if I told it as-is.

Certainly makes me wonder how many other memoir-style comics and stories I’ve read were more fiction than fact. Then does it still deserve to be called a memoir? Where does the line start and where does it blur? I believe in telling the heart of the story I lived rather than the carbon copy. It seems more potent that way. But it also makes it more difficult to tell, because now I have two stories going: the one on paper and the one in my head. The important thing is, they both have the same message and they both contain the same ideas.

In a bit, having dinner with the neighbors, and after that, possibly more writing. Sleeping at some point, too. :D

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Roomie Search.


Anybody looking for a room? Matt & I have a bedroom for rent for $650 a month, Sunset Park, by the N, D, and R trains. Eight minutes to Atlantic Avenue. Twenty to twenty-five to Union Square. Lots of fantastic Latino food, and Brooklyn’s own Chinatown just a couple blocks over. Safe, friendly neighborhood that we moved here for because I fell in love with it while working for the (stupid) Census.

We’re looking for a fellow cartoonist before heading to Craigslist, so I thought I’d start here first. Shoot me an email at thegirl (at) rivkah (dotdittydot) com if you are or know anybody who’s interested. I have pictures. :)

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Life in the Sunset Park


Figured it was time to update the good ol’ blog again. Matt and I are officially moved in together, happily settled into Sunset Park and up to our eyeballs in Latino food. I HAVE ENCHILADAS AGAIN. NOMNOMNOM! Every night, we sit and watch the sunset outside our window and do a little work on the apartment. It’s not in perfect order yet, but it’s functional and our boxes are at least all unpacked. Most of them (Matt!). :)

Currently, I’m still working at the real estate agency. It’s a ten hour work day, every day! So what with the move and also a trip last week to Austin, it was nice to finally have a weekend where I could wake up and ask, “What do I want to do today?” instead “What do I need to do today?” I sat at my favorite cafe in Park Slope (not many cafes in Sunset Park) and worked on Jeannie Carnini then went to the hardware store and bought tools. Here’s me with my power drill. I love my power drill. Corded of course. I hate battery operated drills. More money for something that takes forever to charge and doesn’t last very long at all. It’s not THAT difficult to just use an extension cord. Did a bit of research, and a 7.0 amp was all I really needed, and it works splendidly! Bought some nice bits. And things are going up on walls!

Tonight, Matt and I discussed starting up Comic Tools again and adding my own contributions to his. The move had pretty much taken over our lives for the last many months, and then with my getting settled in New York, and him making ends meet every month while recovering from a disastrous move two years ago from Portland, OR, this is the first “Let’s talk about comics” we’ve gotten to have in a long while. Moving really can eat your life, especially in New York where they require SO MUCH MONEY DOWN just to get in to a place. I’d never heard of broker’s fees before moving here or having to put a deposit down with your realtor (NOT the security deposit, btw) or having my credit run instead of my rental history and an expectation of making 50 x’s your rent in income in order to get approved for a place without a cosigner. It’s crazy getting your own place here. But we got it! And now we gotta do something with it. Our drafting tables are setup and they’re calling our names. Unfortunately, I left my desk lamp back at my old place. :( But I think I’ll make do in the meantime. :)

So! Comics are finally back on the table again with time to do them. Once we have a roommate, rent won’t be as much, we can save a bit, and I can hopefully go back to working part-time. My job is good money, and it’s satisfying in a way most jobs I’ve had in the past aren’t, but it isn’t comics, and that’s what I need to get back to.

In the meantime … Here’s a bit of the view of Downtown Manhattan from our bedroom window and what we wake up to and go to sleep to every night. And that’s only about 5% of our skyline. We get Ellis Island and New Jersey, too. C’est l’amour:

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Friends helping friends :)


One of my cartoonist friends is moving from N. California to NYC for school in August at SVA. Anybody looking for a roommate?

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I’m not dead yet!


Imagine me just now, on the floor, arms and legs stretched out, head thrown back drunkenly, sighing in relief. Life’s been one giant bundle of busy-ness, what with work, and working on comics and books, and Matt & I searching for an apartment together. We’re waiting to hear back on a place in Sunset Park that we both <i>adore</i>, so I have my fingers crossed! I have terrible to no credit yet make good money while Matt has perfect credit and makes much less. We hope we can at least balance each other out. Credit checks always set a big ol’ lump of coal in my gut because I had a car repossessed several years back (for missing two months payment, thank-you-very-much), and it’s pretty much ruined my credit since because I don’t have any other credit to negate it. I don’t believe in using a credit card, and I avoid loans because I hate owing money to ANYBODY. I prefer to live within my current means than to project upon my future means, because you never know what could happen and then be in a mountain of debt due to unforseen circumstances … as happened to my mom and step-dad when they got sued the year I thought I’d be going to college (that never happened, apparently).

Anyway … nervous. :\ I want to live in a place more accessible to my work, and really, I just love Sunset Park. It’s mostly Latino and … it feels like home to me. My dad and I were talking about how much more comfortable we feel in a Latino community than a heavily white one (which is how it is where I live now, in Brooklyn). Maybe it’s because I grew up in Texas, or maybe it’s because people meet your eyes there and don’t look away guiltily, but rather smile or nod or at least acknowledge your presence, just as curious as myself. It’s where I was for the census, and I fell in love with it.

Other things I’ve been up to? Well, working a 45 hour week at a real-estate company lately. Oddly, for having longer hours, I’ve actually had MORE energy to draw outside of work than I did working at HarperCollins. People here are energetic and friendly and there’s a nice sort of family feeling to the place. HarperCollins was well … it’s a lot of creatives and a lot of use sort of keep to ourselves or develop little cliques that make it difficult for outsiders to intrude. I do miss all the books however … I have a stack of books now against my wall, that if stacked on top of each other, they’d reach my ceiling. My 12-foot high ceiling.

So every day now, at lunch, I go to the break room overlooking Grand Central Station, swing my legs from a stool perched along the wall of windows, and draw my little heart out. It’s never a lot … but it’s enough. Enough to know that I’m still going. Enough to know I’m setting pencil on paper every day and slowly .. but surely … making progress.

In the meantime, proof that I’m actually working and not just saying it. It’s been a while since I’ve gotten to post art:

PS. I can’t believe I get up every day at 6:30 for work and go to bed at 1 after drawing for several hours when I get home, and yet I still feel happy and rested the next day. I must be getting old to be able to survive on only 5.5 hours of sleep every night … I’m turning into an old lady! Oh noes!!!! ;D

PPS. I love my job. My boss yells a lot (not at me) and it’s amazing.

PPSS. But I also miss my friends. I think once Matt & I move, life will be a bit less crazy and hectic, and I look forward to seeing my friends again! Maybe we’ll even have a little party once we get settled in a bit. <3 <3 <3 If we get the apartment we want, we’ll have roof access with a view of ALL of downtown Manhattan PLUS the Statue of Liberty PLUS the island next to it (Staton Island?) AND the park behind us. I WANT THIS APARTMENT. ;_; But I will accept if it’s not meant to be. ;_;

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Last Week of the Damn Census


PHEW! It’s the last week for the US Census, and lordy are my back and body happy about that! I’ve felt like a mule carrying twenty pounds or more of paperwork every which way across Brooklyn. Also, I’ve been simultaneously juggling a new temp job with HarperCollins, so obviously … it’s been crazy busy.

And yet, in the midst of all the craziness, I’ve been drawing and working on “Jeannie Carnini” again. I’ve been redrawing and simplifying the first pages and made the format slightly wider. The plan is to release several formats: a high-end letterpress version in “simo” (as they say at HarperCollins instead of “simultaneous”) with an ipad digital version. I want people to read it, but I also know there are those like me out there who love the hand-made and are willing to pay extra for it. I’ll probably price the letterpress version around $30 and the digital around $4.95.

I know. Steep price difference, huh? But I’m not a Scrooge. It infuriates me when publishers want to charge as much for a digital book as they do for a print book, or even more than $5 honestly. There is next to NO UPFRONT COST in making a digital book: other than the time that goes into making it. Which is still a significant amount of time, but it’s miniscule in comparison with the cost of printing, storing, shipping, and maintaining a print book.

That, and I like the idea of my work being accessible to anyone of any income.

Also, you never know. With the low price of a digital book, perhaps that’ll make the idea of a print book that much appealing; if you really like something, you want to keep it and cherish it forever.

Eventually, I would also like to pitch my children’s book to larger publishers, but I really want to just focus on self-publishing right now. I’ve also already fixed it in my mind that I won’t sign to any publisher without the right to continue self-publishing print runs of under 500, specific print requirements (no glossy interiors) and keeping my digital rights (which is a contest, because that’s what all the major houses are focusing on).

Oddly, my new job at HarperCollins is in their digital rights department, working on … of all things … ebooks. Funny how these things work. :D

In the meantime, off to visit my Census crew and collect the last of their paperwork. It’s been grande making money and saving up to move (either to Sunset Park or Park Slope) but LORDY AM I GLAD IT’S ALMOST OVER.

Toodles!

-Rivkah

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Letterpress Question.


If you had your own letterpress machine, a small one for small projects, what would you do with it?

Also, who here doesn’t even know what the heck letterpress IS? Other than the most awesome thing to happen to print since paper, and the most beautiful form of printing in the world? :)

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