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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The Center for Book Arts (New York)

MK Reed just recommended that I look into The Center for Book Arts if I want to take bookmaking classes. They have a letterpress course I want to take, and of course, all those binding classes!

I know all the academic functions of printing and binding, but being able to put it into actual practice and gain hands-on experience … fantastic!

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Oh what a splendid world this is!

What a splendid time to be in comics! I’ve been waiting for the Apple Tablet for YEARS. Ever since I played with a Toshiba tablet PC and realized it could be better, and then when the iphone came out. It seemed the perfect prepping ground for a truly functional full-sized tablet. It’s the one product that would make me Go Apple.

Apple makes expensive products far outside of my budget,  and my mind clicks better with the Windows OS (can it be helped having grown up using it since it’s birth, and a father who betatested and used its predecessor, (and the guys Microsoft ripped their visual style from), OS/2?), but Apple makes solid products (let’s not talk about the Macbook Air, please.), and a tablet? Well, it just seems like something they’d do right.

And for comics? Well, the iphone isn’t enough. It’s too small. I like to see my pages at 5.5×7 and larger. The business-card size screen of any oversized phone isn’t enough.

I’m looking forward to this. You can bet I’ll be releasing versions of my future comics in digital format now. I’m working in color now, and it makes it that much less expensive. And some day I’d like to buy one, but like with all Apple products, wait a few years and the price will go down and the functionality up.

Of course, I will still always prefer paper. Paper takes reading books beyond the mental experience and into the tactile. I’ve thought a lot about how I plan on printing “Jeannie Carnini” because the touch and feel and smell and look and opening and closing of the book are as important to me as the pictures. Now that I have a job lined up (YEAY!), I’m going to save so I can take a few classes at SVA (School of Visual Arts here in NYC, btw), mainly: lithography and bookmaking.

Since moving here, I feel like I’ve been bursting with energy and ideas and motivation. It’s amazing how much of a change something as little as moving into the right city for me has made. I click with the people here. The way everything functions makes sense. And I don’t roll my eyes at all the idiots I perceive on the streets anymore. Austin’s a fun city. A great city really. There are so many things that I miss (other than my family, of course). Central Market is first. Good coffee and cafe’s that stay open 24 hrs is another (oh my gosh, NYC has such cr*p coffee!!!!! Which is why my mother has mailed me my favorite blend of Lola Savannah coffee from Austin). I also miss the green. Austin is a lush city, especially for being in Texas. And people put a LOT of pride into their gardens.

But those are all small trades to be made to feel like I’m back on track again. I’ve felt so lost the last three years. Pursuing thread after thread after thread that leads nowhere but back to where I started. I really, truly, love New York. I love the people here. And I love the kind of person I’ve become here.

I’m looking forward to the next few years! Because who knows what will happen or I’ll become? I expect to change, to grow, and hopefully become a better person in the process.

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The Way We See

On the desk

I’m in the middle of working on a 60-page children’s comic (page twenty of layouts/pencils), but a question popped into my head while I was working on this: Why do I always prefer to work in the vertical? It feels right to me, but why?

A lot of people argue that we see the world in horizontal, but I disagree. Take a good look around you. Focus on anything in the room. What do you see? Do you notice the objects on the peripheral (horizontal) of your vision, or do you focus in a line straight up and down, the vertical of your vision?

There’s a trick I’ve been doing for years now because of my bike riding where if I’m about to cross a street, I unfocus my eyes slightly, the better to see motion to either sides of me. Because have you ever noticed that when you focus, everything in the peripheral disappears? Not literally, but your brain just doesn’t quite record?

Well, at least, that’s how it is for me.

So how does this coordinate with comics? There’s been a lot of argument over the years about which is a “better” format: the horizontal or the vertical? Personally, I think both have their strengths and weaknesses, but one of the arguments I’ve heard for horizontal layout (indeed, even for having horizontal computer screens) is the previous supposition that human vision is horizontal, not vertical. So, I call bullsh*t. We FOCUS vertical. But we take in settings and see motion horizontal. Maybe that’s why the two-page spread works for things like establishing setting–where there’s no particular focus, but rather a mood and a theme–but not so much for things like kisses.

Plus, PEOPLE are vertical. I find it rather difficult to squish a whole person beneath a narrow ceiling and floor when narrow walls work better instead. Even the human face is vertical.

Anyway … just thoughts running through my head while I work. Pretty dang happy with this project right now. I’m going to finish it mid January. That’s not an “I hope”. It’s an “You have no choice, Rivkah, so you better seat your freakin’ ass at your desk and WORK.”

On the desk

So back to work. Tomorrow, I’m going to a Paul Pope exhibit because I’m in freakin’ NEW YORK and because I CAN. And because he’s one of the best things that’s ever happened to comics. Other than Craig Thompson. And my boyfriend, Matt Bernier, whom not many people have heard of yet but they freakin’ WILL.


Brooklyn Snowfall Dec 2009

Brooklyn Snowfall Dec 2009


Coffee Lover Seeks Good Bean

Been having a difficult time finding good coffee to home brew in New York. I was in Manhattan yesterday running errands and happened to drop by Puerto Rico Coffee Exchange and picked up several varieties of beans, but so far I’ve been disappointed by their mix. Their beans, though having unique flavors I haven’t stumbled across before, have the savor of having sat out for too long. It’s that sort of burnt cigarette ash taste that I find so unpleasant in every single preground coffee I’ve ever tried. Except these were whole beans I bought and ground at home, so they shouldn’t have tasted this way.

So far:

Ethiopian: Incredibly bitter flavor that is greatly mellowed by sugar and cream. Actually, this coffee is almost sour tasting, and after a few sips it started to grow on me simply for being different. But it also has the unpleasant aftertaste of ash. Not a coffee I would drink more than half a cup in a day. Also very oily with little crema. I usually like the coffee oils, but in this case, it just prolonged the sourness of the coffee afterwards. However, if you like your coffees to punch you in the face and leave a puckered lip afterwards, this is a perfect blend.

Puerto Rico Importer’s House Blend: A sweeter, almost floral but still somewhat ashey tasting coffee. The flavor doesn’t change much with sugar and cream, so adding them does little for its taste. It did however make an excellent crema when I brewed it (always french press) and made a nice, rich coffee with very little oil. This is a coffee made for people who’ve had their taste buds killed by French roasts their whole life and don’t know that better exists. Flavorful, but burnt to hell.

Brazil Santos: Best one so far. Light and sweet but not overly slow. Slightly bitter without the ashy taste I’ve been getting in the other blends. Should improve with a peculator instead of a French Press, I hope.

Guatemalan Mandheling: Haven’t tried yet, but it’s a light roast, and I like light roasts. They’re usually more acidic but less ashy tasting.

My favorite coffee ever, however, is still the Lola Savannah Peruvian Fair Trade. Quite possibly the most delicious cup of coffee I’ve ever had, it’s spoiled by cream and sugar. If I can’t find comparable, I’m just gonna have to have it shipped. I need my coffee, dangit!

Nib Workspace

Yesterday, I also dropped by New York Central Art Supply and bought a paint palette for the Dr. Ph. Martin’s Concentrated Watercolors I’ve been experimenting with, more pencil leads for my lead holder (so I don’t have pencil shavings all over my floor anymore), and several shades of Dr. Ph. Martin’s India Inks. I needed some vibrant inks that are also waterproof, and I’ve had good experiences so far with Ph Martin products and already have the teal india ink, so I thought I’d give it a go.

Slightly inconvenient but not unexpected so far is that the degree of opacity varies drastically from color to color. My favorite so far is the Terra Cotta; it’s a gorgeous red-brown that’s beautifully matte and opaque straight from the bottle. I’ve been using my nibs again, and it works beautifully. I’m actually beginning to prefer this color for inking with a nib line over black. It’s gorgeous.

I also bought yellow, grass green, violet, sepia, and red. The sepia is also opaque straight out of the bottle, but it’s practically black. the other colors will require letting them evaporate to get more consistent, denser color, but they’re still beautiful vibrant colors, and I’m looking forward to experimenting and seeing if they’ll actually mix as well. There’s a few colors I would like to tone down.

I wish I could show the larger illustration I’m working on, but it’s a secret right now, so I’m taking photos and will hopefully show the process later. I’ve never worked with real watercolors before, but the effects I’m going for are simple. Mostly, though, I’m enjoying experimenting. I’ve been influenced by Eleanor Davis lately and her ability to draw so much expression and to exaggerate. I’ve focused too much on realism in my art in the past, and I’d like to move away from that and focus more on expression. Knowing the body and how it works is important, but I’ve realized the more I confine myself to the rules, the stiffer my people become. The sole premise I started with in this illustration was this: I have to draw an expression and body language, but the character can’t have any bones.

We’ll see how it turns out. -_-; I’m embarrassed as it is to show it to anybody. Grr. However, I did just finish inking these two other experimental illustrations. They’re inked with a nib using the terra cotta ink. I seriously <3 this ink! Hopefully tomorrow I’ll have time to experiment with watercoloring them. I’ve only used nib maybe two or three times before (thought I have all the supplies, I just wasn’t comfortable with the results), but that was at least three or four years ago, so I’m pretty happy with how these turned out. I’ve no wacom at the moment, so they haven’t been cleaned up yet, unfortunately. And since I’ll be laying down watercolor, I can’t just white out the line or it’ll bleed into the watercolors (being not waterproof).

First, the fat lady sings. I’ve been having a weird obsession with drawing fat, happy people lately:
Nib Practice

Second, a little magician girl:
Nib Practice

Mornings are made of the “Jane’s S.O.S” rewrite and evenings consumed with art. It’s a good work flow for me. :)

Saturday, however, I’ll be going out and applying for a part-time job with the U.S. census. It’s mostly weekends and evenings, and that’s perfect to me. I would like to get actual illustration work, but I’m building my portfolio now and diversifying so that I’m not limited to just a few styles. And I recognize the amount of time it takes to get that kind of work: it takes word of mouth and a lot of experience. I’ll get there eventually. :)

Back to work!

Rivkah & Puerto Rico Importing Co.


Dance the Night Away

Anybody know of any good places to dance in Manhattan or Brooklyn? None of that hiphop/r&b cr*p. I want stuff that’s danceable, especially those Latin beats where I don’t have to talk to or meet anybody, just get down and groove with enough space to spin and move. It’s a little awkward pumping up the dance music and dancing with my roommates home. -_-;


Stop, Drop, & Roll

I just almost set myself on fire.

I was in the kitchen, heating up some water for coffee. Got the kettle on the stove. My cup on the counter. Grinder ready for beans.

It’s a little chilly inside, so I’ve got a scarf on. A pretty Persian looking scarf my sister bought for me a birthday ago.

So I’m reaching for the beans over the stove, humming to the tune of a self-made happy ditty, when suddenly I hear something vaguely resembling the sound of wind rushing over sand dunes. Or the napkins I used to set on fire in my parents’ back yard just to see how quickly they’d get reduced to ash.

In a flash, my scarf is OFF, and I’m stamping that mf’er out on the tile floor. There were FLAMES coming off the tail-end. Somehow, I managed to unwind it from around my neck without catching my hair on fire.

All in the matter of about a second and a half. Glad to know I’ve good reflexes.

And that was my excitement for the evening. Never wear a scarf (or long hair or clothing) around a gas stove. Thankfully, though a little black around the fringe, the scarf will also survive.

Now back to work. This short story I’m working on is busting my ass, so I gotta bust its ass in return.

Currently reading “Dealing With Dragons” by Patricia C. Wrede and “Fight Club” by Chuck Palahniuk. How’s that for a mix?


Tea & Toast

Sittin’ on the couch of my new apartment having Earl Grey tea (milk and sugar!) with honeyed toast. Just got back from a local grocery store that would put Austin’s Central Market to shame. It’s smaller, and the width of the isles fits tighter than a pair of David Bowie’s underpants, but in spite of being piled on top of one another while looking for a favorite cheese or pasta (they sell SOBA!), they have an incredibly diverse mix of Mexican, Middle Eastern halal, Russian, Asian, and Jewish kosher foods. And it’s CHEAP. Huge, delicious loaf of rye bread for $1.99. A selection of oranges and tangerines for $2. Yogurt for $.99. A few things are actually more expensive (not much of an Italian market in this neighborhood, apparently), but I’m beginning to see this is the culture of New York: you find different places, all that carry an item or two or three that you like/need, and you plan your trips accordingly. New York is truly, a local consumer’s paradise.

Moving into my new apartment has been going almost stupendously well (knocks on wood). Yesterday I spent helping a friend move all her grandmother’s things into storage in exchange for good conversation and a full size mattress, plus box spring, plus frame. There’s no headboard, but that isn’t a necessity at this point in time. The point is: I have a BED. Not an air mattress. A BED. And for FREE. Well, except for transportation and food costs from my friend and roomie, MK, but those were minimal compared to what it would have cost to buy a new bed!

Landlord also came by the other day to take a look at the radiator, fiddled with them a bit and apparently fixed them. Though it’s been too warm lately for the radiators to really come on again, but he told me to keep an eye on mine and if I have any problems in the future, he’ll have a professional come out and look at them. AWESOME landlord, I say.

In the meantime, I’ve been painting my room a pale beautiful turquoise color, so my room has gone from a somewhat abused off-white, grey-blue, and blue-brown walls of loneliness, to the lovely feeling of floating in the middle of a cloud, especially with the pretty new white drafting table I just added to it (you can still see the original color over the radiator where I need to spackle over the holes left by several bookshelves still:

My Brooklyn Apartment!

Oh, and I caved and bought a bike because there are times, I’ve realized, that the distance I need to go is too long for walking and too short to justify the $2.25 cost of taking the subway/bus. Plus, having emailed my old bike shop and asking them how much it typically costs to mail a bike, I realized that if I could just find a bike in NYC for about the cost of what it would have taken to box and ship my old bike (about $150), and then sell my old bike next time I’m visiting my parents, then it would be a fair trade. So I got this:

My Brooklyn Bike!

A bit plain, but it’s SOLID, and it was exactly $139, including the rack. Though I need my bike pump that I left behind.

Plus, it’s a road bike. I’ve owned nothing but mountain bikes in the past and have always been afraid of owning road bikes because the thin tires scare me. I used to do a lot of cutting through grass, mud, and gravel, and jumping sidewalks, and that just isn’t something you want to DO on a road bike. And while my new road bike doesn’t spin on a dime like my mountain bike did, and I have to watch going over bumps and potholes in the road, the trade-off is that it pedals SO. MUCH. EASIER. Biking a mountain bike up a major hill is like lifting weights, man. It’s no wonder my thighs and calves are in such good shape.  But a road bike flows smoothly up a hill with just the barest minimum of effort. I’ve worked up a good sweat biking up the hill from south side Windsor Terrace to north side (that’s a damn good hill!), but I didn’t feel like I was going to keel over and die like I have with similar type hills in Austin on my mountain bike.

So yeay! Bike!

Now, I’m off to do laundry and get some work done on “Butler, PA”. Haven’t been getting much work in these last two weeks, but it feels like I’m beginning to settle in. <3


Radiator Troubles

I think my radiator’s broken. Or maybe I just don’t know how to use it because I’ve never used one in my LIFE, but I know it isn’t coming on. There’s a little knob at the bottom with number 1-8 on it that turns, and it was set to 8 when I arrived, but it never came on, so I set it on 5 to see what would happen, and it still hasn’t come on.

Hmm. Any advice? I’m used to gas or electric heating, not steam/water.


Welcome to New York. Love, Rivkah.

November 6th. Three days in New York, so far. Sunday, I move into my new apartment.

What a harrowing journey this last month was. And yet, what a blessed one. Never have I felt more the breath of G*d lingering over my shoulder. Yes, it was a lot of work getting here. Yes, is there still work yet to be done. But every bend and corner, every hill and valley, no matter how steep, has never been too sharp or too steep to get around again.

I’m in Windsor Terrace right now. A little cafe called The Oak and the Iris. Coffee is a dollar thirty-five, sixty cents cheaper than anywhere in Austin. The barista speaks broken English, and half the conversations around me I’d need a translator to interpret.  It’s a brisk, sunny 65 F out, and the coffee is delicious.

Six months ago, I made a decision that I would move to New York. I needed comics and I needed friends. This move from the college town I grew up in to one of the most populous, diverse cities on earth has helped me to realize that I need never be truly stuck. If I find myself in the mire, I can swim free again. I needn’t fear stagnation or despair.

So how appropriate to have my first set of keys in my pocket with the key chain given to me that says simply:  New York.

Welcome to the next stage. Welcome to the place I can never say I didn’t have the opportunities. Welcome to my new home.

This is going to be a fascinating journey, and I hope a few of you who’ve seen my posts wane over the course of the last few years will stick around to watch, be it on livejournal, twitter, facebook, flickr, or the face of my new site and blog (mucho tweaking to follow). But no matter what happens, this chica is going to finish another book and get published again. I hope you’ll enjoy it.

Love and Kisses,