Mike Dawson Comics

February 18, 2013

Progress Report

Filed under: Freddie & Me,life,process — Mike @ 8:02 pm

Angie Bongiolatti, the main character in my new book. Things are going really well with the story, and I’m at the point where I’m really eager to show off more of the comic to people, but I’m going to resolve to keep myself in check, and really aim for having a book come out that hasn’t previously been published online or elsewhere.

Been thinking a little about how this approach has been changing my writing habits. I’ve definitely edited myself more doing it this way, which I think has been to the benefit of the story.

A bunch of other recent things:

I found this photo, and was reminded once again of what a cool guy I was in High School (that’s me on the right, dressed as a “swashbuckling accountant”)

Also uncovered a lost diary, which reveals that the photo of my sister and I in New York City, which I put at the end of Freddie & Me, was taken only 19 days after we’d moved to America. When I wrote the book I couldn’t remember when the picture was taken, so I just labeled it “circa 1987″. When I create the “director’s cut” of the book, I’ll correct this. I’ll also include the information that on the following day, December 27th, I apparently went shopping all day, and all I got was some trousers and some glue, which I found to be “dead boring”.

My daughter drew this, and it made me laugh.

This fact seems more “alarming” than “fun”, right?

November 16, 2012

touching base

Filed under: life,The Ink Panthers Show — Mike @ 11:25 am

I’ve been a lot less online recently, for a couple of very good reasons. First, there was the hurricane, which – while not causing any major damage to my house – plunged us into a world without power for about nine days. We didn’t have lights or hot showers, but we did get to spend more time than usual with very generous friends and family while we waited for some of the infrastructure to be restored. I have to say, one of the nicer side-effects of the storm’s aftermath was a return to a way of life where you just show up at people’s houses unannounced, and knock on doors, instead of making plans through email and text. Not to get all luddite about it, but… it was a very nice thing.

Here’s a photo of my daughter coloring princess pictures by lamp-light:

And here’s a photo of a Jenga tower my Mom and I built:

(My Mom eventually got bored that the game was going on too long, and ended up batting my steady-hand while I was successfully removing yet another piece. So, technically, I still think I won)

Anyway, eventually the lights came back on, sort of surprisingly right in the middle of that follow-up Nor’easter. I wasn’t expecting things to come back online then, but was happy they did, because about a day and a half later, this little guy arrived:

(He didn’t arrive wearing that outfit, BTW. He came out much more purple and angry-looking, which is what I think is the norm. He de-purpled, and turned into this adorable sleepy looking creature pretty rapidly)

In slightly more comics-related news:

1. A photographer came to my house the other day to take pictures of me for an upcoming newspaper article. He had me pose in some decent looking poses, which I felt quite comfortable with, and then he had me pose in some other positions where I felt a little more uncertain and foolish. Should we take a bet about which ones make it into the final piece?

2. Back when we were doing the Ink Panthers podcast, we had a thing where listeners would send in drawings of our mascot, Inky, to use for an episode’s title card. We put the show on hold, but then received this awesomely creepy drawing of Ink from Evan Dent. I don’t have an episode of the show to pair it with, but the least I can do is post it in this here blog entry. Thanks Evan!

September 21, 2012

Ending Ink Panthers, and Other Stuff

A recently draw-ed drawing.

I haven’t written a newsy blog post in a while, so here are a few items:

Countdown to Ink Panthers 150: Yes, in this week’s podcast (146), we announce that the show is going to go on a long-term hiatus following episode 150. Saying that I feel torn about this decision is an understatement. Possibly, nothing has been better for me in terms of finding a place for myself in the larger comics community than doing this podcast. I’ve made new friends, gotten to know other cartoonists who I admire, been able to record live shows and panels, and all sorts of other stuff (TCJ Talkies, anyone?), all because of the silly weekly podcast that Alex and I have been relentlessly pumping out into the Internet over the last 3+ years. I fricking love making Ink Panthers. I think of what Alex and I do with the podcast as it’s own artform (well, it’s basically improv), with it’s own rewards. There are plenty of just-OK episodes we put out over the years, but there are also those gems, that were so fun and funny to make. I really treasure a lot of that.

On the other hand, I am very much looking forward to some down-time. I feel like I might have inadvertently annoyed everyone I spoke to at SPX by droning on about how I want to get “offline” for a while. I’m not sure what my problem is, but I moaned about it to enough people over the course of the weekend, that it’s clearly something going on with me. Apologies to basically everyone I spoke to. It’s probably all to do with the imminent arrival of a second baby and my neuroses about not getting the time I need in my life to make comics. The usual.

Either way, there are four more episodes of Ink Panthers to get in the can, and Alex and I have spoken about making them good, rather than just phoning-it-in for four weeks until we get to 150. We’ve been reaching out to some possible guests (both old and new), and are talking about doing one last PRO-T.I.P.S! conversation. Let’s make episodes 147-150 worth listening to, and fun to make. That way, when I get my head back on straight sometime in 2013, maybe The All New, All Different Ink Panthers Show can become something real.

What else? SPX? That happened, and it was great. I liked the Secret Acres recap and the one on Comics Reporter. While not mentioned by name in Tom Spurgeon’s account, I do believe I am referred to towards the end where Tom talks about eavesdropping on some of the younger cartoonists at the bar Saturday night. I think it’s important for Tom to know, I went to make a phonecall, and Julia Wertz was just busting-my-balls in that Julia Wertz way, though it’s also very funny to me that I had quite a conversation with a crew of the Secret Acres guys at breakfast that morning about my decision to eat a bowl of granola and fruit swimming in Activa yogurt for breakfast that morning. Also, I should add, I am flattered to be referred to in any way as a “younger” cartoonist, as I do believe it was cartoonist Joe Lambert who accused me of playing the old-crusty-middle-aged-man card with too much glee in my everyday shtick, while we were standing outside the hotel Sunday night, bidding farewell to the-weekend-that-was SPX 2012. All I am saying is that Joe and his friends are all Millennials, who don’t realize that The Cold War was actually, like, a thing, and I, being born six years earlier, am a Generation X-er, and I really get the world in a way that they never will. That’s all.

June 27, 2012

Recent Drawing Wednesday – 6/27/12

Filed under: comics,life,Troop 142 — Mike @ 1:39 pm

A recently drawn page.

Elsewhere on the web, Tim o’Shea recently talked with me about Troop 142 over on the Robot 6 blog. Thanks Tim! I appreciate the platform. We discussed a couple things, including a question about whether or not any other Scouts from my former troop had read the book and given me feedback. There hadn’t been a lot, I admitted.

Interestingly, since doing the interview, I did actually get to spend some time talking with an old High School friend who I hadn’t seen in many years, who had also been a Scout.

He ‘d been in a different troop, and like me, had spent many more years as an active Boy Scout than might be considered very “cool” (I think he made Eagle, whereas I famously dropped the ball one merit-badge and a service project shy of the big prize).

It was very revealing to hear how the story had sat with him, because I believe our experiences had been quite similar, especially going to the same Summer camp in New York that I modeled Pinewood Forest on.

We talked about the speech that Big Bear, the camp leader gives at the end of my book, which was based on an event that actually happened in real life. He told me that the same speech was also actually delivered his troop a number of weeks later. That boggles my mind.

I don’t know if this was the exact case that Big Bear was speaking about (IRL), but based on the date it probably was (I set my book in 1995, but that’s actually a few years after I’d already grown too old to be in the Scouts).

The speech that I heard that Summer, as it sticks in my mind, was about the Boy Scouts being under attack, I suppose from an Enemy on The Left, who wanted to deny them their rights to expel or prevent gay men from serving as Scoutmasters. I realize now that it must have been something that was ongoing over the course of that time-period, and this was all probably heading into court sometime around the time I was at camp. It’s funny how insulated the world-view of teenagers is. To me, the speech was a shock. I was probably dimly aware of the general controversy, but to hear the official bigoted BSA position stated so explicitly and passionately… well, clearly it stuck with me.

I’ve pondered the nature of memory in other comics, and the truth of it is that it’s a frustratingly slippery thing. Even events like this speech, which etched themselves into my consciousness, are hard to recall with clarity. I remember the mood, I remember Big Bear’s speaking excitedly, and the crowd of boys becoming more fired up. I remember phrases along the lines of “there is an evil sweeping across the land” (or “across the nation”, one of those…) and I remember the climax of the speech, about how they will “NEVER” allow a gay man to be a Scoutmaster, and the crowd cheering. Very disturbing.

And I guess I always assumed it was just something that occurred to Big Bear to talk about on that night. Perhaps it had been on the news that week or something.

But, from what my friend tells me, it was clearly premeditated. On some level, there had been a decision to publicly discuss the issue with all the troops over the course of the Summer. That really distresses me.

It’s been noted that the depiction of Boy Scout life that I present in Troop 142 is not entirely positive. The kids are all awful to each other, the adults are clueless. They are either oblivious to the truly horrible things that occur, or over-the-top with discipline on the stuff that doesn’t matter.

But, I’ve said, a couple times now, that my own experience with the BSA is one that I think of positively. To me, the story is more about being a teenage boy (or a middle-aged man for that matter), less an indictment of the Scouts. The ideal of Scouts serves as a contrast to the reality of people.

In all of my years in the Scouts, I can’t remember a single instance where an adult expressed the kind of opinion Big Bear put forth in his speech that Summer. It wasn’t a place of indoctrination. The adults weren’t trying to politicize us. The closest I can think of things coming would be the instance where a debate came up about allowing an atheist boy to advance, because of the requirements for a Scout to be reverent. But even then, I don’t remember any of the Dads ever insisting that the Scout be more reverent. I’m sure they could’ve given a shit.

I’m proud of being a part of the troop I was a part of, and in part because they were completely and utterly divorced from this Culture Wars bullshit.

June 1, 2012

Recent Drawing Friday – 6/1/12

Filed under: art,life — Mike @ 9:44 am

A recent drawing from the week. Actually, to be more exact, I should say The recent drawing from the week. I didn’t draw anything else because of never-ending life-related issues, but I think finally, at long last, all of that stuff is about to finally settle down*. It’s mainly been this whole move. We were down in New Jersey for the most part, but were back up at our now-empty apartment again this past week, so my daughter could go to a few special events at her Brooklyn pre-school. They were worth it, but I’m glad it’s all done now. It’s been the Longest Goodbye in the history of Long Goodbyes. We are down in New Jersey For Real now.

*Well, kinda. There is that whole second baby coming along in November…

May 18, 2012

Recent Drawing Friday – 5/18/12

Filed under: art,life — Mike @ 9:50 am

Things are chugging along.

Last week I tweeted the exciting news that my wife and I are expecting our second child this November. November is a month that feels really far away, because it’s after the Summer, and Summer isn’t quite here yet, so clearly November is never going to arrive. Of course, it will, and it will be sooner than I think.

Time to get back to the drawing board…

May 9, 2012

Recent Drawing Wednesday 5/9/12

Filed under: comics,conventions,life — Mike @ 5:10 pm

I was at TCAF this past weekend, and it was a swell time. However, I am burrrned out, I think probably like 80% because of all this moving house/being unsettled/etc rigmarole, and maybe 20% just worn out on conventions for a while. I did a ton of them since SPX last year: APE, MiX, BCGF, Angouleme, and now TCAF. That’s a lot for me. There was also the Game Developer’s Conference in California that I went to, which wasn’t comics, but was still a week-long event. I just want to be home, getting my head down and making comics. Thankfully, I have no plans to go to any other shows until SPX in October, by which time I should be ready to get back into it.

Also, I decided that A) since I don’t really expect to ever make a living writing my books, and B) since I have no plans to leave my publishers at Secret Acres, and C) as long as they stay in business, then I really don’t need to be as informed about the comics industry as I have been. Blissfully ignorant: that’s my new goal. I want to write what I want to write, and read comics that interest me, and that’s it. We’ll see how I do. Twitter is probably my biggest nemesis in this regard. I do like talking about the industry, and it’s pretty much a perfect place for that sort of chat, because it’s the thing that gets conversation going the easiest. And I love twitter. I can’t see quitting, but I have plans to put the drawing table and the computer in totally different rooms in the new house, so Tweetdeck’s Siren’s Call is just that little bit harder to hear. They’ll actually be about as far away from each other as possible – the drawing table in the basement by the boiler room, and the computer upstairs by the bedrooms. I’m really excited about it.

April 25, 2012

No Drawing Wednesday – 4/25/12

Filed under: comics,conventions,life — Mike @ 2:25 pm

No recent drawing to post this week, but a quick bloggy-blog update. Why no new drawing, you ask? Well, last Thursday my wife and I became first-time homeowners, and then spent the weekend moving all of our stuff down to sunny, peaceful New Jersey. I hate going so many days without drawing, but I think in this instance it’s all excusable. I might get messed up again this week, because there’s just such an endless amount of stuff that needs to get done. I gotta keep telling myself things will settle down, I will get back into a routine, just because I get disrupted from drawing for two weeks to transplant my entire life over to another State, doesn’t actually mean that I am no longer a cartoonist and should just throw in my Manga Deleter pens and nibs and resign myself to a life of picking out window treatments and area rugs.

A couple upcoming appearances and events:

This weekend is the MoCCA Arts Festival in New York City, held at the decidedly not-sunny, but undeniably spacious Lexington Ave Armory at 26th street. I won’t be present at the show on Saturday (see above paragraph), but will be there on Sunday for a panel at 2:15 and then signing and sketching at the Secret Acres table afterwards.

The panel I’m on is called “Memoir”, and it will be with Peter Kuper, Jennifer Hayden, and Derf Backderf. I’m looking forward to it. Speaking of Derf, I picked up his book My Friend Dahmer at The Strand last night, and read it all in one sitting. Totally absorbing comic.

I was interested in how part of the narrative had to do with the culture of parents in the 1970′s, and them being somewhat more absent than the parenting culture we have now. This is an interesting phenomenon, and from other things I’ve read, it’s totally true: parents were much more hands-off, (or I guess the better word again is absent) in the 1970′s for better or worse. Divorce rates were higher, and I believe the birth-rate hit it’s lowest point ever sometime around the middle of the decade. I was reminded of the movie The Ice Storm while reading the book – a similar sort of unsettling suburban environment, where the kids are essentially left to their own devices while the parents focus on their own dramas, completely oblivious to what’s going on with their children.

It makes me wonder, I feel like there’s a ton of criticism about today’s “helicopter parents”, and often people defend the parenting style of the 1970′s, suggesting a hands-off approach is ultimately better for the kids. I dunno. I don’t especially buy the idea that absentee parents led to Jeffrey Dahmer becoming a serial killer, because it’s not like he was the only one who had them. I was born in the 70′s, so didn’t exactly “grow up” in them, but I was close, and I feel like myself and most people I know seemed to turn out okay… but, how do we know that helicopter parenting is so bad for the kids? They haven’t grown yet…

But, as I type this, I think about American Idol, and the like, and every kid thinking they’re The Best and The Most Talented, and it’s their God-Given Right to have a career in the music industry (even though there is no music industry anymore… just kids on American Idol doing imitations of performance styles which came out of the 1970′s…) Maybe it’s better for a kid to get a healthy dose of 1970′s-style “the world doesn’t revolve around you” medicine every once in a while. I dunno, I dunno…

Anyway, sorry for the tangent! Following MoCCA weekend is TCAF in Toronto, and this convention I will be there the whole time! More about that next week, hopefully along with a new drawing or two.

March 9, 2012

Recent Drawing Friday 3/9/12

Filed under: comics,games,life — Mike @ 5:27 pm

A recent drawing for Friday afternoon.

Not a lot of stuff posted online this week – me being in San Francisco all week at the Game Developers Conference meant that Alex and I weren’t able to record an Ink Panthers podcast, and there was no TCJ Talkies this past Wednesday. I have next week’s chat with Renee French all recorded and awaiting editing, though. It was a really good one, if I do say so myself. Look for it next Wednesday.

GDC was a pretty amazing experience. As I mentioned last week, I feel really lucky to have a day-job that sends me to interesting things like this. I really do love thinking and talking about games.

A couple GDC takeaways:

- Indie Game: The Movie is something you really want to make an effort to try and see. I had no idea what it was going to be about when I went to the screening, but it turns out to be an extremely engaging and emotionally affecting story. Like The King of Kong, the story ends up being way more dramatic and intense than you initially expect. Also, Indie Comics people will see so much of themselves in the Indie Game Designers.

- Except of course that it seems like Indie Games people probably have a much larger and more rabid potential fan-base than comics people. I think even mainstream comics are sharing their audience with the video games set. I mean, what is a show like New York Comic Con anyway, if not a place where fans can immerse themselves in movies, costumes, video games and nerd culture, with the odd comic-book here and there. (I italicized the word “potential”, because I have no doubt that just because the audience is larger, it’s probably no easier for a game designer to make a hit game than it is a cartoonist to write a popular book).

- The digital revolution seems like it’s been nothing but good for Indie Games makers. Now game designers can go straight to consumers, completely skipping the part where they have to worry about getting their boxed game up on a shelf at Wal-Mart.

- I went to a panel about Funding Your Indie Game. Thousands of people showed up, and it looked like only one of them was interested in getting their game packaged in a box and sold on retail shelves. Everyone else seemed to want to go straight-to-consumer.

- Unscientifically Backed-up Observation: the Games Industry seems like a Boy’s Club, worse than comics. I saw plenty of women in attendance, and went to some talks given by ladies, but they were more about children’s games, or learning games, or the speaker had a background as a producer/project manager. I didn’t come across many high-profile women game designers or lead artists or creatives.

- Except one quite nice talk about Making Games For Your Teenage Daughter, where the game designer co-presented with his actual teenage daughter, and showed how she was becoming more and more involved in his development process. Maybe it’s one of those things where in ten years from now, there’ll be way more women designing games just as a given, like what has happened with Alternative Comics.

- In fact, maybe like what’s happened in comics, future generations of female game designers may start making work that’s fresher and more interesting, partially because they aren’t coming at things from the same shared video-games-of-the-80′s background and sensibility that all the men are.

- Again, I have to stress, I’m basing these judgments of the games industry on almost nothing. I really don’t know that much about it, and the stuff I’m the most familiar with is the learning/serious games space, which seems to have a different gender breakdown than the “AAA” commercial games nook.

- Weird thing: I love talking about games, and I love listening to people deliver interesting lectures about making games, but I don’t actually play any video games myself, apart from apps on my iPhone.

- Upon reflection, that’s not such a bad thing I decided. I prefer playing offline games. “Get Together Games” if you will. Like, Settlers of Catan, Heroclix, and Magic: The Gathering. So, perhaps I just prefer the social element.

- There was an earthquake in San Francisco that woke me up at 5:30AM on the first day of the conference. Counting the one that happened on the East Coast a few months back, that makes it two quakes that I’ve survived in the same year.

- There was way more, but I am totally wrecked today, so can’t think of any others. I took the red-eye back last night, so am on about 3-4 hours of fitful sitting-on-a-plane sleep.

March 2, 2012

Recent Drawing Friday 3-2-12

Filed under: art,life — Mike @ 10:40 am

A new recently drawn drawing. Happy Friday!

I thought I was done traveling for a while, but I was wrong. This Sunday I am leaving for a week to attend the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco for my day-job. Something I love, love, love is sitting in seminars and workshops having to do with game design. They’re always super stimulating and full of interesting ideas. I’m very lucky to get to attend this conference.

It’s funny, I’ve been to so many comic conventions over the years, I walk into them with a generally good idea of who everyone is, which publishers publish what, and a general sense of how the industry is represented in any given room. I’m picking up on the fact that the game developing world is much like the comics one, but aside from a few people here and there, I really don’t know so much about the industry as a whole. I don’t know the personalities and the history. Kind of like how most normal people probably feel if they wander in off the street into the NYC MoCCA festival or something. Taking it all in as a total outsider. It’ll be interesting, that’s for sure.

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