TUMBLR

A scrapbook of stuff I'm reading / looking at / listening to / thinking about...



Posts tagged "james kochalka"

Sep 03, 2014
Permalink

kochalka:

James Kochalka on Being Creative

“The main inhibitor for creativity is just being scared… if you’re worried that what you’re gonna do is not good enough, then you just don’t do it. That’s what “writer’s block” really is: people say, “Oh, I don’t have any ideas.” It’s not that you don’t have ideas, you’ve got tons of ideas, you’re afraid they’re not good enough.”

James has long been one of my favorite cartoonists. Two of his pieces of writing had a big impact on me early on: “Craft is the enemy” and “The Horrible Truth About Comics,” both of which are in his great book, The Cute Manifesto. (Fun fact: the original dummy book for Steal Like An Artist was just a copy of The Cute Manifesto with a dust jacket.)

If you haven’t read American Elf, it’s one of my favorite comics, ever. Start with volume one.

Filed under: james kochalka

Feb 22, 2014
Permalink

If I remember correctly, my editor and I were on the phone talking about format ideas and trim sizes for Steal Like An Artist, and the problem was that my slides for the original talk were landscape format but books are usually portrait format. So I think Bruce suggested meeting in the middle and making it square.

So I went hunting for square books, and it turned out that James Kochalka’s The Cute Manifesto, one of my favorite little square books, is in the exact trim size we were talking about using, 6x6. So I drew up a cover, printed it out, and wrapped it around my copy to make a dummy book:

dummy book

I took that up to Workman and left it with them, and the story goes that they mocked up a bunch of other covers and laid them all out, but the late Peter Workman pointed to my dummy book and said, “That one.” (I regret so much that we never got to meet.)

It’s very, very rare that an author gets to do the covers for his books, but much to the credit of the Workman design team, they’ve let me in on every part of the process. I think part of what made that cover work is that it’s too stupidly simple—I’m not sure any real book cover designer would dare suggest something so simple.

Anyways, when it came time for Show Your Work!, I really conceived of both books as a kind of “Robin Hood” box set — you steal, and then you share — so it made sense to make them the same trim size. (We’ll see about the box set…)

Feb 21, 2014
Permalink
kochalka:

Sweet Spandy, we love you.

RIP Spandy. :(

kochalka:

Sweet Spandy, we love you.

RIP Spandy. :(

Aug 23, 2013
Permalink
kochalka:

SURFING.
I was in Waitsfield, VT yesterday… teaching a comics class to some kids at the church next to the Library.  Afterwards the family and I went to The Mad Taco.
I was so pleased to see my comic strip hanging next to the counter in the restaurant.  A huge wave of happiness hit me.  Followed by a instant crushing sadness, mourning the end of my strip all over again.

Damn, I miss reading American Elf.

kochalka:

SURFING.

I was in Waitsfield, VT yesterday… teaching a comics class to some kids at the church next to the Library.  Afterwards the family and I went to The Mad Taco.

I was so pleased to see my comic strip hanging next to the counter in the restaurant.  A huge wave of happiness hit me.  Followed by a instant crushing sadness, mourning the end of my strip all over again.

Damn, I miss reading American Elf.

Mar 23, 2013
Permalink
kochalka:

Against all odds I just posted something new on American Elf.  It’s an autobio choose-your-path adventure comic.  Or more accurately, it’s a choose-MY-path adventure.

We’ll take what we can get. Love the return to black and white. :)

kochalka:

Against all odds I just posted something new on American Elf.  It’s an autobio choose-your-path adventure comic.  Or more accurately, it’s a choose-MY-path adventure.

We’ll take what we can get. Love the return to black and white. :)

Jan 10, 2013
Permalink

Bodies of work

Artists often talk about a “body of work.” It’s the thing you shoot for, the slow accumulation of all the bits and pieces over time into something substantial.

One nice thing about being someone who makes things of a uniform size and shape is that you can see your body of work coming together visually. Above, boxes of Jessica Hagy’s index cards, and below, James Kochalka’s 14 years worth of American Elf sketchbooks.

Dec 31, 2012
Permalink
The end of American Elf.

Filed under: Kochalka

The end of American Elf.

Filed under: Kochalka

Dec 19, 2012
Permalink

The end of James Kochalka’s American Elf

In case you hadn’t heard, James Kochalka is quitting American Elf at the end of 2012. He gave his first interview about it to his local paper:

“‘Elf’ has so consumed my mind for 14 years, I’ve hardly thought about anything else… These 14 years, it’s been the great joy of my life, but it’s also been incredibly painful.”

[…] Kochalka says he’s sad about quitting, but notes, “I felt like I had to make some decision; [‘Elf’] wasn’t meant to be a life sentence. I just wanted to learn something about what it meant to be a human being.”

And did he? “I’ve been so busy drawing it, I’m not sure,” Kochalka admits with a laugh.

This bit reminded me of a commencement speech I read by Nick Flynn, where he talks about the idea of catharsis:

Aristotle, in his Poetics, never promised catharsis for the makers of art, only for the audience. The makers, on the other hand, have to find a way to become the person who can write the poem they need to write (Stanley Kunitz said that). This could be cathartic, or it could destroy you. But you can’t go into it hoping for catharsis.

In the original Greek the sense of the word catharsis was as a daily practice, that we woke up each day with who we were, and each day we had to find a way to carry ourselves through it. This contrasts with our more contemporary idea of catharsis (which I blame on a misreading of Freud) as a one-time event, a revelation, a light coming on in an empty room. In this version, once we find the switch to turn that light on, we then get to see clearly what it was in our pasts (mom, is that you?) that causes us to act the way we do, and then we are able to integrate it (her) into our lives, and we are healed.

And finally, that artists shouldn’t necessarily expect anything from their work:

Don’t expect to get anything from your own work. The [carrot at the end of the stick] is an illusion at best, but more than likely it is a cage. Feel what you feel as you make it, whatever that feeling is. Track it. Trust that you might bring some small cathartic moment to another human being. It might only be one other human being, or it might be a handful. And it might not be now, it might not be for a hundred years. Or ever. Even this has to be enough.

We’ve been given a great gift by James. (In a sense, if you count up all the fans and all the hours we’ve spent reading the strips, we’ve might have gotten way more out of it than he has.) So no more fretting about the end of American Elf. Let’s celebrate it. I’m gonna read my volumes of the books, admire my tiny painting, and be glad for the work James has done, and the work he’s still to do.

Thanks, James.

Dec 18, 2012
Permalink
kochalka:




Being Real.  I’m a real man.




These end-of-American-Elf comics are breaking my heart. The way James has been able to integrate his art and his family life has always been an inspiration to me and made me think I might have a shot at being a decent dad.

kochalka:

Being Real.  I’m a real man.

These end-of-American-Elf comics are breaking my heart. The way James has been able to integrate his art and his family life has always been an inspiration to me and made me think I might have a shot at being a decent dad.

Oct 15, 2012
Permalink
kochalka:

Happiness!  To read the full strip, click HERE!

;-)

kochalka:

Happiness!  To read the full strip, click HERE!

;-)

Subscribe to my newsletter and get new art, writing, and interesting links delivered to your inbox every week.