I’ll be on WBAI tonight discussing the Rubin Museum’s Wheel of Life comics project

Tonight, starring at about 9:40 pm, I will be on WBAI 99.5 FM here in NYC discussing the Rubin Museum’s Karma-Con series. Along with fellow cartoonists Katie Skelly and Rubin Museum curator Beth Citron, we’ll be guests on WBAI’s Asia Pacific Forum. We’ll talk about the cartoonists’ Wheel of Life project and the ongoing exhibition “Hero, Villain, Yeti: Tibet in Comics.”

On April 18, myself and a group of other local cartoonists/illustrators will unveil our reinterpretations of segments of the Tibetan Wheel of Life (also known as the Wheel of Becoming, a representation of Buddhist beliefs about life, death, and rebirth). I was given my section last week (at the very enjoyable “Studio Salon“), and I’m in the middle of completing it. My section is the world of Humans, and I’m having fun trying to depict the various suffering we go through in our attempt to reach enlightenment. Here’s a sneak peak of how it’s looking so far…

Wheel of Life: Humans

Atlantic Center for the Arts “Master Artist”

The Atlantic Center for the Arts, located in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, is a nonprofit, interdisciplinary artists’ community and arts education facility. Their mission is to “promote artistic excellence by providing talented artists an opportunity to work and collaborate with some of the world’s most distinguished contemporary artists in the fields of music composition, and the visual, literary, and performing arts.”

Last summer I was approached by the ACA to be a “master artist” for their 2012 graphic novel residency, taking place this October 8–28. I was honored to be asked, and excited to accept!

During the three-week residency I will be working with eight associate artists on their long-form nonfiction comics projects. As part of the residency, we’ll be spending two hours a day together, conducting workshops, talking about the challenges we face, and working in a studio setting. I haven’t done a lot of teaching up ’til now (though Sari and I will be co-teaching a comics writing class this summer at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown), but I’m very comfortable in workshop environments. I look forward to working with my associate artists as we explore the best ways to make their ideas come to life.

My residency will be in conjunction with those of two other “master artists,” Megan Kelso and Ellen Forney. I’m particularly excited to be sharing the experience with Megan and Ellen, both of whom I admire tremendously. I look forward to communing with them both, and hope there will be opportunities to merge our three groups for various activities.

A happy coincidence about this opportunity is that, unbeknownst to the ACA, my mother, Martha Rosler, was a Master Artist there back in 2002! It’s a kick for me to be linked with my mom in such a way.

If you’re interested in applying to be an associate artist, or know someone who would, please check out the ACA website for further details. There are descriptions of Megan, Ellen, and my residencies, an FAQ, and lots more information. The application deadline is May 18, 2012.

Join me this Saturday at Fireside Follies’ comics/illustration benefit!

This coming Saturday, March 17, I’ll be presenting my work as part of Fireside Follies’ Second Annual Comics/Illustration Benefit for Planned Parenthood of New York City.

Curated by Eric Nelson and Mike Lala, the event will feature comics being projected on and read from a large screen. The other artists are:

I’ll be presenting, for the first time in public, my comics journalism piece on Bahrain’s Pearl Revolution (“Bahrain: Lines in Ink, Lines in the Sand”). And I’ll be the only boy! And probably the only “cripple.”

Admission is FREE and open to the public. Donations (cash or check made out to Planned Parenthood of NYC) will be collected and are highly encouraged. Please join us for a great night of comics, drinking, and supporting an important organization.

Saturday, March 17, 7:30 pm. Brooklyn Fire Proof, 119 Ingraham Street, Bushwick, Brooklyn.

Further details and images below…

Fireside Follies

Rubin Museum Karma-Con “Artists on Art” Talk… Take Two

I was all sent last month to lead a talk at the Rubin Museum when I suffered an untimely injury. I dislocated my kneecap and ruptured my patella tendon playing basketball, and had to have surgery. After being laid up in the hospital for four days, I’m now back home, but am sporting a full-leg fiberglass cast on my left leg (which I’ll have to endure until at least March 30).

But that won’t stop me from going through with my planned talk! This Friday, March 16, we’ll try again. In conjunction with the current exhibition, Gateway to Himalayan Art, I’ll pick out a few pieces from the show that strike me or form some connection with my own practice. And I’ll be accompanied during the event by assistant curator Beth Citron—as I mentioned before, someone actually qualified to discuss South Asian art. I should be able to hobble through this without too much trouble.

Here are details:

Artists on Art
Friday, March 16, 2012, 6:15pm — FREE!

Rubin Museum of Art
150 W. 17th Street
New York, NY

Meet at the base of the spiral staircase

The “Artist on Art” series is part of the Museum’s self-styled “Karma-Con.” Part two, the “Studio Salon,” takes place the following Wednesday, March 21. For that event, myself and a group of other local cartoonists/illustrators will reinterpret segments of the Tibetan Wheel of Life (also known as the Wheel of Becoming, a representation of Buddhist beliefs about life, death, and rebirth).

Molly Crabapple, Ben Granoff, Michael Kupperman, Katie Skelly, and I will create initial sketches, sell and sign our work, and share our creative processes in an open studio setting, complete with cocktails. This event is specifically tied to another Rubin exhibition, Hero, Villain, Yeti: Tibet in Comics. I should be able to prop myself up somewhere, leg sticking out awkwardly, to do some preliminary sketching.

Karma-Con part 3, “The Unveiling,” will take place April 18; further details to come. By then I should be completely able-bodied again!

Here’s more info about the Studio Salon. I hope to see you at both the “Artists on Art’ event and the “Studio Salon.”

Nick Flynn’s BEING FLYNN… the back story

I first met Nick Flynn back in the fall of 1999, in Provincetown, Massachusetts. I had accompanied Sari there for her Fine Arts Work Center fellowship, a residency which would keep us in P-town through the winter and into the following spring. Nick was a second-year fellow, and Sari and I were immediately drawn to his charm, intelligence, and good humor.

Nick was a natural storyteller, and had some amazing stories to tell, about a life filled with drama, heartbreak, debauchery—all that good stuff. By trade, he was a poet—a good one—and over the years he and I did some collaborations, basically me adapting his poems into comics. One of the pieces, “Father Outside,” had to do with the time Nick was working in a homeless shelter and his long-estranged father arrived as a new client. Another piece, “Bag of Mice,” dealt with Nick’s mother’s suicide. In all, we did three collaborations, all of which were published in literary journals (and later published my me in The Vagabonds #2). The original art from our first piece, “Cartoon Physics, Part One,” even traveled as part of a multi-city comics art exhibition.

In 2004, Nick published a memoir, memorably titled Another Bullshit Night in Suck City. (That was a favorite phrase of his father’s.) Nick hoped to collaborate again with me on the cover of the book (which was being published by W.W. Norton, much later to be my publisher for The Influencing Machine.) So we worked together on some sketches. Long story short, Norton declined to use my art for the cover (though it was eventually published as a frontspiece in the British Faber & Faber edition). And I have to admit that the art they used instead, by Hon-Sum Cheng, is far superior.

So, fast forward eight years, and Nick’s book has been made into a feature film. Now called Being Flynn (you can see why they didn’t use the other title), it stars Paul Dano as Nick and the legendary Robert DeNiro as Nick’s father. Julianne Moore makes an appearance as Nick’s mom—not a bad cast! The film opened last week, so to commemorate it, I’m sharing the book’s rejected cover art.

Another Bullshit Night in Suck City

Lila Quintero Weaver’s DARKROOM

Darkroom: A Memoir in Black and WhiteLast fall I was sent a manuscript copy of Darkroom: A Memoir in Black & White, a graphic novel memoir by newcomer Lila Quintero Weaver. In 1961, when Lila was five, she and her family emigrated from Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Marion, Alabama, in the heart of Alabama’s Black Belt. As educated, middle-class Latino immigrants in a region that was defined by segregation, the Quinteros occupied a privileged vantage from which to view the racially charged culture they inhabited. Weaver and her family were first-hand witnesses to key moments in the civil rights movement. But Darkroom is her personal story as well: chronicling what it was like being a Latina girl in the Jim Crow South, struggling to understand both a foreign country and the horrors of our nation’s race relations. Weaver, who was neither black nor white, observed very early on the inequalities in the American culture, with its blonde and blue-eyed feminine ideal. Throughout her life, Lila has struggled to find her place in this society and fought against the discrimination around her.

Darkroom is an impressive debut work. A memoir in the vein of Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home and Howard Cruse’s Stuck Rubber Baby, Weaver’s mesmerizing tale is matched by her accomplished drawing and design skills. Darkroom is the story of a childhood, of a Latino immigrant family, of the struggle for justice in the Deep South. Weaver’s appealing pencil renderings perfectly capture the book’s themes of being caught in the middle, witness to (and participant in) one of the most turbulent periods in American history.

Darkroom is out now from the University of Alabama Press. Here’s a link to buying a copy.

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