Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Broken Frontier interview

Just a heads up, there's a long interview with me on about Sorcerers & Secretaries and life in general. Neil Figuracion stopped by studio Amzu one day with recorder in hand and asked me a series of great questions. The answers are written from the recording, so excuse my bad speaking habits of stopping in mid-sentence and jumping from topic to topic!

note: At the end I say the book comes out in January, that's incorrect. It's actually scheduled for a June 2007 release.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Time to indulge in a little book report...

This book is excellent. If you haven't read it yet, you should. Maybe it's because I can relate it to it on many levels, maybe because it takes place in Syracuse, but I found Laurie Halse Anderson's book "Speak" to be more inspirational than anything I've read or seen in a long time.

The story is about a girl named Melinda who puts on a self-imposed silence during her freshman year of high school in an effort to stamp out a traumatizing incident from the summer before. It isn't until she can identify what happened to her and come to terms with it that she refinds her voice and her sense of self-worth. Told in first person, the mystery of what happened unfolds as the character herself slowly gathers up the courage to face it directly along with the reader. Anderson portrays the hyper-sensitivity of teenage life and high school in America in a clear and understanding tone without any trace of cycism or condescension. The tale also unfolds over the course of one year in Syracuse, a city not too far from my hometown of Rochester, so there's wonderful descriptions of the change of seasons and it reflects Melinda's growth.

It's been a long time since I sat down to read a prose book and finished it in one sitting. Granted Speak isn't a very long book, but these days with my brain being completely crammed with comics and the internet it's saying a lot! There's a tenderness, understanding, and genuine desire to express something in Speak that I've kind of forgotten since I've been trying to slowly figure my way around a graphic novel career. There's so much talk of marketing, target audiences, surface appearances, and sales sometimes the reasons why I became an artist in the first place gets drown out by the noise of practical application. While the practical side is necessary, the most difficult challenge I find for myself these days is getting in touch with that emotional and expressive side that's so essential for good art (or at least what I consider good art).

To me, a piece of entertainment is nothing if it doesn't express a genuine and well understood statement that the author has a passion for. It doesn't matter to me if the perspective is off, or what the drawing style is, if it's super cheesy, or even what medium it's in. I just want to read/see/hear/make heartfelt, expressive stuff. Speak is a strong reminder of this, and as I finished reading the last page I found myself inspired.

You'd think it would be an easy lesson to remember. I believe stories are healing and as a storyteller I want to help people heal, but when there's bills to pay and goals to achieve it can be easy to forget. For this reason Speak now has a permanant place on my shelf of inspirational books, as it reminds me of why I do this in the first place.

Thursday, September 14, 2006


I'll be appearing at a couple places pretty soon in the LA area. First one up is the West Hollywood Book Fair which is on Sept. 17th, that's this Sunday. Here's the info for the panel I'll be on along with the usual suspects from the local "OGM" scene:

Time: 12:15-1:15
Felipe Smith (MBQ)
Wes Abbott (Dogby)
Ireve Flores (Mark of the Succubus)
Amy Kim Ganter (Sorcerers and Secretaries)
Tim Beedle (Editor)
Moderator: Lillian Diaz-Przybyl
Signings - TOKYOPOP

Check out the book fair site for maps and directions. On the 23rd, I'll be at Meltdown comics with a bunch of local webcomic authors to do a booksigning. It should be fun! Here's a list of the authors that'll be there along with info on Meltdown Comics:

David Malki
The Annotated Wondermark

Amy Kim Ganter
Sorcerers & Secretaries, Book 1

Kazu Kibuishi
Flight 1
Flight 2
Flight 3
Daisy Kutter

Jorge Cham
Piled Higher & Deeper, Volumes 1 and 2

Dave Kellett
Pure Ducky Goodness
A Well Balanced Meal

Kris Straub
A Terrifying Breach of Protcol
Sparkling Diplomacy

Steve Tropp
Melonpool, Vol 3: A New Hope
Melonpool, Vol 4: Castaway
Melonpool, Vol 5: This Island Earth

7522 Sunset Blvd
L.A., CA 90046
(323) 851-7223

In other news, a flattering review of Book 1 for S&S is on the website She makes special note of how the book is a cliffhanger and that I need to get my ass in gear for the second volume! Note taken. Right now I'm having fun pairing up two particular characters together, part of me wants to make a small one-shot side story of just them. They're too fun. =)

Monday, September 11, 2006

Random thoughts

I drew this panel the other day, realizing it was exactly how I was feeling. For a brief time, I'm working on two stories at once in my head and keeping all of the character motivations, world building, and event structures clear is becoming a challenge. There's something humorous about it, however, as the idea of Josh and Nicole shooting magic out of their hands sounds pretty funny to me.

Kazu and I went to the bookstore yesterday looking at what was on the shelves and trying to see what parents bought their children in the children's section. It sparked a little debate between us based on one of Kazu's observations. So is buying a kid a comic book like buying them a candy bar, in most parents' minds? I remember working at the bookstore and recommending various graphic novels to customers, most of the time they'd just shake their heads and laugh as if I was asking them to do a monkey dance. Somehow, this reaction to comics has to be changed, but being a simple storyteller I'm not really too interested in making this change myself. I just want to tell my stories. It's at these moments I start wondering about working in other mediums like prose or film.

I guess in the end it's not anything big that keeps me in comics, it's the joy of drawing in the comics medium and nothing else. I think this is the case for most comic artists, and Kazu pointed out to me that it's a very artist-driven industry. I found the idea of it very uplifting.

After that we went to Venice Beach to walk around, meet up with some friends, and talk about world travel. I think it was the first planned day off we had in a while, and it was much needed.