HEY GET WITH IT
YEAH WE’RE GONNA HAVE FUN!
Welcome to StudyGroupComics.com, the mutant offspring of our print publication Study Group Magazine, itself a comics/criticism hybrid of comics’ greatest Missing Link from Parts Unknown, the StudyGroup12 anthologies.
Already being publishers of fine mini-comics and periodicals, Study Group Comic Books is delighted to present our new dual-channel webcomics and blog. We hope to become a part of your life, especially when you’re supposed to be working and need excitement and/or entertainment the most.
Because we love making the Gods laugh, we have made a plan: We’ll be uploading new comics every weekday at noon EST, with the occasional one-shot story mixed in by our wrecking crew:
MONDAY: Danger Country by Levon Jihanian
TUESDAY: The Mourning Star: Klive’s Story by Kazimir Strzepek
WEDNESDAY: The Yankee by Jason Leivian & Ian MacEwan
THURSDAY: The Lone Wolf by Jennifer Parks, and Titan by Francois Vigneault
FRIDAY: It Will All Hurt by Farel Dalrymple
Additionally, Michael Deforge will be contributing complete short stories every 6 weeks or so, Zack Soto’s Secret Voice starts on February 3rd, and there are to-be-announced contributions coming from Malachi Ward, Tom Neely, and more!
The site already has several short stories available for your reading pleasure, including Tom Neely’s thimble theatrical “Doppleganger” and Malachi Ward’s mindbending “Utu,” as well as SG Founding Father Zack Soto’s mystery “Day 34” and art-school confessional “Lost Art.”
Study Group Magazine co-editors Milo George and Zack Soto will provide a variety of daily content on the blog, from image-tumbling, to link-blogging to criticism, with occasional guest posts from our site cartoonists.
If this is too much free entertainment for you to handle, may we recommend sir or madam visit our Publications page to puruse our wares, and perhaps then essay over to the Shop to purchase copies of your own. Especially as this is not a “goddamn library.”
Milo, Zack & the Study Group crewRead More
Excerpts From “Where It’s Done: Craig Thompson’s Drawing Board,”
by Milo George, Study Group Magazine #1
Chunky Rice came out in the summer of ’99, Blankets came out the summer of 2003, so with Habibi it will be eight years between releases. It took me six years of work; somehow there was two years lost there. Habibi is about 100 pages longer than Blankets, so it’s not significantly longer, but took me a lot longer than Blankets —which is ironic, because during Blankets I had to do freelance work to pay the bills. OnHabibi, for most of it I didn’t. There was a self-consciousness at play: even though it was my fourth book, it felt like my sophomore effort, so there was a lot of insecurity and awareness of my audience and all these expectations. That pressure didn’t actually exist at all with Blankets, because that was created in a vacuum, like I didn’t think anybody would actually see the book. There was also emotional fallout from Blankets, from people in it who were upset by it, and that paralyzed me in different ways. That I didn’t have other projects going certainly is not the way to work, it’s unhealthy to not have something else to do. I also don’t want to take seven years, eight years to do a book again. David B. told me that he always juggles at least two projects simultaneously because then you never get bored; it’s like the Coen Brothers method.
I gave myself a challenge: I turn 36 very soon, and I want to do four new books by the time I’m 40. That’s a pretty big challenge, considering it took me years to finish this last one! I’ve started on three of them, but haven’t much time to do a lot yet. I really like this notion of switching on and off between them, and they’re all completely different genres, if they’re genres at all. They’re all completely disparate projects. I think I had that naturally with Blankets because I was doing children’s comics for Nickelodeon at the time so I was always doing different styles and different work. It was a joy to switch modes, so I when I got burned out on Blankets, I had kids comics to do, and when I got burned out on kids comics I had Blankets. With Habibi, it was monotonous and monogamous, just one project. It became drudgery at times. So, I’m excited to have three very different projects that will work with different ideas in comics: one’s going to be very loose and expressionistic, one is going to be cartoony and the other will be something more fundamentally experimental. It will be cool to have those three compartments. I think a 200-page graphic novel is the ideal size, but that was my attitude with Habibi when I got started on it, too. It’s such a pretty size and it seems like a reasonable size for the artist and the audience. Two of these projects could be under that, and the other might go over. I am manga-influenced in the sense that I like to go off on tangents or let things breathe; I don’t condense things too much.
… … …
Finishing A Project, Starting The Next
I used to start projects that would stall out all the time when I was doing minicomics; I would get 10 or 20 pages into what might have been my first book if I had had the follow-through. The biggest thing I’ve ever done in my entire career is finish something, and that was Chunky Rice. Then everything else sort of falls into place to some extent. I had a similar experience with Blankets; just finishing it was so important that it took on a life of its own.
On Habibi, I must’ve run into that wall a hundred times; even upon finishing it in September, I thought “Well, I should probably just burn all this.” When you actually finish, the best thing you can do is get it out of your hands before you can destroy it, and let it take a life of its own. All through the process, I keep reminding myself that finishing is the most important thing — probably more important than the project itself. I keep mentioning Chester Brown, but if you look at a project like Underwater or theGospels, both of those would be amazing books if they were ever completed. Those are projects that helped convince me to make graphic novels or novellas instead of serials; I was a huge fan of Yummy Fur, but reading stuff like that in pamphlet form didn’t quite make sense to me.
Habibi has nine chapters, three acts. Once I got to the last three chapters, I had no idea what was going to happen; I didn’t know how to end the book. So I had to stop; for seven months, I didn’t draw anything, I just went over the thumbnails. It’s very weird to have 450-something pages drawn and not know what to do or even if I could salvage it. I wrote many variations on those final chapters and they all communicated something completely different. I’ve never been an artist that starts with an ending; that’s the last thing I know. In some ways, I did have to choose an ending — you can do anything in comics; it’s a choose-your-own adventure — and since my books generally are not built around a plot, there’s not usually something in the early chapters that suggests the ending to me. Blankets has a sort of French ending, which are the kind of endings I like, but not too French. I guess what I’m aiming for is an American take on the French ending, one that doesn’t leave you totally stranded as an audience member thinking “What? What just happened?”
I realize now why it takes a while to get the next project going. I didn’t really start anything on Habibi until the fall of 2004. I finished Blankets in the spring of 2003 and it came out in the summer of 2003. But finishing Blankets was a complete financial meltdown; everything in my whole life was crumbling to pieces — in more ways than one, but especially financially — so I lined up at least a solid six months of nonstop work for other people after Blankets just to pay the bills. The other distraction was starting to tour with Blankets, and that was very time-consuming. It became most consuming once I left the country in February or March of 2004. I came back to Portland near the end of that summer and found an apartment for myself around September 2004, and that’s when I sat down and started Habibi.
I’m in that place again; I finished Habibi in September of last year, and then since then I’ve been working on some redraws and edits, and all the design work and production work — every element of a book’s production I do and send to press — so getting everything press-ready and handling press headaches is very time-consuming. But once that that was out the door and off to press, there was this vulnerable point where I started taking on outside projects. Most of these new projects don’t pay, it’s just charity work on some level or another — I have no regrets about filling up several months of my time with work that’s not going to pay — it’s the opposite of Blankets — because I was just feeling generous. More than anything, I want to sit down and work on my new books; I have three books milling about in my head, but I haven’t had a moment to really think or work on new stuff — and it’s going to get worse, obviously, once Habibi comes out! I’ll be touring and I know there will be like six months where I won’t be able to sit at a drawing board. I think Joe Sacco said that doing the book is great but once you’re finished with that it’s like dental work, and it’s true; it’s so time-consuming and still part of the process but for a while you still don’t feel like an artist anymore.
Read the rest of this 20 page interview in Study Group Magazine #1.Read More
“What Zack has presented is a handsome edition that rides a balance between eyeball kicks while also slowing down the eye to include just as many artists more concerned, in this book anyway, with narrative in a more quiet fashion. Soto has taken the pulse of the contemporary comics scene of the North American continent from his perspective and summarized it between some lovely hand printed covers—of course, it’s not everything worth seeing amongst all the artists pumping that piano out there in the big wide world, but it’s a damn fine handy compass to find one’s direction toward what’s going down”
Snippet from an older review of SG12 #4, by J T Dockery.
Read the whole thing at: Transylvania Gentlemen: Comics Round Up # 2: Studygroup 12 #4Read More
At the moment, there are a handfull of shops that have copies of Study Group Magazine #1 (last I heard)
BERGEN STREET COMICS, also Brooklyn NY
FLOATING WORLD COMICS, Portland OR
THE BEGUILING, Toronto ON
NOBROW SHOP, London
In the coming weeks, I will be sending out more copies to more stores, and stores can contact me directly or Tony Shenton, Wow Cool or Sparkplug Comic Books if you are interested in carrying the issue or any of my minis (though WC & SP don’t have copies yet, they will shortly).
Feel free to tell your local comics shop you want them to carry SG Mag!
And of course, you are welcome to order copies directly from MEEEE RIGHT HERE! Sending out a bunch of orders tomorrow, in fact!