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Saturday, May 23, 2015

On Stories

One day a good fortune befell him, for he hit upon Lane's translation of The Thousand Nights and a Night. He was captured first by the illustrations, and then he began to read, to start with, the stories that dealt with magic, and then the others; and those he liked he read again and again. He could think of nothing else. He forgot the life about him. He had to be called two or three times before he would come to his dinner. Insensibly he formed the most delightful habit in the world, the habit of reading: he did not know that thus he was providing himself with a refuge from all the distress of life; he did not know either that he was creating for himself an unreal world which would make the real world of every day a source of bitter disappointment. 

—from Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham


Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sketchy McSketcherson

…and she busily scratches away. The story takes shape, the characters reveal deeper personalities and come to life. I continue to have little epiphanies about them and where the story will go. They're finally talking to me instead of staring sullenly from the page, refusing to give up the goods.

This is fun.

It does get difficult, finding time to work on this monster of a book. Jobs must be jobbed, bills must be paid. I'm lucky to have a partner who foots much of those expenses. Thank you, Dave. I am supremely grateful for your generosity and support.


I don't do extremely tight sketches. The details come later, when I'm inking and coloring. Some would say this is foolish, that I should figure everything out in the sketch stage. But since I do the finished art digitally, I can skip a step. It's just how I work. Stop looking at me.
I've been debating over how much of the work to share on this blog. Reason 1: story is really important in graphic novels, and not only do I not want to give too much away at first, but also because it can be hard to stir up interest in the book when you only reveal bits and pieces of what's going on. You should really see a series of pages to make sense of the story, and I'm not ready to do that yet. But I do want to keep people updated on the book's progress. Reason 2: I'm debating over using a pen name for this work, mostly because I want to clearly separate this work as a book for an older audience, not one for kids. I also think it would be kind of fun to have a moniker, like the characters in the story.

Working digitally does leave a bit of an interesting quagmire. I will never be able to sell original art of this work, except for maybe the sketches, which I doubt anyone would really want anyway. Prints would be the only option. I often wonder if other comics artists think about this sort of thing, too. Since this is a fairly new world for me, creating comics, I don't know very many other comics creators. Hopefully that will change someday.

Because while this is difficult work, it's very rewarding to tell stories in this way—with words and pictures. I've done it for children, but I have things to say to an adult audience, too. Perhaps more.

If they'll have me.  






Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Up with Figs: Saints preserve us!


The Lothario of Smith Street does not know when to say when. His will to woo is boundless; his energy bottomless. He will never stop banging his bongos if there is the merest hint that you may be swayed by his ardor. The Lothario of Smith Street wants you to know that, always.

Lisa and Adrienne, however, do know when to say when. For now, we shall say adieu to this weird little world we've created. In our absence, maybe this rich broth of random material will develop single-celled creatures that burble out into the universe. Unless it doesn't. But one lives in hope.

© Adrienne Martini and Lisa Horstman.



Thursday, April 23, 2015

Up with Figs: Sleeping Cats

Once upon a time, Lisa and Adrienne worked for the same alternative newsweekly. Now, both spend their respective lives mining their creative souls and leading hermit-like lives. And so an idea was hatched. Every week, one would send the other a sketch—either in illustration or word form—and the other would make a companion to the sketch. The result would be posted on both their blogs every week, just for grins. Even if the result isn't award-worthy, the exercise makes both minds more nimble. Hopefully.



Dear Lisa, 

While you have accurately conveyed what it is like to sleep in the same bed as our cat McGregor, you did leave out one of his favorite slumber poses. On really cold nights, he clamps himself on to the back of my skull like the face-hugging tentacled beast from Aliens. And I wonder why I wake up feeling so drained.

Sleepily yours,
- A


Text ©Adrienne Martini; illustration ©Lisa Horstman




Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Progress is slow…

…and time is so very short. Work continues on the graphic novel, but at this rate I'm only managing 2 pages/week. This is going to be a big book. I don't know how I'll finish it, but I will. I've inherited my dear dad's stubbornness, I'm afraid.



{Illustrated pages completed so far.}


I'm mostly doing this in memory of my dad, who died last year around this time. I wonder what he would have made of dying on tax day. Death and taxes…

My dad grew up during the Great Depression. When he was a young teenager his dad was in a farming accident, losing one of his kidneys in the process. Since Dad was the only son, he was heavily relied upon to do the farm work, with neighbors pitching in to help. My aunt, the lone daughter in the family, left high school and went to work. It was a time in her life she never talked about, and my dear aunt was a talker.

My mom told me once that Dad hated farming, but that's the work he did all his life, along with working third shift at a local Phillips/GTE Sylvania factory. I'd had no idea he hated farming; he'd never revealed how he felt to us kids. Can you imagine farming during the day, going to bed around 7 p.m., getting up at 11 p.m., working an 8 hour shift and then coming home around 8 a.m.? Then getting up at noon and doing it all over again? You think you have it so rough. 

Dad never complained about it, though. He'd inherited my grandfather's farm, and I suppose back then there weren't many choices for him. 

The book isn't his story (it's a work of fiction) but there are many references to his circumstances. He lived in interesting times, indeed, as did my Mom. Her dad lost the family farm during the Depression; not long after, he lost his wife due to a burst appendix. 

When I feel like I'm going through difficulties, I think about my ancestors and I stop feeling sorry for myself. These salt of the earth people saw hard times and grew stronger from them; perhaps it's where their humor came from, because they were funny people who could see humor in most anything. 

I mean, sometimes, what else can you do?




Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Up with Figs: Presidential Hair

Once upon a time, Lisa and Adrienne worked for the same alternative newsweekly. Now, both spend their respective lives mining their creative souls and leading hermit-like lives. And so an idea was hatched. Every week, one would send the other a sketch—either in illustration or word form—and the other would make a companion to the sketch. The result would be posted on both their blogs every week, just for grins. Even if the result isn't award-worthy, the exercise makes both minds more nimble. Hopefully.


Nita knows Election Season is just around the corner. Just today, three unrelated people—two men and one woman, if you care—came in asking for “Presidential Hair,” whatever the heck that means. But Nita aims to find a wig for every head, even the “presidential” ones, and spent all of her working hours pulling the short-and-serious wigs off the shelves. No baldies, of course. No Farrah flips. Certainly no mullets. Apparently, the right hairdo is crucial for elected office these days. Or, if you don’t have the right hair already in place, a willingness to fake it.

Text ©Adrienne Martini; illustration ©Lisa Horstman





Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Up with Figs: Mouse Parade

Once upon a time, Lisa and Adrienne worked for the same alternative newsweekly. Now, both spend their respective lives mining their creative souls and leading hermit-like lives. And so an idea was hatched. Every week, one would send the other a sketch—either in illustration or word form—and the other would make a companion to the sketch. The result would be posted on both their blogs every week, just for grins. Even if the result isn't award-worthy, the exercise makes both minds more nimble. Hopefully.



Our cat Barney, the one who we rescued from a barn, hence his name, is fixated on the sounds coming from behind the water heater. Sounds, of course, that only he can hear. He sits there, poised in mid-leap, muscles all taut and ready to pounce, listening. Then, unfailingly, he falls asleep like that, in front of the water heater, which is when all of the little mousies parade out. Squeaky jugglers lead the way, followed by the mouse marching bands and funny cars. Barney’s whiskers never twitch. He snores on, oblivious.

Text ©Adrienne Martini; illustration ©Lisa Horstman





Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Up with Figs: Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

Once upon a time, Lisa and Adrienne worked for the same alternative newsweekly. Now, both spend their respective lives mining their creative souls and leading hermit-like lives. And so an idea was hatched. Every week, one would send the other a sketch—either in illustration or word form—and the other would make a companion to the sketch. The result would be posted on both their blogs every week, just for grins. Even if the result isn't award-worthy, the exercise makes both minds more nimble. Hopefully.



Rain will start in 76 minutes, weather.com tells me. Would that it could be that accurate with the rest of my day. Mid-afternoon ennui will start in 54 minutes. Unless you have a nice cup of tea, which will forestall the inevitable by 12 minutes and 34 seconds. The dog will start barking about nothing in 9 minutes. She will stop in 9 minutes and 20 seconds, only to leave you wondering if it was really about nothing or if there was someone on the front porch after all. Mindlessly scroll through facebook every seven minutes and twitter every eight. And in 76 minutes, grab your umbrella.

Text ©Adrienne Martini; illustration ©Lisa Horstman



Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Up with Figs: Yearbook

Once upon a time, Lisa and Adrienne worked for the same alternative newsweekly. Now, both spend their respective lives mining their creative souls and leading hermit-like lives. And so an idea was hatched. Every week, one would send the other a sketch—either in illustration or word form—and the other would make a companion to the sketch. The result would be posted on both their blogs every week, just for grins. Even if the result isn't award-worthy, the exercise makes both minds more nimble. Hopefully.

That’s the thing about life. Well, one of the things about it. I’m not saying this thing is everything about life, just that it comes up more than you might think. I’m over-explaining again, aren’t I?

So the thing I was talking about is that it’s never the person you think you should be worried about who ends up causing all of the trouble. Take the Dude in the picture next to mine in our college yearbook. We all thought he’d do something crazy that changes life as we know it. Or, if nothing else, gets chucked in jail. But no. He’s a pediatric dentist in North Carolina. Kids love him.


The one we should have been worried about looked totally average. That’s the one who crashed the Greek economy. Seriously. All it took was a bottle of Ouzo, a stick of gum, and Pilot Rollerball pen.


You just never know. Am I right?



Text ©Adrienne Martini; illustration ©Lisa Horstman



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