Did you enjoy the art of Beauty? Miss Don’t Touch Me? Right now when you spend $30 in the NBM store you can get an exclusive print from Kerascoet, the artist behind Miss Don’t Touch Me and Beauty! If you buy $50 worth of books, you can get the print signed by the artist! Sorry, the print is not available on its own.
Two weeks ago our beautiful sweet Siamese Boris died. We miss him greatly, not just as a pet but as a friend who always seemed so tuned in to our moods and feelings. He was almost eighteen and had a great life and a good death – yet this does not make the sadness any less, only “cleaner” perhaps, since there are no regrets.
We’re about halfway working on our next book and of course Boris has made his appearance. So what do I do, do I keep drawing him? Or do I just drop him from my pictures? Do I need to address his absence in any way, and how can I do that without distracting from the theme of the book? (which is World Power, something most cats have little interest in)
After pondering it for a while, I came up with this solution, in the first panel of a chapter in which I discuss the progress of the book with my brother:
That’s Yiri holding Boris’ picture next to what I call my “deity drawer”, a small cupboard for incense, some god statuettes and assorted spiritual books. It’s also the place where I put pictures of the dearly departed. (The deity drawer is featured in my book about Religion)
It is addressed. Boris gets his place among the legendary mortal supporting comics characters.
And we will have to face the problems of the world without him from now on – quite literally in our lives but also in our books.
Sleep well, dear Boris, you will live on in our hearts.
I’m very proud to announce that my longest running comic character, Mijntje or Minnie as I’ve called her in english, is out now as a digital comic – the first of a series, containing both old material dating back as far as 2004, and completely new never-seen-before adventures.
For people who know me solely from my educational graphic novels Philosophy: a Discovery in Comics and Science: a Discovery in Comics – my Minnie comic is something completely different: these are one-page gag comics with lesbian/bisexual themes, and sometimes feature nudity or even (oh dear) full on girl-on-girl sex. There is one huge similarity with my other works though: Minnie is definitely educational.
Mijntje started in 2004 when I was still a budding comic artist, hoping for an opportunity to start a regular 1-page comic in a magazine so I could really develop a character with a background story, friends & family. This opportunity came when someone tipped me that lesbian magazine Zij aan Zij was looking for a new comic artist.
After a short briefing by editor Maria van Oosten on what she was looking for in a comic (aimed at younger audience, including bisexuals, not just lesbians), the figure of Mijntje entered my brain like a redheaded hurricane, fully fledged – there was no struggle in defining her character or appearance, it was like she had always been out there, waiting for a chance to lodge herself in my drawing hand.
Sometimes comics write themselves like that and it’s a wonderful experience, like floating. Mijntje’s comics have never been hard to write, I just have to think up a situation and Mijntje-in-my-head automatically dictates the dialogue.
I called her Mijntje because “mijn” means “mine”, and she’s been mine from the very start.
With Mijntje came her girlfriend Mia, who’s a bit more level-headed, introverted and loyal, and they’ve been together ever since the beginning. Sure, I’ve given them some challenges with Mijntje’s loose behavior, and I toyed with the idea of inflicting a break-up on them, but I didn’t have the heart. The worst they had was a full-on crisis after Mijntje slept with another girl – I made that into one long story, drawn on 24-hour comics day in 2006, it’s been unpublished up until now but will appear in Minnie’s second issue.
In Minnie #1 I have gathered some of the early stories: Minnie’s break-up with her boyfriend Ruben, the first real sex with Mia, her coming out with her mother and at her work, Minnie meeting Mia’s two lesbian mothers. The issue starts with a 3-page story that I recently drew, about Minnie as a little girl. Two pages of this story appeared in magazine Zij aan Zij, along with an interview with me, to celebrate Mijntje’s Tenth Anniversary.
I’m extra thrilled that Minnie is out as a comic now because after 2006, when I made a small booklet containing the first 15 comics, there have been many plans to publish more of her adventures – but they all fell flat. It wasn’t until last year, when Northwest Press published ten Minnie-pages in the anthology Anything That Loves: comics beyond gay and straight, that a way opened up to this international leap. Publisher Zan Christensen of Northwest Press is giving her and me this wonderful digital opportunity, and I hope Minnie will reach many new readers this way.
An Easter egg is: “an intentional inside joke, hidden message, or feature in a work such as a computer program, movie, book, or crossword.” I have hidden a few easter eggs in my books, and today, as we’re approaching Christmas, I’ll reveal some of them to you.
When you open Philosophy: a Discovery in Comics, the first thing you see is the endsheets (only in the US edition!). I have laid them out in a grid and filled them with pictures from the book:
But… wait a second! These are not ALL from the inside of the book! One of these is not like the others! It’s actually not even drawn by me! Can you tell which one it is?
This is Emma Ringelberg, who assisted me on the lettering of the english version. She’s a comic artist herself and makes really nice stuff, check out her blog.
On page 67 of Philosophy: a Discovery in Comics starts the chapter on Free Will, with an autobiographical scene about my time in America when I was a student. It opens with this picture:
Does that ring a bell with some of you who are autobiographical comics hoarders, like me? It should, because I drew it with this panel in mind:
Just one page further, page 68, is a dialogue between Yiri and me about Fate and Free Will:
Never have philosophical issues about Fate been better drawn in comics than by Bill Watterson in Calvin & Hobbes. I had this strip in mind when I drew mine, and had to stop myself from using the exact same phrasing “Too bad you were fated to do that”. That would just have been too obvious.
In Science: a Discovery in Comics you’ll find this scene of a fierce debate pro and con Darwin’s theory of Evolution, that took place in Oxford in 1860, and was attended by a crowd of interested people, eager to see sparks fly:
One of the people in the crowd is none other than Redmond O’Hanlon, the great novelist/adventurer who so much regrets not having been born in the nineteenth century.
The publisher is still deciding on what covers to use. Every culture is different, I’m learning more and more that what “works” for a Western market does not necessarily translate somewhere else. I can see that maybe the image on the Philosophy cover of an open brain may be seen by some as a pretty gruesome picture! So I’m happy to help in coming up with another design. This is the proposal I made for the Korean publisher today – the upper one is Philosophy, the next Religion and the bottom one is Science.
They’ll be deciding on it later. I’ll let y’all know how it turns out!
Festivities are in the air – here in Holland we have no less than TWO this month. On the 5th of December, we celebrate Sinterklaas, the white-bearded saint from Spain, who visits our country with his army of Black Petes to shower the children with lavish gifts.
Here’s a comic I did in 2006, combining Sint and the political climate that year:
A year before, I made this one for girls magazine Yes:
And as soon as Sint leaves, we’ll be getting trees in to prepare for Christmas, which is always fun.
In between, Yiri and I had nice conversations with the store owner, Tony, who told us that the store’s name is actually the title from a Ray Bradbury story from 1948 – it was adapted as a comic and published in EC Comics’ Weird Fantasy in 1953. This comic was the first that the original founder of the store ever read. Tony showed us the comic, and I think it’s a great story. There’s some wise words words about science in it that I thought I’d include here:
Yiri and I also had time to start a double-comic, but we didn’t quite finish it:
We really enjoyed our hours in the store – thank you Tony and crew for inviting us! We hope to be back some day!
Yiri and I gave out free “Double Dutch” mini-comics – a collection of the collaborative jam-comics we have done together lately (and also some we did with colleagues Floris Oudshoorn and Ingi Jensson). This proved a great way to introduce ourselves and to trade for some very nice mini-comics by others.
In between “business” on Saturday, I got to make some double-comics with Brent:
On Sunday, we were joined by Matt Aucoin, whose Double Think mini-comics I really enjoy. Yiri and I first met him through Streetpass, a connecting feature on our Nintendo 3DS game console – so one of the comics we made features the Nintendo (there were a LOT around during the expo!):