What I have been so diligently working on these last few months. This is one of my favorite pages: Penelope in her ship, arriving at the abandoned island of Thybos, though there is food left out on tables and the market is full of goods and wares, but not even the breath of a single human being. Perhaps this island has a curse, methinks? ^_~ What I have been so diligently working on these last few months. This is one of my favorite pages: Penelope in her ship, arriving at the abandoned island of Thybos, though there is food left out on tables and the market is full of goods and wares, but not even the breath of a single human being. Perhaps this island has a curse, methinks? ^_~ What I have been so diligently working on these last few months. This is one of my favorite pages: Penelope in her ship, arriving at the abandoned island of Thybos, though there is food left out on tables and the market is full of goods and wares, but not even the breath of a single human being. Perhaps this island has a curse, methinks? ^_~ What I have been so diligently working on these last few months. This is one of my favorite pages: Penelope in her ship, arriving at the abandoned island of Thybos, though there is food left out on tables and the market is full of goods and wares, but not even the breath of a single human being. Perhaps this island has a curse, methinks? ^_~

What I have been so diligently working on these last few months. This is one of my favorite pages: Penelope in her ship, arriving at the abandoned island of Thybos, though there is food left out on tables and the market is full of goods and wares, but not even the breath of a single human being. Perhaps this island has a curse, methinks? ^_~

Studies and fleshing out a page for Penelope Pink. I was envisioning Mediterranean islands and little South of France and Italian villages when designing the streets of this imaginary island city of Thybos. The finishing touches are always the little arabesques and Moorish architectural flourishes that complete it. :) Studies and fleshing out a page for Penelope Pink. I was envisioning Mediterranean islands and little South of France and Italian villages when designing the streets of this imaginary island city of Thybos. The finishing touches are always the little arabesques and Moorish architectural flourishes that complete it. :)

Studies and fleshing out a page for Penelope Pink. I was envisioning Mediterranean islands and little South of France and Italian villages when designing the streets of this imaginary island city of Thybos. The finishing touches are always the little arabesques and Moorish architectural flourishes that complete it. :)

Pretty art. Her name is Penelope, and she sails the seas of children’s dreams. Now I’m just waiting for this to arrive today so that I can finally start to color: 27” Yamakasi DS270 SE IPS LED DVI-D display. It’s a Korean manufacturer who makes high-end monitors for a stupid good price, partly because it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of most American name-brand monitors (speakers/ports/controls/etc) but that doesn’t mean it isn’t perfectly good, especially since it’s a 1.07 Billion color monitor which I have been wishing upon a rainbow for ever and ever and ever. But most billion color monitors cost the same as the pot of gold at the end of the bright and fancy rainbow. Originally, I ordered a slightly older model, and it went out of stock EXACTLY the same day I ordered it, but lo-and-behold, I received an extremely polite email from Yamakasi saying it was out of stock and I could either have my money refunded immediately (seriously? No thirty-day wait?) or select a new model for 10% off. They recommended a new model based off the specs I required in the first, set me up, it was even on sale (yeay!) and refunded the difference for the 10% off in less than an hour. Having had far too many problems with customer service with name-brand companies in the US, and then reading all the monitor reviews from people terrified of buying anything overseas, it still makes me pause. So hopefully there’ll be a nice little package waiting for me when I get home, and I’ll hook up and boot up this baby and start the 10-bit color pressure on my PC! I’ll post a full review later because I know a few people who are always happy for quality supplies on a budget, and every artist needs a good monitor.

Up next, testing out the latest Corel Painter. I haven’t painted anything in errr … a while. 

And to those who say artists don’t NEED a billion color monitor because you can’t PRINT all those colors, I say there are more methods to printing than CMYK, and even in CMYK, some methods are better than others. Hi-fi printing for the win, baby!

OMG ROPE. Easy to draw but TEDIOUS. If you can make an ‘s’, you can draw rope… over and over and over and over again. -_-;

Making progress!! ♥♥ I have several clients to pitch to this week, so squeezing in as much work on this as I can before it gets crazy!

Hi Rivkah,

I just want to tell you my appreciation that you are still active in your art and comic making. You came into my mind today as I was thinking of getting back into comic book making and how much i loved reading your blog and looking at your sketches. Ever since the first few posts :)

Your art always blew me away and encouraged me to do my own, as a woman and fellow american attempting to making it into the manga world. Your level of detail and emotion is beyond that of any OEL manga creator and I loved reading Steady Beat over and over. The words or the artwork always kept me coming back for more. I’ve seen so many wonderful artists stop what they do and never pick it up again, and today it was hitting me a bit hard. Then I remembered you and was so happy to see you still active online :)

I look forward to reading more posts and purchasing what future books you release. I’ll always be a fan of the woman who was (and always will be) one of my major role models as I thought about starting out into the art world.

Thanks for being awesome :)
-Emily Paige

 ———

Dear Miss Emily Paige,

I, too, feel that pang in my gut every time a talented artist lies down her pen and turns to a safer, more secure routine. I love girls’ comics. It’s why I write them, because I wish to see more of them, and every one of us that lay down our pens and retire is at least one less book I’ll ever get to read.

Though neither can I blame the artist who desires a life where neither pride nor hunger hangs always at the end of a tenuous red thread. The life of an artist is the life of an entrepreneur, the mode of the explorer, seeking out territory not yet tread. Yet, in the excitement of exploration there is always danger waiting in the shadows of the promise of jeweled islands and starlit moutains, ready at any moment to spear her, and pin her and roast her whole. The explorations of an artist is rarely ever without hardship, strife, or self-doubt.

Staying the course and resisting the temptation to turn back will be the most difficult task any artist, any creative entrepreneur, will ever tackle because it isn’t just one storm you will cross getting to shore but fury upon fury, often sweeping you further out to sea and drastically off course. But once sail is set, what can you do but sight once more along the stars, adjust your route, and continue to your destination? For found along the side of that path is purpose, and there is no greater wealth than the knowledge that we have achieved our place in life, our part in the construction of the universe.

Perhaps it does not help girls’ comics cartoonists that there are no publishers who specialize in creating the kind of content you enjoyed in my own work. Girls’ comics have few financiers for this voyage. DC tried it with Minx, but that line suffered an early death. Minx failed because of a product that needed to be not a hair shy of spectacular in order to succeed. We seek to create a new audience, and in order to create new audiences in any medium, you must first present a product that can be neither denied nor ignored. For me, the Minx product was easily ignored, easily denied. It neither shone nor sparkled nor blinded the eyes in the way it needed to gain new readers not previously acquainted with the comics medium.

Comics could use a publisher that focuses singly on comics specializing in a female audience with a staff that understands and loves their genre; comics with kickass girl protagonists. But this publisher must first have a spearhead that is so undeniably well written and beautifully drawn and perfectly packaged that even those who are not initially drawn to the genre cannot deny its greatness and appeal. Scholastic has published a few of these (Raina Telgemeier is undeniably one of these girls’ greats), but outside of that, what have publishers offered that reaches beyond the boundaries of the already-existing comics market?

The answer, currently, has lain with Kickstarter, and here, I believe, lies proof that girls’ comics could truly succeed. Look at Aaron Diaz’s “The Tomorrow Girl”Michelle Czajkowski “Ava’s Demon”Takashi Miyazawa’s and Jonathan Coulton’s “The Princess Who Saved Herself”, Ashley Cope’s “Unsounded”Renae DeLiz’s “Peter Pan”, and Jamal Igle’s “Molly Danger”. Jamal Igle wrote an incredibly moving essay on his Kickstarter page about the need for comics for young girls, and it’s one any artist who has felt the frustrations of trying to break into the girls’ comics market (break into? how about create?) could do well to read: every heartfelt word, every line and page. But beyond that, each of these artists have funded their girls’ works purely by word-of-mouth, and spectacularly so. How much further they could reach with the distribution of a publisher and a thoughtful, powerful marketing effort behind it!

So thank you, Emily, for such beautiful, encouraging words. Because even though I have kept my eyes always on my treasures, I too have felt the doubts that gnaw at the back of my head and stir in the shadows of my heart.

The life of an explorer is never secure. Far too many turn the sheets of their sails to the placid harbors of familiar shores. No sailor is guaranteed treasure, only the dream of it. Yet it is that dream of pearls that pulls us ever forward to a destination far from the safety and the security of port.

 I have never been much of a videogame player, but the games I have enjoyed have all shared one thing in common: the quality of exploration and discovery. Secret drawers to unlock. Filing cabinets through which to sift. Boxes and desks to be moved to discover what’s beneath or the hidden door behind them. Dusty attics and moldy basements are my playground. Once, in the early months of my move to New York, deskless and bedless, I acquired an ancient teacher’s desk from the basement of a Catholic school to add to my then-empty room, and upon opening and cleaning the drawers, I discovered magic: Yellowed handwritten letters in a spidery, illegible scrawl. Dusty pins with the Virgin Mary embossed upon them. Stamps from Longe Agoe. The discovery of objects was almost more of a treasure than the desk itself, and when eventually the desk was handed off to a neighbor, I tucked inside the crumbling letters and pins for the next curious explorer to unearth.
So what is it within us that is so clearly drawn to this feeling of discovery? For the natural storyteller, the answer must be obvious: objects are the bearers of stories. Within each object is a hidden tale, and objects separated from their owners inbibe a certain magical quality all their own. What was once a whole story must now be constructed from partial cloth, and where there are gaps to be filled with the imagination of the storyteller (or the reader, now become the storyteller’s sleuth), those options are only as limited as our capacity to think. The infinite is possible.  In the stories I have been currently drawing, I have spent perhaps a ridiculous amount of time on clutter, clothes, and an attention to background detail that I think would drive most people to insanity. Because for me, every half-open drawer, every stitch of scrollwork on a boot, every random scrap of paper must have a story, or it has no place in MY story. Every Objecte is a story within a story, sometimes within another story, and while the reader may not be aware of the layers, the specifics, the history of every object or the hands it has passed through, I am, and it creates a world for me that is more real, more alive than it would be if I just placed random objects in a room without thought or drew from a photo or a hat. Everything comes from within.  
This is the reason, too, why I generally prefer writing comics to prose (but not always!). Being visual, I can tell a primary story through dialog and a secondary story through visual narrative. But then there’s the tertiary tales: the frames within frames. It turns every page into a unique treasure-hunt  full of discovery and wonder. Some of my favorite books as a child were the Four Seasons of Brambly Hedge by Jill Barklem. Her lush cutaway illustrations of tree-stump mouse mansions, murky underground mazes, and glittering ice castles left me enchanted and entranced. For in the stitching of every sack of flour, in the icing of every cake, were drawn minute details that the casual observer could not catch until they leaned closer, nose practically to her sepia and yellow-pink page, and peered deep within the story. And every single item had a story and a history of its own.
The objects in our homes, on the streets, in our workplaces, in our restaurants … they did not just magically come to be. They were placed there by somebody at some point in time, influencing the lives around them. It is through these levels of visual narrative that the storyteller is able to not only bring the story to life, but bring the WORLD to life so that it’s practically sitting in your living room and whispering like an old friend in your ear.    I have never been much of a videogame player, but the games I have enjoyed have all shared one thing in common: the quality of exploration and discovery. Secret drawers to unlock. Filing cabinets through which to sift. Boxes and desks to be moved to discover what’s beneath or the hidden door behind them. Dusty attics and moldy basements are my playground. Once, in the early months of my move to New York, deskless and bedless, I acquired an ancient teacher’s desk from the basement of a Catholic school to add to my then-empty room, and upon opening and cleaning the drawers, I discovered magic: Yellowed handwritten letters in a spidery, illegible scrawl. Dusty pins with the Virgin Mary embossed upon them. Stamps from Longe Agoe. The discovery of objects was almost more of a treasure than the desk itself, and when eventually the desk was handed off to a neighbor, I tucked inside the crumbling letters and pins for the next curious explorer to unearth.
So what is it within us that is so clearly drawn to this feeling of discovery? For the natural storyteller, the answer must be obvious: objects are the bearers of stories. Within each object is a hidden tale, and objects separated from their owners inbibe a certain magical quality all their own. What was once a whole story must now be constructed from partial cloth, and where there are gaps to be filled with the imagination of the storyteller (or the reader, now become the storyteller’s sleuth), those options are only as limited as our capacity to think. The infinite is possible.  In the stories I have been currently drawing, I have spent perhaps a ridiculous amount of time on clutter, clothes, and an attention to background detail that I think would drive most people to insanity. Because for me, every half-open drawer, every stitch of scrollwork on a boot, every random scrap of paper must have a story, or it has no place in MY story. Every Objecte is a story within a story, sometimes within another story, and while the reader may not be aware of the layers, the specifics, the history of every object or the hands it has passed through, I am, and it creates a world for me that is more real, more alive than it would be if I just placed random objects in a room without thought or drew from a photo or a hat. Everything comes from within.  
This is the reason, too, why I generally prefer writing comics to prose (but not always!). Being visual, I can tell a primary story through dialog and a secondary story through visual narrative. But then there’s the tertiary tales: the frames within frames. It turns every page into a unique treasure-hunt  full of discovery and wonder. Some of my favorite books as a child were the Four Seasons of Brambly Hedge by Jill Barklem. Her lush cutaway illustrations of tree-stump mouse mansions, murky underground mazes, and glittering ice castles left me enchanted and entranced. For in the stitching of every sack of flour, in the icing of every cake, were drawn minute details that the casual observer could not catch until they leaned closer, nose practically to her sepia and yellow-pink page, and peered deep within the story. And every single item had a story and a history of its own.
The objects in our homes, on the streets, in our workplaces, in our restaurants … they did not just magically come to be. They were placed there by somebody at some point in time, influencing the lives around them. It is through these levels of visual narrative that the storyteller is able to not only bring the story to life, but bring the WORLD to life so that it’s practically sitting in your living room and whispering like an old friend in your ear.  

 I have never been much of a videogame player, but the games I have enjoyed have all shared one thing in common: the quality of exploration and discovery. Secret drawers to unlock. Filing cabinets through which to sift. Boxes and desks to be moved to discover what’s beneath or the hidden door behind them. Dusty attics and moldy basements are my playground. Once, in the early months of my move to New York, deskless and bedless, I acquired an ancient teacher’s desk from the basement of a Catholic school to add to my then-empty room, and upon opening and cleaning the drawers, I discovered magic: Yellowed handwritten letters in a spidery, illegible scrawl. Dusty pins with the Virgin Mary embossed upon them. Stamps from Longe Agoe. The discovery of objects was almost more of a treasure than the desk itself, and when eventually the desk was handed off to a neighbor, I tucked inside the crumbling letters and pins for the next curious explorer to unearth.

So what is it within us that is so clearly drawn to this feeling of discovery? For the natural storyteller, the answer must be obvious: objects are the bearers of stories. Within each object is a hidden tale, and objects separated from their owners inbibe a certain magical quality all their own. What was once a whole story must now be constructed from partial cloth, and where there are gaps to be filled with the imagination of the storyteller (or the reader, now become the storyteller’s sleuth), those options are only as limited as our capacity to think. The infinite is possible.  In the stories I have been currently drawing, I have spent perhaps a ridiculous amount of time on clutter, clothes, and an attention to background detail that I think would drive most people to insanity. Because for me, every half-open drawer, every stitch of scrollwork on a boot, every random scrap of paper must have a story, or it has no place in MY story. Every Objecte is a story within a story, sometimes within another story, and while the reader may not be aware of the layers, the specifics, the history of every object or the hands it has passed through, I am, and it creates a world for me that is more real, more alive than it would be if I just placed random objects in a room without thought or drew from a photo or a hat. Everything comes from within.  

This is the reason, too, why I generally prefer writing comics to prose (but not always!). Being visual, I can tell a primary story through dialog and a secondary story through visual narrative. But then there’s the tertiary tales: the frames within frames. It turns every page into a unique treasure-hunt  full of discovery and wonder. Some of my favorite books as a child were the Four Seasons of Brambly Hedge by Jill Barklem. Her lush cutaway illustrations of tree-stump mouse mansions, murky underground mazes, and glittering ice castles left me enchanted and entranced. For in the stitching of every sack of flour, in the icing of every cake, were drawn minute details that the casual observer could not catch until they leaned closer, nose practically to her sepia and yellow-pink page, and peered deep within the story. And every single item had a story and a history of its own.

The objects in our homes, on the streets, in our workplaces, in our restaurants … they did not just magically come to be. They were placed there by somebody at some point in time, influencing the lives around them. It is through these levels of visual narrative that the storyteller is able to not only bring the story to life, but bring the WORLD to life so that it’s practically sitting in your living room and whispering like an old friend in your ear.  

There’s a little birdy in my new studio, and it’s singing songs of late hours over coffee, the creak of the chair, the slamming of desk drawers as I search for a new pen, the flutter of thoughts and dreams and hopes scratched hurredly across blue-lined notebook paper.
These last four years in New York–first in Brooklyn, now in Manhattan–have been saturated with self-determination, a desire to test myself and my vision, and no matter what paths I’ve taken, always I have clasped in my right hand the dream that moves me on. Every day, I have taken out my pen and worked a little on my book(s) or my art. Every day, I spend at least a moment thinking of other worlds, worlds created in my head for the pleasure of myself and others, for while our dreams are never truly lost, they may drift further and further away so that we have to cast a wider and wider net just to reach them again, so I keep my dreams always close at hand.
I believe in myself, and I believe in my work, and the fortitude is finally starting to pay off. I have a studio now, with a door and a key and nobody can enter but me. Onlookers may peek curiously through the glass, but I can create in my fishbowl now untouched. And I love it. Back to work. Back to my comics.
Not that I ever really stopped in the first place. Just quietly, diligently toiling away, every day.

There’s a little birdy in my new studio, and it’s singing songs of late hours over coffee, the creak of the chair, the slamming of desk drawers as I search for a new pen, the flutter of thoughts and dreams and hopes scratched hurredly across blue-lined notebook paper.

These last four years in New York–first in Brooklyn, now in Manhattan–have been saturated with self-determination, a desire to test myself and my vision, and no matter what paths I’ve taken, always I have clasped in my right hand the dream that moves me on. Every day, I have taken out my pen and worked a little on my book(s) or my art. Every day, I spend at least a moment thinking of other worlds, worlds created in my head for the pleasure of myself and others, for while our dreams are never truly lost, they may drift further and further away so that we have to cast a wider and wider net just to reach them again, so I keep my dreams always close at hand.

I believe in myself, and I believe in my work, and the fortitude is finally starting to pay off. I have a studio now, with a door and a key and nobody can enter but me. Onlookers may peek curiously through the glass, but I can create in my fishbowl now untouched. And I love it. Back to work. Back to my comics.

Not that I ever really stopped in the first place. Just quietly, diligently toiling away, every day.

Not half-naked chicks this time. Now it’s little kids in haunted houses with an awful lot of cool stuff. Some inks from Jane’s S.O.S., in celebration of finishing my layouts, bluelines, and script! Hurray! Making tight pencils now and debating how I want to color this thing. Not half-naked chicks this time. Now it’s little kids in haunted houses with an awful lot of cool stuff. Some inks from Jane’s S.O.S., in celebration of finishing my layouts, bluelines, and script! Hurray! Making tight pencils now and debating how I want to color this thing. Not half-naked chicks this time. Now it’s little kids in haunted houses with an awful lot of cool stuff. Some inks from Jane’s S.O.S., in celebration of finishing my layouts, bluelines, and script! Hurray! Making tight pencils now and debating how I want to color this thing. Not half-naked chicks this time. Now it’s little kids in haunted houses with an awful lot of cool stuff. Some inks from Jane’s S.O.S., in celebration of finishing my layouts, bluelines, and script! Hurray! Making tight pencils now and debating how I want to color this thing. Not half-naked chicks this time. Now it’s little kids in haunted houses with an awful lot of cool stuff. Some inks from Jane’s S.O.S., in celebration of finishing my layouts, bluelines, and script! Hurray! Making tight pencils now and debating how I want to color this thing.

Not half-naked chicks this time. Now it’s little kids in haunted houses with an awful lot of cool stuff. Some inks from Jane’s S.O.S., in celebration of finishing my layouts, bluelines, and script! Hurray! Making tight pencils now and debating how I want to color this thing.