Alumni Spotlight: Josh Kramer

Josh Kramer ’11 is a cartoonist and reporter. He lives in Washington, DC, but is currently a Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan. He runs The Cartoon Picayune, a nonfiction comics anthology; and The CoJo List, a newsletter of nonfiction comics. He most recently published “Nuclear Neighbors” at Hakai Magazine.

Josh says, “I want to mention that along my CoJo List co-creator Em DeMarco, I’ll be teaching a week-long comics journalism summer course at The Center for Cartoon Studies (CCS) from July 24-28. It’s the first one ever, and it should be really hands-on and built around real skills and techniques. Please join us!”

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Who was your thesis advisor and why did you pick them?
My thesis advisor was Josh Neufeld, who makes awesome nonfiction comics and teaches comics in New York City including at School of Visual Arts.

If you could choose any cartoonists living or dead as your thesis advisor, who would you have picked and why?
I really think it’s important to pick a thesis advisor who has some insight into the kinds of things you want to do and also is someone you can get along with well. So honestly I’m really glad I picked Josh, even though we still get a lot of “too many Josh’s” jokes. He’s also a big part of why I made it into the Knight-Wallace Fellowship at the University of Michigan, which is one of the best journalism fellowships in the world and just impossibly awesome.

What’s your favorite thing to draw? 
I love drawing buildings and structures. Give me a ruler or straight-edge and I’m happy.

Josh's art

Josh’s art

How did you come up with the idea for The CoJo List? Why do you think it is important?
I knew that there were a lot of amazing nonfiction and journalistic comics being drawn and published online, and figured that an email newsletter would be the perfect medium to share them. I teamed up with Em DeMarco, a great cartoonist in her own right, and started sending them out. We’re on hiatus until my fellowship’s done, but if you care about the future of comics and journalism or just want to a learn a little more about the world, I really encourage you to sign up here. Also, submit your work!

Why did you decide to start the annual journalism anthology The Cartoon Picayune?
The Cartoon Picayune is my comicbook that I self-publish yearly. It’s anthology of nonfiction comics that I edit, and it actually grew out of my thesis at CCS!

What’s your editing process with the comics in The Cartoon Picayune?
Often, cartoonists write scripts and then we work on them together to make them as strong and correct as possible. After all the drawing is done, I have friends/peers/family who help me copy-edit and fact-check. For cartoonists who have only worked in fiction before, it can be a bit of an adjustment, but I think most people enjoy the process and are very proud of the end result.

Josh's art of the Half Smoked Benedict at Ten 01

Josh’s art of the Half Smoked Benedict at Ten 01

What are you focusing on during your time as a Knight-Wallace fellow?
I’m studying the best practices and ethics of comics journalism. We’re about a decade into this most recent wave of nonfiction comics, and I want to take a closer look at visual authenticity and how we as cartoonists can function as documentarians and journalists.

What has been your favorite experience so far as a Knight-Wallace fellow?
This Fellowship is a dream: I’m paid to hangout with amazing journalists, take classes at one of the best public universities (Go Blue!), and go on amazing international trips. We just back from South Korea, and it was mind-bending. It’s a culture with deep paper-craft and design traditions and there was a lot to see.

What’s your favorite comic and why?
So hard to pick! “,” by Joe Sacco, is probably the most meaningful to me. It really got me started on the path of becoming a cartoonist and visual journalist.

Josh's favorite book, by Joe Sacco

Josh’s favorite book, by Joe Sacco

What is your favorite cheese and why?
Again, too many excellent choices. But I want to remind the CCS community that some of the best cheese in the country is made in Vermont. It’s a small state, and visits to Jasper Hill Farms, Von Trapp Farmstead, or Vermont Creamery are fascinating and delicious. I love Winnimere, aged at Jasper. Check out the Vermont Cheese Trail!

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School Discussion: Political Comics

Jeff Danzinger and David Macaulay came to gather all the students in a group discussion of what journalism is in comics.

Whole class notes during a serious discussion

Whole-class notes during a serious discussion

Jeff Danzinger has won the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. His most recent book, The Conscience of a Cartoonist, is a collection of his political cartoons following the 9/11 attack, using satire to scold and guide.

A visitor explains his take.

Jeff Danzinger explains his take.

David Macaulay is an illustrator and writer, often explaining architecture, design, and engineering. In 1991, he won the Caldecott Medal for Black and White (1990), four separate stories told at the same time across spreads; and in 2006, he received the MacArthur Fellows Program award.

Sandra Bartholomew ('17) and Michelle Ollie listen to a visitor

Sandra Bartholomew (’17) and Michelle Ollie listen to David Macauly

They discussed how it’s important to not be partisan, what makes a political cartoon work or not, how simplicity is the key. Sometimes you can convey a location or part of the world with just a store front or a specific building. The students were encouraged to get involved with their questions and opinions, leading to a lively discussion.

Moss Bastille busy taking notes

Moss Bastille (’17) busy taking notes

Sandra Bartholomew's mad note-taking skillz

Sandra Bartholomew’s mad note-taking skillz

Discussion doesn't stop just because class does. Sophie Yanow, Darryl and Mary continue the conversation.

Discussion doesn’t stop just because class does. Sophie Yanow, Darryl and Mary continue the conversation.

Liniers, James Sturm, and Sophie Yanow eagerly listening.

Liniers, James Sturm, and Sophie Yanow eagerly listening.

Caleb Brown taking notes for everyone.

Caleb Brown taking notes for everyone.

Photos courtesy Abe Olson.

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Announcing The Fifth Annual Cartoonist Studio Prize!

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Submissions in both categories must be received by Jan. 31 2017.

Each year the Cartoonist Studio Prize will be awarded to work that exemplifies excellence in cartooning. The creators of two exceptional comics will be awarded $1000 each. Winners will be selected by Slate’s Jacob Brogan, the faculty and students of The Center for Cartoon Studies, and this year’s guest judge, Karen Green of the Columbia University Library.

The two award categories for the Cartoonist Studio Prize are Print Comic of the Year and Web Comic of the Year. Finalists for each category will be announced in early March. The two winning comics will be announced in early April.

Eligible print comics must be written in (or translated into) English and published between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31 of 2016.

For details, visit: cartoonstudies.org/studioprize

 

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Visiting Artist: A. K. Summers

A. K. Summers' name board drawn by Luke Howard

A. K. Summers’ name board drawn by Luke Howard

A. K. Summers is the creator of Pregnant Butch: Nine Long Months Spent in Drag. She also made the comic zine Negativa, and the animated shorts Topless Dickless Clueless and World Without Femmes.

© 2016 Abram B. Olson All Rights Reserved

A. K. Summers

Summers was an entertaining speaker. She discussed why she made Pregnant Butch: though she identifies as butch, pregnancy is identified as inherently girly. She wanted to explore that conflict and fictionalized autobio was the perfect medium.

© 2016 Abram B. Olson All Rights Reserved

Summers had a blast answering questions

A. K. Summers continued making comics to explore this dichotomy. In early 2015, she published a comic, “Nursing While Butch,” with Mutha Magazine, continuing the story of Pregnant Butch.

© 2016 Abram B. Olson All Rights Reserved

Summers and James Sturm in deep conversation

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Gorgeous notes about A. K. Summers by Sandra Bartholomew (’17)

© 2016 Abram B. Olson All Rights Reserved

Summers is entertained while in discussion with Laura Martin (’17) and other students

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Enraptured students Jarad Green (’17), Robyn Smith (’17), and Hedj (’17) along with many more.

A. K.'s fantastic graphic novel

A. K.’s fantastic graphic novel

Photos courtesy Abe Olson.

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Visiting Artist: Rebecca Roher

Rebecca Roher's board, drawn by Luke Howard

Rebecca Roher’s board, drawn by Luke Howard

Rebecca Roher is a Canadian cartoonist and illustrator who graduated from The Center for Cartoon Studies (CCS) in 2015. She recently returned as a visiting artist.

Rebecca Roher

Rebecca Roher

One of the first comics Rebecca became well-known for was Mom Body. It is about, as one would imagine, the changes her friend’s body goes through during pregnancy. It was nominated for the Doug Wright Award in 2016.

Reunion of Rebecca with Luke Howard and Jason Lutes

Reunion of Rebecca with Luke Howard and Jason Lutes

In Bird in a Cage, also started as part of her CCS thesis, Rebecca explores the changes in her grandmother as Alzheimer’s set in. It was first featured on The Nib, and then the mini comic won the Expozine Award. It has now been expanded to a full graphic novel and been published by Conundrum Press.

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With the success of these two comics, Rebecca has become sought out for work on women’s and mental health comics.

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She is also a proponent of healthy living, especially in regards to living an artistic life. During her talk, she discussed maintaining healthy working habits, such as taking breaks and stretching.

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She even treated the attendees to a watercolor demo.

demo2 demo

Photos courtesy Abe Olson.

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New Donation at the Schulz!

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Just got this amazing donation from ODOD! Musnet tells the story of Musnet the Mouse, a dedicated admirer of impressionism who strives to achieve artistic perfection while trying to make sense of his complex feelings for the critters he cares about. Sound familiar?

Its subdued and eloquent color palette, its beautifully dynamic and deceptively sparse lines and its earnest and touching homage to one of the most important moments in the History Western Art all work together to deliver a poignant and compelling children’s tale.

This series has been slated for the Grand Prix at Angouleme.  Help Dargaud and Uncivilized Books bring this jewel to American kids everywhere by backing this project at Kickstarter. Only 57 more hours to go!

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Visiting Artists: Kerascoet

Kerascoet board as drawn by Luke Howard

Kerascoet board as drawn by Luke Howard

Kerascoet are a husband-and-wife artist team, Marie Pommepuy and Sébastien Cosset, from France. They are best known in the United States for their comics Beautiful Darkness (written by Fabien) and Beauty (written by Hubert).

Sebastian and Marie have to try to answer Luke Howard's weird questions.

Sebastian and Marie have to try to answer Luke Howard’s weird questions.

They work with a variety of writers, working in close collaboration. And collaboration is the name of the game for this pair. They are masters of working on a team, maintaining a balance between an exacting vision and compromise.

Sebastian discusses making comics

Sebastian discusses making comics

Together and separately, they work on comics, illustrations, and animation. Their strengths compliment each other. Sébastien is a trained architect with mastery of perspective and design. Marie brings life to her subjects and stories.

Sebastian made sure Marie spoke up, not allowing her to hide behind the books.

Sebastian made sure Marie spoke up, not allowing her to hide behind the books.

They admire each other’s strengths. And where their skills overlap, there is absolute respect that allows them to work in tandem. Any given page could be work on either or both of them. And yet the art remains cohesive and consistent because of the trust and care they put into it.

Marie has something important to tell Moss Bastille ('17)

Marie has something important to tell Moss Bastille (’17)

With each comic, they also like to switch up their tools. Beautiful Darkness was created using pencil and watercolor. Miss Don’t Touch Me was originally drawn using a nib pen in a far looser style than Beauty. Another artist applied digital colors to their specifications.

After the talk, they were kind enough to sign books in the wonderful sketch tradition in Europe

After the talk, they were kind enough to sign books in the wonderful sketch tradition in Europe

Beauty was created using technical pens (in three sizes) and Uni Posca paint markers. The markers lay a flat, even layer of opaque color. The original use only two colors, black and the paint marker. The same colorist that worked on Miss Don’t Touch Me colored these pages, but with different specifications from Kerascoet. Instead of the dark monotone colors, they wanted more emotional vibrant colors.

Someone was talking beautiful notes

Sandra Bartholomew (’17) took beautiful notes

Kerascoet has created many comics, large and small. But most are not available in the United States. If you speak French, though, you are in luck!

Marie and Sebastian

Marie and Sebastian

Photos courtesy Abe Olson.

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Anthology superstar Irene

Irene is a short story comics anthology put together by The Center for Cartoon Studies alumni Dakota McFadzean ’12, Andy Warner ’12, and DW ’12. The first volume came out in 2013 and has grown to 6 volumes, the most recent volume clocking in at 216 pages in 2015.

3 volumes of Irene

3 volumes of Irene

Dakota McFadzean is a Canadian cartoonist whose first book, Other Stories and the Horse You Rode in On, was published by Conundrum Press in 2013. For this collection, he won the 2016 Doug Wright Spotlight Award. Then his second book, Don’t Get Eaten by Anything, collected three years of daily comic strips called The Dailies drawn from 2010-2016.

Panel by Dakota MacFadzean

Panel by Dakota MacFadzean

Andy Warner is a contributing editor at The Nib and has taught cartooning at Stanford University, California College of the Arts, and the Animation Workshop in Denmark. His first book, Brief Histories of Everyday Objects just released with Picador. He makes comics in a garden shed in San Francisco and comes from the sea.

Panel by Andy Warner

Panel by Andy Warner

Irene 6 included some highlights of the CCS alum.

Front cover of Irene 5

Front cover of Irene 5

Back cover of Irene 5

Back cover of Irene 5

Shining star Luke Howard ’13 is an Ignatz-nominated cartoonist: Promising New Talent 2014 for his oh-so-creepy Trevor. He is also currently a teacher at CCS. This year he released two comics, Our Mother (Retrofit) and Talk Dirty to Me (AdHouse).

© 2016 Abram B. Olson All Rights Reserved

Panel by Luke Howard

Ink-pounder Tillie Walden ’16 was a first-time contributor in volume 6. She recently won Ignatz awards for both outstanding artist (for her debut graphic novel End of Summer with Avery Hill and Retrofit) and promising new talent.

Panel by Tillie Walden

Panels by Tillie Walden (’16)

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Visiting Artist: Spike Trotman

Spike's visiting artist board, drawn by Luke Howard

Spike’s visiting artist board, drawn by Luke Howard

C. Spike Trotman is a cartoonist and owner of Iron Circus Comics. She is a Kickstarting pro, running eight Kickstarters since 2009. She started with the first volume of her web comic, Templar Arizona.

© 2016 Abram B. Olson All Rights Reserved

Spike was animated and gregarious. And she spewed forth the backwaters of the comics scene.

© 2016 Abram B. Olson All Rights Reserved

In 2005, she began posting Templar Arizona online. In 2007, it won the Rising Star Award from the Glyph Comics Awards. It is an ongoing story with a character driven storyline. Her readers were clamoring for a print edition of Templar Arizona, so she funded that first volume using essentially a tip jar on her website.

© 2016 Abram B. Olson All Rights Reserved

Then in 2012, she was on the hunt for erotic comics geared for female readers. A small anthology called Smut Peddler had ceased putting out issues. She asked so many times when the next one was coming that she ended up doing it herself. She funded it through Kickstarter, and it was a smashing success. She even applied her fearlessness to ask Emily Carroll, at the beginning of her rise to stardom, to do her cover. And so began her publishing company, Iron Circus Comics.

© 2016 Abram B. Olson All Rights Reserved

This model has become the basis of her business. Through Iron Circus Comics, she has published other anthologies, including Sleep of Reason (horror) and New Worlds (science-fiction). As with erotica and Smut Peddler, she sees a hole in the market where she is looking for comics that she wants to read and makes an anthology to help fill that hole.

© 2016 Abram B. Olson All Rights Reserved

And now she is expanding into single creator/team comics. She published (and edited) Shadow Eyes by Sophie Campbell and Erin Watson about an aspiring vigilante teen. More recently, she published The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal, E. K. Weaver’s web comic. Spike is extremely excited about this comic because she is stepping up her game yet again.

© 2016 Abram B. Olson All Rights Reserved

Then right after leaving us in White River Junction, she started yet another Kickstarter for her next project, an erotic graphic novel, Letters for Lucardo. And all this is the briefest look at what she has accomplished. We can only expect more from this rock star.

© 2016 Abram B. Olson All Rights Reserved

Photos courtesy Abe Olson.

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Cider Press 2016

It is becoming tradition at CCS, three years running now, to do a cider pressing at the beginning of the school year. Alums, student, and staff gather together to crush a bunch of apples. We crush the life out of the apples to steal the nourishing nectar that will give us the power of a thousand apple cartoonists.

Apples are crushed to smitherenes.

Apples are crushed to smitherenes.

To strengthen our resolve, we are provided with plenty of pizza from a nearby restaurant where hundreds of cartoonists have gorged to their cheezy delight.

Luke and Dave bring the traditional pizza boxes in the glowing evening sun.

Luke Howard and Dave Lloyd bring the traditional pizza boxes in the glowing evening sun.

And finally.

It is time.

XX tossing in apples for XX to crush in the cider press.

Someone tosses in apples for Trevor Richardson (’18) to crush in the cider press.

XX poking apple smush back in for XX to finish pressing.

Rachel Ford (’18) poking apple smush back in for Hillary Mullins (’18) to finish pressing.

The juice is gather and poured into a tapped bucket. The most noble bucket. From this bucket, each alum, student, and staff can drink their fill of cider until bursting, and then fill more bottles to bring home.

Catherine Garberino ('17) pouring some fresh apple cider into the jug.

Catherine Garberino (’17) pouring some fresh apple cider into the jug.

When the cider gets too heady, some of the staff burst out in feats of strength and cunning. Students are awed. Alums are reminded of their own time being awed by the towering pillars that run our little community.

Luke Howard, master of all trades, juggling his way into the apples' hearts before tossing them to their doom.

Luke Howard, master of all trades, juggling his way into the apples’ hearts before tossing them to their doom. Catherine Garberino ducks in fear of an angry, rogue apple.

And then the evening begins to draw to a close. Jugs are capped. Cups are licked. Battles are fought and won for unclaimed bottles through the time-honored tradition of arm wrestling.

XX is very happy with her cider. Laura Martin looks on in jealousy.

Whitely Foster (’18) is very happy with her cider. Laura Martin (’17) looks on in jealousy.

Towards the end of the evening when the pizza has cooled and the ground glistens in drips and rivers of apple cider, Bagel the daschund/chihuahua nearly steals the show that rightfully belonged to the apples. Fortunately, the reining apples had juice and pulp strewn about to tempt Bagel away from her adoring fans.

XX holds Bagel, an unofficial mascot of CCS and part of the glorious Howard household.

Whitely Foster (’18) holds Bagel, an unofficial mascot of CCS and part of the glorious Howard household.

Photos courtesy Abe Olson.

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