Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Inking pages

Only a few months left to get EVERYthing done for my graphic novel! Almost all of the pages are inked, and almost all have preliminary color. I'm inking some of the few spreads (or, "splash pages", as my husband tells me they're called in comic books!) today. Here's the title page, mid-inking:

And here are the stacks of inked pages, piled on top of my good-for-nothing, piece of junk printer. I have so many arguments with this lazy pile of parts. Sign that I spend too much time working alone? Maybe! 

Anyway, should be close to 240 pages by now!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Derby Heroes

Here's a direct link to Maria's funny and informative blog... as well as the link to her fundraising page. Cause you know- cancer ain't cheap.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Derby Daze!

Wish me luck! If you want to find out more about Derby Daze, check out the Rose City Rollers website!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Graphic novel!

Looking over my past few posts, I realized I haven't talked too much about my graphic novel... which is strange, because I'm working on it ALL. THE. TIME. I am SUPER excited about this project- it really is a dream come true. It's a middle-grade graphic novel about roller derby. Right now I'm at the inking stage, which means (in my working habits), I'm going from my rough page layouts:

to finished black and white art.

Color, text, and word balloons will come in at a later stage.

I promise to do a more complete breakdown of my process at some point. But right now I'm in "the zone", and days when I can't sit and draw all day, I feel like this:

In the meantime, if you're interested in process, check out this fantastic free ebook on the making of the graphic novel Templar by Jordan Mechner, LeUyen Pham, and Alex Puvilland. I've been a big big fan of LeUyen's picture books for a while, and I can't wait to see her work in graphic novel format!

Monday, July 1, 2013


Two weeks ago, I had my first book signing for my newest picture book, PEST IN SHOW!

It was held at Green Bean Books, one of my very favorite bookstores in Portland. I mean, look at this little fairy hidey-hole in the backyard!

Can I admit something to you, internet? I was actually TERRIFIED of this book event. I love reading. I love being the center of attention (ha ha). So why was I terrified?? 

Because at this event, I had to...


That's right, PEST IN SHOW is a MUSICAL, so I had to belt a few tunes in front of an audience. Yikes. 

To help take the edge off (and to take some of the spotlight off of my singing), I decided to bring along some musical instruments and some dress-up clothes for the kids to play around with during the reading.

(This is me pre-show. The sunglasses are hiding the terror in my eyes.)

But you know what? Once people started arriving and the reading actually started... it was totally fun! And the singing that I had worried about for an entire week- I was kind of sad when it was over. Maybe I am a diva in disguise.

Toe-tapping fun on the patio.

So, thank you, Green Bean Books, for hosting me once again! And thanks to all who made it out that day!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Roller Derby Comic- TMI edition

I really struggled with putting something so personal up on the internet. But I've been listening to a lot of TED talks recently about the need for connectivity and the power of vulnerability, so I figured, why not. I was also really blown away by Hyperbole and a Half's latest post, and really admire her honesty. After all, why create art if not to bare your soul from time to time?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Life imitates art

People often ask me if I "am" any of my characters. The answer is no- but I do find little bits of myself in each of the characters I've written about. My current heroine is somewhat like me... but feistier and with a quicker temper. However, there is one subject on which we agree entirely, namely: Clothes Shopping and Why I Hate It.

I'm leading a few panels next week at the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators conference here in Portland (you can find more information here- still time to sign up!). I realized that I have holes in my favorite jeggings* (*not a good sign to begin with), so I hit some stores to find some pants, and this is exactly how I felt:
One of my favorite "Rich & Famous Author"* daydreams (*also not a good sign) involves a personal shopper with a knack for finding me comfortable, sporty-yet-chic clothes that always fit me perfectly.   

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Presidential Hamster

I teach illustration courses at Pacific Northwest College of Art, and recently the Continuing Ed department asked me to create an image for their catalog cover. I tried to warn them that my illustrations (and sense of humor) are both a little weird and juvenile...

... but they didn't listen. So this is the new cover for the upcoming catalog! I'm SO glad the kind folks in the CE department went along with it, because it makes me so happy. Why? I DON'T KNOW. I do know I'll be buying a fancy gold frame and we'll hang this portrait in our house.

And of course, check out the great Continuing Ed classes offered at PNCA! The next course I'll be teaching (the current semester is already underway) is an intensive class this summer. One week. Four visiting illustrators. ONE PICTURE BOOK DUMMY BY THE END OF THE WEEK! It is always a fun and inspiring four days for me. You can learn more about the class here!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Read new books

... but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold! Anyone else remember that song about friends? Anyone? Anyone? I always wondered which one was silver and which one was gold, and what that meant for ranking purposes.

Anyway. Here's a new book I highly recommend:

POISON, by Bridget Zinn! The story follows Kyra, a highly skilled potions master on the run from the law for (gasp!) attempting to poison the princess. It's funny and sweet and full of adventurous romps. And romance.

I'm lucky enough to have gotten my hands on a special signed edition from a lovely event held at A Children's Place bookstore in Bridget's memory.

 And when I say I'm lucky enough to have gotten my hands on it, I mean, literally. I took the very last signed copy out of the hands of author/illustrator Johanna Wright's husband. It's the kind of fight you don't usually see at a children's bookstore, but like I said, I WANTED THAT BOOK.

Now for the old. Do you have books from your childhood that have haunted you, even if you don't remember the title or the exact story? Well, I was milling around the library the other day, and seeing the cover of this book stopped me in my tracks.

I believe this book was required reading in elementary school, which was shocking to me as I re-read it.  Basically everyone in the world over the age of 12 is killed by a virus, and kids have to rebuild society. Now, wasn't there a big hubbub about the amount of violence in Lauren Myracle's book SHINE? (a book I loved, btw). Well, I read this book in elementary school, and there were kids making Molotov cocktails, and the main character (age 10) gets shot, and another kid performs (vividly described) surgery on a kitchen table. What the what?! I brought this up with my brothers to see if they remembered the book. They didn't (repression), but my younger brother brought up the laugh riot that was HOMECOMING and DICEY'S SONG, by Cynthia Voigt- required reading in our household. Why the big to-do about the violence in THE HUNGER GAMES when the 70s dealt such harsh psychological blows?!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

More new things!

Another part of my creative process? Procrastinating work on my new, daunting project by working on OTHER projects! So here's a flier I made over the weekend for my roller derby team, the Break Neck Betties.

roller derby poster

It's fun, yet somewhat awkward when I work in a more "grownup" style. Much like how I feel when I have to dress like a grownup in fancy clothes and high heels. Get me back to my jeggings & my Chuck Taylors, please- I'm more comfortable there.

If you're going to be in Portland in March... seriously, the Roller Vixen Revue is an experience NOT to be missed!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Starting something new...

Always exciting, always slightly scary. Tonight is the first class for the winter semester for my Continuing Ed class at Pacific Northwest College of Art. The class is writing and illustrating children's books, and it's one of my favorites. Since the class is about taking nebulous wisps of ideas and turning them into concrete stories- I thought I'd share some of my process!

So, I turned in my graphic novel about 2 weeks ago- and I knew during my month or so "break" I'd need to start thinking about my next project. The only problem- I HAD NO IDEA WHAT I WANTED TO DO. I had a few ideas, sure... but I wasn't sure which was the right one to pursue. Cue a week of slight depression, grouchy disposition, and lots of naps. And I mean LOTS OF NAPS. I always feel guilty during this time in the process, because to the untrained eye, napping does not look like working. However! I find that my mind is most free while in that sleepy/half awake phase. Slowly, slowly, one idea began to dominate over the others, and I found myself thinking about those characters more and more as I drifted off and woke up. I started doodling more and more, and after a well-timed trip to the library for inspiration... Bingo! I was on my way.

*Something* just clicked. I don't know what that *something* is, but whatever it is, it made me happy, it made me want to draw instead of nap, and it made me giggle when I thought of something new. My "sketches" during this time tend to look something like this:

Basically, like the ramblings of a crazy person. But that's OK, it doesn't seem crazy to ME. When I needed to take a break from crazy rambling, I did some watercolor sketches of the characters- another one of my tricks to free my mind and think about the story.

So, that's where I am now! What does YOUR creative process look like?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Dear Diary #3

Another illustrated excerpt from my 1989 diary. You can see previous entries here!

Thursday, January 17, 2013


It's been a long time since I've done an Illustration Friday assignment! If you're not familiar, Illustration Friday is a website that gives a weekly assignment (this week's is "Ocean")- and illustrators then submit their solutions. Since I turned in the first draft of my graphic novel on Tuesday (WHAT??! More on that later!)- I had a little extra time on my hands this week & gave it a go:

I based the illustration on a series of books I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE: The Ingo books, by Helen Dunmore

I first learned of these books when I was working at HarperCollins, and I was instantly taken by the jacket designed by Christopher Stengel (now with Scholastic. I couldn't find a website for him, but you can read an interview with him here.) Anyway, they are lovely books about a girl named Sapphire and her brother Conor, and their adventures under the sea with the Mer people. That's a lame summary, but they're really good books. I've read them countless times by now- when I find myself in the position of having finished all of my books from the library (the horror!), I'll reach for this one. Sapphire is a fiesty character, and if I could I'd name my first daughter after her. Unfortunately, this has already been nixed by my husband (and pretty much everyone else I know), saying that Sapphire is a stripper name. Whatever. I'll have to settle for naming my scooter Sapphire.

Sapphy and me

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Etsy and me: a love/hate relationship

Every 6 months or so, I think to myself, "Vicki, you're poor. Why not try and make your millions on Etsy?" And this sounds like a great idea, and I start picking out the color of the Mini Cooper I will buy with my earnings. And then, eventually, I remember why all of my Etsy Get Rich Quick schemes fail: 1) I hate selling things, and 2) I hate the post office. 

My first Esty outing began with my Derby Dolls. They actually sold pretty well! But because of the aforementioned reasons, I never restocked my Etsy shop & still have a big pile in my closet.

Then, this holiday season I thought of a new Get Rich Quick scheme- custom portraits! I used to be a portrait artist on a cruise ship, after all. Since it was the holidays, I made a few portraits for my friends and family members:

Yes, my friends and family DO have exceedingly cute children! 

And now, the holidays are over, and there's no reason NOT to try the Etsy thing again... but the truth is, I love making things SO much more than I love selling things. Any of you other creatives struggle with this, too? How do you get around it?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

New Year's Resolution!

You guessed it- it's to update my blog more often! I've been working working working, and so very thrilled about it. My first draft of my roller derby graphic novel is almost-kinda-sorta completed!!!

Maybe this will be news to you, but guess what? It turns out graphic novels are a TON OF WORK. Who knew? But I am so grateful to have the opportunity to work on a project so near & dear to my heart. I'll post progress reports as the year goes on, as I feel like I'm just making up a ton of stuff as I go. So please- join me in the year 2013- the year of the graphic novel! (for me).

And, just because... some bunnies on a Vespa.