Thursday, July 30, 2009

Review: Wednesday's Haul

Just got Google-Alerted (look, I invented a verb!) to a new review of WHTTWOT by Scott Cederlund at the blog Wednesday's Haul. It's a long piece that reflects the interests and passions of its writer, as I think any good review should.

(A quick digression about that: some readers don't like it when reviewers reveal themselves in their reviews. I disagree. A review is one person's opinion; I like to know the person. What their experience is, what their prejudices are, where they're coming from. I get a lot more out of a review when I know what the reviewer took into it. For example, I enjoy reading Roger Ebert's movie reviews, even of films I have no intention of seeing, because I think he's a good writer and I like watching his mind work.)

Anyway, Scott wrote:

The marvelous thing about Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow? is that through the century of war, of killing and of tragedy, Buddy never loses his wide-eyed innocence. He takes his father’s dream for him and makes it his dream. Buddy is us, the person who read comics, saw all the movies and is young enough to think that he too would one day walk in space and on the moon . . .

Through the tale of Buddy and Pop and through the tales of Cosmic Kid and Cap Crater, Fies reminds us of our dreams and how they failed us or maybe it’s how we failed them. He shows us the imagination and courage it took just to have the dreams but in the end, we fell short of achieving them in the 20th century. Fies does comfort us though, showing that even as the century is over and our hopes are unfufilled at this time, it doesn’t mean we are through dreaming or are done reaching for the stars. Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow? reminds us how to dream by showing us what we were able to once accomplish. Buddy and Cosmic Kid may have grown up but that doesn’t mean that they’ve lost their hope for the future.

Much appreciated, thanks Scott.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Review: Paradox Comics Group

I just learned of a very nice review of WHTTWOT on the Paradox Comics Group blog, a U.K.-based collective of comics reviewers I hadn't heard of 15 minutes ago but who just became my very best friends ever. Matt C. wrote in part:

Fies’s clean, cartoon-like art is bursting with such wonder and exuberance that it’ll undoubtedly bring a smile to the face. It cleverly nods towards a simpler style of illustration more frequently seen in comics aimed at kids . . . nicely juxtaposing with the core theme of a loss of childhood innocence. It adapts itself well to “real world” situations, incorporating (often recognizable) photographs that sit comfortably with the hand-drawn imagery, and a playful use of colour successfully evokes different time periods . . .

The brilliance of
Whatever Happened To The World Of Tomorrow?
is that it reminds us something important that we may occasionally forget: mankind hasn’t given up on pushing itself forward, hasn’t stopped trying to better itself and look at the future with optimism. We may not be living on the Moon yet, but there’s still plenty of time left to make that happen and there’s no reason to believe we won’t one day return there and then continue onwards into the unknown.

It’s a beautifully produced, affecting book that and deserves a place on any discerning comic fan’s bookshelf. 8/10

That's an excerpt, there's more at the site. A review like this, in which the reader engaged the book as I'd hoped, means a lot to me. I don't expect everyone to get WHTTWOT, and I don't think less of those who don't, but knowing I connected with someone somewhere feels very good.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


A quick note on what I'm working on these days, which is preparing WHTTWOT for translation and publication in another country. I don't know if all the papers are signed so I won't mention which country, but basically my task involves going through all 200 pages of art and formatting the files so a foreign publisher can easily delete the English. And yes, I'm taking the opportunity to fix a few things.

It's a task I could've made considerably easier on myself with some foresight--a charactertistic I evidently lack to an astonishing degree. Most of the pages, where the text consists of letters inside balloons or caption boxes, are trivial. The fake "comic book" pages are trickier because they have a transparent overlay of yellow newsprint texture--I can't just separate out the letters because they'd leave letter-shaped holes. On a few other pages, some text is so integrated into the art that it's just going to have to stay English.

It's not difficult but it takes time--and, sometimes, a bit of cleverness. As I said, if I'd given it a moment's thought when I was writing the book I could've made the job easy, but at the time I was just concentrating on getting it done. From a Photoshop standpoint, how I accomplished that wasn't always pretty. The nice thing is that when I'm finished I'll have a set of very clean, corrected master files ready for any future use I can imagine, including new English editions, if any.

* * *

Kid Sis led me to this list of "73 Ways to Become a Better Writer" by Mary Jaksch. I like many of the items and might argue with a few, but my nagging discomfort with advice like this is that if someone actually set out to consciously follow all 73 ways, they'd be too paralyzed to write. I think Jaksch's list is worth a look, but I'd distill it to three items:

1. Read as much as you can.

2. Write as much as you can.

3. Get your writing out into the world any way you can, but preferably for pay.

You're welcome.

* * *

Sick Cat Update: We got new lab results back on Marbles, who was pretty close to death a few weeks ago, and the numbers are very good. Her hyperthyroidism is under control with relatively mild medication and her kidney function numbers are back to normal ranges after being super-elevated. We'll keep doing what we're doing, including the daily subcutaneous hydration, and see how she does. Some cats can carry on like this for months or years. Marbles's human will be back home from her archeology dig at the end of the week; it looks like the cat is going to keep her end of the bargain. Good kitty.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Eisner Award Results and Reflections

The Eisner Awards were handed out at Comic-Con International in San Diego Friday night. I hear they found a new venue for the ceremony, which was probably a good idea. The old location, the cavernous Ballroom 20, only emphasized how relatively few fans came out to watch. You could've landed Galactus's mothership in there with space to spare.

Anyway, I scanned the list of winners this morning to see if I knew any of them, and saw just one name I'd consider to be "in the family." The Eisner for "Best Comics-Related Book" went to Mark Evanier's Kirby: King of Comics, which was put out by my publisher Abrams and edited by Editor Charlie. The award is well deserved. It's a big, beautiful book full of carefully reproduced art, including original pencils and inks, and a worthwhile addition to the library of anyone who knows the name Jack Kirby. Plus, Evanier's been nice to me the couple of times we met, even though I've never said anything remotely intelligent or interesting in his presence.

I also notice they've renamed "my" Eisner. When Mom's Cancer won four years ago, it was for "Best Digital Comic." Now that award is simply called "Best Webcomic," which I think is an improvement. It says exactly what it means and avoids confusion with other comics that could conceivably be "digital" without being on the Web. I think there's an interesting little parable there about the rise of a new medium: first, the debate and decision about recognizing online comics at all (mine was the first), then the arguments about how to define and what to call them, then eventually settling on what seems to be, but wasn't always, an obvious solution. I enjoy my teeny tiny role as some sort of pioneer.

Winning an Eisner Award was certainly a career and lifetime high point for me. Some talented people win so many they lose count, but it was a big deal for me that I'll always appreciate and never forget. I made new friends and met some creative idols of mine that night. I called Editor Charlie from the lobby to tell him I won, as I'd promised, only to wake him up three time zones later and spend several painfully funny seconds cutting through the grogginess ("Who?
Wha--?"). I sat next to the great comic book artist Gene Colan for a group photo, and he was gracious enough to be interested in my work and treat me like a peer. Later, I took the trophy to Mom's care facility (she wasn't able to live at home by that time) and put it on her nightstand, and knew I'd done her proud.

I hope at least a few of last night's Eisner winners got a fraction as much out of the experience as I did.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Village Voice: Now THAT'S More Like It

Publicist Amy just alerted me to a review of WHTTWOT in The Village Voice, New York City's great Pulitzer-Prize-winning alternative weekly. Reviewer Richard Gehr wrote:

Having published an autobiographic novel about his mother – 2005's moving Mom's Cancer – Brian Fies now delivers an equally nuanced tale about fathers and sons. Beginning with the 1939 New York World's Fair (which brought us General Motors' superhighway-pimping Futurama exhibit) and ending with the final Apollo space mission in 1975, Fies juxtaposes an evolving parent-child relationship – as filtered through our complex cultural feelings about science and technology – with marvelous faux-pulp, Benday-dotted renditions of four decades' worth of "Space Age Adventures," featuring Commander Cap Crater and the Cosmic Kid. Fies neatly nails each era's look – from Siegel & Shuster to Buscema – and the Cosmic Kid's departure from Cap Crater's orbit is no less moving than the son's inevitable independence from his father in a hopelessly optimistic moon-age daydream.

He got it. That feels good.

Wish I'd Thought of That

My pal Jeff Kinney just revealed the cover art for his new Wimpy Kid book, Dog Days, which will be released October 12. The best part: throughout August, a tricked-out minivan will be touring the nation's libraries to promote the book on a Summer Reading Coast-to-Coast Ice Cream Truck Tour. See if your city made the list here.

As a guy with the life-long dream of driving the Oscar Meyer wienermobile, I can scarcely imagine a cooler honor than having an ice cream truck/van covered with my characters (and also supporting libraries, encouraging literacy, blah blah blah). This is a lot better than that Time magazine "100 Most Influential People" thing.

I just wonder: if Jeff actually went to one of the stops, would they give him a freebie?

* * *

Two things a couple of people have asked about lately:

1. I decided not to go to the San Diego Comic-Con this year. No big reason, just a combination of time/money/hassle plus not really feeling like I had a good reason to be there. I love the event, and the people there have been very good to me, but it's also a business meeting as much as a vacation and I didn't think I had a worthwhile amount of business to conduct. I will miss seeing some friends I only get to see there once a year, although I hear some of them aren't attending, either. It's like Yogi Berra said about a once-favorite restaurant: it's so crowded that nobody goes there anymore.

2. I am working on a new cartooning project, something I've had tumbling around in my brain a few months now. I know the plot and am working on character designs: I've got three main characters and think I've got the look of one of them down, one of them close, and one I haven't figured out at all. I don't know if it's a book--it's just a nice little story that may not be "big" enough for print. Maybe it's a webcomic. Maybe nothing at all, I dunno. I do find that when I have an idea stuck in my head like this, pretty much the only way to move on is to do it and get it out of the way. We'll see.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

PW and Potter

Brigid Alverson interviewed me for Publishers Weekly's "PW Comics Week" a few weeks ago, and the resulting article just showed up online. We had an unusually nice conversation, I thought, and I just wish she'd had enough room to capture more of it. She and I turned out to have remarkably similar educational, vocational, and aspirational interests that made talking to her a lot of fun. I hope some of that comes across.

Just a note that this is an interview, not a review. As far as I know, PW hasn't actually reviewed WHTTWOT yet, and I don't know if they intend to. They certainly can't review everything that comes over the transom. However, a lot of people in the book trade look to PW to guide their buying decisions, and a good review there can be very influential--at least, it was for Mom's Cancer, I think. Which isn't to say I'm assuming their review of WHTTWOT would be good. But it'd be cool if they did and it was.

I'm rambling. Thanks to Brigid for the interview, I enjoyed meeting you and appreciate the opportunity very much.

* * *

I'm not a big fan of Harry Potter, which isn't to say I dislike it. My kids devotedly read all the books, but my attention drifted away after the first two or three. I've seen all the movies and enjoyed them well enough. I don't think the stories are great literature but I absolutely believe J.K. Rowling deserves every pound she's earned.

Despite my relative indifference, I was completely charmed by these videos, which show what happened when a Japanese girl named Kana beat out 10,000 other Potter maniacs for the opportunity to visit the movie set and report on the experience for a television program back home. The girl herself is wonderful, but what strikes me most is how kindly and gently Emma Watson, Rupert Grint and Dan Radcliffe treat her. Especially compared to some of the young monsters Hollywood's been turning out, these kids are all right.

I would be thrilled if just one time in my life, someone were as happy to see me as Kana is to meet these actors. Anyone.

Monday, July 20, 2009

That's the Way it Once Was

Just one more space post for now, I promise.

I couldn't let today, July 20, pass without posting this clip, which I saw a few days ago after Walter Cronkite died. This is nearly 10 minutes of CBS's actual coverage of the landing of Apollo 11. I've seen a lot of TV shows, documentaries, and NASA film and photos of the event in the past 40 years, but I don't think I've watched this broadcast itself since 1969. This was what we at home really saw--not the film still aboard Apollo that had yet to be returned and developed.

I hope it's obvious, but feel obligated to emphasize, that all of the spacecraft visuals in this broadcast were models and animations done by CBS to accompany the real-time audio from Apollo 11. Hours later, when Armstrong was preparing to step onto the Moon, he turned on a video camera attached to the side of the lander to broadcast the event live. Those are the ghostly black-and-white transmissions we're used to seeing. Until then, it was essentially a radio show.

Man, this takes me back. It actually brought a tear to my eye. In ways impossible to explain to someone who wasn't there, Cronkite (along with Life magazine) was the public face of the space program. He enjoyed access and credibility no one else had, and Cronkite sitting there with astronaut Wally Schirra is 198-proof nostalgia for me.

I think I remember being confused when the CBS animation didn't match up with the actual audio from Apollo. You'll notice that CBS had a big clock counting down to the lunar landing, and showed their model spacecraft on the surface while we clearly heard Armstrong and Aldrin still descending. CBS jumped the gun. They didn't yet know that Armstrong had taken manual control of the craft when the autopilot appeared to be setting them into a field of boulders, and almost exhausted the Eagle's fuel poking around for a flat spot to land (the voice saying "thirty seconds" is Mission Control telling Armstrong how much fuel he's got left). It's fascinating to hear the chatter about alarms going off in the lander, knowing--again, in retrospect--that the Eagle's computer had overloaded and the mission was nearly aborted (at one point Cronkite alertly asked about an alarm and Schirra quickly dismissed it as unimportant, which was at best a white lie).

I've said before and probably too often that I consider being alive to witness Apollo 11 to be one of the great privileges of my life. A thousand years from now, that's what our time will be remembered for. And I was there. Ha ha, you punk kids!

* * *

WHTTWOT got two recent cites online I want to mention. KaneCitizen, who was kind enough to comment on a recent post here, strongly recommended my book on his "News on the March" blog. And the proprietor of Flying Colors Comics & Other Cool Stuff in Concord, Calif., mentioned my book on his shop's Facebook page, calling it his favorite new release of the week--which is wonderful to hear, especially from someone in a position to maybe sell a couple of copies. Thanks to both!

Friday, July 17, 2009

New Coolest Pictures Ever

Every few months I find some new photo of space stuff that I immediately dub "The Coolest Picture Ever." These might actually qualify.

NASA recently shot a probe called the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) to the Moon. LRO is equipped with a high-res camera of unprecedented quality, able to resolve objects down to a couple feet in size. Of course, the first thing you do when you've got eyes that sharp circling the Moon is look for places you've already been. Also of course, this is a very apt week to do so.

The first picture shows the bottom half of the Apollo 11 lunar lander, which was left on the Moon when Armstrong and Aldrin flew away in the top half. Notice its long shadow stretching out to the right.

Impressive enough, but I like this photo of the Apollo 14 site even more. It not only shows the base of the lunar lander but the actual footpath Alan Shepard and Ed Mitchell scuffed in the dust as they set out their equipment! Wow!

I understand that even higher-quality images will be available in coming weeks. None of this will convince the moonbats who think NASA and the U.S. faked the whole thing, of course. After all, who's the source of these pictures? The reality-based rest of us are free to marvel.
More here.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

You Will Go to the Moon

Forty years ago today Apollo 11 lifted off for the Moon, and I couldn't think of a better tribute than to celebrate a book that told me the biggest lie of my life.

You Will Go to the Moon was written by Mae and Ira Freeman and illustrated by Robert Patterson, and I read it a bajillion times when I was a kid. Published in 1959, this Random House Beginner Book soaked through my skin, rearranged my DNA, and prepared me to be a citizen of the stars instead of the little South Dakota neighborhood from which I watched Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins make history. My original copy is long gone, but I found one in a used book store a few years ago and happily gave it a place of honor on my shelf of much more serious and scholarly tomes on astronomy and space exploration. It taught me more than pretty much all the rest together, even though almost nothing in it is right.

The influence of Wernher Von Braun's vision of spaceflight is strong and obvious--surprisingly so for as late as 1959, when the real manned space program had gotten underway. The fat winged rocket above and the classic doughnut-shaped space station below are pure Von Braunian goodness, so iconic of their time it's easy to forget they were once serious suggestions for actual space vehicles.

Of course, nothing says "going boldly where no man has gone before" more than drinking a cup of coffee at an orbital soda fountain or watching a Western projected onto a tiny movie screen. I love the idea of a soda jerk in space, complete with white paper hat and
t-shirt (behind the coffee drinkers below, unfortunately obscured by a blotch of childhood graffiti). I wonder what that "help wanted" ad would look like.
Once your spider-legged landing craft leaves the space station and reaches the Moon, you can pull an accordian-limbed space suit over your red cardigan and bound out to your bubble-topped Moonmobile, ready to explore your new home.

What terrific art! I've seen a later edition of You Will Go to the Moon illustrated more realistically, informed by Apollo hardware and actual lunar landings. I don't think it's nearly as good. If I can't blast off to a space station with a soda fountain and race Moon cars through craters like dune buggies, well, I hardly see the point in going.
When Mr. Patterson and the Freemans promised me I would go to the Moon, I believed them. Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow is partly a decades-late thank you note to them. I allow myself the indulgence of imagining that a young reader reaching the end of my book might come away thinking like I did 40 years ago. Even if it turns out to be a lie, I expect they'll be forgiving.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Endeavour Ho!

I just spent the past few hours doing something I haven't done in . . . well, I can't remember how long: watching a live space launch. At this writing, Endeavour is safely on its way to orbit.

Of course I wasn't sitting cross-legged in front of a giant Zenith console, like I did when I was a kid. No, here in the 21st century I was able to keep working on my computer while NASA transmitted a live feed to a little window on my monitor. NASA cameras showed the astronauts suiting up in the "white room" just outside the shuttle hatch, joking with technicians, and hoisting themselves into their seats. Everybody in Mission Control being polled and barking back a "Go!" Knowledgeable commentators explaining what we were seeing. It was great!

It's impossible to look back at the Space Race without the taint of inevitability. Knowing how everything turns out drains a lot of the excitement, tension, and even fear that I remember feeling as I waited for the giant Saturn V rocket to ignite and blast my heroes into space (man, I wish I'd had the chance to see one of those go up). I got a little of that feeling back this afternoon, watching the clock count down to zero, hoping that all would go well. Not knowing how everything turns out.

That tingle in the spine--the feeling that makes you yell "Yeah!" even though there's no one in the house to hear you, and maybe think a momentary prayer even if you're not a praying man--is what Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow is about. It was good to be reminded why I wrote it.
P.S. The cat's doing all right.


Monday, July 13, 2009

Poor Sick Kitty

Lookin' for a Tummy Rubbin'

We've had a very sick cat in our household the past few weeks. Actually, Marbles has probably been sick a lot longer, but we didn't notice until she stopped eating and suddenly lost about a fifth of her body weight at the beginning of July.

The diagnosis is hyperthryroidism, which I've learned is common in cats her age (13); the compounding problem is that, in a kind of terrible feedback loop, treating the hyperthryoidism unmasks previously disguised kidney failure. Also common. We thought we were going to lose her a week ago, but forcefeeding and quick application of subcutaneous fluids and appetite-enhancing meds pulled her back from the brink. She's eating again, putting weight back on an ounce at a time (we dusted off a 70-year-old family-heirloom baby scale to track it), and other symptoms are subsiding. I knew she felt better the day she stopped being openly nice to me. But she's still pretty precarious.

Her treatment regimen consists of daily medication to control her hyperthyroidism, administered by just about the coolest drug delivery system I've ever seen: a transdermal gel applied to the inside of her ear (the only unlickable part of a cat not covered with fur). The cat thinks she's getting a happy little scritch while drugs leach through her skin into her bloodstream. This is a fantastic invention! Nobel Prizes for everyone involved! There's a new prescription diet that she hates and we cheat on. To keep her hydrated and take some load off her kidneys, we've learned to inject 100 mL of Ringer's lactate solution into the scruff of her neck every day, a process we all tolerate better than we expected.

Now, Marbles and her twin sister, Rose, really belong (to the extent that cats ever belong to anyone) to our twin daughters Robin and Laura. What makes our situation quite a bit sadder is that Marbles's primary human, Robin, is right now halfway through her university's archeological field school, a six-week dig in the Sierra Nevada foothills. She's out of cell phone range and it's very hard for her to get home, although she managed it last weekend.

You see where I'm going: as much as I love my cats, I love my kids a lot more. This cat will not be checking out on my watch. Marbles and I have made a deal that if she hangs on three more weeks until Robin gets home, she can play it any way she wants after that. Days, weeks, years, whatever.

Of course we'll never let Marbles suffer, and Robin understands that. But I'm confident we'll make it to August, and likely far, far beyond. Marbles gave me her word.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

S.F. Chronicle Rips My Beating Heart from My Chest and Shows It to Me Before I Drop

I promised to be honest. In a Friday article titled "The Best in Comic Books," San Francisco Chronicle writer Michael Berry surveyed more than a dozen graphic novels and comics-related books (including the Abrams books The Art of Harvey Kurtzman, Secret Identity, and Underground Classics: the Transformation of Comics into Comix) and was unimpressed by mine.

Here's the whole thing:

Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow? (Abrams ComicArts; 202 pages; $24.95) by Brian Fies, author of the acclaimed "Mom's Cancer," serves as a bridge between comics that are wholly fictional and those that employ the strategies of journalism or memoir. Fies of Santa Rosa charts the course of futurism from the World's Fair of 1939 to the final Apollo mission of 1975 and beyond. Unfortunately, the mix of straightforward history, comic book parody/homage and fictional father-son narrative never really gels.

So there you go. Needs more gel. I take tiny solace from the fact that Mr. Berry thought enough of my book to include it in an article titled "The Best in Comic Books" in the first place, and that he seemed tough on other books that have been well-reviewed elsewhere. I respect high standards. Still . . .

I never expected everyone to like or "get" WHTTWOT; plenty of people whose opinions I respect have said good things about it, so I'm not crushed. I am disappointed because I knew that the Chronicle planned to mention WHTTWOT, and a good review in one of the largest-circulation newspapers on the West Coast could have made a big difference. I doubt it'll do any harm in the long run--this isn't a Broadway play, where one critical pan can sink you--but it sure doesn't help.

I expect to be bummed out for a couple of hours and then shake it off by the afternoon. That seems about right.

Monday, July 6, 2009

A Few New Notices

My book got a terrific review from Jeff Pepper at "2719 Hyperion," an authoritative and widely read blog on all things Disney. WHTTWOT mentions Walt Disney and makes the case that he, along with other purveyors of popular culture in the 1940s through the '70s, had a huge influence on how the Space Race and our actual "World of Tomorrow" developed. So you can imagine how happy I am to pass the inspection of a real Disney expert.

After establishing his bona fides, Jeff wrote, ". . . it is in these contexts that I experienced such joy and excitement upon discovering Brian Fies' wonderful graphic novel Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow? It was as if Fies had channeled so many of my passions--the '39 Fair, comic books, Disney and the space program, just to name a few--into 200 beautifully illustrated pages that chronicle the birth, death and potential rebirth of forward-thinking idealism."

And he concluded: "If Disney's original EPCOT film gave you goosebumps, or if you ever emerged excited and energized after riding Spaceship Earth or Horizons at EPCOT Center, you will no doubt be similarly thrilled and motivated by Brian Fies' amazing journey across the 20th century. It is a hopeful, happy vision, and one I intend to revisit many times in my own world of tomorrow."

Many thanks to Jeff for his generous review. By the way, as everyone knows, 2719 Hyperion was the address of Disney's original studio in California.

* * *

Friend-of-the-blog Namowal kindly posted some thoughts about WHTTWOT on her blog "Tail O The Rat." She called my book "delightful," my drawings "cute," and concluded by saying, "Each time I look at it I find something new." I like that a lot. Thanks!

* * *

Finally, a review of Mom's Cancer by Markus from the Philippines, who some may recall commented in my blog a few posts ago. I very much like the fact that people continue to discover my first book, and appreciate Markus mentioning it. He strongly recommended that everyone pick it up "immediately," and added, "For me, that is the strongest asset of the book--it’s unreserved honesty. Heck, I’d prefer reading this anytime than watching any of those 'reality TV' shows if I wanted to take a peek at real life." I appreciate that insight.

Friday, July 3, 2009

What My Wife Does for a Living

I don't blog about my family a lot, mostly out of respect for their privacy. But, of course, they're the most important part of my life, and once in a while it's nice to let that peek out here.

My wife Karen is the Director of Employment and Training for our county's Human Services Department, which means she sets policy and distributes funds to help people get the education and skills they need to hold jobs. The news story below is about one of her projects, a summer jobs program for at-risk youth. Karen doesn't appear in the story--she's a behind-the-scenes organizer happy to let others take the bows--but she worked very hard with a lot of people and community groups to pull this together in a short amount of time. It's quite an accomplishment and I'm real proud of her.

Anyway, here's a look at what the most talented and hard-working member of our household does.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Nights at the Museums

My six regular readers may remember when the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass., borrowed eight pages of original art from Mom's Cancer for its LitGraphic exhibition in November 2007. Notwithstanding my contribution, it was a very good show with terrific art by some great artists, some of whom turned out to also be great people when I met them at the opening.

When LitGraphic closed in mid-2008, the Rockwell curators asked if they could hold onto my drawings for a few more years while they took the show on the road to share with other museums. I was told this was unusual for Rockwell exhibitions, but LitGraphic had proven so popular that other institutions wanted it as well. I liked the Rockwell people so much, and they took such respectful care of my pages, that I didn't hesistate to agree. After a little lull (to let the excitement die down and everyone's adrenaline levels subside to normal, I guess), an actual tour has firmed up:

- The Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, Ohio; Oct. 2, 2009 to Jan. 3, 2010 (as I mentioned previously, I'll give a talk at the exhibition opening in Toledo on October 2)

- The Huntington Museum of Art, Huntington, W. Va.; Feb. 20, 2010 to May 23, 2010

- James A. Michener Art Museum, Doylestown, Penn.; Nov. 13, 2010 to Feb. 13, 2011

- Fitchburg Art Museum, Fitchburg, Mass.; November 2011 to January 2012

- The Munson-Williams Proctor Arts Institute, Utica, N.Y.; March 3, 2012 to April 29, 2012.

There are a few obvious holes in the schedule that may yet be filled by other venues. If you're near one of those cities in the next couple of years and a fan of comics, I think LitGraphic would be worth looking for and checking out. I don't know which pieces are making the journey, but the original show at the Rockwell had work by Dave Sim, Terry Moore, Sue Coe, Peter Kuper, Barron Storey, Harvey Kurtzman, Will Eisner, and many others. Sharing wall space with such creators was truly a lifetime honor and memory for me.

My Night at the Museum--Rockwell, that is. The opening was actually heavily attended; my wife and I just sneaked in a few minutes early for some alone time.