Saturday, January 9, 2010

I Kicked the Football and Did Not Get a Rock

My Cartoonist-in-Residence gig at the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center turned out to be a pretty extraordinary afternoon, exceeding my every expectation. We got more people, sold more books (nearly sold out, in fact), and got a warmer reception than I'd anticipated. It was exhilarating and exhausting. My wife Karen took some great pictures, so instead of writing about it I thought I'd do a photo essay:

Since I was due to start at 1 p.m., Karen and I arrived an hour early to have lunch at the Warm Puppy Cafe in the ice arena across from the museum, where I found a familiar face looking back at me from a sign.

A different sign in the museum lobby, this one highlighting Mom's Cancer. I mostly included this picture to show those of you far from Northern California how cool this lobby is. The whole place is first class.

The museum had my entire literary output (all two books of it) for sale in the lobby. I think visitors just about cleaned them out; I know I signed a bunch.

The point of being a "cartoonist in residence" is to show a cartoonist actually working. To that end, I brought in my drawing board, paper, ink, brush, pens, templates, rag, etc., and drew stuff for people while we talked. On the corner is the model spaceship I built from a staircase post, golf tee, CO2 cartridges, and miscellaneous hardware while working on WHTTWOT. The pink sticky note tells visitors which pages of the book they can find the spaceship on. I also brought along my Eisner Award, because if I don't brag about me, who will? Some people really enjoyed seeing it and spinning the globe.

This angled countertop runs along one wall of the Education Room, and I filled it with original artwork from both Mom's Cancer and WHTTWOT, again with the idea of giving visitors a sense of how drawings turn into books. Sticky notes tell them where to find the art in the book, and let me show how, for example, the cover of WHTTWOT was composed of five separate drawings that I integrated in Photoshop. My little pennant from the 1939 World's Fair and a model car I used are sitting at the top of the counter.

This was pretty much my view for two-plus hours. While I worked the drawing board, Karen did a heroic job taking visitors through the original art on the counter. Also, on the flatscreen TV on the wall behind me, I looped a PowerPoint presentation that showed how several drawings went from sketches to pencils to inks to published art. It's all about the process.

Friend of the Blog Mike "Sligo" Harkins, who knew me in a past life when we both wrote for the same local magazine. It was really great to reconnect, I felt bad we didn't have more time.

This photo gives a good overview of how my stuff was laid out, with the art at left and my drawing table at right. By the way, did I mention that Mrs. Charles Schulz stopped by at the end of my residency? I didn't? Don't know how I overlooked that. Seriously, I'd never met Jeannie but had always heard how kind and gracious she is. I can confirm that. I introduced her to my work, and we ended up talking for almost an hour. She's my new best friend now.

Jeannie Schulz and museum Education Director Jessica Ruskin, who arranged everything. We all called each other early in the morning to coordinate our navy blue outfits. You'll notice I made sure that Mrs. Schulz left with copies of both my books, because I am not stupid.

I really met the most extraordinary people today. Everyone who came to see me and reads this post, thanks so much! I was especially taken with several kids who reminded me a lot of myself around 12 to 17, just trying to absorb as much as I could about the art and craft of cartooning. There were a couple of folks I'll never forget, for all the right reasons. It was also great to see some personal friends turn out and lend their support. Thanks to Jessica, Mrs. Schulz and the museum staff for making me so welcome. Very much appreciated! Call again anytime.

The Education Room has this big round window so you can see into it from the hallway. I've got my head down drawing at the right.


Jim O'Kane said...

Brian, looks like you had a totally awesome day! Thanks for the pics for those of us too far to make it to see your Residency.

Mike said...

What larks!

Paul Giambarba said...

Congratulations, friend! Wish I could have been there.
All the best, Paul

Mike Lynch said...

What Paul said. I only know a couple of people (Jeanne and Gina) from the Museum and they are the nicest you would want to meet. I was envious that people got to see that model spaceship. Please get the licensing juggernaut underway! Mike want!!!

ronnie said...

Excellent blog post and excellent photos! Thank the photographer for us. :) I'm glad I was able to share a bit of what looks like a truly fun & successful day.

Namowal (Jennifer Bourne) said...

Glad to hear it went so well.
Not surprised, but glad just the same.

Anonymous said...


It looks like a great day! Karen, excellent photos.


Ronnie said...

thanks so much for the report. Nowhere near as good as being there, but pretty darned good nevertheless.