Monday, November 27, 2023

What the Dickens?

My girls and I went to the Dickens Christmas Fair on Sunday. Think of it as a Renaissance Faire set a few hundred years later and indoors, at the Cow Palace in San Francisco. The theme is Dickens's "Christmas Carol" but if you hit anywhere within the early to late Victorian era you wouldn't go wrong. Lots of vendors, entertainers, and costumed cast. For taking place inside a large warehouse, it's surprisingly immersive. 

One of our favorite things to do there is a life-drawing salon--about 45 minutes of drawing three models posed to duplicate classic works of art. Just 50 people sitting in a room drawing, nothing more frantic or high-tech than that, but it's a fine time. 

I try not to post photos of my daughters without their OK, but they don't mind if I make myself look ridiculous. So here I am piloting a time machine (in my opinion, THE BEST time machine!). 

My girls pointed out that, given the time period, someone walking around in full cowboy regalia would be totally appropriate. We didn't see any cowboys. Maybe I'll go as a cowboy next year.

Sunday, November 19, 2023


End-of-season basil harvest and pesto-making day! We planted three basil plants (all the Emerald Tower variety, which we find doesn't flower as readily as others). While we've plucked their leaves for various purposes all summer, today we decided to chop them down and transform them into the green glop we love so much.

Basil leaves, olive oil, garlic, parmesan, and pine nuts, all immersion-blended in a handy pitcher. We'll have some for dinner tonight, and freeze enough for six or seven meals to come. 

There are few things as satisfying as dining garden to table, even in our small, modest way. Very tasty, too.

Monday, November 13, 2023

A Literary Weekend

Patrick and our mutual editor Charles Kochman on stage at the Schulz Museum, talking about Patrick's new book, which is a charming look at what Marvel superheroes meant to Patrick when he was growing up and some deeper truths they can maybe teach the rest of us.

Editor Charlie is on his way back to Manhattan now, after a long and delightful weekend in town to mostly do an event at the Charles M. Schulz Museum with "Mutts" cartoonist Patrick McDonnell, whose new book The Super Hero's Journey has been published by Abrams ComicArts, and less mostly to sleep a few nights in Karen's and my guest room. 

Patrick signing books for a long line of folks at the Schulz Museum. He took the time to draw a little Marvel character for everyone, which slowed the line but nobody minded in the least.

Before the Schulz event, Patrick and his wife Karen joined Charlie and me for lunch.

What a nice weekend! I'd spent a little time with Patrick and his wife, Karen, at the Miami Book Fair a while back, but couldn't really claim to know them. We remedied that, having a couple of meals together and inviting them over to the house to take a look at my next comics project. They're both terrific, kind, interesting people. Really a treat to spend time with.

About that project: Charlie and I spent quite a bit of time talking shop, which is my favorite type of talk, and I don't want to jinx it because I don't yet have a deal on the table but I'd say the odds are very good that Charlie and Abrams and I are going to do another book together! I'll probably go radio-silent on that until I have something new and real to announce, but know that I'm working away on something I'm very excited about.

Charlie and I going over my next comic on my dining room table, with my editorial assistant napping at our feet.

Santa Rosa, Calif. is Charles Schulz's town, and you can hardly go anywhere without being reminded of it (in a nice way!). This statue of Charlie Brown and Snoopy stands near the city's historic old train station, which had a big role in the Hitchcock film "Shadow of a Doubt." As I knew Charlie was a Hitch fan, I thought he'd appreciate that. I was right.

Nothing to do with the weekend's events, but Charlie took this photo of Karen and me and it's one of the better ones of us so here it is.

Pretty keen weekend!

Friday, November 10, 2023

Forbes on Wimpy World

Here's a terrific article about my friend Jeff Kinney on his current best-selling book tour. Jeff's sold about 300 million books--that's not hyperbole, it's the actual number--and I think writer Mitch Wallace captures just the right tone explaining why that is, what Jeff is like, and what it feels like to do these events. 

In fact, his article reminds me of blog posts I wrote in 2009 (!) and 2013 about earlier Wimpy Kid book tours, back when Jeff toured in a luxury rock star bus (IIRC, the previous tenant of his bus was Pink) that he's since simplified to a big van. I think the downsize suits him. I'll put a link to my post in the first comment. 

One other thought: Jeff works really, really hard. In fact, I'm lucky enough to know a few very successful authors, and the quality they have in common is they all work hard. Which isn't to say that less successful writers aren't working just as hard, but I don't know any who are sitting back and phoning it in. They all care, they want the next thing to be better, they sit down and grind. 

Life lesson. Do the best work you can, then learn and try to do better.