Living at Home

Well, I’ve been back in California for about two weeks now, and I’ve been house sitting (literally just sitting in my house) while my parents are on vacation celebrating my mom’s birthday. So I’ve been spending a lot of time with our dog Cooper, watching Doctor Who with Joey, and tricking Chris into spending his weekends in Pleasanton. While I try to settle down over here and work out my summer schedule, I’ve decided to start making diary comics as many days as possible. So here are some updates:


Oh, and if you didn’t know, I recently put up my main website complete with a store and links to my portfolio and blog (with more plans in mind for the future). Check it out here, and let me know what you think!

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Store Announcement

Hooray, I was finally able to fix my Paypal issues and set up a store to sell my comics. For now you can click on the “Store” tab at the top of this page, or click this link.

Thanks for your patience! In other news, I recently finished my latest comic Monster Handler, which is a 32-page comic with a color cover, and a limited edition screenprint which will soon be available for only $4.00! EDIT: Now available at the store!

Front CoverBack Cover

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The Secrets of Cartooning

Hey everyone, just wanted to update you on what I’ve been doing for the past few weeks which have turned to months… The end of the semester is coming up in about two weeks and our final projects are due in less than a week! I’ve been working on a 24-page comic about monster street team sort of like in Ghostbusters, but there is also human drama to make the hard sci-fi relatable. Anyway you’ll just have to see it! I’m calling it Monster Handler and it’s tagline is: WHO HANDLES THE MONSTER HANDLER.


So here’s the first three pages of my pencils:

And the inks (I’m now in the digital clean up phase):

Also, Lynda Barry (ZOMG buy her books) came to CCS last week to give a two-day workshop and it was the most intense writing experience I’ve had in my life.  She had us writing pages and pages of memories or stories that flowed from “the back of the mind” and we weren’t allowed to check our messages during breaks! But really it was a fantastic experience and she is an amazing, mind-blowing woman. She told really funny jokes and sweet anecdotes. She actually shared the secret of cartooning! I’ll tell you all the secret now by telling you a story. In 1995,  a doctor named Vilayanur Ramachandran treated a patient who had lost the use of his hand but complained of a phantom limb pain where it felt like the fist was continously clenched despite the paralysis. This caused so much anxiety to the patient that he was ready to just have his entire hand amputated. So Ramachandran had the patient put his good hand in this “mirror box” and clench his fist so when the patient saw the reflection of  the hand it looked like his paralyzed limb. And then Ramachandran told the patient to unclench the fist, and the patient was able to feel relief from the phantom limb pain! And that is was our cartoons and our images do, guys. We use them just like a reflection to unclench the fist.

I was able to talk with Lynda for quite a bit after the workshop and at the bar. Her mom is Filipino, but she doesn’t look like it because as she says, “I’m a quarter Norwegian, and Norwegian blood can suck the color out of anything.” Fact, guys. And we bonded over our shared heritage; she referred to me as her Filipino cousin. The thing that struck me the most was how present and intense she was with every person she interacted with. It was so sincere, so real. And thinking about her makes me cry so I will stop. For now.

Also I was in New York a few weekends ago for MoCCA 2011, and I got a rash on my face. It’s okay now. Unclench the fist!

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Noisepop 2011

I had no idea this was online already, but upon googling myself this evening (a la Tracy Jordan), I found out that the comic I made for the Concretes concert in SF about a month ago was published online. Check it out here, along with even more fantastic sequential reportage.

Thanks to James Sime from Isotope Comics and the folks at Noisepop for putting this all together!

Final project for the year is underway, and I’m trying to keep afloat from the madness that is consuming me. Keep it real, my dear ones.

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CCS Awareness that is!

I think most of you know that I like to make comics, but I’m not sure all of you know that I go to an AMAZING school called The Center for Cartoon Studies. It’s in White River Junction, VT, and taught by the best teachers out there today. I’m barely done with my first year, but I’ve already changed and grown an incredible amount since coming to this school. Consider what I was doing before to what I am doing now:

Before:                                               After:

Look how happy I look now that I have eyes! And I’ve got emanata of happiness radiating from my head! Guys, this is some expressive cartooning at work here. So anyway, I encourage you all to click on the link if you want to learn more about the school and more importantly, share with your friends if you know any of them are interested in a school for cartooning! Also, you can get an MFA if you try really hard. For those of you who are unclear with the term MFA, it stands for “motherfucking artist.”

Oooh, this is the most vulgar post I’ve done yet. Actually it gets better. With watercolor!

And finally, learn to draw with Tom Gammill at CCS:

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Romance is Dead

Or is it????

So as some of you may remember, February 14th was indeed that beast they call Valentine’s Day. I celebrated alone with a sandwich hopefully like all y’all did as well, but I did also make this card for my gentleman friend living all the way in California.

So on the front it says:

and when you open it up:

If you don’t speak “computer,” basically the commands mean, “Alright, change the directory to this file folder called ‘me.’ And then initialize a program called git inside this directory. Now add ‘you’ to this git repository. Finally, commit these changes and log it in the notes as ‘love.'”

Now before you start rolling your eyes and gagging from displays of romantic feelings, I think you should consider first what this could mean for your love life! Think about how easy it would be for me to change our faces to faces of YOU and YOUR PARTNER(S) or you know, make it more generic by replacing the faces with penguins, for example. Do you see what I’m getting at? Alright, so for all you nerds who want to give this card to your even nerdier partner(s) (I keep adding the plural for equality’s sake) let me know and we can discuss the details. Also I’m trademarking the phrase, “You make my git commit.” If you use it, just say TM Donna Almendrala right after. I can do that just by saying it right?

Romance! It will improve your lives.

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AVAST! Improv, Portfolio, and Games!

Welcome, all! We’ve got a jam packed blog post right here folks (I really just need to be updating more frequently).

First, I think that we will be able to print out copies of our Golden Age comic AVAST! for the cheaply. So, hooray! But in the meantime, here’s a downloadable PDF and sorry you had to wait so long to read it.

Second, recently, my classmate Dakota and his wife Laura put on an Improv Workshop for some people here at CCS. I went to it, never having done improv or performed in front of others previously, and it was a blast! It is a great way just to loosen up, be spontaneous, have fun with friends, and at the same time improve things like storytelling and being organic when it comes to making comics. I had a hard time when it came to the monologues, mostly because I don’t usually like to talk about myself (unless of course I am blogging or making comics), even when it isn’t real. I must have a hangup about this somewhere in my psyche. But regardless, I can’t stop thinking about Improv! You can do it anywhere! So anyway, I was swimming and thought, alright, what kind of situation could be happening here… and then I made this. (By the way, this coloring business adds like ten times more work to the comic process. I almost don’t want to even bother with it ever again).

Okay! So I saved the best for last, as always… I have been dabbling in webdesign and decided to put up an online portfolio that I can quickly direct people to who are interested in my work and maybe want to hire me (here’s hoping…). This is why I didn’t leave my apartment for three days.

Oh, and here’s a picture of Bill, Sarah, Jan, and I this past Sunday, playing the latest version of Jason’s game Thrilling Tales of Adventure! It takes place in 1929, you are a Pulp action hero who goes on adventures, and you eventually team up to stop the Archvillain from taking over the world. This is the first time I played it and we didn’t even finish, but seriously spending five hours as DOKTOR RADIUM: Brilliant Scientist, what could be better?

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The Golden Age Project

We just finished the two week Golden Age Project this past Thursday, and if I do say so myself, it turned out fantastic! This year, we were broken up into three groups and assigned a genre (Education, High Seas, Jungle Teen). I was placed in the High Seas group led by Captain Jason Lutes (and Firstmate Josh Kramer) with five other people: Billage Bedard, Sean K, Mia Onorato, Andy Warner, and Nate Wootters. The idea behind this project is to simulate the ol’ comics “bullpen” from back in 1941 where artists and writers had to churn out full color 32-page comic books in two weeks. So as soon as we broke into groups, we had a mind-melding brainstorm, planned out a 3-part 28-page story arc (4 pages are reserved for front/back and inside covers) in less than an hour, and began making character designs and thumbnailing the script. Jason assigned everyone roles so that all the work was managed evenly; we were partnered up to write one section of the story, then assigned a job of either penciling or inking. I was paired with Mia (a history and sailing enthusiast) to write Part 3. I was also a penciler and worked on Part 3. Whenever I finished a page, I would send it to Andy to spot black certain areas, and then Nate would ink it. When all the inks were done, Nate did a color sketch of the whole comic with a limited 1940’s color palette, and we all followed his guides to color the pages.

In case you are confused by all my comics terminology, here’s a snapshot of the process, and hopefully you can roughly see how it got from start to finish.

Thumbnail from script:

My penciled page:

Nate’s inked page from the pencils:

Then I added color to this page:

Finally to give it an old-fashioned 1941 look, we ran the colors through a pixelation filter to make the colors halftoned and added just a bit of color misregistration (don’t do this for present-day comics!):

Okay, now do that for thirty more pages and lay it out in InDesign, fill all the word balloons with dialogue, and proofread it at least twenty times before you even try to print.

It was a completely collaborative process, something I’d never experienced before. It was the first time I’ve ever made comics with other people. In a lot of ways it was difficult to adjust to working in a group since making comics has become a very solitary process. But there was a wonderful SYNERGY to the project where you’re all on the same page with this vision, and you get something you would never have been able to get on your own. Would I do it again? If only I were so lucky..! But I’m glad it’s over because at some point we just need to move on!

The kicker to this project is that since the comic is in full color, it costs $8 to print just one copy, which is a steep price to sell to others. I’m still looking into ways to print this sucker out more affordably. But until then! I’m gonna put up a downloadable PDF for people who want to read it. If you REALLY like it, you can have a printed copy if you are willing to pay the printing costs and shipping (I will say honestly that it is a great comic to have in hand).

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Testing the Watercolors

Since school started, we’ve been working on the infamous Golden Age project. The class was divided into groups of 6, each with an esteemed CCS editor, and a theme. The goal is to create a 32 page full color comic in two weeks just like they did in the good old days!

So I’m gonna do an update on that later, when we are finished with the project… sorry for the premature build up (so close!) And until then, I’ve been spending my free time attempting to watercolor things. Not just any old things. Dinosaurs. The most colorful creatures to roam the earth. Am I right, Earth? Fact #2, they love quoting The Dark Knight.

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