Archive for February, 2015

Feb 27 2015

Launch event recap

Published by under appearances,Macbeth

Presenting Macbeth at the TKPL, photo by Bruce Guthrie

I’ve had three Macbeth launch events so far, and all have gone swimmingly. First I was in Boston, dealing with snowbanks up to my chinny-chin-chin, but lots of folks came out to join me, for which I’m very thankful! Wellesley Books and Porter Square Books have been super-supportive of my work for years, so I was very happy to have the first launch events there.

The first event was at Wellesley Books, Alison’ former employer and a fabulous group of folks who are really family to us at this point. Lots of teachers came to this one, as well as friends and fans old and new.

Next up was Porter Square Books, with a great turnout including lots of good friends, and two fabulous actors from ASP doing a scene from Macbeth as part of the presentation. Mara and Jesse were great. If you’re in the Boston are you should really check out ASP, they stage wonderful productions.

The second round of events is here in the DC area. Monday night I was at the Takoma Park Library. Great turnout, including some of my fellow aikido students. The talented Dave Burbank turned the tables on me by doing this great drawing while I was presenting — and pulled in some imagery from my Macbeth reference photos as well!

Portrait of me presenting at TKPL, by Dave Burbank

Portrait of me presenting at TKPL, by Dave Burbank

Also Bruce Guthrie took all these great photos. This is the best-documented event I’ve done by far!

Me with Dave Burbank and Karen McPherson (two of my favorite librarians!)


Presenting at TKPL, photo by Bruce Guthrie

Tonight I’ll be at Hooray For Books in Alexandria, VA. No projector, so I’ll be drawing oldschool, on an easel. Next week I’m doing an event for local schools at Politics & Prose, and then my local events are done for a while. (To keep up with all my events and major news, sign up for my e-newsletter here.)

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Feb 07 2015

For Les

Published by under Macbeth

Macbeth comes out this week. Here is the dedication page…


Macbeth dedication page


Les Kanturek died almost 2 years ago, on Feb 25 2013, after a long battle with cancer. Of the many excellent art teachers I was lucky enough to learn from during my education at RIT and Parsons, Les was one of my favorites, and one of the few who became a close personal friend in the years after I graduated. He had an incredibly generous heart and a great sense of humor, and he made even dry subjects like how to do self-employed taxes fun to learn. He helped countless young illustration students find their artistic voice, and he will always be missed by those who had the good fortune to know him.

Here is a short video profile of Les created by Ray Zablocki:

You can see some of Les’ quirkier projects on his blog. There is a Facebook group called “For the Love of Les” featuring lots more stories and photos of Les.

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Feb 07 2015

Scott McCloud at Politics and Prose

Published by under sketchbook

Scott McCloud, author of Understanding Comics*, has a huge new book out called The Sculptor, and he’s on a 14-city tour promoting it. Last night I went to see him at Politics & Prose, in conversation with Michael Cavna of the Washington Post. The conversation was wide-ranging, and offered great glimpses into McCloud’s applied philosophy of comics storytelling. I’ll say more about the new book, but first some sketches:

(I found Scott’s likeness a bit hard to capture, so I’m afraid most of these aren’t great likenesses. Michael is easy though.)

The Sculptor is massive in scale, and ambitious in its goals. Scott hits the big universal themes: love, life, death, and art, and digs into each one pretty deeply in the course of 500 pages, bringing the story together in an appropriately big and dramatic climax and a complex ending that encourages several re-readings (of at least the ending, if not the entire book). I recommend it highly.

*Understanding Comics, if anyone isn’t aware, is the preeminent work about the medium of comics, written in comics, and is very accessible and interesting to anyone whether or not they read comics. If by chance you haven’t read it, you really, really should. Here, I’ll make it easy to get started:

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Feb 06 2015


I went to see David Greig’s play Dunsinane, a production of the National Theatre of Scotland and Royal Shakespeare Company, playing at Shakespeare Theater Co. through 2/21 — More info here. I thought it was quite brilliant. It starts more or less where Macbeth ends, with Siward attempting to stabilize the country whose monarch he’s just unseated. It quickly asserts a more accurate version of the history than Shakespeare’s – Lady Macbeth is still alive, is known by her actual name, Gruach, and has a living son, Lulach. Macbeth has ruled for 17 years (relatively peacefully by Gruach’s account). A finer point, and I’m not sure if this is historically supported, but by clan heredity she embodies the crown of Scotland, her husband(s) being king only by marriage. The story is basically told from the point of view of the English soldiers, who find themselves in hostile territory, trying to stabilize a country whose culture they don’t understand — a deliberate parallel to the Iraq and Afghanistan situation.

The play is powerful, the acting is superb, and the themes are satisfyingly complex. Highly recommended.

Here are my sketches from the performance, with the usual caveat about a dark theater, blind contour, unflattering likenesses, etc.

I’m on a panel with several of these folks on Sunday. It should be very cool.

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Feb 03 2015

Mary Stuart at the Folger

Published by under reviews,shakespeare,sketchbook

The Folger Shakespeare Theater’s Mary Stuart just opened, and per my usual modus operandi, I went and did sketches. The house tends to be quite dark there, so most of these are “blind contour” drawings, with the bizarre proportions and overlaps that result from that.

The story is quite engaging, and the acting is excellent. The play has, as its title might suggest, a sympathetic view toward Mary Stuart, but also conveys the complex and dangerous situation in which Elizabeth I found herself with little choice but to treat Mary as an enemy. The sets and costumes are extremely well done, though I found the lack-of-color palette combined with a lack of action in the play made the performance a bit less interesting visually. Still, the personalities and various twists of the story kept me engaged, and I recommend the show to anyone who is (at least somewhat) interested in the Elizabethan period of history.

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