Archive for the Comics Pages Category

Writing Blog Tour: The Plot Congeals

Posted in Comics Pages, tbdathathotw with tags , , , , on 7 July, 14 by cantocomics

The lovely Sophie Goldstein tagged me in this Writing Blog Tour thing that’s been making the rounds among cartoonists I know. Longtime followers of this blog will have noticed I’ve not been using it much in the past couple of years, but it makes sense for me to do this here, I think. So, onwards:


1. What am I working on?

The last few months have been spent, to a large extent, on projects for Maple Key Comics. For the book’s second issue, I completed a 24-pager called “A Sickness Upon the Land,” which was a refreshing diversion from my work on The Black Dog and the Hole at the Heart of the World. I’m also working on the fourth chapter of Black Dog and a three-parter called “The Pestle,” the latter of which will be serialized in Maple Key Comics issues 4-6.
I guess I’m doing some freelance stuff too–book design and branding for a few different people.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

This is a tricky question. Black Dog, I think, has similar elements to an indie comic like Adrian Tomine’s Optic Nerve (if I may be permitted to make that comparison), but with a generous dose of House of Leaves and some jokes and pop-cultural references thrown in. It’s talky.


“A Sickness,” on the other hand, is a horror/fantasy thing based on a fallacious medical concept that I read about in Roy Porter’s most excellent history Flesh in the Age of Reason. I know there’s a lot of #grimdark fantasy going around right now, what with the outlandish popularity of Game of Thrones and Mormon young adult novels in which vampires have to chew their babies out of their mothers’ wombs, but “A Sickness” is focused a lot on medicine, magic, and their intersection.


“The Pestle” has a similar focus, but is more of a morality play than the aforementioned. With “the Pestle” I’m trying to focus on some class issues, the omission of which from fantasy novels has long troubled me.

3. Why do I write what I do?

Why indeed. I’ve always thought of my writing as being somewhat exploratory–I’m always trying to think my way through a problem or a concept when I’m writing. With The Black Dog and the Hole at the Heart of the World, it’s a personal problem–looking back at my romantic history and the periods where I thought I was unlovable due to some unforgivable and unresolvable defect.


With “A Sickness” it’s this old idea about the soul being something physical, a substance that can be withdrawn from the body. I wanted to do something with monsters and ghosts and things that are more fun to draw than people talking. “The Pestle” deals a lot with the town and surroundings of Hanover, NH, home of Dartmouth College. Much of the area around Hanover is pretty severely economically depressed, whereas Hanover is very affluent. Through writing this fiction, I’m attempting to explore that while entertaining myself and my eventual readers.

4. How does your writing process work?

It tends to work in stages: First, I’ll read about or encounter an idea–recently, it’s been stuff about premodern medicine–that sticks in my mental craw. The idea rattles around back there, picking up other pieces of intellectual detritus–with “The Pestle,” it’s that thing about Hanover, some stuff about Solomon’s Lesser Key, and the Schola Medica Salernitana–until one day something clicks into place, and a plot begins to coalesce around this skeleton of ideas.
Then I start writing. I work full-script most of the time, so I write the whole thing out by hand before I start doing any real drawing. Then I type it up and make copious adjustments before going on to thumbnails, then thumbnails to page, all the while doing further rewrites and improvising lines here and there. I feel pretty good about myself when I can throw in an extra joke or revealing line while I’m penciling.

I’m  going to pass the torch to C.J. Joughin, Jesse H. Mead, and Kevin Uehlein for the next leg of the tour–Good luck guys! I’m looking forward to WINDOWS OPENING INTO YOUR MINDS.



The Black Dog and the Hole at the Heart of the World, Part 2

Posted in Comics Pages, tbdathathotw with tags , , , , , , , , on 9 September, 13 by cantocomics

I don't think it'll show up on the internet, but there are some seriouslt interesting halftone patterns in the print edition.

In celebration of my completion and printing of part 3, here’s the second part of the Black Dog and the Hole at the Heart of the World for FREE. Don’t say I never gave you nothin’!

Part 3 is now available at my BigCartel shop for pretty darn cheap–help a brother out! Continue reading

Backgrounds and the Hole at the Heart of the World

Posted in existential, hipster, romance, tbdathathotw with tags , , , on 24 March, 13 by cantocomics

A friend of mine complimented me on the backgrounds in the Black Dog and the Hole at the Heart of the World pt. 2 this week, which naturally swelled my heart. So I thought I’d talk about drawing on lived experience to create environments.

Most of which comes from my recent tenure in Austin, TX, a city at the center of my home state and heart.Courtesy of

As has been observed by countless vapid music and technology journalists, Austin has a pretty unique character: an island of liberalism in the middle of God’s Country, Austin boasts one of the liveliest music scenes in the US, a sizable visual art community, and reasonably functional public transit.

Which looks similar to this.

So the city in Black Dog and the Hole at the Heart of the World is basically Southeast Austin.

Part 1, Page 14, Panel 1

Courtesy of

(Above: East Oltorf, more or less. I used to live in an apartment complex a little off the main street here with my brother. Shout out to Eric!)

I didn’t have a camera when I was living there, and I wasn’t really drawing as much as I should have been, so all I really have to go off of is my memory and Google, which serve nicely when I can remember what neighborhood on which I want to base the location.

I’m not using Google as much as I am my memory, though. I know that if I were to attempt to slavishly reproduce every neighborhood I want Caleb and Gabi to visit in this book I’d probably lose interest faster than your grandad diving into W.G. Sebald’s Austerlitz. So I’ve been trying to evoke an emotional likeness to Austin rather than a photographic likeness, which is, I think, more accurate.

(Do you remember what the bus stops looked like near your first apartment? Or do you remember what happened there?
Do you remember the logo of the pho place near Gordon’s house, or do you remember the first time he asked you out?
Do you remember the precise name of every business on South Congress Ave., or do you remember talking with Becca about how fitted jeans are a corporonormative fashion? Do you remember making up the word “corporonormative?” )

From Part 2, based on South Congress Street in AustinWe don’t remember specific details about our environments until they’re made important to us by emotional involvement,  I think. Which is why it’s so easy for cartoonists to draw only the barest suggestions of their characters’ surroundings, and why I can get away with only using one-point perspective most of the time.
I guess the Black Dog and the Hole at the Heart of the World could really be set anywhere; but because I lived in Austin for a while, it makes more sense to me to reference those spaces with which I am familiar.

Of course, some of my referenced locations aren’t actually in Austin; some are a bit closer to my current home in Vermont:

Outside 2DOGS BARCJs at Than Wheelers Tavern

(They’re pretty similar, trust.)

There’ll be something new in the store tomorrow! Keep your eyes peeled.

The Black Dog and the Hole at the Heart of the World, pt 1

Posted in Comics Pages, existential, hipster, romance, tbdathathotw, Unsettling with tags , , , , , , , , , on 14 February, 13 by cantocomics

Image Continue reading


Posted in Comics Pages, Diary with tags , , , , , , on 6 November, 11 by cantocomics

In addition to figuring out how to color in photoshop, I started a tumblr.

Also, I moved to Austin, TX. Probably you knew that.

Some Old Bullsh*t: “CREAM 3: Spheres”

Posted in CCS, Comics Pages, Unsettling with tags , , , , , , , , , on 26 July, 11 by cantocomics

I’ve been a bit creatively stalled the past month (also, incredibly lazy–hence the lack of updates.). Sorry, dudes, it happens to the best of us. But, in order to assuage the roaring guilt that has been stalking the back of my mind this July, I present to you CREAM 3: SPHERES, a comic whose physical incarnation has a stenciled cardboard cover. You may have bought one from me at a con. Or maybe not. Anyway, I’m not printing any more of them because they’re a tremendous pain in the ass, so those of you who don’t have print copies get to read it for free!
Here you go!

So yeah, there you go. There’s a lot of stuff that’s imperfect about this, but it’s probably my favorite piece from my first year at CCS. The assignment was to adapt one of Aesop’s fables into comic form. I picked one, sat and thought about it probably too long and in the wrong way, and ended up with the above monstrosity. I hope you liked it, I guess.

Also, people who came here searching for “Horse Genitalia” and “www.enemahospital.c0m,” I certainly hope this wasn’t too disappointing and that you eventually find what seek.

Strip Show; 90s ‘alt’ rock

Posted in Comics Pages, Sketch, Unsettling with tags , , , , , , on 16 June, 11 by cantocomics

Drawn in the Manchester, NH Airport between the hours of ten and midnight. Are you at all familiar with the pick-up line being referenced here? If you aren’t, then this probably just seems misogynist and mean.

The next one, aside from the obvious part, was drawn in Sarasota, FL between seven and ten am. You might have to click on it to see, but it’s animated!

I’m not sure whether or not that one was funny. Also, computer coloring! The best education money could buy didn’t make me a genius at it. I’ll just have to practice at it like the rest of ya’ll bustaz.

It feels really good to post on here again! I’ll probably lay another post on you either later this week or early next. (because yeah, I do intend to make good on the promise I made that I was going to post more often.)

The idea for the next drawing slapped me in the face while I was driving 70 miles an hour on I-89 in New Hampshire. So I pulled onto the shoulder and dashed out a sketch. It was only once I got home that I said to myself, “hey waitaminnit, isn’t this the same image as on the cover of seminal and somewhat irritating 90s alt-rock sensation Third Eye Blind’s self-titled record?”
No, is the answer. Thank God.

I’ll see you again sooner than you think, my darlings.