Departure Stuff

If you’ve read this entry, then you know that I’ve been lucky enough to be accepted to participate in the JET Program for a second time. I have just a month until I board that plane, and have a lot of preparations left to do… my departure has sort of snuck up on me. I have to admit it hasn’t completely sunk in yet.

One thing that’s helped to make the experience seem more real is I just found out where in Japan I’m going to be. I’m about 30-60min outside of Kyoto. I still don’t know exactly where I’ll be or what age groups I’ll be teaching, I gotta say I couldn’t be more delighted with the location. So for all your people who offered to buy me a beer, know that I’m coming to collect!

Oh, one more thing related to my departure: if anyone’s interested in getting a signed/inscribed copy of Tonoharu from me, place those orders now! Once I leave the US I won’t be able to do them for obvious reasons.

More updates to follow in the coming weeks!

Tonoharu French Sound Effects

Photo Credit: Anne Cavarroc

So I finally got my hands on a copy of the French edition of Tonoharu, and I gotta say it’s a thing of beauty. My French publisher Le Lezard Noir clearly put a great deal of care into the production of the book, and for that they have my gratitude.

I can’t read French so the translation isn’t meaningful to me, but I have enjoyed looking at the way certain sound effects are represented:

(Note: The “Bling” is blurry because of my lousy scanning, not cuz it’s printed that way.)

Just as interesting is seeing what sound effects remain the same: “ha ha”, “clap” and “sniff” don’t change, and “click” just gets the “k” lobbed off. And I never would have suspected that “flush”, “ahem” and “ziiiip” would be the same in French… what can I say, I’m easily amused.

Oh and this is kind of cool: while I was writing this on Thursday afternoon, I hopped on to look up Tonoharu, and at the time it was the best-selling graphic novel on the site!

At “press time” it’s slid down a few spots, but still; pretty groovy!

Upcoming Talk in Chicago!

Just wanted to mention that I’ll be speaking this upcoming Friday, June 10th, 2011 in Downtown Chicago!

I’ll be there as a part of an author’s panel devoted to experiences teaching English in Japan. The event is sponsored by the Japan American Society of Chicago and the JETAA Chicago Chapter.

This will almost certainly be my last public appearance before I leave for Japan in July, so if you’re in the Chicago area, come out if you can!

Event Details:
What: JETAA Author Panel: Experiences Teaching English in Japan
Who: Me, and authors D.H. Cermeño & James Kennedy
When: Friday, June 10th 2011, 6pm to 8pm
Where: Barnes & Thornburg LLP, 1 N. Wacker Drive, Suite 4400, Chicago, IL 60606 [ Google Maps ]
Admission: $5 JASC & JETAA Members/$10 Non-Members

Space is limited to just 35 attendees, so if you want to go, register now:

French “Tonoharu” Book Trailer

Direct YouTube Link

This is the third entry I’ve written about the French edition of Tonoharu in as many months, which is probably overkill since this blog averages about one French visitor a day.

But the above book trailer my French publisher Le Lezard Noir commisioned is just so cool (and presumably of interest to non-French speakers) I just had to link to it. Many thanks to graphic artist Cindy Bertet for putting it together!

Oh, and if you happen to be that one-a-day French person, you might be interested to know that the French edition of Tonoharu is now available! So pick it up at or wherever fine comics are sold!

Reviews and more information about the book can be found over at Le Lezard Noir‘s blog (in French, of course).


Oh, and one last thing: I’ll be at SpringCon this weekend, May 21st and 22nd 2011. Details here. Come out if you can!

Come see me at SpringCon 2011!

Just wanted to write a quick note saying I’ll have a table at SpringCon this Saturday and Sunday (May 21st and 22nd 2011)!

As a convention special, I’ll be selling copies of my graphic novels Tonoharu: Part One and Two at 25% off the cover price! And if you mention that you read about this on my blog, I’ll throw in a copy of my 44-page comic Young Men of a Certain Mind for free with any other purchase! What a deal!

As I wrote last Friday, I’ll be moving to Japan in July. So this *might* be my last public appearance in Minnesota before I go. (Something else might come up, but I don’t have any specific plans right now.) So… er… catch me while you can!

SpringCon 2011 Details
Place: The Grandstand at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds [Parking Info]
Date/Time: Saturday May 21 & Sunday May 22 from 10AM to 5PM
Admission: $11 per adult (good for both days)

More information can be found at:

May 2011 Update

It occurred to me that it’s been several months since I’ve actually posted anything original on this blog. Most recent posts have been links to YouTube videos and other filler. So I figured it was high time for an update of sorts:


For two years beginning in 2008, I received a scholarship that included a monthly living stipend. It was juuust barely enough to get by on, but I gotta say, it was glorious. It confirmed something I’d long suspected. If I have a steady & predictable source of income and am able to do work that I care about, I can be quite happy, even when I’m hovering around the wrong side of the poverty line.

In March 2010 the scholarship ended, and with it went my steady income. The financial concerns I put on hold for two years ago returned to the fore. As I contemplated my cartooning “career”, I realized that one area where I dropped the ball was marketing & promotion. I had done a bunch to market my first graphic novel shortly before it came out, but almost nothing after that.

Many artist/writers/cartoonists eschew marketing, and I’m sympathetic with that point of view. It takes precious time away from the art, and can be a slippery slope. You write a couple press releases and hand out a few business cards, and before you know it you’re a hack that “creates content” that will appeal to the “18-34 demo”.

Okay, maybe that’s overstating the point a bit, but even artists that take marketing seriously probably see it more as a necessary evil than something they’re actually interested in. But having spent the past 18-odd months trying to market my work, I’ve actually sort of come to enjoy it, the networking aspect in particular.

“Networking” is of course just another way of saying “meeting people”, which is something I enjoy, despite the fact that I’m somewhat introverted. So I’m glad that I had the pretense of “networking” to force me to get off my butt and go out there and meet people. This has enriched my life both professionally and personally.

All-in-all, my efforts have been successful… relatively speaking. Unfortunately, “success” in the world of alternative comics rarely reaches the opulent heights of “living wage”. I make money off my comics, it still isn’t enough to sustain me, and my savings are getting pretty meager. So I’ve decided to make a strategic retreat and get a day job again. (Oh, the horror!)

The good news is, I’ve landed a great one: as a JET Program assistant English teacher. This is what I did from 2003-2006, and what served as the framework for the Tonoharu storyline. It’s hands-down the most rewarding “day job” that I’ve ever had, so I’m honored to have the opportunity to do it again (plus, it’ll remind me of the experience as I work on the last half of Tonoharu). I’ll be leaving for Japan late-July.

So what does this mean for my cartooning aspirations? I haven’t given up on them. I’ll continue to work on Tonoharu in the evenings and on weekends. I suppose this will slow my already glacial pace, but what can you do. Once I’ve had the chance to refill the coffers a bit, I’ll probably take another swing at cartooning full-time.

In the meantime, it’ll be great to have money for extravagances again, like replacement computer equipment and dentist visits. That’s how I roll, folks!