Taking Stock of 2008

The view from the fourth floor balcony of the F Building, Shikoku Daigaku

I posted a recap of 2007 in an entry published a year ago, and figured I’d make it an annual thing. So here’s my recap of 2008, along with an obligatory New Year’s resolution.


2008 was a mixed bag.

The positive aspects of the past year were by-and-large me reaping what I sowed in 2007. I procured funds to self-publish Tonoharu: Part One in 2007, and saw the first printing sell out last summer. It’s received coverage in mainstream publications such as the Wall Street Journal and Entertainment Weekly, among others, and all-in-all has been a promising start to my cartooning ambitions.

I also successfully applied for a Monbukagakusho Scholarship in 2007, and beginning in April of 2008 I began a two-year post-grad program at Shikoku University in Japan, studying East-Asian Calligraphy. That experience has been really great so far, and will be the subject of a few blog entries sometime this new year.

Rotten luck was the cause of most of the negative aspects of 2008. The stock market tanked (perhaps you heard), and that, along with me breaking my ankle without health insurance, made the year very costly. I won’t say exactly how much I lost, but in general terms, it was a good year’s worth of living expenses. That would be a big deal for anyone, but since my financial future is particularly shaky (cartooning is hardly a cash cow), it’s all the more important for me to have money to fall back on. So losing a huge chunk like that was a big hit. Thank god I got the before-mentioned scholarship (it includes a living stipend), or I’d be in pretty dire straights right now. Continue reading Taking Stock of 2008

Greetings from Fukuoka (2)

This blog entry is going up as I reach the end of a two-week stay in Fukuoka, my old stomping grounds and the setting of my graphic novel Tonoharu: Part One. I’ve been busy attending a language school, taking photos for use as reference in Tonoharu: Part Two, and seeing old friends and going to old restaurants. So as with last week’s entry, this week’s entry is being phoned in at the eleventh hour, by-and-large only to fulfill the promise of weekly updates that can be found on the lower right-hand corner of the masthead for this site.

Beginning next week I should be able to return to more “substantial” blog updates of thinly veiled self-promotion & narisicism. Next week will be a press release (oh boy!), and the week after will begin a series of posts in the form of an informal “how-to” guide about my experiences self-publishing. So see you then, dear readers.

Greetings from Fukuoka

I’m in Fukuoka this and the following week, studying at a Japanese language school and seeing old friends. I didn’t really have time to prepare a blog entry, so I’m jotting off this half-assed one at the eleventh hour. Please enjoy the following three pictures from Fukuoka:

Flower names, on the side of a cafe. The second word is probably just to see if you’re paying attention.

Finally! A butter-margarine mix with the least appetizing name imaginable!

The bathroom lock where I’m staying looks like a smiling metal duck.

Er… that’s it! See ya next Friday!

My Journey to Japan


This blog entry is about my trip to Japan at the beginning of April, to study calligraphy at Shikoku University as a Monbusho scholar. At that point my ankle was on the mend from an injury sustained in January, and I could put weight on it and get around with a cane. But it was still quite tender.

It was a long trip; I flew from Minneapolis to Chicago via American Airlines, then Chicago to Tokyo via Japan Airlines, and finally flew from Tokyo to Osaka. I spent the night in Osaka, and then took a bus to Tokushima, where my school is located. Continue reading My Journey to Japan

In Appreciation to My Folks

Pictured: My Parents (faces skillfully photoshopped to protect their anonymity)

I probably wouldn’t have started this blog in the first place if I hadn’t thought it would be good way to market my comic books. But that isn’t to say that all these entries are just veiled sales pitches; as best I can, I really try to write about my life and my comics in an honest and unpretentious way.

But since this is a public blog, I’m not as always quite as forthcoming as I might be in a more private forum. I avoided the subject of my ankle injury for several weeks, for one. And up until right now, mention of my living arrangements has also been carefully avoided. Only in one brief sentence of one lone blog entry did I elude to the fact that for the whole of 2007, I lived with my parents, in the basement of their suburban home.

Continue reading In Appreciation to My Folks

Health Report

Pictured: A front view of my Screwed-up Right Ankle

Back at the beginning of January, I temporarily halted my weekly updates of this blog with an unceremonious two sentence entry that cited “extenuating circumstances” as the reason for the suspension. When I resumed weekly updates five weeks later, I made no explanation as to why the blog went on hiatus.

Now, I figure most people that would really care about the “extenuating circumstances” probably know me personally, and therefore have already been informed privately about what happened to me. But just in case there’s anyone else out there that’s curious, here’s what happened.

On January third, I slipped on some ice and broke my right leg in three places. Two of the breaks were in the ankle area, and the other higher up on the leg (caused, apparently, by the stress put on the bone by the unnatural angle of the ankle).

The ankle break required surgery to properly align the bones with screws. The pain just before and just after the surgery was like nothing I’ve ever experienced. The first half of January was a blur, as I was doped up on pain meds. I couldn’t concentrate on anything for longer than five minutes, and never could get my leg into a comfortable position.

Continue reading Health Report