Posts Tagged ‘blog: musings’.

Moving Day at Wondermark HQ

I’m back from Gen Con and I’m moving into my new studio in West Los Angeles! In the next few days I’ll be catching up with the Roll-a-Sketch drawings ordered in the last few weeks, as well as the Kickstarter. Thanks for your kind support with those, I look forward to drawing your creatures from the comfort of my new digs! Once it is at all… comfortable.

It’s a weird thing, moving; I was in my last place for four and a half years, and in that time a lot has happened, a lot has changed about how I run my business. I have more stuff now, for sure: more inventory, and supplies, and books, and the detritus of a life incessantly peppered with miscellaneous projects. It was a startling thing, seeing box after box after box come out of the old place like a clown car. How did it all fit?

Now, of course, I have the challenge of figuring out where stuff will go, in the new place. I’m trying to be very deliberate with the process, looking at each object and coming up with a sensible home for it (or deciding it doesn’t need to hang around), so we don’t end up simply drowning in boxes and clutter once again, but at a new address.

It’s surprisingly hard! It feels weighty, a real responsibility, and of course giving an object a home is assigning it a value, a purpose, when not everything’s purpose or value is easy to define in a way that implies where precisely it should live. Some things just seem to want to float, to exist only in order to pop up occasionally, without any real utility besides simply being a souvenir of itself.

In addition, I want to look critically at my work habits, the processes I do often and the materials and supplies I need close at hand, and try carefully to design a workplace in concert with the sorts of things I do anyway, or want to do more of. Having a dedicated studio at all is quite a luxury, so I’m trying to take it seriously.

I’d like to invite your comments: what successes or failures have you had with setting up workspaces? What are lessons you’ve learned, or best practices, or things to keep in mind? I work well within constraints, so I guess what I’m really asking for are some rules. Let me know if you have any tips!

Updates from Wondermark HQ!


Here’s a little update on things I’m working on presently!

Above and below are the boxes for the three Wondermark jigsaw puzzles that we funded on Kickstarter last fall.

Based on some of my favorite Wondermark posters, the puzzles are on the press now. I’ve reviewed proofs and gotten advance samples and everything looks really good!

I’m excited for the puzzles to become available for backers and the general public later this spring. I estimated that they’d start shipping to backers in March. I do admit to a little trepidation: labor disputes have been causing drastic slowdowns at the Los Angeles seaport, at the precise spot where the puzzles are due to enter the States… But there’s nothing I can do to control or affect that particular matter. I asked the freight forwarder if they could shunt our shipment to a different port, and that option doesn’t look promising. So, we’ll just cross our fingers!


I’ve also been doing a lot of setup work for projects that will see fruition later in the year:

We’re working on some videos for the Machine of Death card game (the game, of course, is available now!). I’m doing some design work for Zach Weinersmith on a really neat product he’ll be launching this spring, and I’m also in talks with a new T-shirt company that has a… pretty unique and strange perspective on what being a T-shirt company means. I don’t think I’m allowed to say much else about that just yet.

I’ll be attending the Emerald City Comicon in Seattle at the end of March as is my wont, and I’ll be hosting two fun game show-style panels there! I also still perform on stage with my improv comedy team on first and third Mondays in Santa Monica — those shows are always free so it’s easy to get your money’s worth.


Oh and I set up a Patreon! Right now I have done exactly zero things with it. I wanted to get at least the puzzles out the door before I started up something new.

But, some very nice people have asked me if there’s a way they can support the things I make, and I know not everyone needs or wants merchandise or physical objects cluttering up their life.

So, if you’re so inclined, you can toss in a buck or two a month, and be a supporting member of Wondermark and the stuff we do here. Rewards for patrons will be forthcoming!

On Tumblr recently, I’ve:

Helped someone out with marketing their dog biscotti
Found an old letter I wrote to Brad Bird
Mastered the art of burger negotiation
Examined the postal employee weight requirement
Tried to Google each of the individual fifty shades of grey

It’s usually pretty easy to fill the days, around here.

Favorite Wondermark Holiday Comics

rooooad triiiiip

The year is winding down! All of our calendars have sold (thanks very much to the folks who snapped those up — they’ve all been shipped)!

I have left town for the holidays. My wife and I took a li’l ROAD TRIP from Los Angeles to Seattle, through some fairly dramatic landscapes (I took the picture above on Saturday, driving through central California).

We’ll be driving back down in a week. I wonder if the drought will be over by then! I’ll expect the lake to be full by next Sunday. GET ON THAT

Hope you have a lovely week, either in the presence of those you love, or doing whatever you are doing! Here are some of my favorite holiday-themed Wondermark comics from years past.

Favorite Wondermark Holiday Comics

#779; The Breakthrough
#897; In which it’s Too Late
#474; In which you better Watch Out
#582; In which George gets a Lute
#683; In which a Line of Questioning is halted
#476; In which Suffering was a Waste
#686; The Taylors leave a Shadow
#466; In which Everyone loves the Freak
#687; In which Santa appears at last
#363; In which Joy is mandated
#093; In which a Fortress is breached
#357; In which Mall Parking sucks
#141; In which the Son of God stands in queue
#081; In which a Confrontation occurs
#260; In which a Plan ends poorly
#069; In which the Canucks get a Pretty Good Idea
#475; In which Trouble is both avoided, and provoked

And of course: THE HANNUKAH DUCK

Oh! And our friend Kate Beaton is posting some holidays-with-family comics right now, definitely don’t miss those.

Internet Archive Releases Millions of Public Domain Images; I Personally Benefit


Thanks to the many people who’ve sent this bit of info my way! In a move that mirrors the British Library’s similar endeavor from a few months ago, the Internet Archive has placed images from 500 years’ worth of public domain books on Flickr, millions and millions of pictures and emblems and logos and marginalia from digitized books.

Here’s Flickr’s official statement.

And, in a move unlike the British Library’s, in this case they’re attempting to use contextual clues from the OCR’d text preceding and following the image to determine ways to thematically tag the images. It’s not…perfect? (The image at the top of this post is tagged “Historical buildings”.) But it’s a pretty cool effort nonetheless!

You can also browse by year, decade, or century, which is super cool if you want to narrow down the type of art style you’re looking for (as I tend to want to do).

I browsed a few dozen pages of the Flickr set and found some cool images that I used in today’s comic! Here are some of my sources:

The men in the foreground
The browsing man in Panel 1
Some of the vases on the tables
An object on a table in the far background

The other elements in the strip today came from my existing collection.

I love things like this, obviously! Hooray for culture! Hooray for old stuff, it’s a souvenir of the world we weren’t around for, and a reminder of where we have been as humans before.

Fascinating Artifacts From My Mom’s House

My parents moved into this house in 1972! My siblings and I grew up here, perched on a hillside backed up against the National Forest. I lived here my whole life, until I moved out to go to college.


But now my mom is moving, and it’s time to clean everything out from a million dusty corners and cabinets and stacks of old boxes! You don’t live someplace for 42 years without odd items sticking around. As you either know or can readily assume, I’m super into weird old stuff, so I thought I’d share some of the unearthed artifacts that I found interesting — including some very surprising correspondence between my mom and ISAAC ASIMOV:



(Click any image for bigger)



T-SHIRT MADE AT MALL KIOSK IN 1987 — this picture is of me, and it must have been made as a gift for my brother, so that he would be the one wearing the picture of his brother and asserting that he loved me. A FOOLPROOF PLAN




SPICES LEFT OVER FROM MY GRANDMOTHER’S MOONSHINE — my Lebanese grandmother apparently liked to make arak, an anise-flavored fermented spirit.

We also found her still and a jar of arak that was probably 30+ years old. I wanted to try some, but I also wanted to stay alive, and the latter impulse won out.






THE AIRPLANE I BUILT TO KILL TIME ON MY COUSIN’S CONSTRUCTION SITE that I later attempted to sell to the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum, via letter extolling its virtues as an “authentic replica of a C-7 Caribou”, and demanding the highest amount of money I could think of, which was $70. I believe I was in the third grade.

The Smithsonian wrote back with a very kind letter explaining that their collections were built by donations only. No way was I going to donate my masterpiece, so I held onto it! Until yesterday, when I chucked it into a dumpster.






POSSIBLY MY FIRST PUBLISHED WORK (sadly unfinished). ‘Malown Bros’ referred to me & my elementary school best friend, Aaron Brown.

The whiteout implies that perhaps it did not begin as a collaboration. Note as well the series number in the upper corner — who knows what hijinks Timmy the dog might have gotten up to, had I not abandoned the entire enterprise after a page and a half??




My mom was (and remains) a prolific correspondent: she writes letters to authors, columnists, lawmakers, public figures, and the like. Before email, of course, that was all done on paper (with a brief dalliance into the heady world of the fax), in a way that can leave traces decades later.

I found the occasional response letter she received, implying various inquiries on her part, but imagine my surprise when I found this, tucked quietly in a file folder:



(The fact that he wrote ‘Mallei’ instead of ‘Malki’ implies that her original was handwritten.)

And as if ONE wasn’t enough to be amazing — the following day my sister discovered ANOTHER!!


MORAL OF THE STORY: Write letters, I guess?? And save everything that your kids might remotely find interesting decades later.


ALSO: Since you are a savvy and informed bunch, I thought I would ask your advice. I have been charged with dispensing of two interesting items: a TRS-80 computer (complete with external floppy drive and a few manuals and pieces of software), and a mid-50’s vintage Zenith TV/phonograph cabinet:


Neither are in mint condition and both are rather heavy and tricky to move. (Currently they are in Southern California.) I don’t know if they have any collectible value, or if the labor of maximizing said value would be worth it in the end.

If you have any clever suggestions as to what to do with these things (besides simply discard them, unless that’s the best option), please leave a comment on this post. I appreciate any assistance!