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Walks around Akron

posted on March 19, 2008

As many of you may be aware, I also collaborate on another comic, Crankshaft, with my partner in crime Chuck Ayers. In fact, in recent years, Chuck has also been working with me on Funky. In both strips, the milieu centers on the north shore of Ohio, with a lot of local sites ending up in the strips from Crankshaft’s trips to Cleveland to see the Indian’s play to Luigi’s in Akron, the pizza restaurant that I’ve totally appropriated (with the owner’s kind permission) to create the fictional Montoni’s.

I find that using familiar locales places the characters in an environment that helps to ground the work and keep it centered. The gazebo in the Westview town square, Les and Summer’s house, and the school where Les teaches are all based on real places. This makes the stages where the action takes place in Funky very comfortable settings in which to work.

The reason I’m telling you all of this is because Chuck, in collaboration with writer Russ Musarra, has recently published a book, Walks around Akron, which features various locales in and around the Akron area. This book expands on the locales that in many cases exist just off the page in both Funky and Crankshaft. All of the places that Russ writes about are illustrated by Chuck in a truly gorgeous series of paintings. The book stands totally on its own as collection of fine writing and art, but it also is fascinating if you’re interested in seeing the larger world in which both Funky and Crankshaft exist. If you want to take a look, “Walks” can be found in the book section of this site.


posted on February 27, 2008

There seem to be numerous questions coming into the e-mail section of this wondrous website that keep appearing over and over and over again if you get my drift. In order to help me keep my nose to the drawing board, there’s now an FAQ section on the site so that curious readers can quickly find the answers to their most burning questions.

Also, if you click on the asterisk, there’s something kind of cool lurking there. Last Fall, King Features created a new sales kit for Funky to coincide with the time jump. To make the art on the kit really pop, I asked Greg Horn to do digital paintings of my characters over some drawings that John Byrne had originally done. Greg is not only one of the very best digital painters in the business, but a real pro and nice guy to work with as well. The result was incredibly cool. Unfortunately, except for features editors around the country, not a lot of other people would get to see the amazing job that Greg did… until now. I hope you dig it as much as I did.

Notes from the woodshed

posted on January 30, 2008

A number of readers have wanted to know when new book signings for Lisa’s Story will be scheduled. As I stated elsewhere on the site, I’m pretty much spending January and February woodshedding it so that I can get caught up to where I’m supposed to be with both Funky and Crankshaft. And while I’ve been making some progress, I’ve still got a ways to go. That being said, new signings are now being booked and as soon as they’re solid, I’ll be adding them to the events calendar.

Speaking of Lisa’s Story, I was very pleased to see that the first royalties from the book have made their way to The Lisa’s Legacy Fund. I’d just like to once again thank King Features for agreeing to contribute their share of the royalties as well, and all those readers who contributed by buying copies of the book. The fund is doing very well, and at some later date I’ll try to provide an update on the fund and surrounding events.

Once last thing regarding books. When I’m totally fried and can’t face another evening in the studio, I’ve been enjoying the long Ohio winter evenings reading the new Walt & Skeezix collections from Drawn & Quarterly books. The work is amazing and a reminder of the kind of heights that this cartoon medium can reach. The collection of Sunday strips is a particular joy and worth every pretty penny. Check ’em out.