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The Blog of Gene Luen Yang
"Professor Waid, You Hippie Freak!" 
Mark Waid, the writer behind Irredeemable and many other awesome comics, just released a better-articulated version of an off-the-cuff keynote he made at the Harvey Awards. He talks about comics, creative products in general, and our new file-sharing culture.

I'm a worrier. It's something of a hobby. I read the latest numbers from the comics direct market or from traditional book publishing, and then I sit in my room and worry, worry, worry. Waid makes a good argument as to why I shouldn't do that.

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Rise of the Graphic Novel 
Quick! Go back in time to April, 26 2010! Then get yourself over to the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco where Andy Hartzell, Lark Pien, Dash Shaw and I have an awesome discussion about comics, the future, and the awesomeness of comics in the future.

WHAT?! What do you mean your time machine's in the shop?!

Well, good thing two geeks working at PayPal invented YouTube.



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Busy, Busy, Busy 
The academic school year's starting up and I'm trying to hit a couple of comics deadlines... those are my excuses for why I haven't posted lately.

Here are some sketches I did for a one-pager I'm working on. It will eventually be published in an as-yet-unannounced anthology.



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Oh, Brother! 


Just found out about this via the comics blogosphere-- man, I'm excited! Jay Stephens, one of my favorite cartoonists ever, is cartooning once again! He and Bob Weber Jr. are doing an online comics strip called Oh, Brother! There's a lot of hubbub around its launch because King Features has supposedly put a lot of eggs in this basket, but I'm just happy to see ink from Stephens' brush again.

Stephens' late 90's graphic novel The Land of Nod Rockabye Book is, in my opinion, a cartooning masterpiece that never got its due. When Booklist Online asked me for a Printz-worthy book that was published before the Michael L. Printz Award was established in 2000, Rockabye immediately came to mind.

Stephens did several other graphic novels like Atomic City Tales and Jetcat Clubhouse before leaving for animation. I can't blame him -- there's a lot more money in animation and The Secret Saturdays is a really cool cartoon, but part of me wishes that he'd stuck around for the graphic lit boom of the last ten years. I'm sure his writing and drawing prowess would've earned him all sorts of accolades (not that an Emmy is anything to thumb your nose at) and, selfishly, I just want to read more Jay Stephens comics.

So here's to hoping Oh, Brother! is just the beginning!

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Harvey Pekar Died Today. 
I found out this morning during my daily walk through the comics blogosphere. Harvey Pekar's been in the back of my mind all day.

When I was growing up, our local library had a small collection of American Splendors dutifully shelved in the 741's. I tried reading them more than once, but couldn't. Usually, comics drawn like this had at least a couple of panels my mom didn't want me to see, you know? This was just some working shmoe talking about his stupid, boring life.

I didn't develop an appreciation for Harvey Pekar until I was well into my adulthood. It's hard not to when you're a cartoonist. After all, every great autobio comic in the last twenty years finds its roots in him. And he was a part of the generation who spearheaded the merging of the comics market and the book market, a phenomenon that I've personally benefited tremendously from.

More than this, Pekar's comics contained a message that I simply wasn't ready for until I was his fellow working shmoe. Pekar found the art in the mundane. The small, forgettable triumphs and tragedies of the everyman's every day were recorded and offered up for contemplation. Pekar gave them a... a sacredness... by making them into images on paper. This might sound weird, but the animus behind his work reminds me of a certain Catholic mystic famous for finding the divine in the small things of ordinary life.

As someone who struggles with balancing comics, family, and a day job, I deeply admire how Pekar balanced comics, family, and a day job for decades upon decades. He was an artist, but he was also a family man who worried about putting bread on the table. He mixed the creative with the practical. And he made having a day job seem romantic-- I'm reluctant to give up my own day job in part because of his example.

So thank you, Harvey Pekar. I'm going to read one of your comics before I go to sleep tonight.



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