Apples are full of stories!
So I haven’t yet decided if there’s going to be a part 3 to this. I feel like I have a little more to say but I’ve been having the hardest time articulating it, so we’ll see. But this was part of what was bugging me about the whole conversation. I was at Bryn Mawr to talk about food and food illustration and food comics, and specifically how images of food are almost never designed to factually represent the food as an object – they’re designed to tell the story of the food as an experience. A history, a recipe, a memory, a meal – it’s all about communicating the many layers of what a particular food means to us as humans, and that goes far beyond the mere object nature of the apple.
Hey everyone! So I recently got back from an amazing creative residency at Bryn Mawr college, where I gave a talk about food and art and comics and, essentially, the stories that we tell when we talk about food. I got to interact with a class full of ridiculously clever and thoughtful and engaged students, and eat probably the best dim sum I’ve ever had. It was phenomenal, and inspiring, and I had the best possible time.
There was one weird moment, though, when I ventured out into town to find a Starbucks. What started out as a pleasant enough conversation with a fellow caffeine-seeker turned a bit… weird. I mean, there’s going to be at least a second part to this comic. I’m reasonably sure this guy didn’t really mean anything critical or condescending by his comments, so nothing against him. But the whole conversation definitely shook something loose in my brain and left me pondering a lot of stuff, which I’ll get to in my next comic.
In the meantime, what’s going on? How are you? I’ve got a lot going on, but I’m working on a new mini (among other things) and I hope to have a confirmed convention schedule ready to post soon. Also, it’s spring, I got some ramps today (YAY!) and I’ve started getting my container garden ready. The neighborhood squirrel has already started tearing up my hanging boxes, though. Anyone have any ideas how to distract squirrels from delicious basil plants?
Hey everyone! I’m crazy busy of course, again, as always. I’ve been working on a series of comics for Ladydrawers, I’m doing a residency (and a lecture!) at Bryn Mawr next week, and I painted a bunch of crazy nesting dolls for serving cocktails in at Billy Sunday. I’m also working on a few (print) minicomics, one of which is going to be a little travelogue of our recent trip to Stockholm. Here’s a preview of that, just for you!
Whenever people start arguing about the superiority of regional pizza styles, Niles likes to say “all pizzas are God’s children”. I feel the same way about ramen, and there’s so much incredible ramen popping up all over Chicago these days! Niles was a sweetheart and for Christmas last year he donated to the Furious Spoon kickstarter campaign in my name, and got us into a pre-opening ramen tasting! The tasting was the other night, and it was a ton of fun and a ton of deliciousness. I highly recommend the furious ramen – especially if you like a little spice. They’ll be open February 18, and they’re giving free ramen to the first 100 customers!
In other news, Hourly Comics Day was the other day! You can read mine here. You can also find a link there to an article where a USA Today reporter asks me about the snowstorm. TL:DR version: a lot of snow happened in Chicago and I didn’t care because there was free pinball at the arcade.
Let’s break this up into manageable parts.
1) The few times that I have been a complete ass on my bike – and it’s happened, a very few times – the drivers were pretty nice about it. They seemed relieved that no one got hurt, and I was pretty apologetic, completely acknowledging being at fault. The only times drivers have ever unloaded obscenities on me on my bike have been immediately after the driver did something stupid, dangerous, or downright illegal. This guy came up behind me – I’m assuming he saw me from a ways off – and once he got in front of me he swerved well into the bike lane just to cut me off, and then shriek at me. People are really ugly sometimes.
2) I’ve lived in Chicago for 12 years now, and I’m usually pretty good at ignoring things that people shout at me on the street. (It’s almost never anything worth listening to.) It’s kind of hard to ignore someone who just tried to kill you, though. Especially when they’re confirming insecurities that you were JUST THINKING ABOUT.
3) Photos. Why are photos so hard? I mean, I know why they’re so hard, it’s a frozen moment where you have all the time in the world to criticize flaws, and even find some new ones. It’s very easy for me to look at a photo of myself and see it as a referendum on everything wrong with me. But that’s not going to change. Even if I lost a crazy amount of weight, I’d still hate my own photos. My eyes are too squinty, my teeth are too big, my hair looks dumb, etc etc etc ad infinitum. But no one cares about those things except for me. I’ve got to find a way to push those thoughts out and see photos for what they are: a reminder of a really great time, laughing and talking and having fun with some really great people.
4) It’s taken me too long to admit that smoky head monster is back. I really didn’t want to accept it. It was naive of me to think that he was dead forever, I guess. But! I sent him away once before. I can do it again.
If you’re a longtime reader of this comic, maybe you know that I have issues with seasonal depression. There’s a chill in the air these days, and the sky is darker and darker every morning when my alarm goes off. It’s not here yet, but I can feel it, the gloom, scratching at the corners. I know it’s coming.
But let’s not think about that. Let’s think about all the great things about winter. I actually really love the cold weather, I love boots and scarves and giant scrunchy socks and sweaters. I love snow, I love the smell of a fireplace on a cold day, I love being wrapped up in quilts with snuggly cats and snuggly boyfriends. And I love delicious things that warm the heart and belly on a cold day. When I first moved to Chicago, I lived in a traditionally Swedish neighborhood called Andersonville. Once it turns cold, all the bars there – even the non-Swedish ones, even the Mediterranean restaurants – serve Glögg, a Swedish mulled wine cooked with raisins and fruit and nuts and served with gingerbread. On a cold, cold day, a hot mug of sweet wine can be the most amazing thing.
And while I still eat plenty of chili and soup and ramen and drink plenty of dark beers year round, these are all things that are twice as tasty and restorative when the weather gets cold, and pretty darn effective at chasing off the winter blues.
In related news, GUYS I AM JUDGING A CHILI CONTEST THIS WEEKEND. This is all I have ever wanted out of my career, to be invited to judge food contests. I am only kind of joking about that statement. Come eat some chili and drink some beer for a great cause!
Guys guys guys guys I was going to start this post out complaining about how these peppers are taking forever to ripen and wondering if they’d still be green when we had our first snow, but TODAY, today one of them started to turn orange!! I’m so thrilled, I can’t even. This plant has been my baby all summer. I love it almost as much as I love our cats.
Niles took issue with me calling them “pretty”, since they’re actually really ugly, evil-looking little peppers. It’s like they’re actually trying to warn you that they’re not good to eat.
Honestly, I do like things spicy, but I normally don’t like things SO spicy that they overwhelm the flavor, and 2,000,000 Scoville units is pretty extreme. They’re military grade spicy. The articles I’ve read say that they’re actually really delicious and sweet, but then they start to burn, and burn, and burn, and burn some more. I’m probably going to try one of these just to see how wicked they are, but I’m planning on giving the rest of these to our local restaurant friends.
And if the restaurants don’t want them, I guess I’ll just use them to destroy my enemies.
Speaking of enemies, I was inking this comic out at a bar the other night, and some bros next to me said that it reminded them of Daria. At first I was flattered (I love me some Daria) but then they started doing the Beavis and Butthead “DIARRHEA! DIARRHEA!” chant. And then they did it again ten minutes later. And then four or five more times before they left. So, score one against drawing in public, I guess. :\
HOLY COW I MADE A NEW SAUCEOME. I really don’t mean to go so long between updates here, I’m going to try to be much better about this. I’ve been having a hard time keeping things balanced lately. It feels like I’m just constantly working – I leave my job and work on freelance jobs all evening until I fall asleep. I set aside most of my time on the weekends to get work done. I love all the freelance work that I’m doing, but my schedule is starting to feel pretty monotonous.
And, as Niles often reminds me, most of my crazy schedule and deadline stress is self-imposed. Not every job has to be done as soon as it can be possibly done. And I don’t want to get to the end of my life and be remembered for efficiently meeting all my deadlines. More importantly, I don’t want to get to the end of my life and realize that I didn’t seize EVERY POSSIBLE OPPORTUNITY to eat delicious ramen.
So I’m making a concerted effort to be a little more social, and to take a little more time for myself. And this comic – at least when I manage to update it regularly – is such a boon to my mental health… and I definitely have some resurfacing issues that need to be comicked out these days.
Okay, before anyone says anything, I have researched annual average temperatures, and it is generally about 10-15 degrees warmer in Stockholm than it is in Chicago in January. Also, Niles and I both really like the cold.
I’m really excited, though! Scandinavia’s been at the top of my list for a while. And I really do nerd the math out over languages. I’m really enjoying my Swedish podcasts at the moment, and one of them did very specifically go over that sentence asking for meatballs. In fact, the episode about ordering meatballs came before the episode about how to count in Swedish. That’s how important meatballs are! This seems like a culture that shares my priorities.
Will I be brave enough to try the Surströmming, though? Only time will tell.
Happy Cinco de Mayo! I finally, finally got my butt down to Antique Taco in Wicker Park. On Saturday Niles and I walked all over creation (my Moves app on my phone logged over 20,000 steps!) and one of our stops was delicious tacos at Antique Taco. It’s incredibly charming, and the food is delicious. The empanada was good, the fried fish tacos were better, but honestly, the horchata milkshake is what I’ll be dreaming about later. It was smooth and creamy and just the right balance of horchata and vanilla and cinnamon, and perfect for a warm sunny spring day.
NEWS: Luna de Cuernos shows are starting! You can get tickets to the Constellation show on the 18th by clicking on the link here. I go to my first rehearsal of the show today, and I’m terrified and excited. Niles calls it “incrediscared”, and I think it’s how I feel about everything, 9 hours out of 10.