The Portland trip earlier this month was a great success and a lot of fun. Powell's Books is amazing! It's not called the City of Books for nothing... several blocks in Portland's Pearl District are devoted to this amazing place. Thanks to all the great fans who came out for the event... You mean the world to me! And thanks to Powell's for hosting me.
While in Portland I was invited to appear on the local morning show, AM Northwest. TV is nerve wracking... what to wear, what to say, how not to cough or stutter... but I think I didn't fall flat on my face. If you want to see the segment, here it is...
For my Oregon/Washington fans... I will be signing books at Powell's City of Books on Burnside in Portland, Oregon next Tuesday, Sept. 9th, at 7:30pm. This is the mothership of independent bookstores, and I'm hugely honored to be hosted by them. If you are in driving distance of Portland, I hope to see you there!
"It just seems so real" is a high compliment sometimes paid to my work. I write from the heart and from the life that surrounds me so that compliment means my intended honesty and sincerity is coming through.
My characters have been based loosely on the people in my life, not always literally but amalgamations of friends and family. Holly and Alix, for instance, started out as representations of my daughters but after 25 years they have morphed into characters of their own, with opinions and wills I can barely control. Actually, that's also like real life.
My character Wally was created when the strip was fairly new. I didn't have a male character and wanted to be careful in how I developed one. In a female-centered strip it would be easy to develop a guy who was a target, a bumbler who didn't get women and had to be taught. But I dislike that stereotype and didn't want my strip to reflect that cliche.
Enter Wally, an old friend, a gentle, big man who cooked for seniors and took them on outdoor adventures. Played the guitar, loved the company of women (and truly respected them as equals) and was often found doing dishes. I asked if I could borrow his name and his schlump, and Stone Soup Wally was born.
Last Friday, the sweet real-world Wally left us. After years of inspiring a beloved character (an editor of mine once pleaded "Please don't let anything bad happen to Wally!") my good friend succumbed to a lousy disease. Stone Soup Wally will live on, of course, and I hope real world Wally will live on in him. He loved singing and boating and would berate me if I neglected to put life jackets on my characters.
I'll always love August but it's now the month I lost Wally. Long long love, Wallster, from all your earthly friends.
I had a wonderful week last week…travelled up to the north of Ontario to visit my friend and cartoon mentor Lynn Johnston (For Better or For Worse). She hosted us, got us out on the lake, took us fossil hunting...we talked trash and cartooning (and cartoon trash) and generally had a fabulous time. Her studio is amazing, her creativity amazes me as she continues to think up new things to do with her talent. Thanks, Lynn!
Barnes & Noble in Eugene (at Valley River Center) has offered to host a talk and signing this Thursday, July 24th, at 6pm. It's part of a pop culture week, and I'll be doin' my best to talk smack about cartooning. If you live nearby, stop in and say hi, buy a book, get an autograph, and ask any questions you want to about cartooning, what Gramma's up to, why Cape Town? or anything else that's on your mind.
My newest collection is selling well, I'm excited to say. There is just nothing like seeing the work compiled into a full color book, getting to read the stories in chunks instead of once a day in the newspaper.I think it's my best yet...five great reviews on Amazon, two great book signings so far selling 50 books at each. And I get to meet my fans, such a treat.
THE BEST BOOK NEWS YET IS... I was invited to speak and sign books at Powell's City of Books in Portland, Oregon. Powell's is the mothership, the holy grail, of independent bookstores in the Northwest, maybe the entire West. I am very excited, honored to be invited, and looking forward to meeting my Portland fans.
Tonight Passionflower Design in Eugene, Oregon will be hosting a book release party for my 10th book. I can't believe that... 10 cartoon collections, each one nicer than the last, I think. I owe my publisher Marion, who established Four Panel Press 15 years ago, a lot of gratitude for keeping Stone Soup collections in print and being an amazing cheerleader for my work.
Our first book together was "You Can't Say Boobs On Sunday", still my best title ever.
Thanks, Marion. You're...amazing.
Other signings are:
June 27 • Bookmine bookstore • Cottage Grove, Oregon • 5:30-7:30
July 4 & 5 • Art & the Vineyard • Eugene, Oregon • 11:30-5:30 both days
Come! Chat! Drink Wine! Meet the real Val! (Yes, she exists. As does Wally.)
My new book collection will start shipping mid-month. It's my best book yet, with some of my favorite storylines. Full color, 192 pages (bigger than your average cartoon collection), with a little animation surprise.
Pre-orders are pouring in, making me very happy. Thanks all you great fans! If you haven't ordered yours, do it today! Just go to the BOOKS button on this site.
Meanwhile, enjoy these pics of me at my first ComicCon, in Seattle. It was a blast.
Below, the wonderful Georgia Ball, of Strawberry Shortcake fame and so much more...And here... T. Lewis (Over the Hedge) and Todd Clark (Lola). Two great guys to share a booth with!