Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Meet Valentina

Valentina the curious
At Kitty Bungalow Charm School for Wayward Cats in Los Angeles, where I volunteer, we take our responsibilities to our "students" seriously. That means not only getting them off the street, cleaned up, healthy, and spayed or neutered, but teaching them all about how to be the very best, most companionable lap cats they can possibly be.

But all that hard work can't pay off until these felines find homes of their own, so that's why I recently signed up to be a "school councilor." That means that I'll be posting photos and networking deserving cats who are ready to graduate into loving families.

So, here's Valentina! Even though she was born in a rich neighborhood, her mom was feral and she had a bit of a rough start. It took a little while for her to learn that people are okay, but now she loves them. Other cats are pretty okay in her book too. I don't know about dogs, but chances are, she'd be just a relaxed around them as she is around everybody else. You say you'd like more photos? You're in luck!

Valentina is self-cleaning!

You will have to imagine the Valentian purrs that go with this photo

Valentina relaxing with a friend
If you happen to be looking for a feline companion, you really can't go wrong with this sweet girl. If you'd like to meet her you can pop a note to . And if you happen to end up adopting her, please let me know. I'll send you a welcome basket of handmade cat toys! After all, I want to make sure that the first student I "counsel" gets started right in life!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


Even after visiting Santa Fe many, many times I always find new things. Who knew there were ancient petroglyphs just a short drive and hike out of town? I mean, yeah, that hike does involve a very steep, rocky climb, but it's well worth it. Just look what you discover at the La Cieneguilla Petroglyph Site! Apparently these were made between the 13th and the 17th centuries, so some of them date from before contact with the Spanish. They are sort of above a river, marking out what was once a trail along a mesa, but I don't think anyone knows what they mean. They are definitely cool to see though! 


My mom and dad examine some kokopellies.
Hands! Stars! Um... stuff?
Closer on the star and guy.

Whole lot going on all over this boulder.

Um, an upside down guy?
A ring tailed cat?

Friday, May 16, 2014

June Conventions!

Just one month from now my co-creator/husband Gabriel Hardman and I will be in New York for Special Edition: NYC.  Like NYCC it's being held at the Javits Center, but will be much more comics-focused. We'll be there June 14th and 15th.

The next weekend we're heading down to Charlotte, NC for HeroesCon, where we'll be holding down a table in Artist Alley from the 20th to the 22.

We'll have books, art, and prints, but if you'd like to get a sketch from Gabriel get on his list soon! You can get all the details here.

He's also continuing his Convention Portrait Project. He's already done portraits at Emerald City and WonderCon but these will be his first from the East Coast. You can find out more about that here. 

Hope to see you at a con this summer! We've got a couple more coming up in the fall, but until then, see you back east!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Rainforest of the Americas

"Oo, new digs"

Hooray! The last piece to Phase I of the LA Zoo's Master Plan is finally complete. The new (and lovely) Rainforest of the Americas is now open to the public. I still remember the first part of the puzzle, the Chimpanzees of Mahale Mountains, opening in 1998. I was employed by the zoo at the time, working in the Behavioral Research Division, studying how the chimps could best make use of their new space. That was the zoo's first step into a new century of exhibit technology. I sincerely hope this new space won't be the last, despite the City of LA's steadily declining support. But for now, let's celebrate the new space, and what it can mean for the conservation of its rare denizens in the wild!

Baird's Tapir!
Tapir Feet! 

Cotton-top Tamarin

Giant River Otter - and hapless fish
Apparently fish are tasty
Emerald Tree Boa - added to his new home while we watched
Emerald Tree Boa

Monday, April 21, 2014

Stuff - New and Upcoming!

It's almost the end of April which means Con Season is in full swing. Gabriel and I just attended Wondercon this weekend and are preparing for several more over the summer. Of course we'll have books and art, but Gabriel's doing something new this year: The Convention Portrait Project. Here's the deal, as stated on his blog:

"If you're willing to sit for 20-30 minutes, I'll draw a naturalistic portrait of you in my convention sketchbook. I won't be selling these sketches (or giving them away for that matter), they're staying in my sketchbook. I'll happily send you a scan if you give me your contact information. 

These are naturalistic drawings, not charactertures. Cosplayers are welcome but be aware, these drawing will not be idealized superhero style sketches. 

If I end up with enough interesting convention portraits, I may collect them in a book at some future date. 

So please, If you'd like to take a break from the con and can sit still for 30 minutes, come by our table and ask about the CONVENTION PORTRAIT PROJECT. "

If you'd like to participate, stay tuned! We have at least three more cons coming up, so lots more portraits will be drawn. 

In other news, how about some new trades? First up is the final volume of our Planet of the Apes: Cataclysm run. I'm really proud of how this third book turned out, and I'm thrilled that it can now sit on the shelf with the other two volumes as well as the two miniseries which came before it. If you'd like to check it  out, here's the Goodreads listing. And if you'd like to order it, here's a link to Amazon. 

Meanwhile, in a completely different fictional universe, our run on Star Wars: Legacy continues with issue #14 appearing this week. But if trades appeal to you more than floppies, you're in luck here too. Volume two, Outcasts of the Broken Ring, is set to appear in a little over a month. You can preorder it already on Amazon, and it's even on sale right now. 

And if that's not enough sci-fi for you, then we also have a new miniseries appearing July 30 from Dark Horse. Scripted by Gabriel and me from a story by Mike Richardson, Deep Gravity will run for four issues and includes plenty of exo-biology and deep-space-faring vessel action. Not to mention several characters that I'm quite fond of. 

So that's the update. Hope to see you at a con this summer! 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Kitten of the Week - Magritte

Margritte is the funniest kid I've seen in a long time, and I see a lot of feline kids.

He'd like a home of his own though, so if you want an entertaining friend contact Kitty Bungalow Charm School for Wayward Cats.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Emerald City Wrap-Up

We're back from Emerald City Comicon and you won't be surprised to hear that it was a terrific show. I love having the chance to spend some time in Seattle. And the show itself is so smoothly run that it's an absolute joy to start off "con season" there. As is always the case, the weekend went by in a blur, but fortunately I took a few photos of the highlights. 

Hire This Woman panel in action
Yes, I'm the shortest one of the group. Again. Even in heels.
On Saturday I sat on a panel hosted by Janelle Asselin that captured her column "Hire This Woman" live. It was the first time I'd met Amy Chu, Heather Nuhfer, or Robin Robinson. Mairghread Scott is a SoCal writer like me, so it was nice that we were seated next to each other, representing the fact that all comics don't happen in Portland or the east coast. It was a real honor to share the stage with such talented women, so a big thank you is in order to Janelle for inviting me. If you'd like to see my print interview, you can find that here

Gabriel draws Rachel
"Rachel R"
Throughout the weekend Gabriel continued his Convention Portrait Project, drawing con-goers, pros, friends, and fans. You can see all of them here, and read a bit about it here. We're currently planning other cons, so if you want to be the subject for one of his drawings, stay tuned and get in touch. 

I'm kind of proud of how I managed to capture a fictional photobomber here.
I didn't get as much time as I would have liked to walk around and see the rest of the con, but happily Drew Rausch, Jocelyn Gageway, and Aaron Alexovich had a table right around the corner from ours. If you don't already know about it, you should check out Drew and Jocelyn's terrific webcomic My Blacks Don't Match. It's even free! I also got a peek at Aaron's Serenity Rose: 10 Awkward Years, and man does it look gorgeous! I can't wait to get my copy. It's one of the nicest things I've ever seen emerge from a Kickstarter.

Mike Norton photographing Gabriel in the hat
Now that's a hat! 
Apparently the Pacific northwest is good for more than comics... Great hats can be found there too. Mike Norton had a table down the row from us and at some point during the weekend he bought a hat. A terrific hat, a hat that looks good on everyone. To test out the terrificness of the hat he took many pictures of many people in the hat. Sure enough, everyone looked great. You can see more of those here.

Aww, Star Wars, I'm gonna miss you!
As Sunday wound down Gabriel and I were gifted with this swell poster as a thank you for creating a little chunk of the Star Wars universe. I was so touched! Sometimes when you work at home you forget that anyone will ever read what you've written. Getting this delivered to our table just about made my day.

Deep Gravity #1 
So after that whirlwind we are back home and back to work, because one more thing happened at ECCC. Our latest work-for-hire project with Dark Horse was announced: Deep Gravity! It's being scripted by Gabriel and me from a story by Mike Richardson, with art by Fernando Baldo. Look for it later this summer. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Emerald City Schedule

In just a few days Gabriel and I will be in Seattle, attending Emerald City Comicon at the Washington State Convention Center. For most of the weekend

you can find us at Table A-08 in Artist Alley, but we've got a few other things planned too.

I'll be on the Hire This Woman panel in Hall D on Saturday starting at 1:40 with Janelle Asselin, Mairghread Scott, Amy Chu, Heather Nuhfer, and Robin Robinson.

On Sunday, both of us will be signing at the Dark Horse booth (#206) from 2 to 2:50. 

Of course, Gabriel will be doing sketching at our table throughout the weekend. You can find all the details on his blog. We'll also have books and art to sell.

Hope to see you there! 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Madam Satan

This weekend we actually saw two films in the theater, a rarity with two freelancers in the same household. Yesterday was Wes Anderson's THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL. Everyone's talking about that one, so I'm going to talk about MADAM SATAN instead.

Pre-code films are often gloriously outrageous in one way or another, and this is no exception. Made in 1930 and directed by Cecile B. DeMille, its an early and truly uneven musical. The characters are all pretty odious too, from the cheating cad of a husband Bob to the maid who advises her employer Angela to do everything she can to make her husband happy. Surely whatever he does is Angela's fault, the film (written by a trio of women, amazingly) suggests. If you aren't familiar with this era of filmmaking, please don't think that they're all like that! Both IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT and TWENTIETH CENTURY are from 1934 and both are sharp and smart. Anyway, I don't think anyone would ever watch MADAM SATAN for the plot. Instead, it's more than worth seeing for the sheer amount of crazy that appears on the screen once the mistaken identity plot gets going. And the beautiful Deco designs!

Poor Angela. Bob says she's cold next to showgirl Trixie. So Angela decides that she'll be so hot that "it'll take a whole fire station to put me out!" She crashes a swinging costume party aboard a zeppelin (!) just as the "most beautiful women" are being auctioned off (!) to the highest bidder. Is this a charity function of some sort? Why no, it's to advertise an oil company apparently. There are a ton of insane costumes, an ode to electricity, women serving drinks while pedaling around in little model dirigibles, and, of course, the devil herself. Angela, in her amazing costume, is unrecognizable to everyone, including her husband. She puts on an accent and coyly asks "who wants to come to hell with Madam Satan?" There's a crazy dance-off and then a lightning storm, followed by a mass bail-out as party-goers dressed as golden pheasants, clouds, and Hindu gods parachute through the sky. Baz Luhrmann's THE GREAT GATSBY had nothing on this!

I mean, check these out:
A musical ode to... Time?
Angela (Kay Johnson) costumed as Madam Satan
She's dressed as the "spirit of rain"
I'm glad I saw this at the Egyptian in Hollywood, threadbare around the edges as it is now, instead of at home or at some newer theater. It was easy to imagine seeing it in 1930 as a first run picture, marveling at the sets and complaining about the clunky direction. But if you get the chance to see it, no matter the venue, don't hesitate. I promise the absurdity will not disappoint. 
The Egyptian doesn't look quite like this anymore, but close enough.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Ghosts of the Desert

To me, nothing is more relaxing than spending time around animals. So sometimes we head to the LA Zoo in the afternoon when we need a break. I occasionally write for their magazine Zoo View so it's almost like working...

The last time we went the peninsular pronghorns were very energetic, play fighting and carousing.

I'm really proud of our zoo's involvement with the Peninsular Pronghorn Recovery Project in Mexico, so it's a treat to see these guys up close. Only about 250 members of this subspecies survive in the wild, down from the thousands that used to roam the deserts. That means the breeding herd at LAZ comprises a significant percentage of all individuals alive today. It's really a shame they're endangered, since they're quite unusual. Not only are they the fastest hoofed mammals on Earth, but pronghorns are also the only extant member of their entire family (Antilocapridae). They're weird too, falling somewhere between goats and deer, with odd branching horns instead of antlers, unlike any other creature alive today.

In their home range the peninsular subspecies is called los fantasmas del desierto, the ghosts of the desert, because of their cryptic coloration and great speed that allows them to disappear from view with almost supernatural quickness. Indeed, they can cruise at nearly 60 mph, tongues hanging out and mouths agape to admit copious amounts of air, for an hour at a time. That's one thing you won't see in a zoo though, since these pronghorns are far too relaxed to consider fleeing. Like me, after an afternoon spent watching them.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Emerald City Update

We've had a great time at Emerald City Comicon for several years running now so I'm really looking forward to returning at the end of this month. The show runs from the 28th to the 30th at the Washington State Convention Center. Look for Gabriel Hardman and me at table A-08 in Artist Alley.

We'll have lots of books for sale as well as original art. ECCC is always a fun show so I hope we see you there!

In addition to doing signings at the table, I'm going to be on at least one panel. Details will be posted shortly...

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Kitten of the Week - Marvel

Looking for a kitten with a lot of personality, the ability to play for hours on end, and the desire to curl up in your lap afterwards? Look no further - Marvel is the cat for you! 

You can also visit Kitty Bungalow's Facebook page to keep up with the whole super litter...

Monday, February 17, 2014


Friday was Valentine's Day so Gabriel and I took the afternoon off and headed to the LA Zoo. There we were lucky enough to catch Reggie the alligator sunning himself right up near the public walkway.

Reggie is a bit of a local celebrity. He was apparently dumped at Harbor Regional Park sometime in 2005, reportedly by a former police officer (!) and stayed there for two years, eluding every attempt at capture. It probably goes without saying, but it's illegal to keep an alligator as a pet, as well as being a very, very stupid idea.

Finally the zoo got involved and elaborate plans were put in place to wrangle the 6.5 foot reptile. He was caught without incident and even got a police escort to his new home. Apparently some officers are better friends to gators than others...

When we visited him there weren't too many people around, so we rated a half-opened eye for a few seconds. It didn't take long for him to figure out that we aren't quite on his level, fame-wise, so back to sleep he went. Who can blame him? This is LA, after all.
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