Hello it is me
I grew up in the East Bay of San Francisco, California, USA, rooting for the Raiders and the A’s and Ray Guy and Kenny Stabler and Hendu and Dave Stewart and Jim Plunkett and the San Jose Earthquakes (and for a while the Stompers) and World Team Tennis. I was a huge fan of Martina Navratilova, David Bowie, and Jacques Cousteau and Carl Sagan. Apparently I needed to run around a lot, so I ended up doing all the sports. I had Bjorn Borg and Pelé on my wall and watched Cosmos and The Muppet Show and a lot of MTV.
My hometown was/is the semi-rural site of a national laboratory, so the adults around were often chemists or biologists and sometimes rocket scientists – or if not, they were ranchers or vintners. And they were also musicians and photographers and artists. Scientists do a lot of art and vice versa.
I came to comics by being drawn to the interaction of words and pictures: The encyclopedia, da Vinci, Cy Twombly, Jenny Holzer, the illustrated covers of pulp science fiction novels, record album covers and liner notes and lyric sheets and whatever posters or booklets or goodies might be in there. And, street art. And, Indigenous American art.
My parents were in a theater company that operated out of a one-room schoolhouse. My dad is a pianist, and we were not to watch too much TV because it made noise when he was trying to play. I knew every piece he played down to the note, and I knew they were by Chopin, Schubert, Scriabin, Beethoven, Bach… but I couldn’t tell you which piece was which. I loved The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau, anything about whales, anything with comedy, and pretty much every genre of music.
There were often rehearsals in the living room and impromptu arts festivals. I did my high school FORTRAN homework on a Cray my dad had access to (considered a supercomputer at the time, these days’ it’s probably an iPhone) by way of a teletype with tractor-feed paper. I remember visiting the lab on Family Day (my dad worked there as a systems programmer), and being enthralled with a role-play game running on a teletype sitting in the hallway. The computer room with all the donut-shaped Crays was used to film scenes in the movie, Tron.
In college I studied painting and drawing with Nathan Oliveira (whose printmaking sensibilities still influence my work and Frank Lobdell, who told me to “slow the brush down”) and Communication (emphasis in documentary film and journalism, and where I learned to edit film by hand). This was at Stanford, where at the time if you weren’t a “techie” – pre-med or pre-law or an engineer – you were “a fuzzy.” Whatever. It worked out okay.
My career-lives have been in film/video production (storyboarding, devising a special effect using surgical tubing and dry ice, getting obsessed with on-screen graphics), software/interface design (interactive knowledge repositories), information architecture (now UI/UX), and video games (when every company chased the holy grail of “stickiness” because the internet hadn’t yet been eaten by like three sites that pipe algorithmic echo chambers into people’s heads like untreated sewage).
At some point I started drawing cartoons, mostly on paper placemats at restaurants, and that evolved into Brainwaves, which is over 2,000 panels and I love seeing them travel the world in all sorts of forms such as wall paintings and tattoos and a tennis water bottle.
Now I’m writing and drawing comics like Sloth and Manatee, Silverwood, and Neptune Road, and since 2016 I have been working with Grant Petersen on an illustrated history of the bicycle (it’s been such a journey and the world has, shall we say, been busy during that time). We’re also doing a smaller project called “Bicycle Sentences” that pops up on Rivendell’s Instagram every so often.