Heart on sleeve


Some of the best things I've made lately were either for my boyfriend or included him. What can I see, I'm a sap and he is nice. Here are two paintings.

The Youth, Part 1

Last summer I got a big box of stuff from my mom that turned out to be full of things I thought I'd never see again, including most of the comics I drew in high school.

I was one of those literary twerps who mostly loved the books we got assigned in English class, but was just bored enough by it all to need to make my own sassy versions of all those books. Not a lot of those survive, unfortunately, but let's just say that if you have just been assigned to read "Native Son" by Richard Wright, today is your lucky day.

Behold, 16-year-old Amy's astounding, sensitive rendition of NATIVE SON.

This week: Cartoon Carousel and SF Zinefest

Hello out there! Exciting news:

-I'm doing a live reading of "The Georgia Diaries" as part of this week's Cartoon Carousel, a kickoff party for SF Zinefest. It's at the fabulous Cartoon Art Museum (655 Mission Street in San Francisco) this Thursday, August 30, starting at 7pm. Also on the program: Eli Bishop, Gabrielle Gamboa, Ric Carrasquillo, and SF Zinefest special guest Sarah Oleksyk! Come out and see us.

-I'll be tabling at SF Zinefest this weekend, Sept. 1-2, at the County Fair Building in Golden Gate Park. I will be selling all my old books and......

-I'll be selling a new little book full of those Georgia Diaries and some other choice shorts.

-I'm reopening my Etsy store this weekend and will be selling online again. No, don't look at it yet, there's nothing there now. I'll repost the link once there is stuff. But yay right?

If you come to Cartoon Carousel (which will be awesome) or SFZF (which is ALWAYS awesome) you will love it and I hope you'll say hi!


Nerds A Go-Go: ALA Annual 2012

So, it turns out there is more than one kind of nerdy convention I enjoy. In June I got to go to the 2012 ALA Annual Conference-- that's the American Library Association, y'all. It's a big, bustling, baffling conference, and though I still found it far easier to navigate than Comic-Con, there was a lot I missed because I wasn't in the know about how to find things, how to prioritize, and how to network your way into the Macmillan Dessert Party. Not that I needed any more dessert. And, well-- I'm just going to let the comics tell the story.

Here are 11 Lessons Learned from my First ALA Annual.

(Psst- I signed up to table at SF Zine Fest. Which means I will be producing new, printed books soon. Eeep.)

And in and out of weeks, and over a day...

Okay, first. My favorite Maurice Sendak memory:

I was a new children's librarian, in Chicago, and during the summer we were showing movies to camp groups. One day I had a huge group of kids in our auditorium-- probably more than 100 kids. They were all squirrely and hot. One of the counselors asked me a question and I had to write down the answer--didn't have a pen--so I hit 'play' on the DVD player and dashed out of the room. I'd never left a room during a library program. We had strict rules about supervision. But I figured, I'll be gone 30 seconds, what could possibly go wrong? Then, coming back to the auditorium, I heard screaming. Children's screaming. What sounded like a LOT of children screaming. Panic hit and I started to run, wondering what could have possibly happened, would I be responsible---

And then I threw open the door and saw a giant projected naked Mickey, falling out of his diaper and into the Night Kitchen, his little penis flopping in the air and a hundred kids screaming while eight camp counselors laughed their heads off. Then I laughed too.


I'm so grateful Maurice Sendak wrote one more book,* the first book he both wrote and illustrated in thirty years, Bumble-Ardy, because it made us** all stop and think one more time about how great his work was while he was still living instead of waiting until he's dead and wishing we could hear just a little bit more, like we*** usually do with the people who've shaped our lives. And he has shaped mine. I wish I could tell you how much of my daily life is influenced by Maurice Sendak. Wait, why don't I:

-7am, I wake up, put the coffee on, and sink onto the couch for a few more minutes of stillness. Facing me on the shelf is a tiny little brown book---it's Chicken Soup with Rice, one of the Nutshell Library volumes. I read this book when I was little; I can still hear my mother's voice saying "sipping once, sipping twice, sipping chicken soup with rice," and I think it was one of the earliest books I learned to read on my own. Pierre... another Nutshell book. How distressing and disturbing that one was to me. So the kid was a brat--just for that he got eaten by a lion?! I was often a brat. I didn't want to get eaten by a lion, and here I will note that the book that most terrified me in childhood was Andy and the Lion, which used to send me out of the Wheaton Public Library sobbing, and I'll let you draw your own conclusions.

-9am, I arrive at work, and Sendak's work surrounds me: in the S's in picture books, also in the K's (Ruth Krauss), in the M's in easy readers (Else Holmlund Minarik's Little Bear series). When I worked at the Main Children's Room, I could not have counted the spots I would find him---folk tale collections, nonfiction, pop-ups; he was everywhere. 

-Tomorrow, 10:30am, I'll have four preschool classes in for storytime, and I will read them Where the Wild Things Are. Sorry Mr. Sendak if it bored you to talk about it, but this book has stunning resonance with children, and I have yet to meet a child who didn't love it. It was the first book I read aloud in Spanish, when I moved to California and did bilingual storytimes in Hayward. Now that I'm in East Oakland, I think often about how I wish it were true for everyone, every child who misbehaves, goes on a rampage even, that they will come home to find an adult has kept supper hot for them. Wasn't it just two nights ago another was slaughtered? Sunday, 12:05am.

-11am, I finished putting up a memorial display in my library. I point it out all day. No one recognizes the name, but when I say Where the Wild Things Are, their eyes widen, their mouths open slightly.

-3pm, the wild rumpus starts. The local kids arrive at my library, no parents in sight, to Max it up. My day is challenging from here on out; rule reminders, rule breaking, so-and-so's been perfect but has a low trigger point, whozits is a time bomb today, remember X Y and Z's father just died. Giggles just had a cousin shot; Snorts is off suspension for now. Some of these kids might not reach adulthood. That's a thought I can't let myself have too often.

I guess you don't have to grow up in a neighborhood where there's a murder a week to understand that childhood is hard, scary stuff. In one of Sendak's Fresh Air interviews (which I highly recommend) he comes right out and says that childhood is awful; you have no money, no power, no ability to escape from things that menace you in your daily life. It is so important to respect that in children. Kids have the quiet dignity of a prisoner, to me, it's what I always feel when I talk to them. If I say something sweetly, I can see their eyes call bullshit on me. If I say it in a normal voice and unhalting cadence, I have to endure their judgment, and I know they are honest judges. Whenever I sugarcoat something for a kid, I find it's for my protection, not theirs. 

Thank you, Maurice Sendak, for honoring the nobility of these little monsters, for acknowledging that life may eat us up and our parents may die and we may have to throw our own ninth birthday party, and it may be a nightmare--but god, it can still be okay, we can still get through it, if we have that hot supper on the other side. Even if the other side is very far away. Thank you, Maurice.


*Two, apparently; his NYT obituary mentions a February 2013 posthumous release.





I read WTWTA to the preschoolers yesterday. Mixed results. About half said they'd never seen it before. Of those, some were mesmerized with delight, and some looked terrified. Of the rest, about half were all squirmy and didn't pay attention. Talking, not keeping their hands to themselves!! I thought about delivering their first "you don't appreciate great art" lecture but nah.

Mock Newbery 2012

I am typing this at 8:18pm, Pacific time, on January 22, juuust over nine hours before this year's committee announces the winner of the 2012 Newbery Award, the prize given to the most distinguished book written for children that year!

I realize many of you are not as moronically excited about this as I am. That's okay. You and I are very different. But I love children's books, and I am a sucker for this last minute drama. By this time tomorrow, the 2012 Newbery winner will be slapped with a gold sticker and placed in a special spot on my library's shelves.* It's a book I'll recommend to parents for the rest of my career. Or not recommend, but one way or the other, I will hold an opinion about it. Newbery books get criticized for being boring or out of touch, but they become a part of the historical record of children's literature. Each one declares "you guys, the year I came out, I was the BEST." And it's at least kind of right.

Also, the Caldecott! Although I never get quite as excited about the Caldecott as I expect. A lot of the illustrators I really love were never Caldecott winners, or they won for a book I'm not really wild about. And the Caldecott committee considers overall design, type, etc. in their decision, so it's not *just* the illusration.

So! Last year I drew a comic about the Mock Newbery, the process by which a bunch of total kid lit geeks debate and choose their own Newbery winner, in mini committees all across the country. That first link is part one, and part two is here. That's about what we do leading up to the day of the Mock Newbery. Posted below for your enjoyment is a comic I did at this year's Mock Newbery, and this one is about the day of. Read all three for maximum enjoyment.

Also, you should read my director's blog about her 8am encounter with a Newbery committee member this morning. They'd chosen the winner by then, sometime in the wee small hours of the morning, and today like every Sunday before the award is announced they spent wearing their poker faces and trying not to slip. Which just makes it all so much more exciting.

Okay, the cafe I'm in is playing this stupid easy listening version of "Mrs. Robinson" which makes me think they are trying to close, so no more dilly dallying. Mock Newbery 2012! Enjoy!



*Unless we haven't bought it! which has happened before! ha ha

Hi, 2012

Why do I love Santa Cruz? Who knows. All I ever want to do there anyway is go to the Bookshop and maybe eat at the Saturn. I just like it.

My friend Phil sent me this link to a video interview with Maurice Sendak. I love it, too. It made me teary and it made me want to listen to his interview again with Terry Gross.

I'm closing my Etsy store. I don't want to sell things right now. I still have all the books, so if you want to read any just email me and I'll send you one. (amymartincomics at gmail.com) I'm also not going to any more comics shows. I just want to make stuff.

I just finished framing a bunch of Charley Harper postcards for my living room.

I love the feel of my little dog curled up next to my legs at night.

I want to go to Europe.

I really might never have children.

I love how paint moves.

I love Amelia Earhart.

I want a life in which books, art and writing for children, nice animals, revolutionary thoughts, and exciting ideas are all wound together.

I want that life this year.


Puppy love

Whew! 10:30's a late night for me to be working. But I was excited to get this one done, it's taken me a couple months. Good night!

Post Thanksgiving Happy Ending


Am I right?

Gotta say, it is nice to be doing this art stuff again. I should have another piece finished tonight- a two page story this time. Not bad for the middle of a nasty depression, eh?


The Last Eight Months In Five Minutes Or Less



Keen eyes may note: I have not updated this site since March 2011.  It is now November. So, what the heck has happened in the last eight months?!  Geez Amy, where ya been??!

Here's what's different:


    I just accidentally typed "I hate a dog," which is funny and apt. I do have a dog.  I had never had a dog, and had no intention of getting one, before March 17 2011. That is the day that my lovely friend Sharon found a five pound chihuahua in the weed lot behind her library and posted this picture on facebook:

    She was going to take him to Oakland Animal Control. Instead, I called up Oakland Animal Control and asked how they would feel about a concerned citizen fostering this found animal. They were like "YESYESYESYESYESYES, I mean, yeah, if you can, that'd be cool..."

    So that is how I got a dog. This is him now (play your favorite montage music in your head; I will choose Sarah McLachlan or Natalie Merchant):

    I do. This spring the library I work for was threatened with, essentially, complete shutdown. I jumped into the battle and put in double duty--full time work during the day, full time advocacy/activism at night. This is why no one heard anything from me basically from April through July. Unless they were following the budget battle.

    Anyway, the day after it all ended and we got our funding secured (yay!!), I found a fantastic apartment in Oakland. With studio space. And close enough to my work that I could walk the dog (see above) at lunchtime. So, immediately after the budget battle, I moved.  This is why no one heard from me from July through August.

    August through October, I was just being lazy.

    October through now, I've been working on this lil' thing.

    I love Oakland. It is my true heart and spirit home. Blah, blah, burning sage and other woo-woo stuff. I really love being here. I do not miss living in San Francisco one tiny bit. Surprising considering how much I freaked out over the prospect of not living there, while I still was. But I love the sun shining over Lake Merritt. I adore the friendly folks, the community spirit, and the Occupy activists who refuse to pass lily-livered, defeatist resolutions against property destruction. You guys rock.

    I also love the geese.
    You know what? I am super lucky. I have a job (thanks to aforementioned successful budget battle) that I really, truly love. I'm a children's librarian. I spend my days evaluating art and literature, and presenting them to critics who do not hold back in their judgements; the result of their critiquing is an art form so powerful, it makes grown ass adults burst into tears when they see an image from a book they loved decades before. I really love that this is my job.

    This puts me in the fortunate position of not, for the time being, needing to make money off my art. Therefore, I am rethinking my presentation of said art. Do I need to commodify the things I create? I mean, I might. I'm not saying I won't do things like sell pretty books or go to conventions again. Just that for now, I am not doing them. Not at this particular moment. I'm leaning toward things like... posting comics online, having shows, printing mini comics super cheaply. I want to get back to having fun with it and quit worrying about the marketing so much. I want to experiment with illustrating written text in addition to making comics and cartoons. There's a whole world out there.

    You know, one of THOSE people. I have a smart phone. Blugh!!

    And after railing against them for years, I totally love it. Go ahead. Make fun.

Make Some Noise, Pop

I don't go to a lot of shows.  I'm an old lady.  Most nights, I stay home carefully arranging my shoes in a perfectly straight line, so the toes stick out a precise 1/8th of an inch from underneath the bed... no, I kid.  There is nothing orderly about my shoes, and anyway I keep my clothes under my bed because my apartment is tiny and so's my closet.  But it's true that I don't go to a lot of shows.  This is the face I am currently staying home to most nights:

However!  When James Sime of Isotope Comics invited me to contribute a piece to Noise Pop 2011 in Comics, I was like yeah!!  How fun.  My assignment was to interview Social Studies, a San Francisco band that is quickly becoming everybody's darlings.  They're big in the local music scene, and they just made a hell of a splash at SXSW.  I? had never heard of them.  (See above: "I don't go to a lot of shows.")  But I got to know them... I spent some time listening to their music and watching their videos, and then I had the pleasure of seeing them perform live before I met them in person.  Imagine my delight at being alone in a crowd at dark old Bottom of the Hill, clutching my whiskey, knowing that in less than an hour I was going to sit these cutely dressed people currently tuning up guitars and plugging in amps down and ask them two very personal questions:

1) Please tell me a story from when you were seven.  (If you don't know for sure that you were seven [when it happened], you may guess.)

2) Now imagine you, the adult you, could be dropped into this story, so that you are present with your seven-year-old self as they experience it.  What would you do?

They did not disappoint.  The responses started out silly, traveled through poignant, and ended with a conversation with a stranger that had me blinking back tears.  Please enjoy my illustrated account of the time I spent with Social Studies.  And then go enjoy their music....

You can see all the Noise Pop 2011 Comics, including pieces by Susie Cagle, Roman Muradov, Greg Hinkle, and Jamaica Dyer, right here.  Be sure to visit my piece on their site while you're at it.  I'm proud and honored to be a part of this brand new project and hope it continues year after year.







Buy original art, support 826 Valencia!

So it turns out I have a philanthropic side.

I'm participating in 826 Valencia's Spelling Bee for Cheaters, to be held this Thursday, Feb. 17, at the Herbst Theater in San Francisco.  I'm not the designated speller, but I am on a team... and it happens to be the hottest team in the history of the Bee.  And that's because we are (almost) all librarians!!  And hey, doesn't that lady in our logo look familiar?!


We DO get to cheat---a lot, thanks to the fact that we've raised more than $12,500---but our competition is fierce.  Along with several other civilian teams, we face the following formidable opponents:
Adam Savage
Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket)
Lisa Brown
Michael Chabon
Tracy Chapman
Thao Nguyen
Joy Loya, famous bank robber
The editors of 7x7 Magazine

So, what does this mean for YOU? Because it's all about YOU, isn't it?  Right?

Well!  I have made a series of cheating librarian paintings, and you could own one!  How, you ask?  Donate $100 to my fund before noon (Pacific time) on Thursday, and one is yours!  Check out the paintings below. 

As each sells, I'll update here.  Email me if there's a specific one you have your eye on and I can hold it while you can your donation in. 

This is your chance to own original art (for a steal, I might add) and support an awesome arts organization at the same time. 

Oh, and wish us luck in the Bee!!  It'll be broadcast on City Arts and Lectures (on NPR) in April.



Paintings are all gouache:




SOLD     SOLD        SOLD          SOLD           SOLD