Sunday, November 15, 2015


Photo: John Beaman

Sunday November 8 was the second day of the Comic Arts Brooklyn festival. Day one was the marketplace and day two was panel day. Karen Green was invited to curate day two by Desert Island Comics' Gabe Fowler, producer and chief of the whole event. Karen, in turn, invited me to moderate a panel called "Bodies."

What a dream job! The artists were Andrea Tsurumi, Jennifer Hayden, and Michael DeForge, three unique artists who incorporate themes of physicality and the body into their comics in distinctive ways and with distinctively separate visual and narrative styles.

Research was a dream!* There was too much to talk about. To get as much in as possible I decided to divide a PowerPoint slideshow into body-themed categories that all three artists share. There were plenty!

Here's the (shared) list with only a few of many example images...

Michael DeForge describes "Spotting Deer" in a style reminiscent of the
Naturalists and their diaries and anatomical tomes.

If you think this is Sexy, you should see what can be done with the other days of 2014!

Young Jennifer Hayden fantasizes about the breasts that would transform
her and her life, if she only had them. In The Story of My Tits.

A young Peter Parker's dream of witnessing his Aunt and Dr. Octopus having sex.
A head 1/3 the size of his body infantalizes Parker and the wrinkles 
and sweat on the bodies of the Aunt and the Dr. age them. 

Andrea Tsurumi really knows how to "render" fat in the elderly!

Jennifer Hayden and her husband look at prosthetic breasts to 
determine what size her post-mastectomy new breasts will be.

We made it through a discussion of the shared BODY themes, but to be honest, I was so excited to be sitting on stage with these three, that I'm not going to try and paraphrase what the artists said. I don't want to misrepresent them. If the video becomes available, I'll let you know. 

I also prepped three categories in which an individual artist was clearly the doyen. We had such a good conversation that we didn't make it this far. I thought I'd share these, and my perceptions of these artists' works in each...


In this way, I feel that Andrea's rendering of physicality is the most traditional of these three. She often represents the body in motion or stillness to communicate emotional narratives. Posture, movement, and expression bring humans and inanimate objects to exuberant, animated life in her work. In Andrea's worlds pastries go to war with gruesome results, and the Liberty Bell, sauerkraut, and rubbing alcohol get sexy!


When you read a review of Michael's work the term "body horror" will inevitably be used to describe the tone of his comics. Michael shares his awareness of the body through his anatomized drawings, attention to physical and structural minutia, and transmogrification of sex and body functions. But one (wo)man's horror is another (wo)man's delight. 


The Story Of My Tits is Jennifer's autobiography of her life in relationship to her breasts (and much more! But I'm focusing on the body, remember.) Aging, sexual maturation, and patient narratives are themes that many cartoonists use in graphic memoirs about their bodies. Jennifer combines these themes with her perceptions of the body as a vessel of life force and her rituals for celebrating the breasts she loses to cancer. Her story is very touching.

I'm simultaneously thrilled and bummed that we didn't to these topics during the panel, but on the other hand there just wasn't room for everything. Jennifer, Michael, and Andrea are not just talented artists, their smart AND articulate. Thanks to them and Karen for making this my BEST PANEL, EVER!

*To be read in the same lilting tone as an actress in "The Lady Eve" who says to Henry Fonda, "The fish was a poem!"

Wednesday, October 14, 2015


Yes, it's October and yes, July was ... in July, but look what I found in my sketchbook! Sketches (duh) from the July 16-18 Graphic Medicine Conference in Riverside California. There are a lot. In the interest of keeping things moving, I'm only showing a few pages.

 These two pages are from Jared Gardner's inspiring talk the night the conference opened. As with all of these sketches, some of the text is from the speaker and some is me riffing off the presentation. Don't let these pages fool you, Gardner is brilliant.
 I can't remember who was responsible for the presentations represented by these two pages, but you can see I admonish myself to read "Death, Disability, and the Super Hero" by Jose Alaniz and "Chronically Me: Flushing Out My Life And Times With IBS" by Joy Spencer, and more!
 Frank Ramos used Allie Brosh's Hyperbole and a Half to in his presentation about depression. Somehow I was inspired to draw a Wonder Woman costume on a hypodermic while listening to Dr. Stacy Leigh Pigg.
These two pages are from Justin Green-the-cartoonist-not-the-quarterback, one of the keynote speakers. He's a fascinating guy!

Friday, September 25, 2015


(Before you read this let me explain that I have been cooped up at home with a cold for four days and am phlegmy and stir-crazy.)

A couple months ago I took this photo in the restroom of one of my favorite restaurants. 

I am struck by the way in which graffiti of reproductive organs reduces them to their essential elements. In this case the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus. No cervix, no vagina. No parts directly involved in sexual intercourse, only those necessary for generating an ovum and housing it after fertilization. 

Why did the artist (named "Tooth" perhaps?) leave out the overtly sexual parts of female anatomy? I'm used to seeing simplistic penises, breasts, and labia scrawled on bathroom doors. But those are representations of the external, visible organs and tissues associated with sex. I never see graffitied prostates. What does this icon of (internal) reproduction stand for? Does a new generation of graffiti artists choose to imbue* pictographic female slang with new meaning?

Note the shading of the uterine wall. Another artist (I assume... Puzzy? is that a name or a misspelled label?) has added little red hearts and nestled a miniature uterus and tubing within the embrace of it's larger sister, who seems to be a lefty. It's kind of adorable. This little red icon of generation is like the Nike swoosh or the Stuyvesant Town fountain logo.

Nike's swoosh

Stuyvesant Town's fountain logo.
Local to the East Village and Gramercy areas of NYC.

Why does this uterine image haunt me? Probably because I don't know what it means. I assume it's a symbol of female empowerment. Its location in a restroom is degrading any kind of Womb-Power message, isn't it? It must mean something! The artist took time to include the finger-like fimbriae, for crying out loud.

"Tooth" and "Puzzy," who are you? Do I see you at the restaurant but not recognize you from your drawings?

*Yes I am using "imbue" from the French imbu - moistened, as a double entendre! And a tasteless joke!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


I just returned from a great weekend in Riverside California. What was I doing there? Attending the Graphic Medicine conference of course! And speaking about teaching anatomy and drawing on bodies. 

I've been thinking a lot about teaching anatomy to massage therapists, cartoonists, fitness professionals, dancers, illustrators, etc. and the similarities and differences in what these groups "need" to know about anatomy.

One area that I think all groups overlap is in the need for us to be able to relate anatomical information to our own bodies as well as the bodies we are assessing, massaging, drawing, painting, teaching, making do push-ups, taking out to dinner, and more. Drawing on your own body, drawing on other bodies, palpation (of self and others), movement, exercises targeting anatomy, and visualization can all facilitate the somatic application of data that will be used in the service of others and/or to pass the final exam.

Similarities in learning objectives for arts and health sciences.

In my experience, understanding that my body is just like everyone else's body, anatomically, helps me to appreciate other gender, health, age similarities and differences. Our anatomy makes us all a part of the same herd of skeletons, lungs, muscles, pancreases, and digestive tracts. Just thinking about the bus (on my commute to work) being full of a bunch of walking livers gives me a thrill (and will distract me from getting car-sick.)

I brought Crayola Washable Markers to my talk and a surprising number of people were brave enough to draw on their own forearms along with me. We traced the attachments of flexor digitorum superficialis and extensor digitorum. Glad I brought Handiwipes!

 Flexor digitorum superficialis.

Extensor digitorum

(Thumb extensor and abductor muscles not shown.)

Thursday, June 4, 2015



Yes, the rumor's are true! In addition to my self-care mini comic First Aid For Drawing Injuries, available now through Birdcage Bottom Books, I have another mini out: You Are A Donut. Premiering at the Grand Comics Festival this Saturday June 6. 

Are you in for a treat! (Not a donut - the mini comic!) You are a Donut compares you to a donut to reveal 2 cold, hard, facts about your digestive tract. That's it, just two. It's very short.

Come by my table on Saturday at the Grand Comics Festival. Pick up a copy of "First Aid" or "Donut" or both! Pet my taxidermied rabbit!

Thank you, Pat Dorian for the photo!

Sunday, May 3, 2015


You're a cartoonist. You take care of yourself to prevent drawing injuries, do your stretches, take regular breaks, draw with perfect posture, and what happens? You start to experience pain while you draw anyway. Another example of Bad Things happening to Good People. What do you do? Go to the doctor if it's serious, but if it's a minor injury go to your bookshelf and start reading First Aid For Drawing Injuries or, Pain is Your Frenemy!

Finally, the sequel to (NO)PAIN! Injury Prevention for Cartoonists is here! This little tome can be used to help you reduce discomfort until you can see a healthcare professional, or it can provide guidelines for the self-care of mild drawing injuries that don't require medical attention. Explore R.I.C.E. therapy from the perspective of the committed drawer, learn some tips for understanding your pain, avoid making your injury worse, and more!

The benefits and dangers of compression... revealed!
How do you get your mitts on this mini? Come to the Toronto Comic Arts Festival and their Word Balloon Academy May 8-10! 

Not in Toronto? Pick up a copy at Brooklyn's Grand Comics Festival June 6.

Not in Brooklyn? By the end of May you will be able to order a copy through Birdcage Bottom Books. More on that soon.

Monday, November 10, 2014


You've seen Pictorial Anatomy of the Cute. You've seen Pictorial Anatomy of 007. You've seen New Linea Alba, which is essentially a "Pictorial Anatomy of Kriota". Now you can commission your own customized Pictorial Anatomy Drawing!

Who had the honor of being the first to be immortalized in all their muscular glory? The adorable dog Pochi at Fantastic Comics, that's who!

Here's the photo I picked to work with from the Friends of Fantastic Comics Tumblr.

I made a series of sketches locating Pochi's skeleton through all that fur. Glad he had a haircut! Once I had the skeleton laid down I worked in the muscles to fit his bony frame. I had to keep a list of what was what and where.

Then I retraced the line work, colored, and voila!

Pochi approves!

Zoey is jealous.

Want to give that special someone a gift they'll never forget? Say "I love you" or "Happy Vesalius's Birthday" with an anatomized portrait! I love doing commissions. You can message me on Facebook or Kriota (at) earthlink (dot) net.