26 November 2011

Last stop: Rochester!

Heya, upstate NY! Shake off that tryptophan-induced food coma and help me celebrate the conclusion of VIETNAMERICA's first year of publication this Wednesday at the Mercer Gallery!

15 November 2011

"WTF?!OMG!!! and upcoming events" update:

Just informed that VIETNAMERICA won the gold medal in this year's Society of Illustrators competition's sequential category! Un-freakin'-believable!

I will be taking my "stunned speechless" look on the road with several terrific November events, the first being at the...

I'll be giving an author talk this Thursday 17th at the University of Illinois at Chicago. It's free and open to the public, so if you're interested all the deets can be found here.

Then on Friday and Saturday, I'll be participating at the National Council of Teachers of English annual convention:

Friday, 11 am- 12:15 pm: NARRATING LIVES: THE POWER AND POSSIBILITIES OF GRAPHIC LITERATURE with Sid Jacobson, Josh Neufeld, and GB Tran.

Saturday, 2:45 - 4:00 pm: IMMIGRANT LITERATURE FOR THE CLASSROOM with Aleksandr Hemon, Bich Minh Nguyen, GB Tran, and Loung Ung

Outside of these two panels, I'll be loitering at the Random House booth to chat with teachers and attendees and doodling in books until my publisher's Academic Department kicks me out. I'm hoping to have time to partake in other local attractions like Quimby's Bookstore, deep dish pizza, and sleeping on my friend's floor of his under-construction bike shop: Heritage Bicycles.

After the craziness of Thanksgiving passes, I'll be in Rochester November 28-30 for a three day residency at Monroe Community College which includes a workshop, author talk, and the opening reception for a VIETNAMERICA exhibit at the Mercer Gallery. This will be my final event for 2011, and a phenomenal conclusion to the book's first year of publication. That is, getting to show the story in a new context... with free booze and hors d'oeuvres! (Final details forthcoming in the next blog post...)

And despite the deluge of all the great new Fall books, huge gratitude to people still giving my little labor of love, sweat, and tears notice: thanks to Publishers Weekly for including it on their shortlist of Comics and Graphic Novels as Gifts 2011, a great review by Nawaaz Ahmen over at Hyphen, and shout out from Colorlines.

In non-VIETNAMERICA news: I'm illustratin' my ass off, and lovin' every second of it. Example: sketches for a series of textbook illustrations...

22 October 2011

Highlights from the week = Highlights for my life

I'm definitely not worthy of this company; spotted by friend (and great cartoonist) Andres Vera Martinez at NYCC:

And my wife and I are having a girl!

12 October 2011

Con-mageddon: NYC style

For the next four days, I'll be parked at New York Comic Con's Artist Alley soaking in the glory of VIETNAMERICA's final 2012 con/fest/show. So if you have a sherpa, oxygen mask, and high tolerance for costumed crowds, trek over to table R6 and say hi:

I apologize now if I seem a bit rattled at the show. Suddenly throwing myself into a comics and popculture thunder dome with 100,000 other fans is a huge contrast to how I spent the previous week in Arizona where this was my office:

And here's the final version of that illustration from the last post. It's for OC Weekly's "BEST OF..." issue, out this week, in which each section was paired with a video game theme. I had a blast channeling my long dormant inner gamer doing the nightlife section with some vintage NES action. (Full disclosure: my roots are with Sega)

24 September 2011

Two fantastic events this upcoming week:

First, I'll be flying down to Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina for a whirlwind three-day VIETNAMERICA residency! It includes class visits, a salon for Davidson College Friends of the Arts, and a free and open to the public talk on Tuesday 27th. I'm honored and excited for this amazing opportunity so if you're in the hood, please considering joining us—all the relevant deets here. I haven't been back to the Carolina's since leaving in 1988, so I'm incredibly grateful to be returning to my roots with VIETNAMERICA, figuratively and literally!

Second, on Wednesday 28th I'll be at Brooklyn's Greenlight Bookstore for a discussion with NY Times bestselling author Monique Truong to celebrate her paperback release of BITTER IN THE MOUTH. Since I'll have just returned from her home state North Carolina—also where her novel is set—my questions will be extra heavy on the gravy and deep fried goodness. If you'd like to meet an amazing author who was raised Vietnamese in the south and honed in Brooklyn (referring to Monique, not myself), c'mon out and join the party. It'll be her only local appearance before kicking off her Left Coast tour, and as an extra bonus: she's baking cookies!

And when I get back, I'll post the finished version of this sucker:

14 September 2011

Bringing comics to the masses!

This Sunday is the Brooklyn Book Festival, a wonderful celebration of literature in the heart of my hood, free to the public, and in which comics play a big role:

"This year, comic-book creators will be featured throughout the Festival in a unique programming design. Artists will join novelists and journalists on diverse panels, respecting comics as an innovative medium across genres, sparking dialogue, and reaching audience members new to the form. Plus a special band of comics-centered panels on the St. Francis indoor stage will include screen projections. These events will be must-see for the comics community. Although we know comics aren’t just for kids, they won’t be left out, either. On the Youth Stoop, artists will battle in a draw-off, and young adults can participate in a workshop to develop their own strips."

I'll be part of the 4 pm "Drawing From Life" panel with Lauren Redniss and Dean Haspiel, moderated by Hillary Chute. It's in the St. Francis Screening Room so c'mon by!

Tuesday night I'll be on the "Beyond the Funny Pages: Comics, Culture and Communication" panel at NYU's A/P/A Institute. It marks the opening of the "Marvels & Monsters" exhibit and celebrates the beginning of the prolific Larry Hama's artist residency.

Other panelists include Christine Norrie, Greg Pak, Tak Toyoshima, and Jeff Yang. This is gonna be an awesome night so RSVP to join the fun. (Everyone gets in regardless of RSVP'ing, but it helps them plan logistics if you do)

Literally the next morning after my previous post, this arrived in the mail:

And while I was immersed in all-things comics last weekend, this VIETNAMERICA piece ran on The Washington Post! Thanks to Winyan Soo Hoo for transforming an earlier interview into a great spotlight. After a relatively calm August, the book is ramping up again so more great events to announce in the next post. But for now, back to work...

08 September 2011

SPX-cited? Yes, very much so.

Calling all comics and art aficionados: one of my most favorite shows of the entire year is this weekend in Bethesda, Maryland: Small Press Expo!

I'm super psyched to be exhibiting with VIETNAMERICA so come on by table F8. Judging by the small amount remaining, this will be the penultimate show where the special edition poster comic/book jacket (that I've been giving away free all year with each copy sold) will be available:

Even more exciting, I'll be on a panel with the amazing Jessica Abel, Sarah Glidden, and Marguerite Dabaie called "Stories of Cultural Identity" on Saturday, 3:30-4:30.

In big international news, yesterday marked the release of VIETNAMERICA's French edition from STEINKIS:

I'm very anxious to see how they solved sections/aspects of the book that might be a bit problematic in translation. According to my publisher, it's received some nice early press and reviews... parlez-vous Francais, anyone?

As for recent praise for the book in a language I do understand, ginormous thanks to KIRKUS REVIEW'S Clayton Moore for selecting it as one of the "12 Can't-Miss Graphic Novels of 2011." And over at YALSA, Marie Penny nominates it for their Alex Award:

"Vietnamerica is no ordinary graphic novel, GB Tran transcends the genre with his storytelling and stellar artistry... It is both heartbreaking and illuminating."

YALSA has also included it in their Reader's Choice nominations for nonfiction. I'm honored for both these recognitions, and would be extremely grateful to any and everyone eligible to vote to please do so!

Last, but certainly not least, I'd like to take a break from all-things VIETNAMERICA to bring attention to the Catalyst Foundation. I recently learned of their tireless work when they invited me to participate in their annual summer Culture Camp. Their current project is building a safe house for adolescent Vietnamese girls who escape lives of forced prostitution, but who can't return home because their parents are the ones who sold them to the brothels in the first place. Catalyst's co-founder and executive director Caroline Nguyen Ticarro-Parker is an inspiring mix of hope, tenderness, and no-nonsense determination, so if you can spare the click of a button, please "like" their Facebook page.

23 August 2011

Staying put in Brooklyn all of August...

... means accomplishing a lot of work—professional and personal—which I hope to announce/share sooner rather than later. Until then:

27 July 2011

Fresh off the high of Comic-Con...

... it's back on the road for me and VIETNAMERICA for a jam packed 48 hours. First, I'll be leading a workshop this Friday at the Union of North American Vietnamese Student Association conference in Denver. It's part of their Identity Compass track, and I'm honored to have been invited to participate in this annual event. Unfortunately, it's only open to conference attendees, but later that evening the fine folks at I Want More Comics will be hosting me for a public book signing from 6-8 pm. And then on Saturday, there's this:

This event with cartoonist Noah Van Sciver is organized by my good pal Charlie LaGreca to raise funds for Comic Book Classroom's literacy program. He's pouring his heart and soul into expanding and promoting Denver's comics community so if you're local, c'mon out!

17 July 2011

What do the awesome Adrian Tomine, Jessica Abel, Dave Choe, and myself all have in common?

Many moons ago, we were recipients of a grant for comic book self-publishers from the Xeric Foundation.

2012 will celebrate its 20th anniversary of financially helping young cartoonists learn the in's and out's of self publishing—letting us jump into the deep end to learn how to swim without the danger of drowning. Sadly, 2012 will also mark its final grant cycle. Their amazing support when I took my first baby steps down the comics path ultimately led to VIETNAMERICA, so there are not enough words to express my profound gratitude to the organization and its founder Peter Laird. Yes, THAT Peter Laird!

On a happier note, I'll be exhibiting this week at SDCC! As it has been since the dawn of time, I'll be sharing a table with pal Joanna Mulder in Small Press K-12:

SDCC marks six months since VIETNAMERICA's release, so it feels extra special to finally be bringing my newest book to my oldest show. Anyone need a 4-day attendee badge, including Previews night? Hit me up before Wednesday. Hope everyone's enjoying their summer—it's sunny out there so remember to wear a...

(Finished illo of the sketch snippet from the last post. For a textbook gig.)

08 July 2011

Kings County artists represent!

Big, awesome, phenomenal news: I've been awarded a 2011 New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship in the nonfiction literature category! Additionally, among the 16 nonfiction recipients, I was selected for the Gregory Millard Fellow. Awardees were informed a couple weeks ago, but I'm still stunned by this incredible honor and recognition for VIETNAMERICA. NYFA's official press release went live yesterday.

That's the big development from the last few weeks, which have otherwise been filled with eclectic illustration projects. None of which I can share yet, but here's a sorta thematic in-progress collage of tiny snippets from each one:

After a quiet month for promoting the book, things are ramping up again: I just participated in Random House's amazing Author Event for NYC Educators where I got to meet teachers, librarians, principles, and students advocating for more graphic novels in the classroom; this weekend I'm leading several workshops at the Catalyst Foundation's Culture Camp; SDCC's right around the corner; and book stuff in Denver soon after.

July marks six months since VIETNAMERICA hit the shelves, and it's been a wonderful, unpredictable ride so far. Expressing my gratitude to everyone for their book coverage and support keeps flip flopping between twitter and here, so here's a roundup of recent press:

27 June 2011

To every NYC high school teacher...

... who won't already be on a tropical beach recovering from their latest school year, this Thursday is Random House's 3rd Annual Author Event for NYC Educators! I'm honored to be one of four presenting authors—and the only cartoonist—given this amazing opportunity to speak directly with you about VIETNAMERICA, and its classroom possibilities. The other authors (and I'm shaking with nervousness as I type this) will be Neal Bascomb, Monique Truong, and John Prendergast.

This is the second RH high school event I've participated in since my last post, with the first being the graphic novel presenter for their Creative Writing Competition's award ceremony. This is an annual competition for NYC seniors with the three awardees in poetry/spoken word, fiction/drama, personal essay/memoir, and graphic novel receiving $2500, $5000, and $10,000. It's a wonderful program to help support young creatives, and I encourage every local soon-to-be senior that enjoys writing to participate next year!

In the latest VIETNAMERICA news, Amazon's selected it as one of its top Summer Reading for Adults—only one of two comics/graphic novels to make the list! That's an awesome boost as it hits the road again in July. First stop in a couple weeks will be workshops at the Catalyst Foundation's Culture Camp in upstate New York.

And now some recent figure drawings to fulfill the visual component of this post...

05 June 2011

Going's on

Seems the freezing, rainy embrace of winter just transitioned straight into the sweltering, wet blanket summer in lovely Brooklyn so I'll just stay inside and keep working. Here're roughs for a 28-page collaborative comic that I'm doing full color art for:

It's for the government, so I'd tell you more about it but then I'd have to kill you. Also screened the first batch of those Mudhra tees from a while back:

Currently available at Manhattan's Kula Yoga. Any retailers interested in carrying, please feel free to gimme a shout.

Lastly, thanks to Laurie Gaughran of Humanities Prep for having me in for an artist visit with her ethics classes last week! It was quite eye-opening to spend a couple hours with such intelligent and thoughtful students, and has helped inspire me to put together a lesson plan for VIETNAMERICA just in time for Random House's upcoming NYC Educators Event of which I'll be one of the four featured authors.

25 May 2011

Welcoming Spring

Here's an album package I recently finished. What's shown is the front and back sides of the disc sleeve unfolded as a single image. I also supplied interior art, and will post those after it hits store shelves.

I'm a sucker for playing with floral patterns. It's extremely meditative and spontaneous compared to my more refined, process-driven approach to other illustrations and comics.

17 May 2011

Travel notes

This Saturday evening, I'll be hanging out and signing books at Philadelphia's Locust Moon Comics from 6-9. The co-owner Chris Stevens and I collaborated on a short comic many moons ago, so I'm looking forward to our mini reunion. All you locals c'mon out for some comics and booze!

Over the past several weeks, I've been traveling and exhibiting at a lot of comic festivals trying to get the word out on VIETNAMERICA. It's been an amazing time, but poorly documented because I basically didn't have a camera when anything interesting happened (yet another case to be made for coming out of my technology cave and upgrading to a smart phone?). Thankfully, other people had cameras so here're some random pics...

Portland, when not raining, is absolutely beautiful... even to a jaded, callous city boy like myself.

During Stumptown, I finally got to meet in person Thi Bui, a fellow Vietnamese cartoonist also chronicling her family's refugee experience with comics. No feelings of competition and intense rivalry there; not... one... bit. An interview we did a while back just posted at HYPHEN, and check out the current issue for our little collaborative comic! (True comic nerds might recognize the Ignatz Awards which serve as great bludgeoning weapons. Unfortunately, neither of us can claim any of the prestigious comic trophies in this pic—they all belong to Craig Thompson)

Some sketchbook pages from the road...

My awesome hosts for TCAF were my cousin John, a musician and producer, and his wife Lillian, an animator. Workaholics, both of them!

Cintiq envy:

For pics of all the TCAF exhibitors, check out Jamie Coville's archive. He also recorded a few panels, including the one I participated on—Telling True Stories—which you can listen to here.

With freelance apparel graphics, you never know if your anonymous commercial work ever actually makes it into stores so it's always fun to see one of your designs in the wild on a stranger:

My final dinner in Toronto (animator cousin included free with meal):

And on one of the few days I actually spent at home, Spring finally arrived in the form of the Brooklyn Botanical Garden's Cherry Blossom Festival: