Berkeley Book Launch at Maybeck High School!

It was such a wonderful experience to return to my alma mater (class of 1979 and also where I started my teaching career at 19!) to read from my new book, By the Forces of Gravity. A total joy to see so many familiar faces, and meet new ones! Many thanks to Maybeck High School and Trevor Cralle (also class of 1979 and author of The Surfinary (awesome book and home to my first-ever published cartoon, the Valley Sheep)) for co-hosting the event with my publisher, Books by Hippocampus! Donna Talarico, a million thanks to you! Thanks to everyone who came out on a full moon evening in Berkeley to celebrate the book! Here are a few images from the event.

Reading in the Fireside Room at Maybeck High School (still renting rooms in a church, but way more swanky than when I went to school there)

 

best math teacher I ever had 🙂

Cartooning the Landscape author and my cartooning mentor, Chip Sullivan

UC Divers representing fish love (note, there is nothing about SCUBA diving in By the Forces of Gravity. That came later in my life)

author, publisher, book and school mascot

Booksplaining something to my dad and step-mom. They’re super sharp so it probably didn’t need to be said, but I was pretty excited.

I made a ginormous painting/collage/book timeline/artifact museum exhibit for the book launches.

Maybeck community members (note the overlap of UC Divers and Maybeckians. Maybeck encouraged exploration, of the mind and the world, so of course it spawned a love of SCUBA)

Co-author of Illustrated History of Landscape Design, Elizabeth Boults contributing to the memory canvas I made to allow people to share memories of loves in their life no longer with them.

me reading and trying to remember to advance the images as I read, so people could enjoy the cartoons.

Launch Afterglow

The Phoenix launch at The Hive, co-hosted by Wasted Ink Zine Distro and Books by Hippocampus (my publisher) was such a delight. Here are a few pictures from the event.

cake donna had made, isn’t it amazing!

reading in the gallery at The Hive. I made the 30′-long hybrid art hanging on the wall the week before the event, a great distraction from freaking out about the book coming out 🙂

all the lovely folks that joined me in celebrating By the Forces of Gravity

On June 19, By the Forces of Gravity’s official birthday, I went to my favorite indie bookstore, Changing Hands, in Tempe and here is me and the book hanging out together. I’ll be doing a reading there in September (when it cools down and ASU is back in session). I’ll post the details soon!

me, kafka and princess leia hanging with By the Forces of Gravity

Love and gratitude to all the lovely people who came to the launch and/or have been sending me pictures of the book when it arrives in the mail. It makes me so happy!

Prepare to Launch!

It feels magically real that tomorrow boxes of books will arrive in the mail, then on Saturday people will gather at The Hive (yay Wasted Ink Zine Distro and Charissa Lucille for co-hosting with my publisher Books by Hippocampus and the amazing Donna Talarico-Beerman!)  to help me celebrate the book release, then on the 19th By the Forces of Gravity will land on shelves and in mailboxes, and then (what another and then!) I’ll head to Berkeley for another launch celebration at Maybeck High School (where I went in the 1970s, some of which is featured in the book). Thanks Trevor Cralle for helping make the Maybeck event happen! Pineapples forever! Here are the fliers I made for the events. Now I need to go paint. Peace, love and gravity!

I also made Facebook event info pages for each of these events:

Phoenix Book Launch at The Hive

Berkeley Book Launch at Maybeck High School

Book Launch Events in Phoenix and Berkeley!

A few days ago By the Forces of Gravity went to the printer! It’s such an amazing feeling to know this story will be out there in the universe of books. I’m super excited as well that there’ll be launch events at two places that are so dear to me and have been instrumental in the development of my creative life: Wasted Ink Zine Distro in Phoenix and Maybeck High School in Berkeley.

I can say without any doubt that Maybeck saved my life. If I hadn’t gone to Maybeck High School way back in 1975, I wouldn’t be blogging about anything right now, because I would not have lived to be pushing sixty had I stayed on the path I was on. Also, being able to start my teaching career at Maybeck when I was just 19 years old, gave me the push into adulthood I needed (though being a grownup really didn’t stick for another decade or two).

Wasted Ink Zine Distro introduced me to the awesome world of zines and I am forever grateful to be a part of this community of people who love making things with paper as much as I do. I started Plankton Press, inspired by the DIY spirit of WIZD.

Below are the links to the Facebook event pages for both launches. I hope to see you there! My publisher, Books by Hippocampus, will have limited edition signed prints of this sketch I did for the first 25 people who come to the event. We also have pencils! (see images below)

If you can’t make it, check out Maybeck High School and Wasted Ink Zine Distro anyhow. They’re both doing awesome work for young minds and are always looking for support!

Phoenix Book Launch at WIZD

Berkeley Book Launch at Maybeck HS

from my sketches in By the Forces of Gravity

Why I Love Pencils

I’m taking an online writing workshop with Jenny Forrester through the Literary Kitchen and each week she gives us a seven-minute free-write warm-up exercise. This week we were to think about what/where comforts us. I wrote this and want to share it. For the love of pencils, but also to acknowledge that life makes you who you are while you’re busy dreaming about going elsewhere to become someone else, so you might as well love the result.

I go into my sketchbook for comfort, through my pencil, making lines. I draw when I’m tense or fretting. I draw outside, inside, in meetings, on the train, in other people’s talks about so many things. When I was a child, I mostly drew elephants, sometimes lions. I imagined Africa as the most wonderful place in the world to go while I doodled the big animals I’d seen on television. Born Free was my favorite movie then.

I’ve never been to Africa.

In high school, I drew in my binder, on the edges of my homework. I loved math the most, probably because I got to draw a lot of triangles and parabolas, curves arcing off of circles, cylinders and cones. I loved lines and would fill pages with them. Escher was my favorite artist then. And Georgia O’Keefe. And Maurice Sendak. Fantasia was my favorite movie and I thought I might grow up to be an animator, working for Disney like my great uncle Ernie who was the art director for the film’s “Dance of the Hours.”

I’ve never worked for Disney.

This could go on and on. All the ways I imagine my life going. Me and my pencil. Then I go another way. I used to feel bad about all the forks in my roads, but now I just feel too old to fuss about what I might become someday. Today I get to go on a walking workshop with an amazing sketcher who is so generous with her craft. Her sketchbook will fill up with awesome watercolors.

I’ll never be Virginia Hein.

But I don’t care. I’ll keep in mind my favorite Oscar Wilde quote: “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.” I won’t even care that professorbuzzkill.com claims Wilde never said this wise thing.

Peace out 🙂

While I have many other pencils, the Dixon Ticonderoga #2 Black is my favorite and is also the pencil I used to do all 200+ drawings in By the Forces of Gravity (out in June! Woot Woot!)

Whirlwind in Florida at AWP18

My brain has just begun to settle from all the excitement at AWP18. Though as I sit down to write about it, my mind starts ping-ponging around. Tell them about reading your book ARC in public for the first time! No, the comics panel! Oh, all the people at the Hippocampus table! The pencils! All the beautiful print publications! Posing with Oscar Wilde!

Wilde: “It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors.”
Me: Cool, want a pencil?
Wilde: “Writing bores me so.”
Me: You can draw with it
Wilde: “All art is quite useless.”
Me: People kiss your tombstone all the time, with bright red lips.
Wilde: “I have nothing to declare except my genius.”
Me: Sweet, bye 🙂

Signing Prints! Unboxing the ARC! The moon lamp! All the awesome writers and drawers! Bianca Stone! Tom Hart! Alexander Rothman of Ink Brick! Chelsey Clammer! I won her knit hat! Donna Talarico being her amazing kind self! Kevin Beerman in a dinosaur costume! Believing I won $1,000 from The Pinch and then getting a free issue instead and reading a lovely essay in it by Olivia Dunn about driving through prairie grass in Iowa! MotionPoems!

Then I have to think about seeing a manatee breathe. The slow patience in the wait for it to surface, just a nose up for air. Then down again. Then the wait. Ah, a breath.

I think about cedar tree knees. Lettuce Lakes. Great egrets snatching up fingerlings in a swamp. Orchids. And the trees.

peace out 🙂

p.s. you can still get my signed prints with pre-orders of my book, By the Forces of Gravity, through Books by Hippocampus!

 

Patched Pants

I thought readers might like a peek at the real patched pants that I based my outfit on in By the Forces of Gravity (pre-sales start March 7!). I didn’t have any money for clothes, but my step-great-grandmother had taught me to sew when I was about five-years-old (during her sermons on sin, I would stitch lavender satchels for her undergarment drawers), so I kept my one pair of pants alive by blanketing them with patches. I would trade patches for sewing favors, swipe patches off of jackets at stores and people gave them to me because they liked my pants.

I wore these pants for years (tweens and teens). They became my voice and my armor. And so when I was picking out clothes for cartoon-me, I only considered the patched pants. And then had to choose a shirt to go with them, the peace-sign shirt I found in the free-box of my imagination. My old button-up cowboy shirt was just too hard to draw over and over again and didn’t hit the spirit of the times as well as my imaginary peace-sign shirt. The cartoon patched pants change with every panel, which I thought was an okay way to indicate the evolving nature of these pants.

Anyhow, I hope you enjoy this picture of my patched pants.

my patched pants, front view

Love Is…

from my sketches in By the Forces of Gravity

Today I’m thinking about love
Luna would be turning 57 today
I’m thinking about how true all the things
She taught me have been
How love can’t be contained
That any attempt to hold it in place
Is met by loss
I’m a slow learner when it comes to love
It may be an infinite set of times I’ve tried
To hang onto love
Only to feel it evaporate in my hands
The great thing about infinite sets
Is there are an infinite number of them
So I’m also working on expanding
My set of all the times I got love
By not trying to get it and keep it

Book Cover Reveal

So excited to share the beautiful book cover for By the Forces of Gravity, my memoir that will release through Books by Hippocampus on June 19 2018! The memoir is a hybrid form of cartoons and free verse. It includes 200 of my pencil drawings (like the figures on the cover). I’ll keep everyone posted when preorders start up.

By the Forces of Gravity Book Cover

Book Under Contract!

My book, By the Forces of Gravity, is being published through Books by Hippocampus! The signed contract finally made it through snail mail to the press in Lancaster, Pennsylvania (where I’ll be in September to talk about drawing out words at HippoCamp 2017, a creative nonfiction writers conference).

From the Books by Hippocampus press release:

“Rebecca Fish Ewan’s illustrated coming-of-age memoir By the Forces of Gravity is told through drawings and free verse. Set in early-1970s Berkeley, California, Rebecca’s story reflects on a childhood friendship cut short by tragedy. In an era of laissez-faire parenting, Rebecca drops out of elementary school and takes up residence in a kids commune—no parents allowed!—and we follow her, bestie Luna, and their hippie cohorts as they search for love, acceptance, and cosmic truths. Full of adventure and heartache, By the Forces of Gravity promises to pull you in.”

Link to the full press release on the Hippocampus website

I drew cartoon-me right after I signed the contract. Still not sure why I fixated on my imaginary outfit when all I was thinking was: “I just signed a book contract!” On the right is serious-author-me at the Desert Botanical Gardens, taken by my friend Charissa.

book contract day

rebecca fish ewan

photograph by Charissa Lucille

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s been such a long journey to get to this point and I’m grateful to everyone who encouraged me and gave me input as the book evolved. I’ll post pre-order and release info as soon as it’s set.