Podcast Appreciation, 1

This is the first in a short series of posts about some favourite podcasts I’ve been listening to over the last year and a half or so.

This episode I’ll mention Comics Alternative, Saturday Review and Desi Geek Girls.

But first, why am I doing this? The final six months of work on the book was a very intense period of effort. That’s actually an understatement. There has been no comparable period of work in my life in terms of the necessary discipline, delicious intensity, steep learning curve, and so much more that is needed to do about 200 pages of the remaining final art needed to complete the (248 page) book. (While still doing my professoring gig and being a new dad.) I absolutely loved it – such challenges are just a delight to me.

I listened to music a lot, and discovered a lot of old parts of my music listening habits, which was fun (I’d have days where I’d listen to (and sing along to) all of Kate Bush’s albums in order, then maybe same for Sting, or Lee Morgan…. or scream along to Jeff Wayne’s awesome “War of the Worlds” Rock musical.) But then I got to a certain point in my workflow where I wanted voices, and I reached for radio, and podcast.

Since I was a child, listening to spoken word radio has been a core part of Click to continue reading this post

In Flight…

Over on Instagram – follow me there @asymptotia for lots of activity – I showed a couple of montages of sketches I did on the flight out to New Orleans and on the return portion. It is a bit of practice I like to do, which I have not done in a long time. It is part of the practice I did a lot when I was gearing up to do final drawing on the book:

Click to continue reading this post

Lasers and Gravitational Waves

Today’s Nobel Prize in physics has an interesting wrinkle to it. I summarised it in the extract above from a certain forthcoming book*. Click for a larger view. Congratulations to the winners Rainer Weiss, Barry C Barish and Kip S Thorne! There are some excellent descriptions (either for layperson level or more technical level) of the physics and its history at the Nobel Prize site here.


*(Pre-order a copy while they’re hot!)

At the drawing desk

Just for a while there it felt good and simple to be sitting at the drawing desk again, pencil on paper… but the moment passed all too quickly and I had to get back to a million things. (Was taking some photos of myself at work for a news piece…) #thedialoguesbook #sketching #drawing #comics #graphicnovel


At the podium…

This is from just after I gave the opening welcome address at the first Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities ( #LAIH ) luncheon of the new season. After talking amongst ourselves we had a great talk by Jeff Manaugh @bldgblog entitled “A Burglar’s Guide to Los Angeles”. Based on his book of a similar name. Architecture meets burglary – what a great topic!


Unexpected Throwback!

Wow, I’ve really got something good for Throwback Thursday! A large white envelope arrived in my mailbox*, addressed to me in handwriting. My first thought was that it was yet another sheaf of papers with someone’s very earnest “Theory of Everything”, helpfully sent along for me to discover that indeed the science world has “got it totally wrong”: the universe is in fact made of (fill in the blank – let’s say parmesan cheese?) which interacts via (hungry angels tethered together by fondue strands?) and so on and so forth, and all I have to do is “work out the math for me because it is not my strong point” and it’ll all work out… “you’re welcome”.

But no, it was not. I don’t open things like this without caution, for various reasons, and often I throw them away, but there was something strangely familiar about the writing and so I took it away to (maybe) open later.

Then it struck me. It was my handwriting! Huh? How could that be? Was I Click to continue reading this post

It’s Time for the County Fair!

It’s that time of year again. For me, County Fairs have a charmingly old-fashioned quality to them, and I love to visit what might be considered some of the more boring aspects – the various crafts on display (shelves of pots of jam, pies and cakes, and so forth, knitted and crocheted items, and so forth), and the old games (hitting things with hammers, etc.) And of course sampling a tiny bit of the the terrible (but tasty) foods you get to eat!

I have a story (told within another story) in my forthcoming book that takes place at a fair (that illustrates an interesting scientific idea – but not one you’d guess at all, I’ll bet), and two years ago I went location scouting at the LA County Fair to get reference material for some of the various drawings I did for Click to continue reading this post

Angel’s Flight Lives!

Today marks the day when, after a long closure, the lovely tiny railway called Angel’s Flight in downtown Los Angeles re-opens. There is a news piece here for example. It was a common feature of what some called the “Asymptotia Tour”, meaning that back in the day, readers of this blog who visited LA and happened to meet me might well be shown this hidden gem of the city. Well, all those years ago (before it closed) I ended up capturing it (or a version of it) on the page as part of the setting for one of my dialogues in my forthcoming book, The Dialogues: Conversations about the Nature of the Universe (MIT Press, 2017). The images above show some fragments of two pages in the book, featuring the railway.

In Spring 2010, I took a sabbatical semester and decided to spend most of it in hiding (in some cities in Europe), telling nobody what I was doing and focusing on answering the question – “Can I write and draw this graphic book myself?”, and I began to study the whole business of art and sequential narrative art rather closely, learning how people actually go about making comics, and teaching myself to draw at the consistent level that you need to in order to produce a whole book of stories. I emerged from hiding with an affirmative answer, and then I began to draw in earnest. These pages with Angel’s Flight are two of my earliest pages for the 250 page graphic book.

I think I did them in mid-late late 2010 and into 2011, when I was still figuring out lots of things about drawing for a graphic novel. They took forever because I was experimenting with so many techniques and workflows at the same time. So they are a hybrid of working with pencils on real paper, digital inks and colour (vector art on a computer that couldn’t handle it well – ugh), working from reference photos I took, making up bits out of whole cloth in different kinds of perspective, way too much old-school cross-hatching (I’ve removed a lot since then), and so forth.

I love setting myself a challenge, getting myself to step out of my comfort zone, and this was one of the grandest I’ve ever faced. Many thousands of drawings later, I’ve a whole book to show for it. By the way, I’d be delighted if you took a few minutes to pre-order* it from your bookstore, or from Amazon (the amazon in your country should have it at a special price).

It’ll arrive in the mid-late Fall.


*Pre-orders are very helpful! And no, I don’t know why they call it pre-ordering. It’s actually just ordering, isn’t it? Anyway…

Book Notifications!

I wonder if others get notifications from Amazon about my book as often as I do… anyway, please note that it is due to appear (depending upon who you believe) in 6-8 weeks or so, so please consider beating the rush and pre-ordering… also note that the discount for doing so is shrinking a bit as compared to earlier, so move fast! Amazon link here, but your favourite store (local or online) will likely have it at that price too!


‘Tis the Season…

The fig trees in the garden are in full production mode. (As was my wife on the pancake side of things*.) Made for a delicious combination for family breakfast! There’s something magical about eating figs fresh from the tree that are still warm from the sun.

By the way, there are some major changes coming up for the garden which should allow me to expand some of the variety of things I grow there. I’ll fill you in on this later…


*Thanks aef!