Moviemaking Overhead

A Big Public Thank You
to Donna Barr

…for helping to spread the word about my new book among the legion of Desert Peach and Stinz fans and other Barr admirers who read the blog she swore she’d never write.

No, that kid (seen above in adulthood) grew up to be Manfred Rommel, Barr’s fictitious gay brainchild otherwise known as "Desert Peach," who has been starring in printed comics and books for the last twenty years and, in keeping with the digital revolution, has also established a secure beachhead in the webcomics world of

The latest book to find its way onto my bookshelves is Stitches, a totally engrossing childhood memoir in graphic novel form by the multiple award-winning picture-book illustrator David Small. To say that this book chronicles a kids struggles with cancer is to oversimplify to a criminal degree the emotional complexity of young David’s family relationships, which as recounted here are simultaneously fascinating and horrifying.

As a graphic novelist who occasionally errs on the side of wordiness, I observe with admiration how much of Small’s inner life is communicated in the novel’s pages through silences. And at the risk of being metaphorically insensitive in describing a story freighted with intimations of mortality: the book’s fluid pen, ink, and wash drawings are to die for.

Who would have thought that Eddie and I would spend part of our lives with a filmmaker living over our heads? Or hearing the feet of a filmmaker’s toddlers padding about, for that matter?

But what is life without surprises? I love knowing other creative people, and it’s been fun watching our upstairs tenant Andrew Bemis, who writes so entertainingly about movies in his blog (Cinevistaramascope), set about making an indie film of his own during the past year.

You can learn more about Black Light, the movie in question, by browsing through Black Light Journals, Andrew’s companion blog that documented the shooting of it last year. And if you live in or near northern Berkshire County here in Massachusetts, you can see the finished product when it premiers at a special screening that’s being held on August 9 at Images Cinema in Williamstown.

"Moth Films," by the way, is the company name under which Black Light is being released. And if you detect a touch of the Howard-Cruse esthetic in the Moth Films logo (see below), that’s because I designed it. What kind of landlord would I be if I didn’t boot up my iMac in the service of a tenant’s creative aspirations?

As the World War II history buffs among you know, German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel (otherwise known as "Desert Fox"), had an younger brother who, alas, died in infancy. And as the serious comics fans among you know: No, he didn’t.

The kid didn’t die, that is—at least, not in Donna Barr’s telling!

I run into Donna every few years at comics events and it’s always a pleasure. (The snapshot above was taken in 2003 when we were both signing books at Lee’s Comics in Mountain View, CA.) Her astonishing productivity puts most of her fellow comics creators to shame, particularly since she has never benefited by having the big-time comics publishers blowing wind into her sails. Donna has charted her own course and controlled her own creative destiny, and in the process she has provided inspiration and generous mentorship to others of us who would similarly like to avoid being shackled by presumed commercial ground rules.

Also, a Big Public Thank You
to Heidi Macdonald

…for citing my book in her Publishers Weekly blog, The Beat.

About Howard

I'm a cartoonist and writer, best known for my graphic novel, Stuck Rubber Baby, and my comic strip from the 1980s, Wendel.
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One Response to Moviemaking Overhead

  1. Heidi is write to gush over your new book. I read it in one sitting (and I have no attention span)!