January 31, 2012

On Clean Living

Recently I came to an epiphany.

It's time to stop dieting.  It's time to start eating well everyday, not to diet, but as a lifestyle choice.

getting avocado, apple, arugula, chive salad ready to take to the museum

pre-run breakfast: 1/2 banana, peanut butter on rice cake, tea

I eat fruit for dessert now, and save chocolate for the weekends 

deli chicken slices, avocado, arugula, spinach pita with hummus and carrots

In 2009 I made a vow to get healthy and lose weight in time for my wedding in 2010.  After joining a gym, eating right, and getting enough sleep, about 20 pounds fell right off.  It was the first diet/workout regimen of my life and it was actually a great time.

Then I hit the wall.  Or the plateau.  The last 10 pounds wouldn't budge at all, and it drove me nuts.

For 2 years I stayed in a terrible pattern of starvation then bouts of binge eating.

(This happened every holiday, lasting for 2 or 3 days, followed by a period of sadness because I gained 4 pounds back, that lead to the extreme dieting again - a vicious cycle.)

I wasn't even skinny, that was the real kicker.   My body fat percentage was still 25% (rather high for my height)

It was awful.

Finally last month, at the beginning of 2012 I made another vow:

➤ Stop being an idiot

My body had been "in diet mode" for so long, it didn't remember what normal was.  The body is a really smart organism: the more you abuse it, the harder it works against it.  That meant the more I restricted calories, the harder my body held on to fat - fat needed for healthy skin, nails and hair.

It was time to be kind to my body - start building my metabolism into a steady fire that would burn all day.  My husband and I are huge foodies - so why give up such an important passion?

I ditched any social networking people who were a bad influence on me; people that made me idolize being skinny as opposed to being fit.  A huge help!

Bought my first pair of running shoes!  Got some running shorts, heat-tech under amour for the winter chill, and began running every other day.

For the record, I used to hate running.  HATE IT.  But it's only been a month now, and I love it!  


  • eat any random food as long as it didn't go over 1100 calories a day
  • didn't lift weights because I didn't want to gain bulky muscle
  • went to bed hungry every night, woke up irritable and starving
  • dreaded holidays because I knew it meant "bad food"
  • workout with no real plan, just burn as many calories as possible

  • eat 6 - 7 times a day, filling up on healthy, seasonal, delicious food
  • strength train, since ladies don't have enough testosterone to gain bulky muscle
  • go to bed happy every night and keep a nightly journal to get out work stress
  • fell in love with running, yoga and love to make work-out mixes
  • fell in love with cooking, now I can cook good food for family/holiday things
  • have a workout schedule : run 3 days a week, yoga 3 days, and relax 1 day

Now I can eat 2000 calories a day - and actually lose weight!  Finally beginning to understand why it's so important to listen to fitness / nutrition experts.

And my mood has been stellar - the dog even peed in my studio and it was no biggie.  

This new way of living allows my body to bounce back way easier than before.  For instance two days ago I had a gigantic apple crumb donut for lunch, and lost half a pound the next day!

I wanted to write this personal post (don't usually do these) in an effort to connect with someone that may have been doing the same thing.  If you are, please reconsider!
.................................... ❤ ...................................

You only get one body!  Take care of it!

.................................... ❤ ...................................

I love having orange bell pepper + chive omelets with 1/2 grapefruit for breakfast

Oop!  Time to go make stuffed bell peppers!

January 29, 2012

Retouching photos of Japan

Finishing up work on my Japan sketch/photologue and realized I hadn't retouched some old photos properly.  

Since I had taken them almost 18 months ago, at that time I hadn't really learned the capabilities of my digital camera.  These had to be retouched in Photoshop, but I hope on my next trip (whenever that will be) I'll able to take a cleaner photo with minimal post-production.

January 25, 2012

Friendly Neighborhood Comics

Ernie, owner/manager of Friendly Neighborhood Comics in Bellingham, MA, commissioned me to make a limited edition shirt for his store.  He's had a number of awesome comic artists do one, and it was really nice he asked me.

If you are in the area, you have to check out the store.  It's so clean, efficient, and has a great variety of things, indy stuff, art books, back issues - just a nice place.


I'm often up in arms about how comic shops present themselves.  If comics are going to reach a wider audience, the stores have to be accessible to people who are just getting in to comics for the first time.

If a shop presents itself like a boy's club, or "you have to be reading this from the beginning and now it's too late for you" or some such nonsense, it scares people away.  It scares potential new comic-lovers away.

There is a comic out there for anyone - all ages, all interests - it's just a matter of matching people up.  But that can't happen if a customer doesn't feel welcome.

Comics are finally cool again, and everyone should have at least one good experience in a store like Ernie's.

I also recommend THE POP CULTURE CO. in Houston, TX and Million Year Picnic in Cambridge, MA


Anyway, lately I've been in a super great mood.  I mean, like unusually great!  Maybe it's because of this song?

Top Of The World by Shonen Knife on Grooveshark

Shonen Knife  "Top of the World"

January 23, 2012

Music to Draw to - Digital Mix Tape 2

Biking in Nakameguro


  1. Whistle Song - Fantastic Plastic Machine
  2. Rum Hee - Shugo Tokumaru
  3. Music for Apartments - Lullatone
  4. The Girl Next Door - Fantastic Plastic Machine
  5. Theme of Luxury - Fantastic Plastic Machine
  6. My Second Favorite Song - Lullatone
  7. Typewriter - Shugo Tokumaru

I'm very picky about drawing music lately.  If a song gets too loud, or the music is too obtrusive, I can't focus.  It's the same problem with neighbors.  I can't block out street noise at night, unlike my husband who can sleep through anything!

This is a sample of what I've been inking comics to recently.  It's pretty lo-fi, and all of these artists are from Japan, hence the "Biking Through Nakameguro" title, because I think I'd listen to this while having day-to-day adventures.

Hope you enjoy!

sketches from a Japan travelogue I'm working on

January 21, 2012

Mowgli Surfwear

Hey friends,

I recently did some work for Mowgli Surf, a clothing company based in California.  They have a real love of hand-crafted illustration, and it gives their line a really unique aesthetic.

The color versions below are color versions for my portfolio, but the actual tee shirt will most likely be black ink over a color shirt.

I did a number of little sketches.  Never having surfed in my life, nor even seen clear blue water before, I decided just to get a whole bunch of ideas out of my head based on videos of Australian surfers, and let the art director decide.

When working with clients, I try not to worry about if what I'm drawing is something they'll hate.  It's better to show them the ideas kicking around your head and let them tell you if it's working or not.  You could potentially be shutting down an idea they may really like.

If you live in California, check out their stock!  I'm nuts over their blue polka dot sweat shirt ~

January 19, 2012

Things from the week

Yuka sent me this amazing Tokyo Tower toy to build!  

January 17, 2012

Upcoming mini books

Hey friends,

One of my projects in 2011 was to publish a series of mini books, combining my sketchbooks and travel photography.

Unfortunately I just didn't get to it.  Oh, there was enough time, I just decided to waste my evenings playing the old Secret of Mana SNES game on my computer.  (I'm kidding, playing SNES is never a waste.)

But I was looking through the amazing blog of Sewon (mapsandfragments), and noticed she had a great series of work on her etsy, so it inspired me to get this going.

So far there are three in the series:  JAPAN, NEW YORK, and NEW ENGLAND.  And I think I'll just do an all sketch-book one soon, too.

Anyway, I'll keep you posted of course.

January 16, 2012

Mary Marvel on eBay

Hey friends,

a sketch I did in Austin is up on eBay, I believe it ends tomorrow (Friday) night

And also...

I finally updated my portfolio website.  It's long overdue, but it was held up by me not understanding what "Spry" was in Dreamweaver.

But I finally learned drop-down navigation and all that fun stuff!

Just about 3 years too late, but ya'know... 

For a long time I'd been tinkering with different designs, and every time I got inspired by someone else's design, things would get tweaked again.  But it's really nice to finally have a consolidated look all across the board.

The twitter, blog + website are finally united with one color harmony and design sense.  Woohoo!

January 14, 2012

Coloring for The Lucha Gunmen

Hey friends,

I recently colored a 6 page mini for a new comic "The Lucha Gunmen" written by my husband Andy and drawn by the super amazing Brian Flint.

January 12, 2012

Gallery 1988 x Adult Swim

You can find my Brak piece in the show

Happy First Show of the New Year!

Opening tomorrow

Friday the 13th

Gallery 1988 Melrose
7020 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90038

January 10, 2012

Comic Art Supplies - Ink Reviews

I think if I had to break down my expenditures, most of my money probably goes to restaurants and art supplies.   Wanted to review some great new supplies I got in from Jetpens.com (love them so) and the different inks I use, pretty much everyday.

Frankenstein is an exercise in style experimentation.  I'm not entirely sure where some pages are going, others come out almost exactly as they are in my brain.  It's slightly schizophrenic but I'm hoping the finished product is a success.

(Brush used for foreground, Tachikawa School G pen for details)

I'm actually nervous about these pages, since they will be shown in all their un-edited glory in person at the University of Massachusetts Lowell for their upcoming Graphic Novel Show.  (Along side super amazing artists ~ eek!)

Pro Art is my favorite, although it's extremely thick,
Yasutomo inks are slowest to dry but very fluid


(from left to right)

Pro Art India Ink
 about $3.50 for 2oz  BUY IT HERE
Both amazing and terrible.  Amazing = the darkest, richest black, incredibly waterproof and opaque.  Terrible = it is so thick, it will KILL YOUR BRUSH.  It will choke it to death slowly by clogging up the bristles, no matter how thoroughly you clean it!  * I went through 3 brushes in 40 pages.

PROS : cheap, rich, great dropper included in bottle, opaque and dries pretty quickly.
CONS : NOT free flowing, heavy, will damage brushes with lots of use.

Speedball Super Black
 about $5 for 2oz  BUY IT HERE

PROS : dries FAST, fluid, satin finish, waterproof
CONS : grayest ink - definitely not "Super Black"

YASUTOMO SUMI INK FUEKI green bottleやすとも墨汁不易)+やすとも墨汁SUMI INK 

 about $4 for 2oz  BUY IT HERE
PROS : fluid, great for quills, easy on brushes

CONS : dries SLOW, not super opaque 

(Extra junk:)
The kanji characters on the bottle (墨汁)are actually pronounced bokujuu.  墨 alone means any kind of ink, pronounced sumi and 汁 = tsuyu... (which means soup haha) ... but together they mean black ink/India ink specifically for art.

"不易/fueki" means constant / immutable, so I'm wondering if it means this formula is unchanged from the old days?  Or if it means its water resistant as opposed to waterproof? (waterproof/耐水性/taisuisei)

You may know sumi means ink, so "sumi ink" sounds a bit redundant, right?

These aren't for manga or comics really, but in case you were thinking about 'em, they are pretty good.

Yasutomo is the least waterproof



If you like to ink...

fluidly with a pen or brush ..... try YASUTOMO SUMI

with opaque, extra waterproof ink ..... try PRO ART INDIA INK

with a quill / nib pens ...... try SPEEDBALL SUPER BLACK 

washes like watercolor ..... try YASUTOMO SUMI FUEKI

◇◆◇◆◇◆◇◆◇ DRAFTING ◇◆◇◆◇◆◇◆◇
Boxy Black

 Oh yeah, you read that right.  BUY IT HERE

 about $1.50
  I've completely converted to black polymer erasers.  Auf wiedersehen , Staedler.  Very little smudging, very little amount of eraser bits to sweep up. A++

Kitaboshi Pencil holder + B leads
 $9.50 for holder / $2.50 for 5 lead refills  BUY THEM HERE (lead available in red as well)

 I typically hate mechanical pencils.  But I took a chance on this one and am happy with how it feels in my hand.  Absolutely love the sleek design and wooden handle.
Kitaboshi 北星 I think means "North Star?"

◇◆◇◆◇◆◇◆◇ FOR FINE DETAILS ◇◆◇◆◇◆◇◆◇

Tachikawa School G
 about $5 + $3 refills  BUY IT HERE

UPDATED REVIEW:  So previously I thought this pen was amazing, and I still like it, but I have to downgrade this thing to a B+. 

PROS : dries SUPER FAST, ink quality is good, accepts white-out, cheap refills
CONS : gets temperamental with line consistency, have to clean it often

◇◆◇◆◇◆◇◆◇ FOR PANEL BOARDERS ◇◆◇◆◇◆◇◆◇
Pentel Sign Pen
 about $3  BUY THEM HERE

For making panels, I always use this.  Round felt tip with good consistent line

CONS : It does NOT like white out.  So for the (many) times my panel boarders need a touch up, it takes 4 or 5 dots of white out to cover it.

* You can see where the Speedball ink wasn't black enough, 
so I went over it again with Pro Art.  

* If you look at Victor's hair - you can see the PENTEL BRUSH PEN
wasn't black enough for me, so Pro Art is over it

Pro Art is great for dry brush effects

Thanks for reading guys!  Hope this information helps!


January 8, 2012

Frankenstein - Elizabeth via Kimbra

Antoine (who always has good music recommendations ) introduced me to Gotye ("Somebody That I Used to Know") and "Settle Down" by Kimbra (below).

In that video is a striking little girl that was perfect for Elizabeth's character design!

It's important that Elizabeth is kind of over-the-top sweet at the beginning. So when she changes in the 2nd + 3rd volumes it's super dramatic.  She isn't the same person at all in the last story arc. 

I don't want to spoil it, but her evolution is my favorite part of the 3rd volume.

I've always felt Elizabeth's character was so overlooked in the many adaptions of Frankenstein.

And hopefully it's something that sets my version apart.