Black History Portraits, ANMLY25, Smash Pages & Summer 2017

Today has been a day of surprises. Several big things that have been in the works for many months have suddenly come to fruition.

I’m continuing work on my Black History watercolor series. My last two portraits, one of Jeanne Lee and one of Miles Davis, have turned into Tumblr collaborations with poets Daniel Falck and Michael Neal Morris.

ANMLY25 debuted today. The comics section of this issue features a lot of fantastic cartoonists including Aidan Koch, Austin English and Alyssa Berg. My contribution was an animated version of The Tooth. My 24 page comic The Tooth appeared in The Shirley Jackson Project edited by Rob Kirby and published by Ninth Art Press in September 2016.

“The Tooth” from Anomaly on Vimeo.

Also today, my latest interview with Alex Dueben went up: Smash Pages Q&A: Maggie Umber on ‘Sound of Snow Falling’: The co-founder of 2d Cloud discusses her latest graphic novel, her essay ‘Getting Divorced in Comics’ and more. Want to know what I’ve been up to lately? This is a good place to find out.

2dcloud is back on tour in August. Raighne will be Safari Festival in London August 12th. He’ll have copies of this year’s debut books, including Spring 2017!

Sven Hegedus’s photo of his Spring 2017 books including SOSF. Books are still outgoing.

Finally, 2dcloud’s Summer 2017 Kickstarter is live! I wrote an update today for Spring 2017 backers that anyone can read here.

Whew, big day! 😀

Warmer Funded, CAKE and Globe and Mail review

Warmer was funded! Thank you to the 294 backers and to the anthology’s editors Andrew White and Madeleine Witt for making this book a reality. I have a 10 page watercolor comic in it called Pollination. It is a small print run and won’t be distributed anywhere, so the KS was the only way to get a copy of this book.

CAKE in Chicago was a huge success! Sound of Snow Falling and Yours by Margot Ferrick were 2dcloud’s best sellers of the show. Also, Raighne and I had such a good time there that we decided to both move to Chicago. So 2dcloud will be saying goodbye to Minneapolis this summer.

Thanks to everyone who is buying Sound of Snow Falling! It is finally available on 2dcloud.com, Amazon and in many comics shops and bookstores! I love getting messages and photos such as the one this anonymous reader sent: “Your book is beautiful and each page is a pearl, not so soundless, a bit spooky even. Bravo and thank you very much! I will spend time with it.”

There’s been more press too! Sound of Snow Falling was one of The 10 Most Interesting Comics of June according to Mental Floss. The Globe and Mail gave SOSF a great review here: Review: Katherine Collins’s The Collected Neil the Horse, Eleanor Davis’s You & a Bike & a Road and Maggie Umber’s Sound of Snow Falling.

For those of you who backed 2dcloud’s Spring 2017 Kickstarter, packages have finally started shipping out! I can’t wait for backer packages to arrive <3 It’s such a great group of books!

Warmer KS Launch + interview in Les cahiers du bruit

My ten page watercolor comic Pollination is a part of the climate change poetry comics anthology Warmer.

The line up for Warmer is spectacular: Alyssa Berg with Catalina Jaramillo, Andrew White, Caitlin Skaalrud, Ellie Schmidt, Graeme Shorten Adams, Jonathan Bell Wolfe, Kimball Anderson, L. Nichols, Madeleine Witt with Anya Grenier, Maggie Umber with Raighne, Nick Soucek, Oliver East, Tor Brandt, Warren Craghead, Wenting Li, and Will Cardini.

Support us in any way you can – like, reblog, pledge, tell your friends <3 <3 <3

My interview with the French magazine Les cahiers du bruit is up! Thank you Denys Moreau for conducting the interview 😀

TCAF and Getting Divorced in Comics

My Sound of Snow Falling Book tour continues! The Toronto Comic Art Festival was incredible. You can read all about it in my Tumblr posts part 1 and part 2. I was pleasantly surprised that Time Capsule was reviewed in Pictures and Portraits TCAF 2017 discussion (video below).

One more awesome thing of note! I was on the TCAF panel Expressive Lines And The Power of Restraint which was moderated by Rachel Davies. Hellen Jo, Ron Rege Jr., Keren Katz, and Xia Gordon were the other panelists. So much fun! Next month I will be tabling with 2dcloud at another great comics convention! If you are at CAKE in Chicago, stop by and say hi.

In my new medium article Getting Divorced in Comics: we celebrated ten years of 2dcloud by ending our marriage I reflect on my history as a Co-Founder of 2dcloud and give our marriage the proper send off. It was inspired by Rob Clough’s High-Low article On The Occasion of Two Anniversaries: Personal Observations on Koyama Press and 2dcloud. Thank you to everyone who has sent their love and best wishes to us. <3

Beauford Delaney portrait, Sound of Snow Falling Book Tour

This past month-and-a-half has been busy! 2dcloud’s Spring 2017 Kickstarter was successfully funded <3 Thank you everyone!!! I did two podcast interviews, a couple of email interviews and Sound of Snow Falling got its first review.

Near the end of February I was contacted by Dr. Monique Y. Wells, the president of Les Amis de Beauford Delaney (in English it means The Friends of Beauford Delaney). In 2009 Monique raised the money to put a tombstone on Beauford’s unmarked grave and has worked hard to bring more public awareness to this amazing painter. Les Amis de Beauford Delaney is now working with the Wells International Foundation to bring the exhibit Beauford Delaney: Resonance of Form and Vibration of Color to the US. You can join their effort here.

Monique came across my portrait of Beauford in a Google Alert. She then interviewed me about it for the Les Amis de Beauford Delaney blog. You can read the article here. Thank you, Monique! <3 <3 <3 It’s such an honor!!!

Greg Hunter interviewed me on Comic Book Decalogue, The Comics Journal’s podcast. I listen to this show a lot, but never thought I’d be on it!!!! I was also interviewed with Nou, Margot Ferrick, and Raighne on the We Should Be Friends podcast. I learned that I may be a Nihilist…

Philippe Leblanc interviewed me on the Comics Beat about my new graphic novel, great horned owls and 2dcloud‘s Spring 2017 kickstarter. Jason Sacks reviewed Sound of Snow Falling on the Comics Bulletin: Tiny Pages Made of Ashes 3/17/17: Heads In The 2dcloud.

My Sound of Snow Falling book tour kicked off at ICE CREAM comics fest in Iowa City on April 8th. In May, I’ll be tabling with 2dcloud at TCAF in Toronto, then in June I’ll be at CAKE in Chicago. You can buy advanced copies from me at these shows, otherwise, you can order from our distributor through amazon.

2dcloud’s Spring 2017 kickstarter has launched!

2dcloud’s Spring 2017 kickstarter is a great way to preorder Sound of Snow Falling! SOSF is an acrylic-painted, documentary-style, wordless graphic novel that follows the lives of two great horned owls through a single winter.

Sound of Snow Falling by Maggie Umber

Sound of Snow Falling trailer

Sound credit: The sound in this trailer was recorded by daveincamas. This work is licensed under the Attribution License.

Sound of Snow Falling by Maggie Umber

How a 10th grade biology paper inspired a graphic novel

In my tenth grade biology class we did the usual things: dissected frogs, identified birds from slide shows, and raised plants from seedlings in paper towels. It seemed like the typical high school science experience until we were asked to write a research paper in first person from an animal’s perspective. My imagination went into overdrive. The idea took ahold of me like nothing has since. For three weeks in tenth grade I became a great horned owl.

I graduated from high school and then college, traveled with the circus, and worked at some science and art museums. I began my career as a cartoonist. A few years after that our friend Justin, my future husband Raighne and I co-founded the comics publishing company 2dcloud. Our flagship publication was a comics anthology called Good Minnesotan. For our third issue, I was looking for subject matter for my contribution and I thought to dig out my tenth grade biology paper about the great horned owl.

It had been ten years since I had written that paper. However, the emotional attachment I felt to the assignment never left me. I made a five page comic for GMN3 called You Are The Great Horned Owl and it opened the floodgates again. I decided that I would make a graphic novel about great horned owls.

Sound of Snow Falling by Maggie Umber

There is the old adage to write what you know. I found that when I began to storyboard Sound of Snow Falling what I knew wasn’t enough. I began again, the same way I had when I was writing the research paper. I got books from the library and I also spent a lot of time on the internet googling things. A big break through came when we were having dinner with a friend and she suggested that I do google alerts for great horned owls. This led me to my first live owl cam and everything changed. I got to watch owl behavior in real time and I became obsessed.

I spent four years telling myself the story of a pair of great horned owls in winter, over and over again. I storyboarded it and put the pages in a three-ring binder. I read and re-read it and each time I did I changed the page order and added or subtracted pages. I bought the weather books of Jim Gilbert and memorized birdsongs and owl research papers. I did everything I could to make the fiction story as true-to-life as possible.

Sound of Snow Falling by Maggie Umber

Technology was an interesting collaborator in my graphic novel. When I first wrote the research paper, the internet was in its infancy. There was no way to stream owl cams or listen to podcasts, read blogs or image search photos. The depth of my experience as a great horned owl in tenth grade was mostly one of my imagination; the depth of my experience as a great horned owl ten years later was a full-fledged live action experience.

My life was forever shaped by that single atypical writing assignment. Was there anyone else in my biology class that was affected in this way? I doubt it. Even the idea itself when applied to other subjects didn’t interest me as much. When we had to write a first person paper about a food product traveling through the human body I had fun writing it, but I was never inspired to revisit the paper. I don’t even have a copy of it anymore.

What was it that made that particular animal research paper resonate with me so strongly? It was my childhood. My Dad was always dragging us kids through the woods, teaching us how to identify trees and helping us break open owl pellets. My Mom read me bird identification books in my high chair until I memorized their names. They took us to nature centers and let me have weird pets like corns snakes, anoles, katydids and crickets. We watched monarch caterpillars eat milkweed and form cocoons on the side of the house. We did science fairs together. Those childhood experiences made Sound of Snow Falling the story that I needed to tell.

 Sound of Snow Falling by Maggie Umber will be published by 2dcloud in early 2017.