Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Recap: Curls Studio's Year of 2016

By glancing on social media, it seems like most people are very frustrated and sad with the year 2016. Many people are drained from the election and celebrity deaths. We can only hope that 2017 provides a fresh start for everyone. 2016 has been an busy year for Curls Studio creators Joe Carabeo and Carolyn Belefski, so we decided to celebrate with a year-in-review recap blog post!

The image above combines the #2016BestNine from @CarolynBelefski Instagram account, displaying people’s most-liked photos from the past year. The best nine features a mix of freelance design work, personal illustrations, a throwback Thursday post about meeting Jim Lee at my first Baltimore Comic-Con, and a glimpse behind-the-scenes of a Curls comic strip. You can also follow Joe on Instagram at @AstrayJ.

This year Carolyn was asked in participate in two sleepovers at The National Archives. The sleepovers had an overlapping superhero theme and included the activity station "Design Your Own Superhero with Carolyn Belefski."

Carolyn was considered for an "Advertising / Product Illustration" Reuben Award from the National Cartoonists Society and although she did not win and was not expecting to win or even make it to the top three nominees, it was exciting for a day or two to be mildly recognized.

We made 7 comic show appearances this year with a total of 16 days behind the table exhibiting comics. We exhibited at Tidewater Comicon for the first time. We celebrated Free Comic Book Day at our local store and hit up major conventions including Awesome Con, Small Press Expo, Baltimore Comic-Con, and New York Comic Con. We ended the year with a small show at a used book store and got to meet a lot of fun personalities there!

In April and May, Carolyn launched a daily project called "ABCs of Country Music" where she created custom typography for each letter of the alphabet based on country music superstars.

At Awesome Con, Carolyn and Joe hosted, moderated, and served as panelists on many panels throughout the show. One of the highlights was recording a live podcast for the Carolyn and Joe Show with special guest Phil LaMarr! Carolyn moderated the Will Friedle & Grey DeLisle Q&A. Carolyn also took part in comics panels such as Heidi MacDonald's "How To Break Into Comics (and Survive)" and "The Other Side of the Table: Lessons from Creators."

In June, Carolyn became chair of the Washington, DC chapter of National Cartoonists Society. She has organized programs since 2012 with NCS, including Cartoonists Draw Blood and helped with "cARToons" exhibits and other activities.

Carolyn produced the first Cartoonists Draw Blood Art Exhibit at Takoma Park Community Center which was up for nearly two months. The exhibit featured 13 artists who have drawn at previous blood drives. We hosted an opening reception, hung the work, promoted the show, and more.

Speaking of exhibits, a poster Carolyn designed for AIGA’s Get Out the Vote Campaign was on the walls of the Washington Project for the Arts during DC Design Week.

Black Magic Tales was published in Magic Bullet, Washington, DC's comics anthology. Issues #12 and #13 were released this year.

During New York Comic Con, in addition to spending all four days at our booth, Carolyn also spent some time at the National Cartoonists Society's booth and was invited to participate in a fun event at Society of Illustrators, which celebrated the release of Wacom's MobileStudio Pro. We were also able to enjoy the Ralph Steadman exhibit in the gallery space and meet a bunch of really great artists.

Joe and Carolyn released their new comic, French Fry Club, at New York Comic Con this year. The book has received good feedback and we look forward to continuing the story in 2017.

In October, Carolyn organized the fourth annual Cartoonists Draw Blood drive with Troy-Jeffrey Allen. Donors gave blood to the American Red Cross and then the Washington, DC chapter of National Cartoonists Society and other local cartoonists drew for the donors as a "thank you." The event was a success and we saved many lives. We already have a date confirmed for next year -- it's Saturday, October 28, 2017.

In November, DC Chapter of National Cartoonists Society had our first "Cartooning for Kids" event at a children’s hospital. We drew for the kids and gave tips on learning how to draw too. The NCS Foundation organized a shipment of several goody bags that included t-shirts, crayons, comics, coloring books, and more to go to every child in the hospital.

Although it is not promoted very much, Carolyn started a Patreon tip jar this year where she posts thumbnails of Curls comic strips she's created and other work process imagery. Pledge $1 or more per month to access the extra goodies and support the art you enjoy!

If you want to know more information about any of the experiences we've had this year, please look in the blog archives, as each event was recapped with photos! So much has happened this year and we've stayed productive. We hope to create more for you in 2017 and all the years to come!

Happy New Year from Curls Studio!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Comics at McKay in Manassas, VA this Saturday

Please join us for Curls Studio's last public appearance of 2016 at McKay Used Books this Saturday, December 3 from 11AM to 5PM. Sean Causley, creator of Panda Force, will also be there. This is McKay's first comics event!

If you are planning to go for this small comic con, you can also bring in your used records, movies, books, etc. Look at their website for details about what they can except for store credit or cash/check.

McKay is located at 8345 Sudley Road, Manassas, VA 20109 in the Manaport Shopping Center across from the Manassas Mall. Stop by to say hello and pick up holiday gifts for your loved ones. I will draw a sketch in every book purchased and would enjoy meeting you in-person. See you there!

Facebook Invite and RSVP:

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Cartooning for Kids 2016

The DC Chapter of National Cartoonists Society had our first "Cartooning for Kids" event at Inova Children’s Hospital on November 15, 2016. National Cartoonists Society Foundation provided the hospital with about 50 goody bags, coloring books, crayon boxes, and comic books. After stuffing the bags, us cartoonists divided to cover three floors of the building. Each of us did different activities with the kids, such as drawing, coloring, giving cartooning tips, or playing Pictionary.

My own personal experience was very rejuvenating. I shared the room with Joe Sutliff and we concentrated on two children in particular, Benjamin and Najah. Benjamin had his much loved stuffed dog named Toby with him and when I draw Toby it caused Benjamin to light up! It was a great sight to see. Najah celebrated her 14th birthday that day, so I draw her with her birthday crown. She was very interested in learning how to create balloon/bubble lettering, so Joe and I showed her how. She also educated me on some reality shows, including her favorite, My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding.

Thanks to Rick Stromoski for organizing the shipment of goody bags and thanks to NCS for this initiative. Thanks to our cartoonists Mike Jenkins, Steve Artley, Carolyn Belefski, Sean Causley, and Joe Sutliff for participating. We plan to do more of these hospital visits in 2017.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Recap and Photos: Cartoonists Draw Blood - American Red Cross Blood Drive 2016

On October 29, 2016, we had our fourth annual "Cartoonists Draw Blood" blood drive event with the American Red Cross. The event started in 2013 and has been going strong since!

Every year we've been improving how the drive is produced and Troy-Jeffery Allen stepped up to co-organize the event with me. It does help tremendously to have two people handle logistics, communicate with the American Red Cross, be in touch with the venue, wrangle artists, make sure we recruit blood donors, promote the event, set-up and handle what issues arise the day of, and more. Thank you again, Troy!

The Takoma Voice provided online coverage before the event. Here is the link:

Joe Sutliff profiled the event and interviewed participants for his comic, Let Us Seek Wonders

American Red Cross helped us with promotion this year. Here is the press release:

We had many artists who wanted to join us, so we split into AM and PM shifts. Thanks to all the cartoonists who donated their time and talents: Mike Jenkins, Carolyn Belefski, Liz Reed, Mal Jones, Bill Brown, Art Hondros, Eric Gordon, Joe Sutliff, Kerry Johnson

Thanks to Joe Carabeo for photographing the event.

Thanks to our sponsors: Cartoonists Draw Blood, American Red Cross, National Cartoonists Society, Seekers Church

I am currently working to nail down a solid date for 2017, so be sure to keep your eyes and ears open for another event next fall.

Thanks to everyone for being a part of this and saving so many lives with cartooning -- in addition to having a great time with us.

More photos can be found in the gallery at the Curls Studio Facebook page:


Monday, October 31, 2016

"Design Your Own Superhero" at The National Archives Sleepover Fall 2016

On Saturday, October 22, 2016 I had the opportunity to take part in a special event at the National Archives for a second time. Kids ages 8-12 along with their adult chaperones participated in several activities and spent the night next to America’s most precious treasures: the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights for a "History, Heroes & Treasures" themed sleepover!

All evening long I documented the event using the relatively new Instagram stories function on my account (@Carolyn Belefski) and the National Archives (@usnatarchives) also did a great job with their feed and stories. 

The activity I helped lead is called "Design Your Own Superhero with Carolyn Belefski" where the children and their parents are welcome to create their own hero using prompts of personality traits and activities each of us enjoy individually. I created a worksheet so everyone could grasp the concept quickly. The sheet included a body template, checklist of superpowers, and more. If the participant wanted to use a black sheet of paper and go freestyle without the template, they could go that direction as well. Throughout the evening there were several activity stations to choose from, so if they wanted to visit everything they would only have about ten minute or less at each spot. However the event is very freeform and kids could stay as long as they want at any station without a "whistle" or "alarm" to change stations.

A few of the children and their parents came dressed up as superheroes or visionaries from history. There were also costumed entertainers (Elizabeth Cady Stanton, John Dunlop, and Sojourner Truth) to answer historical questions. I was surprised to see a few familiar faces from the last event this past February and have the kids enjoy the activity so much that they wanted to do it again.

Look for more images and content online using the hashtag #ArchivesSleepover. Shoutouts to the volunteers and interns who helped make the event be the best it could be and big thanks to the National Archives for hosting such a fun event and for educating the younger generations! 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Let Us Seek Wonders profiles Cartoonists Draw Blood

Cartoonist Joe Sutliff, who has been an artist at the Cartoonists Draw Blood event since it's inception has a relatively new comic called Let Us Seek Wonders. This week he focused on the origin story of Cartoonists Draw Blood and how the concept came to National Cartoonists Society's Washington, DC chapter and how we began working with American Red Cross.

Read the full comic here:

You'll be able to meet Joe at this year's event on Saturday, October 29, 2016 at Seekers Church in Washington, DC (across from Takoma Metro). If you show up, let him know and he might interview you for next week's page -- then you will be immortal cartoon royality!

Here is a direct link to schedule your appointment for Cartoonists Draw Blood 2016. Walk-ins are also welcome from 10AM to 3:30PM. Hope you can join us!

Listen to Joe on the last Carolyn and Joe Show podcast (episode #388):

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Get Out The Vote Gallery open during DC Design Week

A couple years ago, I was asked to be a part of DC Design Week (DCDW) with the "Design & Doodle" workshop. This year I'm involved with DCDW in a different way with DC’s “AIGA’s Get Out the Vote Campaign” (GOTV) poster gallery.

In partnership with the League of Women Voters, AIGA‘s GOTV campaign wields the power of design to motivate the American public to register and turn out to vote in the 2016 general election, as well as local elections to come. The pop-up GOTV gallery during DCDW will showcase posters designed by local creatives, with the occasional appearance of say...a Milton Glaser or Paula Scher piece.

When you’re done perusing the posters, head next door to the DCDW pop-up shop filled with items that were made in DC. Open all week. Main headquarters for DCDW is Washington Project for the Arts (2124 8th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001).