Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Julia's House Winners (and a very silly comic)

Okay! It's finally time to announce the winners of our Julia's House for Lost Creatures giveaway! I had hoped to post this earlier in the day but someone here at House Hatke forgot to pay the internet bill.

And, for this announcement, I present unto you a very silly comic:

And there you have it! Winners, contact me by email using the address on my side bar. Send me a mailing address and I will send you your book as promptly as I can.

And now... I am back to coloring Little Robot.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Julia's House Contest Closed of Entries

How did a week pass so quickly?

The Jolly Julia Giveaway is now closed, but I think this has been the contest with the most entries so far. Thanks, everyone, for enjoying my work and for all the nice comments.

I will be drawing and posting the winning names tomorrow!


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Jolly Raffle Giveaway Contest: Julia's House for Lost Creatures!

One of the coolest things about writing and drawing books is the part where a box of shiny new author copies shows up at your door. And yesterday was the day that copies of Julia's House for Lost Creatures arrived here at House Hatke.

I know I've said it before, but I'm really happy with how this book turned out.

The official release date (September 2nd) is still over a month off, but I'm going to give away two copies now, along with a bit of original art!

Regular readers of this blog, you know the drill. But for the sake of the newcomers, HERE'S HOW IT WORKS:

To enter the drawing all you need to do is leave a comment in the comments section of this post. Remember to leave your name, or some internet handle that I can announce. You can increase your chance of winning by helping me spread the word about this new book (Julia's House is, after all, only one little book in a great sea of literature). Mentioning the book, linking to, or otherwise spreading the word via social media (twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon, Google+, blogs, tumblers or any of the other myriad of options) this is worth TWO EXTRA ENTRIES. Feel free to tag me on twitter where I am @BenHatke.

And that's it!

The FIRST person whose name I draw will receive a signed copy of Julia's House along with a little piece of concept art from the making of the book.

The SECOND person whose name I draw will also receive a signed copy of Julia's House, along with a little original sketch or bit of art.

The contest closes ONE WEEK FROM TODAY. And we're off to the races!

PS: Look at my desk. It's atrocious:

Monday, July 14, 2014

Home Stretching It (or "How I Spent My Summer Vacation")

I am, right now, on the home stretch of my current graphic novel project. Today and tomorrow I will be drawing and inking the last few pages of Little Robot. After that comes scanning, some editing, and a whole lot of coloring. Not to mention the cover illustration and some watercolor decorations.

So there's still a hefty amount of work to do, but the end is in sight and that's a good feeling.

Unfortunately, all this intense work has caused me to fall behind in the ol' blogging and that's a shame because I'm building up a hefty backlog of posts. I've got book news! Journal comics! More D&D art! Green Turtle fan art! Reflections on the studio of my dreams!

So stay tuned. Little Robot will soon be Morping and Jonking his way to the publisher and I'll be posting more stuff around here.


Monday, June 30, 2014

A Jolly Wizard (and art supplies)

If you've been reading this blog for awhile you might remember this short series of D&D-style adventurers that I started posting last summer. Well I never meant for Nip, Tuck and Groff to be a mere party of three in their dungeon crawling quests for fortune and glory. They needed someone who could really sling some spells. And so now a real honest-to-Baccob wizard has finally stepped up to join them:

Bugsby is a wizard that just can't manage to stay retired. He's tried gardening. He's tried opening a little Potions Shop. He's even tried attending the Silvered Singles Socials in the local village. But no matter what he does the call of the open road eventually catches hold of him and soon enough Bugsby finds himself in the local tavern, where adventurers, rogues and ne'r-do-wells all gather, reminiscing about battle magic, goblin hordes, and treasures won.

And so, when Nip and Tuck and Groff the Fighter pass through the village, Wizard Bugsby fairly jumps at the chance to join them.

Bugsby is a more conservative than daring old adventurer, with his focus on healing potions, his helping handystaff and his trail marking hat bat (not to mention his excellent cooking). No one can decide if the jolly little wizard is a very small human or a very burly gnome or something in between, but one thing is certain: beneath that easygoing exterior is a battle-hardened adventurer that has seen it all.

Is the Wizard Bugsby past his prime? Only one more adventure can say for certain...



I hardly ever recommend specific art supplies, but the sketch above was made in a Strathmore 400 series, warm tan toned sketchbook. It's a great sketchbook. I used black microns for the drawing and white gouache for the highlights and a "light sand" colored Tombow brush pen for the tones. It seems like a really good combination for sketching.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Joy of References

I've been hard at work, these past few weeks, on my latest graphic novel (hence the blog silence). The book is called Little Robot and it stars our Robot Friend from these comics.

One of the things I've enjoyed most about writing and drawing this book is that the setting for the story is, essentially, the area where I'm living, and so I've taken a lot of inspiration from the mountains and trees and the river nearby. Not only that, but a lot of the action takes place in a junkyard, so I've become an almost compulsive photographer of rusted-out machinery.

When I speak to young creators, one of the things I focus on is tethering your stories to your life and the world around you, both artistically and thematically. I've been trying to go the extra mile to do that in this book by using reference photos and by drawing on location when possible.

Here are a few examples!

Drawing a railroad bridge on location. I posted this picture on my Twitter:

Here is an old Jeep that I also drew from life. I wish I could have brought this guy home:

A couple months ago I was driving with Anna when I saw this car near the side of the road. I pulled over and ran to it with the camera, leaving Anna somewhat perplexed. But impulsive photography paid of in this case because this little gem disappeared pretty soon after:

Having kids of different sizes/ages has always been a help in my work. My Julia, who is 6, posed a bit for the little girl in this book and it's been very helpful! Thanks Julia!:

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Home Again and the NYT List

So I'm home from my travels, and The Return of Zita the Spacegirl has, for this week at least, hit #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List. (keep in mind, the list is broken down into sections so Zita is number 1 in "paperback graphic books" and is not competing against, say, 50 Divergent Shades of Game of Thrones. Still, it's not every day that an 11-year-old spacegirl bumps Batman out of her way).

Also, here's a link to a pretty lengthy interview I did in Toronto over a plate of poutine. It's funny to see a transcript of an interview that I did in person, and when I read this I thought "do i really pinball around from subject to subject like that?"

Still, we were eating french fries smothered in brown gravy and cheese curds, so you can't blame me for being a little excited...

Friday, May 23, 2014

Tail End of Touring

A Tired Author checks in:

Yesterday I arrived in New York for the last few stops here at the tail end of my First-Ever-Book-Tour. And, as is my habit when I come to this crazy magical city, the first thing I did was wander up to the Flatiron building to see my friends at First Second. There was something waiting there for me...

It was my first it's-a-real-book copy of Julia's House! I was very happy with how it looked all printed n' bound (like jumping up and down happy). Here's a little peek:

Now I'm sitting in a friends house in Brooklyn, in one of those rare quiet moments, and I'm thinking about how I've never traveled to so many places in so short a time as I have in this passing month of May. 

I'm struggling to come up with something to say that can tie the whole experience together -the bookstores, the libraries, the meals and evening conversations with friends in different cities. The airports, the hotels, the taxis, the subways...  

Maybe it's the idea that the most interesting and romantic parts of our lives also tend to be the most exhausting. After all, "adventures aren't all pony rides in May sunshine."

But I'll be headed home shortly, and I have a shady little farmhouse porch waiting for me:

(image from Anna's Instagram).

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Tremendous Trio

A quick check-in:

Last night, thanks to the wonder of Skype, I was able to virtually join a bookstore in Moscow, Idaho for their Zita the Spacegirl costume contest. These three kids, dressed as Mouse, Zita and Strong Strong, made me really happy:

I'm packing now for Chicago, where I will be visiting 57th Street Books and a couple local schools before returning to the East Coast for the Gaithersburg Book Festival. From there I will be flying to Portland Main for MeCAF.

I wish I was better at packing...

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Return of Zita the Spacegirl: Publication Day

This is it! Today is the publication day of The Return of Zita the Spacegirl!

I'm celebrating by being home from Toronto and spending a restful day with my favorite people in all the world. It's a brief pause in my hectic rambles.

The Toronto Comics Art Festival (TCAF) was fantastic. People have been encouraging me to attend the event for years and it definitely lived up to the hype. Lots of great art and friendly artists and little comics gems on every table. But the best part of all, for me, was the friends.

You see, something changed for me at TCAF.

While some of my friends have been selling mini comics at conventions since they were in high school, my journey into comics began on the internet, posting webcomics and sharing advice and critiques on the old Flight message boards. I wasn't going to many conventions. So, for a long time, my comics friends were online friends.

When Zita the Spacegirl was first published in 2010-11, all that began to change. I started going to more conventions and book festivals and library events. And bit by bit my online friends have become my in-the-flesh friends.

And so, on Sunday evening after the show, I arrived back a the hotel lobby to meet what I thought was going to be a smallish group for dinner. What I found instead was a largish group of old friends, and a few new faces, all laughing and talking (and maybe waiting for me because I was late). These were people I had shared dinners and high fives with in a dozen cities. It was like a reunion.

And I thought, hey, I'm not the new guy anymore.

Okay enough sap. Here are some pictures (mostly swiped from twitter):

The floor of the Toronto Public Library, crowded with comics (and people):

A live reading with the help of some fans during a joint presentation with my friend Dave Roman.

A young fan:

Poutine during and interview!

Whew! and that's all for now. Hopefully I'll be able to check in again soon.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

In Which I Post the Same Information Again, Only Better

Okay, so my very-well-organized friends over at First Second put together a more, shall we say, accurate compendium of book tour information, all in a single image (that you can feel free to repost!). I managed to get at least one date wrong in the last post, so if you're looking to catch up with me this month read the information from this post. It's 300% more correct!

And concurrently with my travels, there is a "blog tour" going on all this month wherein some of my favorite artist, writers and book bloggers post a thing or two about the Zita books. Click the banner below for more about that:

Great big thanks to the good people at Bedrock City Comics Company for bringing me to Houston for Free Comic Book Day! I signed a lot of books, drew a lot of pictures and met many young fans. The event was packed. There was plenty to see there besides me and my books, but I had a steady stream of people at my table right up to the minute I had to rush out for my flight, and that is always an encouraging thing to see.

Thanks also to Christina, Houston's heroic children's librarian, who brought me to this place:

Yes The Hobbit Cafe, where I had Gollum's Precious Fish Tacos. That's not what they were called on the menu, but it's what they are called in my heart. Forever. HssSSss....

Next up is TCAF, a show I've been hearing about for years and have been encouraged by many to attend (it's supposed to be especially great for families). If you want to find me in Toronto I will be signing at the First Second table at 3:00pm on Saturday, May 10th, and again at 3:00pm on Sunday, May 11th. I will also be giving a presentation / live reading with my friend Dave Roman at 12:30pm on Saturday, and giving a little presentation/workshop about gesture on Sunday at 2:00pm. I hope to see you there!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Hither and Yon

I will be traveling quite a bit over the next several weeks. I’ll be speaking and signing books in Houston, Toronto, Gaithersburg, Portland (Maine), DC, Jersey City and New York, among other places, and it all adds up to be my first, real, honest-to-goodness book tour. Well, mini book tour.

Still: book tour. That sounds so fancy!

It’s exciting, and hectic, and most of it will be a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to catching up with good friends at the Gaithersburg Book Festival, and TCAF and MeCAF, plus ...I secretly like sitting in airports.

On the other hand, most of this was planned in the bleak cold months and now it’s suddenly May and the world is green again, the garden is starting to come up and my canoe is calling to me. Also there’s a not-quite-halfawy-inked Robot book on my desk and a pack of girls who want me to finish painting their bedroom. Summer is coming.

Here is a partial list of upcoming events where you might be able to catch me and say hello (please do say hello):

-May 3rd: Free Comic Book Day signing at Bedrock City Comics Co. in Houston, TX

-May 10th and 11th: Toronto Comics Arts Festival. Not sure of my schedule for this one yet, but I think I’ll be doing a talk with my pal Dave Roman.

-May 17th: Gaithersburg Book Festival. Speaking and signing at 3:15pm in the Edgar Allan Poe pavilion.

-May 18th: Maine Comics Arts Festival: not sure of my schedule for this one either.

-May 21st: Takoma Park, MD. Signing at Takoma Park Library, 7:30pm.

-May 24th: WORD bookstore in Jersey City, 11am.

-and on June 4th I’ll be in New York, kicking off the New York Public Library summer reading program at their main branch.

I’ll continue positing information (and pictures!) here, and on twitter. And someday, if I’m very lucky, I’ll get back to making journal comics.

For now, though, I’ve got bags to pack.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Jolly Winners and Troublesome Robots

It's been busy around here. Super busy. The Hatke House has been caught up in all kinds of organizational, bureaucratic grown-uppy stuff that's left me with very little time for making all the fun extra stuff, the journal comics, the short stories, the paintings and sketches of the people I love. The other day I realized that it's been over a year since I picked up my oil painting brushes.

It's a small tragedy because all that extra stuff, the art that comes out when I just mess around, that's mostly where the best work originates. The book I'm working on now, Little Robot, began life as a series of comics that were nearly stream-of-consciousness. Just me fooling around with some ideas in the spare moments. Now it's one of my favorite projects I've ever worked on.

All of this is a long preamble to saying that when I sat down to work today I thought "maybe I should announce the raffle winners with a comic." Then I thought "no I can't take the time." Then I stopped thinking and just got out some paper and pens.

I'm glad I did...

Congratulations to our winners!

Just send an email my way (address is on the sidebar), send me a mailing address and sit back and watch your mailbox for books and art!


Saturday, April 5, 2014

Contest Update

Okay, our raffle is closed for entries! Thanks to everyone who left comments and spread the word about the Return of Zita. I will tally up the entries and post the names of our winners on Monday or Tuesday, so check back here toward the beginning of the week! 

I've enjoyed running these raffles in the past, but I have to say that this time around I'm mostly disappointed that I can't just mail all of you copies of the book. Maybe one of these days...

Friday, March 28, 2014

Jolly Raffle Giveaway Contest: The Return of Zita the Spacegirl!

It is that time again, my friends!

Longtime readers of this blog will remember that in 2010 and again in 2012 I raffled off advanced copies of Zita and Legends of Zita respectively. Now we’re going to do it a third time and that makes it a TRADITION.

So here we go:

The LUCKY AND SUPER COOL FIRST PLACE WINER will receive a hardcover copy of The Return of Zita the Spacegirl, signed, and with a little original watercolor lovingly tucked into the front cover.

Our SUAVE SECOND PLACE WINNER will find in their mailbox a paperback copy of The Return of Zita the Spacegirl along with a small ink sketch or piece of concept art.

To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment in the comments section of this post. BUT BE SURE TO LEAVE YOUR NAME, or some name that I can announce. “Anonymous” can’t win. Unless your legal name is Anonymous (in which case please explain that in the comment).

HERE’S HOW YOU INCREASE YOUR CHANCES (and where I trick you into helping me spread the word about this book): Mentioning the book, linking to, or otherwise spreading the word via social media (twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon, Google+, blogs, tumblers or any of the other myriad of options) is worth TWO EXTRA ENTRIES. (three is the maximum). Feel free to tag me on twitter (@BenHatke) but also let me know in the comments so I can keep it all straight.

The contest closes ONE WEEK FROM TODAY. The entries will go into a randomizer and soon after I will post the name of the winners!

Okay? Then...



PS: If you still need some motivation, here is the Zita 3 trailer again:

Monday, March 17, 2014

My House and Julia's House

This weekend I slipped outside with my notebook and made a little drawing of my house. Here's a photo of the drawing, followed by a scan with a few small corrections made in photoshop (you can get larger versions of both by clicking):

Working on this little sketch reminded me how fun it can be to just go outside and draw the place where you live. It's easy to forget about outside drawing when you've been hibernating, and here on this suddenly snowy Saint Patrick's Day it's a little hard to believe that I was sitting in a sunny field with my sketchbook just the other day.

And to continue this house-themed post: I noticed recently that Julia's House for Lost Creatures is now available for pre-order on Amazon. Here's another look at the cover of the book (it showed up on Geek Dad back in January, but I don't think I've yet posted it here):

(You can compare it with my original cover sketch).

Finally, since winter seems particularly reluctant to leave us in peace this year, I have for you a little desktop wallpaper made by my friend Niall, combining my peacock-in-a-scarf with an appropriate Steinbeck quote (click for the large version):

Oh! and for those of you who like Goodreads, I've added links to my books on the sidebar. Goodreads is great for reviews and recommendations and has links to different online purchase options. Not just Amazon.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Smudge Photos and Twitter Sketches

The Smudge Expo was a lovely event! It had a great indie vibe and was very family friendly -two things that don't always go hand-in-hand. Northern VA comics and art aficionados should definitely plan to attend next year. Anna accompanied me this time and it made me wonder how I ever do these events without her. We met some wonderful people, sold a lot of books and even met some adorable Zita cosplayers. Here are a few more pictures from the event (all pictures are copyright and credited to Bruce Guthrie, who's website is here):

And now Twitter. It's not for everybody, I know, but I've been posting a lot of casual sketches and things there and, if you like that kind of thing, it might be worth a follow. Here's some of the recent stuff, including an aged-up Zita and a couple sketches of The Dying Gaul which is currently on display in the National Gallery:

You can follow me on twitter here.

Friday, March 7, 2014


Wow, I meant to post a reminder about this earlier in the week. But, better late than never I guess (right?):

Tomorrow, Saturday March 8th, I will be at the Smudge Comics Expo in Arlington! Plenty more information can be found here, and here. I will be doing a special presentation about comics at 3pm.

Also, here is a recent email interview I did in anticipation of the event. It's for a website called Cool Progeny which focuses on fostering creativity for kids in the Baltimore/DC area.

And finally, because this is the internet after all, here are some pictures of cats:

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Robot Comic #30

Okay, Robot Comic Number 30 is special. It's made up entirely of animated gifs AND I APOLOGIZE FOR THAT. I promise I won't make a habit of this.

But you see, Robot Comic Number 30 is also a special announcement...

Thanks right! Our Little Robot is getting his very own book! If you want the whole scoop, head on over to The Beat and read all about it.