The seeds of the recent residencies at the Illustration Institute’s Marilyn Faison Artist Residency were possibly planted in the spring of 2016, when Maine College of Art Illustration faculty Scott Nash invited Emily Flake and Bob Mankoff to a screening of Very Semi Serious, a fantastic documentary in which they both appear, about New Yorker cartoonists. They were like sit-down comedians on the Portland Museum of Art stage afterwards.

Fast forward to this August, when Emily Flake filled the Fifth Maine to capacity, as the setting sun made the audience beautiful.

Emily shared a presentation of her early illustration work and New Yorker cartoons, followed by several that did not make publication. Her ribald humor and salty wit kept the room laughing til way past dark.

When she saw the work of Edward Gorey and Gahan Wilson at the tender age of five, she knew then and there she wanted to be a cartoonist. As New Yorker cartoonists go, she said, “I’m a baby.” Her first one appeared in 2008, and she submits 8 – 12 cartoons a week, with the approach “send in everything to see if it sticks.”

She also read excerpts from her book, Mama Tried. Here’s my sketch.

The following night, fellow Faison resident Wayne White was present for a screening at the Peaks Island Lions Club of Beauty is Embarrassing, a stellar documentary about his life and work.

Three Illustration MECA grads sailed out to Peaks for this illustrious occasion.

Liz Long, Molly Steinmetz, and Andi Croak

The film was properly introduced by Illustration Institute co-directors Scott and Nancy Nash, with the adorable help of Emily’s daughter.

Andi Croak watched while stitching this. Because.

And Molly captured Wayne and his partner, Mimi Pond in her sketchbook, on the spot.

Liz made these paintings to give to Wayne and Mimi.

During Wayne’s heartfelt Q & A after the screening, he admitted the film has been a strange experience, saying “being a public figure is treacherous.” But he added, “Most artists are introverts. I’m not a fragile wierdo. We all have art inside us.”

Liz and Molly were thrilled to meet Wayne at last.

Today I drew Wayne in my sketchbook, but got carried away with a collage appendage in honor of his Dirty Dog puppet character from Pee Wee’s Playhouse. I remain a fan of that crazy show.

Mimi Pond gave a presentation two days later at Maine College of Art to a full house, reading from her latest graphic novel, The Customer is Always Wrong. She is on one bombshell of a book tour, which you can follow here.

Her book is a sequel to Over Easy, a fictionalized memoir of her alter ego, Madge, an art student working in a cafe in Oakland, California in the 70’s. For quite awhile, the story was in manuscript form. Mimi told us she was inspired by Fun Home, by another cartoonist, Alison Bechdel. Women pioneers do matter.

You need to have both books! And strong coffee. Something about the color harmony here, plus Mimi’s hair color, compelled me to draw.

I drew Mimi serving up the hottest cuppa humor in the joint.

These three ii events also coincided with the new semester beginning at MECA. What an all-you-can-eat buffet week!

Last Friday I turned to baking pies. I didn’t want to intrude on the woodsy privacy of the Faison residents, but felt every bit the fan girl dropping off my plates of thanks.

Thanks to Emily, Wayne, and Mimi for the wisdom and creativity y’all brought to our Rock. May Peaks Island and the Illustration Institute feed our souls in need of humor, art, and good books!







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