I’m very proud to announce that my longest running comic character, Mijntje or Minnie as I’ve called her in english, is out now as a digital comic – the first of a series, containing both old material dating back as far as 2004, and completely new never-seen-before adventures.
For people who know me solely from my educational graphic novels Philosophy: a Discovery in Comics and Science: a Discovery in Comics – my Minnie comic is something completely different: these are one-page gag comics with lesbian/bisexual themes, and sometimes feature nudity or even (oh dear) full on girl-on-girl sex. There is one huge similarity with my other works though: Minnie is definitely educational.
Mijntje started in 2004 when I was still a budding comic artist, hoping for an opportunity to start a regular 1-page comic in a magazine so I could really develop a character with a background story, friends & family. This opportunity came when someone tipped me that lesbian magazine Zij aan Zij was looking for a new comic artist.
After a short briefing by editor Maria van Oosten on what she was looking for in a comic (aimed at younger audience, including bisexuals, not just lesbians), the figure of Mijntje entered my brain like a redheaded hurricane, fully fledged – there was no struggle in defining her character or appearance, it was like she had always been out there, waiting for a chance to lodge herself in my drawing hand.
Sometimes comics write themselves like that and it’s a wonderful experience, like floating. Mijntje’s comics have never been hard to write, I just have to think up a situation and Mijntje-in-my-head automatically dictates the dialogue.
I called her Mijntje because “mijn” means “mine”, and she’s been mine from the very start.
With Mijntje came her girlfriend Mia, who’s a bit more level-headed, introverted and loyal, and they’ve been together ever since the beginning. Sure, I’ve given them some challenges with Mijntje’s loose behavior, and I toyed with the idea of inflicting a break-up on them, but I didn’t have the heart. The worst they had was a full-on crisis after Mijntje slept with another girl – I made that into one long story, drawn on 24-hour comics day in 2006, it’s been unpublished up until now but will appear in Minnie’s second issue.
In Minnie #1 I have gathered some of the early stories: Minnie’s break-up with her boyfriend Ruben, the first real sex with Mia, her coming out with her mother and at her work, Minnie meeting Mia’s two lesbian mothers. The issue starts with a 3-page story that I recently drew, about Minnie as a little girl. Two pages of this story appeared in magazine Zij aan Zij, along with an interview with me, to celebrate Mijntje’s Tenth Anniversary.
I’m extra thrilled that Minnie is out as a comic now because after 2006, when I made a small booklet containing the first 15 comics, there have been many plans to publish more of her adventures – but they all fell flat. It wasn’t until last year, when Northwest Press published ten Minnie-pages in the anthology Anything That Loves: comics beyond gay and straight, that a way opened up to this international leap. Publisher Zan Christensen of Northwest Press is giving her and me this wonderful digital opportunity, and I hope Minnie will reach many new readers this way.
One of the comics in this issue I’ve made into a Videoscribe – you can see it by clicking on this picture:
Click on the picture and it will take you to the YouTube video:
I’m pretty proud of this. I used Sparkol Videoscribe to make it, a program that’s perfect for my kind of bring-your-comics-to-life animation.
The duration is just under five and a half minutes, which is an eternity on the internet – but I calculated that if I had done the timeline of the earth on the same scale as I did the Middle Ages (a thousand years in three and a half minutes), this animation would have been 30 years.
Yes, THIRTY YEARS!
Foreign book publications always remain a bit imaginary and abstract to me – until the moment the book actually arrives and I can hold it physically in my hands. Today, a package from Korea arrived with not one but TWO of my titles: Philosophy: a Discovery in Comics and Science: a Discovery in Comics!
They look GREAT!
They have actual dust jackets, and underneath the cover is stylishly minimal:
The inside looks great, too! It’s very weird though, to see my drawings combined with a language I absolutely do not understand. Nice weird.
Thank you, Bulkwang Publishing and of course the Amo Agency, who acted as an in-between.
A long time ago, following in the footsteps of my parents, I chose to study theology, and I even graduated – so it’s only by a happy quirk of fate that I’m a comic artist now and not a minister in some faraway parish… Thank God!
Maybe somewhere, in a parallel universe, I DID become Reverend De Heer after all. I’m exploring the alternative life I could be leading in this comic I’m making for the Dutch Protestant Church Ministers Union Magazine:
(The “picturesque parish of Brokkenhoek” is a spoof on the actual village of Okkenbroek, where I grew up. The church and rectory as I draw them are exactly the same as the church my father was minister of and the house we lived in – only mirrored)
I’m actually quite enjoying drawing my parallel life.
Although, if I had become a minister, my title would probably rather be: “Irreverend De Heer”.
Today it is 87 years ago that German physicist Werner Heisenberg wrote a letter to fellow scientist Wolfgang Pauli describing his Uncertainty Principle – the principle in Quantum Theory that you can measure an electron’s position or its speed, but not at the same time: one of these, position or speed, will necessarily remain uncertain. In my book Science: a Discovery in Comics I included it like this:
Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle has spawned many jokes in theoretic physicists – maybe you’ve seen Sheldon referencing it on the Big Bang Theory! Here are a few good ones:
A quantum physicist is stopped on the highway by a police officer who asks “Do you know how fast you were going, sir?”, to which the physicist responds, “No, but I know exactly where I am!”.
Have you heard of the Heisenbergmobile? It was a big flop. As soon as you looked at the speedometer, you got lost.
Why are quantum physicists a disaster in bed? They either have the position, but can’t find the momentum – or they have the momentum, but can’t find the position!
Cartoonist Aaron Diaz made this brilliant cartoon in 2005, commenting on Heisenberg’s relationship with the nazi-scientists:
Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle caused the famous though experiment of Schrödinger’s Cat – the cat in a box with radioactive poison who lives in exactly such an Uncertainty State. In 1997, when I was working on my thesis on Religion and Science, I drew this:
Unfortunately, the comic never got continued. Although you can never be certain if it won’t be, some day in the future…
It’s Valentine’s Day! I went through my archive and looked up a few comics I made over the years with a Valentine theme. These two appeared in H/Link, student magazine of the Haagse Hogeschool, in 2012 and 2013:
A year later, they were a couple:
This week, Yiri and I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary. Every relationship has its own “creation myth”, so to speak; its own tale of How It All Began, to be told at dinner tables using all-encompassing gestures and eliciting “Aawww”s from the audience – here is ours:
Today it is exactly 99 years ago that the United States House of Representatives rejected an amendment to give women the right to vote. A representative of Ohio illuminated his position by explaining: “The women of this smart capital are beautiful. Their beauty is disturbing to business; their feet are beautiful; their ankles are beautiful, but here I must pause — for they are not interested in the state.”
The idea that women belong exclusively to the realm of beauty, bearing and raising children and running households, kept females out of important jobs for ages. The same goed for the realm of science. Fortunately there have always been women who were lucky, intelligent and stubborn enough to make themselves heard and make significant contributions.
In my book Science: a Discovery in Comics, I highlighted some of these women in their historical context:
For the holidays I got a Nintendo WiiU – that awesome game device you can use to play all kinds of entertainment directly on your TV screen, or, in this new version, on a beautiful touchscreen pad, which lets you enjoy features such as Art Academy, which is basically a digital drawing set of pencils and crayons.
Drawing on this device is remarkably easy. And the fun thing is I could immediately upload my pictures to the so-called MiiVerse, which is sort of like Facebook for Nintendo players. Only they give “Yeahs” instead of “Likes”, which really made me feel like the whole world was cheering me on. It’s a very friendly place, the MiiVerse. Here are some of the doodles I started out with:
Then I realized I could also access the MiiVerse from my Nintendo 3DS XL, which is this device:
I could not run the drawing program on this handheld, but I could use the sketchpad to draw messages and then post them to the Art Academy Community on the MiiVerse. It looks rather crude, just black and white pixels, but I found this sketchpad to be pretty workable, giving nice “loose” results. Here are some of the sketches I started out with:
This became addictive pretty quick. Soon I was sketching a “status update” every minute and posting them to the MiiVerse:
Yiri is trying it out as well. He has more experience than me since he often draws on a Wacom Cintiq, a touchscreen computer which he also uses for coloring my comics. Besides, he has a really nice drawing style that lends itself perfectly for these kinds of experiments:
Yes, then the holidays hit. As well as a new wave of drawings:
And this is the last one I drew yesterday. It already has 23 Yeahs! Yay!
The New Year is starting out well. New toys, new perspectives, new experiments.