Tags: mermaid hostel


Farewell to Four Fabulous Female Friends!

Originally published at RKdia Comics. You can comment here or there.

Tonight a certain home here in White River Junction we lovingly call the “Muff Mansion” will be hosting a farewell party to its four remaining occupants. These four and among the favorite lady cartoonists here in WRJ and all are alumni of CCS. I graduated with one, two were classmates and the fourth has been here longer than almost any other lady in town, only nudged out by Colleen Frakes of the inaugural class! On Sunday in prep for the 4th of July Weekend I’ll post plenty of pictures from the party, but today I’m going to cover briefly the most important thing about these wonderful people: their comics!

Jen Vaughn
CCS Class of 2010

Jen is one of the standout 2010 classmates of mine! She immediately made her presence known with her bubbly personality, big laugh and non-stop humor. Her comics make her stand out even more. Her on-going series of Menstruation Station mini comics have driven her to the top of many other female cartoonists lists…and even intrigued some guys. Humorous looks at the most womanly thing about being female. Her most consistent comics are that of a fantastic world under the sea where a group of mermaids run a hostel for fishy guests of all kinds. Dealing with everything from current events, trends, to daily musings in Jen’s own life, it posts every Tuesday at her website. Lastly, Jen is an avid illustrator and blogger, spreading her work and words on the web and in print. Posters and flyers are a frequent thing for Jen, you’ve probably seen one for a band you like! You can read her musings for CCS at the Schulz Library Blog which she helped to re-launch recently, as well as occasional pieces for THE BEAT; Heidi Macdonald’s outstanding comics industry blog.

Beth Hetland
CCS Class of 2011

The recently graduated Beth Hetland is one of the only girls in town that can rival Jen’s boisterous excitement and enthusiasm for CCS and comics. While she is loud and giddy almost 24/7, her comics exude a much more subdued, subtle feelings of grace and consideration. Her pacing is very steady and her characters drawn from her own experiences growing up. Her CCS Thesis was called FUGUE, and is a three-book story of her own family and growing up with music, most specifically learning to play piano. It’s a tale of expectations, music, family frustration, love, and being tested. She continues to put pages up frequently at her website and will very soon have the book(s) up online to order!

Betsey Swardlick
CCS Class of 2011

Betsey is…hard to put into words. She interned here many moons ago, at a time when CCS was still in its infancy. She left her mark even then, as as I went through my first year I heard her unfamiliar name recounted again and again. Suddenly, as if by destiny, she re-appeared at CCS after a several year absence, as a part of the class of 2011. CCS is just now hitting it’s stride and people like Betsey are a big reason why. She’s wild, colorful, brilliantly positive, and wants to make all around her feel welcome. Her comics are equally as crazy and exciting. Her main works featured in her CCS Thesis were Fail Wolves…about a group of un-motivated werewolves who are not very good at lycanthopy, and the work-in progress comic “Frank,” “about self-acceptance, self-expression, and the melancholy of a go-go dad” as classmate Josh Kramer says on the Class of 2011 Summer Showcase website. Betsey may be leaving us for now, but having already returned to CCS once, I’m sure she’ll be back to visit in the future!


Penina Gal
CCS Class of 2008

Is one of WRJ’s longest standing cartoonist residents out of CCS. She’s been a staple in the community since 2006 and one of the most active members in all going ons comic-wise. She, along with Betsey above, helped start the Werewolf series of Anthologies, one of CCS’s most successful and popular! Her personal work is fantastic in nature and captures the essence of childhood. Along with editing and contributing to Werewolf! she is also slowly working on the Fire Messenger series of comics. It’s a strange tale of two children who become lost in the woods and enter a world that is quite far from Kansas, and one boy discovers an ability to create fire in the palm of his hands! Her art is full of life and subtlety as she works in beautiful watercolors! Penina will be missed both in the studio and on the Soccer pitch!

Well, that just about does it. I encourage you to all check out these fine lady’s comics and illustrations and even consider buying something to help off-set the cost of their moving away. Come back Sunday for pictures and a recap of their going away party tonight, and remember that tomorrow is SONIC SATURDAY! I’ll be doing a live webcast around Noon as I tweak page 1 and get this thing officially underway (again!)

I wish the Muff Mansion-ers all safe journeys and the hope of a return to Cartoonist Country some day soon!


All work above is © it’s respective creator.


CCS Appreciation Week – Post Graduation: COMICS!

Originally published at RKdia Comics. You can comment here or there.

Unfortunately there are no weather pictures to share today, but I will say that the drive in this morning was absolutely magical! Ice still covers everything here in Hartford Village and with the low sun filtered by high, thin clouds ahead of the approaching low pressure from the west made for a spooky, sparkly and ethereal atmosphere! I felt like I was on another planet! Or at least it felt a lot like the Crystal Forest from the SNES Classic, Secret of Mana. “A Wish” by Hiroki Kikuta would have been perfect….

Anyway, for today’s CCS Appreciation Week post, I’m going to appreciate exactly what CCS is all about: COMICS!!!

I’ll start by pimping CCS Inagural Class Alumni Colleen Frakes’ latest Graphic Novel The Trials of Sir Christopher which just returned from the printers and is available for sale at her Etsy Store.


6×9″, 204 pages, black and white interiors, full color cover.

“The Trials of Sir Christopher” is a collection of two graphic novels, each completed as a part of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in November of 2009 and 2010. Each chapter is 100 pages, and was completed in one month.

The story is about a bumbling knight, Sir Christopher, and the monsters he battles.

Colleen is just another fine example of a CCS graduate who is out there and just DOING IT. She’s making amazing comics and producing at a blistering pace. A Xeric grant winner (another fine CCS tradition as my fellow 2010 Alum Melissa Mendes is a recipient this year!) and all-around good person, Frakes is the last remaining member of her Inaugural Class still living and working in White River.

CCS Offers probably the best variety in the kinds of comics being produced in any one place in the US today. Despite the small class sizes, each person who attends CCS is bringing a different skill set, and different desires to the table. Those desires all result in some amazing comic producing, further resulting in a rich supply of comics for anyone’s reading tastes.

It all begins with the amazing comics students make while still in attendance at CCS. They are usually the launching points for both future individual and collaborative works. From the Anthology Project to the Golden Age Project (for collaborative efforts,) to individual journal comics and Senior Thesis’s, most projects seen after graduation have their seeds planted while still attending the school.

Let’s focus on a few such examples of both in-school comics and resulting outside school comics (and the variety within:)


Each year the freshman return from Winter Break and face the most daunting of tasks: a 2-week, full color, 34 page, golden age style comic book created in teams of 6 plus one hard-pushing editor! Most CCSers agree, this project is the single best assignment that is executed at the school yearly, and the books will serve those who work on them very well for years to come!


Many anthology groups have come out of CCS and several have seen both success and enormous popularity and recognition each year at all the local and not-so-local independent comics conventions. These groups all click together around a theme or style of story telling (or not) and despite the range of visual styles, the cohesion and collaborative efforts become further hot-beds of artistic development when time in the bubble of CCS is over.

Here are some GREAT CCS anthologies that continue to feature talented storytelling, from old and new faces:


Thesis Projects

Thesis projects don’t always become what a CCSer works on after graduation, but for many of us, they do. My own Thesis, a 34 page b&w world-building fantasy comic called Citadel, is the comic project I continue to work on, and hope to turn into a weekly-updating webcomic, as time permits. Again, each artist comes from a unique background with unique sets of storytelling and artistic skills and desires. All original and all amazing, here’s a look at some CCSers who continue to work on the projects they launched as their MFA Thesis:

Web Comics:

Life is Good
Billy The Dunce
Mermaid Hostel

Series Print Comics:

Only Skin
Snake Oil

Zines/Mini Comics/Experimental Comics

Polite Fiction
Unpopular Comics

And this of course is only the beginning! It’s almost unfair to only link so few of the many, many amazing comics that come out of CCS and it’s Alumni every day! This is just a small sampling of the variety of styles you can find! Please check them out and then go beyond and hit the links section for even MORE CCSers and their work!



Ink Slinger Spotlight – Jen Vaughn

Originally published at RKdia Comics. You can comment here or there.

Quick Ink Slinger Spotlight this week for my classmate and birthday girl Jen Vaughn. Go check out her labia-rockin comics, including her webcomic Mermaid Hostel!

Jen serves as part time librarian for CCS and is full time awesome! We celebrated her birthday this year with a Unicorn Taco-fest…yes…taco unicorn:

(see it to believe it!)

Jen’s comics are wildly funny, often topical, and present a very smooth ink line and a growing confidence in color both with watercolor and digitally. She’s most exciting on the convention floor, you can’t miss her table usually as it’s covered with all sorts of comics and crafty goodness with a unmistakeable flare for rainbows. If you don’t see her right off, it might be because she’s blending in like a chameleon! You could call her a rising star, so if you haven’t heard of Jen or her comics yet…you soon will!

Happy Birthday Jen!