Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Monday, December 7, 2009
We are officially funded by Kickstarter through your generous donations! Again we can't express how grateful we are. With the fundraising period over, information and updates on The Wonder City will occur on this blog which also feeds directly to the our Facebook page.
Friday, December 4, 2009
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
“The attack did not succeed as well as I had hoped, no small impediment having been the loss of my right leg.”—Peter Stuyvesant
In 2004 my mother gave me a book called The Island at the Center of the World by Russell Shorto. It was a gorgeous hardcover with a seventeenth century sketch of New Amsterdam on the cover. When I read the description on the jacket sleeve, I smiled. The book was interested solely in the Dutch founding of New Netherland. “It just looked like something you would obsess over,” my mother said. “You don’t have it, do you?” I didn’t. I knew nothing about it, and for that my mother grinned, “I found one you didn’t know about. HA!” I asked her if she had read it. She gave me one of those “are you crazy” looks and said, “Who the hell wants to read a book about New York?”
It became my bible.
It was every historical morsel about New Amsterdam Shorto could find and distill into 325 pages of sheer reading pleasure. The next summer when I was down and dirty in my research, I bought a soft cover copy so I could mark it up and take notes in the margins. From it came so much of what I needed to make the history of New York an active and interesting character in the graphic novel. Shorto portrayed the Dutch not only as the pioneers of a diversified New York City, but of the democratic system in America. His intended hero was Adrien van der Donck, a free-thinking Dutch lawyer who persistently petitioned for representative government in New Amsterdam. But in it I found my aforementioned historical lynch pin: Peter Stuyvesant.
One of Shorto’s most astute observations came from his theory on the revisionist history of the Dutch impact on early colonial America. When New Amsterdam was turned over to the British in 1644, the powers that were went out of their way to erase the Dutch from the collective memory banks of history. Thinking back on it, in high school history courses, all I remember from that time period were all those drab Puritans. It was all Plymouth Rock and cities on hills and of course John Winthrop, that bore with the pointy goatee who seemed to have no sense of humor. These passages were usually punctuated with, “And to the south from the Hudson to the Delaware Rivers, the Dutch East India Company started this cute little colony called New Amsterdam which quickly fell into the prayerful and industrious hands of the British.”
So in September after a wonderful summer of losing myself in Dutch history (and an unexpected historical find in the East Village), I decided to send out an email survey to the 76 people in my contacts.
My idea was to put Shorto’s theory to test. I figured if I asked people who Peter Stuyvesant was and who John Wintrop was, for sure everyone would remember the latter and have no clue of the former. The email read as follows (I don’t use caps): hey all,
The responses will follow tomorrow.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Sunday, October 4, 2009
So I've been practicing on this thing and I think I got it down. You type. You read it over. Then you hit "Publish Post." I think I'm going to be real good at this. Nicky or Justin, if you can see this, tell me if it looks alright. Also, I like this font. It looks like a typewriter.
I miss a typewriter. So much more substantial than this machine. So now if I can only make this site start from the beginning instead of starting at the end. That makes no sense to me! Am I the only one who thinks that?
Ok, if this works, I'll get to posting the journals.
Monday, September 28, 2009
So Velma’s going to try it out. I think she intends to pick up where I left off, but who knows. Maybe she’ll shake things up a bit.
Friday, September 25, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009
You've caught a glimpse of Owen and Lizzie and their garden...
There's one more main character to introduce you to, the matron of the Tulip family, distracted seamstress, rambling storyteller, more than slightly off center Edwina, Owen and Lizzie's mother.
Over the course of drawing The Wonder City, these characters are becoming disturbingly real to me. Owen tugs my heartstrings, Lizzie is looking more and more like my sister did at age 5, and Velma...basically I want to get whiskeys with her. For some reason Edwina pushes my buttons. I have walked away from the drafting table annoyed with her on more than one occassion.
She is simultaneously overbearing and absent, but she also reveals the most information about the Tulip family, their Dutch heritage, the father away to war, and their struggle to survive in New York. Basically, she'll drive you nuts, but you can't help but sympathize with her circumstances.
Her constant rambling also provides the motivations that for better or for worse set her children on their Coney Island adventrue and change the Tulip family's lives forever.
So love her or hate her, meet the dandy seamstress.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
"T-squares are dumb."
Monday, September 14, 2009
With our recent launch on Kickstarter I’ve been fielding the question: “What’s The Wonder City about?” This one almost always makes me panic. Not a good sign when you’ve been nursing an idea in your head for years. I should have a statement etched onto the underside of my skull. Something I can recite by rote that just blows people away. I don’t though. I turn red, I get nervous and I create a distraction to change the conversation. But now I feel it’s time to pony up. It’s only fair that I explain what this project really is about and where it came from.
Spending the last four years researching and creating this thing, I’ve had my fair share of crazy experiences. In traipsing around New York, I’ve had my ear chewed off by crazy librarians for what seemed like days, shoved down in dark tunnels for hours and been urban whale watching on Coney Island. But these research expeditions alone capture exactly what makes New York City one of the most unique spots on the planet: its history and its people.
Check back on a daily basis for updates (we hope).
Friday, September 11, 2009
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
I naturally assumed the worst.
Then this morning my phone rang (at a very early hour mind you).
VELMA (Very Loud): SWEETHEART!!
JUSTIN: Who is this?
VELMA: It's Velma, hon.
JUSTIN: Jesus, Velma, I thought you-
VELMA: Kicked it. Yeah. A couple of people thought so. No, Nicky and I were off for awhile.
JUSTIN: I'm assuming you can't say where?
VELMA: Of course not. It's not that interesting anyway.
JUSTIN: I'm starting to think you work for the government.
VELMA: I'm starting to think you don't work at all.
VELMA: I mean, nothing. Not a single post since December.
JUSTIN: Nick told me he had it covered. Actually he told the readers. I didn't even get a head's-up.
VELMA: Ah, whatever. I know you and Courtney have been busy with the graphics novel.
VELMA: WHAT? Oh. Right. Graphic.... Well, I've been thinking about some things.
JUSTIN: Oh yeah.
VELMA: I think we need to make some changes.
JUSTIN: To what?
VELMA: To this blog thing. We might've been going at it all wrong.
JUSTIN: I'm not sure there's a right or wrong way to do it, Velma.
VELMA: I do. Let's talk about it.
VELMA: Can you meet up with me tomorrow in my office?
JUSTIN: Actually I'm not in the city right now.
VELMA: Well where the hell are ya?
JUSTIN: Martha's Vineyard.
VELMA: Oh I see. Must be nice.
JUSTIN: It is.
VELMA: Well, when do you get back in?
JUSTIN: Can we meet the beginning of next week. Say Tuesday.
VELMA: GREAT!! Come over my way, noonish. Make ya a tuna sandwich.
JUSTIN: Yummy. See ya then.
VELMA: Right. Bye now.
I guess we're back in business.