Odori Park, by Chris Watkins Odori Park - A webcomic comedy of culture shock in love, life, and family, by Chris Watkins
Odori Park by Chris Watkins: Thank You, Internet
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A few weeks ago, my buddy John told me about Camp NaNoWriMo. I was already familiar with the regular NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, which challenges authors to write a 50,000-word novel in the month of November), and I’d thought in the past about giving it a shot, either for a novel or a graphic novel. The “Camp” version is a virtual construct, but puts a community and some web features around a July version of the challenge, and John proposed we both use it as an opportunity to make headway on our graphic novel projects.

Long story short, then, I’ve taken the plunge! My goal is to make 24 pages of comic in the month–not a full graphic novel, which would be a real ordeal for just a month, but at least some significant progress toward one. Now, I would normally have used this as an excuse to work on the kids graphic novel I’ve talked about before, but at about the same time, in mid-June, I heard about the newest WebToons challenge. It’s a contest to create several episodes of a serialized comic with a hefty $30K prize for the winner. (One of my heroes, Stephen McCranie, won this last time around…) BUT, the current contest is for a science fiction comic, and that means a totally new story (and starting totally from scratch).

I don’t have much time left to finish and submit the first three episodes, AND drum up reader votes for it, but I’ll keep on trucking! At the very least, by the end of July, I’ll have 24 pages of something I didn’t have before! :)

Wish me luck! I’ll try to post occasional updates here when there are snippets of art or interesting developments to share!


It was a fun Sunday in Portland, Maine! Perfect weather, and the same great character-rich location as last year. I met some great cartoonists, including table neighbors and uber-artists Brian Moore (brianmooredraws.com) and Dani Jones (danijones.com), and I got to reconnect with an old friend from college days, Anne Thalheimer (www.etsy.com/shop/mymonsterhat). Plus, my buddy John Forcucci (johnforcucci.com) came along, and you couldn’t ask for a better drive-and-table mate. Got to catch up again with Peet Tamburino (heymailman.tumblr.com) and Jesse Lonnergan (jesselonergan.blogspot.com), too, which was awesome. I’m realizing my shout-outs are just turning into a long list of names–awesome names, but names nonetheless–so I’ll just say: Thanks, everyone!

The next big affair is MICE, out in October. Hopefully I’ll have some minis and maybe some graphic novel pages to show off by then!


The floorplan has been released for this Sunday’s Maine Comic Arts Festival. If you’re planning to be there, you can find me at table 61, in the far back corner diagonally opposite the main entrance. I’ll have books to sell and will be drawing sketches and sketch cards, so please stop by and see me!

I’ve been putting my con plans together for the year (a bit late, I know, but I’m still a bit convention gun-shy). I’m not planning on doing a ton, but shooting for at least two in 2015. Right now, I’m psyched for the Maine Comic Arts Festival in Portland, ME on May 17th (just about two weeks from now!), and I’m hoping to get into the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo in Boston on Oct. 17-18. I’d love to hear from any of you out there going to either of those, or anyone who has suggestions of any other good New England shows for an indie/webcomics guy to sell books and meet readers.

I’m going to try and have a new mini for MICE, and of course I’ll have the Omnibus for sale at both. With luck, I may have some at from my graphic novel to share, too (although I’m not rushing it) :)


I just glanced at the post date of my last blog update and HOLY CATS, I haven’t updated since September?! What is wrong with me?! I’m lucky (and hopeful) you’re a forgiving bunch :D

A lot has been happening, even if it’s not a lot of new Odori Park comics. I will say I’ve been contemplating how and when to best return to making OP strips, but if you’ve read my blog posts in the past, you know my focus this past year has been a graphic novel project. More on that in a second.

First, I wanted to slip in a plug for Alex Heberling, an online friend (and rival–don’t think I haven’t forgotten my humiliating loss in the TGT podcast brackets, Heberling!) who’s drumming up funds via Kickstarter to publish the first collection of her newest comic, The Hues. It’s a beautifully illustrated full-color (of course) magical girl adventure that I’m looking forward to seeing in print form. Please have a look, and consider pledging.

On my own book’s front, I’m sorry I haven’t been posting any progress here. To be honest, it’s been slow, but steady, and exciting, but unfortunately not much to look at. Here’s a peek:

See, I’m still hip-deep in the scripting stage, but decided to merge this with the thumbnailing stage. After all, I’m really the only one to whom these scribbles need to make sense, so why take the extra time of scripting it out formally in text first. Especially when I think just as visually as verbally about comics. But that means there’s literally not much to look at–at least not much that’ll make sense to anyone who’s not me. :)

In any event, even though balancing the kids and the day job keeps the work slow, it is progressing.

In the meantime, I was recently contacted by Carla Ventresca and Henry Beckett, creators of the syndicated strip On a Claire Day, who are also the creators of a new mobile comic site called Comikka. It’s a fun way to read comics on smartphones and other small-screen devices, and I’m excited to get my Odori Park library up and running there for a new batch of readers to find! Carla and Henry have figured out a neat way to help the cartoonists make some money for their work by inserting interstitial ads in the strip flow, but at a frequency and insertion point of the cartoonist’s choosing. There are a few strips already that Carla uploaded to get me started, and although I’m (as ever) slow to get things cooking, I’m looking forward to posting more of the archive there. Please check it out, and read some of the other cool comics there!

More news to come as I have it! Thanks for standing by me, folks. I appreciate it :)

Odori Park is the webcomic story of Japanese Arisa Nishimori, from snowy Hokkaido, Japan, and American Colin Easton, from Suburbia, U.S.A., navigating the culture shocks of romance, parenthood, family, friends, and making a living in an ever shrinking world. A tale of east marries west by comic artist Chris Watkins.
All contents © 2008-2012 by Chris Watkins.
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