"Anything that says New Orleans and chess"

Those were the instructions I received from New Orleans Chess Festival founder and organizer Michael Tisserand, who asked me to design the event's t-shirt. This annual event is free and attended by 250 kids -- a worthy cause, to be sure.

I met Michael because we share a common interest: old comics. Michael is a journalist, chess instructor, and book author. He's written notable books on Zydeco music and New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina. His latest project, years in the works, is a full-fledged, whole enchilada biography of Krazy Kat's creator, George Herriman.

Micheal has been kind enough to read drafts of my various professional writings on comics and offer helpful suggestions. He also kindly let me give him an early version of one of my lectures, via Skype.

So, when he contacted me to say the artist he had lined up to design his t-shirt wasn't going to be able to do it, and did I have any ideas, how could I say no?  I spent a few days thinking about it and then, in a two-hour session, here's what I created:

I was ready to stop at seven designs, but I've learned that sometimes it is good to push forward and make "one extra" in this sort of exercise -- because my creativity has been warmed up, and my internal editor is tired out. It sometimes pays off to push for "one more." Here's the last one I created.
To my delight, Michael was excited about these designs. He liked the trumpet series, but chose the last design as the one. Here's the final art:

It turns out that some folks collect chess t-shirts. I have received several comments on this design to the effect that it's one of the best chess t-shirts some folks have seen -- which is flattering! 

Michael used this as an incentive for the New Orleans Chess Fest's successful Kickstarter to raise funds. I am happy to have been able to use my powers for good!

Minicomix with Steve Willis, Jim Gill, Frank M. Young, and Paul Tumey

The Floating Head of Humtulips (2012) 
by Steve Willis, Jim Gill, Frank Young, and Paul Tumey

Above: Steve Willis

Above left: Jim Gill
Above right: Paul Tumey

Above left: Frank Young
Above right: Steve Willis

Above left: Jim Gill
Above right: Paul Tumey

Above: Steve Willis

The Floating Head of Humtulips is a spontaneous, four-way collaboration minicomic by Steve Willis, Jim Gill, Frank Young, and me -- Paul Tumey. This was created in about 20 minutes in 2012 in the hometown of Steve Willis, McLeary, Washington. We were in a tiny public building that had a comical sign on its wall: "Building Occupency Maximum 75 People." This amused us for two reasons -- one was the misspelling, and two: getting 75 people in that tiny building, you'd really have to jam them in. Frank Young incorporated the sign into his page for the mini.

Isn't Steve's last page/back cover perfect?

All four of us comic book artists appear in the new documentary, Bezango, WA, by Louise Amandes and Ron Austin. Find out what happened to the original art in this entry here.