Friday, December 23, 2011

San Francisco Maritime Museum Library Speaking Engagement - January 10, 2012 at 6:00 p.m.

Come hear about the life and times of the greatest - and most penitent - whaler in West Coast history: Charles Melville Scammon.  

I'll present the Scammon story at the San Francisco Maritime Museum Library (the library, not the museum!) at Fort Mason, Building E, at 6:00 p.m. on January 10, 2012.  
For reservations, please call the San Francisco Maritime Museum Library at 415-561-7040.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Russians Are Coming! To The Marine Mammal Center!

For the past month I've been digging deeper into the archives to build a comic for The Marine Mammal Center about the Russian-American poaching fiasco on the Farallones and along the Pacific Coast of North America.

What a story this is, and one with a surprisingly happy ending.

I showed the sketches for the comic last Tuesday at The Marine Mammal Center (TMMC), and the Center asked me to double the comic's length for their December 10, 2011 Open House, which starts at 10:00 a.m. and runs until 5:00 p.m. On that day, I'll be presenting the Russian-American material in a child-friendly reading at 10:15 a.m. and 2:15 p.m.

The Open House will also feature a meet and greet with the amazing Marine Mammal Center veterinarians, so please check out the details on the Marine Mammal Center's website events page.

Thanks and hope to see you there!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Three New Speaking Engagements...

1) I've been asked to present "Garibaldi and The Farallon Egg War" this Saturday, October 22, 2011, at The Guild of Natural Science Illustrators meeting in Monterey, California. Should be fun!

2) The Maritime Museum Library in San Francisco booked a separate presentation (dealing largely with Captain Scammon's life and scientific legacy) for January 10, 2012.

3) I'll be tackling the San Francisco-Garibaldi connection at the Marin City Public Library on January 23, 2012. The presentation starts at 7:00 p.m.

And possibly one more: This November at The Marine Mammal Center, I may be giving a presentation on the poaching conducted on the Farallones by the Russian-American Company. It's a helluva story - Updates to follow!

Thanks to everyone for their support,

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Egg War In the News and This Thursday's Presentation at the Randall

Juliet Grable of Bay Nature Magazine wrote a wonderful article on Garibaldi and The Farallon Egg War, in advance of this Thursday evening's lecture at The Randall Museum. (The Randall is a children's museum, but the Natural History Series is for adults and for, well, really wonkish kids.) After years of interviewing other people, I have to admit I found the prospect of someone interviewing me to be a little nervewracking, but Juliet made it fun! Here's the link to her article:

Sidenote: I had no idea that Bay Nature was the brainchild of someone from Heyday Books!

BTW, here's the link to the San Francisco Natural History Series:

And here are the directions to the Randall:

Thursday, April 28, 2011

(Garibaldi and) The Farallon Egg War

The Farallon Egg War Goes to The Randall Museum

I've been asked to speak on "The Farallon Egg War" at The Randall Museum on August 18, 2011, as part of their monthly Natural History Lecture Series. The illustrated lecture will start at 7:30 p.m.

I attended the April lecture by Christopher Richards last week on "The Mystery of Laguna Dolores" - it was truly amazing, and the auditorium was packed to hear this remarkable aquatic biologist share several decades worth of research.

(Christopher Richards will apparently repeat that very popular presentation on June 25 at Mission Dolores as part of their 235th anniversary celebration.)

I'll post more details about both lectures later.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Welcome, WonderCon!

I'll be at WonderCon this weekend in San Francisco, flyering for The Farallon Egg War.

March was a very exciting month - there was strong interest in the book from a major West Coast publisher. In the final decision, the very nice editors, who will remain unnamed, expressed concern that the book was too "mature" for a crossover audience. 

(They obviously never saw the bookshelves that belonged to my sister and me as children -  stuffed to the gills with Edward Gorey and Philip Roth. No wonder we're so screwed up!)

The reaction of the editors essentially liberated me to take the book in a far more ambitious, adult direction.

All the research on early Risorgimento activism in San Francisco, the newspaper battles, the opera wars, the internecine fighting within the Italian community in San Francisco between Royalists and Garibaldi's supporters, the down-and-dirty details of Limantour's property scams, Copperheads (the political movement, not the snake), Mormons, minstrelsy, burlesque, banking scams, technological advances, and scientists, scientists, and more scientists... short, a far more panoramic view of 19th-century San Francisco, coming to a boiling point in the 1863 Egg War. This is a far more cinematic, action-oriented comic in black ink on white paper.

Wait - Who Owns The Tiburon Peninsula, Again?

A major player in the emerging city of San Francisco was Joseph Yves Limantour, a successful trader from Breton who held deeds from the outgoing Mexican governor of California showing that he owned Angel Island,  Alcatraz Island, The Farallon Islands (Los Farallones), and all the land in San Francisco that was then south of California Street.

It was, in fact, a pre-Gold Rush shipwreck that had first stranded a younger Limantour in San Francisco. Stuck with a cache of luxury goods, Limantour negotiated a fortuitous series of swaps among the region’s original Spanish settlers, the Californios, and savvily befriended William Richardson, the onetime Port Captain of Yerba Buena under Mexican rule.  The beach on which Limantour’s  ship ran aground is almost as serene as when he first arrived, and still bears his name. It did not hurt that Limantour was able to charm the wives of the Californios, who were nearly mad with boredom.

(Click on the images below to expand. Try not to think about the fact that I've totally misrepresented the historical munitions - I'm working on it!)

If There Were No Farallon Eggs, There Would Be No Egg War

The huge influx of gold-hungry prospectors to San Francisco after 1848 led to the near-immediate devouring of any existing poultry for celebratory dinners. The population then found itself (mysteriously!) without any egg-laying hens, and the second great poaching of the Farallon Islands (following the seal poaching by the Russian settlement in the pre-Gold Rush decades) began in earnest, as hordes of desperate men climbed the slippery rocks of the Farallones in search of seabird eggs to sell to the hungry city.
But don't be too hard on the hardworking prospectors for poor planning - with more information and greater technology, modern Californians are unfortunately even more destructive and equally oblivious of long-term conservation issues. 

(click on the image to expand)